"Moonlight Shadow" is a pop song written and performed by English multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, released as a single in May 1983, and included in the album, Crises, of the same year.[2] The vocals were performed by Scottish vocalist Maggie Reilly, who had joined Mike Oldfield in 1980. It is Oldfield's most successful single to date, reaching number one on a number of charts around Europe.


 [hide*1 Release


The single peaked at number 4 in the British charts, making it Oldfield's second highest ranked single after "Portsmouth", which reached number 3 in 1976. "Moonlight Shadow" was successful throughout Europe. It reached number 1 in many countries, including Brazil for two weeks, ItalyAustriaSwitzerland for four weeks and Norway for six weeks. It spent four weeks at number 2 in Germany, hit number 6 in Australia, and peaked at number 3 in New Zealand and France. It was re-released as a maxi-CD single in 1993 to promote Oldfield's Elements box set, charting at number 52.

A 12" single (later reissued on a 3" CD single) featured an extended version of the song with an extra verse, and the single B-side was "Rite of Man", which was a rare instance of Oldfield singing lead vocal. The extended mix also appears on his compilation album The Platinum Collection.

In 1991 the song was re-released in France, and in 1993 it was featured on promos for Elements in France and Spain. The 1993 reissue included "Bones" and "In the Pool" as B-sides, which had previously been released as B-sides with "To France". Furthermore the name of the song was used for the 2013 Universal Music compilation album of Oldfield's music, Moonlight Shadow: The Collection.

Live performances[edit]Edit

Maggie Reilly sang "Moonlight Shadow" live when she toured with Oldfield in the 1980s. However since then, other singers have performed the song live with Oldfield including, Anita Hegerland(during the late 1980s), Pepsi Demacque (at the Tubular Bells III premiere and at the Live Then & Now '99 tour), Miriam Stockley (at the Millennium concert) and Rosa Cedrón (at Nokia Night of the Proms).


The original cover art is an enlargement of the lower right corner of the Crises album cover by UK artist Terry Ilott. This shows a man with his foot on a ledge with the sea and sky in the background. The moon, the tower and its shadow from the album cover cannot be seen on the single cover.

The artwork for the 1993 reissue followed the style of the Elements artwork in most countries.


An early version of the song was entitled "Midnight Passion" with vocals by British singer Hazel O'Connor.[3] Along with Maggie Reilly, a girlfriend of one of the roadies when Oldfield was on tour, Oldfield used a rhyming dictionary and recorded many of the lyrics word by word.[4] According to Oldfield, Virgin Records were immediately happy with the song and wanted more pieces similar to it.[citation needed] Reilly also sang on "Foreign Affair" on Crises.

Oldfield later sampled the drums from "Moonlight Shadow" for the song "Man in the Rain" on his 1998 album, Tubular Bells III.[5]

An unplugged mix of the song appears on the 2013 Mercury Records reissue of the Crises album.

Lyrical content[edit]Edit

It has been suggested that the lyrics of the song are a reference to the murder of John Lennon despite the fact that the events in the song do not correspond with those of Lennon's murder.[6][7] Lennon was shot four times just before 11pm, whereas in the song the time is 4am and the number of shots is six. When asked if "Moonlight Shadow" is a reference to John Lennon's murder in a 1995 interview, Oldfield responded:

Not really... well, perhaps, when I look back on it, maybe it was. I actually arrived in New York that awful evening when he was shot and I was staying at the Virgin Records house in Perry Street, which was just a few blocks down the road from the Dakota Building where it happened, so it probably sank into my subconscious. It was originally inspired by a film I loved – 'Houdini', starring Tony Curtis, which was about attempts to contactHoudini after he'd died, through spiritualism... it was originally a song influenced by that, but a lot of other things must have crept in there without me realizing it.

—Mike Oldfield, "Gareth Randall Interviews Mike Oldfield".

In the German lyrics, sung by Juliane Werding, it's seven shots, obviously due to singability.[citation needed]


There are two versions of the video: the full-length original, and a shorter one which omits a verse. The reason for the shorter version was for the requirements of some TV broadcasters, and the way both versions are edited suggests that Oldfield's touring guitarist "Ant" (Anthony Glynne) performed the second, overdriven half of the guitar solo, which is not the case. Also in the video is Oldfield's touring drummer, Pierre Moerlen, miming the part played by Simon Phillips on the recording.

