We all know about the multitude of personas David Bowie enacted during his time at the pinnacle of pop music. The singer became famed for his chameleonic ability and often changed guises to signify large artistic diversions. It would suit him well over the years and allow music historians to differentiate between different Starman eras. If there’s one persona that sticks out most clearly from the rest of the bunch, it simply has to be Ziggy Stardust.
Sculpted from the tropes of rock hero Vince Taylor, whom Bowie met following the singer’s mental breakdown where he now believed he was somewhere between a God and an alien. Bowie crafted his own alien rock God from another universe that landed on earth and demanded attention.
It would be a persona that would oversee two of Bowie’s seminal albums, with the first, Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, touching down as a seminal moment for generations to come. On that record, a concept album of sorts, Bowie introduced the world formally to Ziggy with his eponymous track. Below, we’re checking out the vital isolated vocal of that song.
The anthemic song introducing Bowie’s listener to the persona he had created as an essay on the newest figure of intrigue. What’s more, the song could have easily been lost to the cutting room floor. As the idea for the basis of a pop song, the notion of telling the tale of a well-hung, snow-white, alien rockstar lifeform is a little out there, but somehow Ronson and Bowie bring it all back down to earth.
In the end, the song becomes a cautionary tale as Ziggy arrives on earth in the middle of the final five years of the planet’s existence. He comes with a message but is soon too wrapped up in his own ego and alienates everyone around him. It’s a take that only David Bowie could tell, once recalling of the song’s chart and critical success: “I wasn’t at all surprised ‘Ziggy Stardust’ made my career. I packaged a totally credible plastic rock star.”
Musically, Mick Ronson has his hand on one of the greatest riffs in rock and Bowie’s vocals only accentuate the song’s premise further. When you isolate that vocal performance, it can give you chills and act as a perfect reminder of just why David Bowie was such a hero to so many.
Not only does he write the songs and perform the crisp vocal takes but, when listening intently, you can hear that he lived every single heartbeat of the personas he created. None more so than Ziggy Stardust.