The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (often shortened to Ziggy Stardust) is the fifth studio album by English musician David Bowie, released on 16 June 1972 in the United Kingdom. It was produced by Bowie and Ken Scott and features contributions from the Spiders from Mars, Bowie's backing band - Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. The album was recorded in Trident Studios, London, like his previous album, Hunky Dory. Most of the album was recorded in November 1971 with further sessions in January and early February 1972.
|The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars|
|Studio album by David Bowie|
|Released||16 June 1972|
|Recorded||8 November 1971 – 4 February 1972|
|Studio||Trident Studios, London|
|David Bowie chronology|
|Singles from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars|
Described as a loose concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is about Bowie's titular alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a fictional androgynous bisexual rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. The character was retained for the subsequent Ziggy Stardust Tour through the United Kingdom, Japan and North America. The album, and the character of Ziggy Stardust, were influenced by glam rock and explored themes of sexual exploration and social commentary, besides the ambiguity surrounding Bowie's sexuality. A concert film of the same name, directed by D. A. Pennebaker, was recorded in 1973 and released a decade later.
Considered Bowie's breakthrough album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars peaked at number five on the UK Albums Chart and number 75 in the US Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart. As of January 2016[update] it had sold 7.5 million copies worldwide. The album received widespread critical acclaim and has been considered one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" by the Library of Congress.
Recording and productionEdit
Bowie started working on his fourth album, Hunky Dory on 8 June 1971 at Trident Studios, London. RCA Records in New York heard the tapes and signed him to a three-album deal on 9 September. Hunky Dory was released on 17 December to positive reviews and moderate commercial success. Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust were almost recorded back-to-back, but much of the material for Ziggy Stardust was recorded before Hunky Dory was released. His backing band realised that most of the songs on Hunky Dory were not suitable live material, so they needed a follow-up that could be toured behind.
Ziggy Stardust's sessions also took place at Trident, using a 16-track 3M M56 tape recorder. The sessions started on 8 November 1971, with the bulk of the album recorded that month, and concluded on 4 February 1972. Bowie had recorded early versions of the songs "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang On to Yourself" in February 1971, for the Arnold Corns side project, and had taped demos of "Ziggy Stardust" and "Lady Stardust" around that time. The November 1971 sessions produced the final versions of those four songs, along with "Rock 'n' Roll Star" (later shortened to "Star"), "Soul Love", and "Five Years", as well as some unreleased tracks. In 2012, co-producer Ken Scott said that "95 percent of the vocals on the four albums I did with him as producer, they were first takes."
Also recorded during the November sessions were five more songs: two covers, Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" (re-titled "Round and Round") and Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam" (re-titled "Port of Amsterdam"); and three original tracks: "Velvet Goldmine", "Bombers", and a re-recording of "Holy Holy". All these songs were initially slated for the album. Bowie also intended "All the Young Dudes", "Rebel Rebel" and "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" to be on a Ziggy Stardust musical, which was later aborted.
After recording some of the new songs for radio presenter Bob Harris's Sounds of the 70s as the newly dubbed Spiders from Mars in January 1972, the band returned to Trident that month to begin work on "Suffragette City" and "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide". RCA executive Dennis Katz had complained that the album did not contain a single, so Bowie wrote "Starman", the last song to be written, which was completed on 4 February 1972. He handed the final tape to Katz, who convinced Bowie to release the song as a single and include it in the album, replacing "Round and Round". "Starman" was released as a single on 28 April 1972, and became a hit after a successful performance on the BBC television programme Top of the Pops. The Ron Davies cover "It Ain't Easy", recorded on 9 July 1971 during the Hunky Dory sessions, closed the first side of the album.
Concept and themesEdit
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars is about a bisexual alien rock superstar, called Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy Stardust was not conceived as a concept album and much of the story was written after the album was recorded. The characters were androgynous. Mick "Woody" Woodmansey, drummer for the Spiders from Mars, said the clothes they had worn had "femininity and sheer outrageousness", and that the characters' looks "definitely appealed to our rebellious artistic instincts". Nenad Georgievski of All About Jazz said the record was presented with "high-heeled boots, multicolored dresses, extravagant makeup and outrageous sexuality". Bowie had already developed an androgynous appearance, which was approved by critics, but received mixed reactions from audiences. His love of acting led his total immersion in the characters he created for his music. After acting the same role over an extended period, it became impossible for him to separate Ziggy Stardust (and subsequently The Thin White Duke) from his own offstage character. Bowie said that Ziggy "wouldn't leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour ... My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity."
