Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

1. David BowieThe Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

I was 12 when it came out. I remember it very well. It was a Saturday morning, and I went round to a friend’s house and he’d been out shopping that morning and he’d bought the album. And we played the album, and it was something like you’d never heard before. We were in the middle of what I might describe as somewhat traditional rock music – you know, The Stones and Led Zeppelin were at their peaks. This thing came along and it didn’t sound like anything else. The production values, the production’s quite dry, and also you’ve got this visual of Bowie with the spiky hair, it just was something so different. You felt that music itself just got changed, and that rock music per se moved into some other place. The best way I can describe it is that rock music became modern. It became a new thing. I have no doubt in my mind that David Bowie is the greatest solo artist that Britain’s ever produced. I can’t think of a better solo artist.

The other thing I would say is I thoroughly underestimated the brilliance, and the input made by Mick Ronson, in the period he was with the band. I had no idea Mick Ronson did all the orchestration, and did all the arrangements. So when you’re listening to a track like ‘Life On Mars’ off Hunky Dory and, this album, ‘Moonage Daydream’, when you take into consideration that he did the string arrangements, that really puts him in a different sphere as well. And without Mick Ronson I don’t think it would have sounded as original as it did. It made me so sad seeing this documentary about him [Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story on Sky Arts], somehow the Bowie machine swept Mick Ronson under the carpet, which is incredibly unfair. It was heartbreaking, to be honest. I felt really sorry for the guy that he’d been so underestimated while he was alive. At least now we can celebrate his brilliance.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Youth
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