Happy 45th: David Bowie, THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
45 years ago today, David Bowie released an album that found him adopting the persona of a human-looking, guitar-playing alien who played for time while jiving us that we were voodoo.
Recorded at London’s Trident Studios, THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS was a concept album which – per Bowie himself in an interview with William S. Burroughs – took place five years before Earth’s demise as a result of waning natural resources, with Ziggy serving as a prophet of sorts, delivering information given unto him by beings known as the Infinites.
Yeah, it’s pretty heavy stuff. But what else would you expect from David Bowie?
ZIGGY STARDUST was immediately deemed a classic by the critics, and it also proved to be a commercial success, hitting #5 on the UK Albums chart and #75 on the Billboard 200. It should be noted, however, that in the wake of Bowie’s death, the album rose to #21 in America, and it currently holds the status of being his second-best-selling album of all time. As far as its singles go, “Starman” climbed to #10 in the UK and #65 in the US, and although “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” didn’t chart in America, it did hit #22 on the other side of the pond. And then you’ve got classic album tracks like “Five Tears,” “Moonage Daydream,” and the title track, which was famously covered by Bauhaus to great effect. Plus, let’s not forget about “It Ain’t Easy,” a song which includes harpsichord work by none other than Rick Wakeman.
45 years on, the status of THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS as a definitive album of the ‘70s has only risen: Rolling Stone, Q Magazine, Pitchfork, TIME, and even VH-1 have cited it in lists of the best albums of the decade, the century, the millennium, and of all time.
Yep, that Ziggy sure did play guitar…