The character was inspired by British rock 'n' roll singer Vince Taylor, whom David Bowie met after Taylor had had a breakdown and believed himself to be a cross between a god and an alien. However, Taylor was only part of the blueprint for the character. Other influences included the cult musician Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Kansai Yamamoto, who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour. An alternative theory is that, during a tour, Bowie developed the concept of Ziggy as a melding of the persona of Iggy Pop with the music of Lou Reed, producing "the ultimate pop idol". A girlfriend recalled his "scrawling notes on a cocktail napkin about a crazy rock star named Iggy or Ziggy", and on his return to England he declared his intention to create a character "who looks like he's landed from Mars".
The Ziggy Stardust name came partly from the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and partly because Ziggy was "one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter 'Z'". In 1990, Bowie explained that the "Ziggy" part came from a tailor's shop called Ziggy's that he passed on a train. He liked it because it had "that Iggy [Pop] connotation but it was a tailor's shop, and I thought, Well, this whole thing is gonna be about clothes, so it was my own little joke calling him Ziggy. So Ziggy Stardust was a real compilation of things."
In the album's plotline, humanity will end within five years, because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy Stardust starts to believe in the existence of "infinites", extraterrestrial beings who are black hole jumpers, and in a spaceman who will be coming down to save the Earth. According to Bowie, he "takes himself up to the incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples". During the song "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide", the infinites arrive, and tear Ziggy Stardust to pieces on stage, taking his elements to become visible.
Music and lyricsEdit
Ziggy Stardust has been retrospectively described as glam rock and proto-punk. Nenad Georgievski felt the record represents Bowie's interests in "theater, dance, pantomime, kabuki, cabaret and science fiction."
For the album, Mick Ronson used an electric guitar plugged to a 100-watt Marshall amplifier and a wah-wah pedal; Bowie played acoustic rhythm guitar. The album begins with "Five Years", which opens with a minimalist drum figure. The track contains a repeated diatonic chord progression, resembling early 1950s rock and roll music. The next track, "Soul Love", has a pop-jazz orchestration. In the song, Bowie's vocals are double tracked, which gives an effect of two people singing and suggests a band performance. Bowie also performs the alto saxophone. The following track, "Moonage Daydream", uses harmonic and melodic hooks, and heavy metal-style percussion and guitar. The Ron Davies cover "It Ain't Easy" is the only song in the album that was not written by Bowie. Its arrangement was described by Ned Raggett as "a cabaret confection and a blasting rock apocalypse", characterised by quieter verses contrasting with choruses that contain overdubbed backing vocals and Ronson's "brilliantly triumphant guitar". The track closes the first side of the album.
"Ziggy Stardust", performed by Bowie as the titular character Ziggy Stardust.
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"Lady Stardust" has a moderate tempo, piano accompaniment and a pop hook. "Star" has a "piano-based retro feel". The guitar and Bowie's and Ronson's arrangement on "Hang On to Yourself" resemble late 1970s punk rock. "Suffragette City", the album's penultimate song, is a "straight-ahead" track which contains a saxophone-like section, produced with an ARP 2500 synthesiser. The album closer "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" has a simple and "long-standing" chord progression and a minimalist acoustic guitar texture, which builds as the song reaches its climax.
Ziggy Stardust's concept and music were influenced by Bowie's earlier album, The Man Who Sold The World, Iggy Pop, the lead singer of the proto-punk band the Stooges, Lou Reed, vocalist and songwriter of the Velvet Underground, Marc Bolan, lead singer of glam rock band T. Rex, guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix; and progressive rock band King Crimson. The album's lyrics discuss the artificiality of rock music in general, political issues, drug use, sexual orientation and stardom. Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the album's lyrics as "fractured, paranoid" and "evocative of a decadent, decaying future".
