In the early '70s, Ziggy Stardust was but a glimmer and the young British David Bowie was sharpening his performance art with a band called The Hype.
For their first gig at the Roundhouse in London on February 22, 1970, the glam-rockers dressed up as superheroes with Bowie as Rainbowman, Tony Visconti (bass) as Hypeman, Mick Ronson (lead guitar) as Gangsterman, and John Cambridge (drums) as Cowboyman. Mick "Woody" Woodmansey later took Cambridge's place on drums.
Check out The Hype:
The outlandish four also enjoyed playing under different names, such as Harry The Butcher. On their February 28 show at an experimental club called the Basildon Arts Lab, they were billed as David Bowie's New Electric Band, marking the first time the emerging lead singer used his own name. They performed with Iron Butterfly, Overson and High Tide.
Just as Bowie's fantastical androgynous Ziggy character started emerging, he was inspired by his newfound friends in Andy Warhol's Factory and he experimented with a side project released as Arnold Corns. Some have said he wanted to promote artists, as Warhol was doing. Fashion designer Freddi Burretti was the face of the songs written and sung by Bowie. Others have said Bowie wasn't yet ready to embody the flamboyant creature.
Later, Bowie credited Ziggy as writing "Moonage Daydream" and put the song on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album. Mick Ronson not only nailed the solo Bowie wrote out for him in a diagram which culminated with "sprays of disassociated and broken lines" for the dramatic ending, according to Bowie, but the famous Spider added the strings arrangements, as well.
By 1972, Bowie was ready. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars were a global phenomenon that shook rock to its roots and sparked a major cult following. Watch them perform the hit single, "Starman" which started it all: