The concert and seminal Rock history moment was filmed by D. A. Pennebaker and released ten years after
On July 3, 1973, David Bowie kills Ziggy Stardust live at the London’s Hammersmith Odeon
By 1973, David Bowie, who was barely a household name just one year earlier, had conquered the world with his fictional persona Ziggy Stardust. The alien rock star who fronted The Spiders From Mars finally gave Bowie the success and recognition he was after since his 1967 debut album. But on July 3, 1973, Bowie had a plan, a plan to murder the king of Glam Rock Ziggy Stardust and get his own life back. At the Hammersmith Odeon, the last show in the English tour promoting the 1973 successful album “Aladdin Sane”, and after 182 Ziggy Stardust live concerts worldwide, it was time to let Ziggy go. Though Bowie still had an American tour coming in the Autumn of 1973, he no longer wanted to perform as Ziggy Stardust and, so, with only his then-manager Tony DeFries and the band guitarist Mick Ronson knowing the secret, towards the end of the show just before the song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”, he delivered a deliberately ambiguous “Farewell Speech” where he said: “Of all the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest, because not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.”
It came as a complete shock not only to the audience but the rest of Bowie’s band and crew who thought Bowie was retiring from music. The concert, where Bowie played several songs from his last two albums, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” and “Aladdin Sane” was filmed by D. A. Pennebaker and after several years spent years in post production, was finally released to the public to theaters worldwide in 1983 as a concert-film documentary entitled “Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture” alongside with the soundtrack that included live cuts from that night in 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon. The Spiders From Mars never played together again, and, to the exception of guitarist Mick Ronson, Bowie got a whole new band, leaving behind the Spiders, to reinvent himself. Throughout the rest of his career, Bowie created several personas, but none would have the same impact as Ziggy Stardust. Years later, Bowie stated that at the time, he felt the Ziggy persona was taking over his own personality, and he felt he needed to stop, fearing a mental health decline.
Listen to David Bowie’s farewell speech on July 3, 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon
Watch David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performing “Rock N’ Roll Suicide” right after the farewell speech
Watch David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performing “Ziggy Stardust” live at the Hammersmith Odeon, July 3, 1973
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