To hardcore fans of iconic musician David Bowie, guitarist Mick Ronson is an integral part of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust-era work. Now a new documentary is shining a spotlight on Ronson, giving him the recognition he very much deserves over two decades after his death.
Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story, currently streaming on Hulu, was born from Ronson's widow, Suzi, urging Bowie to record his memories of Ronson.
"[W]hat he did for her was create these audio bites that were almost like narration," filmmaker and rock manager Jon Brewer told Rolling Stone.
That narration is paired with archival footage, including never-before-seen photos and backstage footage, to share how the guitarist made his way in the '70s Glam Rock scene and what he contributed to Bowie's legacy, particularly his work on the albums Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Ronson played guitar on five of Bowie's albums in all.
"I think, personally, that Mick Ronson should have got more credit with respect for the writing and certainly arranging all of that material," Brewer said. "It should have been credited to Bowie/Ronson ... and I think Bowie would have said that, too. As Morrissey said, he was the balls to Bowie at that time. He was the engine."
The documentary also takes a look at Ronson's career after Bowie's disbanding of the Spiders from Mars, from attempts at a solo career to work with other musical icons like Mott the Hoople, Lou Reed, and Bob Dylan to his eventual reunion with Bowie in the 1990s, shortly before Ronson's death from liver cancer in 1993 when he was just 46 years old.
"I think none of it would have mattered if Mick had lived," Suzi said. "I feel sure he would have worked with David again and it seemed it was finally his turn to be successful. He was only 46, plenty of time for him to make his mark. I have no doubt he would have done that."
Beside Bowie also features new interviews with Bowie's ex-wife Angie, producer Tony Visconti, Hunky Dory pianist Rick Wakeman, Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott, and a number of other friends and associates.