Ziggy Stardust: A Tale of Blood and Glitter

Reaching For Ziggy

3rd July 1973: Adoring fans reaching out to touch the hand of the English pop star, David Bowie, during the concert at the Hammersmith Odeon where Bowie announced that he was retiring his alter-ego ‘Ziggy Stardust’. (Photo by Steve Wood/Express/Getty Images)

In early 1972, David Bowie, aka David Jones, introduced the world to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. According to cosmicmagazine.com.au, Ziggy took the stage for the first time at a small London pub called Toby Jug Pub. This performance would blow the minds of the 60 people attending the show. With his wild red hair and flashy style, Ziggy Stardust wowed the small crowd. This performance snowballed into the Ziggy Stardust story.

That first show was on February 10th, 1972. A stark contrast to the final show almost a year later. The effect of Ziggy Stardust was instantaneous and explosive after that first show. Everyone was talking about them and wanted to see them. Shows were being sold out everywhere.

Ziggy Stardust is just one of David Bowie’s (born David Jones) personas, but one of his greatest. These masterful transitions from character to character would make any famous actor or actress jealous. Per loudersound.com David spoke about his transformation into Ziggy like this:

“What I do and the way I dress is me pandering to my eccentricities and imagination. It’s a continual fantasy. There is no difference between my personal life and anything I do on stage. I’m rarely David Jones anymore. I think I’ve forgotten who he is.”

Clockwork Orange

But where did Ziggy come from? David Bowie was influenced by all kinds of early 70’s pop culture. His interests went from Andy Warhol to Kabuki Masks to Japanese and French Theater. He was influenced by mimes and pop art. One of the biggest visual influences was Clockwork Orange, which had been released in 1971 and highly affected the look and feel of Ziggy. He even wanted the band to dress in bowlers and have a similar appearance and manner.

Trevor Bolder, bassist for The Spiders from Mars, has his to say about the image:

“We were his droogs, but it was Woody who decided we might as well become the Spiders From Mars and he put the name on the drum kit. David edged us into the clothes. Originally he wanted us to wear bowler hats and boiler suits like in the movie but we refused that do that so he commissioned our stage clothes.”

Before Bowie had taken the stage for the first time as Ziggy, he introduced the character earlier. He went to the Friars Club and told a few fans about what they could expect from this new transition:

“Our new stage act will be outrageous. But very theatrical. It’s going to be costumed and choreographed, quite different to anything anyone else has tried to do before. No one has ever seen anything like this. It’s going to be entertainment because that’s what’s missing in pop music now. There’s only me and Marc Bolan. The Beatles were outrageous at one time, so was Mick Jagger.”

Blood and Glitter

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, the fifth studio album was released on June 16th, 1972.

And like a great author, David wanted to conclude the character of “Ziggy Stardust” quickly and with style. The last show was on July 3rd, 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Ziggy Stardust was finishing out a 60-gig tour for the release of the album Aladdin Sane. The announcement was made live on stage while filming a documentary of the whole tour. The crowd went berserk as the curtain fell on the tale of Ziggy.

Mick Rock, David Bowie’s photographer/videographer during the Ziggy phase said this about Bowie:

“Before it became glam it was called ‘blood and glitter’. Glam was just a lifestyle. Roxy Music [who supported Bowie at the Rainbow Theatre] were a great band, but people like Queen, Cockney Rebel and so on… they were outriders, pretenders.”

There’s no end to the amazing things to learn about David Bowie.

David Bowie: 5 Moments that Exemplified the Wonder He Was

David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. Since his passing, we know now more than ever that there was no other artist like him, and there likely will never be one quite like him ever again. These five moments prove that.

  • 5. He could have a laugh and not take himself too seriously.

    Make no mistake that Bowie was an artist’s artist, but the man was funny, too. Just look at this compilation of moments he had with Conan O’Brien for proof.

  • 4. He’s half responsible for the best rendition of a Christmas classic

    So many artists have covered Christmas classics, but few are responsible for the best renditions. Think about it: Is it really Christmas without listening to Bowie and Bing Crosby’s version of “The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)?” The answer you’re looking for is “No.”


  • 3. He had the foresight of what the Internet would do to/for society

    This clip from BBC Newsnight from 1999 of Bowie talking about the Internet is so spot-on, it’s chilling.

    David Bowie speaks to Jeremy Paxman in 1999

    "It's going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about": David Bowie in 1999 predicting how the internet would change our lives. Watch his full interview with Jeremy Paxman here: http://bbc.in/22VXdbH #newsnight #DavidBowieRIP

    Posted by BBC Newsnight on Monday, January 11, 2016
  • 2. He wasn’t afraid to take on MTV

    Bowie had a bone to pick with MTV in a 1983 interview and rightfully so. In a video that was released by MTV shortly after his death, Bowie bluntly asks VJ Mark Goodman why there were so few black artists played on the network. Bowie didn’t just bite one of the hands that fed him; he pretty much gnawed it off and spit it out.

  • 1. He said goodbye in epic fashion

    No one knew it until it was too late, but Bowie’s final studio album Blackstar was his way of saying goodbye to all of his fans.  It was devastating and ridiculously cool all at the same time.  Blackstar would debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. It was his first number one album ever on the chart.  What a way to go out.

Hot Scott, aka Scotty, when not wrangling his chihuahua he's writing, painting, and playing games. Loves Dungeon and Dragons, comics, and everything nerdy and geeky. He has an uncontrollable beard and has been known to wear a kilt on the right occasion. Might be a robot, we are checking on that. Send oil.