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Ziggy Takes Shape 1/2

David Bowie (January 1972)

January 1972

In this month Bowie has his hair cut and styled short.  Later it will be dyed Red Hot Red by hairdresser Susie Fussey (the famous Ziggy haircut) and Bowie invests in a wardrobe of futuristic clothes. With these modifications - Bowie becomes Ziggy Stardust.

Poster versions of the Hunky Dory album cover are placed around London arousing much curiosity about this androgynous singer.

Jan-7th 1972

"Changes" 7" single from HUNKY DORY (1971) is released in the UK & US. Produced by Ken Scott and featuring Rick Wakeman (later of YES fame) on piano. While not making the UK charts, this single did draw a lot of positive critical attention to Bowie at the time.

"Changes/Andy Warhol" single cover

"Changes/Andy Warhol" RCA 2160 UK. No chart entry.

"Changes/Andy Warhol" RCA 740605 US in picture sleeve. Highest chart position = #66

Jan-8th 1972

David Bowie's 25th birthday.

Jan-11th 1972

Bowie and The Spiders From Mars record their first radio session for John Peel's Sounds Of The 70s show at BBC Kensington House, including four tracks from Ziggy Stardust.

Jan 12-18th 1972

Trident Studios, London: The album versions of "Starman", "Rock n Roll Suicide" and "Suffragette City" are recorded.  It is possible that "Starman" was recorded separately (Ken Scott recalls this) and at a later session with the direct intention of it being used as the album's single.  See 2nd February entry. 

Jan-13th 1972

Ziggy Stardust album cover photo shoot on Heddon Street.  This week Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange opens in London. David and Mick Ronson see the film soon after its release, before the director had the film withdrawn later in the year. David draws upon much of Kubrick's stylish vision for his new Ziggy Stardust LP and stage concepts.

Jan-19th 1972

Rehearsals: Royal Ballroom, Tottenham Court Road. A week of rehearsals for the Ziggy Stardust concerts begin. Bowie gives a series of interviews to music journalists between rehearsals proclaiming a new enthusiasm for rock now that he had found stability with his backing band and outlines the forthcoming concerts:

"Our new stage act will be outrageous, quite outrageous but very theatrical. Its going to be costumed and choreographed, quite different to anything anyone else has tried to do before... No-one has ever seen anything like this before..." - Bowie

He also tells the press that he has a second RCA album (Ziggy Stardust) already recorded and describes it as having "a much harder sound than the just released Hunky Dory (1971), but not as paranoiac as The Man Who Sold The World (1970)"

Jan-22nd 1972

Melody Maker cover (22 January 1972)

The biggest selling English music weekly Melody Maker publishes a two-page interview with Bowie titled Oh You Pretty Thing by Michael Watts in which Bowie states that he is gay. This sparks massive media and public interest in Bowie, even though he is married with a toddler at the time. The interview proves to be very important for his career. Bowie's pronouncement causes consternation amongst some of his friends (who think he has ruined his career) and Bowie's mother:

"I'm gay and always have been, even when I was David Jones." - Bowie (1972)

"I felt dreadful. I mean what's come over him! So I rang him up and I said - What's happening, David? Are you changing your sex? He said - Don't believe a word of it, mum" - Bowie's mother to journalist Charles Shaar-Murray

"Ziggy Stardust - that was a real breakthrough.  You used to hear dockers saying "Ah I'd give Bowie one" - Pete Burns

"My sexual nature is irrelevant. I'm an actor, I play roles, fragments of myself." - Bowie (1972)

"I think I was always a closet heterosexual. I didn't ever feel that I was a real bisexual. It was like I was making all the moves, down to the situation of actually trying it out with some guys. But for me, I was more magnetised by the whole gay scene, which was underground. Remember, in the early 1970s it was still virtually taboo. There might have been free love, but it was heterosexual love. I like this twilight world. I like the idea of these clubs and these people and everything about it being something that nobody knew anything about. So it attracted me like crazy. It was like another world that I really wanted to buy in to. So I made efforts to go and get into it. That phase only lasted up to about 1974. It more or less died with Ziggy. I was only really adopting the situation of being bisexual. The reality was much slimmer. I wanted to imbue Ziggy with real flesh and blood and muscle, and it was imperative that I find Ziggy and be him. The irony of it was that I was not gay. I was physical about it, but frankly it wasn't enjoyable. It was almost like I was testing myself. It wasn't something I was comfortable with at all. But it had to be done." - Bowie (1993)

