Saturday, October 3, 2015

The man who put the 'stardust' in 'Ziggy Stardust'

The Ledge appears to have overdone it at the tanning salon in this illustration.

Norman Carl Odam. Sounds like the name of a presidential assassin, doesn't it? But Norman, he never assassinated anything other than a song. Born September 5, 1947 in Lubbock, Texas, hometown of Buddy Holly. Known professionally as the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. The Ledge, they've called him. As in something you jump off of. Made -- and still makes, I guess -- some of the craziest damned music you ever heard. Savage. Unhinged. Primal scream stuff, Texas style. Some call it "psychobilly." Others call it "junk" -- or worse. Appeared on Laugh-In once, dressed like something out of a Wild West show and screaming his fool head off. Scared the shit out of 'em. Bowie was a fan. Where do you think Ziggy Stardust got his last name? He and the Ledge covered each other's songs. Norman's lone hit, "Paralyzed" from 1968, was released by Mercury Records and actually scraped the undercarriage of the Billboard charts. Some have called it the worst record ever made. Maybe after listening to it -- or as much of it as you can stand -- you'll agree. What is this fascination of mine with things dubbed "the worst?" The Ledge's story is one of those weird little corners of showbiz I love. His "fifteen minutes of fame" were interrupted by, of all things, a musicians' strike. Some would say Norman was more of a demolitions expert than a musician. Anyway, here's "Paralyzed." You were warned. Dig the label. It took three people to produce this. Ah, the Sixties.

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