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Rocking the cosmos...

Rock and Space

Space themes have occasionally appeared in top 40 songs and on the albums of popular artists. A sampling is given below of space songs and of bands who have taken a particular interest in space.

For a more songs, see the Space Song Listing page.

The number of space rock hits is not enormous but is larger than might be expected. The birth of rock and roll overlapped closely with the post-Sputnik period when public interest and enthusiasm for space exploration was at its peak. However, early rock and roll consisted almost entirely of dance and love songs and seldom touched on other topics.

Rock got serious in the last half of the 1960's and dealt with all sorts of issues and topics. However, by then, space exploration was not terribly popular with the anti-tech, counter-culture music community and public interest in space had also declined as the Viet Nam War and various social problems dominated everyone's attention.

The British "trance group" Above & Beyond was brought in to DJ the
SpaceShipTwo unveiling on Dec. 7, 2009 in Mojave The music of the
group's Buzz video accompanied the unveiling.

Nevertheless, there were still songs in the "golden age of rock" like the Byrd's Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins that dealt directly with the space missions of the day. The two biggest space hits ever - Bowie's Space Oddity and Elton John's Rocketman - were, however, more sci-fi musings than comments on specific space events.

In the decades since, there have been occasional space related songs to hit the airwaves, such as Tasmin Archer's Sleeping Satellite, but, like the public mood towards space, the interest in space by rock musicians has generally been muted.

We expect that as public involvement with space grows, as in, for example, the rising interest in space tourism, popular music about space will grow as well.

Space Pop/Rock Music

The Phenomenauts
This San Francisco Bay area band has often used space themes in its songs and albums.


DJ Luv and a space themed mix - Solid Steel Radio Show - Jan.14.11 -

Solid Steel Radio Show 14/1/2011 Part 3 + 4 - DJ Luv by Ninja Tune & Big Dada
Galaxy Swan - Space Elevator by galaxyswan

This list : Blast Off With 10 Space-Rocking Astronaut Songs - Wired.com - Aug.3.09 : includes the following 8 songs along with Rocket Man and Space Oddity listed elsewhere on this page.




More Rock in Space




Alternative Space Music

Classic Rock Space Music
Countdown - Jimmie Haskell
Photo courtesy Jack Diamond
Countdown! Jimmie Haskell and His Orchestra
Circa 1958 - on Imperial

This space age music from Jimmie Haskell combined a 1950's rock 'n' roll
band with electronic effects. See the Ken Saari review.

Tracks: Blast Off!, Weightless Blues Rockin' In The Orbit, Starlight, Hydrazine, Moon Mist, We Get Messages, We Get Messages (Stereo), Moonlight Cha Cha Cha, Astrosonic, Astrosonic (Stereo), Venus, Asteroid Hop, Asteroid Hop (Stereo), Homeward Earth.

Telstar Joe Meek
The article Telstar: How a Satellite Inspired a #1 Hit - RetroFuture describes how music producer Joe Meek was inspired by the first overseas transmissions via AT&T's Telstar satellite in 1962 to compose "The Theme from Telstar."

Recorded by the group The Tornados, it became a number one US single. (Also, the first song by a British band to become number one, preceding the Beatles led British Invasion.) Hear streamed audio at Telstar Web.


The Tornados - Telstar

The Ventures (see below) also made a popular cover of the song.

Meek had previously made the album I Hear a New World: An Outer Space Music Fantasy (1960) that included Space Age Pop techniques later used in Telstar.

Other info:

The Byrds
The Byrds, one of the most influential bands in the 1960's, had several space related songs. These seemed to be inspired particularly by Roger Mcguinn's interest in sci-fi and space.

Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins - tribute to the Apollo 11 astronauts. On the album Ballad of Easy Rider (Columbia CS-9942 / CK-9942, 1969. Reissued: Columbia/Legacy CK 65114, 1997). written by Zeke Manners and S. Seely. Lyrics.

Mr. Spaceman - a country flavored hit song about asking aliens for a ride on their saucer. Fifth Dimension (Columbia CL-2549 / CS-9349 / CK-9349, 1966. Reissued: Columbia/Legacy CK 64847, 1996). By Roger Mcguinn. Lyrics.

Space Odyssey - this song was inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" (as was Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey) and was one of the first rock songs to use the Moog synthesizer for futuristic sound effects. It was on the album The Notorius Byrd Brothers (Columbia CL-2775 / CS-9575 / CK-9575, 1968. Reissued: Columbia/Legacy CK 65151, 1997.) and written by Roger Mcguinn and Chris Hillman.

