You can learn how to play Starman by David Bowie!

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.

Saying that, the unique Bb(#11) was clearly discovered on the guitar!


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 |

For the chorus and instrumental sections we have a IVm chord in the Bbm, looks 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. We discuss this in depth in the intermediate course.

Starman – Guitar Lessons

You can learn how to play Starman by David Bowie!

Step 1 (Intro & Verse)Step 2 (Chorus & Tag)Step 3 (Complete song)Step 4 (CAGED string 1-3)Step 5 (CAGED string 2-4 & 3-5)Step 6 (Vocal melody)Step 7 (Vocal melody in more CAGED positions)Step 8 (Vocal melody in all CAGED shapes).

Starman – Lyrics

Didn’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.

Go to Starman – Lyrics.

David Bowie – Biography

David 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.

Intermediate Acoustic – 16 Songs

Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Songs

You can learn how to play these 16 intermediate acoustic songs!

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.