This year's never-ending celebrations of all things David Bowie continues next month with a timely anniversary of arguably his most famous concert. Wednesday 3 July marks 40 years since Bowie shocked the audience at London's Hammersmith Odeon by announcing his "retirement" on the last night of his Aladdin Sane tour. The gig also marked the "death" of his beloved Ziggy Stardust persona and the break-up of his band The Spiders From Mars, with every moment captured for posterity by documentary maker D.A. Pennebaker. To commemorate the 40th anniversary, Pennebaker's historic film Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars is being screened at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, just yards from the original venue itself (now the Apollo) on the same date at the same time Bowie's concert took place. The film will be introduced by Q's Simon Goddard, author of the recent book Ziggyology: A Brief History Of Ziggy Stardust, discussing the events which led to the Starman's last stand. As a small taster, here's his guide to ten things you probably didn't know about Bowie's infamous Hammersmith farewell...
1. The Hammersmith Odeon was chosen as a last minute replacement. Originally the gig was scheduled to take place at Earls Court until Bowie's manager, Tony DeFries, changed his mind.
2. Ziggy Stardust's wasn't the only death in the Odeon that week. Two days earlier, 53 year-old organist Laurence James dropped dead at his keyboard during a Sunday afternoon recital for OAPs.
3. The Odeon was still a working cinema in July 1973. Bowie's concert meant interrupting that week's run of the new Jack Lemmon comedy Avanti! directed by Billy Wilder.
4. Bowie's support act on the night was his own keyboard player. Spiders pianist Mike Garson treated the crowd to his own "cocktail medley" of four Bowie hits - Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, John I'm Only Dancing and Life On Mars?
5. The ticket price was only £1.50. That's about £10 in today's money.
6. Guitarist Jeff Beck appeared as a special guest for encores of The Jean Genie and a cover of Chuck Berry's Round And Round. Sadly he refused to give Pennebaker clearance to allow the footage in the film of the concert. The reason? With hindsight, Beck decided he didn't like his trousers.
7. After the concert, microphones and other musical equipment were stolen by thieves. The culprits were local tearaways Wally Nightingale and future Sex Pistol guitarist Steve Jones.
8. The only people in Bowie's entourage who weren't aware he was going to announce his retirement that night were Spiders bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Woody Woodmansey. He'd deliberately kept them in the dark, fearing they wouldn't play if they knew they were about to be sacked.
9. The day of the concert Bowie was number four in the singles chart with Life On Mars? The following week the song peaked at three but was kept off the top by Slade and Peters & Lee.
10. Pennebaker's documentary of the Hammersmith Odeon concert was intended for broadcast on US television but remained unseen for ten years until released theatrically in 1983.
10:24 AM | 21/06/2013
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