Rock 'n' Roll Suicide

Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Charted: 22
Play Video


  • This is about the collapse of Bowie's persona, Ziggy Stardust. This song closes The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and would also mark the climax of the Ziggy Stardust concerts between 1972-1973.
  • This dramatic and unusual song blends a variety of styles, which Bowie explained in his 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter: "What I enjoyed was being able to hybridize these different kinds of music somewhat. To go from a '50s rock flavored thing with an Edith Piaf nuance on it produced that. There was a sense of French chanson in there. It wasn't obviously a '50s pastiche, even though it had that rhythm that said total '50s. But it actually ends up as being a French chanson. That was purposeful. I wanted that blend, to see if that would be interesting. And it was interesting. Nobody was doing that, at least not in the same way. The same approach was being adopted by a certain number of artists from that era."
  • The photographer Mick Rock, who directed David Bowie's videos for "Space Oddity" and "Life On Mars?" also did a visual for "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" that he says is "kind of like a collage." This video is mostly layered, slow-motion clips of Bowie performing the song on stage.

Comments: 2

  • Sarah from UtahThis song is so so amazing and it has helped a lot of people. Bowie is telling you that millions of others are going through the same thing that you are, so it's okay. RIP David!!
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandThis was a single but was milking things a bit, so it didn't chart highly in the UK...
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)Songwriter Interviews

"Come On Eileen" was a colossal '80s hit, but the band - far more appreciated in their native UK than stateside - released just three albums before their split. Now, Dexys is back.

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the Song

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the SongSong Writing

How a goofy detective movie, a disenchanted director and an unlikely songwriter led to one of the biggest hits in pop history.

Yacht Rock!

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Jon Foreman of SwitchfootSongwriter Interviews

Switchfoot's frontman and main songwriter on what inspires the songs and how he got the freedom to say exactly what he means.

Donald Fagen

Donald FagenSongwriter Interviews

Fagen talks about how the Steely Dan songwriting strategy has changed over the years, and explains why you don't hear many covers of their songs.

Tony Joe White

Tony Joe WhiteSongwriter Interviews

The writer of "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Polk Salad Annie" explains how he cooks up his Louisiana swamp rock.