1972 – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars – David Bowie

1972D - Ziggy Stardust

Top Of The Pops on a Thursday night had, by this time, become pretty much essential viewing for my brother and I. He didn’t really like all the glam-rock type of stuff and thought it was too ‘poppy’, but he watched it anyway, just so he could sit there and pour scorn on all those kinds of groups. It was in July that David Bowie made his famous appearance singing “Starman” for the first time and it was a pivotal moment for me. Everything looked right, the orange hair, the blue guitar – even Trevor Bolder, the bass player with his huge, silver sprayed side-burns. Mick Ronson immediately became my guitar hero with his long, blonde hair and (more importantly) his Gibson Les Paul guitar with the natural wood top. I never actually bought the single but desperately wanted, and was given, the “Ziggy Stardust” album for my birthday in August.

Musically, Bowie was only one step removed from T.Rex. The mix of guitars was there, as were the congas (particularly on “Soul Love”), the strings and the high pitched backing vocals. The main difference was where they were coming from: Bolan was looking at the stars, Bowie came from them. Bolan was basically a hippy, Bowie was an alien. Teenage lads love a bit of an apocalyptic vision and this certainly provided that, from the first song “Five Years” right up to the end with “Rock and Roll Suicide”. As ever, the sound of the lyrics was massively important, some of my favourites being, “Keep your mouth shut, you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird” from “Moonage Daydream” and particularly, “The bitter comes out better on a stolen guitar, you’re the blessed we’re the Spiders from Mars” from “Hang On To Yourself”, two and a half minutes of pure, simple pop/rock brilliance.

I think I’d realised by now that I was never going to be a footballer. I still played for the school team, meeting on Harmer Lane in Pond Street Bus Station in Sheffield town centre every Saturday morning, but I spent most of the games in a bit of a daydream, singing songs to myself. It was in the changing rooms on the bottom corridor at High Storrs school, getting changed after a lunch time football practice that my mate Neil Fisher commented, “You’re getting right pop-wise you, aren’t you?”

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