‘I didn't think I'd have any further involvement’ - David Bowie band-member Geoff MacCormack recalls final Ziggy Stardust gig

Virgin Radio

18 May 2023, 11:00

Credit: Getty / Rex

It’s almost exactly half-a-century since David Bowie unexpectedly retired his Ziggy Stardust alter-ego at a live show.

At his London’s Hammersmith Odeon gig on 3rd July 1973, Bowie/Ziggy said that it would be “the last show that we’ll ever do”, much to everyone’s surprise. Of course, he would go on to make incredible music for decades to come, and what he actually meant that night was that he would be ditching Ziggy as a persona.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the gig, Ziggy Stardust returns to the same venue (now called The Eventim Apollo Hammersmith) for one night only, in the form of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture. 

The digitally restored film - with never-before-seen footage - will be unveiled at a red carpet global premiere 50 years to the day of the famous gig, on 3rd July 2023, with tickets on sale today.

Ahead of the anniversary event, virginradio.co.uk spoke exclusively to some of the musicians who were onstage with Bowie that night, including his pal since their schooldays, Geoff MacCormack. The musician, also known as Warren Peace, spoke to us alongside the Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey.

Recalling that night in Hammersmith back in 1973, Geoff told us: “I was kind of on the side of the stage, because we were augmenting the Spiders from Mars.

“Their set was pretty well written in stone and… I felt I had a backstage pass, and was able to join in every now and again and do a few vocals.” 

He continued; “It wasn't until later shows, Diamond Dogs, where I became a Diamond Dog and did other stuff, that I really had to work as hard as Woody had to work, or maybe even harder at some stages.”

The Hammersmith show featured legendary guitarist Jeff Beck. Geoff told us: “There was a point where Ronno [Spiders From Mars guitarist, Mick Ronson] was a bit, kind of, embarrassed. And it was like ‘After you’, ‘No, no, no, no, after you’. And it was a bit awkward as to who would play, because Ronno loved Jeff Beck and he was, ‘Well, you know, he should take the stage,’ and Jeff Beck was like, ‘Well, it's your stage. It's your show’. 

“So that was quite sweet, really”

Geoff explained that he thought that it might be the end of the road for him as part of the gang, when Bowie made his announcement. “Because we'd just been kind of on the sides of the show and augmenting these guys. I thought, ‘Well, that was a great journey, and it was a privilege to be involved in it’. And I didn't think I'd have any further involvement,” he said. 

“I had no idea I was going to hang out with him for another couple of years and end up on The Man Who Fell to Earth film, and doing the last album we did, which was Station to Station, and I was the only other backing vocalist on that. So, yeah, I had a very good run.” 

When we asked what he thinks it is about the late, great David Bowie that means music lovers remain enthralled with him, Geoff replied: “In a word, quality. The quality of the writing and the performance.”

Read our exclusive interview with the Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey. 

Limited tickets for the Eventim Apollo premiere on 3rd July are available now. There will also be simultaneous one-night-only screenings of the Q&A and the film on 3rd July in cinemas in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Australia. For details on your participating local cinemas visit www.davidbowie.com