Musician, actor, financier: Bowie celebrates his 60th

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The Independent Culture

Today marks a landmark in the short history of rock 'n' roll that many thought unlikely ever to occur. David Bowie is joining the ranks of popular music's growing band of sexagenarians. There was a point in the 1970s when the drug habit of the "Thin White Duke" grew so inflated he looked set to join that decade's gallery of fallen stars.

Concern over the singer's health resurfaced three years ago when he underwent an emergency heart operation, and rumours of his impending demise have continued to circulate with alarming regularity.

But tonight the flamboyant chameleon of rock who brought the world Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, and worked with stars from Bing Crosby to Iggy Pop, is expected to toast the occasion of his 60th birthday by dining with his wife, Iman, and daughter at their loft apartment in Manhattan.

Though his greatest work may be some decades behind him, Bowie, like fellow sixty-somethings Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Paul McCartney and The Who, continues to command an army of loyal fans around the world. But unlike at his 50th birthday when he performed at Madison Square Garden, this year they have been forced to lay on their own celebrations.

In Britain there will be events in Sheffield and London, while in Italy followers will gather for Bowie birthday celebrations in Rome, Milan and Bassano del Grappa. In Japan, where the artist retains a huge young fan base, fans will celebrate his kanreki (60th birthday) at nightclubs in Tokyo.

Bowie's next scheduled appearance - the first real gig for three years - is not due until May, when he will perform at an abandoned railway park in New York as the finale of his Highline arts festival. Before that, fans will have to make do with his forthcoming cameo in the children's cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.

Bowie's management insists the star is back to full health and maintains a busy work schedule, as well as spending time with his young daughter, Alexandria.

"It is like the way John Lennon spent time in New York with his son Sean after the break-up of the Beatles," one source said.

"David is the father of a young child and is aware that he was perhaps not always able to be around so much when his son, Duncan, was younger. These things become more important."

Bowie returned to the big screen last year alongside Scarlett Johansson and Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige. He also joined the cast of voices for Luc Besson's animation for the English version of the film Arthur et les Minimoys.

Despite the relatively low profile he has had in the past few years, recent times have been some of the most financially rewarding for Bowie. He is said to have amassed a £120m fortune with the help of an extensive back catalogue, his Reality tour and by encouraging investors to speculate on his future earnings by issuing Bowie Bonds - a scheme which raised £33m in exchange for forfeiting 10 years of royalties.