The David Bowie Community of Australia and New Zealand

About the siteAustralia and NZ Release HistoryBowie Tours and Visits to Down UnderRelated Works and PerformersVisit our facebook pageReturn to home page

1969 - "David Bowie" (AUS/NZ)

1. Space Oddity
2. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed
3. Don't Sit Down
4. Letter To Hermione
5. Cygnet Committee
6. Janine
7. An Occasional Dream
8. Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud
9. God Knows I'm Good
10. Memory Of A Free Festival

Bowie's second album was issued by Philips in 1969.

Later re-released as Space Oddity, the now famous title track included the use of a stylophone - an instrument promoted by Australian entertainer Rolf Harris.

Above: The Dubreq Stylophone was a miniature electronic musical instrument, invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis. It consisted of a metal keyboard that was played by touching it with a stylus.

A couple of urban myths appear to have developed around this.

One concerns an engineer who both Bowie and Harris allegedly shared and then provided Bowie the stylophone idea for 'Space Oddity'. Another concerns Marc Bolan giving David the instrument as a present.

I had the fortune of asking Tony Visconti about this via email:


"No, there was no engineer they had in common with Rolf Harris. No, Marc Bolan didn't give him one as a present, as they were far from friendly during that period."

"His Stylophone was a complimentary sample sent to his manager Ken Pitt from the company. I watched David play with it for a few minutes then I had a bash on it too. Something was cooking in his brain whilst playing with it. I think 'Space Oddity' emerged a couple of weeks later."

"We were all aware of it because of the adverts with Rolf Harris playing 'Waltzing Matilda', or something very close. It was a curious instrument that all rock musicians wanted to get their hands on. David immediately realized the potential of its unusual voice. It was the beginning of synths, albeit a very unorthodox synth."

~ Tony Visconti, May 2009.


Parkes Observatory to David Bowie

In England, the 'Space Oddity' single was rush released to coincide with the BBC broadcast of the first manned moon landing in July 1969. Gradually the song began the rise to #5 on the UK charts.

The story of 'Space Oddity' in Australia was unfortunately different. As the Parkes radio telescope broadcast the first moon steps to the world, it was 'The Ballad of John and Yoko' that topped our national chart. One problem was that the single was delayed until October. By the end of the year, it appeared Australia was much more successful at tracking Neil Armstrong than Major Tom.

In New Zealand, the single showed up on chart at number 18 for one week - January 16, 1970.

NZ (left) and AUS (right) issue of 'Space Oddity' backed by 'Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud'.
In Australia, 2 label types available (Philips BF 304201 and Philips BF 304203). The first was a Black/Orange label but the most common one is the same as NZ.

The DJ and the BJ

'Space Oddity' assured Bowie a radio interview down under.

According to Ken Pitt, the interview was recorded by DJ Bill Gates for Melbourne's 3XY radio and it took place in London on October 22, 1969.

"I was looking forward to the time that David was to go [to Australia]. This meeting with Bill Gates was the first step in that direction"

~ Ken Pitt, Bowie's Manager.

It has also been recorded that Gates famously discovered - and suggested the name for - the now legendary band The Bee Gees (B.G. was his own initials - along with Barry Gibb and assistant Bill Goode).

Some melodic comparisons have also been drawn between 'Space Oddity' and the Bee Gees song 'New York Mining Disaster, 1941'. Regardless, Bowie's song remains one of enormous creativity and inspiration.


During the course of 1969, Bowie was interviewed by the now legendary media persona Molly Meldrum.

The interview was for Go-Set - Australia's premier music magazine. It was the first of their many public encounters over the years.



Continue to NEXT page

Return to Release History Index