The Marquee Club - A tribute site dedicated to the history of the legendary Marquee club at London's 90 Wardour street.

20-october-1973 David Bowie

DATE: Friday, 20th, October, 1973
LOCATION: 90 Wardour Street
MAIN ACT: David Bowie
BAND MEMBERS: David Bowie (vocals), Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Bolder (bass), Mike Garson (piano),
Mark Carr Pritchard (guitar), Aynsley Dunbar (drums)
SUPPORTING ACTS: Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs, Carmen


David Bowie performed for the last time at the Marquee club during a three night filming sesion of "The 1980 Floor Show" for the American NBC TV late night show The Midnight Special. Admission to the show was by invitation only and the audience included 200 members of the newly formed International David Bowie Fan Club, staff and managers of the Marquee, selected musical press, and famous people such as Tony Visconti, Angie and Zowie Bowie, Long John Baldry, Dana Gillespie, Wayne County, Lionel Bart and Mary Hopkins. The Marquee club announced on it's montlhy programme: "LUCKY FOR SOME....UNLUCKY FOR MANY! On Thurs, Fri & Sat 18th, 19th & 20th October NBC T.V. have taken the Marquee for FILMING & LIVE Recordings of some Very Special Artistes.  There will be a very few tickets available for each of the evenings...Details will be posted within the Club."

This show caused a big expectation in the media at the time for being the first David Bowie's appearance onstage since his anounced stage retirement on 3 July 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon. To ad more interst it was the very last appearance of Bowie as the alter ego Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie's original idea for the show was to create a special event for The Midnight Special TVseries, using theatrical cabaret performances that would feature himself and other rock bands from the 60's in a futuristic setting.

Out of the three days hired at the club only two of them, the 19th and 20th of october, were used since the first day was spent filming at the television studios. For this production a special and spectacular stage production was set, covering the usual decoration at the club and, apparently the stage and backstage were completely rebuilt and the walls and ceilings were repainted in black to the horror of the club manager Jack Barrie. The performance on Saturday the 19th of October lasted for 10 hours. All the songs were needed to be re-shot several times from different positions since the Marquee club was such as small place the it didn't allow to do takes from different angles at the same time. David Bowie was very warm with the audience and fans during the intervals and signed autographs. Bowie also performed Sony and Cher's hit "I Got You Babe" in a duet with Marianne Faithfull.

"The 1980 Floor Show" was shown on American NBC-TV on 16 November 1973 on a one hour show. Also extracts were shown at the Top of the Pops in the UK.


Tracklisting:
-1984/Dodo (Bowie)
-Sorrow (Bowie)
-Bulerias (Carmen)
-Everything's Alright (Bowie)
-Space Oddity (Bowie)
-I Can't Explain (Bowie)
-As Tears Go By (Marianne Faithfull)
-Time1 (Bowie)
-Wild Thing (The Troggs)
-The Jean Genie (Bowie)
-Rock n Roll Suicide (Bowie) - not broadcast
-20th Century Blues (Marianne Faithfull)
-I Got You Babe (Bowie/Marianne Faithfull)

Pictures of this gig

david bowie

starMore pictures of this gig at the Photo Gallery

Press on this gig
Melody Maker

Bowie's Free For All - Melody Maker , 27 October, 1973
Author: Chris Welch

"David Bowie in action at The Marquee (where it all began) was just one of the many rare and knee-trembling sights to be enjoyed within the noise-battled walls of the old clubhouse last Saturday afternoon.

David, Spiders and friends were in the throes of filming a spectacular that will never be seen in Britain.  For three days an NBC film-crew had been at work, capturing the full glory of Bowie madness for America's TV show "The Midnight Special".

They especially wanted the atmosphere of Soho's Marquee, which with the curious logic of movie makers, involved ripping out all the club's identifiable features and building a new stage and anonymous backdrop, much to the chagrin of club manager Jack Barrie.

