The moment when all of England had a chance to see Ziggy play guitar has finally been recovered. Archivists have uncovered David Bowie’s first televised appearance in his Ziggy Stardust persona – a 1972 performance for ITV’s Lift Off With Ayshea – that was thought to be long lost, according to the BBC. The footage was thought to be lost forever since all of Lift Off’s tapes were wiped when Grenada TV had sent them to be digitized.
A fan managed to tape it, but due to degradation, the tape is now being “baked” so that the footage can be remastered. It may feature in next month’s BBC2 documentary, David Bowie: Finding Fame, if it is restored in time.
“For fans, it is something of a Holy Grail,” Francis Whately, the doc’s producer and director, told the Radio Times (via the BBC). “It would fall apart if we played it, so it’s had to be very carefully restored. It will be a real coup if it comes off.”
Finding Fame is the third in a trilogy of films that Whatley has made about the singer. The 90-minute program will feature previously unheard Bowie recordings, including the singer’s 1965 BBC audition with his band the Lower Third performing “Chim-Chim-Cheree” and “Baby, That’s a Promise.” The BBC turned down the singer at the time, saying he was a “cockney chap but not outstanding enough” and “devoid of personality.”
“These are the stepping stones that led to Ziggy, but also many of the failures that led to Ziggy,” Whatley said. “It shows how Bowie embraced them and learnt from them all.”
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Previously, the earliest available Ziggy footage was Bowie’s performance of “Starman” on Top of the Pops a month earlier. For that show, the singer dressed himself in a snakeskin jumpsuit and poofed up his red mullet for the occasion.