Producer Tony Visconti, who worked with David Bowie starting with his sophomore album Space Oddity in 1969, had a new conversation with Rolling Stone in which he revealed that a follow-up to Blackstar had been on the table. Bowie contacted Visconti on FaceTime roughly a week before he died at age 69 and said he'd recorded demos for five new songs and was ready for the next project. Visconti goes on:
"And I was thrilled, and I thought, 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 exactly, but he must've taken ill very quickly after that phone call."
Visconti said Bowie was healthy throughout much of 2015, going into remission in the middle months. One Blackstar session began right after a chemotherapy appointment, "and he had no eyebrows, and he had no hair on his head and there was no way he could keep it a secret from the band."
Visconti realized along the way that the record, Bowie's 25th studio effort, was being penned as a farewell. (At which point he called Bowie a "canny bastard.") "He was so brave and courageous," Visconti says. "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."
Monday morning, as everyone learned of Bowie's death, Visconti wrote on Facebook that Blackstar had indeed been conceived as "a parting gift," saying "he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life - a work of Art."