When David Bowie burst onto the scene in the early ’70s in full Technicolor Ziggy Stardust Glitter Rocker Regalia– he forever changed the Rock ‘n’ Roll landscape, and revolutionized a new genre of pop star and multi media artist like no one before.  His influence was felt and reflected in music, culture, dress and attitude.  The doors of self-expression and exploration were thrown wide open– with musical and artistic avenues never before explored now becoming ripe, new territory for a young and hungry generation.

BBC considers David Bowie’s 1972 performance of Starman on Top of the Pops nothing short of…

An iconic moment. Broadcast on July 6th, 1972 but recorded the day before, this performance caused a bit of a stir up and down the country. It was the first time many had seen Bowie, and the sight of him camping it up in a multicoloured jumpsuit (with his arm curled limply around Mick Ronson’s shoulder) infuriated some and delighted others. Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen): “All my other mates at school would say, ‘Did you see that bloke on Top Of The Pops?’ He’s a right faggot, him!’ And I remember thinking, ‘You pillocks’…It made me feel cooler.”



1974, New York — David Bowie performs as Ziggy Stardust on TV in a room at the Delmonico Hotel. — Image by © Henry Diltz/Corbis

1972 — David Bowie, as Ziggy Stardust, in concert in the US. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

David Bowie & Mick Ronson.  Mick (in white on the Les Paul) was a major collaborator w/Bowie through 1973. — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis

1973, LA — Rocker David Bowie backstage with fans — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis

Glitter Rocker David Bowie Performing as Ziggy Stardust — Image by © Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis

David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) — Image by © Mick Rock

1973, NY — David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) at Radio City Music Hall. With him is guitarist Mick Ronson. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

1973, Los Angeles — Rocker David Bowie signing autographs for fans.

1973, NY — David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) at Radio City Music Hall. With him is guitarist Mick Ronson. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

1973, NY — David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) at Radio City Music Hall. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

1973, NY — David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) at Radio City Music Hall. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

1973, NY — David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) at Radio City Music Hall. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

1973, Long Beach, CA — David Bowie Onstage — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis

July 9th, 1973 — Rock music legend David Bowie — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

July 4th, 1973, London — At the party given by pop star David Bowie at the Cafe Royal here following Bowie’s “final” public concert.  Lou Reed, Mick Jagger and David Bowie.  Standing is Lulu. —  Bettmann/Corbis

1972 — Legendary Rockers David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust), Iggy Pop & Lou Reed  — Image by © Mick Rock

1972, Santa Monica — David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) live in concert — Image by © Jon Levicke

1972 — David Bowie & Mick Ronson in concert, live in Santa Monica — Image by © Jon Levicke

David Bowie & guitar great Mick Ronson

1973 — David Bowie and Mick Ronson enjoy lunch on the train. — Image by © Mick Rock


  1. so funny that you posted this, am going through such a bowie phase at the moment. was looking at that pic of bowie & ronson eating lunch on the train just yesterday.

    great post, yet again.

  2. The great Mick Ronson was a big part of David Bowie’s Ziggy-era sound. Bowie called him “my Jeff Beck”. I love most of Bowie’s work and his overall contribution to popular music, but what I like most of all is the way he picked Mott The Hoople’s career off of the ash heap when they were ready to quit in 1972, with a song written especially for them- All The Young Dudes (he was horrified to hear of their impending breakup!). Mott went on to do their best work after this with two more (self-penned) studio albums. David Bowie could be extremly generous with other up and coming artists, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, to name just a few (as seen in the famous Mick Rock photo above).

    • And did you catch any of the Mott reunion clips from Fall 2009 on YouTube? Ian Hunter at the age of 72…..I REPEAT….SEVENTY-TWO years old….is rocking HARDER than he did in his mid-40s…..AMAZING!!!

      • I saw Ian warm up for another Ian, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, this last Summer. Ian Hunter was quite a welcome surprise. I think I’ve still got one or two Mott LPs on vinyl in the bottom of the closet.

      • Had tickets for one of the Mott The Hoople reunion shows in 09 but wasn’t able to go. I WILL see Ian Hunter one more time before I leave this planet!