Artwork and packagingEdit
The album cover photograph was taken by Mick Rock outside furriers "K. West" at 23 Heddon Street, London in January 1972, looking south-east towards the centre of the city. Bowie said of the sign, "It's such a shame that sign went [was removed]. People read so much into it. They thought 'K. West' must be some sort of code for 'quest.' It took on all these sort of mystical overtones." The post office in the background (now "The Living Room, W1" bar) was the site of London's first nightclub, The Cave of the Golden Calf, which opened in 1912. As part of street renovations, in April 1997 a red "K series" phonebox was returned to the street, replacing a modern blue phonebox, which in turn had replaced the original phonebox featured on the rear cover.
Of the album's packaging in general, Bowie said:
The idea was to hit a look somewhere between the Malcolm McDowell thing with the one mascaraed eyelash and insects. It was the era of Wild Boys, by William S. Burroughs. [...] [It] was a cross between that and Clockwork Orange that really started to put together the shape and the look of what Ziggy and the Spiders were going to become. [...] Everything had to be infinitely symbolic."
The cover was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of "Classic Album Cover" postage stamps issued in January 2010. The rear cover of the original vinyl LP contained the instruction "TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME" (in caps). The instruction was omitted, however, from re-releases.
In March 2012, The Crown Estate, which owns Regent Street and Heddon Street, installed a commemorative brown plaque at No. 23 in the same place as the "K. West" sign on the cover photo. The unveiling was attended by original band members Woodmansey and Bolder, and was unveiled by Gary Kemp. The plaque was the first to be installed by The Crown Estate and is one of the few plaques in the country devoted to fictional characters.
Release and promotionEdit
Widely considered to be Bowie's breakthrough album, Ziggy Stardust was released on 16 June 1972 in the UK. [nb 1] An ambiguity surrounding Bowie's sexuality (even after Bowie declaring himself as gay) and a performance of "Starman" on Top of the Pops brought public attention to the album.
Ziggy Stardust entered the top 10 in its second week on the UK Albums Chart. In its first week, the album sold 8,000 copies in Britain. After dropping down the chart in late 1972, the album began climbing the chart again; by the end of 1972, the album had sold 95,968 units in Britain. It peaked at number 5 on the chart in February 1973. In the US, the album peaked at number 75 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart in April 1973. It was eventually certified platinum and gold in the UK and US respectively. The first single from the album, "Starman", charted at number 10 in the UK while peaking at 65 in the US.
The album returned to the UK chart on 31 January 1981, amid the New Romantic era that Bowie had helped inspire. It was followed by a reissue of Aladdin Sane, which spent the first of 24 weeks on the chart in March 1982. After Bowie's death from cancer on 10 January 2016, the album reached a new peak of 21 in the US Billboard 200. It has sold an estimated 7.5 million copies worldwide, making it Bowie's second-best-selling album.
In promotion of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie began the Ziggy Stardust Tour. The first part of the tour started in the United Kingdom, and went from 29 January to 7 September 1972. A show at the Toby Jug pub in Tolworth on 10 February of the same year was hugely popular, catapulting him to stardom and creating, as described by David Buckley, a "cult of Bowie".
The tour lasted eighteen months, and passed through United States and Canada; it then continued to Japan, to promote his album Aladdin Sane (1973). Bowie announced the end of the tour on 3 July 1973, at the Hammersmith Apollo. It had had more than 170 gigs.
|Contemporaneous reviews (published in 1972)|
|New Musical Express||(lukewarm)|
Upon release, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars received highly favourable reviews by music critics. James Johnson of New Musical Express (NME) said the album has "a bit more pessimism" than on previous releases, and called the album's songs "fine". Michael Watts of Melody Maker published that, while Ziggy Stardust had "no well-defined story line", it had "odd songs and references to the business of being a pop star that overall add up to a strong sense of biographical drama."
