“Ziggy played guitar…”
Three years after he created the character of Major Tom in his breakout hit, “Space Oddity,” and four years before the Thin White Duke arrived on Station To Station, art-rock icon David Bowie introduced the world to a new alter-ego that would immortalize both the character and its creator.
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was released June 16, 1972, Bowie’s fifth studio album and perhaps the most widely recognizable and identifiable project of his career. Visually, the character of Ziggy Stardust would become emblazoned in the memory of pop culture history. Musically, he had the rock and roll universe singing along to something entirely new.
Recorded in London’s Trident Studios in late 1971 and early 1972, the album was produced by Ken Scott. Even today, over 45 years after its release, …Ziggy Stardust… seems to careen through the universe as something entirely new, encapsulating a spaceman’s journey through the cosmos as told by an androgynous storyteller. In an era where concept albums began to take over the art-rock cannon, Bowie and Scott achieved a special blend of conceptual cohesion and sonic and artistic experimentation.
From the album’s orchestral space take-off opening track, “Five Years,” and the psychedelic trip of “Moonage Daydream” though well-known Bowie classics such as “Starman” and “Ziggy Stardust” to raucous rock anthems such as the “Star” and “Suffragette City,” …Ziggy Stardust… dances, soars, rambles, and rocks.
Bowie’s vocal range from fragile croon to rebel roar is on full display, and the Mick Ronson-led Spiders From Mars build an adventurous musical backdrop to the album’s concepts, making for one of the greatest of many great projects Bowie gave us during his career.
In 1999, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” by the Library of Congress.
Just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of what would be his final masterpiece, Blackstar, Bowie died on Jan. 10, 2016. The lasting legacy of …Ziggy Stardust… lives on as a compelling time capsule to be dug up, appreciated and enjoyed by generations of music fans to come.