David Bowie and The Monkees were very different artists. Despite this, Bowie compared one of his most famous personas, Ziggy Stardust, to The Monkees. He felt the Prefab Four were lacking compared to his creation. In addition, Bowie revealed he created Ziggy Stardust partly because he was “fed up” with hippies.
Why David Bowie felt he needed to create something postmodern very quickly
During an interview with NPR, Bowie explained why he created Ziggy Stardust. “Well, I guess the simple one-liner is that myself and my mates and I guess a certain contingent of the musicians in London at the beginning of the ’70s were fed up with denim and the hippies,” he said. “And I think we kind of wanted to go somewhere else.”
Bowie went on to describe himself as “pompous.” “And some of us, I think, us small, pompous arty ones probably read too much George Steiner and kind of got the idea that we were entering to this kind of post-culture age and that we’d better do something postmodernist — quickly, before somebody else did,” Bowie said. Ziggy Stardust would be one of Bowie’s attempts at postmodernism.
David Bowie felt Ziggy Stardust was more ‘credible’ than The Monkees’ plastic music
According to Rolling Stone, Bowie compared Ziggy Stardust to The Monkees. The Monkees were sometimes derided as “plastic” because they were created for the sitcom of the same name. Bowie felt Ziggy Stardust had The Monkees’ plasticity but he was much more credible.
“What I did with my Ziggy Stardust was package a totally credible, plastic rock ‘n’ roll singer — much better than The Monkees could ever fabricate,” Bowie said. “I mean, my plastic rock ‘n’ roller was much more plastic than anybody’s. And that was what was needed at the time.”
The way the world reacted to ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was a modest hit in the United States. It reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 88 weeks. One of the singles from the album, “Starman,” hit No. 65 on the Billboard Hot 100. It lasted on the chart for nine weeks.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was an even bigger hit in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the album hit No. 5 in the U.K., remaining on the chart for 168 weeks. Meanwhile, “Starman” peaked at No. 10. Another song from the album called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” hit No. 22, while the song “Ziggy Stardust” hit No. 76. Whether it’s better than The Monkees’ music or not, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars remains a classic album.