The news of his passing came like a bolt from the blue just like the symbol of his legendary Aladdin Sane alter ego, David Bowie; pop singer, glam rocker, gender bender, actor, jazz musician, fashion icon and trendsetter extraordinaire. Seldom has one artiste bestrode so many genres with such perfection and ingenuity. He was the master of reinvention and cool.
His David Bowie is retrospective at the V&A in 2013 broke all records and established his legacy as one of Britain’s most potent creative forces.
THE RETIREMENT GIG
David Bowie’s final concert appearance as Ziggy Stardust, his androgynous alter ego was at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 3 1973. The concert where he sang 17 songs including; Changes, Time and Suffragette City was the 60th of 40 dates and last of the 3rd UK Ziggy Stardust Tour and has since become known as ‘The Retirement Gig’.
Bowie was burnt out by the time the Ziggy Stardust tour hit west London and he had been on the road for a year with little or no breaks. His fame had also grown steadily from singing Space Oddity propelling him to international superstardom. His Ziggy Stardust character had become a glam rock icon, and teenagers all across the world had his poster on their walls. Bowie’s manager, Tony DeFries, saw no reason to slow down. He had plans to take Ziggy all over the globe in 1974, but Bowie had other plans.
With D.A. Pennebaker’s cameras rolling, Bowie announced to the crowd that the tour was over. “This show will stay the longest in our memories,” he told his fans before the final encore of Rock and Roll Suicide. “Not just because it is the end of the tour, but because it is the last show we’ll ever do.”
Today the Hammersmith Odeon has been renamed the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, and the stage extended at the front, but otherwise it remains the same 3,500-capacity theatre in which Bowie made his fateful Ziggy Stardust retirement announcement later reincarnating as Aladdin Sane.