Released: 26 September 1975
Five Years (1969–1973)
Mick Ronson: guitar, piano, vocals
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Woody Woodmansey: drums
‘Velvet Goldmine’ was recorded during David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust sessions in 1971, but remained unreleased until 1975.
Now what else do we have? Do you want to know some titles, things in the can we have never released? There’s a thing called ‘He’s A Goldmine’ (laughing)
‘He’s A Goldmine’ is lovely… It’s a lovely tune, but probably the lyrics are a little bit too provocative. I think they’ll keep that out for a bit.
An early master tape of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was compiled on 15 December 1971, although the album was still missing the songs ‘Starman’, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’, and ‘Suffragette City’.
At that stage the running order had ‘Five Years’, ‘Soul Love’, ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Round And Round’, and ‘Amsterdam’ on side one; and ‘Hang On To Yourself’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Velvet Goldmine’, ‘Holy Holy’, ‘Star’, and ‘Lady Stardust’ on the second half.
The title was clearly inspired by the Velvet Underground, a key influence on Bowie during the glam rock era. Velvet Goldmine was also the name of a 1998 film set during the glam rock period. The lead character, Brian Slade, was loosely based on Bowie.
In the studio
‘Velvet Goldmine’ was recorded on Thursday 11 November 1971, with the working title ‘He’s A Goldmine’.
This was the third Ziggy Stardust session. The first two, on 8 and 10 November, were scrapped after Bowie was unhappy with the results.
‘Velvet Goldmine’ was first released on 26 September 1975, as part of a ‘Space Oddity’ maxi-single issued in the UK as RCA 2593. Bowie later expressed disappointment in the release.
Do you have complete control over what RCA put out under your name?
Oh no, they’ve put out things without my approval. ‘Velvet Goldmine’ is the one that immediately springs to mind. That whole thing came out without my having the chance to listen to the mix; somebody else had mixed it – an extraordinary move.
NME, 13 September 1980
It was subsequently included on the 1982 album Bowie Rare, and as a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc/EMI reissue of Ziggy Stardust.
In June 2012 a 40th Anniversary Edition of the album was released by EMI/Virgin. This version was released on CD, vinyl, and a DVD which contained the remastered version, along with stereo and 5.1 remixes made in 2003 by Ken Scott. These also included Scott’s remixes of ‘Moonage Daydream’ (instrumental), ‘The Supermen’, ‘Velvet Goldmine’, and ‘Sweet Head’.
In 2015 ‘Velvet Goldmine’ was included on Re:Call 1, part of the box set Five Years (1969–1973).