"I became a performer after that [the article].  It was the first time I had talked to the press about wanting to come back on stage and be a performer rather than a writer." - Bowie

Jan-29th 1972

Concert: Borough Assembly Hall, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Opening act were Grand Canyon.  A warm up performance for David's first major tour since 1969. Bowie performs with newly cut red hair and wearing a bomber jacket and trousers (with a bulging codpiece) rolled up to reveal red plastic boots. The as yet un-named Spiders From Mars wear gold Ziggy-style suits but have not yet fully embraced the total glitter look. Recently Bowie was asked to describe what was happening within the band at this historic moment:

"Woody Woodmansey was saying, “I’m not bloody wearing that!” [Laughs] There were certainly comments, a lot of nerves. Not about the music — I think the guys knew that we rocked. But they were worried about the look. That’s what I remember: how uncomfortable they felt in their stage clothes. But when they realized what it did for the birds . . . The girls were going crazy for them, because they looked like nobody else. So within a couple of days it was, “I’m going to wear the red ones tonight.” - Bowie (2002)

"I remember him doing "Rock n Roll Suicide", maybe for the first time.  He shouted at the audience, "Gimme your hands, cos you're wonderful" and nobody got up.  In those days they used to sit on the floor, and the stage was reasonably high and somebody got up to give him their hands, but only half-heartedly...I remember thinking, Oh that's a strong song, but nobody had heard it." - David Stopps (1999)

Trivia: The famous 'subway attack' scene in 'A Clockwork Orange' movie was filmed in the old Friars Square shopping centre in Aylesbury.

The BBC's Sounds of The Seventies (The John Peel radio show) broadcasts specially recorded versions of "Hang Onto Yourself", "Ziggy Stardust", "Queen Bitch" and "Waiting For The Man."



February 1972

Feb-2nd 1972

A master tape from this date shows that THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) is now largely finished.

Side One: Five Years / Soul Love / Moonage Daydream / Round and Round / It Ain't Easy
Side Two: Lady Stardust / Star / Hang Onto Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock n Roll Suicide

However, the track listing still has "Round and Round" in place of "Starman" (which will eventually replace it). The album itself will not be released for another five months due to HUNKY DORY's recent release.

"Sometimes I wonder: where is my Ziggy Stardust white-label test-pressing now? In late 1968, aged 18, I joined the Kentish Times series of newspapers as a junior reporter, along with another dozen or so who were the same age. We did a six-months probation and then signed for a three-year apprenticeship. Come 1971, my colleague Jeff was the first of this intake to leave the Kentish Times. He got a job as a press officer at RCA Records. He sent me a copy of Hunky Dory and I liked it so much that I kept asking him: when will there be a new Bowie album? One day, unannounced, he sent me a white-label test-pressing, As I recall, nothing was written on it. It was a mystery. On playing it I quickly realised it was the next Bowie album. By the time it was actually released, weeks later, I already knew and loved it. Come 1973, I had finished my Kentish Times apprenticeship, become a senior reporter and finally put some money together. I sold off many of my albums for two pounds each (or maybe it was a pound) at a shop on Market Square in Bromley, Kent, including my white-label Ziggy, and set off on a round-the-world trip. I wonder, where is it now?" - Christopher Maddock

Feb 3rd 1972

Concert: Lancaster Arts Festival, Coventry. - Did David Bowie really appear at this Sunday festival as commonly reported? - see below:

"David Bowie, a late addition to the Sunday evening concert, became a last minute withdrawal, due, according to organiser Ted Little, to his management having second thoughts about his suitability for a bill topped by Roland Kirk.....David Bowie at Lancaster: first it's Sunday, then its Monday, then not at all; must have had a hairdressing dress-fitting appointment... - Press Clippings

Postscript: Bowie confirmed in 2002 that he did not attend this festival.

Feb-4th 1972

Final master takes of ‘Starman’, ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’ recorded at Trident, completing the recording of Bowie’s fourth LP.

