Bowie started recording demos of his new composition in 1970 on piano. It caught the attention of Peter Noone, formerly of Herman’s Hermits, who released it as a single in 1971 with Bowie on piano. He wrote a number songs for his friend Dana Gillespie, who wished to embark on a solo singing career. Under the name of Arnold Corns they recorded a single containing early versions of "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang On To Yourself" (later to be released on "Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars"). He also worked on several recordings with Micky King, one of which, ‘Rupert The Riley’, was written about Bowie’s car, a 1932 Riley Gamecock.

These were attempts to become a songwriter and have other people perform his songs. Another example is Freddie Burretti (also known as Rudi Valentino). He didn't succeed in moving his career in this direction so he continued his solo career.

He resumed contact with guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey who both worked with him on the previous album "The Man Who Sold The World". They introduced new bas guitarist Trevor Bolder who played with them in the band Ronno. And then the embryo of what will become Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars was born.

Life On Mars? - 1973 single cover

The first performance of the band was on John Peel's radio show together with Bowie's friend George Underwood and Dana Gillespie. The performance included songs made for the album "Hunky Dory" that was released at the end of 1971.
Bowie with Duncan and Angela
Bowie married his first wife Angela Barnett on 20 March 1970 and on 30 May 1971 their son Duncan (Zowie) Haywood Jones was born. Inspired by Neil Young David wrote the song "Kooks" for his son.
"Changes" was the single to be released in 1972 after "Hunky Dory" was released and it charted worldwide. In 1973 when the Ziggy fame was at his peak "Life On Mars?" was released also as a single. The album included many tributes to his personal favourite artist including Bob Dylan ("Song For Bob Dylan"), Andy Warhol ("Andy Warhol") and Biff Rose (Bowie covers his "Fill Your Heart").
Photo shoot for the album cover
Before release of the album at the last moment Bowie's own "Bombers" was replaced by a cover version of  Biff Rose's "Fill Your Heart" that also seques into "Andy Warhol" (first titled "Andy Monument"). Personally I think that his own "Bombers" would've been a better choice. It was released on CD as a bonustrack in 1990 only. "Bombers" as well as "Queen Bitch" are typical Ziggy and the Spiders kinda songs.
Original album cover backside
The album got all ingredients needed to give a mix of various styles but all with high quality. “Changes” became a tribute to Bowie’s career and the changes he went through. His Sinatra inspired “Life on Mars?” which holds a mysterious profetion when he sings “Now the workers have struck for fame ‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again”. Four years later Bowie finds himself in the studio with John Lennon to record "Fame" for the album "Young Americans" (coincidence?). The closing song "Bewlay Brothers" refers to Bowie's half-brother Terry Burns who suffered from schizophrenia.

Hunky Dory is the first great album by Bowie and he already started working on the next breakthrough album "Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" before he finished "Hunky Dory".
Original album cover - with RCA label replaced by Parlophone
Hunky Dory
Changes / Oh! You Pretty Things / Eight Line Poem / Life On Mars? / Kooks / Quicksand / Fill Your Heart / Andy Warhol / Song For Bob Dylan / Queen Bitch / The Bewlay Brothers
Bombers - Outtake
Life On Mars? - video from 1973
Oh! You Pretty Things - TV performance 1972
Dana Gillespie - Andy Warhol (Toppop)