Cusp of fame, paintbrush in hand: David Bowie at home in 1972

May 30, 2012 | By Jon Wilton | Archive, Entertainment

Imagine going along to a shoot with a member of ‘rock royalty’ and finding him immersed in a spot of home decorating. That is indeed the scene photographer Michael Putland came across when he met David Bowie at his home in Beckenham, South London, 40 years ago.

Luckily for Michael, David was determined to finish the task in hand and these images capture a brief glimpse of a time before his rapid rise to stardom.


English singer, musician and actor David Bowie paints the coving of his home in Beckenham, south-east London, in April, 1972. This was after the recording of Bowie's concept album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars," but before its release in June of that year. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)


David Bowie-at home-1972-Michael Putland-Hulton Archive-Getty Images-109766376

Before his rise to mega-stardom: Photographer Michael Putland captures singer David Bowie at home, painting, in Beckenham, London on April 24, 1972. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)


Here was a pivotal point in Bowie’s transformation from the lighter pop of his previous album “Hunky Dory” through the release of the single “Starman” in April — not yet the massive hit it was to become later in the year — and the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” released 40 years ago this week.

Incidentally, for those familiar with the album artwork you will notice that David is posed wearing the same two-piece outfit on the front cover of Ziggy Stardust as half way up his stepladder.

Here was Bowie, still a cult artist best known for his one hit wonder “Space Oddity” painting his house, yet within weeks he would transform into a superstar.

Editor’s note: Getty Images Photo Editor II Jon Wilton scanned some of these David Bowie-at-home images for the first time this week, in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of Bowie’s album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars.” We’re glad he did!

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  • Liz

    40 years ago I had a poster of Bowie on my bedroom wall from this photo session. Now I have a triptych from this very same session on my sitting room wall. Well done Mr Putland for what were and remain iconic pictures.