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'First' demo tape of David Bowie's 'Starman' up for auction

Published 11th March 2019
A demo tape purportedly containing the first recording of Starman is going up for auction.
Credit: Omega Auctions
'First' demo tape of David Bowie's 'Starman' up for auction
Written by Jack Guy, CNN
When pop star David Bowie died from cancer in 2016, he was widely mourned by music and fashion fans alike.
Now devotees will have a chance to pick up a rare piece of memorabilia when it goes up for auction on Tuesday.
An unheard demo tape featuring what is believed to be the first recording of "Starman," one of Bowie's best known songs, will go under the hammer at Omega Auctions in Newton-le-Willows, in northwest England.
Auctioneer Paul Fairweather said in a phone interview that he is fairly certain this is the first recording of the song, which was eventually released on Bowie's 1972 album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars."
"We've heard it from start to finish and it's excellent," said Fairweather, who is one of only a handful of people to have listened to the 18-track tape.
The recording, which Fairweather estimates could fetch £10,000 ($13,000) at auction, also features unheard demo versions of "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang On To Yourself." Other Bowie recordings have smashed their estimates at Omega Auctions, Fairweather said.
The tape is owned by Kevin Hutchinson, a guitarist who was given the tape in 1971 by friend Mick Ronson, who had been working with Bowie in the studio.
Hutchinson told Omega Auctions that he had learned the songs on the tape before storing it in his loft. It has remained in storage since 1972, accompanying Hutchinson through six different house moves.
Almost 50 years later, auctioneers will find the tape a new owner at a sale that also includes jewelry owned and worn by Elvis Presley, original posters for the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, and glasses worn by Elton John.
An original Rolling Stones poster is also part of the auction.
An original Rolling Stones poster is also part of the auction. Credit: Omega Auctions
"For a Bowie collector it's gold dust really," said Hutchinson. Bowie's unique sound and chameleon-like ability to reinvent himself made him a pop music fixture for more than four decades.
From a mop-topped unknown named David Jones, to his space-alien alter ego Ziggy Stardust, to his dapper departure as the soul-influenced Thin White Duke, Bowie married music and fashion in a way few artists have been able to master.
On his 69th birthday, two days before his death, Bowie released his final album, "Blackstar."
It shot to No. 1 on the iTunes chart in the UK and No. 1 in the United States Billboard chart, underscoring his appeal even after decades in the music business.