Unless you’re living in a bottle at the bottom of Lake Erie, you’ve already heard the news about David Bowie’s recent passing.  If we’re breaking this news to you, we’re sorry to be the ones to do so.  (We’re also a little blown away by the fact that we’re the one and only website you’ve visited today.  Thanks!)

What can we say on today’s Music Video Monday that isn’t already being said on about every website around today? David Bowie was an icon and his passing has affected much of the world, it seems. Instead of talking too much about the man himself, we’ve instead chosen to look a bit at one of his creations that, unfortunately, passed away a few years before the man himself.  A creation that went by the name of Ziggy Stardust. First, let’s look at Ziggy in action:

David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

The David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust Connection

Ziggy Stardust was born on February 10, 1972 at the Toby Jug Pub in Tolworth, a small town southwest of London.  At least that is where he was first introduced to the world.  David Bowie came up with this character and his backup band, The Spiders From Mars, earlier that year with the idea of it eventually evolving into a stage show.  Bowie was, at the time, continuing to train as an actor, dancer and mime, so theater and theatricality was naturally a part of everything he was doing.  He developed an extensive storyline and wrote the subsequent album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, around that.

In a random bit of amazing-ness, the very best place that you can find David Bowie explaining that storyline is in THIS interview between Bowie and author William Burroughs.  Yes, THAT William Burroughs.  If you don’t want to work your way through that amazing and somewhat prophetic interview (they pretty accurately discuss the state of media TODAY back in February of 1974), let us sum up who Ziggy Stardust was and the world he “lived” in.

Ziggy’s story starts “five years from the end of the world” when mankind is on its last legs.  The youth have all become instant gratification addicts and the “elders” have all lost touch with the real world. Man is running out of resources and neither the young or the old have any answers so they spend their time blaming each other. Ziggy begins singing the news, because no one else is really reporting it but the news is not what people want to hear.  He is contacted by “the infinites” a trio of aliens who hop through black holes to travel the universe. The infinites tell Ziggy they are coming to earth and he should prepare.  He assumes they are coming to fix all of mankind’s woes and begins to tell people about them, creating a great following.  But when the infinites finally arrive, they have to tear him apart to make themselves visible to us. Once they do, they reveal themselves as little more than galactic tourists with no intent on saving us and eventually leave mankind to their own fate.

Although the stage version of this story was never fully realized, a concert movie called Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars was filmed and released in 1973. The film, and the tour it chronicled, ended with David Bowie (as Ziggy Stardust) standing in front of the crowd and announcing that “Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.” And it was, indeed the last time Bowie would appear as Stardust.

Ziggy Stardust – His Lasting Impact

Although his work as Ziggy would only last a few years, its impact can still be felt today. As Ziggy, Bowie stood at a pivotal point in music history. Behind him was the in-your-face music of the 60’s with its talk of peace and love coupled with the violence of war. Ahead of him in time stretched the thrill and energy of glam rock and a world of disco balls and platform shoes.  Ziggy Stardust stood between these two worlds like a Colossus of Rhodes (in FABULOUS silver pants) and taught the world that popular music COULD be art. It had the power to make change, even when it is wrapped in a delicious and incredibly digestible coating of Suffragette Cities and Moonage Daydreams.

Without Ziggy, there would probably have been no Ok, Computer from Radiohead. If Bowie had not put on his tight silver pants, Lady Gaga certainly wouldn’t have worn her meat dress.  And American Idiot would have never been recorded much less become a Broadway hit.  (If you want to examine his influence even more, check out Jack Brady’s amazing exploration of the lasting influence of Ziggy here.)

So we say thank you to David Bowie for giving us Ziggy Stardust. We may have said goodbye to Ziggy in 1973, but at least we had Bowie to remind us of him.  Until today we did, at least.