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The fact that he was dying from liver cancer was known only to close friends and colleagues, though it has been reported that a psychic long ago told him the age when he would die – 69.
Mike Garson, a pianist who played on 19 of Bowie’s albums, has revealed that the flamboyant performer told him that in the late 70s “I met this psychic who told me I was gonna die around the age of 69 or 70”.
Bowie added that the psychic had said it with absolute certainty. “I never told anyone about it, but it never left my mind,” he added.
It is in marked contrast to Bowie’s most famous personas as Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, an extra-terrestrial rockstar with a brilliant red lightning bolt painted on his face.
The title of one of the tracks on his new album, Blackstar, released just two days before his passing on 10 January, was “Lazarus”, which provided one of the clues that his mind was focused not only on imminent death but also on what lay beyond.
The Bible records a miracle of Jesus in which he brought Lazarus back to life four days after his death. Bowie’s “Lazarus” can be viewed on YouTube.
Spirituality was often a theme in Bowie’s music, though that may been lost on many of his millions of fans. He took an early interest in Buddhism, but his inquiring mind explored atheism, Christianity and other religions in his quest to understand the meaning of life.
This insight into Bowie’s spiritual quest comes from musician Thurston Moore, former frontman of Sonic Youth:
“It brings to mind Bowie’s early connection with Buddhist philosophy, practice and meditation, studying with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Lama Chime Rinpoche.
“Legend has it that David had considered a life as a monk but his teachers saw his light was needed beyond the monastery and advised him to follow it. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in later years, became the Buddhist teacher to Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman and so many others who employ kindness and contemplative thought as activism towards peace.
“Bowie, fabulous Capricorn, touched each of us in a remarkable and personal way, sharing not only his genuine brilliance for songwriting, but his joy for life, his rock ’n’ roll love. Now we see... the Starman who’d ‘love to blow our minds’ was indeed the man himself, dignified in his devotion to creative bliss, light and love.”
Tributes to Bowie have come from presidents, astronauts and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, a long-time fan, as well as a group of Belgian astronomers who have registered a constellation of seven stars in his name. They form the shape of a lightning bolt.