Bowie's Ziggy Stardust immortalized on earthly plaque

LONDON (Reuters) - When Ziggy Stardust touched down on earth he could scarcely imagine humanity lasting another five years, let alone the 40 years which have transformed the heart of central London.

Singer David Bowie arrives with his wife Iman to attend the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) fashion awards in New York June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

British singer David Bowie’s unique alien visitor persona, known for his glam makeup, fiery orange hair, and skintight jumpsuits, is being commemorated on Heddon Street in London’s trendiest shopping district to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of his album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

The Crown Estate, who own Regent Street and the surrounding area, are placing a plaque to commemorate the street corner location used to shoot the cover of Bowie’s famous 1972 album in a spot that has become a pilgrimage for his fans.

“It was cold and it rained and I felt like an actor,” Bowie recollected. “We did the photographs outside on a rainy night and then upstairs in the studio we did the Clockwork Orange look-a-likes that became the inner album sleeve.”

The cover depicts ‘Ziggy’ outside on a cold wet January night with his foot resting on a step outside 23 Heddon Street.

The late Brian Ward had rented a space upstairs in the building as a makeshift photographic studio, and had already shot 17 pictures when he persuaded Bowie to step outside onto Heddon Street.

The other band members thought it too cold and declined to join him for the picture. Wearing the green jumpsuit that he later wore on the BBC 2 TV show ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, Bowie posed for the photograph.

Bowie’s androgynous Ziggy Stardust was at the forefront of a vibrant 1970s glam rock scene, and his extreme aesthetics went on to influence glam metal bands of the 1980s as well as visual rock in 1990s Japan.

Whereas in 1972, Heddon Street was just a narrow alley, it has become a plaza full of restaurants in 2009 as part of Regent Street’s 750 million pound ($1.19 billion) regeneration by the Crown Estate.

David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in London.

($1 = 0.6323 British pounds)

Reporting By Ethan Bilby, editing by Paul Casciato