The ZIGGY STARDUST Companion

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David Brighton &
SPACE ODDITY

  

For the November 2002 Special Feature - the Ziggy Stardust Companion talked with the very talented David Brighton of the David Bowie tribute band SPACE ODDITY.  David's tells us that his favourite Bowie character (which he performs live on stage) is Ziggy Stardust and it is as "Ziggy" that he will appear in a Shakira concert video on her first world tour! Take a look at the amazing photos of David and SPACE ODDITY in action on this page - some of which are virtually indistinguishable from the "real thing".  SPACE ODDITY's website also includes much interesting information and an interview with Mike Garson about his Ziggy/Spider days.  Be sure to check it all out below:

SPACE ODDITY'S website can be found at  www.davidbowietribute.com

David, how long have you been doing your David Bowie tribute act? I'm really impressed by the authentic Ziggy-era stage look in your photographs.

We've been performing live for a little over three years. We did our first public show in 1999... but there was a lot of preparation going on for quite a while before we actually started performing.

How did it all start for you? Were you aware of the Ziggy-era music when you were younger?

I realise you're referring to our act, but it really all started for me when I heard Panic In Detroit on the radio for the first time as a kid. I'd never heard anything like it. It was like a magnet pulling me in. So the Aladdin Sane album was my initial introduction to David Bowie and the Spiders. It's still one of my favourite albums.

But back to modern times... I'd been recording and touring for a number of years with a number of acts. I'd played guitar with groups like Quiet Riot and others. In the mid 1990s I spent a lot of time running around the planet portraying George Harrison with various spin-offs of the Beatlemania show that started out on Broadway years ago. That was how I was first exposed to the whole tribute phenomenon. It was a strange but interesting world. I thought it would be great fun to do a David Bowie show on the same scale as the Beatlemania show had been done. So it became a project that I had simmering on the back burner in between tours, for a number of years before we started performing live.

Which David Bowie character do you enjoy playing the most?

I enjoy playing them all quite a lot, but Ziggy probably holds the most magic for me. The whole alien thing really hits home, having been one of your typical teenagers who didn't feel that they quite fit in... The Thin White Duke is really cool too.

Great picture David!

Trivia: The rocks in this picture's background are actually the world famous Vasquez Rocks, that appear in many science fiction movies and TV shows. Many episodes of the original Star Trek episodes in the 1960s were filmed there... Roswell - (the Sci-fi TV series about teenage aliens) shot about a third of their episodes there....

What's it like playing Ziggy Stardust?

Portraying Ziggy can be very liberating in a way. It's the whole mask thing. When one is in disguise, one feels the freedom to do things one would not ordinarily do. I think I can see why David adopted the character in the first place. It's a lot of fun going out there and playing the wild, rock and roll mutation.

What are the challenges?

One challenge is simply doing the character justice. David is such a master showman. His training in dance and mime and so forth really added a dimension to Ziggy that you don't find elsewhere in rock. Well done Mr. B!

Who designed your Ziggy costumes?  They look stunning!

I've hired a few costume makers (and one bootmaker) in the Los Angeles area, who've done an excellent job replicating some of Bowie's most signature costumes.

I imagine they cost a pretty penny?

They can be pretty costly. Especially the Kansai replicas... The Rite Of Spring (that is what it's called isn't it?) costume is a real marvel in engineering. The cost can vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars a piece. You just can't find them at the Gap anymore. I'm looking forward to having some more costumes made.

What has the response been to your act to date? I love the rapt expressions your audience shots show.

It's been wonderful. Bowie fans are a rare breed. They really get into it. It's great to see the looks on the faces of the people in the audiences who you can tell are being transported back in time, so to speak. There have been some people who have told us that before they saw us live, they didn't think anyone could convincingly recreate a Bowie concert experience.

Tuesday Knight (actress/singer/songwriter, and now our backup vocalist/keyboard femme fatale) told me a story about the first time a friend brought her to see us perform. She was sitting in the audience before the show started, planning to tear us apart...saying "Let's see this guy who thinks he can do Bowie..." After the show was over, I was sent word that she'd loved our act and wanted to be part of it. So we obviously have had to prove ourselves. But that's one of the fun things about it. It's been a nice challenge.

"Time and Space Oddity - As modern physics teaches us, time is relative. Time travel however is still in its theoretical stage. At least that's what I thought before seeing Space Oddity. Fortunately I was near the front of the stage and had the luxury of verifying my senses from time to time. But for those sitting in the rear, it must have seemed to them, that they truly had been shifted in time and space. David Brighton has the voice, moves and look to actually step in for David Bowie if he were unavailable and few would ever know. The band members are not only accomplished musicians, but they have nailed the original arrangements down perfectly. Experiencing Space Oddity made for a truly remarkable evening." - Harry Maslin, (Producer of David Bowie's YOUNG AMERICANS  & STATION TO STATION albums)

Tell me about the Shakira Ziggy Stardust video mentioned on your website news!

"....David Brighton will appear as Ziggy Stardust in Shakira's new concert video. We can't give the secret away completely, but pop star Shakira is about to embark on her first world tour... and Space Oddity's own David Brighton just completed filming as Ziggy Stardust for the multi-media portion of her concert...".

