David Bowie Performs “Life on Mars?” and “Ashes to Ashes” on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” (1980)

On Sep­tem­ber 5, 1980, David Bowie per­formed for a delight­ed stu­dio audi­ence on The Tonight Show Star­ring John­ny Car­son. First came “Life on Mars?”, and then his new­ly-released song, “Ash­es to Ash­es.” As his web­site (DavidBowie.com) describes it, the musi­cian cob­bled togeth­er a one-off band for the per­for­mance, ran through sev­er­al rehearsals, and then taped the show at NBC Stu­dios in LA. All of this came days before the release of his 14th stu­dio album Scary Mon­sters (and Super Creeps), and Bowie’s tri­umphant debut in The Ele­phant Man on Broad­way. Enjoy!

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent 

David Bowie Talks and Sings on The Dick Cavett Show (1974)

8 Hours of David Bowie’s His­toric 1980 Floor Show: Com­plete & Uncut Footage

A 17-Year-Old David Bowie Defends “Long-Haired Men” in His First TV Inter­view (1964)

Watch David Bowie’s Final Per­for­mance as Zig­gy Star­dust, Singing “I Got You Babe” with Mar­i­anne Faith­full, on The Mid­night Spe­cial (1973)

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  • Randall says:

    I was so sad to miss this days before VCR.
    Was work­ing that night Radio Sta­tion DJ.

  • Ellie Cartman says:

    I saw the orig­i­nal broad­cast. It was also Richard Pri­or’s first talk show appear­ance since recov­er­ing from the burns he had suf­fered in a free­bas­ing acci­dent. Inter­est­ing choice, “Ash­es to Ash­es”, I thought.

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