The 63-year-old rock icon last released a new album in 2003, and stopped touring in 2004 after suffering a heart attack during a European trek. The early internet enthusiast has not even updated his official blog since October 2006, when he proudly revealed he would voice a character on the kids cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants.
Last year, he attended a few red-carpet events to help promote his son Duncan Jones’ movie Moon. But otherwise the musical chameleon seems to be savoring his latest metamorphosis into married father of a 9-year-old daughter in New York.
“He’s just being Dad, I think, laying low,” said bass player Gail Ann Dorsey, who started working with Bowie almost 15 years ago. “I can’t imagine he’s not writing or doing something, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Dorsey said she e-mailed him a birthday greeting in January, but resisted the temptation to ask if he was working on any projects.
“I never pry into an artist’s life, or process either,” Dorsey said. “I don’t write to him and go, ‘What are you doing?’ Or call and go, ‘Why aren’t you playing?’ You let people be and you see where it falls.”
Bowie biographer Marc Spitz is slowly losing hope that the singer will make a comeback, even as peers such as Lou Reed and Iggy Pop keep recording and touring.
“CLOSE TO THE ABYSS”
His absence is all the more striking given that Bowie had released an album or single almost every year since 1964. It would be akin to the equally prolific Woody Allen stepping back from filmmaking, Spitz said.
He also noted that people are used to celebrities such as David Letterman and Robin Williams bouncing back after heart ailments, not to mention former Vice President Dick Cheney.
But given that Bowie often performed songs about death and the mysteries of life, Spitz said he might have lost his appetite after getting “that close to the abyss.”
He also interviewed people for his book, Bowie: A Biography, who told him: “Maybe he’s just done, maybe he’s said his piece,” Spitz recounted. “Some people don’t go forever and ever and ever, like the Rolling Stones.”
Bowie’s managers declined to comment on his current pursuits. The singer has long dabbled in film, painting and photography. Bowie and his second wife, Somali model Iman, are the parents of 9-year-old Lexi.
His 38-year-old son Duncan, formerly known as Zowie Bowie, kept the family in the news this past year with his sci-fi movie Moon, which recently won a British Academy Film Award.
While it’s entirely possible that Bowie is occupied with parent-teacher meetings and playing the house-husband role that John Lennon assumed for the last five years of his life, he has kept his representatives busy with archival projects.
EMI last year released a CD and DVD derived from his 1999 appearance on VH1’s Storytellers, as well as a bonus-packed 40th anniversary reissue of his Space Oddity album.
Universal is about to reissue his self-titled 1967 debut album, also with bonus tracks, and Columbia has just issued a live CD from a 2003 tour.
The latter release, A Reality Tour, is a double-disc set culled from a pair of shows in Dublin. A DVD version was released in 2004.
Still, Spitz is more interested in what Bowie has to say now. His last studio album, Reality, came out in July 2003, spending just four weeks on the US Billboard 200 chart.
“His real value was how he synthesised the times and ran it through his psyche and then offered it back to us,” he said. “I’m not as interested in what he had to say in 1976 as what he thinks of the state of the now, because he is so sharp and his insight is so valuable.”