The cast

Oral histories




I'm working on the assumption that we all agree on one thing at least: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars were the greatest rock & roll band in the world…ever. No arguments? Good. So here's an intriguing question that I can't answer: how come all those shelves full of books on Bowie pay so little attention to the band?

Like the other Spiders, Trevor was a veteran of the Hull r&b/blues scene, though - contrary to some reports - he was never a member of Mick Ronson's group The Rats. He was happily playing Free-style blues rock when the call came from London to join Ronson and Woody Woodmansey in Bowie's backing band. The invitation had originally been extended to Herbie Flowers, who'd played on the 1971 single 'Holy Holy', but he couldn't make the commitment, and the classic Spiders line-up was born.

It was a damn good line-up. Ronson was self-evidently the best guitarist of his day and - somewhat unexpectedly - turned out to be a brilliant string arranger on the side, whilst Woody and Bolder sounded like they'd been playing together for years. Apart from anything else, their contribution was to drag Bowie's music towards a more market-friendly blues-based rock than the post-hippy noodlings of Space Oddity and the bleak metal of The Man Who Sold The World.

Together this band made Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and - without Woody - Pin-Ups. All of which hardly needs comment: the mix of Aladdin Sane may be crap but apart from that, this is the most perfect sequence of albums ever made. More difficult than the music, however, was persuading a bunch of Northern blues-rockers that they ought to glam up. After initial reluctance, the band were taken out by Bowie to a gig: 'We went to see Alice Cooper and they were wearing make-up on stage and they were really heavy,' remembers Trevor. 'The music they were playing was great, I thought at the time, and it didn't look too bad, so we agreed to do it. It was a big jump from being a blues band in t-shirts and jeans with long hair and beards to wearing make-up and flashy clothes.'

The retirement of Ziggy in 1973 left the rhythm section of the Spiders stranded. Ronson was being pushed into a solo career, but although Bolder got to do Pin Ups, it was only because Jack Bruce turned down the offer - there was no intention of him staying around for Diamond Dogs - and the problem had to be faced of what to do next. In the event Trevor did nothing for a while.

Then in late 1975 the Spiders From Mars re-emerged as a 'solo' act. Comprising Bolder, Woody and pianist Mike Garson from the Bowie days, they were augmented by a couple of Geordies: Pete McDonald on vocals and Dave Black on guitar. They released a single 'White Man, Black Man' and a subsequent album early in '76, but to be honest no one really noticed much and the venture petered out. Trevor went off to join Uriah Heep, with whom he still plays.

In the mid-90s the Woody/Bolder partnership was revived. Under the name The Spiders From Mars they began playing the occasional gig with John Mainwearing (of tribute band The Jean Genie) on vocals. It's an odd concept, given that the original act was so dominated by Bowie and given that the late Mick Ronson is obviously unavailable, and you can't help thinking that they've become effectively a tribute band to themselves. I saw them a couple of times, however, and I can say that it did work: there's a real pleasure of seeing Trevor and Woody playing their back-catalogue and Mainwearing does a passable Bowie imitation.

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Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams