David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall on 28 September 1972.
I suppose the standard show for us at the time was our debut at Carnegie Hall. We had played only a couple of US shows before this one and hadn’t really felt as though we’d found our feet. I had a very bad ’flu and had been dreading the concert, not sleeping well the night before as I thought I would be giving a rather sluggish show and didn’t know if my voice would hold. The audience was packed with faces including Warhol, Tony Perkins and the newly-formed New York Dolls, as well as a huge amount of press.
As it happened, we did a pretty good show and both the audience and press liked us. In fact, we really were very popular on both coasts and another bunch of shows were added, so we felt like everything was kind of swinging along.
The night before the concert I had had my first big-time star interviewer, a guy called Alfred Aronowitz. I didn’t know what to think of him, this great big man, as he talked and talked about himself from the moment he walked in, right through dinner, until his departure. It was all, ‘So I advised Dylan to do such and such…’ and, ‘without my input The Grateful Dead wouldn’t have blah blah blah…’ He was unstoppable and he found every moment fascinating, I believe. As he left he said, ‘Oh, by the way, I won’t be going to your show tomorrow night. The Carnegie Hall people were very rude to me once.’ And, true to his word, he didn’t.
It was the 61st date of the Ziggy Stardust Tour, which had begun on 29 January 1972. The support act was Ruth Copeland.
The show at the prestigious Carnegie Hall was an important one for us. The Beatles had played there twice in 1964 and to succeed in the US rock market it was important we were a success in New York. We definitely needed to deliver the goods on the night. Working against us was the fact that Bowie had caught flu the day before and he had had a pretty sleepless night. He wasn’t sure if he could muster the energy or even if his voice would hold out.
As our limo pulled up before the show we saw a giant searchlight outside the hall, which moved around lighting up the clouds and the tops of the skyscrapers, creating a Hollywood premiere feeling. It was a sold-out show and the guest list included Truman Capote, Todd Rundgren, Andy Warhol, Alan Bates, Tony Perkins and about a hundred British journalists plus US press.
We were all a little nervous before the show but we walked on after our usual Clockwork Orange intro tape to a standing ovation, which was a fantastic start. It looked like the biggest gig we’d done to date. This could have been due to the number of balconies, five in all, above the main seating area. We all rose to the occasion, including Bowie, despite his flu, though before one of the acoustic songs, Jacques Brel’s ‘My Death’, he did warn the audience he might not make it to the end vocally. Suffice to say, he did a great version of it. The show really rocked and the audience were with us all the way. Before returning for an encore of ‘Round And Round’ we received a five-minute standing ovation. The reviews were all positive and, because of the success of this gig, more concerts were added to the tour.
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
They performed 16 songs: ‘Hang On to Yourself’, ‘Lady Stardust’, ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Five Years’, ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Changes’, ‘Life On Mars?’, ‘Queen Bitch’, ‘Starman’, ‘Andy Warhol’, ‘My Death’, ‘Space Oddity’, ‘The Width Of A Circle’, ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, and ‘Round And Round’.
The show was a sell-out, and with it Bowie attained superstar status in America.
I was introduced to Trevor Bolder at the Carnegie Hall concert on Thursday, 28 September 1972, and all he could talk about was losing his job. He was concerned about being booted off the tour and asking if I thought that was going to happen and what might happen to him after there was no more Ziggy. I told him that he was a great bass player and I was sure he would find other work, but he was concerned about the expiration time coming up. It was sad in a way because he knew that it was coming to an end.
David Bowie: A Life, Dylan Jones
Also on this day...
- 1997: Live: Warehouse, Toronto
- 1995: Live: Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford
- 1987: Live: Capital Centre, Landover
- 1974: Photo shoot: David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor by Terry O’Neill
- 1969: Live: Three Tuns, Beckenham
- 1964: Live: Davie Jones and the Manish Boys, The Jolly Gardeners, London
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.