The ZIGGY STARDUST Companion

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David Bowie - 7 February 1974

"Holland.  I had conjunctivitis, so I made the most of it and dressed like a pirate.  Just stopped short of the parrot.  I had this most incredible jacket that I was wearing that night.  It was a bottle green bolero jacket that Freddie made for me and he got an artist to paint, using the applique technique, this supergirl from a Russian comic on the back.   Anyway, I did a press conference and performed "Rebel Rebel" on Dutch television with a bight red Fender Stratocaster.  But I took the jacket off during the press conference and somebody stole it.  I was really pissed off.  I'd had it for two years" - David Bowie (1993) responds to this photo shown to him by Q Magazine in "David Bowie: This is Your Life" feature.

"I always thought Ziggy was a bit like a cartoon character. - Trevor Bolder (1994)

"My biggest up was when I met Mickey Rourke for the first time and he said "Oh man, in 1973, man, I was dressing just like you, man, I had green hair and stack-heeled boots and leather trousers." And I'm trying to see Mickey Rourke wearing all this gear. I said, You were a glam-rocker? He said, "Yeah, man, in Florida nobody had seen anything like it!" I found that absolutely great. I felt so encouraged by that. A guy like that and it was a major part of his life." - Bowie (1989)

"Offstage I'm a robot. Onstage I achieve emotion. It's probably why I prefer being Ziggy to David." - Bowie (1972)

"I'm not a musician." - Bowie (1972)

"I suppose most of [my audience] are as confused about things as I am. I console them in their confusion, they're not alone. I've stopped analyzing it. Cataloguing confusion is courting suicide". - 1972

"I'm not what I'm supposed to be. What are people buying? I adopted Ziggy onstage and now I feel more and more like this monster and less and less like David Bowie." - Bowie (1972)

"The only thing that I really adored about Lennon's writing was his use of the pun, which was exceedingly good. I don't think anyone has ever bettered Lennon's use of the pun, I played on it more; Lennon would throw it away in one line, I tend to build a song upon it. I treat my puns a lot more seriously." - Bowie (1972)

"David Live" (1974) was the final death of Ziggy. God that album. I've never played it. The tension it must contain must be like vampire's teeth coming down on you. And that photo. On the cover. My God, it looks as if I've just stepped out of that grave. That's actually how I felt. That record should have been called 'David Bowie is alive and well and living only in theory." - Bowie (1977)

Press conference - New York (December 1972)

Ziggy songs

"I don't necessarily think David Bowie's all that important.   I think the content and atmosphere which is created by the music I write is more important than I am" - Bowie (January 1973)

"My audience is probably just as confused about my writing as I am.   I mean, I'm the last one to understand most of the material I write" - Bowie (November 1972)

"Starman" can be taken at the immediate level of "There's a Starman in the Sky Saying Boogie Children", but the theme of it is that the idea of things in the sky is really quite human and real and we should be a bit happier about the prospect of meeting people" - Bowie (1972)

"[Ziggy] was meant to be a male version of Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow". "Starman" is in fact (singing) "Somewhere over the Rainbow..." and I just went from there and just took it somewhere else to be.....It became a blueprint for that... Anything I touch always kind of gets perverted out of all recognisable form.   That's half the fun of it. Taking a system and throwing a spanner into it." - Bowie

Q: When was your most tyrannical period?

Bowie: "What, the desperate vision? Let me see now. It was pretty bad - although in a slightly different way - around Ziggy Stardust. There was just no room for anything else. I had to - at least in my mind I had to - hum a lot of (Mick) Ronson's solos to him. It got to the point where every single note and every part of the song had to be exactly as I heard it in my head..."
Reeves: I'm shattered! Did you really do that?
Bowie: "No, no, that's not true of say, The Man Who Sold The World which was very much Ronson. But say the more melodic solos that Ronson did, an awful lot of that was just me telling him what notes I wanted. But that was cool. He's very laid-back and he'd just go along with it. He was happy to be playing. I didn't know any other way anyway. No... I did. That is what I had to do. I knew what I wanted, you know? They didn't know what I wanted." - Bowie (1989)

"I'm a storyteller, an electronic minstrel."  - Bowie (1973)

"I find it easier to write in little vignettes.  If I try to get heavy I find myself out of my league." - Bowie (1973)

