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Space Oddity - Bowie's hit was a soundtrack to the space generation

Published 11/01/2016

Commander Chris Hadfield said goodbye to life on the International Space Station by making a cover version of David Bowie's Space Oddity (YouTube/PA)
Commander Chris Hadfield said goodbye to life on the International Space Station by making a cover version of David Bowie's Space Oddity (YouTube/PA)

When David Bowie's seminal Space Oddity was released in 1969, the world was transfixed with Apollo 11 and its journey of discovery.

Since then, few musical compositions have been as drawn upon to provide a sonic interpretation of our fascination with life outside planet Earth.

Nearly half a century after its release , and, with space exploration very much back in the public consciousness, those famous few moments of instrumental, building up in crescendo to the eerie opening lines "Ground control to Major Tom" still act as the unofficial score to many things "space".

While the track - re-released six years later to become Bowie's maiden chart-topper - tells the tale of a fictional astronaut, the song took on a new guise as the adopted anthem of real-life space man Commander Chris Hadfield.

The Canadian built up a huge following with his videos of Earth from the International Space Station in 2013.

And his stock was raised even higher - and unleashed Space Oddity on a whole new audience of young space fans - with his cover of the track.

Armed with an acoustic guitar and floating in space, Cmdr Hadfield wowed viewers with the rendition.

Introducing the track at the time, the astronaut wrote on Twitter: "With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here's Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World."

Bowie replied: "Hallo Spaceboy."

Cmdr Hadfield today referenced two more of Bowie's best known hits to mark his death, announced today after an 18-month illness.

He said: "Ashes to ashes, dust to stardust. Your brilliance inspired us all. Goodbye Starman"

Space Oddity was the first of a handful of Bowie hits to marvel about alien worlds, with Starman and Life On Mars both staples of his greatest hits playlists. The space theme in fact book-ended his career, with his final record - released the Friday before his death - carrying the title Blackstar.

Today, Britain's other "starman", astronaut Major Tim Peake, paid his own tribute to Bowie.

Writing from the International Space Station, he said: "Saddened to hear David Bowie has lost his battle with cancer - his music was an inspiration to many."

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