David Bowie’s magnetic performance of ‘Moonage Daydream’ from 1997
David Bowie’s 1997 Earthling tour saw the iconic one scale back from playing exclusively vast stadiums and play some of the most iconic clubs and theatres in the world such as Glasgow’s Barrowlands and New York’s Radio City Music Hall—the latter being recorded and is an absolute joy from start to finish.
He delivered an incredible 14-song set with his band which include keyboardist Mike Garson, Reeves Gabrels, Zack Alford and Gail Ann Dorsey. The concert was part of GQ’s Man of the Year awards, which is an understatement for Bowie who is one of the men of the whole century let alone year.
After performing an eclectic set which included his trademark cover of The Velvet Underground’s New York anthem ‘Waiting for the Man‘, ‘The Jean Genie’, ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Fashion’ — Bowie then returned for a ridiculously impressive encore of ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ before closing on ‘Moonage Daydream’.
The final track of his set is deservedly regarded as one of Bowie’s definitive songs, however, when he initially penned it he didn’t even envisage releasing himself. He wrote ‘Moonage Daydream’ after meeting designer Fred Burrett in The Sombrero gay bar in London after Angie Bowie went over to speak to Burrett due to being captivated his striking outfit.
The Starman then hatched a plan to make Burrett his apprentice by forming the Arnold Corns with the designer being front and centre of the side-project—but things didn’t turn out as planned.
Burrett, who would go on to change his name to Freddie Burretti, is credited as a vocalist on the song but whatever contributions he might have recorded never actually made it onto the track. Instead, Bowie decided to take up the vocals on all of the releases by Arnold Corns but, even with Bowie on vocals, their releases were a commercial disaster.
Following the demise of Arnold Corns, ‘Moonage Daydream’ was just too good to leave on the shelf so Bowie gave the track a slight rehash as well as updating the lyrics before finding the song a place on the seminal Ziggy Stardust, which finally saw the track receive the love it deserved.
Buretti would come out smelling of roses as well—albeit as London’s best up and coming designers rather than lead vocalist. He would go on to be credited by Bowie as “the ultimate co-shaper of the Ziggy look”. Burretti would then become a vital member of his entourage in the proceeding years who helped create the different Bowie styles that we all know and love.
Check out the performance from the GQ Awards in New York, below.