Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield made headlines by covering David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the International Space Station in 2012.
Hadfield spoke to Loaded just before Tim Peake blasted off into orbit, a month before Bowie’s death. He told us of the praise Bowie heaped onto Hadfield’s zero-gravity cover after it was broadcast on news channels across the globe.
“I’ve been a musician my whole life but I’d never covered a Bowie song before,” Hadfield explained. “It’s not easy to do a Bowie song without sounding like a cheap echo of the creativity that he has. It’s such complex music, particularly his more recent material.”
Hadfield only tackled Space Oddity following a barrage of requests from fans on Earth after the release of the astronaut’s 2012 Christmas single Jewel In The Night. It was a long-term project due to the busy schedule on the ISS, with two friends of Hadfield’s laying down the instrumental tracks back on Earth, before Hadfield recorded the vocals and video whilst in orbit.
“Bowie said himself it was the most poignant version of the song ever done”
“It’s been seen hundreds of millions of times across the world now,” says Hadfield. “With being rebroadcast so many times, it’s become a new iconic version. Bowie said himself it was the most poignant version of the song ever done.”
The cover was also the first music video ever recorded in space, but quickly ran into legal troubles as the song’s publisher only initially granted a licence for it to be used for one year.
Bowie backed Hadfield’s version, and the Canadian Commander passed his thanks to the Space Oddity singer when it was eventually allowed to be published shortly after.
Hadfield also told how he was appreciative of what his Bowie cover can now continue to achieve.
“It helped people to understand that it’s actually six people up there and not just a bunch of robotic engineers doing science that nobody understands,” explained the 56-year-old.
“We’re on the very edge of human experience – right out on the furthest fringe of any human being that exists. And we’re starting to explore the rest of the universe in person.”
The same could be said for Bowie’s illustrious career.
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum