How David Bowie became a superstar in Cleveland in 1972

There’s no way around it. Without the influence of Northeast Ohio, the great David Bowie may never have become a star the way he did in North America.

Bowie’s amazing relationship with Cleveland was the subject of our latest live episode of the CLE Rocks podcast in which Life & Culture reporter Troy L. Smith was joined by a panel of guests who witnessed Bowie’s rise.

Bowie’s relationship with Cleveland began in the late 1960s when local musician Brian Sands founded the very first U.S. David Bowie fan club. When “Hunky Dory” arrived in 1971, legendary institution WMMS became one of the first radio stations in the country to put Bowie’s music into heavy rotation.

Cementing Cleveland’s relationship with Ziggy Stardust, Bowie would embark on his first tour of the U.S. following the release of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” in 1972, choosing Cleveland’s Music Hall as his first stop.

The CLE Rocks episode titled “David Bowie’s first U.S. show in 1972″ covers that entire concert and more than a dozen stops Bowie made in the Cleveland area up until his final tour in 1972.

On hand for the live podcast were Billy Bass, the WMMS programmer who insisted Bowie’s music be put in heavy rotation in 1971, photographer Anastasia Pantsios, who shot that 1972 gig as well as the “Serious Moonlight Tour” in 1983 and the “Sound+Vision Tour” in 1990 (both held at Richfield Coliseum), and Thomas Mulready, founder of CoolCleveland walking David Bowie encyclopedia.

CLE Rocks looks back on the legendary people, places and events that make up Northeast Ohio’s rich music history. The podcast is available on every major platform, including Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and Acast. You can check out recent episodes, below:

Swingos: Cleveland Rock & Roll Hotel
Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour
Tina Turner’s Private Dancer Tour (live recording)
Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 American Tour
The Beatles at Cleveland Stadium
Prince’s Purple Rain Tour
Pearl Jam at Peabody’s DownUnder

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