When David Bowie performed on October 1, 1972 at the Boston Music Hall (now the Wang Theater/CITY Center for the Performing Arts or something…wasn’t Music Hall indicative of a happier, simpler time?) this then-18 year old writer witnessed a magical concert. Mick Ronson, David Bowie, Mick “Woody” Woodsmansey and Trevor Bolder as the Spider’s From Mars, $3.50 tickets (I think RCA Records underwrote the ticket price or something), an opening band by the name of Mushroom and a rock & roll concert that few performers put together forty years after David took the stage. Lou Reed would follow-up this with a similar iconic night on September 5, 1973, both Reed and Bowie flowing in the glam movement that they put together, although with no method to the madness…the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground exiles of Shadow Morton’s Vanilla Fudge psychedelia, perhaps the bastard sons of Sky Saxon’s Seeds and the Vanilla Fudge.
There were billboards in Somerville, Massachusetts and other cities with Ziggy’s image and the words David Bowie is Ziggy Stardust, Ziggy Stardust is David Bowie and radio ads that had David speaking plainly “MY name is David Bowie, My NAME is David Bowie, my name IS David Bowie, my name is DAVID Bowie, my name is David BOWIE”…and a wonderful free 4 song e.p. available in selected stores. It was a bonanza for music fans learning about a “new” artist…at least new to these shores, and it launched Bowie’s storied career in a magnificent way.
A key element to the story: Bowie was able to deliver the goods.
Give the People What They Want…is more than just the title of a Kinks album; it’s the reason why concert goers pay increasingly higher prices to see the artists who made recordings those fans appreciate. As Linda Ronstadt learned performing Canciones De Mi Padre (Spanish for “Songs Of My Father”, or “My Father’s Songs”) allegedly without playing her hits as well, the audience doesn’t want to be lectured to. The 1987 album is allegedly the “biggest selling non-English language album in American record history”, yet the fans didn’t want to hear it at the time. They wanted “Long Long Time” and “Different Drum” and “It’s So Easy”.
David Bowie owes it to his original fans, the fans that generated the buzz that he employed to launch himself into superstardom, to go back to the original classic disc that made so many people so very happy.
If Tom Cruise can reinvent himself with Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol (which in less than a month has racked up a ridiculous 458 million dollars worldwide; Mission Impossible 3 did about 2 million less than 400 million during its entire run in 2006), then surely Bowie can bring Ziggy back to life, maybe even find the musicians who performed with him 40 years ago and do it up right. Dedicate it to Mick Ronson. Have Lou Reed and Ian Hunter and Iggy Pop join in. Maybe do a track with the members of THE DOORS. Sequels are in. David Bowie hasn’t had a huge record in many years. The time to bring Ziggy back is now!
Special thanks to the late Pimm Jal de la Parra who published David Bowie – The Concert Tapes and referenced the recording made of that show by a fan. RCA had also recorded the event, some tracks showing up on the RykoDisc re-release of Ziggy Stardust.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.