A series of cryptic tweets from his wife on Saturday was the first indication of what was to come.
“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” read one poignant and prophetic post from Iman on Saturday.
Then came confirmation that David Bowie, whose groundbreaking music inspired generations during a career spanning six decades, had died at the age of 69 after being diagnosed with cancer.
The cultural pioneer’s death on Sunday, following an 18-month illness, was confirmed by his family.
His son, film director Duncan Jones, tweeted: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”
Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
The singer and guitarist died surrounded by his loved ones, a statement on his Facebook page said.
Dated January 10, it read: “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.”
Bowie’s death was confirmed three days after the release of his final album, Blackstar. Prophetically, its lead single, ‘Lazarus’, opens with the lyrics: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.”
Stars from the world of showbiz mourned the loss of the ‘Ashes To Ashes’ singer as they woke to the news — their grief made more acute by the fact that little had been known about the extent of his ill-health.
Despite releasing two albums in three years, rumours about Bowie’s health plagued the singer since he bowed out of the spotlight following a heart attack in 2004.
He collapsed backstage at a gig in Schessel, Germany, and was forced to undergo emergency surgery on a blocked coronary artery.
He made very few public appearances since then, with his final live performance taking place nearly a decade ago, when he joined Alicia Keys on stage at the Black Ball fundraiser at New York’s Hammersmith Ballroom for a rendition of ‘Changes’ in 2006.
The ‘Heroes’ singer resurfaced in April 2009 to attend the premiere of his son Duncan’s film Moon in New York, and at the CFDA Fashion Awards in June 2010 alongside second wife Iman, before dropping back out of the public eye until the release of The Next Day in 2013 — his first original album in 10 years.
Scrutiny of his health intensified at that time, with long-time producer Tony Visconti denying reports the singer was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“He is as sharp as a tack. He is sharper than ever. This boy has not lost a single brain cell,” Visconti told The Sunday Telegraph.
“People thought he was dying. He’s not dying any time soon, let me tell you... He couldn’t have done two years’ work if he was a sick man. He’s very healthy, he’s very fit. He had the heart operation [in 2004] and that’s it. He’s long since recovered from that.”
His musical prowess undiminished, Bowie reclaimed his Best Male Solo Brit award in 2014 for the comeback album, 30 years after he first secured the accolade.
He was noticeably absent at the ceremony but still managed to steal the show when he sent Kate Moss on stage to collect his award, wearing an original Ziggy Stardust stage outfit from 1972. She delivered an acceptance speech on his behalf that urged Scotland to reject independence.
Bowie cut a shadow of his former flamboyant self when he made his final public appearance at the premiere of his musical, Lazarus, at the Theatre Workshop in New York on December 12, 2015.
It was unknown at the time that the star was already coming to the end of his private 18-month battle with cancer — a fight he lost on Sunday.
Bowie married super-model Iman in 1992. The pair have a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones.
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