David Bowie's new single 'Where Are We Now?' and album 'The Next Day' have shot to the top of the UK iTunes download charts.

The glam-rock singer unveiled his first new music in a decade at midnight on Monday, as part of his 66th birthday celebrations.

david bowie

David Bowie performing at Live Aid

Fans, and even those who work in the music industry, were stunned by the unexpected release. Bowie has not performed live since 2006 and has rarely been seen in public since then, leading to rumours of possible ill-health which were denied by his spokesman.

LISTEN: What do you think of 'Where Are We Now?'

Once known for his flamboyance, the star turned down the opportunity to appear at the Olympics Opening Ceremony last year despite a personal plea by director Danny Boyle.

Bowie's spokesman said, in a statement, the star was the sort of artist who "writes and performs what he wants when he wants".

Produced by long term collaborator Tony Visconti, 'Where Are We Now?' was written by Bowie, and was recorded in New York, where he was last reported to be living with his wife and daughter.

The single is accompanied by a video directed by Tony Oursler which harks back to Bowie's time in Berlin, with his face projected onto the body of a puppet.

REVIEW: What the critics are saying about 'Where Are We Now?'

Bowie's last album, 'Reality', was released in 2003 but his last number one album in the official charts was in 1993 with 'Black Tie White Noise'.

Bookies' odds on 'The Next Day', which will be released in shops on 11 March, shooting to Number One on the UK albums chart are already set at 6-1.

Though chances of it doing the same in the US are lower, at 33-1, according to Paddy Power.

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  • "Lou Reed New York" At The Gallery At Hermes

    NEW YORK - JANUARY 19: David Bowie attends the opening of Lou Reed NY photography exhibit at the Gallery at Hermes on January 19, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • Vanity Fair 2007 Tribeca Film Festival Party

    NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Singer David Bowie attends the Vanity Fair 2007 Tribeca Film Festival Party at the Courthouse on April 24, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

  • Vanity Fair 2007 Tribeca Film Festival Party

    NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Singer David Bowie attends the Vanity Fair 2007 Tribeca Film Festival Party at the Courthouse on April 24, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

  • The Metropolitan Museum Of Art Costume Institute Annual Gala - Arrivals

    NEW YORK - MAY 05: Musician David Bowie arrives to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

  • Premiere Of "Moon" At The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

    NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Model Iman and musician David Bowie attend the premiere of 'Moon' during the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

  • Premiere Of "Moon" At The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

    NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Musician David Bowie attends the premiere of 'Moon' during the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

  • 2010 CFDA Fashion Awards - Cocktails

    NEW YORK - JUNE 07: Model Iman (L) and musician David Bowie attend the 2010 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 7, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • Jeff Beck Commemorates Les Paul's 95th Birthday - Day 1

    NEW YORK - JUNE 08: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE; PREMIUM RATES APPLY) Musicians Brian Setzer (L) and David Bowie attend Les Paul's 95th Birthday with Special Intimate Performance at Iridium Jazz Club on June 8, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Gibson)

  • Jeff Beck Commemorates Les Paul's 95th Birthday - Day 1

    NEW YORK - JUNE 08: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE; PREMIUM RATES APPLY) Musicians David Bowie (L) and Jeff Beck attend Les Paul's 95th Birthday with Special Intimate Performance at Iridium Jazz Club on June 8, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Gibson)

  • Jeff Beck Commemorates Les Paul's 95th Birthday - Day 1

    NEW YORK - JUNE 08: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE; PREMIUM RATES APPLY) Musicians David Bowie (L) and Jeff Beck attend Les Paul's 95th Birthday with Special Intimate Performance at Iridium Jazz Club on June 8, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Gibson)

  • Katharina Harf Hosts DKMS' 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia Honoring Rihanna & Michael Clinton At Cipriani Wall Street

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Musician David Bowie and supermodel Iman attend the DKMS' 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia honoring Rihanna & Michael Clinton hosted by Katharina Harf at Cipriani Wall Street on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for DKMS)

  • Katharina Harf Hosts DKMS' 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia Honoring Rihanna & Michael Clinton At Cipriani Wall Street

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Musician David Bowie and supermodel Iman attend the DKMS' 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia honoring Rihanna & Michael Clinton hosted by Katharina Harf at Cipriani Wall Street on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for DKMS)

  • Serpentine Party - Bowie and Iman

    David Bowie and Iman arriving for the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in Hyde Park. The annual fund-raiser is being held on the gallery's lawn in a glass and steel pavilion designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and Arup.

  • Serpentine Party - Bowie and Iman

    David Bowie and Iman arriving for the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in Hyde Park. The annual fund-raiser is being held on the gallery's lawn in a glass and steel pavilion designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and Arup.

  • Serpentine Gallery Party - David Bowie & Iman

    David Bowie & wife Iman arriving for the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in Hyde Park. The annual fund-raiser is being held on the gallery's lawn in a glass and steel pavilion designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and Arup.

  • Serpentine Party - Bowie and Iman

    David Bowie and Iman arriving for the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in Hyde Park. The annual fund-raiser is being held on the gallery's lawn in a glass and steel pavilion designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and Arup.

  • David Bowie concert

    David Bowie performs on stage at the relaunch of the Carling Apollo, Hammersmith, in west London.

  • David Bowie concert

    David Bowie performs on stage at the relaunch of the Carling Apollo, Hammersmith, in west London.

