The Space Lady Major Tom (1990)

In his 1969 song "Space Oddity", David Bowie introduced Major Tom, an adventurous astronaut who explores faraway galaxies. The British pop innovator would pick up the persona again later in his career, and so did others: German musician Peter Schilling paid tribute to the character in his Neue Deutsche Welle hymn “Major Tom (völlig losgelöst)”, which was a huge hit in German-speaking countries in the early 1980s. Due to the song’s success, Schilling released an English version in 1983, which peaked at number 14 of the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles charts. This version of the song was picked up by outsider musician Susan Dietrich aka The Space Lady, who was known for her otherworldly performances on the streets of San Francisco featuring a battery-powered keyboard, a headset mic, some effects, and her winged helmet. After performing throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Dietrich decided to record some of her wonky songs in 1990—among them “Major Tom”—and sell them on a small run of self-published tapes. It would take another 20 years until the material caught the attention of Scottish synth pop label Night School, who made sure The Space Lady’s galactic music would finally take off.