Track listing[edit]Edit

7-inch vinyl[edit]Edit

  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (7" mix) – 3:37
  2. "Rite of Man" – 2:21

12-inch vinyl[edit]Edit

  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version) – 5:18
  2. "Rite of Man" – 2:21

German vinyl[edit]Edit

  1. "Moonlight Shadow" – 3:37
  2. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version) – 5:18
  3. "Rite of Man" – 2:21
  4. "To France" – 4:43
  5. "Jungle Gardenia" – 2:45 (Mike Oldfield)
  6. "Taurus 3" – 2:25

1988 CD[edit]Edit

  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version) – 5:18
  2. "Rite of Man" – 2:21
  3. "To France" – 4:44
  4. "Jungle Gardenia" – 2:44

1993 CD[edit]Edit

  1. "Moonlight Shadow" – 3:35
  2. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version) – 5:18
  3. "In the Pool" – 3:40
  4. "Bones" – 3:19

Chart positions[edit]Edit

The song performed particularly well in European charts, reaching number one in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

Chart (1983) Peak


Australian Singles Chart[citation needed] 6
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[8] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[9] 1
Eurochart Hot 100[citation needed] 1
Germany (Media Control AG)[10] 2
Irish Singles Chart[citation needed] 1
Italy (FIMI)[11] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[12] 2
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[13] 1
French Singles Chart[14] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15] 3
Norway (VG-lista)[16] 1
Polish Singles Chart[citation needed] 1
South African Singles Chart[17] 7
Spain (AFYVE)[18] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[20] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 4

Year-End Chart[edit]Edit

Chart (1984) Peak


Australian Singles Chart 52
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Belgian VRT Top 30 7
Dutch Singles Chart 5
German Media Control Charts 3
Italian Singles Chart 6
Spanish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 2
U.K. Singles Chart 29
Preceded by

"Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara

Swiss Singles Chart number-one single

7 August 1983 – 14 August 1983 (2 weeks)

Succeeded by

"Vamos a la playa" by Righeira

Preceded by

"Codo" by Tauchen Prokopetz

Ö3 Austria Top 40 number-one single

15 August 1983 – 15 September 1983 (6 weeks)

Succeeded by

"Africa (Voodoo Master)" by Rose Laurens

Preceded by

"Vamos a la playa" by Righeira

Swiss Singles Chart number-one single

4 September 1983 – 11 September 1983 (2 weeks)

Succeeded by

"I Like Chopin" by Gazebo


Appearances and influence in other media[edit]Edit

The song has been used in other media, such as:

Cover versions[edit]Edit

Numerous cover versions of "Moonlight Shadow" have been recorded over the years, including one that reached the German Top 10 by Groove Coverage.

  • In 1983 Juliane Werding released a German-language version, "Nacht voll Schatten", as a single; the following year it was included on her album Ohne Angst.
  • In 1986, The Shadows released an instrumental version on their album Moonlight Shadows.
  • In 1989, Annie Haslam covered the song on her self-titled third solo album.
  • In 1998, Ruslana covered the song for a live radio performance.[citation needed]
  • In 1990, Koto released an instrumental version on their Plays Synthesizer World Hits album.
  • In 1994, Takako Minekawa included a cover version on her solo debut album, Chat Chat.
  • In 1997, Missing Heart released a version of the song which was also used in Konami's 2001 Dance Dance Revolution 5thMix game.
  • In 2001, KBO! recorded a version on their 2001 cover album (Ne) Menjajte Stanicu ((Do Not) Change the Station).
  • In 2002, Kokia included a cover version on her single, "Ningen-tte Sonna Mono ne".
  • In 2002, Aselin Debison covered it on her Sweet Is the Melody album.
  • In 2002, Renaissance released a live version on their album In the Land of the Rising Sun (vocalist Annie Haslam had released her own solo version in 1989)
  • In 2003, X-Perience covered "Moonlight Shadow" as a planned single for 2006, but was never released.[citation needed]
  • In 2005, Skylark covered the song on their album Fairytales.
  • In 2005, Gigi D'Agostino's Disco Tanz compilation album included Luca Noise's Italian house version.
  • In 2005, Suidakra included a version as a hidden track on their album Command to Charge.
  • In 2005, Dana Winner released a version on her albums Unforgettable and Märchenland Der Gefühle.
  • In 2007, Mägo de Oz released a version as a B-side on their single "Y Ahora Voy a Salir (Ranxeira)".
  • In 2007, ItaloBrothers released a cover version as a single.
  • In 2008, Laurent Voulzy included the song in the medley track "Jukebox", on his album Recollection.
  • In 2009, the original singer, Maggie Reilly, re-recorded the song for her album Looking Back Moving Forward.
  • In 2009, Marcela Morelo released a Spanish-language version, "Luz del cielo" on her album Otro Plan.
  • In 2010, Vox Angeli included a version on their album Irlande.
  • In 2011, Nolwenn Leroy included a version on the re-release of her album Bretonne.
  • In 2011, Chris Norman included a version on his album Time Traveller.
  • In 2013, a version by York and Steve Brian with vocals by Caribbean singer Odessa, was released on the remix album Tubular Beats.

