Blackstar hits No. 1 spot in the US

NEW YORK • David Bowie's death has brought the legendary rocker a trophy he never had in life: a No. 1 album in the United States, the British musician's adopted home.

His album Blackstar was released two days before his death and, by the end of its first week on sale, it had sold 174,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen data.

That took it to No. 1 on Billboard's chart, bumping Adele's 25 to No. 2 after a seven-week run at the top.

Amid the outpouring of grief, Bowie also became among the rare artists to have two albums in the top five, with his greatest hits collection Best Of Bowie, released in 2002, hitting No. 4. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars is at No. 21.

The closest the icon had come to No. 1 in the US was second place for his 2013 album The Next Day.

When Blackstar was released on Jan 8 - his 69th birthday - its sales were very modest at first, with just a few thousand copies selling during that weekend.

But after news of his death spread early last Monday, fans rushed to buy it and everything else in the Bowie catalogue. According to Nielsen, 64,000 copies of Blackstar were sold last Monday alone and, by late last week, about 70 per cent of the sales were digital downloads.

Bowie spent the final two decades of his life in New York and had said that his first love was African- American music, especially funk and soul. Yet while he cast a huge influence over US pop culture, he was generally considered an avant-garde artist and did not win the same mainstream success as in Britain and other European countries.

In Britain, Blackstar opened at No. 1 - his 10th chart-topping album there - with nearly 150,000 copies sold, according to the Official Charts Company.

About 241,000 Bowie albums were sold in Britain last week and his music dominates the chart there - 10 Bowie albums are in the Top 40.

Vevo, the online music video service, also reported that last Monday, the day his death was announced, Bowie's catalogue of videos was watched 51 million times, a record for the service. The previous record was on Oct 23 when Adele's Hello was released and her video catalogue received 36 million views.

Meanwhile, fans gathered in London on Sunday for a tribute concert to the legend, who died from cancer.

Karaoke, electro, harp and even musical-saw versions of his hits rang out at Starman: A Celebration Of David Bowie, held at the Union Chapel, a church in Islington, north London. Attended by 900 fans in the pews, the event began with a karaoke version of Starman (1972) sung by the fans. Artists such as David McAlmont, The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells, and The Magic Numbers also performed Bowie songs.

The sister of the late Mick Ronson - the guitarist in Bowie's Ziggy Stardust-era band The Spiders From Mars - spoke to the crowd. "We've all been very affected by the passing of David," said Ms Maggie Ronson. "Whoever we are, all over the world, we've all been affected by David in some way."

Bass player Guy Pratt, who has worked with the likes of singers Michael Jackson, Elton John and Pink Floyd, played a faithful version of Life On Mars (1971), one of Bowie's best-known songs.The night drew to a close with a mass sing-along of his 1977 Berlin-era hit Heroes.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Blackstar hits No. 1 spot in the US'. Print Edition | Subscribe