Recorded for American television on October 19th 1973, below is some of the best footage of David Bowie performing as part of a duet. The clip sees Bowie team up with equally inspiring and forward-thinking Marianne Faithfull for a rendition of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’. It’s a glorious gem.
When Bowie was approached by NBC producer Burt Sugarman who wanted to see the Starman on his show The Midnight Special, he couldn’t turn down the opportunity. According to sources at the time Bowie agreed, but only if he could have complete artistic control of the whole one-hour special, naturally, Sugarman agreed.
Bowie then set about putting together a cabaret-style show with a whole host of acts from the ’60s on a futuristic style set at the Marquee Club in London, made famous by The Rolling Stones’ Rock & Roll Circus. Bowie called it “The 1980 Floor Show” as a pun on the title of his song ‘1984’ which was played during the opening title sequence.
The audience was far from regular and compiled of David Bowie Fan Club members, all gawping and fanning themselves as they were filmed over two days. With the conditions in the nightclub, the cramped camera crew could only shoot from two angles. It meant Bowie and Co. were repeating their songs over and over bnut somehow it only adds to the performance.
Marianne Faithfull was actually invited as one of the reserve acts, ready to be called upon should someone else drop out but Bowie saw fit to include her on this track. As much the performance is incredible, and the vocals enjoyable, the show really hangs on the striking imagery of Bowie and Faithfull together.
The costumes of the pair are magical. David Bowie at this stage was in full Ziggy attire featuring a red PVC suit complimented by black ostrich feathers—aka his ‘Angel of Death’ costume—while Faithfull has on a nun’s habit that was open at the back. It makes the clip and the song even more desirable.
Bowie reportedly told the audience: “This isn’t anything serious, it’s just a bit of fun. We’ve hardly even rehearsed it.” With that line in your heads take in the splendour of this brilliantly nuanced performance of ‘I Got You Babe’ form David Bowie & Marianne Faithfull.