A one-of-kind collection of memorabilia charting the glittering career of David Bowie has gone on display in Leeds, 50 years after the legendary Starman dazzled in a concert on Kirkstall Road.
The new display at Leeds City Museum features an incredible array of objects spanning decades of Bowie’s unique life, all painstakingly collected by a local super fan and kindly loaned to the museum.
Taking pride of place is a handmade cabinet filled with specially created Lego figurines, each one capturing in minute detail one of the many changing faces adopted by the iconic singer, songwriter and actor, who sold an estimated 140 million albums worldwide during a trailblazing career.
Also included are rare editions of some of Bowie’s early singles from 1966, some of the artist’s most recognisable albums as well as a huge collection of pin badges and clothing collected from tours and performances.
The collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, has loaned some of his vast archive to the museum. His idea for a display was prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Bowie’s two sold out Leeds concerts, which took place on June 29, 1973.
Originally scheduled for Leeds University Students’ Union, the venue for the gigs was changed to the former roller disco on Kirkstall Road, which was more suited to the theatrical style Bowie and his band, who at that time went by the name of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
For the collector, the museum’s display, entitled There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky, is the culmination of a journey which began with him sitting in front of a TV screen at the age of just 12.
He said: “I got into David Bowie back in 1972 with his iconic first appearance on Top Of The Pops when he performed Starman. When he looked out of the TV screen and he pointed and sang the line, ‘I had to phone someone, so I picked on you’ it really felt like he was picking on you and asking you to come and join his gang along with all the other misfits who he appealed to.
“Being a gay kid, I felt that was somewhere where I wanted to be, indeed needed to be and his image and music was right up my street. So began my over 50 years obsession with Bowie and his artistic vision expressed through his lyrics, his music, his performance and much more.”
As previously reported by WLD, Bowie has family connections with West Leeds. His great grandfather, great grandmother and grandfather lived at Moorfield Road in Armley and Town End House in Bramley.
Robert Haywood Jones (Bowie’s grandfather) died in the Great War in 1916 and it was said Zillah (his grandmother) died of a broken heart just before Valentine’s Day in 1917. Robert’s name can be found on Bramley War Memorial.
The display, which also features a series of oral histories recorded with local Bowie fans, is open now in the museum’s Leeds Story gallery.
Sapphia Cunningham-Tate, Leeds Museums and Galleries assistant community curator, who has worked on the display, said: “Music and live performances can have such a huge and powerful cultural impact on a city and the people who live there and it’s clear that David Bowie left a lasting legacy to those who saw him take to the stage in Leeds all those years ago.
“It’s been a privilege to work on this display and to get a sense of how much Bowie meant to those who connected with his unique music, talent and personality.”
The Leeds display comes as London’s V&A Museum announced last month that they have acquired an extensive archive of Bowie-related material for display and study. Remaining elements of the collector’s trove of LPs are heading to London to become part of the archive.
There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky is at Leeds City Museum now and is free to enter.