David Robert Jones, known as David Bowie , was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over five decades, and was considered by critics and other musicians as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His androgynous appearance was an iconic element of his image, principally in the 1970s and 1980s.
Born and raised in Brixton, south London, Bowie developed an early interest in music although his attempts to succeed as a pop star during much of the 1960s were frustrating. “Space Oddity” became his first top five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a three-year period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved to be one facet of a career marked by reinvention, musical innovation and visual presentation.
In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album Young Americans, which the singer characterised as “plastic soul”. The sound constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno. Low (1977), “Heroes” (1977), and Lodger (1979)—the so-called “Berlin Trilogy” albums—all reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise. After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, which yielded several successful singles. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. Bowie also had a successful but sporadic film career. His acting roles include the eponymous character in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ(1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. Bowie stopped touring after his 2003–04 Reality Tour, and last performed live at a charity event in 2006. On 8 January 2016, the date of Bowie’s 69th birthday, the album Blackstar was released; he died two days later.
Throughout his career, Bowie sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide. In the UK, he was awarded nine Platinum album certifications, eleven Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
“Lazarus” is a song by English rock musician David Bowie. It was released on 17 December 2015 as an advance single from his twenty-fifth studio album, Blackstar, which was released in January 2016. “Lazarus” was released on 17 December 2015 as a digital download. The single received its world premiere on BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq on that date. In addition to its release on Blackstar, the track is used in Bowie’s off-Broadway musical of the same name. The official music video, directed by Johan Renck, was released on 7 January 2016. “Lazarus” is the last single released by Bowie before his death on 10 January 2016.
The official music video for “Lazarus”, featuring a shorter edit of the song lasting just over four minutes, was uploaded on 7 January 2016 to Bowie’s Vevo channel on YouTube. The video was directed by Johan Renck, who also directed the music video for Bowie’s previous single, “Blackstar”. The video is shown in a 1:1 aspect ratio and prominently features Bowie lying on a deathbed.
According to Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti, the lyrics and video of Lazarus and other songs on the album were intended to be a self-epitaph, a commentary on Bowie’s own impending death.
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.
Lazarus – Bowie
Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below
Ain’t that just like me
By the time I got to New York
I was living like a king
Then I used up all my money
I was looking for your ass
This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me
Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me
- Audio from the 2016 album, Blackstar: