- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2017

Music legend David Bowie learned that his liver cancer was terminal just three months before his death last January, according to a new documentary.

Bowie was in the midst of filming the music video for his song “Lazarus” when he received the terminal cancer diagnosis in late 2015, the BBC reported Friday. He died three months later on Jan. 10. Two days prior to his death, he had celebrated this 69th birthday by releasing what was ultimately his last album.

The undisclosed details are part of the BBC’s new documentary, titled “David Bowie: The Last Five Years,” to air on Saturday.

In it, “Lazarus” director Johan Renck recalled how the singer developed the video’s concept weeks prior to his passing.

David said: ‘I just want to make it a simple performance video,’ ” the director recalled.

“I immediately said, ‘The song is called Lazarus, you should be in the bed,’ ” Mr. Renck added. “To me it had to do with the biblical aspect of it, you know the man who would rise again, and it had nothing to do with him being ill.”

The final version of the video depicted Bowie singing the words “Look up here, I’m in heaven” from a hospital bed. According to the director, however, the concept was finalized a week before Bowie had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.

“I found out later that, the week we were shooting, it was when he was told it was over, they were ending treatments and that his illness had won,” Mr. Renck said.

The singer had kept the severity of his illness publicly hidden, making his death last January, days after the release of his final album, all the more shocking.

Francis Whately, the director of the new documentary, told the Guardian that he didn’t find it strange that Bowie kept his illness private.

“He’d had his life picked over for 40 years, and he thought he had said everything he wanted to say. There was nothing more,” he told the newspaper.

In addition to BBC airing Mr. Whately’s new film, tributes across the world are slated in the coming days in honor of what would have been the singer’s 70th birthday, including concerts scheduled in London, New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.

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