The ZIGGY STARDUST Companion

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In Their Own Words 1/2

Press conference - New York (December 1972)

See also: In other words

Ziggy Stardust -The Album

"It was a really exciting period then because Tony DeFries got involved, which was about maybe a year and a half after I first played with David... I think it started before "Ziggy Stardust" - it started around the "Hunky Dory" period with the clothes and I think we started off playing as a duo in the "Hunky Dory" period.  We'd get Rick Wakeman to play piano on a date and then we'd add someone playing bongos.  I think Woody played bongos on a couple of gigs or something, but it was a very acoustic thing and that's why "Hunky Dory" sounded like it did.  But then it seemed to snowball from "Hunky Dory" into "Ziggy Stardust" because after playing one or two gigs as an acoustic outfit, it seemed natural to take it that one step further - to add the bass and add the drums and make it bigger and better - more of a show of it - and so it evolved into "Ziggy Stardust" way before and so it became a natural progression to do that.  It all seemed to snowball very quickly" - Mick Ronson (1986)

"I don't think you are going to like this next album....Well, its very different to anything I've done before. Its going to be much, much heavier, and much stranger. Its much more like Iggy Pop...its much more rock n roll.  Its called THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS" - Bowie to co-producer Ken Scott after completion of HUNKY DORY (October 1971)

"Ziggy Stardust is the only LP that I've gone into the studio armed with proper songs" - Bowie


One of "Fashions" 7" picture discs

Ziggy Stardust -The Character

"It's one of those instantaneous vision things that you get. It all came to me in a daydream about what this [Ziggy Stardust] thing was all about..." - Bowie

"Call me Ziggy - call me Ziggy Stardust!" - Bowie (1972)

"Maybe I was emerging into the era of post-modernism but I put it down far more to ADD - Attention Deficiency Disorder [laughs].  I just think that I couldn't concentrate. I never have been able to concentrate on one thing for very long with getting kind of itchy. I did always feel that there was some kind of area in rock that I could work comfortably using and working with all of my enthusiasms. I am a guy of enthusiasms. I get terribly excited about things that are new to me and it just seemed a perfectly natural for me at the time to put together all these odds and ends of art and culture that I really adore" - Bowie (2000)

"I lied actually - I said I was gay  - when I was actually bisexual - I had thought of saying that  I was an existentialist but I realised that I was being used." - Bowie (2000)

"I think that probably the best thing I did with Ziggy was to leave himself open-ended.  It wasn't a specific story, there were specific incidents within the story but it wasn't as roundly written as a usual narrative is.  The only trouble with kind of copying somebody that's really well known is that you know all of the facts about them so you can't actually be that person but because Ziggy  was kind of an empty vessel you could put an awful lot of yourself into being your own version of Ziggy." - Bowie (2000)

"I'd found my character - I'd found my hero. There was a lot of clown in that character - there is a lot of Charlie Chaplain - [and] all those poignant one-man figures....The "one-man against the world' really reverberated in my mind. That was something I really homed in on - I really focused on those kind of individuals. Now we start hitting real problems because I enjoyed the character so much and it was so much easier for me to live within that character that, along with the help of some chemical substances at the time, it became easier and easier for me to blur the lines between reality and the blessed creature that I created - my doppelganger. I wasn't getting rid of him at all - in fact I was joining forces with him. The doppelganger and myself were starting to become one and the same person.  Then you start on the trail of chaotic psychological destruction. You become what is called a drug casualty at the end of it all (laugh)." - Bowie (1992)

"I took the idea of fabrication and how it had snowballed in popular culture. Realism and honesty had become boring to many jaded people by the early Seventies. I think the band only half understood what I meant, but I thought it would be such great fun to fabricate something so totally unearthly and unreal and have it living as an icon. So the story of Ziggy came out of that thinking. A lot of it came out of my own problems. It was a way of creating myself" - Bowie (1990)

"Ziggy really set the pattern for my future work. Ziggy was my Martian messiah who twanged a guitar. He was a simplistic character. I saw him as very simple....fairly like the character Newton I was to do in the film [The Man Who Fell to Earth] later on. Someone who was dropped down here, got brought down to our way of thinking and ended up destroying himself" - Bowie

