David Bowie, an icon of his time and any other time too, died this week at the age of 69 from cancer. Unbelievably, the public was entirely unaware of his diagnosis and thus caught off guard by his death. But what seemed like a sudden development to many was actually a prolonged period for the artist, during which he produced more creative content than many artists do in a decade. We already know that he was planning yet another album after his recent release of Blackstar and had a big surprise planned that never happened, but in the 18-months prior to his passing, he was churning out material at a level astonishing considering what his daily health was like.
From the time of his diagnosis to his final day, Bowie not only created a final album and the accompanying music videos but the recently-opened musical Lazarus, which serves as a follow-up to the acclaimed film The Man Who Fell To Earth, plus a complete exhibition of his life at the Victoria and Albert Museum. As The Guardian has found out from various friends and collaborators of Bowie’s in the wake of his death, his commitment was unflagging even in the face of poor health. Lazarus director Ivo van Hove relates his observations:
Bowie’s creative surge was stunning. When he was feeling ill after treatment, he would stay away from rehearsals, but was intimately involved when in attendance and a genuine collaborator who thrived off his cohorts’ ideas.
He was private about the details of his health situation. I didn’t question him, but I knew he did not want to die. He was in a struggle for life during those 18 months.
The willingness to push through the tough times in order to continue to create new art and music is no surprise coming from Bowie. He reinvented himself many times, both physically and musically, so the fact that he did so once again (as a sick man) makes sense. Even if he could not live his life as fully as he wished due to his illness, his output during his final months is incredible to consider and could make everyone else feel inspired to create their own mark with whatever time they have left. Nobody can be Bowie, but if his last push of output can inspire one more person to try and do the same, then that’s just another amazing piece of his legacy.
(via The Guardian)