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David Bowie's lost 1973 Top of the Pops performance of The Jean Genie


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the BBC had this ridiculous policy of wiping videotapes of programmes after broadcast - supposedly so as to save storage space and to enable tapes to re-used. In this exceedingly short-sighted move many classic TV programmes have been lost possibly forever (which is a particular bug bear of fans of the classic Sci Fi serial Doctor Who). How the BBC didn't ever envisage the onset of the domestic video market is completely beyond me. Anyway, the above clip of David Bowie performing "The Jean Genie" on Top of The Pops was one such clip believed to have been wiped and lost forever. Thankfully for us, John Henshall, the cameraman who shot the clip had a copy of the videotape in his personal collection. He had been unaware all these years that this particular performance was missing from the BBC's own archives. This clip was broadcast for the time since 1973 on last night's edition of TOTP2 on BBC2 here in the UK. (Read more here).

Note that the version of the song that appears here is quite different from either the single or album recordings, and features a great solo from the late great Mick Ronson on guitar.

G L Wilson

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