Fifty years ago today, on June 16, 1972, David Bowie released his classic fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, one of the defining recordings of the glam-rock era.
The record was a loose concept album focusing Ziggy Stardust, a character Bowie created as an alter ego that was an androgynous bisexual alien rock star, and his mythical backing group, The Spiders from Mars.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars peaked at #5 on the U.K. albums chart in 1972, while in the U.S. it initially only reached #75 on the Billboard 200. After Bowie’s death in 2016, the album enjoyed its highest chart position in the U.S. — #21.
Only one single was released from the Ziggy Stardust album, “Starman,” which reached #10 on the U.K. singles chart, although it only peaked at #65 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. The album did feature several other classic Bowie songs, including such enduring tunes as “Moonage Daydream,” “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City.”
Bowie and his real band — guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Mick “Woody” Woodmansey — took on the personas of Ziggy and The Spiders from Mars in concert, and toured together for about a year and a half. Then, at the end of a July 3, 1973, show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, David dramatically declared onstage that the group had just played its last gig.
In 2020, Ziggy Stardust was ranked #40 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
In honor of Ziggy Stardust’s 50th anniversary, a new mix of Bowie’s historic 1972 performance of “Starman” on the U.K.’s Top of the Pops TV show was released as a special streaming single today.
Here’s the full Ziggy Stardust track list:
“It Ain’t Easy”
“Hang On to Yourself”
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”
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