The Prettiest Star single – GermanyWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: 8, 13, 15 January 1970; December 1972 – January 1973
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti, Ken Scott
Engineers: Ken Scott, Mike Moran

Released: 6 March 1970, 19 April 1973

Available on:
Aladdin Sane
Sound + Vision
Re:Call 1
The Best Of David Bowie 1969/1974

Personnel

1970 version:
David Bowie: vocals, acoustic guitar
Marc Bolan: electric guitar
Tony Visconti: bass guitar
Derek Austin: Lowrey organ
Godfrey McLean: drums
Unknown: strings

1973 version:
David Bowie: vocals, acoustic guitar
Mick Ronson: electric guitar, vocals
Mike Garson: piano
David Sanborn: tenor saxophone
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey: drums
Geoff MacCormack: backing vocals, handclaps

David Bowie originally released ‘The Prettiest Star’ as a single in March 1970. It was later re-recorded for his sixth album, Aladdin Sane.

‘The Prettiest Star’ was a rarity for Bowie: a straightforward and sincere love song, of a type he rarely wrote again. Its release as the follow-up to ‘Space Oddity’ may have confused listeners expecting another sci-fi themed single, and ‘The Prettiest Star’ failed to chart.

I think a lot of people are expecting another ‘Space Oddity’, and ‘Prettiest Star’ is nothing like it. I’m sure this is why the BBC aren’t plugging it. Everyone wanted another song with the same feel as ‘Space Oddity’ but as I’d done it, I didn’t see the point of doing it again. The song served its purpose but I hope I’m not going to be expected to write and record a whole lot of stuff that is so obvious as ‘Space Oddity’.
David Bowie
Melody Maker, 28 March 1970

Bowie was far from prolific towards the end of 1969, and ‘The Prettiest Star’ appears to be his only significant composition of that time. He wrote the song in December 1970 for his future wife Angela Barnett, playing it to her over the telephone while she was with her parents over Christmas in Cyprus.

He was very sweet too. He played me his new song, ‘The Prettiest Star’, and told me it was written for me. And then he asked me to marry him, and I accepted.
Angela Bowie
Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie

The word ‘star’ occurs in nine song titles released by Bowie, four on the Ziggy Stardust album alone. ‘The Prettiest Star’ was the earliest example, and was followed by ‘Starman’, ‘Lady Stardust’, ‘Star’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’, ‘New Killer Star’, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, and ‘Blackstar’.