Ziggy Stardust (song)

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"Ziggy Stardust"
A black-and-white photo of Bowie dressed as Stardust with an acoustic guitar
Cover of the 1994 live single version
Song by David Bowie
from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released
  • 16 June 1972 (1972-06-16)[1]
Recorded11 November 1971
StudioTrident, London
GenreGlam rock
Length3:13
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars track listing
Music video
"Ziggy Stardust" (from the film) on YouTube

"Ziggy Stardust" is a song written and recorded by English singer-songwriter David Bowie for his 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Co-produced by Ken Scott, Bowie recorded it at Trident Studios in London in November 1971 with his backing band the Spiders from Mars – comprising Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. In 2010 the song ranked at No. 282 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The song is one of four of Bowie's songs included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[2]

Composition[edit]

Bowie wrote "Ziggy Stardust" and fellow album track "Lady Stardust" "within days" of each other in early 1971.[3] According to biographer Nicholas Pegg, it was registered with Bowie's publisher Chrysalis as early as April 1971, before the recording sessions for Hunky Dory.[4] Bowie recorded an acoustic demo of the track between February and March 1971 at Radio Luxembourg's studios in London,[3][4] around the same time Bowie recorded "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang On to Yourself" with his band Arnold Corns.[5] This demo was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc CD release of Ziggy Stardust in 1990.[6] The demo also appeared on the Ziggy Stardust – 30th Anniversary Reissue bonus disc in 2002.[4]

The album version was recorded at Trident Studios in London on 11 November 1971.[7][4] Co-produced by Ken Scott, Bowie recorded it with his backing band known as the Spiders from Mars – comprising Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. Musically, it is a glam rock song, like its parent album,[8] that's based around a riff containing both tonic and dominant chords (the latter with a "hammered 4th"), followed by a "shifting-bass run" from C to A minor, thereby going back to the root.[9] Biographer Marc Spitz describes the riff as "instantly recognisable and primal but complex."[10] While Ronson plays the main riff on electric guitar, Bowie plays an acoustic twelve-string guitar, which is beneath the electric. A second electric, playing a riff inspired by the American rock band the Byrds, what Doggett calls a "jingle-jangle", is also present but almost buried in the mix.[9] Bowie begins his vocals, which Doggett describes "like a meteor from a distant galaxy," with "the phrase that defines his hero: "Ziggy played guitar."[9][10]

Lyrics[edit]

The song describes Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings.[11] On the album, the character of Ziggy Stardust is directly introduced on the third track "Moonage Daydream".[12] Both "Ziggy Stardust" and fellow album track "Lady Stardust" offer vastly different portraits of Ziggy.[3] According to the author Peter Doggett, while "Lady Stardust" presents an unfinished tale with "no hint at a denouement beyond a vague air of melancholy", "Ziggy Stardust" presents a "birth-to-death chronology".[3] The character was inspired by British rock 'n' roll singer Vince Taylor, whom David Bowie met after Taylor had a breakdown and believed himself to be a cross between a god and an alien,[13][14] though Taylor was only part of the blueprint for the character.[15] Other influences included the Legendary Stardust Cowboy[16] and Kansai Yamamoto, who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour.[17] The Ziggy Stardust name came partly from the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and partly, as Bowie told Rolling Stone, because Ziggy was "one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter 'Z'".[18] He later explained in a 1990 interview for Q magazine that the Ziggy part came from a tailor's shop called Ziggy's that he passed on a train, and 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."[19][20]

Release[edit]

"Ziggy Stardust" was released as the ninth track on the Bowie's fifth studio album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, between "Hang On to Yourself" and "Suffragette City", on 16 June 1972 by RCA Records.