David was joined in the spectacular by such sixties stars as Marianne Faithful and The Troggs, hence the sudden appearance of a slightly bemused Reg, adrift in a sea of celebrated transvestites, glamorous gays and what is known in the trade as "kids off the street." If it all sounds faintly horrifying, in fact the overall atmosphere kept reminding me of the Youth Club Scene in Cliff Richards "The Young Ones" with David as The Mystery Singer.

In a fascinating cross-section of modern society, grumbling British workmen with "everybody out brothers" trembling on their lips, rubbed thighs with tittering school children, harassed American technicians, furtive journalists and illicit photographers.

The star, in high spirits, was remarkably patient.   For technical reasons, such classics as "Space Oddity" and "The Jean Genie" had to be performed endlessly, often cut short after a few bars.  This was a frustrating situation and David fled the stage only once after Mick Ronson snapped a string.

There were "three shows" - one on Friday night when Marianne Faithful sang "As Tears Go By" and two on Saturday, with a different audience of 200 souls for each, drawn from the Marquee Club and Bowie fan club members by democratic ballot. Time was of the essence but seemed to be running out fast. My sojourn at Saturday's session lasted from midday right though to 9pm and during that time, Bowie and the Spiders got through four numbers, and slightly more costume changes. There was a queue of fans down Wardour Street but not the fighting hordes it was feared that would be aroused by advance publicity.

Sweeping into our midst was no less a personage than Wayne County, the friendly neighbourhood drag queen who recently graced the front pages of MM.   Face caked in white makeup, Wayne swished around in a red negligee purchased in Piccadilly and a wig that looked like a ball of candy floss. She was regarded with total awe and confusion by the British contingent, until David's PR Cherry Vanilla with a voice like from the Laugh-In, grabbed Miss County's fake bosom and shrieked in delight "Are they silicone, my dear?" "Wayne - they are so firm and - Wayne, those shoes are fabulous." Wayne curtsied and modestly replied "I've been doing my exercises."

But those "kids off the street" were far more interested in Angie Bowie, chattering loudly and signing autographs. It was very much a family affair, even baby Zowie putting in an appearance.  An incredibly beautiful child, he swore innocently at us arousing the spectre of infant revolution.

Showbiz romantics of the year, Lionel Bart and Dana Gillespie made their dramatic entrance while Mary Hopkins strode hither and thither, and the cessation of hammering on stage announced that the music was about to commence.

"Oo's on second guitar?" demanded a gaggle of music lovers upfront. "It's Mark Pritchard - he's David's neighbour", proclaimed an expert. Cripes this was going to be exciting. A huge cheer went up as the musicians appeared for a sound check.  There was Aynsley Dunbar, late of John Mayall, and Frank Zappa; clad in black and methodically testing his tom-toms. There was Trevor Bolder on bass and (shriek) Mick Ronson, starman in his own right, clutching guitar, zip partly undone and ready to sign autographs. But still no sign of David, believed to be lurking in the dressing room. The first number attempted was a spirited version of the old Mojo's hit "Everything's Alright" from PinUps, obviously familiar to the drummer, himself an ex-Mojo.

The producer appeared and in best military briefing style explained what was happening. Mick Ronson reappeared this time in a fetching white costume, and then at 3.15pm Bowie cantered into view, red hair aflame, a bejeweled earring glittering, and yellow pants, sawn off below the knee, pulsating. The assembly stamped into "Everything's Alright" only to be signaled to an abrupt halt.

"Frustrating ennit?" grinned Bowie, his blunt London accent oddly at variance with such sophisticated garb. "Well these are the Astronettes" he said indicating a trio of dancers and congo players.  "And you all know The Spiders.

"So what have you been up to?" enquired Bowie impudently, rather like Alexander the Great having conquered the East, asking Mr and Mrs Alexander how they enjoyed their weekend. While elders chuckled, fans ignored this frivolity, and pleaded "David, David - oh why doesn't he look over here?"

