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Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (often shortened to Ziggy Stardust) is a 1972 concept album by English musician David Bowie, which is loosely based on a story of a fictional rock star named Ziggy Stardust. It peaked at #5 in the UK and #75 in the US on the Billboard Music Charts.

The album tells the story of Bowie\'s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. Bowie created Ziggy Stardust while in New York City promoting Hunky Dory and performed as him on a tour of the UK, Japan and North America. The album, and the character of Ziggy Stardust, was known for its glam rock influences and themes of sexual exploration and social commentary. These factors, coupled with the ambiguity surrounding Bowie\'s sexuality and fuelled by a ground-breaking performance of \"Starman\" on Top of the Pops, led to the album being met with controversy and since hailed as a seminal work.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars has been consistently considered one of the greatest albums of all time, with Rolling Stone magazine ranking it the 35th greatest ever. It was ranked the 20th greatest album ever in a 1997 British survey, the 24th greatest of all time by Q magazine and one of the 100 greatest releases ever by Time magazine. A concert film of the same name, directed by D.A. Pennebaker, was released in 1973.

The album presents, albeit vaguely, the story of a rock and roll character called \"Ziggy Stardust\". Ziggy is the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of its existence. Ziggy Stardust represents the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake but with a message, ultimately, of peace and love. He is destroyed both by his own consumptions, and by the fans he inspired.

The character of Ziggy was inspired by British rock \'n\' roll singer Vince Taylor whom David Bowie met after Taylor had had a breakdown and believed himself to be a cross between a god and an alien; though Taylor was only part of the blueprint for the character, other influences included the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Kansai Yamamoto, who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour. The Ziggy Stardust name came partly from the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and partly, as Bowie told Rolling Stone, because Ziggy was \"one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter \'Z\'\". He later explained in a 1990 interview for Q magazine that the Ziggy part came from a tailor\'s shop called Ziggy\'s that he passed on a train, and he liked it because it had \"that Iggy [Pop] connotation but it was a tailor\'s shop, and I thought, Well, this whole thing is gonna be about clothes, so it was my own little joke calling him Ziggy. So Ziggy Stardust was a real compilation of things.\"

Bowie covered a Legendary Stardust Cowboy song, \"I Took a Trip (On a Gemini Spaceship)\" thirty years later on Heathen.


The Ziggy Stardust sessions began just a few weeks after Hunky Dory was released. The first song recorded at Trident Studios for the album, the cover \"It Ain\'t Easy\", was recorded in September 1971. The first session in November produced \"Hang on to Yourself\", \"Ziggy Stardust\", \"Rock \'n\' Roll Star\" (later shortened to \"Star\"), \"Moonage Daydream\", \"Soul Love\", \"Lady Stardust\", and \"Five Years\".

Also recorded during the November Ziggy Sessions were two more cover songs intended for the as-yet untitled album. They were Chuck Berry\'s \"Around and Around\" (re-titled \"Round and Round\") and Jacques Brel\'s \"Amsterdam\" (re-titled \"Port of Amsterdam\"). A re-recording of \"Holy Holy\" (first recorded in 1970 and released as a single, to poor sales, in January 1971) was initially slated for Ziggy, but was dropped in favour of \"Rock \'n\' Roll Suicide\". \"Round and Round\" was replaced by \"Starman\" and \"It Ain\'t Easy\" replaced \"Amsterdam\" on the album\'s final running order. All three were eventually released as b-sides.

\"Velvet Goldmine\", first recorded during the Hunky Dory sessions, was also intended for Ziggy, but was replaced by \"Suffragette City\". RCA released it in 1975 as the B-side to the UK re-release of \"Space Oddity\" after having it remixed and mastered without Bowie\'s approval.

After recording some of the new songs for Sounds of the 70s with Bob Harris (which appear on Bowie at the Beeb) as the newly dubbed Spiders from Mars in January February 1972, the band returned to Trident. They recorded \"Starman\", \"Suffragette City\" and \"Rock \'n\' Roll Suicide\" by the end of the month.

\"Starman\", released as a single in April (and not intended for the final album at first), has never appeared in its original \"loud\" mix on CD. It differs somewhat in that it \"features a subdued \'morse code\' section between the verse and the chorus\" compared to the original released in 1972. \"Suffragette City\", the b-side to \"Starman\", was mastered for the album with a three-note coda leading in from \"Ziggy Stardust\" to make the songs sound linked. They were never played as such by Bowie in concert.

Recorded and released during the ensuing Ziggy tour were two other songs. The first, \"John, I\'m Only Dancing\", was recorded at Trident in late June and released (in the UK only) in September. \"The Jean Genie\", recorded at RCA Studios in New York in early October at the start of the American tour, was released in the US in November. The song was remixed for Aladdin Sane.

Rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman was given the opportunity to play keyboards on the album but opted to join the progressive rock group Yes instead.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by David Bowie, except where noted.
Side one
No. Title Length
1. \"Five Years\" 4:44
2. \"Soul Love\" 3:33
3. \"Moonage Daydream\" 4:35
4. \"Starman\" 4:13
5. \"It Ain\'t Easy\" (Ron Davies) 3:00
Side two
No. Title Length
6. \"Lady Stardust\" 3:20
7. \"Star\" 2:50
8. \"Hang On to Yourself\" 2:40
9. \"Ziggy Stardust\" 3:13
10. \"Suffragette City\" 3:25
11. \"Rock \'n\' Roll Suicide\" 3:00
Biography Rock: 22
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