David Bowie recorded the Italian-language version of ‘Space Oddity’ on 20 December 1969.
‘Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola’ had been prompted by the release of a competing Italian version of the song by the Computers. The cover version had lyrics rewritten by Giulio Rapetti, who used the professional name Mogol.
Bowie’s label Philips had requested that he put out his own version. On 17 December Bowie had had a meeting with Italian music producer Claudio Fabi, who had been enlisted to teach Bowie to sing Mogul’s lyrics. A rehearsal took place the following day.
On November 19 I received the following letter from David Platz of Essex Music: ‘It has been some weeks since we discussed the renewal of our exclusive songwriter agreement with David Bowie, and I am awaiting further word from you as to the proposals put forward by me at the meeting. Meanwhile, I am pleased to inform you that our Italian office has obtained a cover version by a group known as Equipe 84, one of the consistently top Italian groups…’
I was never able to track down a recording of ‘Space Oddity’ by Equipe 84, and it is possible that Essex Music’s Italian office had confused this with the version made by two boys who called themselves the Computers. They used the Italian lyric by Ivan Mogul called ‘Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola’ (Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl). As the title suggests this was not a translation of David’s English lyric. It was a totally different story.
The Pitt Report
The recording session took place at Morgan Studios in London. Bowie re-recorded his vocals over the single’s original backing track. Claudio Fabi produced the session with the song’s original producer Gus Dudgeon also on hand.
Fabi, who was also to produce, met David at lunch on December 17 and the voice track was recorded at Morgan Studios on the 20th. I thought it ridiculous that David should be recording this lyric, but it was explained to us that ‘Space Oddity’ could not be translated into Italian in a way that the Italians would understand the English subtleties of the lyric. But they understood all about lonely girls and boys.
The Pitt Report
‘Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola’ was included on Re:Call 1, part of the 2015 box set Five Years (1969–1973) box set.
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