In Rolling Stone, writer Richard Cromelin gave the album a favourable review of "at least a 99" (assumed out of 100). But while Cromelin thought it was good, he felt that the record and its style might not be of lasting interest: "We should all say a brief prayer that his fortunes are not made to rise and fall with the fate of the 'drag-rock' syndrome". Circus wrote that the album is "from start to finish [...] of dazzling intensity and mad design", and called it a "stunning work of genius". The album was placed at the top of Creem's end of year list.
|Retrospective reviews (published after 1972)|
|Christgau's Record Guide||B+|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Ziggy Stardust has been retrospectively acclaimed by critics, and recognised as one of the most important glam rock albums. Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for AllMusic: "Bowie succeeds not in spite of his pretensions but because of them, and Ziggy Stardust – familiar in structure, but alien in performance – is the first time his vision and execution met in such a grand, sweeping fashion." Greg Kot, writing for Chicago Tribune, described the album as a "guitar-fueled song cycle", saying it "enacted the deaths of Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix and the '60s and presaged the dread, decadence and eroticism of a new era."
In 1987, as part of their 20th anniversary, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 6 on "The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years". In 1997, Ziggy Stardust was named the 20th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted in the UK. It was named the 35th best album ever made by Rolling Stone. In 2004, it was placed at number 81 in Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. In 2006, Q magazine readers placed it at number 41, In the same year, the album was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best albums of all time.
According to Acclaimed Music, a site which uses statistics to numerically represent reception among critics, Ziggy Stardust is the 16th most celebrated album of all time. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In 2013, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it 35th on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In March 2017, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the United States National Recording Preservation Board, which designates it as a sound recording that has had significant cultural, historical, or aesthetic impact in American life.
The concept of Ziggy Stardust was revisited by Bowie himself in his later album Aladdin Sane (1973), which topped the UK chart, and was his first number-one album. Described by Bowie as "Ziggy goes to America", it contained songs he wrote while travelling to and across the US during the earlier part of the Ziggy tour.
In 2004, Brazilian singer Seu Jorge released a cover album of 14 Bowie songs, many of them from Ziggy Stardust, as a soundtrack for the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Seu Jorge would later re-record the songs as a solo album called The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions. The album's liner notes, Bowie wrote "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with". Musician Saul Williams named his 2007 album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, a play on the title of Bowie's album.
The album was covered as part of rock band Phish's Halloween 'musical costume' on 31 October 2016. In June 2017, an extinct species of wasp was named Archaeoteleia astropulvis after Ziggy Stardust ("astropulvis" is Latin for "stardust").
D. A. Pennebaker directed a documentary and concert film featuring Bowie and the Spiders from Mars performing in the final Ziggy Stardust Tour, at the Hammersmith Odeon, London on 3 July 1973. At this show, Bowie made the sudden surprise announcement that the show would be "the last show that we'll ever do", later understood to mean that he was retiring his Ziggy Stardust persona.
The full-length 90-minute film spent years in post-production before finally having its theatrical premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival, on 31 August 1979. Prior to the premiere, the 35 mm film had been shown in 16 mm format a few times, mostly in United States college towns. A shortened 60-minute version was broadcast once in the US on ABC-TV in October 1974. In 1983, the film was released to theatres worldwide, corresponding with the release of its soundtrack album entitled Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture. A digitally remastered 30th Anniversary Edition DVD, including additional material from the live show and extras, was released in 2003.
All tracks written by David Bowie, except where noted.
|5.||"It Ain't Easy" (Ron Davies)||2:58|
|8.||"Hang On to Yourself"||2:40|
|11.||"Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"||2:58|
Reissues and re-releasesEdit
Dr. Toby Mountain remastered Ziggy at Northeastern Digital Recording, Southborough, Massachusetts, from the original master tapes for Rykodisc. The reissue was released on 6 June 1990, with five bonus tracks:
- "John, I'm Only Dancing" (1979 remix of 1972 single) – 2:43
- "Velvet Goldmine" (Single B-side from the 1975 RCA re-release of "Space Oddity"; original recording from November 1971 album sessions) – 3:09
- "Sweet Head" (Previously unreleased outtake from November 1971 album sessions) – 4:14
- "Ziggy Stardust" (February 1971 demo) – 3:35
- "Lady Stardust" (March 1971 demo) – 3:35
On 16 July 2002, a 2-disc version was released by EMI/Virgin. The first in a series of 30th Anniversary 2CD Editions, this release included a newly remastered version as its first CD. The remaster on this edition reverses the left and right stereo channels on the first disc and many of the songs have been edited. Among other things, the three-note bridge between "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City", and the count-in to "Hang On to Yourself" are missing.
