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Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Lou Reed at David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust ‘s “retirement party”
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July 4, 1973: Mick and Bianca Jagger attend David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust’s “retirement party” at the Cafe Royale in London, England. Also present were Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Beck, Keith Moon, and other celebrities.
From Harper’s Bazaar (by Angie Bowie):
Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show we’ll ever do,” said my then husband, David Bowie, from the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon. It wasn’t David who was retiring, of course; it was his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. There was a hush, a mighty intake of breath from the audience, as what he said sank in. Why was he killing off Ziggy? Was he sick? Was he dying? We had planned a “retirement” party after the show. Mick Jagger and Bianca, Paul and Linda McCartney, Lou Reed, and Barbra Streisand were all there, at the Café Royal in the center of London, then the most glamorous city in the world.
It was July 1973 and the last gig of our 10-month world tour—across America, Japan, everywhere. David had created his spaceman persona for his 1972 concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, the story of an intergalactic pop star who would right the wrongs he saw by singing about them. The Spiders from Mars were his band: Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, and Woody Woodmansey.
The concept was the beginning of glam rock. The boys paired shiny velour bomber jackets with Stirling Cooper trousers in blue, pink, and gold, and David’s were always a little patterned. They wore platform boots and makeup and had their hair very well coiffed. I was never part of the band, but I did play a part in the look.
David and I had met in 1968 and married in March 1970. He was hugely creative but didn’t know his ass from his elbow as far as getting what he wanted businesswise, so I helped him sort that out.
Once Ziggy Stardust had been promoted, David felt it was time to retire the character. There had been tensions on tour when the band members had tried to get David to sit down with their manager, Tony Defries, and give them a raise. David took this as a personal slight and decided to replace them. Since David was retiring not just the Ziggy character but the band as well, the retirement party afterward was bittersweet for all of them.
We needed a party suit for David and an outfit for me. We went to Freddie Burretti, a designer we’d first met at Sombrero, a gay club on Kensington High Street. Freddie was tall, gorgeous, and funny as hell. Before the tour, I’d moved him into our house to make the stage costumes for the tour.
I thought that holding the party at the Café Royal would bring out the celebrities, and it did. About 200 people turned up. The guest list included Barbra, Paul, Linda, Spike Milligan, Keith Moon, and all sorts of famous faces from the London scene, plus some international flavor—Cat Stevens, Elliott Gould, Sonny Bono… We even had live music from Dr. John.
David posed for photos with Ringo Starr and chatted with Mick, Lou Reed invited us to his next recording session, Bianca and I danced together to “Honky Tonk Women,” and one woman exposed her breasts to Barbra Streisand, or so I heard. We didn’t leave for our hotel on Hyde Park until 5:30 A.M.
David and I stayed together for another few years before we divorced in 1980. As for Ziggy Stardust, the character still has a huge impact today. I can’t help thinking back to that party and that night, in the city of glamour and lights, when the stars kept shining and we felt justified in seeing the world as our oyster. We would swallow it in one gulp. (Ref. jagger bowie and lou reed)