David Bowie never saw the ghost that apparently haunted Haddon Hall, his home between 1969 and 73 in Beckenham, Kent. Bowie’s first wife, Angie, and long-term producer Tony Visconti both bear witness to supernatural events that include observing “Mrs Grey”, a female spectre draped in white.

Bowie was still relatively unknown when he moved to the Victorian two-storey villa in August 1969 just days after his father’s death.

It was around this time that journalist Lesley-Ann Jones first visited Haddon Hall – named after a country house in Derbyshire – hoping to meet the local singer that had caught her attention.

“It was a red-brick cross between a church and the Addams Family mansion – gothic and weird, with stained-glass windows, mangled balconies and strange turrets,” she said. “I remember my eyes straining to look for bats.”

Space Oddity was a slow-burning hit that year but Bowie was about to go through a seismic shift, both musically and physically, that would set the tone for the 1970s.

And it was at Haddon Hall that he began writing and rehearsals for his third studio album, The Man Who Sold The World, with its absorbing and disturbing themes that included an elite race, mental illness, occultism, the supernatural and the dichotomy of good and evil.

And those very same themes will be given a reincarnation this year when The Man Who Sold The World is being reissued for a 50th-anniversary edition.

Remixed by Visconti, it will be renamed Metrobolist, Bowie’s specified title and the original title of the album and a play on Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis, the depicted science-fiction dystopia was one of many strands that held sway in Bowie’s cultural inventory.

Also reinstated is the original album artwork featuring a cowboy, based on a photograph of John Wayne, in front of a mental asylum.

Speaking in 2000 Bowie reflected on the image: “Mick Weller devised this kind of very subversive looking cartoon and put in some quite personalised things. The building in the background on the cartoon, in fact, was the hospital (Cane Hill) where my half-brother had committed himself to. So, for me, it had lots of personal resonance about it.”

His half-brother Terry, spent time at Haddon Hall during weekends but his mental decline was distressing to see and led to Bowie withdrawing. The experience would move him to write All The Madmen one of the earliest songs recorded for the album. As Bowie acknowledged, this was also the first time Terry became his muse but it wouldn’t be the last.

During the early months of 1970, Bowie and his live-in band (for a short time known as Hype) worked on tracks for the forthcoming album. In the basement at Haddon Hall Visconti, Woodmansey and Mick Ronson –Bowie’s essential side-man, arranger and guitarist between 1970-73 – created a curious rock alchemy that attired Bowie’s other-worldliness.

Visconti remembers the early chemistry that would soon define the sound, setting solid foundations for the next 45 years. “In rehearsal, Woody [Woodmansey] and I discovered we played very well together, along with Mick Ronson (who Bowie met for the first time in February of 1970),” he said. “We loved Cream and Mick asked me to channel Jack Bruce, which I did. I think Woody was about 19 at the time and it took a while for him to connect with me socially.

“I was an older guy from Brooklyn and he was a young lad from Driffield, Yorkshire. It was humour that eventually brought us together. When you’re standing between two Yorkshire-men cracking the lewdest of jokes nonstop you find yourself in an immersion situation that is irresistible. We became mates.”

The album’s title track was released by Lulu in 1974 and produced by the Bowie/Ronson partnership, later Nirvana would record another striking version for MTV Unplugged in 1993.

Bowie would also revisit and reinterpret the work, but the original 1970 recording remains the most bewitching. Visconti’s peripatetic bassline and the absorbing arrangement during the outro provides Bowie’s haunting vocal with a further sense of the uncanny. “The outro of the song was my idea because we were just playing the same chord sequence around and around,” says Visconti.

“I quickly sketched out a three-part choral piece featuring David on top, Mick Ronson in the middle and me on the bottom. It was just an experiment to make the outro more interesting, but David loved it because it was dramatic and gave weight to the message. I still have that sketch on music manuscript paper.”

Beyond the obvious contemporary rock influences of the time, Visconti adds that: “Mick and David had other music interests, including jazz, classical and things avant-garde. So did I, but I had experience playing jazz live.

“I taught Woody how to play a jazz bolero drum pattern on All The Madmen, and also how to play the Latin American percussion instrument the guiro on The Man Who Sold The World. Mick, who was a trained violinist and pianist, and I shared the writing of the classical string parts for several songs.

“I was a keen arranger of voices since high school and wrote most of the backing vocal parts for the album. I also played bowed upright bass on After All.

“All four of us had lots of influences that we brought to the album and we were a bit competitive about that too.”

Visconti suggests it was “a liberating experience” to revisit his jazz roots. “I was in bands that were jamming on Charlie Parker tunes, Dave Brubeck tunes…I had the freedom on The Man Who Sold The World to soar as a bass player — and I didn’t hold back,” he said.

Trevor Boulder took over on bass becoming the last Spider From Mars to join Ziggy’s band. Meanwhile, Ken Scott who did some mixing and overdubbing on The Man Who Sold The World was at the helm for production duties on three consecutive essential works – Hunky Dory (1971), breakthrough album Ziggy Stardust (1972) and Aladdin Sane (1973). #

With Ziggy’s success, The Man Who Sold The World was reissued in 1972 with a Ziggy Stardust era black and white shot of Bowie high-kicking.

It was this cover that caught the attention of Japanese photographer Sukita. In a new essay by the snapper featured in David Bowie: Icon, he wrote: “When I came to London in 1972, I originally wanted to photograph T. Rex’s Marc Bolan. I didn’t know who David Bowie was. But, after the shoot with T. Rex, I saw a poster with the cover of The Man Who Sold The World, which was advertising an upcoming gig. The poster was such an arresting image that right then and there I decided to go to the concert.”

Sukita would capture flame-haired Ziggy in the “space Samurai” trousers delivering one the most striking and defining images of Bowie’s meteoric alter-ego. He would also shoot the cover for Heroes during his 40-year relationship with the singer.

Since 1990, reissues of The Man Who Sold The World have reinstated the shot used on the first British release of the album with Bowie spread out on a chaise longue in Haddon Hall’s living room, wearing a “male dress” by fashion designer Michael Fish.

Visconti, now 76, believes The Man Who Sold The World is second only to Scary Monsters, an album which also reaches a landmark this year with its 40th anniversary.

“On Scary Monsters, we got everything right. We recorded under better conditions than ever before. Most of David’s previous albums

were recorded quickly. He didn’t really like spending long hours in

the studio.

“But we took our time on Scary Monsters, we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone, recording the backing tracks in New York and then with David asking for a three-month break to write the lyrics.

“We took our good time and made sure we loved it all before we handed

it over to the label — who adored it!

We started this album saying, ‘Let’s make this our Sgt Pepper’. That became a running joke for every subsequent album.”

Metrobolist is released on Parlophone November 6

David Bowie: Icon is out now. For more information visit www.accartbooks.com