Feb-7th 1972

The BBC's Sounds of The Seventies radio show (with Bob Harris) broadcasts specially recorded versions of "Five Years", "Hang Onto Yourself", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Queen Bitch." The show also features an exclusive interview with Bowie.  While a version of "Waiting For The Man" was recorded for this show, it was not broadcast.

Feb-8th 1972

The BBC TV's Old Grey Whistle Test broadcasts Bowie and The Spiders From Mars to the UK public with them performing "Five Years" and "Queen Bitch." The song "Oh! You Pretty Things" was also performed and recorded for this programme but was not broadcast. Bowie and the band watch the show at home in Beckenham.


Songs performed: Space Oddity, The Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud, The Width of a Circle, The Supermen, Changes, Life on Mars?, Oh You Pretty Things, Andy Warhol, Song for Bob Dylan, Queen Bitch, John, I'm Only Dancing, Five Years, Moonage Daydream, Starman, Lady Stardust (19 August only), Hang Onto Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City & Rock n Roll Suicide.

Other artists songs: Port of Amsterdam (Jacques Brel), My Death (Jacques Brel), Sweet Jane (Lou Reed - 8 July 1972 only), Gotta Get a Job (James Brown), Hot (James Brown), Waiting for The Man (Lou Reed), White Light/White Heat (Lou Reed), I Can't Explain (Pete Townshend), Round and Round (Chuck Berry), This Boy (McCartney-Lennon - 27 August 1972 only) & I Feel Free (Cream)

Set lists: At the beginning of the tour the setlist was split evenly between Hunky Dory and Ziggy album material, with only a few songs from his early career performed. Many cover versions, however, were performed. As the tour progressed more and more Ziggy songs were brought into live performance.  The concerts usually opened with Hang Onto Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / The Supermen / Queen Bitch - with an acoustic set of Space Oddity / Andy Warhol and Port of Amsterdam performed next.  The finale was usually of Suffragette City / White Light White Heat / Waiting for the Man / Rock n Roll Suicide.  Bowie changed things slightly for The Rainbow Concert - opening with Lady Stardust and swapping Port of Amsterdam with My Death.  "The Width of a Circle" became the Spiders show-piece song replacing Cream's "I Feel Free". "John, I'm Only Dancing" was added at the end of the tour to promote it as a single.

Feb-10th 1972

KEY CONCERT: Toby Jug, Tolworth, London. The first gig of the Ziggy Stardust UK Tour began at a humble pub, which unfortunately is now no more. This was the last pub gig that Bowie would play. Most subsequent venues at this stage are small with seating capacity rarely exceeding 1,000.

"Things moved quite fast in those days, but Ziggy was a case of small beginnings. I remember when we had no more than twenty or thirty fans at the most. They'd be down at the front and the rest of the audience was indifferent. And it feels so special, because you and the audience kid yourselves that you're in on this big secret. It's that English elitism and you feel kind of cool. It all gets so dissipated when you get bigger." - Bowie (1997)

* Fan review of the concert

Feb-11th 1972

Concert: High Wycombe Town Hall, Bucks.

Feb-12th 1972

Concert: Great Hall, Imperial College, London: Bowie attempts to walk out across his audience's shoulders in imitation of Iggy Pop (see below), but because the audience is spread too thin, slides to the floor.

David Bowie live at Great Hall, Imperial College, London (February 1972)

"You know I never do anything by half. The costumes for the act are outrageous. I've had twelve, fifteen, any number 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

* Melody Maker review of the concert


Suffragette City live performance at Imperial College
Video Credit: Mr Screamin397

Feb-23rd 1972

Concert: Chichester College, Chichester.

Feb-24rd 1972

Concert: Wallington Public Hall, Wallington.

Feb-25th 1972

Concert: Avery Hill College, Eltham, London.

Feb-26th 1972

Concert: Mayfair Suite, Belfry Hall, Sutton, Coldfield.

Feb-28th 1972

Concert: City Hall, Glasgow, Scotland (Cancelled).

"I bought tickets for this concert for my girlfriend and I. We waited outside the city hall in Glasgow with only a handful of others. We waited outside well past the start time, maybe 40 mins, when David came out and advised there was a problem with the sound system and the concert would not take place. He advised we could get our ticket money back. It was good of him to come out and talk to us, but there were only a dozen or so of us with tickets waiting outside and in my opinion, this was the reason the concert was cancelled." - Drew McFarlane-Slack

Feb-29th 1972

Concert: Locarno, Sunderland. At this concert six fans in wheelchairs spring to their feet to greet Bowie and the Spiders and remain standing throughout the concert! (in honour of the leper messiah?).



