David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust Tour began on 29 January 1972.
The almost named Spiders looked a little uncomfortable in their new stage gear and Trev had yet to grow his sidies to their full silver sprayed garden gnome glory but Bowie and band were tight and well rehearsed which was just as well with the teething problems that followed. It started with the pickup falling off Bowie’s new guitar which was quickly gaffa taped on for the rest of the set, but worse was the intermittent fault that caused Ronno’s guitar to cut out continuously. He had a brief respite when he switched to piano for ‘Life On Mars’ but this gig was clearly full of frustrating moments for him.
Eventually Bowie and Ronno swapped amps which seemed to solve the problem. An enduring memory comes from the end of the set during Waiting For The Man with Ronno producing an uncharacteristically clean sound from his Les Paul while Bowie, thrashing great fuzztoned washes of sonic chaos from his twelve string, thrust and gyrated the neck lewdly in the direction of his guitarist’s hindquarters. All great stuff and an amusing precursor to the ‘electric blow job’ which became a regular feature after its debut at Oxford Town Hall that summer. The set finished with ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’ and I have a clear memory of seeing a magazine photo some time later, of a friend, instantly recognisable by her long blonde hair and bright yellow floor length cardy, clutching Bowie’s hands as he reached down from the stage.
On this night Bowie was supported by Grand Canyon. Bowie was billed as “The Most Beautiful Person In The World”.
His set began with ‘The Supermen’. He and the Spiders From Mars – although the band weren’t billed as such – wore full glam rock costumes. Tickets cost 65p, and Bowie was paid £110 for the show.
I remember him doing ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’, maybe for the first time. He shouted at the audience, ‘Gimme your hands, ’cos you’re wonderful!’, and nobody got up. In those days they used to sit on the floor, and the stage was reasonably high and somebody got up to give him their hands, but only half-heartedly … I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that’s a strong song,’ but nobody knew it.
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg
In the audience were Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor. The latter had attended the September 1971 show, and was already a Bowie convert.
I got Freddie out in my little Mini and I remember the lights didn’t work very well and we were going around the roundabouts and he was going “Oh dear – I don’t think you can see dear, can you?” and I said “Don’t worry Freddie it will be all right” and anyway we did get around the roundabouts and we got out to Friars Aylesbury which seemed like the end of the earth at the time. I think it could have been the first-ever Ziggy Stardust gig and it blew us away – we were blown away – it was so fantastic like nothing else that was happening and so far ahead of its time – the guy he had so much talent to burn really and charisma to burn as well, I hate to gush but he did have it like no one else did at the time”
Also on this day...
- 1992: Live: Tin Machine, Kaikan Dai Ichi Hall, Kyoto
- 1976: Rehearsal: Agrodome, Vancouver
- 1971: David Bowie sees The Velvet Underground live
- 1970: Television: Cairngorm Ski Night
- 1969: Recording: Love You Till Tuesday, When I Live My Dream, The Mask
- 1966: David Bowie leaves the Lower Third
- 1966: Live: David Bowie and the Lower Third, Marquee Club, London
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.