“Ziggy Stardust” was created by David Bowie 50 years ago

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Paris (AFP) – “Five Years,” “Starman”: Far from the standards, the 50-year-old “Ziggy Stardust” album let David Bowie take off by creating a double and decisive milestone for this chameleon artist.

. Crocodile and duality

“He has so far failed in everything he has done since the beginning of his career,” says Jerome Solini, author of David Bowie Rainbowman, a two-volume reference work (Gallimard).

“Space Oddity” (on the album of the same name, 1969) is a short-lived song, later passed down to posterity, just like the “Changes” on the album “Hunky Dory” (1971).

Et voilà que l’Anglais sort en 1972 un disque au titre à rallonge “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” au parfum d’univers singulier (“L’ascension et la chute de Ziggy Stardust et les Araignées de Mars”).

The track “Moonage Daydream” is a coded business card from his “Ziggy Stardust” double: “I’m a crocodile (…) I’m a space invader”.

David Bowie’s “Starman” costume on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in March 2013 in London Lyon obtained by Agence France-Presse / Archives

To confuse the issue a bit more, Bowie suggests his bisexuality by abandoning the music press as “gay,” while living with a wife and child. The singer “frequently frequents nightclubs associated with gay culture, without being essentially gay himself, he loves pictures,” Solini identifies.

. Marketing, Deep America

Jackpot win. The media pays attention to him, without being able to recognize him, maintaining his mysterious aura. On TV, the interlocutor is dressed in a gray suit, it seems to him that his hair is dyed red, and his outfit is sequined. One in black and white, the other in color. Bowie has become a symbol of modernity, of the world to come.

The artist imposes himself in the media as a star when he is not. The first Ziggy-themed concerts in the suburbs of London gathered only 150 people, including a third of the guests.

David Bowie in concert at the Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy in February 1996
David Bowie in concert at the Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy in February 1996 BERTRAND GUAY AFP / ARCHIVES

“It’s a kind of marketing ahead of its time, it’s the most beautiful creature, which has allowed it to hatch, to be something other than a well-kept secret to rock-hard intellectuals who have been interested in it for a year and a half,” Solini analyzes.

Bowie opens the doors of a USA tour. “He succeeded in imposing an androgynous character where Mark Bolan (leader of the T-Rex) failed to go and play in the depths of America, even if sometimes angry people were waiting for him at the door of the inn,” further Soligny notes.

. Iggy Pop, “A Clockwork Orange”

As this specialist says, Bowie is a “sponge” and the movie “Ziggy Stardust” brings together many influences. “Ziggy” is first and foremost Iggy Pop.

Bowie is fascinated by the Stooges singer, as he was especially seen in a photo where the American literally walks past the audience at a concert. The two musicians will become close.

Iggy Pop, singer of the Stooges, in concert at the Printemps de Bourges in April 2010
Iggy Pop, singer of the Stooges, in concert at the Printemps de Bourges in April 2010 ALAIN JOCARD AFP / The Archives

“Stardust” (“Stardust”) comes from the stage name of American country singer, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, who is obsessed with the universe.

There is also Vince Taylor, an English rocker with a chaotic career, who became famous in France. “Boy rubbed his shoulders at one point, Taylor had the impression that he would be able to save rock, and take himself as a messiah,” Solini details. What do you feed your Ziggy character?

On the cover, Bowie stands on a street with shoes reminiscent of those worn by the bad boys gang from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. According to Solini, “He always dreamed of being in a gang, but that never happened, he grew up so well.”

With all that fuel, the machine runs. Then there will be “Aladdin Sani,” another double from the 1973 album of the same name, and her famous flash on his face.

But “Ziggy Stardust” is making an impression (released on vinyl Friday). It’s referred to by Brian Molko, the placebo leader. “Moonage Daydream” became the title of a documentary about Bowie directed by American Brett Morgan and presented at the last Cannes Festival.

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