John “Hutch” Hutchinson, who appeared in the original demo of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in 1969 and collaborated with the artist on several projects throughout the 1960s and ’70s has died, following a long illness. His death was confirmed by the Bowie estate.
“Ours [sic] thoughts are with the family and friends of John Hutchinson who passed in hospital yesterday after a long illness,” read a post shared on the David Bowie social media accounts. “John was described as ‘a semi-retired and little-known jazz guitarist and a veteran of three important David Bowie bands for seven years between 1966 and 1973.’”
Hutchinson, who first auditioned to be part of David Bowie’s band in 1966, went on to play a residency with “David Bowie and the Buzz” at London Marquee Club, in addition to other live and television appearances throughout the UK with the group.
In 1968, Hutchinson formed the band Feathers with Bowie and Bowie’s then-girlfriend Hermione Farthingale. The trio played a handful of shows between September 1968 and early 1969 before parting ways, recording the original “Space Oddity” demo, following Farthingale’s departure from the band.
By the 1970s, the two reconnected after a year or two apart, and Hutchinson was asked to join Bowie’s “Spiders from Mars” and play his 12-string guitar on the Alladin Sane Tour in 1973, which went through the U.S., UK, and Japan.
Hutchinson revealed in his 2014 memoir Bowie and Hutch, that he quit working with Bowie twice and was fired once but they both remained friends “at a distance” throughout the years.
“We do at least stay in touch by means of an email now and then,” said Hutch. “I do have to remember not to pester David, mind you, as we are many years and miles apart now, and there are constraints that lifestyle and fame impose upon old friends of stars like David Bowie.”
Earlier in his career, Hutchinson was part of several bands in England and Sweden and retired from music in 1980—still playing in a number of jazz groups throughout the years—to work in the oil industry, even living in the Caspian Sea oil region of Baku Azerbaijan, playing with Azeri and Russian musicians at the Old Baku Jazz Club.