The ZIGGY STARDUST Companion
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The photos for the Ziggy Stardust album were taken in January 1972 on a cold, wet night by photographer Brian Ward, who had a studio on Heddon Street, London, the site of the photographs. Both the front and rear cover photographs were shot using Royal-X-Pan Black & White film and later colourised. The art work was done by Terry Pastor of George Underwood's company called Main Artery.
Altogether, 17 photos were taken. Seven were taken of Bowie posing in front of 23 Heddon Street (from different angles), four in and around the telephone-box on the same street, and six were close-ups.
According to music publisher Brian James, who happened to be working in his office in Heddon Street on that night, and watched the whole process through a window, Bowie arrived in a bustle, with Brian Ward and two ornate-looking girls - cheerfully posed, and then left with the two girls in one direction, while the photographer left in the other.
The cover shows the jump-suit-dressed Bowie on a London backstreet looking like he'd just beamed down from another planet. While colourised blue, the jump-suit was actually the green one seen on The Old Grey Whistle Test show earlier in Feburary 1972, and while Bowie's hair looks yellow (due to the lighting) it was actually light blonde as seen in other outtakes.
Many aspects of this album cover helped contribute to the Ziggy-mystique and mood such as the stormy and wet weather ("It was cold and it rained and I felt like an actor..."); Bowie's lone appearance under a prominent sign that could be interpreted as "Quest"; the cartoon/sci-fi feeling the colourisation gave; and most importantly the equal billing of David Bowie & Ziggy Stardust's name that suggested that David Bowie WAS Ziggy Stardust (even though he was holding his guitar right-handed).
According to Ziggy Stardust writer Mark Paytress - the cover's setting may well have had its roots in an obscure 1960 British film directed by Michael Powell called "Peeping Tom" about a serial killer (played by Carl Boehm) who films his victims as he kills them. The film outraged viewers and critics alike when it was first released. Paytress writes of being surprised when he watched the film again recently:
"The credits roll. An eye blinks on the screen and the first scene is unveiled. It is ... the cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. The film's protagonist, Mark Lewis, approaches a prostitute, who is standing by a wall in a dimly lit street. Boxed debris fills the foreground, right-side. Up ahead, sandwiched between and above the darkened buildings, is the night sky. So the film has another fan, albeit one who, to my knowledge, has never declared his interest...." Mark Paytress (1998)
The prominent K. West sign seen on the cover was the name of a distribution company occupying the 1st Floor in 1972 which shipped animal furs (but no longer trades today). One of current occupiers of #23 Heddon Street is a firm of solicitors. In their reception area there are framed pictures of the Ziggy Stardust LP.
The K.West sign and the gas-light no longer exist there today. The original K. West sign was taken by a Bowie fan in the early 1980s (you can view the original sign and read about how it was removed here!). It is believed that its subsequent replacement (a slightly different sign) was auctioned off as a part of a sale of rock & roll memorabilia when the furriers closed.
According to Bowie, hundreds of fans have sent him pictures of themselves with their foot on a dustbin under the K.West sign. The gas-light survived the longest but eventually was replaced with curb mounted street lights. Today an ornamental gas-light fitting has been re-attached to the building as part of London's inner city renovation.
What is written on the signs by the door?
Paquerette Dresses 4th Floor
Ramar Dresses Ltd 3rd Floor
International Wool Secretariat
Cravats Ltd, main entrance,
T.H. Ferris 2nd Floor
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---This page last modified: 18 Jan 2007---