Moonage Daydreaming or (Thirty) Five Years (Later):
An Interview with Rick Tedesco
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2007, Volume 14, #12
Written by Matt Parish
Sat, December 15, 2007, 12:00 PM CST
Rock ’n‘ roll long has been the stuff of which dreams are made. Even if one isn’t a musician, the very ideas of stardom and fame are as irresistible as they are inescapable. Now, imagine being a successful artist, and after having a storied career working with some of the greatest performers in the business, you come across something that makes your heart flutter like it did when you heard your first rock ’n‘ roll record. It is at that moment when you realize that different dreams come at different times in your life and that they come in all shapes and sizes, too...like a Gibson ’68 Custom Les Paul.
Rick Tedesco is not just the owner of Guitar Hangar, the premier guitar store in Connecticut. He also is a virtuoso guitarist, vocalist, producer, and arranger for the Dennis Dunaway Project. A few years ago, he had just this sort of experience, and he was gracious enough to speak to The Music Box about his guitarist’s dream come true. Tedesco has played alongside musicians who have performed with Billy Idol, Billy Squire, and Blondie, but it was his chance meeting and subsequent close friendship with Ian Hunter that would align the stars thus enabling him to be chosen to pull the Excalibur of guitars from rock’s quarry of memorabilia: Mick Ronson’s ’68 Custom Les Paul.
Mick Ronson, for the few people left in the universe who don’t know who he is, was a trailblazing and charismatic guitarist in the 1970s, and he probably is best-known for his work with Ian Hunter and David Bowie, especially for his contributions to Bowie’s legendary and groundbreaking album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Whether live or on record, his phenomenal presence was indisputable, and one of the crown jewels of ’70s lead guitar playing was his hypnotic and space-y outro on Moonage Daydream.
Originally released in 1972, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is considered by many to be the definitive rock ’n‘ roll concept album, one that has inspired and ignited the passion of music fans and musicians all over the world. Born in 1960, Tedesco was only 12-years-old when Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released, but the hold that Ronson’s playing had on him never waned. "Basically I was just a huge fan," said Tedesco. "[Ronson] was my inspiration to play guitar."
When asked by Ian Hunter many years later what the most prized guitar in his massive collection was, Tedesco stated that it wasn't in his possession. "When I met Ian Hunter several years ago, we became really good friends, and of course, we spoke and still speak about Mick often," Tedesco explained. "One day, after talking to Ian about [Ronson’s] guitar, I got the bug to find it. It took me two months, but I tracked it down at the Hard Rock Café in Australia. Mick had given it to them 12 years prior. Suzi Ronson helped me authenticate it, and I bought it from them and put it in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for a few years. Then, I took it out, and I have been using it on different projects ever since."
One such endeavor is Bones from the Yard, the critically acclaimed debut from the Dennis Dunaway Project. In fact, Tedesco was so inspired by this immortal axe that also he worked with the Ronson Estate to obtain exclusive rights to sell a Mick Ronson Tribute Gibson Les Paul guitar through his store.
In addition, Tedesco and the Dennis Dunaway Project recently completed their contribution to a new David Bowie tribute record called Hero: A Tribute to David Bowie, which will be issued on Main Man Records on December 25.
The song that the Dennis Dunaway Project opted to cover for the endeavor is as obvious as it is predestined. Naturally, Tedesco used Ronson’s fabled guitar, and the group’s ethereal rendition of Moonage Daydream serves as an aural and lasting ode not only to one of Tedesco’s biggest musical influences, but also to one of the last, great geniuses of rock ’n‘ roll. Sadly, Ronson passed away in 1993 at the age of 46.
Inscribed on the face of Ronson’s historic guitar is a wonderfully prophetic message from our favorite Martian spider. It is one that Tedesco, as its anointed guardian, will make sure holds true.
"To the Hard Rock Café,
I’m still rockin’." — Mick Ronson
For more information on Rick’s extensive guitar collection and for updates on the Dennis Dunaway Project, please visit Guitar Hangar and the Dennis Dunaway Project.
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box