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What Will David Bowie Do Next?

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This weekend sees the end of the incredibly successful V&A exhibition David Bowie Is exhibition which has been running since 23rd March.

Whilst the organisers would have known it was likely to be popular it's debatable whether they would have predicted how phenomenal the demand for tickets would be and that it would be a sell-out almost immediately leaving huge numbers disappointed.

The recent announcement that there will be a live film presentation in over 200 cinemas next Tuesday (13th August) to be directed by BAFTA winning director Hamish Hamilton provides an opportunity for those who were unable to get tickets to see the 300 costumes and objects from Bowie's archive.

This film will undoubtedly be as popular as the exhibition and as well as including introductions by curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, will provide a fascinating archive of Bowie's incredible career not least because it is a chance to see what were regarded as his most outrageous outfits from the 1972-73 Ziggy Stardust tour. Included among the film's contributors will be Kansai Yamamoto who designed them.

And for the very committed there is always the possibility of seeing the exhibition when it goes on international tour.

Clearly interest in David Bowie shows no signs of abating.

However, it must be recognised that at 66 years old the man who created Ziggy Stardust was such an influence on music and fashion throughout the 1970s and 1980s is now an old age pensioner.

It begs the question as to whether there will be any more twists in Bowie's career which has seen him move so easily from music to acting and made him the embodiment of style and panache.

For a performer who was so wanted to achieve success in his early days and, of course, was willing to shock, it would seem peculiar if we have heard the last of him.

Indeed, given that his appearances in public are now extremely rare and that he has not toured since 2004 and not performed in public since 2006, means that this enigmatic quality is heightened; only added to by his ability to be able to secretly collaborate with his long-time friend, musician and producer Toni Visconti which resulted in the unannounced release in January of the single 'Where are we now?' from his 24th album The Next Day.

Though it has been mooted that he may tour again it would seem that this is unlikely given previous concerns about his health.

His last public performance on the 'A Reality Tour' was ill-fated and cut short because of his blocked artery when playing in Germany. This tour also saw the death of a lighting technician who fell when preparing for a concert in Miami.

There may certainly be more albums though come critics suggested that tracks on The Next Day, most especially 'Where Are We now?' sounded elegiac and might be a finale; The New York Times calling it a "twilight masterpiece."

Fascinatingly, Bowie claims that he has had nothing to do with the V&A exhibition making a rare appearance on Facebook last September to state, ""I am not a co-curator and did not participate in any decisions relating to the exhibition."

At the risk of sounding disrespectful and, perhaps, cynical, this statement has a hollow ring to it.

David Bowie has always given the impression of being ├╝ber-savvy at making decisions about his career to ensure that gains maximum advantage due, perhaps, in some part to his naive trust in managers at the start of his career who didn't always act in his best interest.

The decision to release his first new musical material in a decade to coincide with the V&A exhibition would seem to be a shrewd example of Bowie's ability to manipulate events to maximum advantage.

As I wrote in a blog on this site few weeks ago, exactly forty years ago he did what he'd predicted in the track 'Ziggy Stardust' and broke up his band The Spiders from Mars at the height of their success.

Though causing shock at the time it proved to be a masterstoke and was the springboard to the success he enjoyed for the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s; especially during his 'German period' which was then followed by the Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album which heralded the 'New Romantic' genre of music and fashion

And thirty years ago in 1983 he demonstrated his adeptness by altering his musical direction and releasing commercially successful album Let's Dance which he invited the acclaimed producer Nile Rogers to be involved in.

Let's Dance gave Bowie a new army of fans though some criticised his going to the 'darkside' of what they saw as being too pop-orientated for someone of his stature.

Having become a megastar Bowie continued to record albums, to act and be involved in an array of projects which took his interest including his collaboration in Tin Machine which many believed was an attempt to recreate his early career of simply being a member of a band.

No doubt because of his heart scare most of the last decade has been very far less frenetic compared to his previously prodigious output.

So, back to the question of what, if anything, David Bowie will do next?

If Bowie does decide to record more music it will be fascinating to see what grabs his attention. Perhaps classical music?

Alternatively he might be tempted to take on more acting roles such as his strangely endearing portrayal role as the real-life inventor Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's 2006 film The Prestige which was based on the 1996 novel by Christopher Priest.

Acting and performance, we should not forget has been part of Bowie's repertoire right from his days when he collaborated with mime artist and dancer Lindsay Kemp.

The most likely thing that David Bowie will do is to continue his life as it currently is; the father of twelve year old daughter Lexi who enjoys the anonymity of living in New York and visiting bookshops and art galleries.

Recently our only glimpses of him tend to be the, extremely rare, occasional 'red-carpet' appearance with his wife Iman.

From time-to-time we see the odious paparazzi photos which are an inevitable hazard for anyone vaguely famous let alone someone like Bowie who has now been given the status of living legend.

Detestable though pap photos are the most recently published show Bowie enjoying a trip to Venice with his wife and daughter and told and we see him as a youthful 66 year old wearing normal clothes.

It's hard to reconcile this normal family man with the performer who wore the flamboyant costumes currently on show at the V&A.

What does Lexi makes her dad's former life?

One rumour that has not been previously reported was that Bowie visited the V&A with his family. There had been much speculation as to whether he would indeed do this and, according to a 'well-informed' source, he did so when in Europe on his family holiday visiting Venice.

Given that if the visit had been publicised there would have been hysteria, the visit to the V&A was before opening hours in early July and after apparently strolling around the show and no doubt fielding a few questions from Lexi about his dress sense back in the early 1970s, Bowie took snaps of Lexi in the gift shop holding old records of his up to her face.

What price would the tabloid press pay for one of those pictures?

More interestingly, when David Bowie looked at the paraphernalia of his former life, what thoughts went through his mind?

If he spent a couple of minutes luxuriating on his influence on music, fashion and the confluence of art and pop no one could blame him.

A colleague at Birmingham City University, Sam Coley who is senior lecturer in radio production journalism is an authority on Bowie and recently produced a documentary for Absolute Radio on the Let's Dance album to consider its impact thirty years after its release.

As part of this documentary Sam elicited a number of people to give their views about Bowie's legacy and standing among rock and pop aristocracy.

These comments demonstrate what some insiders and experts think of his influence:

John Taylor, Duran Duran

"I think we're all just so happy to see him back. I don't know that I have any expectations. He's one of the greatest artists of all time in my opinion [and has...] got nothing left to prove expect perhaps to himself. I think Bowie's quite possibly the greatest living singer-songwriter of our age. I don't think there's anybody actually that created such a range of extraordinary music. I don't think there's anybody that has got the kind of resume that David has - and I don't think anybody will ever be able to do it again."

Chris Charlesworth, Melody Maker, PR and publicity for Bowie at RCA records

"Bowie had an amazing influence on the industry. I think he changed the course of music. Maybe not as much as the Beatles did but substantially. In the pantheon of rock David Bowie stands way up there with, with Elvis Presley, the Beatles, I mean if Elvis was to the fifties and the Beatles were to the sixties, I think David was to the seventies.

Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, Senior Lecturer at University of East London and music executive

"Bowie is I think one of the only examples of someone that people of all ages will, are still enamoured with him, he's managed to hold onto that credibility of cool. And I think it's a very, very unique case. I think it speaks to both his legacy as an artist but also his smarts as an artist, to pull back from the public eye, to not have to reveal everything. That's something that's rare in this day of Twitter, Facebook, and instant access. We have more access than ever before to an artist, there's no mystique. Bowie's probably the only artist with any sort of mystique left and I think that's one of the reasons that people are still so interested in him, so captivated by him."

Dr. Owen Devereaux, Senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Limerick:

"Bowie, like Beethoven, will be listened to in hundreds of years from now. Much popular culture (and) rock music culture, is fleeting, perhaps increasingly so. But Bowie is one of the true iconic artists - and I really mean that word, iconic."

Even if David Bowie doesn't record any more music, never acts or performs again or, indeed, is ever seen again in public, his place in history is secure.

That said, given his fantastic odyssey from the boy from Brixton to global icon, he has never been afraid to do the unexpected.

So it would be foolish to make any definite predictions about what David Bowie will do next.