"My favourite on that [album] was "Moonage Daydream" as far as like ....feeling goes, you know, as far as actually getting something out of the track when you listen to it back" - Mick Woodmansey (1976)

"...I liked "Moonage Daydream." I liked "Ziggy" as well and "Hang Onto Yourself." And one of my real favourites, which we always did as an encore, was "Suffragette City." But "Moonage Daydream", I think, had a lot of feel. I think it had more feel on-stage than it did on the album. When we used to do it on-stage it used to be fantastic. It really used to get the kids going. That would start the kids off. When they wanted to go - we would do that number about four before the end. and that would lift the audience up . I think the audience liked to hear it live. Every night you knew that "Moonage Daydream" was going to be the one that really lifted them. Then we'd go and follow on from there to the end" - Trevor Bolder (1976)

Promotional photograph of Mick Ronson, Woody Woodmansey & Trevor Bolder

The Spiders From Mars

"What was quite hard was dragging the rest of the band into wanting to do it...It was like "Jesus - come on, you lot - let's not just be another rock band, for Christ's sake's" [laughs] But they were a great little rock band, you now.  And they caught onto it as soon as they found that they could pull more girls.  Then it was "Hey, they like these boots." I thought, "Yeah there you go." That's what it needed.  God - get a bit of sex into it and they were away.  Their hair suddenly got ..oh, it was every colour under the sun.  All these guys that wouldn't get out of denims until two weeks ago [laughs]" - Bowie (1987)

"We recorded Ziggy but we never knew what it was going to do. We just laid the tracks down where we were asked - and he said this is Ziggy Stardust and we thought - Oh that's the end of it - that's just the name of the album, but then he started dragging us downstairs to this girl who used to look after Zowie and trying costumes on and things like that and it slowly worked into a band with costumes. I think he slowly brought us into it rather than pushing it at us because I think if he pushed it at us I think we might have pulled away - thinking like...What's he trying to do? - I'm not wearing that or make-up - but he slowly did it for us...and it was good" - Trevor Bolder (1976)

"It was Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and somehow, along the lines, the Spiders got attached to David Bowie. So then the confusion set in, about who was Ziggy and who was David Bowie and even I didn't quite understand how all that happened. Suddenly I had a band called the Spiders and I was willing to go with it because it worked on stage. I liked the ambiguity of not being quite able to separate the personas, much like Nicholas Roeg's film, The Man Who Fell To Earth, its the ominous sort of enigma of split-personality and which side is which? and having half the creation - the Spiders, who were a figment of the imagination, actually working with a real character David Bowie on stage - that poses a serious sort of head problem" - Bowie (1976)

"They played the part perfectly. I actually sort of picked them for that. They were, at the time, the number one spacey punk rock band. They were absolutely archetypes. All of them....Everyone was absolutely right - right out a cartoon book. But I couldn't sort of encourage them to change their roles because they weren't natural born actors But that's fine - they were great musicians" - Bowie (1976)

"Most of the look together for Ziggy was basically from the Kubrick film - it was Clockwork Orange and the jumpsuits in that movie I thought were just wonderful.   I liked the malicious kind of malevolent, viscous quality of those four guys although the aspects of violence themselves didn't turn me on particularly. So I wanted to put another spin on that, so I went to Liberty's or places like that in London - probably a shop on Tottenham Court Road is more like it - but Liberty sounds better. I picked out all these very florid, bright quilted kind of materials and so that took the edge off the violent look of those suits but still retained that type of terrorist "we-are-ready-for-action" kind of look and the wrestling boots with laces on - but I changed the colour and made them greens and blues and stuff like that. So that was the basic look but instead of just having one eyelash I went the whole hog and had two eyelashes.  Even the inset photographs of the inside sleeve for Ziggy owed a lot to the Malcolm McDowell look from the Clockwork Orange poster - the sort of sinister looking photograph somewhere between a beetle, not a Beatle person, but a real beetle and violence. The whole idea of having this phony-speak thing - mock Anthony Burgess-Russian speak that drew on Russian words and put them into the English language, and twisted old Shakespearean words around - this kind of fake language ... fitted in perfectly with what I was trying to do in creating this fake world or this world that hadn't happened yet.  It was like trying to anticipate a society that hadn't happened.  The whole idea of droogs and that came straight from the Burgess take." - Bowie

