David Bowie Sacrifices Ziggy Stardust For Soul Of Young Americans
From ’72 thru ’74 Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character fascinated the rock music world by leading the Glam trend, and pioneered the ever-increasing importance of visual fashion elements to popular music. However, the success of Ziggy was also its downfall. David Bowie remarks,
“I had this terror in my mind that I was going to be trapped with Ziggy and the Spiders... There was no way I was going to be trapped in that character for the rest of my life.”
While setting up camp in New York City during the height of Ziggy-mania, Bowie found himself drawn to the mecca of American soul music, the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The musical acts he saw there truly inspired Bowie, and new musical relationships were conceived including the introduction to guitarist and future Bowie collaborator Carlos Alomar, saxophonist David Sanborn, and unknown singer Luther Vandross. David shares with InTheStudio host Redbeard the powerful effect American soul music had on him creatively.
“It was very hard for me to actually process that the music we were listening to (growing up in London) was associated with a lifestyle. Very naive, but true. It just came out of space! This stuff came from AMERICA... Coming to America, the impact was that this was real music coming from a way of life, and a lifestyle actually. It really came home in full force and I got completely overwhelmed by it , as I usually do by new experiences. I was just swept away with it, and I wanted to soak it up and then express it my way.”
Bowie would score a Top 10 album with Young Americans in February 1975 fueled by the # 1 hit single “Fame”, co-written with John Lennon and Carlos Alomar. Young Americans would begin the transition of Bowie into his next formidable character, the Thin White Duke.