Singles: Suffragette City
Video credit Mr Sussex
Live 1972 performances; audio from Santa Monica 1972 concert.
Penultimate song on THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) and one of Bowie's all time personal favourites. It was recorded at London's Trident Studios sometime between 12-18 January 1972. It was performed live on all Ziggy Stardust Tours and later on the Dimaond Dogs, Station to Station, Stage & Sound + Vision Tours.
A demo of "Suffragette City" was first offered to Mott the Hoople in 1971 by Bowie as a way of helping them out their financial problems but they never used it although a Mott the Hoople version is rumoured to exist.
Of note is the fact that Bowie used the end of "Suffragette City" in live performances for his now classic mock fellatio stage scene with Mick Ronson's guitar (see image above). The lyrics also show the strong influence of the film A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) with mention made of a "droog" (...droogie don't crash here...) which was the term for a futuristic thug in that movie.
It has since been covered by many artists including U2, Boy George, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and others. In 1999 Suffragette City was used as the title of a novel by Kate Muir.
Suffragette City original musical notation (Rainbow Concert)
* The heavy backing saxophone sound on "Suffragette City" was not created by a saxophone(s) - but by an ARP synthesizer.
"David had this idea for a big sax sound, bigger than anything he could play, so we hooked up this huge synth, fiddled around until we got the closest sound to a sax as possible and left Mick Ronson to play the right notes" - Ken Scott
* A strong case could be made for "Suffragette City" being out of sequence on Side Two. From a conceptual point of view it would have made more sense for it to have occurred before "Ziggy Stardust" (where the idea of Ziggys downfall is introduced).
* The famous "Wham Bam Thank-you Ma'am" lyric was the title of one of the tracks on Charles Mingus's popular 1962 'Oh Yeah' album (according to Mingus it was also a phrase that his drummer Max Roach used when he was "unable to express his inner feelings") and probably one which Bowie was aware of being a jazz lover himself. The Small Faces also recorded the song in 1968.
"David supplied the baritone saxes? No - We'd basically finished the song but it felt as if it needed something else, so I sent the assistant engineer upstairs to bring down the rather large ARP 2500. I messed around and came up with a sound, Ronno played the parts and there you have the blaring ARP synth" - Ken Scott.
Suffragette City (Bowie)
Hey man, oh leave me alone, you know
You know my Suffragette City
---This page last modified: 06 Jan 2019---