Even in the twilight of his career and life, David Bowie continued to break down boundaries in the sonic world. Bowie’s last albums and his musical, Lazarus, were his final artistic statements to shake the rock and pop worlds. He completed the last two while secretly fighting cancer. The inner and outer worlds of that era will be explored in the upcoming HBO documentary, David Bowie: The Last Five Years. The trailer was released today, and the film will air on Bowie’s birthday, January 8th.
This television special is preceded with the 2013 companion piece, David Bowie: Five Years, a documentary about the first five years of Bowie’s career. The way that any visionary artist closes their career is typically a lightyears difference, and that is exactly the case here with The Last Five Years. HBO is taking Bowie fans on a journey through the throwback rocker The Next Day, the fantastical musical Lazarus, and the esoteric jazz-rock swansong Blackstar.
The documentary tells the story through photographs, interviews with his collaborators, and never-before-seen footage from the Bowie vault. Throughout, the people that worked with him detail his creative process, philosophies, and struggles within his enigmatic final creative sprint. The story of these swansongs is arranged, made up of words from old friends all the way to new millennium colleagues.
Much like many of Bowie’s projects, the list of guest appearances is star-studded, Blackstar-studded if you will. This includes producer Tony Visconti and guitarist Carlos Alomar, who have been mainstay studio collaborators with David Bowie for 40 years. The director Ivo Van Hove and writer Enda Walsh both worked with Bowie for the making of the musical Lazarus. Viewers will also hear stories and anecdotes by other collaborators; Toni Basil, Earl Slick, Gail Ann Dorsey, Gerry Leonard, Catherine Russel, Sterling Campbell, Zachary Alford, David Torn, Donny McCaslin, Maria Schneider and Robert Fox.