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Wednesday 26 October 2016

Health problems overshadowed Bowie's final years

Published 11/01/2016 | 14:46

Bowie pictured in 2002, shortly before he suffered a heart attack after a concert in Germany
Bowie pictured in 2002, shortly before he suffered a heart attack after a concert in Germany

Despite releasing two albums in three years - including Blackstar, just two days before his death - rumours about David Bowie's health have plagued the singer since he bowed out of the spotlight following a heart attack in 2004.

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Bowie 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 Jones'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," Visconti added.

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.

She read out: "In Japanese myth, the rabbits from my old costume which Kate is wearing live on the moon. Kate comes from Venus and I from Mars.

"I'm completely delighted to have a Brit for being the Best Male, but I am, aren't I Kate? I think it's a great way to end the day, thank you very, very much. And Scotland, stay with us."

Bowie cut a shadow of his former flamboyant self when he made his final public appearance at the premiere of his musical Lazarus a t the Theatre Workshop in New York on December 12 last year.

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.

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