Live versions[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Kevin Cann.[30]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016) Peak
position
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[31] 75
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[32] 17

Cover versions[edit]

Bauhaus[edit]

"Ziggy Stardust"
Bauhaus ziggy stardust.jpg
Single by Bauhaus
Released5 October 1982
Genre
LabelBeggars Banquet
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Bauhaus singles chronology
"Spirit"
(1982)
"Ziggy Stardust"
(1982)
"Lagartija Nick"
(1983)

The British gothic rock band Bauhaus recorded a version of "Ziggy Stardust" as their eighth single. The single was released in October 1982 through Beggars Banquet Records and reached number fifteen on the UK Singles Chart.[33] This recording later appeared on the group's 1989 album Swing the Heartache: The BBC Sessions.[34][35] Another studio take, featuring elements of Bowie's "Cracked Actor", was released on the 2009 reissue of their 1981 album Mask.[34] The B-side is a Brian Eno cover. It was released in 7" and 12" format on the Beggars Banquet label. The 12" additional live track "I'm Waiting for the Man" is a Velvet Underground cover.

Track listings[edit]

7"[36]
  1. "Ziggy Stardust" (Bowie) – 3:08
  2. "Third Uncle" (Eno) – 5:11
12"[37]
  1. "Ziggy Stardust" (Bowie) – 3:08
  2. "Party of the First Part" (Bauhaus) – 5:22
  3. "Third Uncle" (Eno) – 5:11
  4. "Waiting for the Man" (live) (Lou Reed) – 5:31

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Happy 43rd Birthday to Ziggy Stardust". Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  2. ^ "The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d Doggett 2012, p. 121.
  4. ^ a b c d Pegg 2016, p. 573.
  5. ^ Pegg 2016, p. 604.
  6. ^ Cann 2010, p. 255.
  7. ^ Doggett 2012, p. 107.
  8. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (17 March 2013). "Top 10 '70s Glam Rock Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Doggett 2012, p. 122.
  10. ^ a b Spitz 2009, p. 188.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 10 March 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  12. ^ Pegg 2016, p. 327.
  13. ^ "BBC – BBC Radio 4 Programmes – Ziggy Stardust Came from Isleworth". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 September 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  14. ^ "The Leper Messiah : Vince Taylor". davidbowie.com. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  15. ^ Mahoney, Elisabeth (20 August 2010). "Ziggy Stardust Came from Isleworth – review". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  16. ^ Scott Schinder, Andy Schwartz (2008). Icons of Rock. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 448. ISBN 0-313-33846-9. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  17. ^ Shelton Waldrep (2004). The aesthetics of self-invention: Oscar Wilde to David Bowie. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 111–112. ISBN 0-8166-3418-1. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  18. ^ "the album review site: La Roux Gets Sidetracked". album-review.co.uk. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  19. ^ Michael Campbell (2005). Popular music in America: the beat goes on. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. ISBN 0-534-55534-9. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  20. ^ "David Bowie interview by Paul Du Noyer 1990". Pauldunoyer.com. 25 August 2009. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  21. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bowie at the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68–72 – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  22. ^ Thornton, Anthony (1 July 2008). "David Bowie – 'Live: Santa Monica '72' review". NME. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  23. ^ Ruud Altenburg. "David Bowie – Illustrated db Discography > Ziggy Stardust CD-single". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  24. ^ Viglione, Joe. "Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  25. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Stage – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 5 August 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  26. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Welcome to the Blackout (Live London '78) – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 17 November 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  27. ^ Collins, Sean T. (5 December 2018). "David Bowie: Glastonbury 2000 Album Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  28. ^ Buckley 2005, p. 495.
  29. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Reality Tour – Davis Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  30. ^ Cann 2010, p. 252.
  31. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  32. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  33. ^ Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: HiT Entertainment. p. 45. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  34. ^ a b Pegg 2016, p. 574.
  35. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Swing the Heartache: The BBC Sessions – Bauhaus". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  36. ^ "Ziggy Stardust" (7" single liner notes). Bauhaus. UK: Beggars Banquet Records. 1982. BEG 83.CS1 maint: others (link)
  37. ^ "Ziggy Stardust" (12" single liner notes). Bauhaus. UK: Beggars Banquet Records. 1982. BEG 83T.CS1 maint: others (link)
Sources

External links[edit]