In 1972, David Bowie channeled his alter ego Ziggy Stardust and became a rock star/messenger for aliens. At the time, listeners heard the opening song “Five Years” and believed the message was that the Earth only had five years left before it was destroyed. In the first verse, Bowie sings, “News had just come over / We had five years left to cry in / News guy wept and told us / Earth was really dying.”
Almost 44 years later, Earth is still here and it’s become clear what the true message was: David Bowie was predicting the birth of Kanye West!
The cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was photographed near Regent Street in London and features the exterior of a furrier that happened to be called K.West. At the time of the album’s release it was nothing more than a shop sign, although Bowie told Rolling Stone, “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.” Well, maybe those people were right to read into it, but they just hadn’t quite worked out what the mystical overtones were.
Ziggy Stardust’s opening track is called “Five Years” and Kanye West was born in Atlanta, Georgia exactly five years and two days after the album’s release. Over the course of the next 38 years of his life he began a run of incredible creativity, trying his hand at everything the world has to offer. Almost half a century after the song’s prediction, we are looking at a man who has declared himself a god and may actually be our president come 2020.
So when Ziggy Stardust warned us, “We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got,” he was actually talking about Yeezy Season approaching, not the apocalypse. As well as being one of the most fearless and boundary pushing artists of the past 50 years, David Bowie was a prophet.
Watch Bowie perform “Five Years” for the BBC below and read one writer’s thoughts on his passing here.