David Bowie dies

David Bowie died on 10 January 2016 at his apartment at 285 Lafayette Street in Manhattan, New York City.

He had been battling liver cancer for the previous 18 months. Bowie’s death came two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his acclaimed final album, Blackstar.

Bowie had been diagnosed with cancer in mid 2014. He shared the news with close family members and a small number of friends and collaborators. Among them were Bowie’s friend and long-term producer Tony Visconti, who was told in January 2015, and Ivo van Hove, director of the musical Lazarus.

However, many other close friends, including members of Bowie’s band, were not told that the star was suffering from cancer, and were surprised by news of his death.

The news broke late on 10 January. In the UK it came shortly after 7am the following day. It was confirmed on Twitter by Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, and a posting on the official Bowie Facebook page:

Jan. 10, 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.

Grieving fans created makeshift memorials in cities including London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Milan and Rio de Janerio. A makeshift memorial was set up outside Bowie’s townhouse on Lafayette Street in Soho, Manhattan, where he lived with his wife Iman and their daughter Lexi.

In Brixton, London, a 2013 mural by Australian artist Jimmy C became part of a shrine at which fans left records, flowers, candles, photographs and notes.

Memorial to David Bowie in Brixton, London, 2016

There was an immediate spike in sales of Bowie’s albums and singles. The clear vinyl version of Blackstar, which had been available from Barnes & Noble in the US, and through pre-orders on Bowie’s website, quickly became a collector’s item commanding high prices. The album topped the UK charts for three weeks, and in 23 other countries including the US, France, Italy and Germany.

The death of David Bowie also led to a resurgence in sales of his back catalogue, with nine of his albums re-entering the Billboard 200. With 21 songs, Bowie also broke the record for the most entries by a single artist on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart.

Tributes to Bowie poured in over the coming hours and days. 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. His death was no different from his life—a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”

Also paying tribute were former collaborators Iggy Pop, who described Bowie as “the light of my life”, and Mick Jagger, who said: “David was always an inspiration to me and a true original. He was wonderfully shameless in his work. We had so many good times together … He was my friend. I will never forget him.”

Madonna sang Rebel Rebel at one of her concerts, Elton John performed Space Oddity live in Los Angeles, and The Who paid tribute to Bowie at a New York concert on 3 March, stating: “We’ll miss our friend, a true icon of music and art, and a brilliant innovator.”

British prime minister David Cameron described Bowie as “an immense British talent”, stating that “musically, creatively, artistically, David Bowie was a genius”. NASA, meanwhile, quoted Space Oddity on Twitter:

On 12 January 2016, in accordance with his will, Bowie’s body was cremated in New Jersey. His ashes were later scattered on the island of Bali.

Last updated: 23 December 2018
Album release: ★ (Blackstar)
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