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Retirement Tour of
Great Britain

May 1973


Songs performed: Space Oddity, The Width of A Circle, medley: Quicksand/Life on Mars/Memory of a Free Festival, medley: The Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud/All the Young Dudes/Oh! You Pretty Things, Changes, Moonage Daydream, Hang Onto Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City, Rock n Roll Suicide, The Prettiest Star, Watch That Man, Aladdin Sane, Drive-In Saturday, Panic in Detroit, Cracked Actor, Time & The Jean Genie.

Other artists songs: White Light/White Heat (Lou Reed), My Death (Jacques Brel), Round and Round (Chuck Berry), Lets Spend the Night Together (Jagger - Richards) & Love Me Do (McCartney-Lennon - 3 July 1973 only).

Set lists: Bowie now performed what was basically the same set night after night with songs from Aladdin Sane and Ziggy making up most of the set. He also reached back into his early songbook for some numbers and used them as medleys.  A typical concert at the start of the tour had the following sequence of songs: Hang Onto Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Watch That Man / medley: Quicksand/Life on Mars/Memory of a Free Festival/ The Prettiest Star / Moonage Daydream / Changes / Space Oddity / The Jean Genie / Time / The Width of A Circle / Lets Spend The Night Together / Drive In Saturday / Panic in Detroit / Suffragette City / Cracked Actor / Rock n Roll Suicide.  A typical concert at the end of the tour had the following sequence of songs: Hang Onto Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Watch That Man / medley: The Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud/All the Young Dudes/Oh! You Pretty Things / Moonage Daydream / Changes / Space Oddity / The Jean Genie / Time / The Width of A Circle / Lets Spend The Night Together / Suffragette City / White Light White Heat/ Round & Round / Rock n Roll Suicide.

May-1st 1973

Reaches Moscow. Travels on the Orient Express to Paris.

May-3rd 1973

Arrives in France and stays at the George V Hotel and spends evening with songwriter Jacques Brel in Paris. He oversleeps and misses the arranged train connection to Boulogne. He finally takes the ferry to Boulogne and hovercraft back to England. Bowie only reluctantly crossed the Channel in a hover-craft (he thinks it is too much like flying).

May-4th 1973

Arrives in Charing Cross Station (orginally intended to be Victoria Station), London to be greeted by a crowd of well-wishers - By this time Bowie and entourage have travelled 8,000 miles overland.

May-5th 1973

Bowie has a homecoming party with friends at Haddon Hall. Present for wine and chicken are Tony Visconti and his wife Mary Hopkin, Lindsay Kemp, Mick Ronson and Suzie Fussey, George Underwood, Ken Scott, Freddi Burretti and Chelita Secunda.

"He invited us to a party in Beckenham. It was one of the last few weeks he was there because kids were already starting to tear the house down and hang outside and all that. And there he was. I recognised him, but he wasn't really the same David. He played the part. He played the part - definitely. He was Ziggy for a while - definitely was."- Tony Visconti (1976)

May-8-11th 1973

Studio: Central London. Rehearsals.

May-12th 1973

KEY CONCERT: Earls Court, London.

The eight-week tour of the UK begins at this massive stadium attended by 18,000 fans. This is to be the first use of this venue for a rock concert and the biggest ever in-door rock audience in the UK at the time. Unfortunately the show is marred by poor sound, poor stage visibility (it was very low) and adverse fan behaviour (some drunken members of the audience danced naked and urinated in the aisles and there were outbreaks of violence causing Bowie to ask for calm at one stage).

This was also the first time that Bowie wore his new Kansai Yamamoto outfits.

"We started extremely badly.  My management, in their wisdom and to save a buck, had not supplied a sound system that was anywhere near adequate.  On top of that the stage was ridicuously low, audience faces pressing to the lower regins of my body. Our lighting couldn't cope with the cavernous conditions met here.  No one could hear, no one could see." - Bowie

A second show at this venue scheduled for 30 June 1973 is cancelled as a result. Apart from Earls Court, the tour is an enormous success playing 37 towns and cities in 45 days and being sold out in each. Altogether 150,000 fans would attend these concerts.

"The second time I saw Bowie  (not forgetting the Spiders) was at Earls Court at start of the 1973 tour...Most memorable moment?...having a seat about 3 miles away from the stage and after crawling over, under and through what seemed like a hundred rows of seats, ending up slap-bang centre of the stage, watching David trying hard to keep his knee length boots up (white mini kimono outfit) and finally giving up with the gold lipstick that was nearly sticking his lips together (he wiped it off on his sleeve!) and him spotting me surrounded by screaming girls, he pointed at me and smiled the most heart warming smile I've ever had smiled at me." - Colin Richardson (2002)

The LIFE ON MARS? promotional video is shot backstage at Earls Court on this date.

May-16th 1973

Concert: Music Hall, Aberdeen. Matinee performance. The two shows start with a sound check at 5.00pm, the 1st show at 7.00pm and the 2nd at 9.00pm. This pattern will be repeated many times over the next two months as extra matinees are booked in order to keep up with fan demand.

