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HEDDON STREET
W1
LONDON

Q Magazine's (April 2013) map insert has Heddon Street at #7 in "Ziggy Stardust's London"

1 - La Gioconda, 9 Denmark Street
2 - Tottenham Court Road Tube Station
3 -Trident Studios, 17 St Anne's Court
4 - Marquee Club, 90 Wardour Street
5 - Liberty, Regent Street
6 - GEM Management, 252 Regent Street
7 - HEDDON STREET
8 - Cafe Royal, 68 Regent Street 

Heddon Street before new pavement, awnings, outdoor seating and greenery were installed in the 2000s. 
This is a similar view to that of the album cover.

 Heddon Street Fan Pictures 

Animation showing the orginal album cover morphing into modern day Heddon Street.

A more familiar Heddon Street at night

If there is any London location which can be justifiably described as THE Ziggy Stardust "shrine" it would have to be Heddon Street where Bowie posed outside #23 for the Front cover and inside a traditional red London phonebox for the Back cover of the Ziggy album.  This street has for many Bowie fans the same significance that the Abbey Road zebra-crossing has for Beatles fans.

Heddon Street is a small, quiet U-shaped side-street and alleyway off Regent Street located in the heart of London, close to Piccadilly Circus.

Heddon Street, like much of inner city London, underwent historical renovation in 1996.  This involved painting the building facades white, repaving the footpath and road, adding wooden decorative doors and non-functional gas lamps and erecting curb poles and traffic barriers.

As part of the renovations the existing modern blue phonebox was replaced by a traditional red 'K6 series' phonebox in April 1997.  The modern blue phonebox had replaced the original "K2" phonebox featured on the rear cover.

It is rumoured that the original K2 telephone-box was auctioned/sold to an American fan in the late Seventies.

While many of the famous landmarks seen on the album cover (i.e. the K.West sign above #23, the gas light and the original red phonebox) have been missing from the street for some years, fans have never-the-less continued to visit the street in pilgrimage, some scrawling messages to "Ziggy" on the phonebox and walls next to the replacement phonebox and sometimes on the door of #23 itself.

In recent times Heddon Street has become an upmarket location full of kitchens, eateries and high class bars.  With this new clientale, the street has changed with the addition of awnings; outdoor seating, lights and greenery making it look very different to how it was in 1972.  Getting that posed shot outside #23 - identical to Ziggy - is now almost impossible.  The Virtual Tour Map below takes you back to a time when there was less obstuctive viewing! 

Heddon Street Virtual Tour Map

Click the above map for a close up tour of Heddon Street and its Ziggy locations.

"It's surprising to discover that the disturbing "space invader" cover for David Bowie's 1972 album, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars", was photographed in such an ordinary backstreet.  K West furriers, are still present and correct, but the phone box at the north end of the street (featured on the back cover) has been replaced by a more recent model.  However, the graffiti on the wall behind bears testimony to its status as third only to the Tardis and Clark Kent's changing room in Space Age phone-booth mythology." Time Out magazine (18-24 October 1984)

Where It's At....David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars

"On a rainy January night in 1972 David Bowie and photographer Brian Ward created the photograph for the Ziggy Stardust cover. The story of an alien who comes to earth, becomes a rock 'n' roll star and informs us we only have five years to live was illustrated by Bowie's dress sense - "a cross between Nijinksy and Woolworth's" - and the self-mythologising artwork, which located Ziggy in an empty London side-street. Originally shot in black and white, [Terry Pastor] tinted the photographs to achieve the ultra-real, storybook style of the album sleeve and telephone box back cover, reflecting the album's overtly British vaudeville pop and fantasy narrative. In the 1980s Ward found work as Gary Numan's photographer." Q magazine  (1998)

David Bowie obliges a fan and poses under the K.WEST sign (Feb 1981).
Photo by Tim Whitnall.

Bowie himself revisited Heddon Street many times to show friend's his London haunts.  On 1 March 1993 he visited Heddon Street with David Sinclair and the following extract is taken from Rolling Stone's 'Station to Station' article (10 June 1993) which documented Bowie's London:

BACK IN THE HEART OF TOWN, Bowie has arrived at a tiny cul-de-sac called Heddon Street, tucked away off Regent Street. He gets out of the car a little uncertainly and starts walking toward an alley at the end, mumbling: "We're gonna have to guess this out a bit. . . Everything's gone, obviously. There was a photographer up here called Brian Ward, I think it was this building here, and outside the building there was a phone box..." There is indeed a phonebox, a squat, modern blue job. Suddenly, the realisation dawns. This is where the photography for the cover artwork of Ziggy Stardust was done. But of course it's all changed. For one thing, the sort of big, red enclosed phone box in which Bowie posed for the shot on the back of the sleeve is a thing of the past. A woman walking up the street toward her office greets Bowie with a genial smile. "They took your phone box away, isn't it terrible?" she says. Whatever Bowie may say about wearing glasses and keeping his head down, he is still a face that few people fail instantly to recognise. The woman informs him that the photographer has moved on and so has the company, K.West, under whose sign Bowie stood with his foot up on a rubbish bin twenty-one years ago. Amazingly, the old light above the doorway is still there, but the famous sign was [Perhaps not] auctioned off as a part of a sale of rock & roll memorabilia. At home, Bowie has got hundreds of photographs of fans who sent him pictures of themselves with their foot on a dustbin under the K.West sign.

1990 Rainbow Theatre Press Conference

 

Photo by Richard Young

In 1990 Bowie mocked up Heddon Street and the K.WEST sign during his Sound & Vision press conference held at the Rainbow Theatre, London.

Heddon Street, London (continued)

---This page last modified: 21 Jan 2019---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)