Ziggy Stardust turns 40


If the ‘ode to REM’ dated me … this one is really going to show my age. But I have to because Ziggy Stardust turned 40 this year.

Yup. The album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars <David Bowie> was released 40 years ago. For those of you who are not old enough … Ziggy Stardust was David Bowie at his best. And the album is just as good now as it was then. Just a reminder <so that the younguns reading don’t think I am blowing smoke up their ass> before I get to the album and David Bowie:

–          In 1997, Ziggy Stardust was named the 20th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted by HMV Group, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 1998, Q magazine readers placed it at number 24 and Virgin All-time Top 1000 Albums ranked it at number 11, while in 2003 VH1 placed it at number 48. It was named the 35th best album ever made by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. And Time magazine listed it in its top 100 albums of all time.

(yup … good album)

Bowie created the album as a concept album and after it was done the label, in typical fashion, said “hey, there is no single” and Bowie (probably after having a well deserved tantrum) went back, had a cocktail or two and cranked out ‘Starman” … still an awesome song today:

Live Starman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz0XIiIlATE&feature=related

Live Ziggy Stardust: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8sdsW93ThQ


Ziggy Stardust was David Bowie (or was David Bowie Ziggy … geez … not sure).  All I know is that The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was advertised with the slogan “David Bowie is Ziggy Stardust”… while, in smaller type, the words “Ziggy Stardust is David Bowie” ran across the bottom of the ad.

Bowie has always brilliantly blurred who he is as a person and who he is on stage. We overlook how talented he was as a songwriter, singer & performer. He was cool before we even knew what cool was. In a way he was a male trendsetter version of Madonna (but a much better musician).

Ziggy Stardust was just one among a brilliant three album run he had – Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Hunky Dory – which may rank up with one of the best 3 album stretches of anyone of all time.

Here is Panic in Detroit from Aladdin Sane:

Panic in Detroit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf0fmqWS-kI

And his band at that time. Tight. Good. Drummer Mick Woodmansey, bassist Trevor Bolder, and guitarist Mick Ronson played with David Bowie from 1971 to 1973 on three albums – Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Aladdin Sane. For all three albums they were Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars.

And Mick. Mick Ronson the band’s secret weapon …  flashy, but solid, guitar. He was the perfect counterpoint to Bowie (he kind of brought a solid sanity to Bowie’s out-of-this-world character).

Regardless. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is packed to the gills with classic tunes.

Ok. Why Ziggy?

The character of Ziggy was initially inspired by British singer Vince Taylor whom Bowie met after Taylor had had a breakdown and believed himself to be a cross between a god and an alien (how awesome is that story). Other influences included the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Kansai Yamamoto who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour (how awesome is that … where the heck are these types of stories today?).

Oh. And as Bowie told Rolling Stone, because Ziggy was “one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter ‘Z'”.


Happy 40th to one of the albums that I probably wore out in my youth. One of my favorite albums of all time.

And, as a bonus, some David Bowie photos:


Sorry. Just some musical memories. And it is always good to remind people that good music remains good … even 40 years good.

Written by Bruce