Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a documentary and concert movie by D.A. Pennebaker. The film features David Bowie and his backing group The Spiders from Mars performing at the Hammersmith Odeon, July 3, 1973.
Filmmaker Pennebaker had been asked to come to London and film just a few songs but when he saw the first of the two London shows he realized that “there was a feature-length film here asking to be made”.
Though he had only scant knowledge of Bowie’s music, apart from Space Oddity, he was impressed by the star’s onstage charisma and the range of his songs and quickly prepared to shoot the entire second gig, without knowing that it would include a dramatic final coup.
Jeff Beck participated on three songs midway through the concert but was edited out from the final cut at his own wish.
Bowie had taken the stage persona of “Ziggy Stardust”, a science fiction based, theatrical, enigmatic, androgynous character and produced two albums during this period. The evening of July 3 was the last show in the English concert tour promoting Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane and the 60th gig in a tour of Britain that started on May 12, though an American tour was already being booked for the autumn.
Very few in Bowie’s entourage knew of his decision to drop the Ziggy persona and cancel performing for a while; in the band only Mick Ronson had been told a few days before the final night.