May-17th 1973

Concert: Caird Hall, Dundee. Bowie is saved from being trapped by fans at his car by bodyguard Stuey George.

May-18th 1973

Concert: Greens Playhouse, Glasgow. Matinee performance. Two shows. A whole row of seating is torn out by fans at this concert. Bowie tells the press that he never runs out of energy and that he believes he has more energy than anyone he knows. He recalls the concert:

"We had, I think, four couples making it in the back row which was fabulous.  Its the first time I've heard of that happening.  There was also a whole row of seats physically torn out of the floor, which sounds like the fifties to me.  Can you imagine how much energy has to be used to tear out a theatre seat?"

Poor reviews follow the Earl's Court sound problems.

May-19th 1973

Concert: Empire Theatre, Edinburgh. Matinee performance. Two shows.

May-21st 1973

Concert: Theatre Royal, Norwich. Matinee performance. Two shows.

May-22nd 1973

Concert: Odeon, Romford

May-23rd 1973

Concert: Dome, Brighton. Matinee performance. Two shows. Bowie is later banned by the Brighton Dome management from appearing at this venue again due to fan's vandalising the seating during the show.

May-24th 1973

Concert: Odeon, Lewisham. This was an additional performance added due to demand.

May-25th 1973

Concert: Winter Gardens, Bournemouth.

This concert is filmed for a short documentary "Nationwide-BBC1 "Ziggy Special"

May-27th 1973

Concert: Civic Hall, Guildford. Matinee performance. Two shows.

May-28th 1973

Concert: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton.

May-29th 1973

Concert: Victoria Hall, Hanley.

May-30th 1973

Concert: New Theatre, Oxford. This was the original date for the second cancelled Earls Court concert.

May-31st 1973

Concert: King George's Hall, Blackburn.



June 1973

"Lets Spend the Night Together" 7" single from ALADDIN SANE (1973) released in the US and Italy

"Lets Spend the Night Together/Lady Grinning Soul" RCA APBO 0028 US in picture sleeve

"Lets Spend the Night Together/Watch That Man" RCA N1681 Italy in picture sleeve

"Cracked Actor" 7" single from ALADDIN SANE (1973) released in Eastern Europe

"Cracked Actor/John, I'm Only Dancing" RCA Eastern Europe

"The Width of A Circle" 7" single from THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (1970) released in Eastern Europe.

"The Width of A Circle/Cygnet Committee" RCA Eastern Europe

"All the Madmen" 7" single from THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (1970) released in Eastern Europe.

"All the Madmen/Soul Love" RCA Eastern Europe

Jun-1st 1973

Concert: St. George's Hall, Bradford.

RAW POWER (1973) is released by Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The album having been re-mixed by Bowie.

Jun-2nd 1973

Leeds University concert is cancelled six hours before it was due to start due to poor facilities which would have meant that Bowie would have to walk through the audience to the stage, a situation considered unacceptable for security reasons.

Jun-3rd 1973

Concert: New Theatre, Coventry.

Jun-4th 1973

Concert: Gaumont, Worcester. This was an additional performance added due to demand.

Jun-6th 1973

Concert: City Hall, Sheffield.

Jun-7th 1973

Concert: Free Trade Hall, Manchester. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-8th 1973

Concert: City Hall, Newcastle.

Jun-9th 1973

Concert: Guildhall, Preston.

Jun-10th 1973

Concert: Empire Theatre, Liverpool. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Empire Theatre fan story by Stephen Latham
Empire Theatre fan story by Roy White

Jun-11th 1973

Concert: DeMontfort Hall, Leicester.

Jun-12th 1973

Concert: Central Hall, Chatham. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-13th 1973

Concert: Kilburn Gaumont, London. This was an additional performance added due to demand.

Kilburn Gaumont - 13 June 1973 by David Bareham

Jun-14th 1973

Concert: City Hall, Salisbury.

Jun-15th 1973

Concert: Odeon, Taunton. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-16th 1973

Concert: Town Hall, Torquay. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-18th 1973

Concert: Colston Hall, Bristol. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-19th 1973

Concert: Guildhall, Southampton. This was the original date for a cancelled concert at the Guildhall, Portsmouth.

Jun-21st 1973

Concert: Town Hall, Birmingham. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-22nd 1973

Concert: Town Hall, Birmingham. Two shows.

"Life on Mars?" 7" single from HUNKY DORY (1971) is released in the UK and Portugal.

"Life on Mars?/The Man Who Sold the World" RCA 2316 UK.  Some in picture sleeve. Highest chart position = #3

"Life on Mars?/Black Country Rock" RCA 20119 Portugal

Jun-23rd 1973

A concert at the Gliderdrome, Boston is planned but cancelled.

Jun-24th 1973

Concert: Fairfield Hall, Croydon. Matinee performance. Two shows.