"Mick [Ronson] was the perfect foil for the Ziggy character. He was very much a salt-of-the-earth type, the blunt northerner with a defiantly masculine personality, so what you got was the old-fashioned Yin and Yang thing. As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith or Axl and Slash. Ziggy and Mick were the personification of that rock n roll dualism" - Bowie (1994)

"Ziggy came out and then we started gigging. We did a few gigs and they went down very, very well. They were sell-outs and all that and everyone was quite surprised. Then the record took off and then we moved because there were eight of us living at Haddon Hall and we were all sleeping upstairs on the mattresses and we decided that we had enough of that - we had six months of that..so we decide to get a flat -so we all moved out - we just moved down the road you know..."- Trevor Bolder (1976)

"I don't really mind that me and Woody didn't get much attention.   After all its Dave's gig.  It's just that there's so much of it.  I wouldn't mind if just a bit more of it spilled on me.  But I enjoy it anyway.  I mean it beats Hull, doesn't it?  I'll probably play on as long as Dave needs me.   But I've got to start thinking about what's next.  Spiders don't live forever." - Trevor Bolder (January -1973)

"In some ways it was more fun in the early days, when we used to sleep on Dave's floor and no one had any money and no one was sure what was going to happen.  I wasn't sure about all this Spiders stuff and fancy outfits at first: But it all seems to have worked, doesn't it?" - Mick Woodmansey (June - 1973)

"I had a ... not a falling out, really, but a loss of enthusiasm with The Spiders. They didn't really want to go where I wanted to go. I was already developing a great interest in soul music, and experimental forms. They were pretty much into playing this straightforward rock. Which was understandable - they played it very well" - Bowie

"I think Ronson was kind of scared pretty rigid for the first couple of few weeks when he realised what he'd got himself into, because here was this guy who was playing around with bisexuality, going down to all these gay clubs, knocking around with the weirdest people, yet he wrote half respectable songs and might musically be quite interesting. I think probably the safety factor came when he realised that I wasn't going to make - a make - on him ha ha ha. Poor old Mick!  I think it was kind of a real touch and go situation whether he was going to stay around or not at one time, but hopefully the music won through and he realised that it was quite exciting what we were doing - that where I was taking him was quite an adventure. I like to believe that Mick really liked what I was doing - what I was writing and we really admire each other. I just think he's a wonderful guitar player and I believe he likes my stuff and what I was trying to do." - Bowie on Mick Ronson (1992)

David Bowie live 1973

The Concerts

"There was quite a bit of antagonism.  Nothing like, say the Pistols got when they started.  But the first couple of months were not easy.  I mean, it was "Aw, a bunch of poofters", you know? Which was kind of fun. I mean, we played it up - well I did, anyway.  because it was the most rebellious thing that was happening at the time." Bowie (1992) discussing reaction to the early Ziggy shows

"You know I never do anything by half. The costumes for the act are outrageous. I've had twelve, fifteen, any number made up but not just for myself -  for the group too. I like to keep my band always well dressed, not like some other people I could mention! They are rather like astral "West Side Story" outfits, with sequins and short battle dress jackets, and long patent leather boots. I've also had my hair chopped off and I feel very butch now. I'm out all the time to entertain, not just to get upon a stage and knock out a few songs. I couldn't live with myself if I did that. I'm the last person to pretend that I'm a radio. I'd rather go out and be a colour television set. Actually I'm a bit worried about the way that the band have fallen into it so easily! Remember they were into hard blues, but now they enjoy the costume bit." - Bowie

"I go to the venue, put on my make up, play my guitar, take my make up off.  And go home." - Mick Ronson

"Kids are getting stronger than ever. Several times recently a fan has gotten on stage and grabbed me and its taken two or three security men to make them let go.  They're pretty tough boys.  I don't mind them wanting to touch me but I do get a bit scared they might do me some damage in their enthusiasm and I've a number of scars to bear out my fears" - David Bowie (May 1973)

"I walked in on a Saturday evening in full Ziggy garb in Madison Square Gardens to see Elvis and he nearly crucified me. I felt such a fool and I was way down in the front.  I got incredible seats and I sat down there and he looked at me and if looks could kill!  I just thought "Elvis is roasting me!" I just hobbled down in my high heel shoes as fast as I could and got to my seat but we nearly stopped the show going in.  I was lucky to see that show because he was fantastic. I think Ziggy changed probably on the Monday night. It was probably Elvis Stardust [laugh] for about a week." - Bowie (2000)

Aladdin Sane

"I ran into a very strange type of paranoid person when I was doing Aladdin Sane, very mixed up people, and I got very upset.  This resulted in "Aladdin" and I knew I didn't have much more to say about rock n roll.  I mean, Ziggy really said as much as I meant to say all along. "Aladdin" was really Ziggy in America. Again, it was just looking around, seeing what's in my head" - Bowie

"I don't think "Aladdin" is as clearly cut and well-defined a character as Ziggy was. Ziggy was meant to be clearly cut and well-defined with areas for interplay, whereas Aladdin is pretty ephemeral. He's also a situation as opposed to just being an individual. I think he encompasses situations as well as just being a personality" - Bowie (January 1973)

"ALADDIN was a result of my paranoia with America at the time, I hadn't come to terms with it, then. I have now. I know the areas I like best in America..." - Bowie (September 1974)

"Aladdin" is really just a title track. The album was written in America. The numbers were not supposed to form a concept album, but looking back on them, there seems to be a definite linkage from number to number. There's no order: they were written in various cities, and there's a general feeling on the album which at the moment I can't put my finger on. Its a feeling I've never yet produced on an album; I think its the most interesting album that I've written, musically as interesting as any of the things I've written. "Drive in Saturday" is one of the more commercial numbers" - Bowie (January 1973

"It was meant to be...a crossover: getting out of Ziggy and not really knowing where I was going.  It was a little ephemeral, 'cause it was certainly up in the air" - Bowie (1992))

Pin-Ups

"These are all songs which really meant a lot to me then - they're all very dear to me. These are all bands which I used to go and hear play down the Marquee between 1964 and 1967. Each one meant something to me at the time. Its my London of the time" - Bowie (August 1973)

"The PINUPS album was a pleasure. And I knew the band was over. It was a last farewell to them in a way" - Bowie (September 1974)

"PINUPS was really my way of shaking off Ziggy completely, while retaining some excitement in the music. It really was treading water, but it happens to be one of my favourite albums. I think there is some terrific stuff on it" - Bowie

Bowie - The Actor

"His basic thing, right in the beginning, was that he loved acting. He would put on shows for us in the front row and we used to sit and watch. He would come on dressed as an old woman with a crooked back and dressed in woman's clothes with make-up on. His face was an old woman's without that much make-up. He totally got into [being] an old woman. It was scary. He can really can get into things that he wants to. It was so convincing as well. You are looking at him and thinking - Oh Yes - its David Bowie being an old woman. [But] It was like he was an old woman - it hit you really strong. And then a few thoughts would come in - its Dave! It was really good" - Mick Woodmansey (1976)

"When he is doing something he totally immerses himself in what ever it is and the Ziggy thing was a very strong character. You could pick it up on stage behind him when he stood on a speaker. You could practically hear his brain ticking - what would a superstar - what would a famous rock star do now? And "click" he had the right thing.  And he had the fantastic ability to move his body and do with his body anything he wanted - so he would do the famous rock poses but better than anybody else had done them before."  - Mick Woodmansey (1976)

Vince Taylor - The Inspiration for Ziggy Stardust

"He was the inspiration for Ziggy. Vince Taylor was a rock n roll star from the Sixties who was slowly going crazy. Finally, he fired his band and went on-stage one night in a white sheet. He told the audience to rejoice, that he was Jesus. They put him away" - Bowie (1976)

"Vince Taylor was this nightmare of a guy. He was a American expatriate who had some small degree of success on English television....There was kind of this motley crew of English would-be Elvis's.  There were hundreds of them..... He was one of them probably the most authentic of the lot in that he was at least American so the accent was correct but his music was pretty pony. I met him in the Gioconda one day and the guy was right out of his tree. I mean he was playing with half a deck. This guy was bonkers, absolutely the genuine article. I can't remember if he said he was an alien or the son of god. He might have been a bit of both. He had all these sycophants actually believing him. He really did a number one job. One day he dragged out this world map so we were crouching on all fours outside Tottenham Court Road tube station and he was showing me where all the aliens had their bases under the Arctic and in this mountain and there's people stepping over our map and I think what the hell am I doing in the middle of rush hour with this bonkers American? There's something in this - I'm going to remember this - this is just too good. Then I heard that in France - he went over to France and became quite a big hit over there....one night he had gone on stage without his band but dressed in white robes and told everybody that he was the coming messiah and he got booed off - the audience went mad and it was the end of his career.  So Vince Taylor became one of the building blocks of the Ziggy character. I just thought he was just too good to be true.  He was of another world - he was somewhere else.  He definitely was part of the blueprint of this strange character that came from somewhere else."

