David Bowie's Producer Recalls His Final Moments

January 14, 2016
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Almost a week before his death, with Blackstar nearing its release, David Bowie called up his longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti on FaceTime and told him that he wanted to make one more album. What ended up being the final weeks of his life, Bowie had already written and demo-ed five brand new songs, anxious to return to the studio for one last time. Visconti, Blackstar's producer, said that Bowie knew his cancer was terminal since November 2015, but in their final conversation together, Visconti was oblivious as to how very little time David had left. "At that late stage, he was planning the follow-up to Blackstar."

"And I was thrilled," Visconti said, "and I though, and he thought, that he'd have a few months, at least. Obviously, if he's excited about doing his next album, he must've thought he had a few more months. So the end must've been very rapid. I'm not privy to it. I don't know how exactly, but he must've taken ill very quickly after that phone call."

Visconti and Bowie have worked together off and on throughout the decades, producing records like Space OddityThe Man Who Sold the WorldLowScary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and The Next Day.

In mid-2015, Bowie's condition seemed to be on the upturn. "He was optimistic because he was doing the chemo and it was working," Visconti said, "and at one point in the middle of last year, he was in remission. I was thrilled. And he was a bit apprehensive. He said, 'Well, don't celebrate too quickly. For now I'm in remission, and we'll see how it goes.' And he continued the chemotherapy. So I thought he was going to make it. And in November, it just suddenly came back. It had spread all over his body, so there's no recovering from that."

By that time Blackstar was already finished. But that was when Visconti started to notice a recurring theme and tone in the lyrics of Bowie's songs. "You canny bastard. You're writing a farewell album." Bowie simply laughed. "He was so brave and courageous, and his energy was still incredible for a man who had cancer. He never showed any fear. He was just all business about making the album."

(source: Rolling Stone)