Tag Archives: Jean Genie

2011 ➤ I danced in Bowie’s Jean Genie video but have never seen it, says his friend Wendy

Wendy Kirby,David Bowie, Jean Genie, 1973, Top of the Pops,video,All the Young Dudes ,Daniella Parmar ,Freddi Burretti

Wendy Kirby aged 19: as Freddie Burretti’s flatmate, she met the Bowies at the Sombrero club’s trendy Sunday feasts in Kensington — “We were the people always round David’s house”

❚ “I WAS AT THAT TAPING,” said Wendy Kirby on Facebook earlier today. “But I never got to see the video,” she told Shapersofthe80s by phone later. She was talking about the longlost recording of David Bowie singing Jean Genie on Top of the Pops in 1973 — 38 years “Missing Believed Wiped” — and due to be screened tonight on BBC2 for the first time since.

Wendy was one of a posse of Bowie’s friends he’d asked to accompany him to BBC TV Centre because, she says, he was feeling nervous — “If you can believe that! He comes across as very confident, but he was always very shy and didn’t really want to go on Top of the Pops. Angie was the one with all the energy.”

Wendy Kirby,David Bowie, Jean Genie, 1973, Top of the Pops,video,All the Young Dudes ,Daniella Parmar ,Freddie Burretti,

Wendy Kirby this year: “Amazing to see myself on Top of the Pops after all this time!”

When we spoke today Wendy was mildly surprised at all the fuss over the video she’s never seen, but then, even as a 14-year-old schoolgirl she was a regular in the audience for Top of the Pops so had grown pretty blasé.

About five years later she’d become one of Bowie’s “piss-elegant champagne-drinking” entourage after meeting David and Angie at the Sombrero disco (strictly speaking, called Yours or Mine, beneath the restaurant El Sombrero in Kensington High Street) during the Hunky Dory period when he was wearing the Mr Fish man-dress and had long cascades of blond hair. All that was lopped and dyed red by Suzi Fussey for the Ziggy persona which made him a star. On Jan 3 1973, Wendy donned a black fishtail dress “with an exceedingly low back” plus a long blonde mermaid wig, and stepped into Studio 8 and onto the dancefloor for Top of the Pops in company with her flatmate Freddie Burretti (Bowie’s costume designer for whom Moonage Daydream was written), Angie Bowie and panda-eyed Daniella Parmar whose constantly changing hair colour had convinced Bowie “of the importance of a synthetic hair colour for Ziggy”.

David Bowie, Missing Believed Wiped, Jean Genie,1973,Top of the Pops,BBC, Mick Ronson, John Henshall, Spiders from Mars,Wendy said: “We were the ‘young dudes’ who shaved off our eyebrows just for camp, because you could paint them on higher up — that gave us a strange unearthly look which David adopted. He was always open to suggestions and went through our wardrobes like a magpie!”

Bowie name-checked his friends in the lyrics of the glam-rock anthem All the Young Dudes in 1972: Wendy’s stealing clothes/ from Marks and Sparks/ And Freddi’s got spots/ from ripping off the stars from his face/. When David told her, she replied: “You could at least have made it Harrods!”

She added: “Thing is, the fame happened seemingly overnight. People had thought of David as a one-hit wonder with Space Oddity, then suddenly in 1972 Starman was a hit and everything went from ordinary to unreal. Nothing was the same again.”

Wendy had no idea whether the cameras had caught them dancing in the Jean Genie video newly discovered and due for broadcast tonight. “Pan’s People had done their dance number and were heading out of the studio when David went onstage. They all stopped to watch his act and were mightily impressed. I remember a couple of them were wearing red fox-fur coats…”

David Bowie, Jean Genie, 1973, Top of the Pops,video,All the Young Dudes ,Daniella Parmar ,Freddie Burretti

Freddie Burretti and Daniella Parmar photographed by Mick Rock

Wendy Kirby,David Bowie, Jean Genie, 1973, Top of the Pops,video,All the Young Dudes ,Daniella Parmar ,Freddie Burretti, Angie Bowie

Here’s the proof broadcast tonight for the first time in 38 years! Wendy and Daniella Parmar dancing on Top of the Pops in 1973, just behind Mick’s guitar. (Videograb © BBC)

❏ Update at 8pm: “Yes, that’s me between David and Mick, the girl with a ton of make-up, huge eyelashes and the red flower in the hair — we piled on tons of everything then. That’s Daniella dancing next to me. Amazing to see myself on Top of the Pops after all this time! I’ve never seen this before. And I haven’t seen David perform live since… Those were great days and I was too young to appreciate them.”

Of Bowie’s Sombrero posse, today Wendy lives in West London and Daniella in Worthing. Freddie Burretti (born 1951, raised as Frederick Robert Burrett in Hackney) was also aka Rudi Valentino while fronting Bowie’s 1971 phantom band, the specially created Arnold Corns. His talents were better expressed as Freddie Burretti, making Ziggy Stardust’s outfits from the first quilted jumpsuit onward. He died while living in Paris in May 2001. The male escort Micky King recorded the Bowie song How Lucky You Are, among others, and according to Bowie was gruesomely murdered by a client some years later.

