July 20, 1969 marked one of the greatest achievements of mankind when American astronauts walked on the moon. The event was televised throughout the world, with an estimated 600 million people watching.
In the U.K., the BBC’s coverage of the landmark included a song called “Space Oddity” by an uncharted David Bowie. “Oddity” was tapped as his first single after he split from Deram Records and signed with Mercury. An early version appeared in Bowie’s Love You Till Tuesday promotional film.
Early version of “Space Oddity”
It was newly recorded and released in anticipation of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The song alluded to the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey and lampooned the British space program. The exposure led to Bowie’s first chart entry. “Oddity” peaked at #5 originally, but a 1975 reissue went all the way to #1.
cover of the original single
In the U.S., Bowie hit the Hot 100 with “Changes”, “Starman”, and “The Jean Genie” before “Space Oddity” hit #15 after a 1973 reissue. The 1968 album, Man of Words, Man of Music, from which the song originated, was rechristened Space Oddity and charted in 1972 after Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars had introduced American audiences to Bowie. It became his highest charting album yet, hitting #16.
1972 video used to promote the 1973 and 1975 reissues
“Space Oddity” has received many honors over the years. It earned Bowie an Ivor Novello Award, a British songwriting honor. It ranks as one of the top 1000 songs of the 20th century according to Dave’s Music Database. It also makes DMDB lists for the all-time classic rock and alternative rock songs. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it in their list of the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. It also makes best-of lists from Mojo magazine, Virgin Radio, and XFM.
Bowie is rated by the DMDB as one of the top 100 acts of all time. He also makes DMDB lists of the all-time best singers and songwriters. He is also a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
Resources and Related Links:
- David Bowie’s DMDB page
- David Bowie’s DMDB music maker encyclopedia entry
- Wikipedia entry on “Space Oddity”