David tours the US promoting his third album – THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (1970) – but is officially forbidden to perform due to work permit problems. While in Los Angeles, Bowie stays at the luxury Hollywood home of RCA executive and producer Tony Ayres (occasionally utilising the recording equipment there) and records a demo of ‘Moonage Daydream’. Ayres and DJ Rodney Bingenheimer watch Bowie scribbling song lyrics to a song called “Hang Onto Yourself” on Holiday Inn stationery. Bowie explains that he is writing about an imaginary character called “Ziggy Stardust.”
Bowie asks guitarist Mick Ronson to return to Beckenham to help work on his new album HUNKY DORY (1971) and to bring a bass player. Ronson, employed at the time as a council gardener in Hull, and playing with his band The Rats, returns with The Rats drummer Mick (Woody) Woodmansey and bass player Rick Kemp. Kemp practices with Bowie, Ronson and Woodmansey for a week but is later replaced by another bass player from The Rats called Trevor Bolder
Ronson, Woodmansey and Bolder will eventually form The Spiders From Mars. All live with Bowie and Angie at their Haddon Hall flat, camping on the upper gallery balcony at one stage during renovations.
The recording for HUNKY DORY (1971) is completed in April but its release is held up until December while a new contract is drawn up with RCA.
Bowie begins work on songs for the new Ziggy Stardust project. He forms a group called Arnold Corns fronted by friend Freddi Burretti which trials some of the Ziggy Stardust songs and releases early versions of “Moonage Daydream” and “Hang Onto Yourself.” Bowie and Burretti appear in magazine called ‘Curious’ which features a brief interview with Burretti (aka Rudi Valentino):
Bowie claims that Rudi is the leader of the whole gay scene, but Rudi himself is a little more modest. He says,
“I really want to be a big name and make it in Amercia. I have a single out written by David called “Moonage Daydream” and that’s only the beginning. An album “Looking for Rudi” will be out very soon.” – Curious
‘Moonage Daydream’/’Hang On To Yourself’ single released by Arnold Corns on 7th May.
Also at this stage Ronson, Bolder and Woodmansey call themselves Ronno and while still working with Bowie as his backing band, are considering an independent career.
BBC 1’s The Sunday Show recording session: “Moonage Daydream” is announced by John Peel as the first single by Arnold Corns (June 5th 1971). This show, which is broadcast on the 20th June, is the first public debut of The Spiders From Mars although they are not known by this name yet.
On 9th July Bowie records his cover version of Ron Davies’ ‘It Ain’t Easy’ at Trident Studio. The track is initially included on a GEM (management) promotional LP pressing featuring one side of tracks by Bowie, the other by Dana Gillespie. This pressing helps to secure David’s contract with RCA. David’s side becomes the backbone for Hunky Dory, although his recording of ‘It Ain’t Easy’ would have to wait until Ziggy Stardust before issue.
Bowie’s new manager Tony DeFries establishes a recording contract in New York with RCA on the strength of the six-song demo tape Bowie had made for HUNKY DORY (1971). RCA would pay $37,500 for the next three Bowie LPs.
In New York Bowie was introduced to Lou Reed, met Iggy Pop and Andy Warhol. He also toured Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center and stated “I’m gonna play here someday” which indeed he would do with the Spiders in 1973.
“I don’t think you are going to like this next album….Well its very different to anything I’ve done before. Its going to be much, much heavier, and much stranger. Its called THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS” – Bowie to co-producer Ken Scott after completion of HUNKY DORY (1971)
Bowie tells the press about the “Ziggy Stardust stage show”. This is a planned musical concept which never comes to fruition. At this stage Bowie sees Ziggy Stardust as a vehicle for a West-End type show with the album to be his rock opera and score for a stage production.
“I’m going to play a character called Ziggy Stardust. We’re going to do it as a stage show. We may even do it in the West End. When I’m tired of playing Ziggy I can step out and someone else can take over for me.” – Bowie (August 1971)
Trident Studios, London: The songs “Shadowman” (also titled “The Man”) and “Something Happens” are recorded at Trident Studios – possibly for inclusion on THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972). Other songs started but not finished at the Trident Studios are “Its Gonna Rain Again”, “Only One Paper Left” and “Looking for a Friend.”
Friars Club, Aylesbury: Bowie performs with Mick Ronson, Mick Woodmansey, Trevor Bolder and Tom Parker (ex The Animals) on piano. Of interest in this set are performances of “Round and Round” and “Port of Amsterdam” each of which were provisionally intended for the Ziggy Stardust album.
SET LIST: 01. Fill Your Heart (2:36) 02. Buzz The Fuzz (3:01) 03. Space Oddity (4:18) 04. Amsterdam (3:08) 05. The Supermen (2:44) 06. Oh! You Pretty Things (3:12) 07. Eight Line Poem (2:47) 08. Changes (3:43) 09. Song For Bob Dylan (3:53) 10. Andy Warhol (2:47) 11. Queen Bitch (3:01) 12. Looking For A Friend (3:15) 13. Round And Round (3:23) 14. Waiting For The Man (3:53)
Nov 8-15th 1971
Trident Studios, London: THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) tracks “Star” (originally titled “Rock n Roll Star“), “Hang Onto Yourself“, “Moonage Daydream”, “Five Years”, “Soul Love” and “Lady Stardust” (orginally titled “He Was Alright – The Band Was Altogether”) are recorded in this period. The song “Sweet Head” (rediscovered and released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc 1990 CD re-issue) is also recorded at these sessions.
