David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust is one of the most iconic characters in the history of rock and roll. Before the elaborate stage shows, the flash of Mick Ronson, and the thunder of The Spiders from Mars, the character began as a simple acoustic demo of the song “Ziggy Stardust.”
In the early 1970s, Bowie was searching for a new persona to take his music to greater heights. With “Ziggy Stardust,” he found it. The song tells the story of an alien rock star who comes to Earth to warn humanity of its impending doom. The core guitar riff is still intact in the demo version, but Bowie’s voice is much more vulnerable and hesitant than on the final recording.
At the time, Bowie was still exploring his sound, with most of his previous album, Hunky Dory, being written on the piano. “Ziggy Stardust” was one of his first songs written on guitar, and the demo version has a melancholy folk sound, reminiscent of his earlier work.
The finished version of “Ziggy Stardust” became the blueprint for Bowie’s future career, as he bent the parameters of what a rock star was supposed to be and experimented with genres beyond rock and roll. The Ziggy Stardust character became a beloved icon of music history, inspiring countless artists and fans around the world.
While the acoustic demo of “Ziggy Stardust” may sound like a completely different song, it is a fascinating glimpse into the early days of Bowie’s creative process. It shows that even before the elaborate costumes and stage shows, Bowie was always searching for something bigger and more transformative than an average rock and roll star.
In the end, “Ziggy Stardust” was not just a song, but a mission statement for Bowie’s entire career. It was the beginning of a journey that took him from folk music to rock and roll, and from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to The Thin White Duke. Bowie’s impact on music is immeasurable, and it all started with this sweet little song about an alien rock star playing guitar.
Listen to the demo below: