In 1967 David Bowie releases the eerie single “The Laughing Gnome”

A song Bowie himself hoped for everyone to forget

In 1967 David Bowie releases the eerie single “The Laughing Gnome”

One of David Bowie’s most eerie songs and singles, “The Laughing Gnome” was first released as a novelty single by Deram Records on April 14, 1967 backed with the drastically different “The Gospel According to Tony Day”, shortly before he released his debut “David Bowie” (which not included “The Laughing Gnome” on the line up). The song consisted of Bowie meeting and conversing with the creature of the title, whose sped-up voice, created by Bowie and studio engineer Gus Dudgeon, delivered several puns on the word “gnome”. The song was doomed to be a sales flop (as most of Bowie’s works at the time) and failed to chart with NME editors describing it as “Undoubtedly the most embarrassing example of Bowie juvenalia”, but Bowie biographer David Buckley has called “The Laughing Gnome” a “supremely catchy children’s song” and compared it to contemporary material by Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett. In 1973, at the peak of Ziggy Stardust’s success, the song was reissued by Deram and this time reached number six on the British charts, despite it being radically different from his material at the time. During a career that had very few lows or embarrassing moments, this was a song Bowie himself hoped for everyone to forget, never including it on his best selling compilations.

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