David Bowie's Blackstar sales soar as tribute shows announced

Sales of singer’s last album, released two days before his death, reach 43,000 in the UK with top 40 chart dominated by his back catalogue

Sales of David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, have soared after the singer’s death, as a series of tribute shows and memorial events in his honour were announced.

Sales and downloads of Blackstar, released on the singer’s 69th birthday two days before he died, have reached 43,000 in the UK in the 24 hours since the news of Bowie’s death shook the world.

The critically acclaimed album, described by his long-term producer and friend Tony Visconti as Bowie’s “parting gift”, has also topped the iTunes charts, and more than half of the UK’s top 40 chart has been taken up by albums from Bowie’s back catalogue.

Spotify has reported that global streams of Bowie’s music were up by 2,822% since Monday – totalling more than 6.5m listens – and Life on Mars, Heroes, Let’s Dance and Blackstar have entered the site’s top 10 chart.

It was announced on Tuesday that a tribute would be paid to Bowie at the Brit awards in February, celebrating what the chairman, Max Lousada, described as the “extraordinary life and work of one of our greatest icons”.

New York’s Carnegie hall will also host a memorial concert on 31 March. The show, announced hours before Bowie’s death, was originally scheduled as a tribute with performances of the singer’s hit songs by Visconti, Cyndi Lauper, and The Roots among others.

But the event that organisers spent the last seven months planningwill now memorialise Bowie’s life and his influence on music.

“This year’s concert will certainly be remembered as a poignant celebration of his music by his friends, peers, and fans,” a statement on the organisers’ website said. “The show is taking on many more emotions. RIP David and may God’s love be with you.”

Bowie died age 69 after suffering from cancer for 18 months. Notoriously private, Bowie kept his illness a secret until the end, only letting a small inner circle know of his diagnosis.

The musicians who worked with Bowie on jazz-inspired Blackstar have said they had no idea the musician was ill, and Bowie’s family have chosen not to confirm what type of cancer he had, the circumstances around his death or where he died. The family have also requested that those close to Bowie do not give interviews.

It is thought the Brixton-born singer’s funeral will be held in New York, where he moved to in 1993 after marrying his second wife, Iman, and where they raised their daughter, Alexandria.

Visconti’s supergroup, Holy Holy, which also features Bowie’s Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey, will also perform two tribute shows to Bowie on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Toronto Opera House.

David Bowie 1947-2016 - video tribute

Ivo van Hove, director of Bowie’s musical Lazarus, was one of the few people Bowie had informed of his illness, in November 2014, to explain why he would not be able to attend all rehearsals. The singer had asked that van Hove keep the information to himself.

The director said Bowie had “fought like a lion” through his illness and had been determined to keep working to the end. Speaking about Lazarus rehearsals, Van Hove told the New York Times that Bowie came “whenever he could”. He said: “Sometimes he sent me an email – ‘I’ve had a bad day’ – but he was very close to the whole process.”

The director said that on the production’s opening night last month, the last time the singer was seen in public, Bowie had seemed very frail, adding: “I felt it deeply, that this would be the last time I see him.”


Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The GuardianTramp

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