Community project’s David Bowie ‘Ziggy’ tribute lights up Tolworth tower

By Tom Brady and Alex

March 2 2020, 13.00

Tolworth Tower was lit up with a lightning bolt last month to mark David Bowie’s inaugural gig of ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ album tour.

The bolt, adorned on an entire side of the tower, was organised by Tolworth’s The Community Brain, as part of a project called ‘SHEDx – Growing Ideas in Tolworth’. 

Robin Hutchinson, director of The Community Brain, said: “Tolworth was known as the Cinderella of Kingston. It was once called the scraggly end by the Evening Standard.

“SHEDx is a bottom-up regeneration project by and for people who live in the area. The premise is that everybody is brilliant if they are allowed to shine.”

The Toby Jug pub in Tolworth, which was demolished in 2000, may have played host to the unofficial inaugural gig of Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust tour on 10 February 1972.

The Toby Jug sat opposite the site of Tolworth Tower. 

The pub also hosted famous acts such as Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Squeeze, and Fleetwood Mac. 

However, the inaugural site of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour is still hotly disputed.

Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire also lays claim to this honour, with an experimental performance in September 1971 featuring songs subsequently included in the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Hunky Dory’ albums. 

SHEDx focuses on community-led regeneration of the Tolworth area. 

Its name is a tongue-in-cheek pun combining the exciting and life-changing ideas found in TEDx talks with the sturdy and unpretentious British allotment shed. 

The scheme is responsible for many regeneration projects in the area, such as renovating Tolworth station, using up empty premises on Tolworth Broadway, and planting bee-friendly verges with native flowers outside New Malden station. 

The bolt began as an iconic facial feature of David Bowie’s alter ego, Aladdin Sane. It has now become inseparably linked to the artist and, confusingly, other characters such as Ziggy Stardust. 

Aladdin Sane succeeded Ziggy Stardust as one of Bowie’s stage personas. The ‘Aladdin Sane’ album was released one year after ‘Ziggy Stardust’, yet the singer was reportedly still touring with ‘Ziggy Stardust’ under the Aladdin Sane persona. 

Featured image credit: The Community Brain

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