Belfast Telegraph

David Bowie Starman demo up for auction after languishing in loft

The star can be heard explaining the track to his guitarist.

The David Bowie demo was stored in the loft for 50 years (Yui Mok/PA)
The David Bowie demo was stored in the loft for 50 years (Yui Mok/PA)

A demo of David Bowie singing his hit song Starman is going under the hammer after languishing in a loft for nearly 50 years.

The 1971 recording is thought to be the first demo of the pop classic.

Bowie can also be heard telling his guitarist Mick Ronson that he has not finished singing the song when he tries to end the recording.

Ronson, who died in 1993, gave his friend, Kevin Hutchinson, the demo in 1971.

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David Bowie’s demo (Omega Auctions)

The Aladdin Sane star was yet to make his name and Hutchinson, then a teenager and aspiring musician, was unimpressed by what he heard.

Hutchinson, who is now selling the demo, told the Press Association: “I remember listening to it and thinking, This is OK. I didn’t think, this is fantastic…

“I think it’s phenomenal now, obviously. Now I’m 65 and I played it, I just couldn’t believe how good it is.

“But at the time, I thought, It’s not bad. At 16 you’re not totally impressed, nothing impresses you….”

Hutchinson was handed the demo to help him learn the song in the hope it might help him snap-up his own contract, as a singer-songwriter, with Bowie’s manager.

And so he labelled it David Bowie Rehearsal Tape.

“I had a listen to it at home and then it got packed away into the loft. And that’s where it remained for nearly 50 years,” he said.

The song, about a Starman who’d “like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds” was released as a single in 1972 and featured in the Ziggy Stardust concept album, which catapulted Bowie into rock and pop stardom.

Hutchinson, who also penned a song for Bowie which he considered putting on the album, retrieved the tape from his loft after watching a documentary about the star, who died in 2016.

“My wife, Claire, said, ‘I remember you telling me you did some stuff with Mick Ronson all those years ago.’

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David Bowie died in 2016 (PA)

“I think she thought I didn’t have the tape because when you say to someone, ‘I once did some stuff with Mick Ronson and with David Bowie, people think, ‘Yeah tell me another one.’

“But I found it and got my old tape recorder out of the loft as well and threaded the tape into the machine. We couldn’t believe it when we heard it. It’s superb.”

Bowie can be heard chatting to his guitarist in the raw demo, which features just his vocals and acoustic guitar.

“You can tell that Mick has never heard the song before because at the end he is just about to turn the tape recorder off and Bowie says, ‘Hang on. There’s a little bit more.’

“That’s the La, La, La bit.”

The tape was stored with hundreds of others in a box which has been through several house moves.

Hutchinson said of his decision to sell the demo: “I’m 65… It’s not used in my life…  so I’ve started what they call on TV decluttering.”

Dan Hampson, assistant auction manager at Omega Auctions, which is selling the demo, said: “In consultation with a Bowie expert, we can say with confidence that this tape contains a very early and possibly the first ever demo version of Starman.

“There’s a lot of Bowie mythology around the writing of this timeless classic, and the raw and truly beautiful version heard here helps to provide a fascinating insight into the creative process of a bona fide genius.”

The demo, with a £10,000 estimate, also contains recordings of Bowie songs Moonage Daydream and Hang Onto Yourself and is up for auction on Tuesday March 12 at Omega Auctions in Newton-le-Willows.

PA

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