David Bowie: How Chris Hadfield's 'Space Oddity' cover from orbit was helped by the 'Starman'

Mr Bowie referred to the cover as ‘possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created’, but it brought with it huge and complicated legal issues

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The Independent Culture

David Bowie once helped perhaps the most poignant ever rendition of his song Space Oddity get back onto YouTube.

Commander Hadfield posted his cover of the song, performed on board the International Space Station, in 2013. It became the first ever music video performed in space.

But it quickly ran into problems. Mr Bowie said that Commander Hadfield should be able to record and post the song, but it is owned by his publisher, who initially granted a licence for it to be used just for one year.

But following some legal wrangling and complications, Mr Bowie and his publisher came to an agreement that allowed the song to be used for another two years, taking the copyright to November 2016 and getting the song back onto YouTube.

Commander Hadfield said that he had made the video for a number of reasons, but “maybe most importantly, it was a chance to let people see where we truly are in space exploration”.

Mr Bowie himself posted on Facebook to say that the cover of his 1969 song was “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created”.

For that reason, as soon as it was taken down, Commander Hadfield started working to get the cover back online. But the legal questions were complex — since the recording was made and posted from space, it wasn’t even clear which country’s laws and licenses the song was made under.

But the cover was put back online, in part with the help of Mr Bowie, according to Commander Hadfield.

“We’re proud to have helped bring Bowie’s genius from 1969 into space itself in 2013, and now ever-forward,” Commander Hadfield wrote when the new deal was announced. He thanked a range of people including the Canadian Space Agency and Nasa — but passed his thanks “mostly to Mr David Bowie himself”.

Hadfield hasn’t publicly spoken about Mr Bowie’s death. But Tim Peake, who is on board the International Space Station at the moment, said that he was “saddened” by the news.

David Bowie died at 69, surrounded by his family, according to spokespeople.