As today marks 27 years since the great Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson sadly passed away, we are revisiting the moment that he stepped out of David Bowie’s shadow and performed on The Old Grey Whistle Test in his own right.
Ronson was a crucial part of the Ziggy Stardust era and he enjoyed wonderful natural chemistry with Bowie that few others who played with him during his entire career would ever replicate.
Bowie would detail their on-stage relationship in an interview shortly after Ronson’s death, fondly saying: “Mick was the perfect foil for the Ziggy character. He was very much a salt-of-the-earth type, the blunt northerner with a defiantly masculine personality, so that what you got was the old-fashioned Yin and Yang thing.
Adding: “As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith or Axl and Slash. Ziggy and Mick were the personification of that rock n roll dualism. He provided this strong, earthy, simply-focussed idea of what a song was all about. And I would simply flutter all around him on the edges and decorate. I was sort of the interior decorator.”
Following that famous farewell concert that Bowie played to the Ziggy Stardust character in 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon, it was time for Ronson to move on to a new venture himself as any reminiscents from the Stardust era were to be discarded as Bowie would reinvent himself once more.
Ronson would go on to release just two solo albums during his lifetime and a further four records of unreleased material were released posthumously in 1999. His first record Slaughter On 10th Avenue was a rousing success that landed in the Top 10 in the UK charts and following the release of his 1975 record Play Don’t Worry, Ronson would appear on The Old Grey Whistle Test and prove himself to be a proper solo star.
However, being a solo icon wasn’t his aspiration and he preferred to be in the background rather than at the forefront. Following the release of Play Don’t Worry, he would go on to have great success collaborating with other musicians for the rest of his days which included him being a member of Bob Dylan’s live band for the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.
Ronson is one of the most underrated guitar players of all time who played such a significant role in influencing musicians in the generations that would follow him and he lived a tremendous life that was cut way too soon. Take a few minutes out and enjoy the sheer beauty of his performance of ‘Angel No. 9’ which captures Ronson in the peak of his short-lived solo career.