Mixing: Starman

David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ had been recorded at London’s Trident Studios on 4 February, along with ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’.

On 27 March 1972, Bowie, Mick Ronson, and producer Ken Scott remixed ‘Starman’ at London’s Trident Studios for the single release.

The ‘Starman’ single contained a louder Morse code section between the verse and chorus. This was included in initial copies of the UK Ziggy Stardust album, although other countries’ editions contained the quieter passage.

There are probably two things worth mentioning about this. Firstly, the really bad edit where Woody comes in. I used a lot of reverb on the rhythm acoustic guitar for the intro but I edited on the drum fill instead of the downbeat and so the reverb cuts off early. I’m sure that stopped it selling a lot of copies.

The other thing is a mystery to me and it concerns the ‘morse code’ sections leading into each chorus. The overall sound was a piano and two guitars, an octave apart and then all put through the Countryman phaser. There are two different versions of this part, one much louder than the other. I have no recollection of doing two different versions and so have no idea why two versions were done nor which was the original!

Ken Scott, May 2015
Five Years (1969-1973) book

The ‘Starman’ single was released in the United Kingdom on 28 April 1972. Sales were initially slow, and it was at number 41 in the charts at the time of David Bowie’s game-changing Top Of The Pops appearance in early July.

Starman single – United Kingdom

The success of ‘Starman’ lifted the sales of Bowie’s back catalogue, and led to reissues of some of his earlier works. It also guaranteed interest in The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, which was an instant hit upon its release.

Then ‘Starman’, backed with ‘Suffragette City’, was released as a single on 28 April in the UK. Suddenly we were on the radio again, and when the Ziggy Stardust album itself came out on 6 June it went straight in at Number 7, peaking at Number 5. Finally we were headline news.
Mick Woodmansey
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
Last updated: 18 April 2023
Live: Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle
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