David Bowie Had Liver Cancer Prior to His Death

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A close confidante who knew about David Bowie’s deteriorating health is claiming that the music legend was battling liver cancer before his death earlier this week.

According to director Ivo van Hove, who collaborated with Bowie on the off-Broadway musical Lazarus, the singer told him about his condition in November 2014 through Skype just when their show was in the early stages of production. Van Hove confirmed in a Dutch radio interview that Bowie had liver cancer.

“It was immediately clear it was very serious,” van Hove later told The New York Times, recalling that Bowie had requested that the information be kept a secret from the cast — including lead actor Michael C. Hall. “Confidential is confidential.”

“It was very strange,” van Hove said of trying to convey Bowie, who co-wrote the theatrical piece, and his intentions. Explaining of the title track, which was also made into a music video starring Bowie himself, he continued, “The song is a man in total distress, and then finding a way out, in his imagination, so he could still be alive, in freedom, as a bluebird. It’s the message of the whole show.”

Days before his death, Bowie released his 26th and final album, Blackstar, on his birthday.

Bowie passed away on Jan. 10 at the age of 69. A statement released from his camp read, “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”