Entertainment & Arts

David Bowie: Brit Awards tribute for 'visionary' musician

David Bowie in June 2004 Image copyright PA

A tribute will be paid to "visionary and ground-breaking" David Bowie at next month's Brit Awards.

Brits chairman Max Lousada said the "extraordinary life and work" of "one of our greatest icons" would be honoured at the show, at London's O2 arena, on 24 February.

A memorial concert is also planned for New York's Carnegie Hall in March.

The Music of David Bowie was billed as a tribute show featuring his songs, but has now been changed to a memorial.

Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, it was announced on Monday.

Image copyright Getty Images/ Reuters
Image caption Fans pay tribute to David Bowie in Berlin, Hollywood and New York

Mr Lousada said: "David Bowie was one of the most important and influential songwriters and performers ever and, like so many fans around the world, we're devastated to hear of his loss.

"A visionary and ground-breaking pioneer, he has inspired generations of musicians and will continue to shape music for many years to come.

"Naturally, we wish to honour his extraordinary life and work at the forthcoming Brit Awards and pay a fitting tribute to one of our greatest icons. "

Bowie was named best British male at the 2014 Brit Awards - becoming the oldest recipient of a Brit Award in the ceremony's history.

The award, accepted on his behalf by model Kate Moss wearing his Ziggy Stardust outfit, came 18 years after he won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Brits. It was also 30 years since he had last been named best British male.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kate Moss wore one of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust outfits to collect the award on his behalf

The New York memorial concert will see Bowie producer Tony Visconti's house band will perform, along with artists including Cyndi Lauper.

A statement on the concert organiser's website said: "The show is taking on many more emotions. RIP David."

Tickets had only gone on sale on Monday, just as news of Bowie's death was filtering through, and have already sold out.

"The unexpected death of David Bowie has turned this tribute, which we have worked on for the past seven months, into a memorial concert," the show's organisers said.

"This year's concert will certainly be remembered as a poignant celebration of his music by his friends, peers, and fans. We are all deeply saddened by this news. The timing of our public on-sale date is bizarre in its timing... may God's love be with you."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Crowds of fans gathered in tribute to Bowie at a mural in his birthplace of Brixton, south London painted by street artist James Cochran, aka Jimmy C

The event, organised by Michael Dorf and City Winery, will feature 20 artists, each performing songs by Bowie. The concert is a benefit for a variety of music education programmes for underprivileged young people.

Other performers will include The Roots, Bettye Lavette and Robyn Hitchcock.

Bowie's death was announced in a statement which said he "died peacefully, surrounded by his family" after an "18-month battle with cancer".

As yet there has been no official confirmation of the type of cancer Bowie had.

But Ivo van Hove, who directed Bowie's current off-Broadway play Lazarus, told Dutch public radio broadcaster NOS that he had suffered from liver cancer.

"He told me more than a year and three months ago just after he had heard himself... he said it was liver cancer," van Hove said.

Spotify boost

Meanwhile, on the US iTunes albums chart, Bowie's most recent album Blackstar - released on his birthday on Friday - peaked at number one on Monday.

Best of Bowie was in second place, pushing Adele's 25 into third place while two other Bowie albums also reached the top 10.

Music licensing company PPL released an official chart of the most-played Bowie tracks of the 21st Century, collating the Bowie tracks which have been played in public and broadcast on TV and radio since the year 2000.

The top five are:

  1. Let's Dance (1983)
  2. Under Pressure (with Queen)
  3. Starman
  4. Ashes to Ashes
  5. Rebel, Rebel

Spotify also revealed that streams of Bowie saw a 2,822% increase on Monday following his death.

The top five songs streamed were:

  1. Heroes
  2. Let's Dance
  3. Blackstar
  4. Lazarus
  5. Life On Mars

Nearly six million viewers tuned in to television specials on Bowie following his death, with schedules changed to allow channels to screen tributes to the star.

BBC One's David Bowie: Sound and Vision, fronted by Jeremy Vine, attracted an average audience of 4.5m. The half-hour programme, which started at 19:30 GMT, had a 20.1% share of all TV viewing at the time.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Bowie's death has dominated the news

BBC Two later showed David Bowie: Five Years, a repeat of the 2013 documentary. The 90-minute film, from 23:15 to 00:45, was watched by 600,000 viewers and had a 9.5% audience share.

A musical tribute titled David Bowie: Starman was on Channel 4 from 22:35 to 23:35, attracting 500,000 viewers, with a 4.6% share.

Tributes have continued to pour in from around the world, and on Monday, hundreds of people flocked to Brixton in south London, where Bowie was born, to celebrate his life.

Fans also placed candles, flowers and glitter at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, outside his New York home and outside his former flat in Berlin.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Rolling Stone Mick Jagger paid tribute to his friend, a "true original"

Tributes have continued to be paid by fellow musicians to the "extraordinary artist" and Mick Jagger, who recorded a cover of Dancing in the Street with Bowie in 1985, said: "David was always an inspiration to me and a true original.

"He was wonderfully shameless in his work. We had so many good times together... He was my friend. I will never forget him.''

Ronnie Wood, who spoke to BBC presenter Hazel Irvine at the Masters Snooker 2016 on Tuesday.

"He was my year - we're both 1947 - God bless David, I shall miss him," he said.

"It's a bit of a shock. Even though his health hasn't been good for years, nobody likes to lose such a great talent.

"We used to have great laugh because he had a great sense of humour."

The Rolling Stones as a band also issued a statement that said they were "shocked and deeply saddened" by his death.

They said that "as well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original".

Sir Elton John shared a photo of a young David Bowie on Instagram.

"I am still in shock. Never saw it coming. My deepest condolences to Iman and the family. An amazing life. An amazing career," he wrote.

Image copyright Instagram

Bruce Springsteen called Bowie "a visionary artist and an early supporter of our music. Always changing and ahead of the curve, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed.''

Debbie Harry said "without this visionary and his friend Iggy Pop where would Blondie be today? Silly question and one that can't be answered really but there is no doubt in my mind that Bowie played a big part in our future successes. As for now, love you David Bowie".

Entertainment reporter Lauren Turner in Bowie's Brixton birthplace

Music rang out across Brixton, south London, as fans tried to come to terms with the death of the global music legend who was also, as the sign outside the Ritzy cinema proclaimed, "our Brixton boy".

People had brought guitars to mourn Bowie in the way that perhaps seemed the most fitting - by coming together to sing his songs. Outside the street art mural of Bowie as Aladdin Sane, people queued up to lay flowers, as impromptu singalongs of Ziggy Stardust, Changes and Starman filled the air.

The crowd was a mixture of locals walking past on their way from work and fans who had made a pilgrimage.

There was a celebratory atmosphere at times, with some clutching bottles of Prosecco. Others held up candles into the dark sky and a few were in tears, being comforted with hugs from friends.

Windrush Square, outside the cinema, became the focus for the main party - organised hastily on Facebook earlier in the day. Hundreds of people filled the square to dance in the streets - many of whom had painted their faces with the distinctive Aladdin Sane zig-zag. One statue in the square even ended up bearing the same mark.

As images of Bowie were beamed on to the walls of Brixton Library, party poppers were let off and people raised their glasses in honour of their musical hero.

Some pubs had arranged Bowie tribute nights, and lines of people snaked down the roads waiting to get in.

As in countless bars and homes across the world, there was only one artist playing last night.

Watch a special tribute programme David Bowie: Sound and Vision on the BBC iPlayer

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