Everything I’ve heard about David Bowie’s passing–including from some people who were close to him–says that death took him quickly. He was fine on Friday, January 8–his birthday–but when he went for a lie-down that Sunday, he fell asleep and never woke up. Anyone who’s lost anyone to cancer knows that the end can come fast.
But there are plenty of people who believe that Bowie stage-managed his death, right up to the point of deciding exactly when he was going to die. British writer Leslie Ann Jones (no relation to Bowie) mentions the idea in a lengthy piece in The Daily Mail. I quote
David died in his own bed in New York City, two days after his 69th birthday. We didn’t even know that he was terminally ill. They’re saying it was liver cancer, but isn’t that usually secondary? Wouldn’t his primary have been lung?
‘Seemingly, David Bowie stage-managed his own demise,’ says the respected broadcaster and former BBC Radio 1 DJ Andy Peebles, who interviewed David on numerous occasions.
‘Two singles released so closely together, the biggest album of his career launched on his 69th birthday, and then, two days later, he dies. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that as coincidental,’ Andy says.
‘It has been suggested to me in quite a number of phone calls that his death was the result of assisted suicide. Who might have assisted him, and exactly how they did so, we will never know. To protect them, I am sure he won’t have involved his family or his close friends.
‘But when you think about it, David stage-managed absolutely everything else, throughout his entire career. Why would his death be any different? If he was able to do it on his own terms, good for him.
‘It’s what we’d all wish for. I consider it remarkable, the way he organised his ending.’
Rock manager and producer Simon Napier-Bell points out that, just a day or so before he died, ‘he [Bowie] was photographed outside his apartment building in a beautifully cut charcoal suit, tie and a fedora, wearing a big broad smile and looking fabulous.
‘It was a deliberate act. As was everything he did. He knew that he was dying. He’d known for about 18 months. And that’s how he wanted to be remembered: upbeat and happy. He controlled his image to the last.’
Behind Bowie, he was still David Jones (and he never did change his name by deed poll), whoever David Jones was.
Did he even know? As he was fond of saying, even the act was an act.