"The Prettiest Star" is a song by David Bowie, originally released as a single in March 1970.
Bowie had recently re-recorded an old Deram track, "London Bye Ta Ta", intended as a follow-up single to "Space Oddity". However, the same January 1970 sessions had also spawned a new composition named "The Prettiest Star". Bowie wrote it for Angela Barnett, reputedly playing it down the telephone as part of his proposal to her. He also chose it as his next single, to the displeasure of manager Kenneth Pitt, who favoured "London Bye Ta Ta".
The track featured Marc Bolan on guitar, with whom Bowie would spend the next few years as a rival for the crown of the king of glam rock. Producer Tony Visconti, who brought the two aspiring pop stars together in the studio, recalled that the session went well until the end when Bolan's wife June remarked to Bowie, "Marc is too good for you, to be playing on this record!"
Despite receiving good notices, the single reportedly sold fewer than 800 copies, a major disappointment on the back of the success of "Space Oddity". A more glam-influenced version, recorded in New York in December 1972, was included on the album Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan's original guitar part almost note-for-note.
- "The Prettiest Star" (David Bowie) – 3:09
- "Conversation Piece" (Bowie) – 3:05
Tim Renwick, John 'Honk' Lodge and John Cambridge were all from the band Junior's Eyes, who briefly served as Bowie's backing band for live appearances and on an October 1969 BBC Radio session.
- The Aladdin Sane version was released as the B-side of the US single "Time" in April 1973.
- The Aladdin Sane version also appeared on the Japanese compilation The Best of David Bowie in 1974.
- The single version from 1970 was released in the Sound + Vision box set in 1989.
- On The Best of 1969/1974 in 1997, the 1970 recording was issued for the first time in stereo, described on the sleeve as "Bolan Stereo Mix".
- The song appeared on the musical soundtrack of the film Kinky Boots.
- Finnish musician Hector recorded a version for his 1977 album, HEC.
- French industrial metal band Treponem Pal recorded a version for their 1989 debut album, Treponem Pal.
- Ian McCulloch recorded a version for Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs, a Bowie tribute album from the March 2003 issue of Uncut magazine.
- British singer Simon Turner recorded a version for Oh! You Pretty Things: The Songs of David Bowie, a 2006 Bowie tribute album.
- American singer Jad Fair recorded a version for his free download album, Sunshiney Shine.