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  • Writer's pictureRock Tour London

23 Heddon Street Ziggy played guitar

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Strolling central London one afternoon, looking for a place to have lunch, I stumbled upon a black plaque that said Ziggy Stardust. Being the rock and roll freak geek that I am, I snapped a couple of pictures and then sat down for that lunch. My waitress, I guessed to be around 22 or so, looked at me blankly when I asked what she knew about the plaque. Ok, some research was in order.

Heddon Street is a horseshoe shaped pedestrian side street off of Regent Street that now is full of trendy bars and restaurants so a reference to the Spiders from Mars seemed a bit out of place, to say the least. Here's what some digging around revealed.

In January of 1972, Bowie and his band had a photo shoot with photographer Brian Ward in a rented Heddon Street studio. When the shoot was over the photographer suggested that Bowie should step outside for a couple more pictures. The other band members opted against it because it was cold and raining. One of the resulting pics became the album cover for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. That album, released in June of 1972, catapulted David Bowie to the height of stardom.

The original photo was taken in black and white and later hand colored by an artist to the image that became the iconic album cover (this pic of it I downloaded from the web). It is said that the fabrics used to created Ziggy's trademark look were purchased for the shoot just a block of so away on Regent Street.

The K. West sign is gone, auctioned off as part of a rock and roll memorabilia sale, but in addition to the plaque the old light fixture is still there (well, at least it was when I took these photos in the summer of 2019). The plaque marks the actual spot Bowie stood on for the historic photo. That spot is on the left in the picture here (all pictures here are mine with the expectation of the album cover) and if you look closely you can still see that light fixture.

But I still had a question in my mind. Why is the plaque black? All the plaques I've seen around London are either blue or green. What I discovered is that English Heritage or Westminster Counsel are responsible for installing all the plaques that commemorate famous landmarks or people. It was decided that because Ziggy was a fictional character they'd mark it with a black one. Ziggy's is one of a small handful of black plaques. Sherlock Holmes' and Lara Croft's can be found in other parts of the city....theirs are black too.

Another reason I love London so just never know what you'll come across just looking for lunch.

23 Heddon Street is in the Mayfair area of London. It is a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, which is the closest underground station. (see map)

London rock and roll history. Stay tuned for details on future Rock and Roll Tours of London brought to you by


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