  • David Bowie concert

    David Bowie performs on stage at the relaunch of the Carling Apollo, Hammersmith, in west London.

  • David Bowie concert

    David Bowie performs on stage at the relaunch of the Carling Apollo, Hammersmith, in west London.

  • Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Awards - David Bowie

    David Bowie arriving at the Hotel Inter-Continental, London for the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Awards, honouring songwriting and performance.

  • David Bowie - Silver Clef Awards

    Singer David Bowie arriving at the Hotel Inter-Continental, London for the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Awards, honouring songwriting and performance. PA photo: Stewart Griffiths 04/09/02 : Music legend David Bowie capped his comeback to cool with a special achievement prize at a top men's magazine awards. The 55-year-old star, who has been a huge influence on generations of musicians, was rewarded with the title at the GQ awards in London last night. David Beckham whose second son Romeo was born on Sunday was named top sportsman at the bash in the Natural History Museum. He last won the prize in 1999.

  • Glastonbury Festival Bowie

    Legendry David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival at Pilton for the final day of the annual music event. The first time he performed at the music Festival was back in 1971.

  • Glastonury Festival Bowie

    Legendry David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival at Pilton for the final day of the annual music event. The first time he performed at the music Festival was back in 1971.

  • Glastonbury Festival Bowie

    Legendry David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival at Pilton for the final day of the annual music event. The first time he performed at the music Festival was back in 1971.

  • Glastonbury David Bowie

    Legendry David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival at Pilton for the final day of the annual music event. The first time he performed at the music Festival was back in 1971.

  • DIANA AND BOWIE

    The Princess of Wales, Patron of the National Aids Trust, shakes hands with pop superstar David Bowie backstage at Wembley Arena before the Concert of Hope to mark World Aids Day. Also pictured next to Bowie are Mick Hucknall and George Michael.

  • David Bowie Isle Of Wight Festival

    EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO MERCHANDISING. David Bowie performs live on stage at the Nokia Isle Of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight.

  • David Bowie Isle Of Wight Festival

    EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO MERCHANDISING. David Bowie performs live on stage at the Nokia Isle Of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight.

  • David Bowie - The Nokia Isle of Wight Music Festival

    EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO MERCHANDISING. David Bowie performs live on stage at the Nokia Isle Of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight.

  • CTK David Bowie shortens Prague concert due to shoulder pain

    British singer David Bowie seen performing in Prague on June 23rd, 2004. Bowie was forced to cut short his Prague concert due to what appeared to be a trapped nerve in his shoulder. The singer performed for an hour before taking a short break after complaining of pain in the shoulder. He returned to sing two last songs clutching his shoulder in obvious pain. Then he excused himself to the audience and left the set.

  • David Bowie - The Nokia Isle of Wight Music Festival

    EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO MERCHANDISING. David Bowie performs live on stage at the Nokia Isle Of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park in Newport, Isle of Wight.

  • CTK David Bowie shortens Prague concert due to shoulder pain

    British singer David Bowie seen performing in Prague on June 23rd, 2004. Bowie was forced to cut short his Prague concert due to what appeared to be a trapped nerve in his shoulder. The singer performed for an hour before taking a short break after complaining of pain in the shoulder. He returned to sing two last songs clutching his shoulder in obvious pain. Then he excused himself to the audience and left the set.

  • David Bowie/Hours

    David Bowie, who released his 23rd solo album 'Hours' at the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street.

  • David Bowie/Hours

    David Bowie, who released his 23rd solo album 'Hours' at the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street.

  • NetAid /Bowie

    This picture can only be used in conjunction with editorial on NetAid. David Bowie performs on stage at the charity NetAid concert, at Wembley Stadium.

  • David Bowie/Hours

    David Bowie, who released his 23rd solo album 'Hours' at the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street.

  • Showbiz/Bowie filer

    David Bowie and his wife, Iman : Bowie became a father for the second time today when his wife Iman gave birth to a girl, called Alexandria Zahra Jones.

  • David Bowie UK tour first night.

    Rock legend David Bowie opens his set at Wembley Arena, at the start of his UK tour. David Bowie was born on 8 January 1947. Pop Star David Bowie, who has leapt to the top of the pop star wealth charts with a personal fortune of more than half a billion pounds. Partly as a result of his decision to take control of his purse strings and invest much of his fortune overseas to avoid crippling tax demands, Bowie has surged ahead of stars like Sir Paul McCartney in the cash stakes. Even more crucially, Bowie, who is worth a total of 550 million, is one of the few international pop stars who owns all the rights to his songs. Details of the sheer extent and source of 50-year-old Bowie's wealth have been unearthed for the first time by Business Age Magazine.

  • David Bowie - Reality Tour - Manchester

    Singer David Bowie performs live in concert as part of The Reality Tour at Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester.

  • David Bowie - The Reality Tour - Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester

    Singer David Bowie performs live in concert as part of The Reality Tour at Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester.

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE Q CLUB IN BIRMINGHAM 1997

    David Bowie in concert at the Q Club in Birmingham

  • GQ Awards - Bowie, Travis,McCartney

    Fran Healy of Travis (L) with Stella McCartney and David Bowie during the GQ Men of the Year Awards at the Natural History Museum in London.

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE Q CLUB IN BIRMINGHAM 1997

    David Bowie in concert at the Q Club in Birmingham

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena

  • DAVID BOWIE IN CONCERT AT THE BIRMINGHAM NEC ARENA

    David Bowie in concert at the Birmingham NEC Arena