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David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust in a striped baloon jumpsuit by Kansai Yamamoto

David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ demo is up for auction

Hear a snippet of the long lost recording, which had been languishing in an attic for decades

A demo containing one of the first recorded versions of David Bowie’s “Starman” will go up for auction this week. 

NME reports that the tape recording was made in 1971 by Bowie with his Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson. Ronson later gave it to his friend Kevin Hutchinson, who wanted to learn how to play the track. The demo, which also contains versions of “Moonage Daydream” and “Hang Onto Yourself”, was left in Hutchinson’s attic for years.

“Now I’m 65 and I played it, I just couldn’t believe how good it is,” Hutchinson told the Press Association, “but at the time, I thought: ‘it’s not bad’. At 16 you’re not totally impressed, nothing impresses you.”

On the demo, a snippet of which can be heard below, the track ends with Bowie telling Mick Ronson that he’s not finished the song when he tries to stop the recording. “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,’” Hutchinson added.

The demo is expected to sell for over £10,000 at Omega Auctions in Merseyside tomorrow. Dan Hampson, assistant auction manager, 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 story recalls a similar discovery of a Bowie demo from his first band, The Konrads, in an old bread bin. The demo, which dated back to 1963, ultimately sold for $40,000.

Listen to part of the “Starman” demo below.