We Remember Ziggy Stardust Guitarist

David Bowie Mick Ronson Onstage 008The outstanding guitar on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album was played by the superbly talented Mick Ronson, who died 19 years ago today, on 29 April 1993.

Mick was acclaimed by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest guitarists of all time and voted by the readers of Creem as the 2nd best guitarist of 1974 (second only to Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page).


David Bowie:David Bowie Mick Ronson Onstage 005

“As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith or Axl and Slash.”

 “He was really up there with the great guitar players … superb, absolutely superb.”

Mick Ronson 001

Ziggy was one of five of Bowie’s albums to which Ronson contributed guitar and inventive arrangements, such as his fabulous orchestral  arrangement on ‘Life On Mars’.

David Bowie sent a letter to the committee of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame recommending that Mick Ronson should be inducted. Unfortunately, seeing that the Hall doesn’t have good enough taste to induct the Cure, Rush and many others, we may have a long wait.

Besides Bowie, his longest association was with Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople fame, and he made substantial contributions to hits by Lou Reed and John Mellencamp

Ronson created the string arrangements for Lou Reed’s hit ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and for Lou’s beautiful ballad, ‘Perfect Day’, both from the Transformer album, which he and Bowie produced.

Mick Ronson Lou Reed Transformer

Lou Reed:

“Listen to that arrangement of ‘Perfect Day’ that’s Mick Ronson.”

“Mick Ronson’s arrangements were killer.”

John Cougar Jack Diane Single


John Mellencamp (then still John Cougar) is also generous with crediting Ronson with helping to make his ‘Jack & Diane’ a number one hit.

John Mellencamp:

“Mick Ronson put the percussion on there and then he sang the part ‘let it rock, let it roll’ as a choir-ish-type thing. And that is the part everybody remembers. It was Ronson’s idea.”

Ronson played with artists as diverse as Bob Dylan and Morrissey, whose ‘Your Arsenal’ album was produced by Mick. (And you might agree with me that it was Morrissey’s second best solo album.)

David Bowie Mick Ronson Onstage 001But to best remember Mick Ronson, I want you to play ‘Moonage Daydream’ from Ziggy Stardust right now.

I want you to play it really loud, too loud to hear the neighbours screaming at you to turn it down.

Listen to that guitar solo, about three minutes in. Mick’s mesmerizing solo swoops and soars towards the heavens, with every bit of the emotion and passion and crazed personality of the greatest rock music.

This is music from an era when guitars were sex and, in the Seventies, no guitar was sexier than that of Mick Ronson.

If you’d like to hear more about Mick Ronson, let me know in the comments.


If you’ve got the Santa Monica version, play it even louder, too loud to hear the cops at the door.

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24 Responses to We Remember Ziggy Stardust Guitarist

  1. Cynthia says:

    Lovely post. Yes I would like to hear more about Mick Ronson…He is a hero that must be remembered properly. Keep it coming!

  2. Thanx for your compliments. Mick was so special.

    Also check out the appreciation of Mick by
    Alannah Murphy

  3. Ah yes, I remember being told off by my Dad for playing Moonage Daydream at ‘maximum volume’. The fact that I was following instructions on the record sleeve didn’t matter!

  4. Hell yes, Moonage Daydream is just AWESOME, the one song from that album I normally listen to over, and over again, that guitar solo blows me away every time.

  5. Bob Neilson says:

    For me, the albums featuring Mick Ronson are the pick of Bowie’s output.

  6. Nice piece. “Rono” was such a great guitarist, even when being “fellated” by Bowie!

  7. Thanks for the compliment. Some say Bowie didn’t tell him when he did it for the first time!

  8. Annette Geremia says:

    Mick’s induction to the Hall is long overdue. I hope to see that rectified soon. His solo in Moonage Daydream is one of the finest guitar solos in rock history. He’s been my favourite guitarist ever since I heard Ziggy, and per your instruction, I’m going to play Moonage Daydream right now. Loud!

  9. leiulf says:

    I mentioned this briefly on my blog, but i first heard Space Oddity during the moon landing on U.S. t.V. (CBS). My best friend played me Hunky Dory and I fell in love. My dad would not let me watch the 1974 rebroadcast of the Spiders last stand, but I recorded the F.M. simulcast. Mick (live) blew me away. When Jeff beck came on for the penultimate number(s) I was in heaven. I blasted that tape until someone stole it at my drama (International Thespian Society) initiation. BTW, my first performance was a mime to space oddity, and I’m proud to admit it! Great site!

    • Leiulf, thanks so much for your compliments. Such a pity that Jeff Beck was edited out (at his insistence) from the movie. Great concert, but I prefer Santa Monica. Wish there was a movie of that gig.

      • leiulf says:

        Your readers might be interested in the recently discovered(late 2011) “Lost Bowie Footage” I posted on About Sound and Vision.
        Apparently the camera man kept a copy of the 1973 performance of Jean Genie on Top of the Pops because it was the first time his fish-eye lens was employed. I have posted both the complete performance and the BBC news segment that tells the back story.

      • Thanks Leiulf, its a great clip. Slightly different lyrics (can’t be a mistake by Bowie, must be a variant), music diff as well, inc diff solo from Mick.

  10. Totally Ronson should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.. sometimes I think they take the title too seriously over there… it should be based on the contribution to music, not on fame….

  11. Gerard van Westenbrugge says:

    Hallo, realy good site, thanks vor your work to made this…My sun Mick ist named at Mick Ronson…we will never forget him….. love on yeah….Gerard

  12. Glenn Woods says:

    I know David Bowie has had a great great musicians working with him all his career, but for me and it seems to many many other Bowie fans, his best work came when he was working with the “Spiders” and especially Mick Ronson. Mick’s talent for arrangements and his unique style of guitar playing was one reason for Bowie’s rise to fame…but maybe I’m a little biased as I’m a Hull lad as well.

  13. Peter H says:

    I some times pass where he worked and always think of him.

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