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Best known as David Bowie's backing band during his early-'70s glam period, Spiders From Mars consisted of members Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Boulder (bass), and Mick "Woody" Woodmansey (drums). Hailing from the town of Hull (in Yorkshire, England), the trio had been playing together since the late '60s in such outfits as the Rats and Ronno (Ronson's nickname), the latter of which issued a forgotten single -- "Fourth Hour of My Sleep"/"Powers of Darkness." It was at the dawn of the '70s that Ronson was introduced to folksinger David Bowie (via a mutual friend, producer Tony Visconti). Although Bowie had already enjoyed some chart success as a solo artist (namely his 1969 single, "Space Oddity"), he wanted to branch out into other musical styles, especially hard rock with a strong visual edge. Ronson was welcomed to join Bowie's new backing band, and in return, Ronson brought along his old Hull chums, Boulder and Woodmansey. It took a few releases for the new group to solidify their look and sound (1970's The Man Who Sold the World, 1971's Hunky Dory), but it was on their third release that the group hit pay dirt -- and first that the Hull trio was referred to as Spiders From Mars.

1972's The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust catapulted the group to the top of the rock heap, as the concept album lent a major hand in popularizing glam rock (makeup, flashy outfits, androgyny, etc.). David Bowie and Spiders From Mars continued in the same musical path with their next release, 1973's Aladdin Sane, another sizeable hit (in addition, Ronson helped arrange and co-produce Lou Reed's classic 1972 comeback album, Transformer, along with Bowie). But at the last show of the album's supporting tour at London's Hammersmith Odeon on July 3, 1973, Bowie announced from the stage (unbeknownst to the other bandmembers) that it was to be the group's last show ever. Ronson and Boulder stuck around with Bowie a little while longer, playing on his all-covers album, Pin Ups, and taping a mini-concert at the Marquee Club for a TV special soon after (The 1980 Floor Show), but Bowie stuck to his promise -- never recording or performing with Spiders ever again. Ronson would go on to launch a lukewarm-received solo career (1974's Slaughter on 10th Avenue and 1975's Play Don't Worry), as well as playing with others (Bob Dylan, Ian Hunter, John Cougar).

But while Ronson was trying to put his Spiders days behind him, both Boulder and Woodmansey resurrected the Spiders From Mars name for a lone self-titled release in 1976. The album, which saw guitarist Dave Black assume Ronson's spot (as well as Pete McDonald on vocals and Bowie-vet Mike Garson on keyboards), sunk from sight shortly after release, as Spiders split in the wake of the recording's failure. Boulder would later turn up as a member of Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, while Woodmansey formed his own outfit, Woody Woodmansey's U-Boat. Any possibility of Ronson reuniting with his former bandmates was extinguished on April 29, 1993, when the guitarist succumbed to cancer (although a star-studded solo album that he finished just prior to his death, Heaven and Hull, was issued in 1994). Also in 1994, a Mick Ronson Memorial Concert was held at the Hammersmith, which featured appearances by both Boulder and Woodmansey, plus Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliot and guitarist Phil Collen. The members of Spiders/Leppard enjoyed playing with each other so much that they decided to form a side project, Cybernauts, who have played several European concerts together, and issued a pair of releases: Cybernauts Live and the internet-only release The Further Adventures of the Cybernauts. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi