The British singer, who died on 10 January, turned to the theme of space several times in his songs and films. The Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield even recorded a version of his hit, Space Oddity on board the ISS.
David Robert Jones (his real name), who would become a global star under the name of David Bowie, was born in London in 1947. He made his name with his 1969 album, then entitled David Bowie but which would later be renamed Space Oddity in 1972 after the title of the first song. Even though the album was not commercially successful, the first song attracted attention and sold well as a single. In his lyrics, Bowie is the astronaut Major Tom speaking to ground control on Earth and the fatal outcome of the flight gradually becomes clear.
The official video is below.
Reputedly inspired by the Apollo programme and used by the BBC to illustrate its broadcasts on the space conquests of the time, the song Space Oddity has also been performed (quite logically it is tempting to say) in space! Indeed, in 2013, the Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield recorded a new version of Major Tom’s adventures, on board the International Space Station, adapting the words to his mission and even filming images for a music video. The video enjoyed enormous success on the web with over 27 million views on YouTube (below).
David Bowie was said to be thrilled by this version. His record company gave authorisation for the song to be broadcast on YouTube for one year. When this agreement expired, the singer personally intervened so that this was extended for 2 years, which explains why the video has not been removed.
However, Space Oddity was not the singer’s only artistic adventure into space. In 1971, one of his songs was called Life on Mars? The words are not related to space as with Space Oddity, but the question of life of Mars recurs like a philosophical question in surrealist verses.
The following year, in 1972, David Bowie created the Ziggy Stardust character, responsible for bringing humans the wisdom of an alien civilisation, the pretext for a series of songs for the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It should be noted that one of the titles, Starman, was used in the soundtrack of the 2015 film The Martian directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
In 1976, David Bowie starred in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth by Nicholas Roeg. In this production, he plays a strange being with superior abilities to humans and who builds a spaceship. In fact, this man who fell to Earth is himself an alien! Bowie’s career is therefore studded with allusions to space and his final album, released a few days before his death, is entitled Blackstar. In the clip from this final production below, the space theme is visually present at times (particularly at the start).
David Bowie has therefore joined the stars that he has referred to many times throughout his artistic career. Could he have passed this interest onto his son? After all, he is none other than Duncan Jones, who in 2009 directed the film Moon, which tells the story of Sam Bell on a solo mission to monitor a helium-3 mining facility on the moon (a mineral that fuels the fusion power stations on Earth in this Sci-Fi production). Played by Sam Rockwell, the solitary astronaut discovers that he is only one of many clones each one a replacement on the death of the previous one… Duncan Jones recently announced that a sequel is planned in the form of two films, making it a trilogy.