  3. I was driving with my 17 year old son in Dallas the other day, and in front of us was a car w/vanity plates-BOWIE, and a bumper sticker stating, “I’d rather be at a Bowie Concert”. My kid loved it, and took a pic w/his IPhone. He had seen Bowie music on my ITunes, and had actually listened and liked it. That car was a real conversation starter for us.

    When the Stones toured the US in ’72 you could see the influence Bowie had on them, especially Mick. Bowie “got it” that the music business had become “show business”. Elvis kicked it off, and Bowie ran with it.

    In the immortal words of Warren Zevon, “I’d like to meet his tailor”!

      • Yet another great post! So glad to see the additional coverage of Mick Ronson. To me, he gave Bowie that punk sound and very early. When I first heard Queen Bitch, with those hard fast Ronson riffs, I immediately grabbed the guitar to figure out the chords. Clearly it was punk, but then it was called glam. The Ian McCulloch quote is dead on. It was tough being a Bowie fan in the early days..you could get your ass kicked.

  4. OK…I’ll make this as short as possible….1972….back from “Nam a year…..wierd looking posters appearing around Cleveland of even wierder looking ORANGE haired dude on his knees in front of goofy-lookin’ guitarist, playing Ronson’s guitar with his open mouth, looking like it’s a sexual performance of SOME kind…..local WMMS late night DJ looping the end of Suffragette City together, so playing an unending 45-minute version of song that JUST WON’T QUIT building to a crescendo(sp)…..my brother wins a couple of tickets to Bowie’s first show in North America….audience buzzing before the show because NOBODY knows WHAT to expect…..band comes on with straight thru no break between songs medley of Ziggy/StarMan/Suffragette City….Ronson RIPPING it up, with Bowie prowling the stage like some new wave rock mystery…..Suffragette builds to climax….and band, in tribute to WMMS DJ repeats the looped climax THREE times….and as last of final chord sounds in the theatre…..THERE IS COMPLETE SILENCE…..Yep, Bowie and the boys had STUNNED a Cleveland crowd into incredulity(sp)….and Bowie and Ronson do a quick glance at each other as if to say, “Maybe they didn’t GET it….maybe they don’t like us?”…..But NOOOOOOOOOO….crowd literally LEAPS to its’ feet and gives the band a 5-minute ovation that I’m sure would have gone on for awhile….except the band is now into 5 Years tune…..and OF COURSE band continued to ROCK our plimsoles for the remainder of show…..and just about EVERYONE in that audience KNEW they had seen a changing of the gaurd that night….just not sure who was gaurding exactly what….Ahhhhhh, the 70s……GOOD TIMES!!!

    • Dr.Bop –

      Great story, no to patronize you but it gave me goosebumps.

      thanks for sharing.


  5. LOVE DrBOP’s comment. & this post. I think I listened to the Ziggy Stardust album constantly for a year when I first discovered it. I wish I had it to listen to right now.

  6. Viva los 70s and the Thin White Duke. I hitchhiked, trained and walked from South Bend Indiana to Lansing Michigan in February — it was either 78 or 79 (can’t remember) to see David Bowie. He was promoting Young Americans so Ziggy didn’t show and I don’t recall Mick Ronson. But, it was an incredible concert — will always treasure those 2 cold, wet days!

  7. Legend. He also hired the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan on the Let’s Dance lp. his son is also a talented flim producer. I am going to listen to Heros now.

  8. Ahhh…Ziggy-era Bowie and a quote from McCulloch. So nice to see a couple members of the Mt. Rushmore of My Life first thing in the morning.

  9. Enjoyed the photo from ’72 with Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop who is holding a pack of Lucky Strike fags (unfiltered, of course) in his mouth. Yep, good ‘ol Lucky Strikes. Just thinking how times have ch-ch-ch-changed.

    • I don’t think anyone would debate that. But I don’t think it should be the ultimate criteria to measure such a talent.

  10. He is someone I’ve known of and loved since I was a wee thing, yet looking back at pictures and music once a year-ish he continues to blow my mind. Like when you are familiar with a person for a good 20 years but suddenly realize you’ve never really taken in their features.

    Iggy is bloody hilarious, I was going to comment after seeing him in the Nick Cave post but this one just cracked me up. I’m taking mental notes now to improve my shitty photograph participation stance.

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