Demo of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ sells for £51,000

"We couldn't believe it when we heard it. It's superb."

A demo that is thought to be among the first recordings of David Bowie‘s ‘Starman’ has sold at auction for  £51,000.

The tape recording was made in 1971 by Bowie and his Spiders from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson. The guitarist later handed it to Kevin Hutchinson, a close friend and aspiring musician who wanted to learn the now iconic track.

The demo, which also contains early versions of ‘Moonage Daydream’ and ‘Hang Onto Yourself’ was later packed away in Mr Hutchinson’s loft after he listened to it.

Despite initial estimates that the tape would sell for £10,000, it went under the hammer for £51,000 at Merseyside’s Omega Auctions on Tuesday (March 12).

Mr Hutchinson previously told the Press Association: “Now I’m 65 and I played it, I just couldn’t believe how good it is.

“But at the time, I thought: It’s not bad.

“At 16 you’re not totally impressed, nothing impresses you.”

Describing how he rediscovered the tape, Mr Hutchinson explained: ” I found it and got my old tape recorder out of the loft as well and threaded the tape into the machine.

“We couldn’t believe it when we heard it. It’s superb.”

On the demo, Bowie can also be heard telling Mick Ronson that he had not finished the song when he tries to end the recording.

“You can tell that Mick has never heard the song before because at the end he is just about to turn the tape recorder off and Bowie says: ‘Hang on. There’s a little bit more'”, he explained.

Dan Hampson, assistant auction manager, said: “In consultation with a Bowie expert, we can say with confidence that this tape contains a very early and possibly the first ever demo version of Starman.

“There’s a lot of Bowie mythology around the writing of this timeless classic, and the raw and truly beautiful version heard here helps to provide a fascinating insight into the creative process of a bona fide genius.”