"I fell for Ziggy too. It was quite easy to become obsessed night and day with the character. I became Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie went totally out the window. Everybody was convincing me that I was a Messiah, especially on that first American tour. I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy" - Bowie (1976)

"A lot of us in England did try to bring another dimension to rock. Roxy Music, T-Rex, Marc Bolan. In America there was Iggy Pop, who is radically different than the person he projects on stage. Also David Johansen from the New York Dolls, who was a pretty hip guy during that period. But up until that time, the attitude was "what you see is what you get." It seemed interesting to try to devise something different, like a musical where the artist onstage plays a part. Like the Ziggy Stardust character. He was half out of sci-fi rock and half out of Japanese theater. The clothes were simply outrageous, and nobody had seen anything like them before. The clothes were the brainchild of a well-known designer, at least he is now, Kansai Yamamoto. Extraordinary designer. He did all the Ziggy clothes. He contemporized the Japanese Kabuki look and made it work for rock 'n' roll. I moved out of Ziggy fast enough so as not to get caught up by it. Most rock characters that one creates usually have a short life span. I don't think they're durable album after album. Don't want them to get too cartoony. The Ziggy thing was worth one or two albums, so after Aladdin Sane, I had to start thinking quickly about what I wanted to write, which came out as an abortive attempt to do 1984. Abortive because we couldn't get the rights from Mrs. Orwell. She saw her husband's work through a far more serious pair of eyes than I imagine we did. I got half the thing written before I thought, "I better go and ask her if I could continue this." So I sort of did a quick turnaround and it became Diamond Dogs, which was sort of a piecemeal attempt at forming a post-nuclear kind of society with this rather shabbily disguised form of 1984." - Bowie

"Nowadays there is really no difference between my personal life and anything I do on stage. I'm very rarely David Jones any more. I think I've forgotten who David Jones is" - Bowie (18 August 1972)

"I love theatre - I thought it was great and I thought there was a way of doing something exciting on stage and  rock. The idea of a prefabricated rock star - one that didn't not exist - a sampled rock star - I thought was kind of cool.  The time that I really guess put it all together and really tried to make it work was on the first tour of this character called Ziggy Stardust. The theatre elements were somewhere between Clockwork Orange and Kubuki Theatre - just grab this and grab that - a real ragbag of information that didn't actually make any real literal sense.   In interviews and stuff I would just either just quote James Dean or Nietchze ha ha.  It didn't really matter because all the ingredients that went into it - people would interpret their own way and I would agree with them.  I thought golly what power. Ha ha ha. Gosh! I let the whole thing trickle over into my life to such a degree that it affected me dramatically and traumatically for quite a few years in the Seventies.   - Bowie (1995)

"I had sort of a strange psychosomatic death wish thing because I was so lost in Ziggy and schizophrenia. It was his own personality being unable to cope with the circumstances he found himself in which is being an almighty prophet-like rocker superstar rocker.  He found he didn't know what to do once he got it.   Its an archetype really - the definitive rock n roll star. It often happens " - Bowie (1974)

"We toured the States followed by Japan, and by the time we came back to England, it was beginning to really snowball.  I think the final Ziggy Stardust tour was in England - that was the big tour - and by the time we returned, everyone was talking about it because Ziggy Stardust was a really good show...I think it was a great outlet for David because he could almost blow his character out of all proportion and be able to pretend whatever he wanted to pretend, which is what actors and pop stars do....David would always be seen in public, would always have to do interviews, do a video or go into the recording studio - so I think the whole time was taken up by feeling involved in that whole Ziggy period or Ziggy way of thinking...it became a full time thing really, until after it stopped and he could change and get into the Diamond Dogs period and the other albums that he made" - Mick Ronson (1986) 

"In Los Angeles I was surrounded with people who indulged my ego, who treated me as Ziggy Stardust ... never realising that David Jones might be behind it" - Bowie

Press conference - New York (December 1972)

