David Bowie predicted the fall of humanity. We all had five years left to live, he said. It wasn’t five years counting from June 1972, as it turned out, or from any other doomsday years since. It may still turn out that it will be five years from the day of his death in January 2016, in which case time is fast running out. David Bowie, like many prophets, played fast and loose with the details. One thing he did predict pretty accurately was his own trajectory as a rock’n’roll star. He never got tired of writing about the stars, sometimes in the space mystic sense, but often in terms of fame and celebrity. Being a rock’n’roll phenomenon is a fast ride from adulation and ecstasy to being ready to kill yourself. One lesson in the story of Ziggy Stardust is that being a rock star will turn you into an alien on a strange planet, if you weren’t one already. That, as much as the doom of humanity, is what this rock opera is all about.

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