"Vince was an American and came to England, then went to France and became a star of dirge.  But then he came back to England and we spoke of our findings.  He wore a white robe and sandals and we sat on the busy London street with a map of the world and tried to find the people who were passing by and scowling at us.  They were nowhere on the map.  Vince went back to France, then I heard about the famous show where he told his band to go home and appeared in front of the curtains in that old white robe and sandals, telling the French people about the comings and goings due upon us.  He was banned from performing.  My records were selling and I was being a man in demand.  I thought of Vince and wrote "Ziggy Stardust." I thought of my brother and wrote "Five Years." Then my friend came to mind, standing the way we stood in Bewlay Brothers and I wrote "Moonage Daydream."- Bowie (Part of a never completed or fully published autobiography titled THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE - this excerpt featured in Rolling Stone Magazine January 1976)  

"I met (Vince Taylor) a few times in the mid-Sixties and I went to a few parties with him. He was out of his gourd. Totally flipped. The guy was not playing with a full deck at all. He used to carry maps of Europe around with him, and I remember him opening a map outside Charing Cross tube station, putting it on the pavement and kneeling down with a magnifying glass. He pointed out all the sites where UFOs were going to land." - Bowie (1996)

"...In his own mind he did become the Messiah...He used to hang out on Tottenham Court Road and I got to know him then. And he had these strange plans, showing where there was money buried, that he was going to get together; he was going to create this new Atlantis at one time...And he always stayed in my mind as an example of what can happen in rock n roll. I'm not sure if I held him up as an idol or as something not to become. Bit of both probably. There was something very tempting about him going completely off the edge. Especially at my age, then, it seemed very appealing: Oh, I'd love to end up like that, totally nuts. Ha ha! And so he re-emerged in this Ziggy Stardust character" - Bowie (1990)

"The weird and rather scary thing is that poor Vince died not so long ago, a few years ago in Switzerland near to where I lived when I was living in Switzerland and do you know what his career had been the last few years of his life? This guy had been in and out of institutions all his life - he was an aircraft maintenance guy at Geneva Airport.  Can you believe that!  Ziggy was a maintenance guy!" - Bowie (2000)

The Legendary Stardust Cowboy

"He was a kind of Wild Man Fisher character; he was on guitar and he had a one-legged trumpet player, and in his biography he said, "Mah only regret is that mah father never lived to see me become a success." I just liked the Stardust bit because it was so silly." Bowie (1990)

"...he's the guy I got the name "Stardust" from. For me, he's up there with people like Wild Man Fisher - it's the original outsider music. Music by people probably not playing with a full deck. He played guitar, and he had a drummer and a one-legged trumpet player. They assembled their music without any awareness that there are supposed to be rules to follow. And so they go in directions that wouldn't occur to even a semi-trained musician. And it's such a freeing exercise, listening to them commit to those performances with full integrity - knowing that they are not joking" Bowie (1996) discussing the song "I took a trip on a Gemini Spacecraft" by The Legendary Stardust Cowboy

Life

"I get worried about dying.  At the moment its this terrible travel thing.  I keep thinking we're going to crash.  So planes are impossible.   Last month, it was being killed on stage.  Not so much here.  In America.   I know that one day a big artist is going to be killed on stage and I know that we're going to go very big and I keep thinking its bound to be me.  Go out on my first tour.  Get done in at me first gig and nobody will ever see me.  That would make me wild" - Bowie (March 1972)

"I couldn't exist thinking all that was important was to be a good person. I thought, fuck that; I don't want to be just another honest Joe. I want to be 'Super Super Being' and improve all the equipment that I've been given to where it works three hundred per cent better. I find that its possible to do it" - Bowie (1973)

"I haven't changed my views much since I was about 12 when I read Keroac's On The Road." - Bowie (1973)

---This page last modified: 29 Jun 2002---

 Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)