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David Bowie – “Heroes” – Top of The Pops, 1977 – (Nacho version)

October 19th, 2017 | by Nick

David Bowie – “Heroes” – Top of the Pops – 1977

“Heroes” was originally released as a single on the 23rd of September 1977, and was then subsequently a track on David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, released a few weeks later, on the 14th of October.
The Top of the Pops performance was recorded exactly forty years ago today, on the 19th of October 1977.

It is a particularly interesting performance because it was sung live, in front of an audience in the Top of the Pops studio, and over a new backing track, recorded with a one-off band the previous day.
Roger Griffin, the author of the excellent book, “David Bowie The Golden Years”, and creator of the website Bowie Golden Years has kindly written something exclusively for the notes about this video, about that time in October ’77, when Bowie was in London for the Top of the Pops performance:
On the 20th of October 1977, Top of the Pops featured Bowie performing “Heroes“, the last of a series of performances of the new single on television. He’d completed work on the album in Berlin, and as mixing continued in Montreux, Bowie flew to UK in September. He appeared on Marc Bolan’s show and Bing Crosby’s Christmas Special (UK) then in October, L’altra Domenica and Odeon (Italy), Pop Shop (Netherlands) and Les Rendez-vous du Dimanche (France). Perhaps nonplussed by the variety of setups for those performances, Bowie arranged with “Heroes” producer Tony Visconti to assemble a small group to make a pre-recorded backing tape for Bowie’s first Top of the Pops appearance in five years. The day before the broadcast, Bowie arrived in London and headed straight to Visconti’s Good Earth studios in Soho for the recording session with Visconti, pianist Sean Mayes and guitarist Ricky Gardiner. Mayes’ band Fumble had opened for Bowie and the Spiders back in 1972. “I’d heard nothing from him for five years,” Mayes told David Currie. “Then out of the blue came a phone call to do “Heroes” for Top of the Pops”. Ricky Gardiner had played guitar on Low, Lust For Life and Iggy’s 1977 tour. “I was asked to reproduce Robert Fripp’s line,” he told Stephen Dalton in 2001. “I did not realise at the time that he had used an E Bow. I did my best using feedback alone. As we went through the song, my amplifier started dying. As the song finished, so did the amp.” Bowie then taped his appearance at the BBC studios, accompanied by the new backing track, before heading back to Soho with Visconti for a drink. The next day, Bowie told the Melody Maker at the Dorchester Hotel that this unprecedented amount of promotion was “to prove my belief in the album. Both Low and “Heroes” have been met with confused reactions. That was to be expected, of course. But I didn’t promote Low at all, and some people thought my heart wasn’t in it.”
Roger’s work, documenting the professional and significant personal activities of David Bowie, during the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, is an invaluable source of information to me, as it must be for any serious student of Bowie. Roger’s Bowie Golden Years website has been one of my most valuable resources for Bowie facts since I’ve been making these videos. Currently most of the site is offline, being redesigned. However, from Roger’s website, here is the 1977 Allan Jones interview with Bowie, in London at The Dorchester Hotel the day after the Top of the Pops broadcast:

The Top of the Pops performance of “Heroes” is quite commonly available online, and a portion of it was in this years Bowie at the BBC show. However, like the majority of classic Bowie performances, a completely satisfactory version has not previously been readily available. Prior to this video, the Top of the Pops performance has been available in low quality / incomplete / marred by info text boxes / canned applause obscuring the opening of the track etc.
Sourced from three digital broadcasts, and three pre-broadcast recordings and outtakes, this version is complete. It includes a pre-broadcast section which gives us a glimpse into the behind the scenes filming of the show – basically presenter Dave Lee Travis larking about, until what sounds like the shoot manager calling for quiet on the set. It includes a brief shot of Bowie leaning on a piece of the set, waiting to start the performance, and he can be heard clearing his throat before the backing tracks starts.
Hope you dig it!
Do me an’ yerself a favor – watch it in the Highest Def available with the sound UP LOUD!
If anyone has any other footage, or ideas for another video project, of material from Bowie’s classic period, do please get in touch:
Putting this video together was another huge labour of love, made with love and with respect for the source. I don’t own the rights, and I’m not making any money out of this etc. Just a fan making videos for other fans.

Nacho, October 19th, 2017.

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