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When Ziggy Played Guitar

David Bowie, The Man Who Changed The World

by Dylan Jones

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And then there was David Bowie, the uber-freak with the mismatched pupils, the low-tech space face from the planet Sparkle. This was Bowie's third appearance on TOTP but this was the one that properly resonated with its audience, the one that would go on to cause a seismic shift in the Zeitgeist. This is the performance that turned Bowie into a star, embedding his Ziggy Stardust persona into the nation's consciousness.

With a tall, flame-orange cockade quiff (stolen from a Kansai Yamamoto model on the cover of Honey), lavishly applied make-up, white nail polish, and wearing a multi-coloured jump-suit that looked as though it were made from fluorescent fish skin (chosen by Ziggy co-shaper, the designer Freddie Buretti), and carrying a brand spanking new, blue acoustic guitar, a bone-thin Bowie appeared not so much as a pop singer, but rather as some sort of benevolent alien, a concept helped along by the provocative appearance of his guitarist, the chicken-headed Mick Ronson, with both of them unapologetically sporting knee-length patent leather wrestler's boots (Bowie's were red). 'Most people are scared of colour,' Bowie said later. 'Their lives are built up in shades of grey. It doesn't matter how straight the style is, make it brightly coloured material and everyone starts acting weird.'

Suddenly Bowie - a man called alias - had the world at his nail-varnished fingertips, and in no time at all he would be the biggest star in the world.

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There are certain moments for each generation that are cultural turning points. For Dylan Jones, the urbane, influential long-standing editor of GQ magazine, and many others of his generation, that moment was 6 June 1972 at 7.25 and 33 seconds. Top of the Pops. When David Bowie, as Ziggy Stardust, sang 'Starman'.

And then there was David Bowie, the uber-freak with the mismatched pupils, the low-tech space face from the planet Sparkle. This was Bowie's third appearance on TOTP but this was the one that properly resonated with its audience, the one that would go on to cause a seismic shift in the Zeitgeist. This is the performance that turned Bowie into a star, embedding his Ziggy Stardust persona into the nation's consciousness.

With a tall, flame-orange cockade quiff (stolen from a Kansai Yamamoto model on the cover of Honey), lavishly applied make-up, white nail polish, and wearing a multi-coloured jump-suit that looked as though it were made from fluorescent fish skin (chosen by Ziggy co-shaper, the designer Freddie Burretti), and carrying a brand spanking new blue acoustic guitar, a bone thin Bowie appeared not so much as a pop singer, but rather as some sort of transcendent alien, a concept helped along by the provocative appearance of his guitarist, the chicken-headed Mick Ronson, with both of them unapologetically sporting knee-length patent leather wrestler's boots (Bowie's were red). 'Most people are scared of colour,' Bowie said later. 'Their lives are built up in shades of grey. It doesn't matter how straight the style is, make it brightly coloured material and everyone starts acting weird.'

Suddenly Bowie - a man called Alias - had the world at his nail-varnished fingertips, and in no time at all he would be the biggest star in the world.

Publication Details

Publisher:
Random House
Imprint:
Preface Digital
Publication Date:
2012

Format

  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read 3.9 MB
  • Adobe EPUB eBook 3.9 MB

Dylan Jones (Author)

Dylan Jones is the multi-award winning editor of GQ magazine.He has been an editor at i-D magazine, The Face, Arena, the Observer and the Sunday Times. He is a Trustee of the Hay Festival, a board member of the Norman Mailer Foundation and was awa...

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When Ziggy Played Guitar
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