“Elvis is English…”
Mike McCarthy of Guerrilla Monster Films has been in touch with the news that he has posted a shaky, albeit fascinating, bit of silent super 8 footage from Ziggy and The Spider’s evening performance in Memphis in 1972.
The film went live on the eve of the 41st anniversary of the show, which originally took place on Sunday, September 24th, 1972 at Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, Tennessee.
Despite the fact that the quality is not good and there is no sound, it’s still definitely worth a watch just to see the brilliant young Bowie throwing a few shapes which are pure Elvis (The Memphis Flash) via the Lindsay Kemp school of mime.
The footage is accompanied by a wonderful essay by Elizabeth Dollarhide, from which, this excerpt.
“And then, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars arrived in Memphis, their second tour stop in America. No one attending any concert at Ellis Auditorium had ever before witnessed anything like this. There are no words. The energy was so electrified I swear we were levitating. The red-orange hair, the bright colored costumes, the flash, the music, that voice. I had never seen anything so spectacular. This was far grander than the moon landing. Ziggy had landed right in front of me like a glittering star, firmly establishing himself as the king of all he surveyed. The footage shown here is what Danny and I shot of the concert. We had a Super-8 camera with no sound and were trying to capture as many different moments from the concert as could be held on the two-minute reel. Looking at this footage for the first time in 40 years is exhilarating, bringing the memories of that night solidly home. Stage lights flash and strobe the dark stage and then suddenly Bowie is there, glowing magnificently.”
To see the footage, which Elizabeth actually filmed, and to read her essay, go here.
Elsewhere on the site, Ron Hall has written a great review from his memory of the same show. Here’s a bit from that...
“I thought this was going to be something people would be talking about for years. Something we had never quite seen before. I was right. There was no way, you could describe the vibe, visual and physical charge that was felt that night. Those that missed it, blew it. They could go to later shows, but this one was special, one of a kind.
When Bowie came on that stage in a green and orange jumpsuit, red boots, with the strobe lights flashing, hi-lighting his orange hair and giving a ghostly effect aided by his white makeup, I remember thinking “Holy shit, here we go!” I know I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire show, I didn’t want to miss a damn thing. The band smoked. Mick Ronson was every bit as good as advertised and I’m sure the early shows are what built his legend and stature and a true rock guitarists. And Trevor Bolder, what the fuck was going on with those mutton chops?! The clothes, the boots, the hair, the lights, you tried to take it all in, without missing a thing. But you were always sucked back to that specter in the center of the stage. His voice, grew you back in, bringing you back from watching Ronson's fingers, or even glancing around to see how others were responding. Most of the crowd sat like zombies, their mouths agape, with a “what the fuck?” look of wonderment, totally into the entire scope of this man. ”
Read Ron's full piece here.
Finally, take a look at a few other Memphis related Bowie items that Mike McCarthy has posted here. Have a good poke around, but beware, you’ll be lost in there for some time.