Born on this day, 8th Jan 1947, David Jones, (David Bowie). His first UK Top 40 single was the 1969 ‘Space Oddity’ which became a UK No.1 in 1975, Bowie has since scored over 50 other UK Top 40 hits including five No.1’s. Bowie has also scored two US No.1 singles, the 1975 ‘Fame’ and 1983 ‘Let’s Dance’. Plus two albums with Tin Machine in 1991 and 1992.
Davy Jones had released a string of singles – the former singer with The Konrads and The King Bees had seen his debut single, “Liza Jane”, credited to Davie Jones and the King Bees, sink without trace. Then came “I Pity The Fool”, then another one, which no one can remember, and then his fifth unsuccessful single release, “Do Anything You Say”.
‘Maybe it’s my name’, he thought, dissatisfied with his stage name as Davy (and Davie) Jones, which in the mid-1960s invited confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees, Bowie then re-named himself after the 19th century American frontiersman Jim Bowie and the knife he had popularised.
So then came his April 1967 solo single, “The Laughing Gnome”, utilizing sped-up Chipmunk-style vocals. Now David him-self will admit, this was probably a mistake. Lets leave that one there.
David Bowie’e landmark 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was recorded almost immediately after Hunky Dory, using the familar surroundings of Trident studios in London. With sessions starting mid–afternoon and the day’s work finishing around midnight, Ziggy was recorded in less than three-weeks.
Bowie admits a direct influence on the loose concept album was Vince Taylor, an English singer who took the “rock star” persona to the extreme, calling himself Mateus and declaring himself the son of God. Bowie based the clothes, hair, and makeup of Ziggy Stardust on the Malcom McDowell character in A Clockwork Orange, and on William Burroughs book Wild Boys. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed both by his own excesses. 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 has stated, because Ziggy was “one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter ‘Z'”.
‘The Spiders from Mars’ included guitarist Mick Ronson who plays with a maverick flair on “Suffragette City,” “Moonage Daydream,” and “Hang Onto Yourself”. Trevor Bolder (bass), Mick Woodmansey (drums), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and backing vocals on “It Ain’t Easy” by Dana Gillespie. In addition to his vocals, Bowie was involved in the arrangements and played acoustic guitar, saxophone and harpsichord on the sessions. While Ziggy Stardust would live in infamy as Bowie’s best-known onstage persona, the singer put the character to rest following his London performance on July 3rd, 1973.
The album cover shows David Bowie (dressed as Ziggy Stardust) standing outside the furriers, K. West, which was located at 23 Heddon Street, London. In March 2012, a plaque honoring Ziggy Stardust was unveiled by former Spandau Ballet star Gary Kemp, where the K. West sign once hung. This plaque is the one of the few in the UK dedicated to a fictional character.
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