Groove Coverage version[edit]Edit

"Moonlight Shadow"
Single by Groove Coverage
from the album Covergirl
Released 2002
Format 12" singleCD single, Maxi
Genre Eurodance
Length 2:52
Label Zeitgeist (Universal)


Groove Coverage singles chronology
"Are U Ready"


"Moonlight Shadow"


"God is a Girl"


In 2002, an electronic dance version of "Moonlight Shadow" by Groove Coverage reached the German Top 10 (simultaneously, a similar version of Oldfield's "To France" by Novaspace was in the German Top 30). "Moonlight Shadow" appeared on Groove Coverage's debut album, Covergirl. The vocals are by Melanie Munch, who is known by her stage name Mell. Aside from the single remixes, the album also contains a piano version, featuring piano by Verena Rehm.

Track listings[edit]Edit

CD single[edit]Edit
  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Radio version) – 2:52
  2. "Moonlight Shadow" (Original radio edit) – 2:54
  3. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version) – 6:56
  4. "Moonlight Shadow" (Rocco remix) – 6:58
  5. "Moonlight Shadow" (Warp Brothers remix) – 7:37
  6. "Moonlight Shadow" (Video) – 2:53
Maxi single[edit]Edit
  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Radio version) – 2:52
  2. "Moonlight Shadow" (Original radio edit) – 2:59
  3. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version) – 6:58
  4. "Moonlight Shadow" (Rocco remix) – 6:58
  5. "Beat Just Goes" – 3:53
Remix single[edit]Edit


  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended version)


  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Club version)
  2. "Beat Just Goes" (Club mix)
US maxi single[edit]Edit
  1. "Moonlight Shadow" (Josh Harris Radio Edit) – 3:46
  2. "Moonlight Shadow" (Josh Harris Club Mix) – 7:21
  3. "Moonlight Shadow" (Josh Harris Dub) – 6:39
  4. "Moonlight Shadow" (French Club Mix) – 6:36
  5. "Moonlight Shadow" (French Short Cut) – 3:05
  6. "Moonlight Shadow" (Plastic Men UK Mix) – 6:16
  7. "Moonlight Shadow" (Warp Brothers Remix) – 7:36
  8. "Moonlight Shadow" (North Starz Remix) – 6:57
  9. "Moonlight Shadow" (Alternate Radio Version) – 2:51
  10. "Moonlight Shadow" (Original Mix) – 2:53
  11. "Moonlight Shadow" (Extended Mix) – 6:54
  12. "Moonlight Shadow" (Rocco Remix) – 6:56
  13. "Moonlight Shadow" (A cappella) – 1:50
  14. "Moonlight Shadow" (Pure & Direct Version) – 4:17

Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (2002) Peak


Australia (ARIA)[24] 39
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[25] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[26] 50
Europe Singles Chart[citation needed] 12
Germany (Media Control AG)[27] 3
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[28] 68
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[29] 52
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[citation needed] 88
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