Countdown Rush
From an unsigned blurb at Space.com

"Canadian rock trio's tribute to the first-ever launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Written by Neil Peart, the band's drummer, it was based on his experience watching the historic event. "It was an incredible thing to witness," Peart said. The song, from the group's 1982 album Signals is a pretty straight-forward narrative of the event, a kind of "You Are There" travelogue, dedicated to the ship's crew John Young and Robert Crippen. Not a bad song, but it's truly for die-hard Rush and space launch fans only."


Space Oddity David Bowie
David Bowie, in a funk over breaking up with his girlfriend, was inspired by images from the Apollo 8 journey to the Moon and by the movie 2001:A Space Odyssey to write this ode to Major Tom in 1969. It became his first big hit and was played during the BBC coverage of Apollo 11.


Rocket Man Elton John
Released in 1972 on the Honky Chateau album. Music by Elton John, Lyrics by Bernie Taupin. Inspired by a Ray Bradbury short story of the same name.


Sleeping Satellite Tasmin Archer
Tasmin Archer's 1992 debut album went platinum based on the hit single Sleeping Satellite. Although the song can be interpreted as anti-space exploration, to HobbySpace it reflects on the end of the lunar missions and what that implies about human aspirations and disappointments.

"I blame you for the moonlit sky
And the dream that died with the Eagle's flight
I blame you for the moonlit nights
When I wonder why
Are the seas still dry?
Don't blame this sleeping satellite" - first verse

Space Truckin & Contact Lost by Deep Purple
Deep Purple's recent album "Bananas" includes the instrumental "Contact Lost" about the Columbia tragedy. Kalpana Chawla was a great fan of the ban and had taken three of the band's CDs with her. During the flight she even exchanged emails with them. The CDs were discovered in the wreckage and were made part of three commemorative plaques, two of which will go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

The third will go to guitarist Steve Morse who wrote the song shortly after the accident. He is donating songwriting royalties from "Contact Lost" to the astronauts' families.

Articles about the bands connection to the Columbia crew:

The Ventures:
The Ventures Play Telstar (1962)
Ventures in Space (1963)
NASA 25th Anniversary Commemorative Album

(1983)The famous rock instrumental group The Ventures (they've sold over 90 million albums) released their cover of Telstar just as the Tornados's version reached the top of the charts.

The Ventures Play Telstar album became one of their biggest sellers; so much so that many Americans came to assume that the song was originally from the Ventures. Note that Leon Russell, who attained solo fame in the 1970's, plays the keyboards on Telstar.

The Ventures in Space album was not quite as successful but is considered their most influential work. They created exotic "spacy" sounds on their guitars that rivaled those from synthesizers and many musicians of the psychedelic and classic 60's rock era claimed the album as an inspiration. Keith Moon, for example, the drummer for the Who, called it his favorite album.

More about Ventures in Space at SurfRockMusic.com.

The Ventures NASA album cover
The Ventures : NASA 25th Anniversary Commemorative Album

They also recorded a special NASA tribute album in 1983 called NASA's 25th Anniversary and Space Observance Week Commemorative Album.

Tracks: Theme From Return Of The Jedi, Columbia, Close Encounters, Gemini, Star Trek, Telstar, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Skylab, Star Wars, Journey To The Stars, Apollo 11, Theme For Sally.

Mostly disco influenced renditions of music for sci-fi movies such as the Star Wars theme. Did include some original songs - Gemini, Skylab, Apollo 11 and Theme for Sally.

More info at

The Green Grass Near My Home by Zemlyane (“The Earthlings”)

Galileo: The Emotional Life of a Spacecraft
A rock musical based on the Jupiter explorer. Music performed by Terra Incognita. Developed by Redshift Productions

Orion Syndrome
David Hearn's band has been making space inspired progressive rock since the 1980's. The latest CD, Encounter with Infinity (available on DAM CD at MP3.com ), was released in 2000. Previous CD's included Spacetime and Space Traveler. Many of the songs on these albums can be heard at the band's MP3.com site.

More Classic Rock in Space
More Space Rock Lists

Rap Space Music

Buzz Aldrin's Rocket Experience from Buzz Aldrin
See also the Making of Buzz Aldrin's Rocket Experience
w/ Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli from Buzz Aldrin

. .


Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Beyonce rap "about space using NASA Apollo 11 sample":
Kanye West & Jay-Z - Lift Off ft. Beyoncé (Watch The Throne) - YouTube

Other Pop Genre




The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey







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