March 1972

Mar-1st 1972

Concert: Bristol University, Bristol. This concert is notable for the audience carrying Bowie around the hall on their shoulders in a lap of honour after the concert finishes.

* Radio interview about the Ziggy Stardust album. This interview between Bowie and an American radio presenter discusses the forthcoming Ziggy Stardust album and some Bowie songs which didn't make the album.

Mar-4th 1972

Concert: Guildhall, Portsmouth.

Mar-7th 1972

Concert: Yeovil College, Yeovil.

Mar-11th 1972

Concert: Guildhall, Southampton.

Mar-14th 1972

Concert: Chelsea Village, Bournemouth.

Mid-March 1972

Tony DeFries delivers the acetate for "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars" (1972) to RCA.

Mar-17th 1972

Concert: Town Hall, Birmingham. Mick Rock meets, sees Bowie perform and photographs him for the first time. 

Bowie on stage at Birmingham (Photo and words by Mick Rock)

"The venue is half-empty, and those in attendance are more spellbound than boisterous, but Bowie performs with the energy and fervour of a man with a goal.  He seems totally out of context in such dull surroundings"

Bowie backstage at Birmingham (Photo and words by Mick Rock)

"When I first met David Bowie we swapped anecdotes; he wanted to hear about Syd Barrett and I wanted to know about Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. We talked about how Syd had had it all. Syd and David were similar in the way that neither of them sang like an American. At that time there was a big American influence on music, but Syd and David went against that and sang in a British way. David was very aware of Syd; very interested in him. Of course, in 1973 David did a cover version of 'See Emily Play' for his Pin Ups album. There were many parallels between Syd and David early on; although clearly David had a much tougher psyche. David's 'The Man Who Sold The World' always makes me think of Syd. It's a perfect description of him."

After the concert he interviews Bowie at his home. Regarding "Ziggy Stardust",  Mick Rock's interview transcript notes from March 1972 said:

"It started off unfortunately as a concept of the life cyle of a rock and roll star, but it ended up as fragmented songs on an album, but I've still retained the original title - which really only relates to the first side now.  The other side is a collection of different songs.  A very mini-concept album" - Bowie



April 1972

Apr-20th 1972

Concert: The Playhouse, Harlow.

Melody Maker full-page advertisement:

"David Bowie - His latest album "Hunky Dory" is now high in the US charts! His new single "Starman" is released on April 28th."

Mathew Fisher, who had earlier played with Procol Harum, joins the tour on keyboards in order to be able to better reproduce on-stage those songs with a heavy piano backing like "Changes" and "Life on Mars?"

Apr-21st 1972

Concert: Free Trade Hall, Manchester.

Fan Mark Doyle:

"I saw David at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester in April '72. He began with Hang On To Yourself & Ziggy Stardust and then explained to the audience that he'd spent the last week in rehearsals and that his vocal chords were sore. He could either play a short "hard" set or a longer "softer" set - which did we want?! We opted for the long set and he proceeded to play all of Ziggy, several of his back catalogue, plus White Light / White Heat & I Feel Free. Port of Amsterdam may also have been in there. After about 90 minutes, the audience were ecstatic and David seemed pretty pleased with the reception too - enough to actually walk out onto the audience's hands at the front of the stage, and they did manage to keep him aloft (for a short while anyway!). Definitely one of the all time great gigs!"

Fan Tony Husband:

