David Bowie Sings ‘I Got You Babe’ with Marianne Faithfull in His Last Performance As Ziggy Stardust

Here’s a won­der­ful­ly weird per­for­mance by David Bowie, dressed in drag for his last appear­ance as Zig­gy Star­dust, and Mar­i­anne Faith­full as a way­ward nun, singing the mawk­ish Son­ny & Cher tune, “I Got You Babe.”

The duet was record­ed for Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion on Octo­ber 19, 1973 at the Mar­quee Club in Lon­don. The pro­duc­er Burt Sug­ar­man had approached Bowie about appear­ing on his late-night NBC pro­gram The Mid­night Spe­cial. Accord­ing to the Zig­gy Star­dust Com­pan­ion, Bowie agreed to appear on the show after being grant­ed com­plete artis­tic con­trol for a one-hour spe­cial. He put togeth­er a cabaret-style show fea­tur­ing him­self and a cou­ple of acts from the 1960s, per­form­ing on a futur­is­tic set. 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.

Film­ing took place over two days. The audi­ences were com­posed of Bowie fan club mem­bers and oth­er spe­cial guests. Due to the cramped quar­ters in the night­club, the cam­era crew was­n’t able to cov­er more than two angles at any moment, so Bowie and the oth­ers had to play the same songs over and over. On the day “I Got You Babe” was filmed, the musi­cians and crew worked for ten straight hours.

Faith­full was invit­ed to appear on the show as one of the back-up acts, along with The Trog­gs and the “fla­men­co rock” group Car­men. At the very end of the evening, Bowie and Faith­full appeared onstage together–he in a red PVC out­fit with black ostrich plumes (he called it his “Angel of Death” cos­tume) and she in a nun’s habit that was, by more than one account, open in the back. “This isn’t any­thing seri­ous,” Bowie report­ed­ly told the audi­ence. “It’s just a bit of fun. We’ve hard­ly even rehearsed it.”

The Mid­night Spe­cial appear­ance marked a momen­tary reunion of Bowie’s band, The Spi­ders from Mars, which had dis­solved three months ear­li­er, after Bowie’s sur­prise announce­ment that he was retir­ing. The line­up includ­ed Mick Ron­son on lead gui­tar, Trevor Bold­er on bass, Mike Gar­son on piano, Mark Carr Pritchard on rhythm gui­tar and Ayns­ley Dun­bar on drums. Back­ing vocals were pro­vid­ed by The Astronettes: Ava Cher­ry, Jason Guess and Geof­frey Mac­Cor­ma­ck. As the final per­for­mance of “The 1980 Floor Show,” Bowie’s duet with Faith­full turned out to be the very last appear­ance of Zig­gy Star­dust.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie Releas­es Vin­tage Videos of His Great­est Hits from the 1970s and 1980s

The Sto­ry of Zig­gy Star­dust: How David Bowie Cre­at­ed the Char­ac­ter that Made Him Famous

How “Space Odd­i­ty” Launched David Bowie to Star­dom: Watch the Orig­i­nal Music Video From 1969

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