In 1996, following the release of his 19th studio album Outside, David Bowie performed live on Top of the Pops for a very special rendition of ‘Hallo Spaceboy’.
The track, which was originally written by Bowie and his partner in crime Brian Eno, was born out of a prolonged jam session after being inspired by the Nine Inch Nails. “I adore that track,” Bowie later said of the song. “In my mind, it was like Jim Morrison meets industrial. When I heard it back, I thought, ‘Fuck me. It’s like metal Doors.’ It’s an extraordinary sound.”
Given the hard rock direction Bowie was attempting to take the song, it came as a major surprise to his fans when a special remix by The Pet Shop Boys—who added a disco edge to the track with additional lyrics sung by Neil Tennant—was given an exclusive release.
Bowie, who was initially unsure if he wanted to proceed with a Pet Shop Boys collaboration, was later convinced by Tennant who told Bowie: “It’s like Major Tom is in one of those Russian spaceships they can’t afford to bring down,” and, having piqued his interest, Bowie replied: “Oh wow, is that where he is?” and the deal was secured.
Tennant, who would later say that working with Bowie on the single was a “career high-point” for him, enjoyed success on the track which proved to be popular in the UK charts. Such was Bowie’s adoration for the new version of ‘Hallo Spaceboy’, he invited the Pet Shop Boys onto the stage with him at 1996 BRIT awards and, before that, live on Top of the Pops.
See that performance, below.