David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed at the Shibuya Kōkaidō (渋谷公会堂) in Tokyo, Japan, on 20 April 1973.
It was the 111th date of the Ziggy Stardust Tour, which had begun on 29 January 1972. It was the second of two shows at the venue, with which the Japanese leg of the tour ended.
I now thought of Tokyo as home, and was glad when our final Bullet Train, Hikari No.60 dropped us back in Tokyo at 1.35pm exactly – as promised in our faultless itinerary memo.
We were to play a new Tokyo gig, the Shibuya Kokaido twice before we were finished with our tour in Japan, the first on the Wednesday, and then a final ‘farewell to Ziggy gig’ on Friday.
Bowie & Hutch
The show ended in a near riot, which the venue’s security guards attempted to quell. It had been started by Angie Bowie and Tony Zanetta, who swung their chairs above their heads in the auditorium during the show finale. The crowd surged towards the stage as Bowie and the band performed the final encore, Chuck Berry’s ‘Round And Round’.
The venue suffered structural damage, and the owners contacted the police who demanded that RCA Tokyo give them the names of those who started the disturbance. The next day Angie and Tony left Japan on a flight to the USA via Hawaii – the police, with arrest warrants, were monitoring flights to Europe.
The final gig in Tokyo, on Friday 20th April at Shibuya Kokaido Hall, was a riot. No, really, I mean it was a riot. In the estimation of the attendant Tokyo police it was anyway.
The gig had certainly, almost predictably, been a triumphant end to the Japanese tour. David unusually took three encores, and the very last one, which was some old rock and roll song, most probably Chuck Berry’s ‘Round And Round’ because it was a favourite of David’s, was delayed for fifteen minutes whilst the crowd went even wilder. The kids rushed the stage before we had finished the song. Mick Ronson yelled at me, Geoff and the saxophone section, ‘Fuckin’ run for it!” as he made for the exit stage-right at a gallop in his high heels. I was right behind Mick, we had no time to unplug our guitars, and amplifiers crashed over behind us on-stage as guitar leads were torn out of jack sockets. The ‘wings’ of the stage very luckily for us had solid hinged doors, and everyone in the band got safely behind them without any injury, but it had been a close thing. The theatre was in pandemonium, policemen grappled with screaming girls on the stage and in the auditorium. The road crew struggled to extricate kids, frozen by panic, from the crush, and Angie Bowie, who had been out front and enjoying the frenzy, was now caught up in the fracas, and was helping youngsters who had become trapped under their seats which had toppled over, row after row like dominoes.
The Police were furious, and there were claims that some ‘westerners’ in the crowd, allegedly Angie Bowie and Tony Zanetta, had incited the near riot by swinging some chairs around their heads when they had decided that the show was a little dull and needed a boost. Tony and Angie had in fact encouraged the kids to rush to the front to make for a better finale, as Leee Black Childers, who was with the guilty pair in the audience, was to admit later. The Tokyo Police complained to the RCA office in Tokyo and demanded that RCA identify and hand over for questioning the people who had incited the riot. The next morning, believing that warrants had already been issued for their arrest, Leee rushed Zee and Angie, along with little Zowie, to Tokyo Airport. There Leee discovered that the Tokyo Police were watching all departures for London and San Francisco, ready with warrants for the arrest of Zee and Angie. Improvising with commendable speed and ingenuity Leee bought new tickets and put the fugitives on the next flight to Honolulu. Nobody said a word to the band about the dramatic escape and I knew nothing of this story at the time. I’m glad that I didn’t know, it might have spoilt my last couple of days in Tokyo if I’d known that the local Police were so intent on enforcing their rigid Japanese moral standards on our glittery and obviously debauched little tour party.
Bowie & Hutch
- ‘Hang On to Yourself’
- ‘Ziggy Stardust’
- ‘Moonage Daydream’
- ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’
- ‘Watch That Man’
- ‘The Jean Genie’
- ‘Five Years’
- ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’
- ‘Suffragette City’
- ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’
- ‘Round And Round’
Also on this day...
- 1987: Album release: Never Let Me Down
- 1978: Live: Cobo Hall, Detroit
- 1973: US album release: Aladdin Sane
- 1972: Live: Playhouse, Harlow
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.