Rick Wakeman, Astronaut Chris Hadfield Perform ‘Space Oddity’

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Rick Wakeman and Commander Chris Hadfield at Starmus 2016

Rick Wakeman and Commander Chris Hadfield at Starmus 2016

Some of classic rock’s most visionary musicians and greatest scientific minds gathered in 2016 to salute physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. The event featured Rick Wakeman, Brian May and retired astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, among others, at the third annual Starmus Festival held in Tenerife and La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain in summer 2016.

The Starmus International Festival is an international gathering focused on celebrating astronomy, space exploration, music, art, and allied sciences such as biology and chemistry. The music part of the program featured Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer, Queen guitarist and astrophysicist May, and others.

Wakeman and Commander Hadfield – whose own version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” filmed on board the International Space Station, has been watched, as of May 2024, over 54 million times on YouTube – performed the song together. Here’s the one of Hadfield, filmed on the ISS; what a nice voice!

Bowie has said that the cover of his 1969 song was “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.” Wakeman, who played mellotron on Bowie’s original version said: “It’s a real honour to have played on probably the two most iconic versions of ‘Space Oddity’, the brilliant original with David of course and now this very special version with Chris that was born 300 miles from planet earth!”

Best Classic Bands has a two-part interview with Wakeman, born May 18, 1949. He talks about Yes’ Rock Hall induction here and about his career with Yes and the short-lived band, ARW, with fellow Yes alums Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin here.

Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space. An engineer and former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, he has flown two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station.

When Hawking died on March 14, 2018, Hadfield and May expressed their admiration.

Remembering Stephen. RIP. Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

Watch Hadfield and Wakeman performing “Space Oddity” at the 2016 event, our Classic Video…

As a bonus, here is May with Wakeman, among others, performing Queen’s “39,” a song about space exploration, at the 2014 event…

Related: Review of Anderson-Rabin-Wakeman at New York’s Beacon Theatre

Best Classic Bands Staff

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