Learn How To Play Starman

Chords and Guitar Lessons

Watch This Video

Complete song – Acoustic guitar and vocals


Starman is a single from the groundbreaking album Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars by the legendary David Bowie.

There are some very unusual chords played in Starman, the Bb(#11) being the one that stands out the most.

To make the one guitar arrangement sound as full as possible, other chord shapes have sometimes been used which didn’t feature in the original.

The most obvious example of this is the initial open position Gm chord that starts off the verse.

Starman is in the key of F, not a very common key for songs written on the guitar. The key of F is much more common on the piano, which hints at what instrument the song was written on.

Chord progression

The intro starts off with the unusual Bb(#11) chord.

Bb(#11)Bb(#11) | Fmaj7 | Fmaj7 | x2

The verse is slightly more traditional with its initial II – I – V progression.

| Gm | Gm | F | F | C | C7 |

| F Ab Bb | x2

| A | Gaadd9 |

The chorus and instrumental sections look like this.

| F | Dm | Am Am/G | C C7 | x2

| Bb Bbm | F D7 | Gm C |

| Bb | F | C | F | Bb | F | C |

Chord extensions

Use the video lesson to work out how to fret the unique chord shapes. This is how they’re built:

  • Bbadd#11 – This is a normal major chord with an added #11 on the open E string.
  • Fmaj7 – This is just an F chord with the maj7 added on the top, again an open E string.
  • Gm – This is the open position Gm shape, very unusual. Bowie doesn’t use this shape but I like it!
  • C7 – This is the dom7 version of the V chord.
  • Gadd9 – This is chord IIx, with an add9 extension.
  • Am/G – This is an Am chord with its 7th in the bass. Compare it with what happens in Sunny Afternoon.
  • D7 – This is a standard open position D chord which has been extended to a dom7.

All these chords are not part of the F major family, some go outside the key.

Guitar Lessons

Starman – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we look at the intro with its unique Bb(#11) chord and the much more common Fmaj7.

Following this, we also work on the verse which has an unusual order of common chords from the key of F. TAB loops are available for everything.

Go to Starman step 1.

Starman – Step 2

Let’s learn the chorus and chorus tag in this step. Plenty of repetitive rhythms, clever chord progressions that don’t just come from the key are found here.

Practice along to the loops and you will soon be able to play the complete song, exactly like I do.

Go to Starman step 2.

Starman – Step 3

In this step, you’ll play the complete song from beginning to end along with me and a singer.

Do this on repeat and you’ll be able to play the song yourself. A simple chart is provided, use it as a guide.

Go to Starman step 3.

Starman – Step 4

Let’s not just learn Starman, let’s learn from it!

In this step, we play all chords from the song using only string 1-3. This will do wonders for your mapping of the fret board.

Go to Starman step 4.

Starman – Step 5

In this step, we continue our fret board mapping by playing on new strings.

Still, you simply play along with me and the singer, looking for the closest chord shape possible.

Go to Starman step 5.

Starman – Step 6

Learn the melody and you’ll learn the reason why this is a hit.

What intervals does the melody focus on? Only one way to find out – by playing it!

Go to Starman step 6.

Starman – Step 7

Let’s learn the fret board as we learn the melody from Starman in two more positions.

First, we play in a D shape, along with me and, especially, the singer. This is followed by doing it in a C shape as well.

Go to Starman step 7.

Starman – Step 8

In this final step, we play the melody in an A shape.

Lastly, you play the melody in all shapes, partly from memory, mainly by seeing the intervals in relation to the chords.

Go to Starman step 8.

Related Pages


StarmanDidn’t know what time it was and the lights were low
I leaned back on my radio
Some cat was layin’ down some rock ‘n’ roll, ‘lotta soul he said
Then the loud sound did seem to fade

Go to Starman lyrics.

David Bowie

david-bowie-thumbDavid Bowie was an English singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and audio engineer.

His biggest hits include (Is There) Life On Mars?, Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Let’s Dance, China Girl and Heroes.

Go to David Bowie biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The intermediate songs require you to learn barre chords and pentatonic scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fret board.

Go to Intermediate guitar course.

Intermediate Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the acoustic guitar.

A Change Is Gonna Come, American Pie, Angie, Babylon, Blowin’ In The Wind, Dreadlock Holiday, Fast Car, Hey There Delilah, I Can’t Stand The Rain, I’m Yours, Kiss Me, Mad World, Red, Starman, Sunny Afternoon, and Whistle For The Choir.

Go to Intermediate acoustic songs.


All those open position chords you learned in the beginner course now become barre chords and pentatonic scales.

We’ll use this to map out the entire fret board. Everything becomes easier to visualize once this foundation is laid.

Go to Intermediate guitar exercises.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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