"I thought I might as well take Ziggy out to interviews as well. Why leave him on the stage? Why not complete the canvas? Looking back it was completely absurd. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity. I can't deny that experience affected me in a very exaggerated and marked manner. I think I put myself very dangerously near the line. Not in a physical sense, but definitely in a mental sense" - Bowie

"Firstly, I find it exciting. Then I find it sad, because I know the reason why I became Ziggy and what went into Ziggy" - Bowie (1972)

"Ziggy Stardust...was very much Japanese Theatre meets American Science Fiction"- Bowie (1978)

"I used to go and see The Living Theatre and those American concept groups at The Roundhouse and think, If I could put this to a band format, it would be very exciting.  Eventually it all solidified itself with Ziggy" - Bowie (1993)

Lou Reed & David Bowie - 4 July 1973

"This was at the Cafe Royal in London after the final Ziggy gig at Hammersmith.  Lou Reed and Mick Jagger, who's behind us, came down.  I'm not actually kissing him.  If you study it, I'm talking into his ear and he's talking into mine.  I'm quite a way over.  But it was near enough to a kiss for the press and they all printed it.  We were supposed to have been kissing at that time anyway so there was the evidence.  No, I think Lou Reed is the last person in the world I'd want to kiss." - David Bowie (1993) responds to this photo shown to him by Q Magazine in "David Bowie: This is Your Life" feature.

"I'm still totally involved with Ziggy. I probably will be for a few months getting it out of my system, and then we'll don another mask. I hope you and Ziggy will be very happy, Ziggy's my gift to you" - Bowie (1973)

"I wasn't at all surprised ZIGGY STARDUST made my career. I packaged a totally credible plastic rock star - much better than any sort of Monkees fabrication. My plastic rocker was much more plastic than anybody's" - Bowie

"Ziggy is partially autobiographical and partly someone else.   He's the ultimate parasite...Please don't ask me to theorise on Ziggy....have written it down its all too personal.  He's a monster and I'm Dr Frankenstein.   He's my brother, and God, I love him." - Bowie (1976)

Holiday Inn - Chicago (7 October 1972)

"Backstage.  These are sort of Ziggy designer underpants.  This is probably a Marriott hotel.  Taken by Mick Rock who covered nearly all our tours at that time.  Because it was so insane at the gigs, we used to do most of our changing at the hotels, then we'd jump into the van with no windows and drive to the gig.  I'm very thin?  Yes, aren't I? It was around this time that I'd started getting into drugs in a big way and not eating." - David Bowie (1993) responds to this photo shown to him by Q Magazine in "David Bowie: This is Your Life" feature.

"Ziggy, particularly was created out of certain arrogance. But, remember, at that time I was young and I was full of life, and that seemed like a very positive artistic statement. I thought that was a very beautiful piece of art, I really did. I thought that was a grand kitsch painting - the whole guy" - Bowie (1977)

"There was a theory that one creates a doppelganger and then imbues that with all your faults and guilt's and fears and then eventually you destroy him, hopefully destroying all your guilt, fear and paranoia. And I often feel that I was doing that unwittingly, creating an alternative ego that would take on everything that I was insecure about.  Ziggy served my purpose because I found it easier to function through him, although I probably put myself on a path of pure psychological damage by doing what I did.  But it felt like it was going to be easier living through an alternative self.  Of course the major problem was that I was blurring the lines between sanity and an insane figure, and finally did break the lines down in the mid-Seventies where I really couldn't perceive the difference between the stage persona and myself." - Bowie (1993)

"To this day I'm really not sure if I was playing Ziggy or if Ziggy was exaggerated aspects of my own personality. A fair amount of psychological baggage was undoubtedly coming out through the character. Because I felt awkward and nervous and inadequate with myself, it felt easier to be somebody else. That was a relief and a release. And that feeling of not being a part of any group of people. I always felt on the fringe of things rather than being a participant. I always felt I was a wallflower of life. So it really got a bit complex. Because once you lay these little patterns out for yourself, it's very hard to retrace the steps and see how far you've got yourself immersed in all that. And when drugs came along, that really added to the brew to the point that it was inescapable that I was committing huge psychological damage to myself....I didn't love myself, not at all.  Ziggy was a very flamboyant and theatrical and elaborate character.  I wanted him to look right, and I spent a lot of time looking in the mirror, but it wasn't me I was looking at.  I saw Ziggy." - Bowie (1993)

