TheCompanion

Home Index What's New?  FAQ Encyclopaedia Timeline Songs Gallery E-mail


E-Mail

mikeh@5years.com

webmaster:  Michael Harvey
born: 1960, Christchurch, New Zealand
currently resides:  Wellington, New Zealand
first memories of dB:  Hearing "Space Oddity", "The Man Who Sold The World" and "The Laughing Gnome" on local radio
first encounter:  November 1987 at Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand
last encounter:  Personal meeting backstage on the 13th August 2002 at Irvine, California, USA
first bowie LP:  ChangesOneBowie (1976)
first bowie CD:  Low (1976)
first bowie book: David Bowie - An Illustrated Record (1979)
first pilgrimage to Heddon Street, London: February 1998
favourite bowie albums:  Just about all - but Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Diamond Dogs, Low, Station to Station, Scary Monsters and his four latest releases are favourites
favourite Ziggy Stardust songs:  "5 Years", "Moonage Daydream", "Ziggy Stardust" & "Rock N Roll Suicide"
other favourite David Bowie songs:  "Heroes", "Life on Mars", "Sweet Thing" and many more
how long has this website existed:  Since 14 June 1996
objective:  To comprehensively document and celebrate the Ziggy Stardust period.

Q. Tell me about this site's history - how long have you been doing this and why?

The Ziggy Stardust Companion has been online since June 1996.  I've been a very keen David Bowie fan since my early twenties (I was born in 1960) and when I first went onto the internet in 1995 I was fascinated with the medium and potential that the web offered to someone who wanted to do something creative regarding personal web sites.

When I first went online it was my intention to write and host a web encyclopedia about David Bowie but I decided against that when I saw that there was already a huge David Bowie fansite in existence called The David Bowie File (now called Teenage Wildlife) run by a fellow New Zealander called Evan Torrie! So instead, I decided to specialise on the Ziggy Stardust period. No-one else had done that back then or concentrated on doing a website for just one album so I thought it was an interesting thing to do.

I decided on the Ziggy Stardust era because it was David Bowie's most successful period and an interesting phase of his career and of course that was when he released his much heralded rock masterpiece: "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars" (1972) which is one of my all-time favourite rock albums. My website is TOTALLY devoted to this album and collects all the information about the songs, time, people, events and more. Personally, I collect Ziggy Stardust memorabilia and try to be as complete an archivist/researcher about the subject as I can.

I really enjoy the specialisation because the Ziggy Stardust phase/period is finite so I'm not always having to run to catch up with what David Bowie is doing right now. To compensate, I try and make my site as authoritative and comprehensive as possible to cater for both the casual and hardcore David Bowie fan.

The Ziggy Stardust Companion website first started as a very small homepage.  I still have the original floppy disk of my site as it existed back in June 1996 - when it was only a few hundred kilobytes in size! The site has since grown and grown and in 1998 I purchased my own domain name (5years.com) and my own web space as it was getting too big to maintain as a simple homepage. Currently the site is about 130 megabytes in size.  I was the first Bowie fan website with its own Bowie-related dot.com domain name.

Q. Were you around for Ziggy Stardust?

No - I was not living in the UK then as I am a New Zealander by birth. But if a time machine is ever invented that will definitely be the period and country to which I'll definitely journey back to!

I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand at the very end of 1960 (like dB I'm a Capricorn) so I was 12 and 13 years old during the Ziggy Stardust period. I wasn't really conscious of his Ziggy-era music to a great extent either as NZ radio was only focussed on very Top 20 mainstream music and my older siblings musical tastes were in the Beatles, Stones, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin field. I can though recall hearing and enjoying "Space Oddity", "The Man Who Sold The World", "The Jean Genie" and "The Laughing Gnome" in my childhood and early teens.

It was only when I was in my early twenties at University that I really got interested in music and discovered David Bowie in depth. Back then and today he stands out for me as a true musical genius - someone who can/could change his style at will and still be the master of and leader in that style. I am also in total awe at the intelligence of his music which sounds as fresh today as it did when it was first released. As an artist he is also someone who I believe "gives" his all and I very much respect that as well.

My first Bowie album was the 1976 compilation LP called "ChangesOneBowie" that a nurse sold to me while I was living in a staff quarters at a New Zealand psychiatric institution. At that time I was at University and training to be a clinical psychologist. It was quite an experience listening to the song "All The Madmen" while living only 400 metres away from NZ's highest maximum security building for the criminally insane! (with electric fences, barb wire etc). One of my memories from that time was a young psychiatric patient who also loved Bowie's music and who would listen to "Space Oddity" on a 45rpm and try and get the hand claps just right.

Q. Do you plan to do something like the Ziggy Stardust Companion for any other Bowie album/period?

I did once consider doing a similar website on Scary Monsters & Super Creeps (1981) - another of my favourite Bowie albums - but currently the answer is No - it takes enough of my time/energy just doing the Ziggy Stardust site.   I've always wanted to write a book on David Bowie (and probably will one day) but to date my website has been the main outlet of that creative urge. Maintaining and growing the Ziggy Stardust Companion website is definitely my #1 hobby and something I currently put a lot of my personal time and energy into.

Q. What's the craziest thing that's ever happened to you that's related to your site?

Nothing too crazy. I have had a number of Bowie celebrities contribute to the site - notably ex-wife Angie Bowie who recently did a very popular email interview with me, and also Ken Scott - the famous producer/engineer for David Bowie, The Beatles, Queen, Supertramp, Duran Duran etc etc amongst others. I'm always seeking interviews and contributions from those who were connected with the era and people. I traveled to the UK and Europe in Feb/March 1998 and met a number of Bowie fans there and even completed my pilgrimage to Heddon Street, London - the site of the Ziggy Stardust album cover - which is sort of the Holy Grail of Bowie landmarks.

Q. How many visitors do you get?

Currently I get about 1,000 unique visitors per day. This peaks higher at the beginning of every month when I post my monthly Special Feature, other major updates and new material. I'm very happy that the site seems to attract a lot of visitors and that visitors seem to like the site. Personally I'm always trying to make it better and more interesting.

Q Have you been in the press before? - If so, where and when?

This website has been favorably reviewed in a number of web magazines over the years and is mentioned in a couple of recently published rock books - Strange Fascination:The David Bowie Story (1999) by David Buckley and Almost Grown (1999) by Geoff Miller. I've also been approached over the years by print journalists and I've been very happy to contribute and comment regarding information about Ziggy Stardust. A number of TV producers have also written to me regarding background Ziggy Stardust information.

Q. Have you ever met David Bowie?

Yes - I was very lucky to meet him in person backstage after his concert at Irvine Ampitheater in California, USA on the 13th August 2002 while Moby was still onstage!  Before that I had only seen him perform once live - in 1987 at Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand for The Glass Spider Tour. I had hoped to see him perform at Gisborne, New Zealand in 2000 for the first rock concert of the millenium but sadly that concert did not eventuate.

Q. Has David Bowie ever written to you about your site?

No - but if he ever does look at it I hope that he thinks it does his music and creation in that period some degree of justice.

Q. Are you also interested in his latest material or are you just a Ziggy Stardust fan?

I enjoy ALL his music and follow his latest career moves.

About me:

I was born in 1960 in Christchurch, New Zealand. I'm married to Helena whose Swedish by birth (and also a Bowie fan).  I live in the capital city of New Zealand - Wellington - and I work as Manager of the Visitor and Market Research Unit at Te Papa - which is the national museum of New Zealand.

---This page last modified: 03 Feb 2007---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)