Bowing out with typical style, David Bowie didn’t just release his last album ‘Blackstar’ to coincide with his 69th birthday last week, on January 8 – he was using it to say goodbye to the world.
An 18-month battle with cancer that hardly anyone knew about came to tragic end yesterday (January 10), but Bowie provided bleak hints about his terminal condition for his fans and followers in what was to be the final music video of his that was to be released in his lifetime.
Released only four days ago, the video for single ‘Lazarus’ was Bowie’s parting shot, opening with a blindfolded, fragile-looking Bowie laying in bed. His first words “look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” are now obviously an admission of his ill health, rather than just a fantastical musing on mortality. It soon becomes obvious that the bed he’s in is a hospital one and Bowie begins to float above it, signifying his transmutation to the other side – whatever, or wherever that may be. Watching it now, it’s a statement as bold as it is bleak.
As Bowie writhes around on the bed, trying to break free, another Bowie then appears, a Bowie clad in black and stood upright, a Bowie who can still pose, pout, pick up a pen and create. Inspiration hits him and he scrawls at speed in a notebook, while the other Bowie continues to convulse. As he writes, we see a skull sitting ominously on his writing desk, the spectre of death looming over Bowie and his final creation, before he steps backwards into a wooden wardrobe, a fitting kind of coffin for an icon of style and fashion.
“His death was no different from his life – a work of Art,” explained Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti, in tribute. “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.” Creative to the very end, the ‘Lazarus’ video is a heartbreakingly sad way to bid farewell, but a more than appropriate one.
Watch fans talk about what David Bowie meant to them, below: