Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Jean Genie, David Bowie 1973

This performance by David Bowie of The Jean Genie was first broadcast on Top of the Pops in 1973 and has never been seen since, the tapes having been wiped by the BBC. The footage belongs to John Henshall a cameraman who worked on the programme who kept copies for himself.  He didn't know the BBC had not kept a copy and also was unaware of how important the footage was, and it was only when he mentioned it on Johnnie Walker's Radio 2 show that it all came to light.

Mark Cooper, executive producer of Top of the Pops 2 said: "Bowie singing The Jean Genie is electric and the kind of piece of archive that not only brings back how brilliant Top of the Pops could be, but also How a piece of archive can speak to us down the years."

I loved Bowie in the 70's, he was so pushing the boundaries, mixing theatre with music and he was so different to anything else at the time. He was androgynous, almost alien, sexy, charismatic, unique. This performance is him at his best, it is indeed  "electric," every now and then an artist will do something special and this is an prime example, lost for 38 years (yikes!) and thankfully found again.  As Mark Cooper said, some performances are so amazing they can still captivate people decades later.

Apparently Henshall has hundreds of other tapes, what other delights could he have for us?

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