Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

The Prettiest Star

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"Conversation Piece"

Glam rock

7" vinyl

6 March 1970 (1970-03-06)

8, 13, 15 January 1970 in Trident Studios, London (original single version) December 1972 in RCA Studios, New York City or January 1973 in Trident Studios, London (Aladdin Sane version)

3:09 (original single version) 3:31 (Aladdin Sane version)

"The Prettiest Star" is a song by David Bowie, originally released as a single in March 1970.


In January 1970, Bowie re-recorded an old Deram track, "London Bye Ta Ta", intended as a follow-up single to "Space Oddity". However, the same sessions spawned a new composition named "The Prettiest Star", which Bowie had written for Angela Barnett, reputedly playing it down the telephone as part of his proposal to her. It's in Greek "hassapiko" dance style, as a tribute to Angie's Cypriot ethnic origin. He also chose it as his next single, to the displeasure of manager Kenneth Pitt, who favoured "London Bye Ta Ta".

The track featured Marc Bolan on guitar, with whom Bowie would spend the next few years as a rival for the crown of the king of glam rock. Producer Tony Visconti, who brought the two aspiring pop stars together in the studio, recalled that the session went well until the end when Bolan's wife June remarked to Bowie, "Marc is too good for you, to be playing on this record!"

Despite receiving good notices, the single reportedly sold fewer than 800 copies, a major disappointment on the back of the success of "Space Oddity".

A more glam-influenced version was recorded in December 1972 or January 1973 for the album Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan's original guitar part almost note-for-note.

Track listing

  1. "The Prettiest Star" (David Bowie) – 3:09
  2. "Conversation Piece" (Bowie) – 3:05

Production credits

  • Producer:
  • Tony Visconti
  • Musicians (original single version):
  • David Bowie - lead vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Marc Bolan - electric guitar on "The Prettiest Star"
  • Tony Visconti - bass guitar, string arrangement
  • John Cambridge - drums
  • Derek Austin - Hammond Organ
  • Tim Renwick, John 'Honk' Lodge and John Cambridge were all from the band Junior's Eyes, who briefly served as Bowie's backing band for live appearances and on an October 1969 BBC Radio session.

  • Musicians (Aladdin Sane version):
  • David Bowie - lead vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Warren Peace - backing vocals, handclaps
  • Mick Ronson - electric guitar, backing vocals
  • Trevor Bolder - bass guitar
  • David Sanborn - tenor saxophone
  • Mike Garson - piano
  • Woody Woodmansey - drums
  • Other releases

  • The Aladdin Sane version was released as the B-side of the US single "Time" in April 1973.
  • The Aladdin Sane version also appeared on the Japanese compilation The Best of David Bowie in 1974.
  • The single version from 1970 was included, in its original mono format, in the Sound + Vision box set, in 1989, and on Re:Call 1, part of the Five Years (1969–1973) compilation, in 2015. It was also included on the career-spanning Marc Bolan box set 20th Century Superstar.
  • On The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974 in 1997, the 1970 recording was issued for the first time in stereo, described on the sleeve as "Bolan Stereo Mix"; the same version later appeared on The Platinum Collection (2006) and the 40th Anniversary Edition of Bowie's Space Oddity album (2009).
  • The song appeared on the musical soundtrack of the film Kinky Boots.
  • Cover versions

  • Finnish musician Hector recorded a version for his 1977 album, HEC.
  • French industrial metal band Treponem Pal recorded a version for their 1989 debut album, Treponem Pal.
  • Ian McCulloch recorded a version for Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs, a Bowie tribute album from the March 2003 issue of Uncut magazine.
  • British singer Simon Turner recorded a version for Oh! You Pretty Things: The Songs of David Bowie, a 2006 Bowie tribute album.
  • American singer Jad Fair recorded a version for his free download album, Sunshiney Shine.
  • References

    The Prettiest Star Wikipedia

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