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David Bowie's 1969 hit Space Oddity still throws up questions about the star and his death

 

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David Bowie performing on stage in 1973

David Bowie performing on stage in 1973

David Bowie performing on stage in 1973

Fifty years ago, a 21-year-old David Bowie was watching 2001: A Space Odyssey for the third time. Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece appeared to speak directly to the star who fell to earth. "It was the sense of isolation I related to," Bowie would later admit. "I found the whole thing amazing. I was out of my gourd, very stoned, when I went to see it. It was really a revelation to me. It got the song flowing." The song in question, of course, was Space Oddity. Released in 1969, it was space traveller Bowie's first Top 10 hit, with his lonely intergalactic isolation manifest with lyrics like: 'For here/ Am I sitting in a tin can/ Far above the world/ Planet Earth is blue/ And there's nothing I can do.'

Lost in space, Major Tom's melancholic voyage was linked to the break-up of Bowie's relationship with actress Hermione Farthingale. As to where the Major Tom character - who would return years later on Ashes To Ashes in 1980 - emerged from, the tale is that as a young teenager in Bromley Bowie saw posters for music hall performer Tom Major. (To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Space Oddity, the BBC is producing a new documentary, the third in a trilogy chronicling Bowie's life, to be shown next year.)


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