Friends size up ‘Space Oddity’

From the start, David Bowie regarded the song “Space Oddity” with confidence. He played a demo to The Who’s Pete Townshend, who gave it the thumbs up, and so did Marc Bolan, a longtime friend whose word, Bowie seemed to believe, was gospel.

Manager Kenneth Pitt recalled, “We’d talk about our own projects, and David would say, ‘Well, Marc says this …’ or ‘Marc says that.’ He had tremendous influence on him, and David considered him an authority. He took a demo [of ‘Space Oddity’] ’round to Bolan to see what he thought of it and came back here as happy as could be, and told me in Marc’s elfin, lisping voice, ‘Davie, it’s gonna be a hit, Davie.’”

Only one of Bowie’s friends disliked “Space Oddity”: His producer, Tony Visconti. The pair had worked together since Bowie’s days at Decca, and both valued the other’s opinion. “Space Oddity,” however, marked a major falling out.

“I hated it,” Visconti admitted, “as much as I hated anything which seemed crass or obvious. David was writing such beautiful songs then, and suddenly he comes up with ‘Space Oddity,’ which was just so topical. Men were going to be walking on the moon within weeks, and he comes up with something like that. I told him he would probably have a hit with it, but I didn’t want anything to do with it.”


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