Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust Album Cover Location
The iconic photograph for David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album cover was shot on Heddon Street in London. The photo shoot took place during January of 1972 and the photographer was Brian Ward.
The sign “K West” was the trade sign for a firm of the same name, trading as furriers at that time. The sign was removed, as was the telephone box, although that was later replaced.
In 2012 the landlords, The Crown Estate, erected a memorial plaque to commemorate the event.
The album cover photograph was taken by Brian Ward outside furriers “K. West” at 23 Heddon Street, London in January 1972, looking south-east towards the centre of the city. Bowie said of the sign, “It’s such a shame that sign went [was removed]. People read so much into it. They thought ‘K. West’ must be some sort of code for ‘quest.’ It took on all these sort of mystical overtones.” The post office in the background (now “The Living Room, W1” bar) was the site of London’s first nightclub, The Cave of the Golden Calf, which opened in 1912. As part of street renovations, in April 1997 a red “K series” phonebox was returned to the street, replacing a modern blue phonebox, which in turn had replaced the original phonebox featured on the rear cover.
Of the album’s packaging in general, Bowie said:
The idea was to hit a look somewhere between the Malcolm McDowell thing with the one mascaraed eyelash and insects. It was the era of Wild Boys, by William S. Burroughs. […] [It] was a cross between that and Clockwork Orange that really started to put together the shape and the look of what Ziggy and the Spiders were going to become. […] Everything had to be infinitely symbolic.”
The cover was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of “Classic Album Cover” postage stamps issued in January 2010.
The rear cover of the original vinyl LP contained the instruction “TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME” (in caps). The instruction was omitted, however, from re-releases.
In March 2012, The Crown Estate, which owns Regent Street and Heddon Street, installed a commemorative brown plaque at No. 23 in the same place as the “K. West” sign on the cover photo. The unveiling was attended by original band members Woodmansey and Bolder, and was unveiled by Gary Kemp. The plaque was the first to be installed by The Crown Estate and is one of the few plaques in the country devoted to fictional characters.