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The Release

Full-page advert appearing in the UK music magazine Melody Maker.
This advert appeared on 3 June, 1972 - three days before
the release of the Ziggy Stardust album in the UK.

The Album:


UK sales in the first week were 8,000 (regarded as a huge for this period). The album went straight to #19 before finally reaching a peak of #5 on the UK charts.

It stayed in the UK charts for almost two years (Total weeks=172).

Critics (with only a few dissenters) hailed the album as Bowie's masterpiece.

"Ziggy Stardust" had just been released in England and David was doing well with it, or so I'm told, but no-one had heard of him in America, so Tony DeFries gave us each a box of 25 albums to just give to whoever we thought was cool, which actually turned out to be a pretty good idea.  We took them down to Max's Kansas City and gave one to Micky Ruskin the owner, we gave one to the DJ; and we gave one to Lisa Robinson, the reporter. We just passed them out to crazy people and artistes and people who were always on the scene in New York." - Leee Black Childers (1986)

The album was later released in the US on 1 September 1972 and stayed for over a year in the US charts, but it only reached a peak of #75 there.

Interestingly there were two small differences between Ziggy Stardust albums released in the UK and the US from 1972 to 1986.  The US album version of "Starman" had a quieter "Morse code" bridge, while the UK album version (utilising the remixed "Starman" single) was louder.

"There were some strange things going on with the Bowie recordings during that period that I didn’t find out about until much later. There appears to be a second mix of “Starman” wherein the only difference is that the morse code part on one mix is really loud and on the other really quiet. I have no idea which one I actually did or how or why the second one came about. After hearing both, it sounds to me like there was only one mix and that those sections were copied louder, or quieter, and had been edited in to make it different, but no one seems to have any recollection of it being done." - Ken Scott

The other track that differed was "Suffragette City" with the US version having a noticeable momentary sound drop-out on one channel, which the UK version did not have.

There were also differences in album artwork with the US RCA office responsible for supplying the artwork to the UK RCA office. There subsequently were three different versions of the front cover image on the UK LPs, each better in quality than the one before. The first UK Ziggy LP cover was a direct paste/copy of the US sleeve with both album sides appearing blurred with fuzzy text.  The next, again used US Ziggy cover artwork but was of better quality.  Subsequent UK Ziggy issues used original artwork. 

Chart Performance

Country Release Date Peak # # of weeks in chart
UK 6 June, 1972 5 106
US I September, 1972 75 72
UK 31 January, 1981 33 62
UK 23 June, 1990 25 4
US Rykodisc 23 June 1990 93 9

The album went Gold in June 1974

Different formats: From LP to CD - a listing of the release dates and formats for different countries.

Reviews of the Ziggy Stardust album - all on one page for convenience.

Known amongst Bowie collectors is a 16mm film by Mick Rock (which was transferred to video by Mainman in 1995) part of which contains what appears to be experimental film of a Ziggy Stardust television promo or material to be screened at Ziggy Stardust concerts.  While the promo was never made or screened - the three or four minute segment is interesting and shows Mick Rock focussing in and out at different speeds on the Ziggy Stardust album cover, lingering on the album title and focusing on the Ziggy Stardust image itself.

"Starman" - The Single

Can a young man who went through incredible "Changes" and made it all "Hunky Dory" ever find true happiness as a "Starman"?

The first single from the Ziggy Stardust album - "Starman", was released on the 28th April 1972, just over a month before the album itself was released. The song "Starman" was a late replacement on the Ziggy album for "Round & Round" (which was dropped altogether). 

"Starman" was recorded in a separate Trident studio session to the bulk of the Ziggy album after it was considered that a new song was needed as the album's main single.

"Starman" remained in the UK charts for 11 weeks reaching #10.  In the US, it was again less successful reaching only #65.

Side 1: Starman (Bowie) / Side 2: Suffragette City (Bowie)
Produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott

"Starman" - background and lyrics
"Starman" - 7" single release information

On the same day as the Ziggy Stardust album was released in the UK (6 June 1972), BBC radio broadcast a special version of "Starman" which had been recorded by Bowie and The Spiders in one of its studios on 22 May 1972 for promotional purposes.   Altogether, this special radio version was broadcast four times on the Johnnie Walker Radio Show from 6 June 1972 to 9 June 1972.

