Being told of David Bowie’s death while appearing on a television show was “weirdly appropriate”, the musician’s ex-wife has said, as theirs was a “showbusiness marriage”.
Writing for the first time about her reaction to his death, Angie Bowie also recalled how she fell in love with the musician, and how she caught him cheating on her.
Bowie, 66, had been taking part in Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother when news of her ex-husband’s death emerged. She was informed of his death off camera and was later shown on television in the reality show’s “diary room”.
Writing for the Mail on Sunday, Bowie said: “The fact that it happened on television was weirdly appropriate since it was a showbusiness marriage conducted in public a lot of the time. I was shocked. I thought he was indestructible.
“A relationship like that with a man like that, it defines your life,” wrote the actress and musician, who married David Bowie in 1970 and divorced him in 1980. But she added: “We’d been apart for a long time, so it’s not as if it bent me out of shape – but as I said on screen, ‘the stardust has gone’.”
David Bowie was once quoted as saying of his ex-wife: “She has as much insight into the human condition as a walnut and a self-interest that would make Narcissus green with envy.”
Bowie recalled how, as a 19-year-old student, she fell in love with the singer, claiming she helped him with his early successes. But she added: “He told me before we married: ‘I don’t love you’.
“I was falling hopelessly in love,” she wrote, “though I could see my main potential to him was as a nurse, housekeeper, creative ally and business adviser. I thought, ‘Well it’s going to have to be business for me too because it’s not going to work any other way.’ But my heart… he was so, so attractive.”
She added: “I made a home, anchored us as a couple, and used my sense of theatre to help style him. The Ziggy Stardust red hair came from looking at back copies of Vogue; the Aladdin Sane make-up, the Space Oddity costumes – we worked on them together.”
David Bowie: A life in albums
David Bowie: A life in albums
1/27 David Bowie
2/27 Space Oddity
3/27 The Man Who Sold The World
4/27 Hunky Dory
5/27 The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
6/27 Aladdin Sane
7/27 Pin Ups
8/27 Diamond Dogs
9/27 Young Americans
10/27 Station To Station
14/27 Scary Monsters
15/27 Let's Dance
17/27 Never Let Me Down
18/27 Tin Machine
19/27 Tin Machine II
20/27 Black Tie White Noise
26/27 The Next Day
27/27 Black Star
The marriage was “open” from the start – and Bowie repeated her claim they had nearly been late for their wedding after having a threesome with another woman.
She knew life had to change after being summoned from New York to Los Angeles by the musician, only to find him having sex in a hotel with the singer Claudia Lennear. “I demanded dignity and respect,” she wrote, “and this was the moment I realised I was losing both.”
The divorce, she said, left her with “just £500,000 to be paid in instalments over 10 years”. Her ex-husband also got custody of their son Zowie, now 45 and known as Duncan Jones, whom his mother has not seen since he was a teenager. She wrote: “Zowie was my gift to David and I would never have separated them.
“Today he is a grown man who obviously does not want me as a mother. Now David is dead I am not going to get in touch with him. Why would I make myself more miserable? Zowie obviously wants things never to be repaired which is sad, but there it is.”
Her article came amid reports that David Bowie prepared records to be released in the years after his death, with Newsweek stating the first compilation would be on sale before the end of 2017.