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David Bowie's last album was a 'parting gift' to his fans, says producer

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Blackstar was released January 8th — two days before the singer's death

David Bowie's final album has been described as a "parting gift" to his fans by producer Tony Visconti, a longtime Bowie-collaborator who has worked with the singer since his 1969 album Space Oddity. Bowie, who died this weekend "surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," released what is his 25th and final studio album Blackstar on January 8th. Writing on his Facebook page, Visconti said: "He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life — a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it."

"Look up here, I'm in heaven / I've got scars that can't be seen."

Bowie had kept news of his illness secret until the announcement of his death today, but fans have begun to look for hints and messages in the singer's final album. One track, "Lazarus," that also appears in Bowie's off-broadway musical of the same name, begins with the particularly striking invocation: "Look up here, I'm in heaven / I've got scars that can't be seen." Perhaps, as Visconti suggests, it's best to view the album as something of a planned farewell — that at least will be some consolation for his many fans. "He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life," writes Visconti. "He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry."