David Bowie Became Ziggy Stardust 48 Years Ago This Week: Watch Original Footage

For all the not-quite-believ­able mate­r­i­al in the annals of 1970s rock his­to­ry, is any more dif­fi­cult to accept than the fact that Zig­gy Star­dust first mate­ri­al­ized in the sub­urbs? Specif­i­cal­ly, he mate­ri­al­ized in Tol­worth, greater Lon­don, at the Toby Jug pub, whose sto­ried his­to­ry as a live-music venue also includes per­for­mances by Led Zep­pelin, Fleet­wood Mac, Gen­e­sis, and King Crim­son. There, on the night of Feb­ru­ary 10, 1972, David Bowie — until that point known, to the extent he was known, as the intrigu­ing but not whol­ly uncon­ven­tion­al young rock­er of “Space Odd­i­ty” — took the stage as his androg­y­nous Mar­t­ian alter ego, bedecked in oth­er­world­ly col­ors and act­ing as no rock­er ever had before.

History.com quotes Bowie in an inter­view pub­lished in Melody Mak­er less than three weeks before the Toby Jug show: “I’m going to be huge, and it’s quite fright­en­ing in a way, because I know that when I reach my peak and it’s time for me to be brought down it will be with a bump.”

He was cer­tain­ly right about the first part: while Bowie’s per­for­mance as Zig­gy Star­dust brought him seri­ous atten­tion, the release that sum­mer of his con­cept album The Rise and Fall of Zig­gy Star­dust and the Spi­ders from Mars would launch him per­ma­nent­ly into the pop­u­lar-cul­ture canon. Lat­er described as “a boot in the col­lec­tive sag­ging den­im behind of hip­pie singer-song­whin­ers,” the album expand­ed the lis­ten­ing pub­lic’s sense of what rock and rock stars could be.

In a sense, Bowie was also cor­rect about the time com­ing for him to be brought down — if “him” means Zig­gy Star­dust, that delib­er­ate­ly doomed cre­ation, his fall fore­told in the title of the very album on which he stars. As we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly post­ed about here on Open Cul­ture, Bowie-as-Zig­gy famous­ly bid the Earth farewell onstage in 1973, not much over a year after his arrival. Of course, what to some looked like the end of Bowie’s career proved to be only the end of one chap­ter: the saga would con­tin­ue in such incar­na­tions as Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, and a vari­ety of oth­ers known only as “David Bowie.” But this much-mythol­o­gized and huge­ly influ­en­tial shapeshift­ing all goes back to that Feb­ru­ary night in Tol­worth, real footage of which you can see above. The sound comes spliced in from a dif­fer­ent show, played that same year in San­ta Mon­i­ca — but then, Bowie was about noth­ing if not arti­fice.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Sto­ry of Zig­gy Star­dust: How David Bowie Cre­at­ed the Char­ac­ter that Made Him Famous

David Bowie Recalls the Strange Expe­ri­ence of Invent­ing the Char­ac­ter Zig­gy Star­dust (1977)

How David Bowie Deliv­ered His Two Most Famous Farewells: As Zig­gy Star­dust in 1973, and at the End of His Life in 2016

Hear Demo Record­ings of David Bowie’s “Zig­gy Star­dust,” “Space Odd­i­ty” & “Changes”

David Bowie Remem­bers His Zig­gy Star­dust Days in Ani­mat­ed Video

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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