Bowie sued for £5m by producer’s estate over Space Oddity royalties

by Hugh Davies / Daily Telegraph

16th April 2005

David Bowie is being sued for £5 million by the estate of Gus Dudgeon, a record producer who helped with the rock star’s 1969 breakthrough single Space Oddity.

The song, reputedly based on Nasa’s Apollo 8 mission, included the enduring line “Can you hear me, Major Tom?” It was recorded in a day at Trident Studios in London in April 1969.

Dudgeon, renowned at the time for his innovative techniques and his work with the Rolling Stones, was called in to help Bowie.

He was allegedly paid a £250 advance against a promise of a two per cent cut of the sales, it is claimed by the royalties investigator David Morgan.

Mr Morgan was assisting Dudgeon in an approach to Bowie when the producer died in a car crash three years ago, aged 59.

Dudgeon was killed with his wife Sheila when their car veered off the M4. The couple, who had no children, left everything to charity.

Now, his estate has assigned Mr Morgan to claim the money from Bowie to add to the charity funds, which include one for cancer research.

Bowie is resisting the claim through his management company RZO music. Dudgeon was renowned for a classic style of recording. He produced a string of hits, among them As Tears Go By for Marianne Faithfull, It’s Not Unsual for Tom Jones and 11 albums for Sir Elton John, including Rocket Man.

Mr Morgan said yesterday: “I was running the claim for him, and we had opened a dialogue with Bowie and his representatives in New York.

“We had rather a lot of evidence of the money that we claim was owed to him. Apart from the huge sales of Bowie albums, the single has been on almost every compilation of top hits.

“I was with Gus the day before he died, and he seemed disappointed. He wanted Bowie to sort it out, and instead we got a letter of rejection from his representatives.

“They were fighting our claim. I gave him my word that I would not give up and we had a meeting fixed for the next week.”

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