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David Bowie Not to Blame for Astronaut’s ‘Space Oddity’ Crash Landing

David Bowie Space Oddity Chris Hadfield astronaut apology

As reported last month, one year after Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield uploaded a head-turning video of himself covering David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while actually in space, the video was coming down because the spaceman’s licensing term had expired. In the days that followed, The Ottawa Citizen ran an op-ed blaming Bowie for the removal, claiming Ziggy himself had refused to renew the Hadfield’s contract.

In an apology printed this week — and emailed to press by Bowie’s label, Columbia — the paper admitted its error, and revealed the truth. To the contrary, the rock icon warned Hadfield’s people that he did not own the copyright for “Space Oddity.” He did, however, reach out to the song’s publisher and make a plea for the astronaut’s continued use of the composition, gratis. So, yeah, not even close. 

The apology reads:

In April of 2013, while Commander Hadfield was still in space, his people contacted Mr. Bowie to seek permission to make the video.

They were informed that while Mr. Bowie would give his full support to the use of the song by Commander Hadfield, Space Oddity was the only one of more than 300 songs he has written and recorded for which he did not own or control the copyright. Mr. Bowie offered to have his people call the publisher and convey his strong support, but he had no ability to personally dictate any of the terms of the licence or even require the publishers to issue one.

Immediately thereafter, Mr. Bowie made contact with the publisher of the composition expressing his wish that they allow Commander Hadfield the right to record and synchronize his recording to the video he was proposing to make. Mr. Bowie strongly suggested that the licence be immediately issued at no charge and that the creation of this video had his enthusiastic support.

One year later, the Citizen erroneously published that Mr. Bowie had granted the original licence but failed to renew the licence after one year. The commentary published by the Citizen also erroneously implied that Mr. Bowie was the reason the video had to be removed from YouTube and questioned how his actions could have “made the world a better place.” The article caused an immediate reaction by thousands of fans worldwide, and this incorrect information was picked up by hundreds of other news sources around the world.

On behalf of Blayne Haggart and ourselves, we regret the error and we sincerely apologize to Mr. Bowie as well as all his fans around the world.

Even though the original video post is still offline (though available through other sources), we now know Bowie is still very cool and totally not crotchety — a relief for us all. As well, there is a new hope for the clip’s reposting, as Hadfield tweeted earlier today, “Our Oddity will be back online soon”: