When David Bowie passed away suddenly from cancer in early 2016, fans around the world were shocked and devastated.
The glam rock icon is one of the best-selling artists of all time, known for iconic alter egos like Ziggy Stardust and hits like Ashes to Ashes, Under Pressure and Let’s Dance.
Rolling Stone even named him “the greatest rock star of all time” after her tragic death from liver cancer almost six years ago.
However, fans at the time were surprised to learn that he had had health issues, as David allegedly kept his fatal diagnosis hidden from the world, tackling the terminal illness in private.
A true showman to the end, David battled his cancer to record his latest studio album, Blackstar, and it became his swan song upon his death on January 10, 2016, two days after its release.
He also left emotional messages for his followers on the record, including the Lazarus music video.
David’s last public appearance was at the opening of his theatrical show, Lazarus, in New York City on December 7, 2015.
Bowie had written the lyrics and music for the play, and the book was written by Enda Walsh, a famous Irish playwright.
The story follows that of The Man Who Fell to Earth, a 1963 novel by American author Walter Tevis about a humanoid alien who falls to earth from a distant planet.
David starred in the film adaptation of the sci-fi book in 1976, and he played the lead character of Thomas Jerome Newton, who attempted to bring water back to his drought-devastated home planet.
It became one of the last works Bowie completed before his death, and the sold-out musical opened at the New York Theater Workshop in Manhattan.
Bowie was first diagnosed with liver cancer in 2014, while still working on the musical, and Retuters reported that the singer only told his family and colleagues at the ‘era.
Bowie was 69 when he died of cancer on January 10, 2016 after being diagnosed with the fatal disease 18 months earlier.
He died in his New York apartment.
It had been hoped that Bowie would be able to go into remission, but by November 2015 the cancer had spread and he was told he was terminally ill.
Ivo van Hove, who directed Bowie’s off-Broadway musical, said the singer was unable to attend Lazarus rehearsals because his cancer had worsened.
He said Bowie still struggled with his illness and continued to work.
Longtime Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti said the singer went bald from chemotherapy when they met to start work on his latest album, Blackstar.
News of Bowie’s death rocked the world with tributes pouring in from adoring fans and the biggest names in the business.
Fans have made memorials in Berlin and Los Angeles as well as outside his New York apartment, and street shrines have been built in the UK to celebrate the singer and in his hometown of Brixton, where his followers laid flowers and sang his songs.
Bowie had insisted he didn’t want to have a funeral, but sales of his songs and albums soared after his death.
On the occasion of what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday, a charity concert was held in Brixton, hosted by Harry Potter actor Gary Oldman, a close friend of his.
Longtime Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti wrote: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. Her death was no different from her life – a work of art. “
The legendary Space Oddity singer also won five Grammy Awards after his death on February 12, 2017.
Cryptic messages in his latest album
Bowie’s latest album, Blackstar, was a work of art, and the dark and brutally honest record seemed to address his impending death.
CNN claimed that the album “reveals a man who appears to be grappling with his own mortality.”
Longtime Bowie collaborator Visconti even hailed the record as a “farewell gift” to his fans.
The title song lyrics read: “Something happened on the day he died / Spirit rose a yard and moved away / someone else took his place and bravely walked away shouted: “I am a black star, I am a black star”. “
These lines might suggest that Bowie was looking back on his life and anticipating his passing.
His song Lazarus also features the lines: “Look here, I am in Heaven / I have scars that cannot be seen,” which depicts an image of Bowie himself looking up from the sky.
Fans could certainly read the lyrics, along with the poignant hospital music video for Lazarus, as a farewell to their hero.
The lyrics about the hidden “scars” could also refer to his private battle with cancer, and Lazarus is a biblical figure who rose from the dead.
One of Bowie’s most powerful and vulnerable videos is that of Lazarus, which shows Bowie struggling as he sits blindfolded in a hospital bed.
David apparently decided to stop his cancer treatment while filming the clip, which took place before the opening of the musical Lazarus.
David is survived by his model wife, Iman, and his two children, Duncan and Alexandria.
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