Wendy Kirby,David Bowie, Jean Genie, 1973, Top of the Pops,video,All the Young Dudes ,Daniella Parmar ,Freddie Burretti

Very Swinging London, early 70s: Wendy Kirby in a black wig. Her friends among Bowie’s young dudes included Daniella Parmar, hairdresser Antonello Parqualli and Sombrero face, Micky King

➢ Where to draw a line between Glitter and Glam – naff blokes in Bacofoil versus starmen with pretensions



➤ Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie from 1973 to be aired on Top of the Pops this week

David Bowie, Jean Genie, Top of the Pops, Mick Ronson,video,John Henshall,

1973 revisited: Bowie and Ronson singing Jean Genie in the "lost" Top of the Pops performance. (Videograb © BBC, courtesy of John Henshall/Bowie.net)

❚ HOT NEWS OF A CHRISTMAS TREAT for Bowie fans. They have waited for almost 40 years to see his only Top of the Pops performance of The Jean Genie with The Spiders from Mars in January 1973 — shirtless, though clad in an open satin jacket. The tape was long thought to have been wiped or lost.

However a former BBC cameraman recently discovered that he possessed the only broadcast-quality copy in pristine condition, and today Bowie Wonderworld announced that entertainment boss Mark Cooper has arranged to have it included in this Wednesday’s 90-minute collection of classic Christmas hits (TOTP2, 7.30pm). The intention had been to unveil the clip in the BBC4 documentary Tales of Television Centre in the New Year, but enthusiastic fans persuaded him to bring forward its screening, even though you won’t see the track listed in the online billings.

As executive producer of Top Of The Pops 2, Cooper said: “I can’t imagine what other piece of TOTP from the early 70s would be as extraordinary a find.”

Bowie’s performance of The Jean Genie was recorded on Jan 3, 1973 and transmitted the following day for the first and only time. The “lost” recording — copy on 2-inch broadcast videotape — was screened last week at the NFT’s Missing Believed Wiped event. BowieNet’s news editor enthused: “A shirtless David looks amazing as he shakes maracas and blows on the harmonica. It’s clear David and the Spiders were at their peak when this video footage was shot, just a few days before David’s 26th birthday.”

Andy Barding, another privileged witness, added: “The first screening of the newly rediscovered clip of Bowie, Ronson, Woodmansey and Bolder performing The Jean Genie on Top of the Pops saw a packed National Film Theatre struck agog at the majesty of Ziggy in action: in pristine, full-colour TV quality. David, with deep-red hair, shaved brows and bafflingly wide trousers, looked every inch the epitome of what we recall as glam.”

➢ Read Barding’s full appreciation of the lost clip at BowieNet

David Bowie, Jean Genie, Top of the Pops, Mick Ronson,video,John Henshall

TOTP 1973: Jean Genie viewed through John Henshall’s innovative fish-eye lens. (Videograb © BBC, courtesy of John Henshall/Bowie.net)

The Jean Genie single had been released in November 1972, and the January 4 transmission on the BBC’s flagship pop show boosted it to peak at Number 2 in the UK singles chart. The track was remixed for Bowie’s sixth album Aladdin Sane in April 1973 which divided critics over his genius. The Jean Genie surfed in on the inspirational wave caused by the arrival of Ziggy Stardust and the Starman in July 1972, when Bowie’s Top of the Pops appearance years later passed into legend as the glam-rock moment that shaped the imaginations of a teen generation who were to become the popstars of the 80s.

➢ Update Dec 21: Bowie’s friend Wendy Kirby spots herself dancing in Jean Genie for the first time

➢ Glitter versus Glam and where to draw a line – naff blokes in Bacofoil versus starmen with pretensions


❏ The retired cameraman John Henshall, now 69, has been speaking of how he came to own the footage of David Bowie’s Jean Genie which was thought to be lost. In the early 70s, long before the days of digital effects, Henshall ran a company called Telefex which made star filters, multi-image prisms, fish-eye lens attachments, kaleidotubes and picture rotators. Encouraged by TOTP producer Johnnie Stewart, he used the fish-eye to create the optical effects seen in the Bowie recording.

David Bowie, Jean Genie, 1973, Top of the Pops,video,John Henshall ,Mick Woodmansey

Cameraman caught on camera: John Henshall seen in Studio 8 just beyond drummer Mick Woodmansey during the Jean Genie recording. (Videograb © BBC)

Afterwards he asked Stewart for a personal copy on 2-inch tape to include in his company’s showreel.

Today he is an expert in digital imaging, who pioneered the now ubiquitous lightweight television camera mounted on a long boom arm that we see sweeping above artist and audience at concerts. He also directed photography on hundreds of early music videos for artists including Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Blondie and Elton John.

Henshall only discovered how “rarer than rare” the clip was when he mentioned it in a radio interview. He said: “I couldn’t believe that I was the only one with it. I thought you wouldn’t be mad enough to wipe a tape like that. They’d been looking for it for years.”

➢ Listen to John Henshall telling Malcolm Boyden at BBC Radio Oxford about how he saved the Bowie tape

➢ Update Dec 21: Finally, the BBC Six o’Clock News gets round to its own report on John Henshall’s prize discovery

➢ View the Jean Genie video on the BBC iPlayer until New Year’s Eve