David Bowie & Trevor Bolder - 1972

"I was determined that the music we were doing was the music for the Clockwork Orange generation, and I wanted to take the hardness and violence out of those Clockwork Orange outfits - the trousers tucked into big boots and the codpiece things - and soften them up by using the most ridiculous fabrics.   It was a dada thing - this extreme ultraviolence in Liberty fabrics.  The Ziggy hairstyle was taken lock, stock and barrel from a Kansai display in Harper's in February, '71. He was using a kabuki lion's wig on his models which was brilliant red. And I thought it was the most dynamic colour, so we tried to get mine as near as possible. I got Mick Ronson's ex-wife to cut my hair off short and dye it.  I remember the colour was Schwarzkopf red. I got it to stand up with lots blow-drying and this dreadful, early lacquer.  That's Trevor Bolder with me.  Good old Trev.  He had a similar haircut but he insisted he kept his sideburns" - David Bowie (1993) responds to this photo shown to him by Q Magazine in "David Bowie: This is Your Life" feature.

"[Ziggy] .... was definitely a reaction to late '60s seriousness, and the real murky quality that rock was falling into. I think a bunch of us adopted the opposite stance. I remember at the time saying that rock must prostitute itself. And I'll stand by that. If you're going to work in a whorehouse, you'd better be the best whore in it." - Bowie (1991)

David Bowie - 1973

"This, again, is all Freddie Burretti stuff. '73-ish.  These were my day clothes ha ha ha! My offstage stuff!! I look rather reflective. Kind of, Where are we going? It was madness by then.  We were touring frantically.  We toured all of 1972.  And I had one month off in '73.  I must have been pretty near the edge.  This was during our second American tour.  I folded up the Spiders in July, 73'.  I was very exhausted." - David Bowie (1993) responds to this photo shown to him by Q Magazine in "David Bowie: This is Your Life" feature.

"Ziggy Stardust happened before you realised it. It was hard to grasp exactly what had happened until it was all over. It was a lot of fun. More fun than work.  We weren't constantly on the road.  What we did on stage, the playing off each other, that was all instinctive.  When I play, I play.   It's not planned.  You can't think about it too much. You get messed up if you think too much.  The makeup and all that wasn't a brand new idea.  It wasn't as though it had never been done before.  Elvis used to slap on a bit of make-up.   The Kinks used to wear frilly shirts. But it had gone.  Everybody was into looking authentic.  Ziggy definitely affected him.  To do anything and to do it well, you have to become completely involved.  He had to become what Ziggy was; he had to believe in him.  Yes, Ziggy affected his personality.  But he affected Ziggy's personality.  They lived off each other.  The association ended around the time when he was moving into soul music.  David wanted to have a lot of time off, he wanted to write a Broadway show.  So there wasn't really a lot going on.   Making my own album seemed like a good idea - because what else was I going to do? David was searching, his career was moving off into other areas.  The Spiders From Mars didn't really last that long. It fulfilled me creatively because I didn't really have a chance to fall out of love with it. Two or three years go by in a flash.  But David and I always stayed friends.  There was never any real reason to fall out." - Mick Ronson (1993)

"The whole idea of the Ziggy character was that it was not of this world - neither male nor female, but rather a messenger, however, I don't think I should have taken the whole thing quite so seriously" - Bowie (6 June 1983)

Q. How much of Davey Jones is in Ziggy?

"I don't think there was very much at all. I honestly was trying to create an idea of how to expand rock and expand the horizons of it and I took as the alien form for Ziggy, as he was supposed to be an alien of some kind. I based him very much on the Japanese concept. At that time, in the early 70s, we knew so little about Japan and Japan really hadn't exploited itself and brought its stuff over to the West, so it still liked an alien society. But it was a human alien society, so you could make a human connection to Japan far more than you could say Mars, which would be beyond.
" - Bowie (2004)

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---This page last modified: 23 Feb 2004---

 Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)