The second disc contains twelve tracks, most of which had been previously released on CD as bonus tracks of the 1990–92 reissues. The new mix of "Moonage Daydream" was originally done for a 1998 Dunlop television commercial. The bonus tracks:
- "Moonage Daydream" (Arnold Corns version) – 3:53
- "Hang On to Yourself" (Arnold Corns version) – 2:54
- "Lady Stardust" (demo) – 3:33
- "Ziggy Stardust" (demo) – 3:38
- "John, I'm Only Dancing" – 2:49
- "Velvet Goldmine" – 3:13
- "Holy Holy" (1971 re-recording) – 2:25
- "Amsterdam" (Jacques Brel, Mort Shuman) – 3:24
- "The Supermen" (Alternate version, recorded for the Glastonbury Fayre in 1971, originally released on Glastonbury Fayre Revelations – A Musical Anthology, 1972 and on CD on 1990s Rykodisc/EMI Hunky Dory) – 2:43
- "Round and Round" (Chuck Berry) – 2:43
- "Sweet Head"(take 4) – 4:52
- "Moonage Daydream" (new mix) – 4:47
All tracks written by David Bowie, except as noted.
The 2012 remaster was made available on CD and on a special, limited edition format of vinyl and DVD, featuring the new remaster on an LP, together with 2003 remixes of the album by Ken Scott (5.1 and stereo mixes) on DVD-Audio. The latter included bonus 2003 Ken Scott mixes of "Moonage Daydream" (instrumental), "The Supermen", "Velvet Goldmine" and "Sweet Head".
The 2012 remaster of the album and the 2003 remix (stereo mix) were both included in the 2015 box set Five Years 1969–1973. The album, in its 2012 remastering, was also rereleased separately, in 2015–2016, in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.
- David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar, saxophone, harpsichord, piano, arrangements
- Mick Ronson – electric guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, piano, string arrangements
- Trevor Bolder – bass, trumpet
- Mick Woodmansey – drums
- Uncredited personnel: Rick Wakeman – harpsichord (track 5) and Dana Gillespie – background vocals (track 5)
- David Bowie – production
- Ken Scott – production, audio engineering, mixing engineering
- Ray Staff – audio engineering
1999 Virgin releaseEdit
Credits adapted from AllMusic.
|1972||UK Albums Chart||5|
|1973||US Billboard 200||75|
|2016||US Billboard 200||21|
|US Top Catalog Albums (Billboard)||3|
|1972||"Starman"||UK Singles Chart||10|
|Billboard Pop Singles||65|
|1974||"Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"||UK Singles Chart||22|
Sales and certificationsEdit
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||1,500,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||$1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Cann 2010, p. 219.
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- Dates and other informations of tracks, according to Pegg 2016:
- "Five Years": "'It's Gonna Rain Again' enjoyed its brief moment in the studio on the very same day, 15 November 1971, that 'Five Years' was committed to tape."
- "It Ain't Easy": "[...] the Ron Davies cover 'It Ain't Easy' [...] [cut] on 9 July 1971 and originally slated for inclusion on Hunky Dory."
- "Lady Stardust": "'Lady Stardust' was one of the first Ziggy songs to be composed [...]. A stereo demo was recorded at Radio Luxembourg's studios on 9–10 March 1971.", "After an initial recording on 8 November 1971 was deemed unsuccessful, the definitive Ziggy Stardust version was cut three days later."
- "Moonage Daydream": "David recorded early versions of 'Moonage Daydream' and 'Hang on to Yourseld' at Radio Luxembourg's studios on 25 February.", "[...] the definitive Ziggy version, recorded at Trident on 12 November 1971."
- "Soul Love": "'Soul Love' was recorded at Trident on 12 November 1971."
- "Star": "After an initial recording on 8 November 1971 was deemed unsuccessful, the definitive Ziggy Stardust version was taped on 11 November under the working title 'Rock 'n' Roll Star'."
- "Sweet Head": "'Sweet Head' casts an intriguing light on the album's development. Completed on 11 November 1971, [...]"
- "Velvet Goldmine": "This [...] out-take was recorded at Trident on 11 November 1971."
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