David Bowie and Mick Ronson singing "Starman" on Top of The Pops

On the 5 July 1972 (some sources mistakenly report this as being on 14 April), David Bowie, the Spiders and Robin Lumley on keyboards appeared on the BBC's Top Of The Pops and performed "Starman" to a special backing tape, adding 'live' vocals and guitar.  For many this was the first time they had ever seen David Bowie and he achieved much notoriety with his unique costume and hairstyle and by singing most of the song with his wrist dangling limply around Mick Ronson's neck and shoulder. Bowie and The Spiders also performed "Starman" earlier on the Lift-Off With Ayshea  TV show.

"Starman" - Press Reviews:

Now this is magnificent - quite superb.  We played this 15 times, roaring along with the lyrics and boogying in front of the fire.  When I'd finished listening to all the other records we played it a few times more.  David Bowie is, with Kevin Ayers, the most important, under-acknowledged innovator in contemporary popular music in Britain and if this record is overlooked it will be nothing less than stark tragedy. Its 4 minutes and 10 seconds of major achievement.  It starts slow, brooding, menacing, with little hint of the massive power and exhaltation to come.  David mumbles one or two indistinct lines behind the instrumentation before starting on the song proper.  "Starman" is out there in the sky waiting and "he'd like to come and meet us but he's afraid he'd blow our minds." Sometimes the lyrics are hard to catch but the story seems to be that Starman takes over radio from his waiting station in space - ""that were no D.J, that was Hazy Cosmic Jive". Then he's on TV as well but "don't tell you Papa, he'll get us locked up"."Let The Children Boogie" he seems to say and there follows a thudding, hand-clapping, body-shaking slow boogie that must be Mick Ronson and Mick Woodmansey.  Jesus - it feels good.  The whole record is a sheer orgiastic delight.  If you hear it a few times you're never going to be able to ignore it.  A classic, a gem - what more can I say to convince you?  The B-side is David in Velvet Underground mood and its a shuddering, slightly malevolent stomper. "That's great, is that B-side" said Pig from the other room - and it is good enough to be an A-side at that.  Good on yer, David. - John Peel  Disc 29/4/72

David proves he's not just a pretty face on this cosmic 45.  This is quite an elevating and energetic song with some super "teenage" lyrics.  It takes a few listens to do it to ya, but "Starman" is obviously single of the week.  The B side - "Suffragette City" is one of the many highlights of David's monumental live performances.- New Musical Express 29/4/72

"There's a Starman waiting in the sky" says David in that strange voice filled with premonitions and doom.   "He'd like to meet us but he's afraid he'd blow our minds."   Fascinating lyrics as usual and a space truckin' tune that should appeal to all at Mission Control and points west.  David is taking longer than most to become a super star, but he should catch up with Rod and Marc soon.  There was a lot of talent wandering loose in the mid-sixties.  Whose left from those days who hasn't made it yet? George Catsmeat! - of course! - Melody Maker 29/4/72

I think Davie will eventually climb his way into superstardom with his incredible songs, which, I think, would have been better received in 20 years time.  The A side is a haunting song with David's 12 stringer playing an important part whereas "Suffragette City" is more suited to this century.   I think that if it had been the push side it would have stood a good chance of making the grade. (RCA) - Durham Advertiser

Bowie has been around a long time waiting in the wings to pick up on the echelons of glory that have come to many of his contemporaries.  In an effort to come through with impact he has developed his outward appearance into a succession of "high camp" poses.  Certainly it's brought the press scurrying but I don't know whether it's strengthened his position as an artist in this country.  Which, in a way, is a shame because - and I hasten to say this - his talents as musician and writer and unchanged from their former brilliance and have, if anything, come through strengthened in the past year or so.   "Starman" is, as nearly all his tracks these days, a perfect example of David's very under-rated talents.  In many ways it's atmospherically comparable to "Space Oddity" with the mellotron and guitar work that came to light on that lauded track.  It doesn't have quite the same instant appeal about it until the chorus line takes off - which unfortunately may be a little too late to get it into the chart.  But it's well worth having: "Let all the children boogie" and I like the "Reach Out" rip off mid-way through. GLORY - Sounds 29/4/72

May take a bit of time to register at full power, but this sounds a definite hit for the talented David.  Good, strong guitar backing, a rather rambling opening, but later on he sings out with both personality and dramatics.  He is a first-class performer, this bloke and that is herewith translated to disc - CHART CHANCE. Record Mirror 6/5/72

---This page last modified: 14 Jan 2019---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)