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RockPop Cover Story - Bowie's Ziggy Stardust
"The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"
By Mike G, RockPop Gallery
(more articles from this author)
2007-03-30
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Always in the top 50 of everyone's "Greatest LPs of All Time" listings, this record tells the story of a visiting Martian who's on a mission to save the world from its day-to-day humdrum. Of course, this is best accomplished via sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, with the Messianic main character being torn apart by fans in the end (so much for a "Peace & Love" message).

The Spiders From Mars featured Mick Ronson on guitar, Trevor Bolder on bass and Mick Woodmansey on drums. A note on the album cover suggests that it is "to be played at maximum volume."

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The Brian Ward photograph that serves as the basis for this cover image shows Bowie-as-Ziggy standing on London's trendy Heddon St. (just off of Regent St., a popular shopping area in the West End). Many Bowie fans seek out this spot on trips to London (although the phone booth shown in the background as removed years ago).

In the words of artist Terry Pastor, "I was given a black and white photograph printed on matte paper - David Bowie's management wanted some colour put into it. I also did the cover for his previous LP, Hunky Dory. This was also a black and white photo that I coloured up in the same way. Perhaps this is why the label decided that the Ziggy cover would be similar? I applied the colour using photo-dyes with an airbrush (a DeVilbiss Super 93). The lettering for the front cover (which isn't included on this print) was lettraseted (rub-down transfer lettering) - a very hands-on way of doing things, but in 1972 that was the way things were done. No Mac computers in those days!

"I was working on the back cover one evening at my studio, which at the time was in Covent Garden, London, when I received a phone call from David asking how the cover art was going. I told him I had finished the front and was working on the back cover photograph. He was very excited hearing that, having no idea there was an image for the back cover. He asked me what the image was, and said that he was really looking forward to seeing it. From that you can assume David didn't have any real input into the art direction at this stage of the cover. He probably had much more input when the photograph was being shot. The back cover, featuring Bowie in a phone box, was done in exactly the same way.

"Also an interesting point - before this album was released, I would bump into David occasionally in the West End (Central London) or meet up in a pub, and he would go totally unnoticed. Within a matter of months from the release of Ziggy Stardust, he became a mega-star and would get mobbed if he appeared anywhere in public."

Click here to see the limited-edition print - signed by Terry Pastor and David Bowie - available at RockPoP Gallery


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