Live: Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica

David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed at Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium on 20 October 1972.

It was the 67th date of the Ziggy Stardust Tour, which had begun on 29 January 1972. The support act was Sailcat.

This was the first of two consecutive nights at the Civic Auditorium. The show was broadcast live on local radio station KMET-FM, and was widely bootlegged.

The recording was released in the UK on 25 April 1994 as Santa Monica ’72 by the Golden Years label, which was set up by Bowie’s former management company MainMan, and in the US the following year by Griffin Music. Neither version was approved by Bowie. There was also a Belgian CD titled Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars “Live”, and a 1997 Japanese version, Live 1972.

Other unofficial releases included a gold disc edition from the Netherlands, a US box set, limited to 1,000 copies, including a t-shirt, keychain and short video shot in England in June 1972, with audio from the Santa Monica concert. Another limited edition, with just 250 copies, contained the album in a wooden box with Bowie’s image carved on the lid, and a brass plate indicating the number.

The performance of ‘The Jean Genie’ from the 20 October show was officially released in 2003 on the bonus CD of the 30th anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane. It was the first of the Santa Monica recordings to receive a fully-sanctioned release.

Live Santa Monica '72 album cover

The full concert recording was remastered and officially issued by EMI on 30 July 2008 as Live Santa Monica ’72, with some brief sleeve notes by Bowie:

I can tell that I’m totally into being Ziggy by this stage of our touring. It’s no longer an act; I am him. This would be around the tenth American show for us and you can hear that we are all pretty high on ourselves. We train wreck a couple of things, I miss some words and sometimes you wouldn’t know that pianist Mike Garson was onstage with us but overall I really treasure this bootleg. Mick Ronson is at his blistering best.
David Bowie, April 2008

The 2008 release included the introductory announcement by KMET’s B Mitchel Reed, although some of Bowie’s between-song speech was omitted.

Initial copies of Live Santa Monica ’72 were in a deluxe case, with a Ziggy Stardust poster, card replicas of RCA publicity photographs, duplicates of the original Scotch tape labels, and a review of the concert by Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times. There was cover photograph by Mick Rock, and inner sleeves containing 1972 artwork by George Underwood – intended for a live album which was never issued – and live photography by Jon Levicke.

A few months after its release, the packaging of Live Santa Monica ’72 was changed to a more conventional release, without the extra items.

Live Santa Monica ’72 was included in the 2015 box set Five Years (1969–1973), which was released on vinyl, compact disc and as a digital download. Robert Hilburn’s concert review was included in the accompanying book, along with images of tickets, posters and other items from the time.

Last updated: 1 May 2023
Travel: Kansas City to Los Angeles
Live: Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica
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