Ronson Memphis

Karen Pollak, the girl with an LP and a record player - toiled in the pop culture trenches and walked the rock and roll landscape, not as a groupie, but as a cultural anthropologist, emerging as a keeper of these beautiful pictures (and more!).

Karen was born in Memphis Tennessee in 1950 and was originally entranced by the Beatles (her favorite is, was, and always will be Paul McCartney). This fascination with rock stars has kept Karen close to a turntable, hoisting vinyl in a motherly yet excitable pose that borders on the iconic. Note ZIggy Stardust LP in Karen's grasp. read more. . . . .

Photos by Rose Alaise.

From the Karen Pollak Collection

Use by permission of
Guerrillamonster Films

I crave photographic evidence of the Spiders From Mars in Memphis (and the later dwindling years of Bowie performance in Memphis). This comes from Bowie's February 1973 Memphis Academy of Art visit, which struck me as very singular and unique. I feel connected to Bowie and Elvis in some way and I am always exploring the connections. Local folks with a Bowie memory find my site and contact me with unseen pictures and untold stories.

Some people I know have lots of knowledge and photos but haven't taken the time to sit down and talk. Still, other people (like Karen Pollak) are willing to share their possessions and their memories but are protective of some elements - and I respect that.

These pictures of the Spiders (but mosty Ronson) were made at the Rivermont Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee (downtown) during the second Ziggy Stardust tour February, 1973 (according to Karen Pollak who provided the pictures and has given me exclusive rights to publish them).

The pictures were made by Rose Alaise. I'm guessing at the spelling of her name. I wish I knew more about Rose. Barbarian Records founder Jim Blake told me that Rose was Ronson's "girlfriend".

It's easy to see that Rose favored Mick as her main subject since there's only one shot of Trevor and Woody. Rose worked at Pop Tunes, the rival record store to Yellow Submarine (which was frequented by Karen). Karen would pal along with Rose and somehow got possession of these pictures, placing them in an orange box, unseen for 26 years.

I went searching to find any of these pics online, just to make sure they had never been seen before. Oddly enough I found the first picture (and the first picture only) at an old Bowie Appreciation site called This version of the picture featured more of the chair Ronson was sitting in. Rose must have let this one picture leak out. I just don't know. Regardless this page contains all known pictures from Rose that day in the Rivermont Hotel.

Where was Bowie? At the Art School? Hmmm. Karen doesn't know. Nobodies talking.

Mick Ronson would have been 63 on Tuesday May 26th, 2009.

Mike McCarthy