David Bowie didn’t do well in the 60s. He stumbled through a series of styles and approaches but none of them caught on. But then, inspired in equal parts by the Apollo moon program and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, he finally got someone to pay attention.
“Space Oddity” was released on July 11, 1969, and initially looked like it was going to be a dead end. But then the BBC picked it up as an unofficial theme for their Apollo coverage, which helped push the song to #5 on the British charts. It was the boost of confidence Bowie needed.
The song was re-released in 1973, rising to the Top 20 in both Canada and the US. Another British reissue in 1975 saw the song hit #1.
More versions followed: (1) An acoustic version that appeared on the B-side of “Alabama Song” in 1979; (2) a remix of the 1979 edition on the 1992 expanded re-release of Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps); (3) an appearance on a compilation called A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982); and (4) a series of demo recordings of the song on various compilations.
Now there’s a new 50th-anniversary remix bringing the total number of versions of “Space Oddity” into the wild to…I’ve lost count. Ten?
And then there’s the official video, which features hitherto unreleased footage of Bowie performing the song.
Read more here.