Live Santa Monica '72 album coverRecorded: 20 October 1972
Producers: Mike Moran, Richard Kimball

Released: 30 July 2008


David Bowie: vocals, guitar
Mick Ronson: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Mike Garson: piano, keyboards
Mick Woodmansey: drums


David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed two shows at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, on 20 and 21 October 1972. The first of them was broadcast live by local radio station KMET-FM.

The Santa Monica concerts came midway through the first US leg of the band’s North American tour, following an extensive itinerary of concerts in Britain. The support band was Sailcat. Marc Bolan and T. Rex had performed at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica two days before, and had stayed in the same hotel as Bowie – the Beverly Hills Hotel on LA’s Sunset Boulevard.

The recording captures Bowie in the first flush of stardom. Many fans consider it to be superior to Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture, which was recorded at the end of the tour and released in 1983.

The first US leg of the tour was from September to December 1972, with more, bigger, shows following in February and March 1973. These were transformative times, when Bowie’s natural theatricality was abetted on stage by more elaborate costumes and more ambitious staging, and with a confidence bolstered by critical acclaim and commercial success.

It started in that summer of ’72. I have footage of fans talking about Bowie at the Rainbow. Then it builds and builds, and you can see that audiences are enthusiastic, but not the way it got in ’73. Once he got back from the States, then it was authentic ‘Bowiemania’. They were quite small venues he was playing, remember, and he encouraged the communication. There are lots of pictures of the audience reaching out and touching him, and running onto the stage. By that summer it was pandemonium.

The look, the persona of Ziggy, had taken over, and David was in some sort of psychic confusion. Because everyone was in love with Ziggy Stardust it was hard for him to find out who he was. Plus, I think the misbehaviour level was mounting … although the overwhelming thing I remember was the work ethic. He worked bloody hard, David did. He was unbelievably focused for that entire period.

Mick Rock
Aladdin Sane 30th Anniversary edition

During the US tour Bowie was writing some of the songs that would be released on the album Aladdin Sane. ‘The Jean Genie’ was the first of these to be recorded, in New York on 6 October 1972, and was released as a single the following month.

‘The Jean Genie’ was the only new song to be performed in Santa Monica. Six songs – ‘Hang On To Yourself’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Five Years’, ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Suffragette City’, and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’ – were from Bowie’s breakthrough album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

Four songs – ‘Changes’, ‘Life On Mars?’, ‘Queen Bitch’, and ‘Andy Warhol’ – were from Hunky Dory, and two – ‘The Supermen’ and ‘The Width Of A Circle’ – dated from The Man Who Sold The World. ‘Space Oddity’ was the only song performed from Bowie’s 1969 album. The other songs were the standalone single ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, and cover versions of Jacques Brel’s ‘My Death’ and The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’.

Published: |