David Bowie 1975-11-4 on ABCs Soul Train 1975
02. Golden Years
Bowie wasn’t the first white artist to appear on the predominantly African-American music show (Elton John beat him to that title), but that didn’t take away form the unconventionality of the occasion. Soul Train was a highly popular TV program across the US and rose to prominence as the “Black American Bandstand,” giving black artists a level of TV exposure that was hard to come by in the early 1970s.
The show prominently featured young, upcoming talents in soul, R&B, funk, and disco, as well as dancers who showed off their moves in the legendary “Soul Train Line.” Founder and host Don Cornelius had always intended to cater Soul Train to an African-American audience, simply because there were no other variety shows doing so in 1971, but he was more than willing to book non-black artists is the opportunity presented itself.
David Bowie performs ‘Golden Years’& Fame on the ABC TV show Soul Train in 1975.
He used the opportunity to promote Golden Years and his first US no.1, Fame. Somewhat awed by the occasion Bowie had been drinking to calm his nerves before the show. Interviewed before his performance, Bowie spoke thickly with disconnected sentences, probably reinforcing the strange public persona he had in the US.
Anchor: We’re very proud to have with us one who is easily one of the world’s most popular and important music personalities. A great welcome, gang, for the gifted singer, composer, producer — Mr David Bowie.
David Bowie: Thank you.
Anchor: Hi David.
Anchor: Nice to have you with us. And I think our folks would probably like to ask you some questions after,
Bowie: , I’d adore to answer them,
Anchor: , after I get my dumb ones out of the way.
Bowie: Oh, yes! I have some dumb answers.
Anchor: I understand you just did a film?
Bowie: Yes. Um, the director of the film is called Nicholas Roeg, who started out as someone I didn’t know and ended up as a friend of mine. And it’s called The Man Who Fell To Earth and it’s a bit like a Howard Hughes story. But he’s, he’s sort of an alien. But he doesn’t look like a sort of an alien.
Anchor: What part did you play in the film?
Anchor: /.?./, fantastic.
David Bowie in make-up before his 1975 Soul Train appearance
Bowie: Yeah, but it’s one person, but it looks like it.
Anchor: Uh huh. And you’re also doing a world tour soon that will take you to Russia.
Bowie: Yes, I hope so. We’ve asked if we can play in Russia.
Anchor: Have any other contemporary music acts played in Russia, that you know of?
Anchor: So you’ll start in the United States and go around the world probably and among the countries…
Bowie: …and end up in the United States again.
Anchor: And end up in the United States again, fantastic. Let’s see what we’ve got here…
Audience member: Hi, my name is Ella Walker and I would like to know; do you plan on doing any soundtracks for movies?
Bowie: I’m doing the soundtrack for The Man Who Fell To Earth (laughs) with a friend of mine, Paul Buckmaster.
Audience member: Yes, my name is David Vincent and is it true that you’re gonna be teamin’ up with Elizabeth Taylor to do a film?
Bowie: No. (laughs)
Audience member: Yes, my name is Glen Stafford and I like to know when did you actually start getting into soul music? You know, when did you start wanting to do soul music? I mean you’re doin’ it know! (laughs)
Bowie: (laughs) Um…getting into it? Well, back in England you see…when I was a teenager popping ’em you know…I don’t know it’s a similar expression over here…on street corners, we have street corners in London (David laughs at his own joke but nobody knows what the hell he’s talking about)…and we used to go to a lot of clubs and James Brown was very popular…about then…I was about seventeen then.
Anchor: OK, David I think we have to move on to your first song, which I believe is your latest single?
Bowie: Yes, it’s called Golden Years.
Anchor: OK, gang, how about it one more time for David Bowie. (audience applaud)