That one was a surprise... The production people called and said they needed a David Bowie look-alike for a video that was going to be projected during a rock concert. The filming was done at one of the big studios in Los Angeles. I didn't even find out it was going to be for Shakira until I arrived for the shoot. Shakira's new album and tour have a rock and roll theme. They wanted to feature representations of certain rock and roll icons (including David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust) in part of the multi media for her concert. I probably shouldn't say too much more as to not give it all away, you know...But it was great fun doing it. Everyone was great. The director had some interesting stories. He'd seen David and the Spiders performing in England back in 1972. He saw David perform in 1971 as well.

Have you met David Bowie? What does he think of your act?

I've been fortunate enough to meet some people David has worked with, like Mike Garson (David's pianist), Harry Maslin (one of David's producers), but I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bowie as yet. I don't know what he thinks of our act. Maybe I'll find out one day.

My wife and I were very lucky to meet (for the very 1st time) Mr Bowie backstage at his fantastic concert at Irvine in August 2002 courtesy of Mach18.com (thanks Michael Ameen & crew!) and he was charming and still very much a rock god.  Mike Garson was backstage as well.  

BTW I really enjoyed the Mike Garson interview on your site - with some very interesting recollections about his time as the 4th Spider!

Mike Garson has been really great. When this act was in it's preliminary stages, I asked him some questions about some of his piano parts on the records. They were so complex and avant garde that my keyboardist suggested I go to the source for some insights. Mike was very gracious and helpful. And more recently he was good enough to do the interview as well.

Who are the others in your group? Who plays Mick Ronson, Woody Woodmansey & Trevor Bolder as below?

I'm blessed to have some world class players in this act. Zachary Throne plays Mick Ronson, on lead guitar and vocals. Zach is not only an excellent musician, he's an actor as well. Zach has starred in movies and television shows like Beverly Hills 90210, The Heights and Zach played Meatloaf's song writing partner Jim Steinman in VH1's Meatloaf Story. On the musical side of things, Zach has toured internationally with Susanna Hoffs (from the hit all girl group, the Bangles) and with hit singer/song writer/teen idol, Jamie Walters...That's Zach  playing on the song "How Do You Talk To An Angel?" Portraying our favourite rock guitarist ever with Space Oddity, Zach gets to utilise all of his acting and musical talents in one place.

Zachary Throne: guitar/vocals

Jason Harrison Smith: drums/background vocals

Jason Harrison Smith portrays Woody Woodmansey on drums. Jason also toured with Columbia recording artists, Five For Fighting who's big hit Superman was nominated for a Grammy last year. Jason has played with so many big names I won't to try to name all of them. He's perfect for what we do. He excels at any and all of the musical styles Bowie has experimented with.

Shane Soloski: bass/background vocals

Shane Soloski plays Trevor Bolder on Bass. Shane is a GREAT bass player. He has also toured all over the planet with a number of acts....including (along with Jason) Five For Fighting . He does such a great job with Space Oddity that we think he might really be an extra terrestrial of some sort.

Tuesday Knight: background vocals/keyboards/percussion

Tuesday Knight does the back ground vocals and keyboards with the band. Tuesday is another of Space Oddity's resident movie stars... she's been in movies with people like Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Bacon and Alicia Silverstone. She is also a great singer and songwriter. She had a recording contract with CBS but left it to concentrate on her acting. After seeing Space Oddity a couple of years ago she realised her destiny was with us. She's great. No, she looks nothing like Mike Garson. Sorry Mike.

I have to agree with you on that one David!  Mike had studs in his head when I saw him last :-) Have you/ do you have anything special planned for the Ziggy Stardust 30th anniversary year?

One of the most unique shows we've done to date was a very special 30 Year Anniversary Ziggy concert we did this year in Hollywood California. We did a mix of Bowie's concert versions and studio versions on a lot of the Ziggy era material. I had plans to rent the Santa Monica Civic auditorium this year to recreate the legendary 1972 Santa Monica Civic Concert, but it looks like I'm going to have to wait. Maybe for the 31st anniversary instead. We'll see.

That's a great idea!  Good luck for fulfilling that dream!  Where are you based? How far have you toured to date? Have you any plans for international tours?

We're based in Los Angeles. Most of our Bowie shows so far have been on the North American continent and in Europe. There are more international things being discussed, which would be nice. We have yet to do the show in England, which I really would like to remedy.

For those outside the US (such as me :-)) do you have any videos of your performances that can be purchased by fans?

That's an interesting question. Since we are a tribute act, when people have asked at our shows if we sold CDs or videos, we've always encouraged them to buy Mr. Bowie's. As you know, we do offer free video snippets of our show on our website as a promotional vehicle. There are no immediate plans do anything beyond that right now. If we were to obtain permission to offer an actual full scale video, I suppose it could happen down the road at some point.

Thanks very much David!  Congratulations to you and your band on your well-deserved success to date and all the best for the future.  Please do tell us more about the Shakira video as it unfolds! And if any Ziggy fans are lucky to live close enough I fully recommend that you Freak out in a Moonage Daydream with SPACE ODDITY out at the following venues:

Click above for the schedule of where SPACE ODDITY will be playing next

SPACE ODDITY'S website with more information, pictures
and video clips can be found at 
www.davidbowietribute.com

---This page last modified: 19 Jan 2007---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)