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October 24, 2022

Candid Snaps of David Bowie Applying His Elaborate Make-up Prior to Going on Stage as Ziggy Stardust in 1973

On the 24th of May 1973, David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars played Lewisham Odeon. Just a few miles from Haddon Hall, this was as close to a homecoming gig as it got on the entire Ziggy Stardust tour.


Bowie and the band were often playing two shows each day, up and down the country, so the proximity of this venue, and it being a single performance, would have given Bowie some well deserved time off at home.

Roger Bamber, the photographer who took these photos, had his car stolen during the gig. After the concert Bowie and the band generously drove round Lewisham in the tour bus with Roger to look for his car, but with no luck.












“While photographing the Spiders from Mars band’s tour of Britain in the seventies with David Bowie and Mick Ronson, I did a concert in London at the Lewisham Odeon,” said Roger Bamber. “I was invited backstage by David and the band. In their scruffy dressing room, the group was fitting their costumes while Bowie was transforming himself into Ziggy Stardust, making up in front of a mirror. I got on well with David and he didn’t mind me photographing the elaborate making up. I also did the soundcheck and the concert itself. In the end,  with a satisfying set of pictures, I said my thanks and goodbyes and left to find my car… but alas … no car !”

“As I couldn’t find a working telephone (they had all been vandalized), I went back into the theatre to use their phone. I then bumped into Mick Ronson who asked why I was back. I then explained that my car (a classic Lotus Cortina) had been nicked. He said they were just wrapping up and we could all go in their tour bus to scour Lewisham streets for it. So, David Bowie, me and Mick Ronson sat at the front top driving around the streets looking for Lotus Cortina NFL 818F… but to no avail. After half an hour they kindly gave me a lift to my Kensington flat.”


Looking at the amazing setlist and the ticket price (£1.25), you’d have to say the people who were in luck were fans at this concert. Amongst those attendees was a 13yr old Boy George, who recalls this story which you may have heard before:

“I saw my first Ziggy Stardust concert when I was 13 at the Lewisham Odeon... Saturdays and Sundays, and sometimes after school, I’d go to Beckenham on the bus and just stand outside his house and hang out with all the other fans. We’d talk about him nonstop. About his latest records, latest outfits, his boots, his hair...”

“We even tried to steal washing off the line. I tried to have the Ziggy haircut, but mine ended up looking like Dave Hill from Slade because my aunt cut it for me. One day we were being quite noisy outside his home, and his wife, Angie, opened the window and shouted: ‘Will you all f*ck off!’ It was the highlight of our year!”







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