Revealed: The Ziggy Stardust Album Cover Location in London.
Above Photo: Another image from the photo shoot in Heddon Street W1, this one rejected as the cover for the Ziggy Stardust album.
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album played an important part in the tale recounted in my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out!, especially during the early 1980s, almost 10 years after the album had first hit the shelves.
I also use a couple of the Ziggy Stardust track titles names as chapter headings in Bombed Out! (most memorably, for me anyway, was Moonage Daydream, which I used to describe the scene in Burtonwood service station on our way back from my first Pink Military gig in the Factory club, Manchester).
So I was interested to recently come across a couple of websites which showed where the cover photos (front and back) of the album were shot.
The cover of the album shows David Bowie posing as Ziggy Stardust in front of Number 23 Heddon Street, which is a quiet side-street and alleyway off Regent Street in the heart of London, close to Piccadilly Circus.
When I lived in London I passed Heddon Street many times but I never knew this information back then, otherwise I too would have poked my nose around it. (I used to think the album cover had been shot near Spitalfields market as it has a similar style to the red brick building depicted at the back of the photo on the cover.)
One rainy night in January 1972, David Bowie and a photographer, Brian Ward, walked around the deserted streets of London looking for the ideal place to shoot the album cover artwork, before firing off photos as Bowie posed beneath the now-famous K West sign.
Originally shot in black and white, the photos were over-tinted later, to convey the surreal impression of Ziggy Stardust coming to earth, in what is now iconic 1970s album art.
A few years ago, Bowie revisited Heddon Street with as journalist, getting out of the car a little uncertainly, then walking toward the alley saying: “We’re gonna have to guess this out a bit. . . Everything’s gone, obviously. There was a photographer up here called Brian Ward, I think it was this building here, and outside the building there was a phone box…”
There is indeed a phonebox, but now a squat, modern job.
A woman walking up the street toward her office greets Bowie with a genial smile. “They took your phone box away, isn’t it terrible?” she says. The woman also informs him that the photographer has moved on and so has the company, K.West, under whose sign Bowie stood with his foot up on a rubbish bin twenty-one years ago.
Amazingly, the old light above the doorway is still there, but the famous sign was auctioned off as a part of a sale of rock & roll memorabilia.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
I took a number of the above photos and some of the information from this excellent site: http://www.5years.com/heddon.htm
Two of my favourite tracks off the album: