Rare version of David Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’ expected to fetch £36,000 at auction

An acetate record with a tracklisting handwritten by the man himself goes on sale today

A rare pre-release copy of David Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’ album is expected to sell for tens of thousands of pounds after it goes up for auction today.

The record in question is an acetate disc created after the album was mastered but before it was released to the public as a finished vinyl. It was used as the precursor for a limited run of 500 promotional copies of Bowie’s popular fourth album, released in 1971, which were given to music industry executives. Versions of this white label record, which is known amongst collectors as the ‘BOWPROMO’ are themselves tremendously valuable, with one selling for around $10,000 on ebay in 2012.

The acetate is believed to be particularly valuable for a number of reasons, not least because it is accompanied by a tracklisting believed by handwriting experts to have been written by Bowie himself. It also features a song called ‘Bombers’, which did not appear on subsequent versions of the album, having been replaced ‘Fill Your Heart’; the track wouldn’t be heard for another 19 years, when it was eventually released as a single.


Acetate is generally considered much more fragile than vinyl, but this copy is said still to spin. It was owned by Mick Ronson, who played lead guitar in Bowie’s backing band at the time, and was passed through family and friends until it arriving in the hands of its current owner, Dennis Graham, in 1973.

He said: “It’s quite a funny story on how I came to own it. The record had been given to my neighbour as a gift from Mick Ronson’s mum and he ended up giving it to me in exchange for a bottle of beer! I kept it for all these years and it’s unbelievable to see how much it’s now worth.”

The acetate is being auctioned by the online rarities site Catawiki, which hopes to fetch at least £36,000.