Sunday, 19 August 2012

Whatever happened to David Bowie?

It’s the most mysterious thing ever. It’s the thing that nobody even noticed for years until it became obvious. And it’s the thing everyone talks about incorrectly. The thing is David Bowie’s disappearance. As Bowie fans know, he had to terminate his Reality Tour in mid 2004 after suffering a blocked artery or a heart attack depending on which report you read. He was out and about several weeks later joking that he would definitely not be writing a song about it. What he didn’t mention was that he wasn’t going to be writing a song about anything. Over the next couple of years he would make sporadic live guest appearances including twice with Arcade Fire in 2005. In November 2006, he made what may well turn out to be his final live performance at the Black Ball event. Since then he has vanished. Only of course he hasn’t.
In fact he’s been living in a very expensive Manhattan apartment with wife Iman and daughter Alexandria being a parent, supporting Iman’s career and pottering about with art, books and photography. The sort of normal life that he’s never had before. He hasn’t vanished; in fact every so often he turns up at a charity event or dinner. He was there at the Sundance Festival in January 2009 when his son Duncan Jones was premiering the film `Moon`.  Spotting his rare public appearances has become something of a pursuit for fans and media watchers. Occasionally someone will snap him coming out of a theatre or walking along the road.
What fascinates people is how the former Ziggy Stardust can be so ordinary. There are lots of theories, people refusing to believe he is “happy and healthy” as Iman recently Tweeted he is. Either, they say he has some mysterious illness- and every year he is rumoured to be dying. Or else, it is all part of an elaborate plan. Well he looks pretty healthy in the photos that have surfaced and you wonder what kind of plan he could possibly have other than relaxing.
All that being said his final album `Reality` from the title down does suggest that thoughts of a change in lifestyle were nagging at the always restless singer. The album is full of tiny musical motifs or chords that hint at earlier material; for example the “woo hoo” from `Day In Day Out`, the chorus to `TVC 15`. The lyrics of the final track `Bring Me the Disco King` that say “Let me disappear”. Of course such conspiracy theories might be rubbish; after all it was the previous album’s title track `Heathen` that really suggested the end of inspiration; “I can see it now. I can feel it die.”
The slightly mischievous side to his character would surely relish the fact that his not being in the public eye much, not releasing albums or touring is probably causing more chatter than if he still were.
Anyway, to celebrate the whole thing, here’s a selection of snaps that show Dame David, as Smash Hits used to call him, each year since he apparently vanished, alive and well and living in New York. Which when you think about it is a pretty cool thing to be.

Rocking the old Serious Moonlight style hat with Arcade Fire Sept 2005

Last live performance. Singing `Wild is the Wind` at the Black Ball Nov 2006

With the Mrs. Probably not in Sainsburys.. May 2007

April 2008. He doesn't seem to think the joke is as funny as she does.

November 2009; leaving on a top secret mission to save the world. Possibly.

Belated school photo. June 2010.

He's not sure whether he'll stay for much more of this. April 2011.

What the jiggins is in that bag; he's been carrying it for years? April 2012.


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