"Oh shut up and look at his trousers" advised one maiden her face set in grim concentration as she chewed her gum (then for good measure she yelled "Donny!" just to show that even teenyboppers have a sense of humour).

As inner anxieties ebbed away, a bold new spirit filtered through the psyche.  I decided to buy Wayne County a drink. David was intoning that doom-laden statement "Ground control to Major Tom" when Wayne appeared at the bar ready to hold court.

David was now sporting a lurex suit of red and gold stripes, the press were lured away by the eye-searing vision of New York Culture.   "Tell us about your career Wayne" demanded a keen young music reporter.

"Well you know I used to sing in churches in Georgia (gasp) and later in drag shows.  I'm here to record an album which will be coming out in March, but its very hard to find musicians who are drag queens. I'd like to live in London.  I came here two years ago with Andy Warhol's Pork. That's when I met David.   The only instrument I play is mouth harp. But I refuse to play it because it messes up my lipstick.  I'm trying to find a special lipstick that's harp-proof." She could try to find one that's people proof, as practically everybody on the premises bore traces of a County kiss.

"I'll be talking to David about my LP, and we'll get some musicians off the streets.  I'll be writing all the songs. I like him.  Look I've got to go now..." We all laughed a little hysterically.

At this point I requested that a young Swedish photographer of startlingly good looks be allowed to snap a quick camera study of Miss County in her finery. The lady suddenly abandoned her threat to leave, her arm in red organza streaking out to grab the startled youth's hand.  "Honey, you're beautiful.  What are you doing after the show? - Do you want my room number?" Having prised the photographer free and smuggled him out the back door, we left Wayne chatting to the young keen reporter, whose laughter became more hysterical by the moment.

Meanwhile Mr B. was undergoing yet another costume change.   Feeling as confused as Jack Lemon in Days of Wine and Roses, I peered past the blazing lights and laughing heads, at Bowie, now apparently in a red, fur-trimmed frogman's suit and shiny black PVC boots.  He announced "The Laughing Gnome" and instead went into "I Can't Explain."

Voices babbled in my ear: "You should have seen David on Friday night.  He had ten men dancing about in black wings. It was fantastic!" My head was reeling. "Fun and games all day" said the barman, his voice echoing.

Suddenly, real horrors began to set in as the deadly "heaven and hell" drink took effect. Despite rubbed eyes, a new version of Bowie refused to go away. Now he was attired in a fish net of a type usually employed in catching small whales with disembodied gold hands attached to his torso. Apparently there had been a third hand.  But American television would not stand for that. Nor would American television stand for the sight of David's black jockstrap. Glimpses of underwear are taboo and had to be removed.  Pubic hair is considered less tasteless.  Even some of the lyrics had to be changed - one base word transmuted to "swanking."

"The Jean Genie" rocked again and the band developed tremendous power. And although the PA equipment was minimal, there was no doubting the authority of David's singing.

"We've written a musical" he announced "And this is the title song called 1984. We'll be doing the show in March next year." There were constant interruptions to "1984" with yells of "15 seconds David" from the producer. "Hold it. Ok when you are ready." 

David: "But we are ready."

After a number of false starts, they began to dig into the tune, and David ripped off his black and red striped garb to reveal a tight, green suit with a keyhole emblazoned on the chest. It represents the moment in George Orwell's story when Winston is entrapped by a giant television screen - I guess. 

Unfortunately Ronson's guitar which had been steadily dropping out of tune, was afflicted by a broken string, and David finally ran off the stage, his first sign of pertulence.   It seemed a good moment to leave this exhausting but entertaining glimpse into Babylon, and advance to the nearest supermarket to collect the weekend groceries.   Except by this time they were all shut.

The rock and roll pantomime tinseled on, with another show to complete, 'ere midnight. It occurred to me that possibly the best way to effect entry to any such future burlesques would be to don the hind legs of the Pantomime horse. Or perhaps in view of current trends - the front legs."


Music Scene

At the Marquee - Music Scene, 27 January, 1974
Author: Mick Rock

starDownload scan - 2 pages PDF file, 8,5 Mb.

"Saturday afternoon at the Marquee provided the setting for David Bowie’s return to the stage, three months after announcing his retirement from concert touring. Backed by Mick Ronson and the Spiders, and supported by Marianne Faithfull, the Troggs, and a new group called Carmen, whose sound has been suitably dubbed "flamenco rock".

Bowie was on display. His voice was in excellent shape, unhampered by a recent prolonged bout of flu, his energy as obsessive as ever, the music tight and inventive, and his parade of attire more bizarre than even his own freaky standards has led everyone to expect.

All this was for the benefit of the American N.B.C TV program "The Midnight Special". Bowie himself chose the venue, pursuing further his current obsession with the period of his own beginnings in the music business. "Pin-Ups," his latest album release, consists solely of re-workings of mid-sixties British rock n roll hits. Bowie has always had a special affection for the Marquee. He used to play there with his first band, David Jones and the Lower Third. "At that time no-one would book us. We were considered a freaky band, and got booed at every gig we did. The only place that would let us play regularly was the Marquee, and then only on Saturday afternoons for a free audience".

It was some years, and several changes, both in musical style and appearance, since Bowie last played there, but again it was a Saturday afternoon, and again it was free. "I wonder what that proves" grinned Bowie. For his return the stage and backdrop were completely rebuilt, and the walls and ceiling painted black all over. It all looked much smarter than anyone could ever recall.

Left to right clockwise: Amanda Lear, Reg Presley of The Troggs, Marianne Faithfull, Jason Guess, David Bowie & Ava Cherry

On stage the Spiders, Aynsley Dunbar, Trevor Bolder, Mike Garson and Mick Ronson, who has recently finished recording his own album, and who will front the Spiders on a UK tour in the New Year, began to set up. After a couple of instrumental run-throughs, Ronson, all clad in white to contrast with the rest of the Spiders’ black, nodded to the camera crew, struck the first note and nodded again to the side of the stage.

Out sprang three figures, two black, male and female, and one white, Geoff McCormack, who played congas for Bowie on his last US and UK tours. They performed a brief dance routine, then positioned themselves in front of their microphones, to be later introduced as the Astronettes, his vocal back-up group.

Close behind them appeared Bowie himself. He waved at the audience and grinned broadly. "And what ‘ave you lot been up to?" he enquired.

When the hysteria died down, it took three takes to satisfy Bowie with the sound quality. The audience were far less discriminating, and applauded them all rapturously.

The space in the Marquee is too limited to permit the requisite number of cameras to film simultaneously, so each song had to be reshot from different angles several times. This entailed as many as five or six performances of the same song, including run-throughs. Assisted by the frenetic film crew scurrying about and the clambering on the stage during performance of the more adventurous members of the audience, the atmosphere generated by Bowie’s own unique craziness swiftly transformed the clubhouse into something closely resembling a circus ring – Dali style.

Throughout Bowie was very patient, very up. He filled in the intervals between takes rapping with the audience, teasing, laughing. After each song he would disappear immediately, reappearing dramatically on cue for the next one in a new costume.

Bowie was joined by Marianne Faithfull, in a nun’s cowl and black cape, for the last song, the old Sonny and Cher hit, "I Got You Babe". He frolicked about in the true spirit of the song while Marianne watched him deadpan throughout. During one long break between takes she turned and left the stage, and paraded a pretty bare bottom, as the split in her cape flew open."

Recordings on this gig

"Absolutely Rare"

Videos on this gig

"The 1980 Floor Show"

star More information about David Bowie and this night on The Ziggy Stardust Companion

Memories on this night

"There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60's but the Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of the Marquee in the '60's was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years. We changed the place completely and for 3 days we filmed what became 'The 1980 Floor Show'. I had The Troggs on with me and then got Marianne Faithfull to duet with me on a version of Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe'. I dressed Marianne in a nun's habit with the back cut out and I dressed as the Angel of Death!"
(David Bowie)


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