David Bowie death: Elton John performs hauntingly beautiful 'Space Oddity' tribute for 'the Starman'

'He was innovative, he was boundary-changing and he danced to his own tune - which in any artist is really rare'

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The Independent Culture

Elton John has paid tribute to David Bowie in the best way he could, with a hauntingly beautiful instrumental rendition of “Space Oddity”.

Ziggy Stardust fans were devastated to learn that he had died from cancer aged 69 last Sunday, sparking an outpouring of tributes from around the world.

Elton joined a host of artists, including Madonna, to cover Bowie songs at their shows when he performed a brilliant mash-up of the 1969 hit and his own classic “Rocket Man”.

Elton told the cheering crowd at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre on Wednesday night that he had Bowie to thank for helping him find a producer for his first album. 

“The songs were very classical orientated,” he said. “I didn’t know who I wanted to use. Then I heard a record which blew me away. It’s called ‘Space Oddity’.”

Bowie discovered Gus Dudgeon and Paul Buckmaster through the connection and continued to work with them for many years. “I have David Bowie to thank for that amazing collaboration,” he said.

The crowd then whooped as he dedicated the performance to “the Starman himself”. 

After the tribute, Elton praised Bowie for “dancing to his one tune” throughout his decades-long career.

“We are know how inspiring he is,” he said. “We all know that his music stands. We don’t have to say anything about the music: it speaks for itself. He was innovative, he was boundary-changing and he danced to his own tune - which in any artist is really rare.”

Elton added that Bowie’s “mystique” was the most magical thing about him. “He kept [his illness] private in an age we're living in with Twitter when everyone knows everything about everything — he kept it to himself,” he said. 

“He made two albums without anybody knowing he was making them. ... And that is the mystique of the man, because we know David Bowie the figure, the singer, the outrageous performer, but actually, we don't know anything about him — and that's the way it should be in music and should be in any art form whatsoever.”

Here’s hoping you had a box of tissues close at hand before watching that one.