Bowie, who would have turned 70 today, died just days after turning 69 and the release of 25th studio album Blackstar, having kept his illness private
Tuesday will mark a year since the world lost the music legend, but no one has felt David Bowie ’s loss more brutally than his wife, Iman.
Although rarely seen in public these days, the supermodel has taken to social media to share her grief and to honour the husband she touchingly calls her “forever love”.
Today would have been the Starman’s 70th birthday, and to mark the occasion Iman posted a sketch on Instagram of a young Bowie with the Ziggy Stardust lightning bolt across his face.
She wrote simply: “Jan 8th #ForeverLove #BowieForever.”
Just two days earlier Iman posted an intimate black and white photo from their wedding in 1992. Stood on a deserted beach, dressed in a white gown with her face hidden by a straw hat, she is being kissed by her new husband.
The pictures were the simplest of tributes the model could pay to her devoted husband as the singer’s millions of fans prepared themselves for the first anniversary of his death.
According to close friends in New York, where Bowie and Iman lived until his death , the pair were “inseparable”.
“If there was a blueprint for what marriage should be, David and Iman were the architects,” one pal told the Mirror.
“Their love for each other was immeasurable. Despite all the fame and fortune, David was never happier than when staying in with Iman.
“They were invisible New Yorkers. He was able to travel around Manhattan with a cloak of invisibility living a normal life he so craved.
“The thing was, David was anything but normal but that is what he craved most in his life.”
Bowie died just days after turning 69 and the release of 25th studio album Blackstar, having kept his illness a secret from the world.
The Heroes star only discovered his cancer was terminal three months before he died – and that his treatment was to be stopped as he filmed the music video for what even he didn’t know would be his final single, Lazarus.
Speaking of her grief, Iman says: “It’s just been a tough year, but I’m holding up.”
Asked if she was a survivor, she replied: “Not as much as you think.”
The couple met in October 1990 and married two years later in Tuscany.
Eight years on, they welcomed their daughter Lexi into the world.
The friend added: “There is not an hour that goes by Iman doesn’t think of David. She was torn apart by his passing but has remained strong for their daughter, Lexi.
“Every day she wears a necklace bearing his name. She has vowed it will remain around her neck until the day she joins him in heaven.”
Over the past year Somali-born Iman, 61, has regularly taken to Instagram to profess her love for Bowie. In June, on what would have been their 24th wedding anniversary, she shared a heartbreaking photo of the pair with the words “The best thing about me is you” written over it and captioned: “June 6th… 24th wedding anniversary #foreverlove”.
In September, nine months after Bowie’s death, Iman felt strong enough to attend her first public event during an appearance at New York Fashion Week.
But the friends yesterday told the Mirror one of the most upsetting moments of the year for Iman was the birth of Bowie’s first grandchild.
Six months after his death, Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, 45 – from his first marriage to Mary “Angie” Barnett – and his wife Rodene Ronquillo welcomed their son Stanton.
“David doted on children,” added the friend. “He would have loved being a grandfather.”
Yesterday Iman was said to be at the couple’s Manhattan home with 16-year-old Lexi, still coming to terms with their loss.
Around the world, Bowie’s legion of loyal fans had arranged a number of tributes, including a concert last night at the O2 Academy in Brixton, South London, last night, featuring former members of his band and hosted by his close friend Gary Oldman, who paid an emotional tribute to his late pal at last year’s Brit Awards.
The gig marked a week of mourning in which thousands of fans are expected to descend on 40 Stansfield Road in Brixton tomorrow, where the Starman was born.
Yesterday, they marked his birthday by placing flowers and photos at a mural of the star in the borough, which has become a shrine for Bowie fans since his death.
It came as Columbia Records released the musician’s final known songs, recorded during the same period as Blackstar.
No Plan contains three new tracks – No Plan, Killing a Little Time and When I Met You – plus Blackstar’s single Lazarus.
The three songs formed part of the sellout Lazarus musical production, with Bowie’s renditions featuring on the cast album, though this is the first time they’ve become individually available. No Plan’s release also coincided with a new music video of the title track, directed by Tom Hingston, featuring a row of televisions in the window of Newton Electrical – a nod to Bowie’s character in The Man Who Fell to Earth.
The singer never intended Black Star to be his final goodbye, with friends believing he didn’t know he was so ill when he began production
Lazarus director by Francis Whately said: “People are so desperate for Blackstar to be this parting gift that Bowie made for the world when he knew he was dying, but I think it’s simplistic to think that.
“There is more ambiguity there than people want to acknowledge. I don’t think he knew he was going to die.”
The video for the track, set in a hospital bed, was conceived before Bowie knew his cancer was terminal, and a BBC Two documentary which aired at the weekend revealed the singer’s bandaged eyes was the director’s idea.
Neither Francis nor Bowie knew the star only had weeks to live.
The singer’s untimely death led to him becoming one of the biggest-selling artists of the year, with five albums posthumously featuring in the top 30.
Blackstar, which was shortlisted for a Mercury Prize, was one of the most popular albums of the year, while fans kept Bowie’s music alive by buying The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Nothing Has Changed and Changesonebowie.
In the wake of his death, his sales increased by 5,000%, with some music industry experts predicting his estate could net up to £35million in royalties from last year.
Bowie, who was secretly cremated without any family or friends present, left £70million in his will. He bequeathed half to Iman, with the rest split between his son and daughter.
The whereabouts of his ashes have remained a secret within his family. Duncan was once forced to deny they had been spread at last year’s Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
He labelled the claim “gross” and said if his father’s ashes were to be scattered in public, it would have been at Butlins in Skegness.
Even beyond death, the enigma of Bowie remains.