A demo tape that is believed to contain the first recording of David Bowie’s Starman has fetched £51,000 at auction.
The 1971 tape, which had a pre-sale guide price of £10,000, had gathered dust in a loft for almost 50 years.
Bowie can be heard on the demo telling guitarist Mick Ronson he had not finished the song when he tried to end the recording.
Ronson gave the demo to his friend Kevin Hutchinson, an aspiring musician, to help him learn the song in 1971.
But after listening to the song, Mr Hutchinson labelled it “David Bowie rehearsal tape” and packed it away in his loft.
The demo also contains recordings of Bowie songs Moonage Daydream and Hang Onto Yourself.
Mr Hutchinson said: “I remember listening to it and thinking, ‘This is OK.’ I didn’t think, ‘This is fantastic.’
“At 16, you’re not totally impressed. Nothing impresses you.”
He kept the tape despite moving house several times and now Mr Hutchinson thinks it’s “phenomenal… obviously”.
Starman, about an alien who’d “like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds” was released as a single in 1972, reaching number 10 in the UK chart. It also featured on the Ziggy Stardust concept album.
The demo was auctioned on Tuesday at Omega Auctions in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside.
Mr Hutchinson retrieved the tape from his loft after watching a documentary about Bowie, who died at the age of 69 in 2016.
Mr Hutchinson said of his decision to sell the demo: “I’m 65… It’s not used in my life… so I’ve started what they call on TV ‘decluttering.'”
Dan Hampson, assistant auction manager at Omega Auctions, said the tape was “possibly the first ever demo version of Starman”.
He added: “There’s a lot of Bowie mythology around the writing of this timeless classic, and the raw and truly beautiful version heard here helps to provide a fascinating insight into the creative process of a bona fide genius.”