November 8th 1971
Tracks recorded include ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ (later re-titled ‘Star’) and ‘Hang On To Yourself’.
November 12th 1971
“Moonage Daydream’, ‘Soul Love’, ‘The Supermen’ and ‘Lady Stardust’ recorded.
The Ziggy Stardust album at this stage is provisionally titled ROUND & ROUND after the Chuck Berry song “Around and Around” which Bowie & The Spiders jammed at the Trident recording sessions and which was also listed as a potential track for the album. A master tape from this date has THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) album in the following format:
Side One: Five Years / Soul Love / Moonage Daydream / Round and Round / Port of Amsterdam
Side Two: Hang Onto Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Velvet Goldmine / Holy Holy / Star / Lady Stardust
However, the tracks: “Round and Round”, “Port of Amsterdam”, “Holy Holy” and “Velvet Goldmine” (Orginally titled “He’s A Goldmine”) will not make the final Ziggy Stardust album.
Other tracks that will make the album – but not recorded yet – are “Starman”, “Suffragette City” and “Rock n Roll Suicide.” Also missing from this album line-up, and already recorded is “It Ain’t Easy
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 probable 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
A discarded 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 On to 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…but then………………..Bowie has his hair styled and dyed Red Hot Red by hairdresser Susie Fussey (THE famous Ziggy haircut), invests in a wardrobe of new ‘clothes’ and thus armed Bowie becomes Ziggy Stardust.
Final master takes of ‘Starman’, ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’ recorded at Trident, completing the recording of Bowie’s fourth LP.
Feb 8th 1972
The Old Grey Whistle Test on the BBC broadcasts Bowie (Ziggy) and The Spiders from Mars to the British public. They perform “Queen Bitch” and “Five Years“. Although recorded, “Oh! You Pretty Things” is not broadcast.
Feb-10th 1972 The First Gig of the Ziggy Stardust UK Tour
The First Gig of the Ziggy Stardust UK Tour. The very first gig of the Tour had humble beginnings at the Toby Jug, a pub in Tolworth, London which unfortunately no longer exists. 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.
A fan remembers the gig:
“I had read the famous “Oh You Pretty Thing!” David Bowie interview in Melody Maker from a few weeks earlier and had also caught his appearance on BBC TV’s “The Old Grey Whistle Test”. And of course, I still remembered his “Space Oddity” single which had been a hit several years earlier but NOTHING prepared me for what I was about to experience on this day.
The Toby Jug Pub, Tolworth had for many years been a venue for up & coming bands. Playing host to the likes of Traffic, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and King Crimson it was well established as a local pub gig. I had persuaded a couple of friends from work to come along and check out this David Bowie who had suddenly appeared all over the media.
The pub itself was fairly small and the venue was just an ordinary function room. I don’t recall having to queue for long to get in. We paid our entrance fee and got our hands stamped so that we could get out if we wanted and be re-admitted without hassle. There was no support group – just a DJ.
About 9pm the house lights were switched off. I think a taped introduction from “A Clockwork Orange” was played and Ziggy Stardust (with his trademark red hair) and The Spiders from Mars then took to the two foot high stage. While he used a pianist later in his concerts – on this night it was just Bowie and The Spiders.
There were about 60 people in the room, mostly aged between 17 and 25, and we watched the concert standing. There were a few tables and chairs at the back of the room but people only used them to stand on for a better view. We were 10 feet away and the energy was just incredible. I had never seen or heard anything like it before.
I’m pretty sure he wore the very same combat outfit as on the Ziggy Stardust album cover and “The Old Grey Whistle Test.” I definitely remember him wearing the same knee high wrestling boots. I think he wore the same costume all through the set.
A very small lighting rig was used to incredible effect – often just a tight pin-spot on the “Main Man” himself. The lighting was theatre style – not the usual rock flashing Par cans. Bowie had brought theatre to a humble pub gig!
The sound was fantastic – so loud my ears were ringing for days afterwards. I can still remember feeling the sheer power of the opening chords of “Ziggy Stardust”. Mick Ronson had a tremendous guitar sound.
The songs pounded into us thick and fast, interspersed by brief introductions from Bowie. About halfway through the show came the acoustic numbers. “Port of Amsterdam”, “My Death”, “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud”, “Space Oddity” and “Andy Warhol” seem to stick in my mind. Then it was time to crank it up again for “Hang on to Yourself”, “Suffragette City” and “Queen Bitch.” I can clearly recall the hairs on the back of my neck standing up during “Queen Bitch.”
It all gets hazy here – I was oblivious to everything and everyone else in the room. I couldn’t blink for fear of missing something. Nothing would ever be the same again. I knew one thing for sure – David Bowie was going to be HUGE!
The audience was enthusiastic and responded with rapturous applause, whistles and cheers. Bowie appeared to enjoy the show as well. The material was so fresh. After rehearsing the set without an audience it must have been great for him to finally get this response from the crowd. I don’t remember anyone heckling. My reaction? I was completely blown away. I was just entranced by the entire performance. It was a heady combination of the best music I have ever heard, tremendous sound, very basic but so effective lighting. The concert finished around 11pm – a two hour set.
I Iwas so impressed with the gig that I dragged some more friends to the Wallington Public Hall gig the following week. Sadly nothing could compete with the Toby Jug gig and for me still hasn’t to this day. The Wallington Public Hall was only about half full and lacked the intimacy of the Toby Jug. Still it was a great set there too – but I had now been spoiled!
“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)