The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: David Bowie on Ziggy Stardust and Other Glam-Rock Issues
It is four decades since David Bowie unveiled his Ziggy Stardust glam-alien persona. Charles Shaar Murray interviewed him about Ziggy — and all related matters — at London's swish Dorchester Hotel, with Lou Reed and Iggy Pop passing through to pay their respects. Murray's classic interview ran in New Musical Express on July 22, 1972——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages
Three changes of dress and a kiss from Lou Reed. The waiters were horrified.
Jill and Lyn are 17 and they're into Bowie. They've both seen David working three times in as many weeks. They've both got Ziggy Stardust and neither of them like Marc Bolan. Jill says she likes the way David looks. She doesn't necessarily think he's good-looking, she just likes the way he looks. They and me and a sweaty hall-full of other people saw David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars work Friars in Aylesbury at the weekend. The phantom waver of the Ziggy banner put in an appearance as well, and it was alright, the band were altogether and Ziggy played guitar.
The Spiders are a surrealistic vision of a rock band. Trevor Bolder's silvered sideboards hang several inches off his face and Woody Woodmansey's hair is an orange Vidal-Sassoon duck's ass similar to David's. Through the show at top speed until the final encore of 'Suffragette City', where David pulls of his most outrageous stunt and goes down on Mick Ronson's guitar. David is gonna be huge.
The day after the gig he's holding an extended press conference at the Dorchester Hotel, held especially for the planeload of American writers flown in for the weekend. In the foyer everything is frosty, air-conditioned elegance, in slow motion after the sweltering dusty street. Down the mirrored corridors of the second floor through the door into a suitably chic room where assorted media people are eating cakes and sandwiches and drinking tea and/or Scotch.
Lou Reed and his band are there, all the Spiders, and curled up in a corner in a Bolan T-shirt, eye shadow and silvered hair is Iggy Pop. When I got there David was wearing an entirely different outfit. Before I left he'd changed into a third.
David's wife, lithe and crewcut, is smoothing things down, getting together drinks and being assaulted by Lou's roadie. When I arrived, he'd just bitten her in the stomach and as she's very slim, the bite had gone direct to her abdominal muscles and everybody was falling about. Woody pours me a sumptuous Johnnie Walker Black Label and peach juice. Lou Reed is talking quietly to David. He's wearing shades and maroon fingernails. Periodically, horrified waiters enter to deliver yet more scotch and wine and sandwiches.
CSM: At the moment, the most popular rock journalist words appear to be funk, camp and punk. To what extent do you think you've brought these words into essential usage?
DB: I think it's most probably due to the general inarticulacy of the press. They're very small-minded. They do indeed revolve around those three words.
Not revolve around. They crop up...
Yes they do. Funk, I don't think I have anything to do with funk. I've never considered myself funky. Would you say that? I wouldn't...
Would you want to be?
Yes. It's a muddy kind of thing. Camp, yes I understand the camp thing. Once upon a time it was, I think, put down in the category of entertainer, but since the departure of good old-fashioned entertainers the re-emergence of somebody who wants to be an entertainer has unfortunately become a synonym for camp. I don't think I'm camper than any other person who felt at home on stage, and felt more at home on stage than he did offstage.