Documentarian D.A. Pennebaker Fondly Recalls the Making of David Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust' Concert Film

D.A. Pennebaker - H 2016
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D.A. Pennebaker - H 2016

"His eyes seemed haunted," writes Pennebaker, who captured the last Ziggy Stardust show on camera before the rock chameleon retired his popular persona in 1973.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

I met David at the Hammersmith, just before he was to start his show, which I did not know was going to be the last Ziggy Stardust show he would ever do (he retired Ziggy in 1973). We introduced ourselves and told him we had been sent to film part of the show, maybe 20 minutes, as a promo for a video disc RCA was developing.

David looked at me for a moment. "Only 20 minutes," he said, "and you've brought your camera and all your guys. I'm glad you came." His eyes seemed haunted. He paused then said, "Last night my mother saw her first spaceship." I had watched a bit of the previous night's performance to check the lighting and had seen a little of the morning's rehearsal. I hoped we would have enough film — we were going to make 1972's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars movie.

Read more David Bowie tributes below:

David Bowie's Legacy: He "Helped Give Voice to Several Generations of Misfits and Weirdos"

Photographer Frank W. Ockenfels 3 on Shooting David Bowie: "He Always Wanted to Be More About the Now Than Anything"

Director Richard Shepard Remembers David Bowie: "He Was Just This Beam of Light"

Cameron Crowe Recalls David Bowie Interviews, Shares Artist's "Self-Portrait"

Ricky Gervais' Tribute to David Bowie: "I Never Forgot He Was My Hero, Even When He Became My Friend"

Director John Landis on David Bowie: “A Gentleman, Charming and Often Very Funny”