"I'd been following Bowie for some time, I'd seen him doing his mime show with Tyrannosaurus Rex, seen him at Glastonbury and prevented a greaser throwing a bottle at him at a Humble Pie gig (got thumped for my efforts). Anyway, I'd got "The Man Who Sold the World" and was totally knocked out by it. Ronson's thrilling guitar, Visconti's doom-laden bass and some of the heaviest songs ever recorded, so when the tour was announced I was brimming. On the day the tickets were released I went to the ticket office at the Lewis department store at the back of the lingerie department, an old guy showed me the seating plan of the Free Trade Hall and said "Take your pick, you're the first" (a moment I am still proud of). I had the entire hall to choose from and chose the circle front row, dead centre, a choice I was later to regret. I presumed it would be full so I would have the best view etc. Come the night, it wasn't full, I'd say about 200 to 400 or so dripped into the 3000-seat Free Trade Hall. I can't remember who the support bands were but I remember the Spiders entrance, dressed in glitter suits, stack heels, fucking amazing. This was when I realised being in the circle was a shit place to be. Everyone rushed the stage and me and the handful of circlellites sat watching the spectacle unfold. I can't remember what order the songs came in, or to be honest, what they were even, but I do remember a blistering gig. Bowie at his arrogant best, strutting the stage, Ronson darting around playing paint peeling guitar and the solid rhythm of Bolder and Woodmansey. I remember Bowie crowd surfing, the small knot of fans carrying him over their heads. I remember him passing an acoustic guitar into the crowd and I'm thinking "what the fuck am I doing up here?" I remember Bowie stepping toward the microphone and it banging him in the mouth, through the show he kept feeling his tooth, strange what you remember. I looked to the side and some of the Free Trade Hall management were looking at this band of freaks, they were smirking and laughing, three guys in suits had never seen the like, neither had we. It was truly an awesome gig. When David got bigger I went to see The Spiders at the HardRock in Stretford with about 4000 others. I didn't like the fact I had to share him and the band with 4000 newcomers. I was at the Free Trade Hall with just 400 others months before, witnessing one of the all time great gigs by one of the all time great bands. I'm proud of that and it's burned into my memory forever."

Apr-28th 1972

"Starman" 7" single from THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) is released. Produced by Ken Scott. Bowie's second single for RCA and his first top-ten hit since 1969 reaching #10 in the UK and #65 in the US..

Starman/Suffragette City 7" single cover (UK)

Apr-29th 1972

Concert: Town Hall, High Wycombe.

Apr-30th 1972

Concert: The Guildhall, Plymouth.



May 1972

In this month Bowie, Lou Reed and Mott The Hoople record seven tracks at Trident Studios with Bowie's own version of "All The Young Dudes" coming from this session. Other songs recorded at this session and featuring in recent bootlegs include "It's Alright" (Bowie on guitar), "Henry and The H-Bomb" (Bowie on guitar) and "Sweet Jane" (where Lou Reed sings to the Mott backing track).

Mick Rock shoots a photo session at Haddon Hall from which the photo for the Space Oddity (1972) reissue album cover is derived.  Rock becomes the "Bowie" photographer, the only photographer along with Lee Black Childers and later Sukita allowed by DeFries to photograph Bowie in this period.

May-6th 1972

KEY CONCERT: Kingston Polytechnic, Kingston. This is the institution where Angie Bowie did a Business Studies Diploma. Tony DeFries invites journalists to attend this performance. A live version of Bowie performing the Cream song "I Feel Free" at this concert is included on RARESTONEBOWIE (1995) but be warned - its poor quality! The musical press report that a "new album" is coming soon.

May-7th 1972

Concert: The Pavilion, Hemel Hempstead.

May-11th 1972

Concert: Assembly Hall, Worthing.

"I remember him playing a gig at Worthing Town Hall in 1972.  He got off stage and came into the admittedly small crowd on Mick Ronson's shoulders while continuing to sing.  Ronson kept churning out the riff's despite being a long way form the stage.  Very punky, in fact!" - Alan Edwards (1999)

May-12th 1972

Concert: Central Polytechnic, London.

* "David Bowie" - review

May-13th 1972

Concert: Technical College, Slough.

May-19th 1972

Concert: Oxford Polytechnic.

May-20th 1972

Concert: Oxford Polytechnic.

May-23rd 1972

The Top Gear radio show broadcasts specially recorded versions of "Hang Onto Yourself", "Ziggy Stardust", "White Light White Heat" and "Suffragette City" with Nicky Graham on piano. Also recorded for this show (but not broadcast) was "Moonage Daydream" which will feature in a partial re-broadcast of the show on 25 July 1972.

May-25th 1972

Concert: Chelsea Village, Bournemouth.

May-27th 1972

Concert: Ebbisham Hall, Epsom.


Ziggy takes shape: 1st UK Tour (2/2)
January 1972 - September 1972

---This page last modified: 12 Jan 2019---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)