"During the 1970s I lived in Croydon, Surrey, about 4 miles from Beckenham where Bowie was living at the time. Even though I was only 13 at the time, an older friend and I managed to sneak into Fairfield Halls in Croydon one Sunday to see Bowie play. I can still remember the gig and it really did change my life. We both became Bowie fanatics, obsessed with anything to do with David. At this gig we learned that Bowie lived at Hadden Hall, Southend Rd in Beckenham and the next weekend we arrived there. Unfortunately he had moved out only days before, but we managed to unscrew the doorknocker as a souvenir!! A friend of ours in Carshalton in Surrey actually started a fanzine shortly after this. Only 3 or 4 copies were ever printed but he advertised them in the national music press & sold a few hundred copies. It was called Big Brother and must have been one of the first of its kind. I also saw Woody Woodmanseys band U Boat lots of times along with the Spiders from Mars without Bowie or Mick Ronson (I've still got that album)" - Mark

Jun-25th 1973

Concert: New Theatre, Oxford. Matinee performance. Two shows.

Jun-26th 1973

Concert: New Theatre, Oxford. Matinee performance. Two shows

Jun-27th 1973

Concert: Top Rank, Doncaster. 

"The doors opened at 8.00pm and Bowie came on stage at 9.20pm. The ticket price was £1.30 and the set list was as follows: 1:Hang on to Yourself 2:Ziggy Stardust 3:Watch That Man 4:Time 5:All the Young Dudes 6:Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud 7:Changes 8:Oh You Pretty Things 9:Love Me Do [Beatles] 10:Round & Round [Berry] 11:Let's Spend the Night Together [Jagger Richards] 12:Suffragette City 13:Moonage Daydream 14:White Light - White Heat [Reed] 15:Space Oddity 16:The Jean Genie. There were 5 costume changes. The place was packed [1,500] and he wooed them all, including me!" - Kim

Jun-28th 1973

Concert: Spa Ballroom, Bridlington.

Jun-29th 1973

Concert: Rolarena, Leeds. Matinee performance. Two shows. This concert is added to replace the earlier Leeds University cancellation.

"My two older brothers went to the Leeds Rolarena gig ...and my father went to collect them after the concert, taking my two older sisters along too (I was too young back then - I was probably tucked up in bed). As they waited outside they could hear the closing music and the crowd screaming etc and saw Bowie leaving the building and jump in his Daimler flanked by bodyguards, as the crowd screamed on for more inside. My Dad always teased us with this "That David Bowie, he was off in his car while you were all shouting for more" kind of thing, but I think he was probably just as impressed as the rest of us really." - Trudi



July 1973

July edition of Circus titled ""Bowie sees America in Flames"

Jul-2nd 1973

Concert: Hammersmith Odeon, London.



Jul-3rd 1973

FEATURED CONCERT: Hammersmith Odeon, London

The 3rd Ziggy Stardust UK tour finishes at the Hammersmith Odeon Theatre, London. This concert comes to be known as the "Retirement Gig." Jeff Beck attends as special guest. Before this gig Bowie had announced that he would take a short holiday when the tour was over, before recording at the Chateau in France and then planned to return to the US for another tour.

The concert is filmed by D.A Pennebaker and recorded by RCA Mobile with the intention of releasing a live double album in February 1974 provisionally tilted BOWIE-ING OUT. This eventually becomes the 1983 soundtrack album, film and video  ZIGGY STARDUST - THE MOTION PICTURE minus the live performances of "Jean Genie/Love Me Do" and "Round and Round." Just prior to the last encore number Bowie steps up to the mike and announces:

"Everybody...this has been one of the greatest tours of our lives. I would like to thank the band. I would like to thank our road crew. I would like to thank our lighting people. Of all of the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest (cheers from the audience) because not only is it...not only is it the last show of the tour, but its the last show that we'll ever do. Thank you"

Illustration by Mike Allred (Red Rocket 7 #4 November 1997)

This shocks Ziggy fans who scream "No!" Bowie then launches into "Rock n Roll Suicide" and at the finish of the song concludes:

"Thank-you very much. Bye-bye. We love you."

Bowie's announcement is also a major shock for The Spiders From Mars who were unaware that Bowie had also decided to retire them from ever touring again. Only Tony DeFries and Mick Rock were aware of the announcement. That night Bowie and a handful of friends hold a small party at the Inn On the Park.

Jul-4th 1973

MainMan issue a statement confirming that Bowie is "leaving the concert stage forever."

Bowie's retirement party (known as "The Last Supper") is held at the Café Royal in Regent Street. The guest list includes: Paul and Linda McCartney, Keith Moon, Lulu, Tony Curtis, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The Goodies, Cat Stevens, Ringo and Maureen Starr, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Jeff Beck, Lou Reed, Barbara Streisland, Ryan O'Neil, Sonny Bono, Elliot Gould, Britt Ekland, Richard Pennebaker and Dr. John who supplied the live music for the evening.


After the Retirement Gig: Ziggy bows out
July 1973 - November 1973

---This page last modified: 12 Jan 2019---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)