- Gabriella Rosa Araujo
50 years since Ziggy Stardust - The Impact that the Album has had on Music
David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie, was an English singer-songwriter and actor who revolutionized the music industry. Known for his characters and alter-egos, Bowie released 26 studio albums, 21 live albums, 46 compilation albums, 10 extended plays, 128 singles, 3 soundtracks, and 12 box sets. One of these albums and personas was Ziggy Stardust, from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The album is often regarded as one of the best albums from the Glam Rock movement and was ranked as the 40th best album of all time by Rolling Stones magazine.
The album, which contains 12 tracks, is in my opinion one of the best albums ever made. Beyond having beautifully produced songs, it also was highly influential to multiple different musical movements which came after it.
Various themes are spoken about throughout the album, however, the album also tells the story of Ziggy Stardust, an alien rockstar who comes to a dying earth with people who do not care for Rock and Roll. In a dream, Ziggy is advised by the “Black-Hole Jumpers” to tell the story and sing about a Starman who is coming to the earth. Because of that, Ziggy gained a large following and was considered a prophet. The narrative of Ziggy is told throughout the album, starting on its opening track, Five Years, which foreshadows the end of the world in five years, until the last track, Rock ‘n Roll Suicide, which talks about Ziggy being torn apart on stage. Like this, Bowie was able to tell a story in an artistic way, which many may enjoy more than a book.
The song Starman is actually included in the album, and it is the album's most popular song. The chorus of the song was inspired by Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland. The song was also heavily influenced by other artists, such as T-REX and The Supremes. The album as a whole was also heavily influenced by The Velvet Underground.
Because of Bowie’s mastery of Storytelling, many people fell head-over-heels in love with the album. In addition to the meaningful themes, beautiful lyrics, and Bowie's mastery of storytelling, the album also had really good instrumentals, such as Soul Love. The album, also, was exploring deeper concepts and used deeper rock sounds than Bowie had ever used. Because of this, the album ended up being extremely successful and powerful among other albums of the 70s up to today. Due to the album's success, Bowie did a Ziggy Stardust world tour alongside his band at the time, The Spiders from Mars. Bowie retired Ziggy’s character in 1973. Whilst touring, he felt that the character was affecting his own sanity and personality. Even further, Bowie's record company could not afford to do a third US tour because of Bowie’s management's overspending of $300,000 during his 1972-1973 tours. Because of this, Bowie retired Ziggy’s character and moved on to other albums and characters, with him later on going to do his works in Berlin (Such as Heroes and the Low album). The impact Bowie had on music is undeniably high. I would go as far as to say that he is one, if not, the greatest artist to have ever existed. His ability to construct a character alongside an album, or even just an album, never fails to impress me. Bowie was considered to be one of the most influential artists of all time. And according to Rolling Stones magazine, he is the 33rd greatest artist of all time (even though I would heavily disagree with that statement, and even go as far as to say that he is the greatest singer of all time, but I am not here to discuss that). Rolling Stones magazine said that Ziggy Stardust was “the alter ego that changed music forever and sent his career into orbit". The album was one of the founding albums of the Glam Rock movement, which consists of artists such as Queen, Mott the Hoople, T-Rex, and more. And, the album was also a Proto-Punk (A movement which basically foreshadowed the Punk movement of the late seventies) album. As a whole, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust were ahead of its time in terms of meaning, art, songs, and more. The album was not just a combination of different songs exploring different themes. The album followed a consistent theme of Ziggy’s character whilst exploring different ideas, meaning that at the end of the day, you could just connect them all back to the same idea. Bowie also showed a high passion for Ziggy’s character throughout the album's era, with fans even considering him to be Ziggy. Overall, because of the album's incredible lyrics, instrumentals, and songs but also because of the way that Bowie constructed a story and stayed so dedicated to it throughout the album and its era, the album was able to influence multiple other pieces of art even up to today.