Ziggy Stardust (song)
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|
|Recorded||11 November 1971|
|The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars track listing|
"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.
Bowie wrote "Ziggy Stardust" and fellow album track "Lady Stardust" "within days" of each other in early 1971. 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. Bowie recorded an acoustic demo of the track between February and March 1971 at Radio Luxembourg's studios in London, around the same time Bowie recorded "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang On to Yourself" with his band Arnold Corns. This demo was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc CD release of Ziggy Stardust in 1990. The demo also appeared on the Ziggy Stardust – 30th Anniversary Reissue bonus disc in 2002.
The album version was recorded at Trident Studios in London on 11 November 1971. 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, 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. Biographer Marc Spitz describes the riff as "instantly recognisable and primal but complex." 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. Bowie begins his vocals, which Doggett describes "like a meteor from a distant galaxy," with "the phrase that defines his hero: "Ziggy played guitar."
The song describes Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. On the album, the character of Ziggy Stardust is directly introduced on the third track "Moonage Daydream". Both "Ziggy Stardust" and fellow album track "Lady Stardust" offer vastly different portraits of Ziggy. 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". 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, though Taylor was only part of the blueprint for the character. Other influences included the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Kansai Yamamoto, who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour. 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'". 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."
"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.
- Bowie recorded the song for the BBC radio programme Sounds of the 70s: Bob Harris on 18 January 1972. This was broadcast on 7 February 1972. On 16 May 1972 Bowie again played the song at Sounds of the 70s: John Peel, and this was broadcast on 23 May 1972. Both of these versions were released on the Bowie at the Beeb album in 2000.
- A live version recorded at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 20 October 1972 was released on Live Santa Monica '72. This version also appeared on the Japanese release of RarestOneBowie. It was also released as a single in France and the United States in 1994–95.
- The version played at the famous concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, London on 3 July 1973 was released on Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture.
- A spring 1978 performance from the "Heroes" tour was released on Stage and as the B-side of the live single "Breaking Glass" in 1978. A summer 1978 performance was included on Welcome to the Blackout, released in 2018.
- Bowie's 25 June 2000 performance of the song at the Glastonbury Festival was released in 2018 on Glastonbury 2000.
- Despite having vowed to never perform the track again in 1990, it was often the closing number on the 2002 Heathen Tour. Buckley calls his renditions during the tour "heart-stopping".
- A November 2003 live performance from the A Reality Tour was released on the A Reality Tour DVD in 2004, and is included on the A Reality Tour album, released in 2010.
Personnel per Kevin Cann.
- David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar
- Mick Ronson – electric guitar
- Trevor Bolder – bass guitar
- Mick Woodmansey – drums
|Japan (Japan Hot 100)||75|
|US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)||17|
|Single by Bauhaus|
|Released||5 October 1982|
|Bauhaus singles chronology|
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. This recording later appeared on the group's 1989 album Swing the Heartache: The BBC Sessions. Another studio take, featuring elements of Bowie's "Cracked Actor", was released on the 2009 reissue of their 1981 album Mask. 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.
- "Ziggy Stardust" (Bowie) – 3:08
- "Third Uncle" (Eno) – 5:11
- "Ziggy Stardust" (Bowie) – 3:08
- "Party of the First Part" (Bauhaus) – 5:22
- "Third Uncle" (Eno) – 5:11
- "Waiting for the Man" (live) (Lou Reed) – 5:31
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