Rock and roll might be an auditory art form, but some images mean just as much to the history of the genre as any song. Such is the iconic image of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust emerging into the night on the cover of his titular album. The moment is so iconic that there is even a plaque on the spot commemorating it.
On the cover of his 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie emerges as his rock alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. He stares pensively, soulfully back at the camera, elbow resting on a raised knee, guitar strung loosely over his shoulder. Facing photographer Brian Ward, the musician stands in the January shadows of a small side-street in London, off Regent Street. The famous image was captured in black and white and hand-colored by artist Terry Pastor.
That very spot, at Number 23, Heddon Street, is now marked with a commemorative plaque. A black circle with white type, it states: “Ziggy Stardust 1972,” with smaller type stretching along the border that says, “This marks the location of the cover photograph for the iconic David Bowie album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” The plaque was installed on March 28, 2012 and unveiled by Spandau Ballet guitarist and Bowie superfan Gary Kemp. It is unlike blue and green plaques commemorating famous landmarks and people installed by English Heritage or Westminster Council; “Ziggy Stardust 1972” is in fact one of just a small handful of plaques extended to fictional characters (you can find ones for Sherlock Holmes and Lara Croft elsewhere in London).Heddon Street is very different from when Ziggy Stardust first stepped foot there to ring in Bowie’s fifth studio album. It now has brighter storefronts, more stores and cafes, and now a new plaque, too.
Visit London with Atlas Obscura Trips
London Science Weekend: Medicine and Science in the Press
Join New York Times Journeys and Atlas Obscura for three days of scientific learning, special access and exploration in London. Accompanied by Times journalists and scientific experts, meet people contributing to the history of medicine and scientific journalism. This two-track program includes panels, exclusive visits and access to some of the best scientific minds available to concentrate on science reporting or medical history.