Bowie’s final album was his big 25th, a fine number to go out on, and it was released just 2 days before he died of liver cancer. It was not public knowledge that he was terminally ill, and most the musicians he recorded with didn’t even know.
Below are a few surprising facts about Black Star, described by many a magazine as one of the decade’s most unique albums. It’s speculated that the album title refers to a dreaded 5-pointed, star-shaped skin marking indicative of cancer.
The Album Was Partially Inspired by Rapper Kendrick Lamar
The album has a distinctively original sound, even for Bowie, it sounds unlike any other album, and quite unlike any of his own previous work. He and his long-time producer and collaborator Tony Visconti purposefully strove to avoid a rock and roll sound, and they were both listening to and admiring Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp a Butterfly, at the time, and call it a clear influence. The electronic duo Boards of Canada were also cited as a mutual influence.
It Broke Some Bowie Records
Black Star topped charts in many countries, and became Bowie’s only album to top the Billboard 200 in the United States. The album remained at the number-one position in the UK charts for three weeks, and won 3 Grammys. Blackstar was the number-one selling vinyl album of the year, and sold twice as many copies as the previous year’s winner, Adele’s 25.
The Curiously Titled, “Tis a Pity She Was a Whore” Was Based on a Play of the Same Name
Published by John Ford in the 1633, it is cited as one of the most controversial works in the history of English Lit, for its subject matter centering on incest. While the play did not condemn or condone incest, it did say what no one wanted to hear: it exists.