The Prettiest Star

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"The Prettiest Star"
Bowie ThePrettiestStar.jpg
Single by David Bowie
B-side"Conversation Piece"
Released6 March 1970 (1970-03-06)
Recorded8, 13, 15 January 1970
StudioTrident, London
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Tony Visconti
David Bowie singles chronology
"Ragazzo solo, ragazza sola"
"The Prettiest Star"
"Memory of a Free Festival"
Official audio"The Prettiest Star" (2013 Remaster) on YouTube
"The Prettiest Star"
Song by David Bowie
from the album Aladdin Sane
Released13 April 1973
RecordedDecember 1972, RCA, New York City or January 1973, Trident, London
GenreGlam rock
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Ken Scott, David Bowie

"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. The song is in the style of the Greek hasapiko dance 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".[1]

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!"[1]

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[2][3] or January 1973[4][5] for the album Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan's original guitar part almost note-for-note.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Bowie.

  1. "The Prettiest Star" – 3:09
  2. "Conversation Piece" – 3:05


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.[7][8][9]

Other releases[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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.[10]
  • 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.[11]
  • American ukulele-based cover band Uke-Hunt recorded a version for their debut album in 2014


  1. ^ a b David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp.80–81
  2. ^ Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now – David Bowie: The London Years: 1947–1974: p.292
  3. ^ Roger Griffin (2016). David Bowie: The Golden Years: p.122
  4. ^ Chris O'Leary (2015). Rebel Rebel: p.133
  5. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2016). The Complete David Bowie: p.213
  6. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.32
  7. ^ Junior's Eyes discography at
  8. ^ David Bowie and Junior's Eyes BBC recording session at The Illustrated db Discography
  9. ^ Battersea Power Station (Junior's Eyes) Liner Notes, David Wells (2000)
  10. ^ "Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs". Uncut. London: IPC Media. 3 March 2003.
  11. ^ "A free album by Jad Fair". Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2009.