The Scotsman - 29th July 2004

Bowie back on form in wake of heart op

By Edward Black and Lauren Stewart

A MONTH after undergoing emergency heart surgery, David Bowie looked to have completed a remarkable recovery as he made his first public appearance in New York.

The 57-year-old music legend looked healthy and relaxed as he shopped among locals in Chinatown.

Wearing a green T-shirt and pale cowboy hat, the singer stopped to shake hands with wellwishers as well as buy vegetables from a market stall. Bowie also paused to watch locals play the traditional Chinese game of mah-jong - a version of rummy played by four people using more than 100 pieces called tiles.

The artist appeared noticeably more relaxed than before his heart operation which forced him to pull out from headlining the recent T in the Park music festival at Kinross.

Bowie was forced to undergo surgery in Germany after complaining of a pain in his shoulder. Specialists diagnosed the singer as having an dangerously blocked artery which required emergency medical treatment.

Although his condition resulted in the cancellation of some of his European tour dates, he is eager to return to work and will even begin writing a new album in the coming months.

Julian Stockton, a spokesman for Bowie, said the recovering star was gradually increasing his workload. He said: "David is currently writing songs. He is looking to go into the studio with Tony Visconti, producing in the autumn."

Mr Visconti, a record producer, is familiar with Bowie’s way of working, having assisted his musical production from as early as 1969.

On his website, Mr Visconti stated that he would be working with an "open mind" when collaborating with the international star.

He added: "I am not a creature of habit. Maybe this is why some of my best collaborations have been with David Bowie, an artist dust never settles on."

Scottish fans of the musician were left disappointed after Bowie’s act at T in the Park was cancelled earlier in the summer. The headline spot was filled at the last minute by the glam rock band the Darkness.

At the time, Bowie was understood to be "very sorry" that his planned concert schedule could not go ahead.

Mr Stockton said that after performing at a festival in the German town of Scheessel last month, Bowie pinched a nerve in his shoulder.

After he sought medical assistance it was discovered that he had an acutely blocked artery, which needed urgent treatment using a procedure known as angioplasty.

Coronary angioplasty was first used as a technique for treating coronary artery disease in 1977. More than 20,000 such operations are carried out each year in the UK. According to the British Heart Foundation, at least nine out of ten are successful and most patients go home the day afterwards.

The procedure involves a small balloon being passed into a narrowed or blocked artery and then inflated to expand the surrounding tissue, thereby allowing the blood to resume its normal flow-rate more easily.

Bowie is married to the model Iman and has amassed considerable wealth from his singing career. Born David Jones in Brixton, London, he first won fame with the breakthrough single, Space Oddity, released in 1969.

His passion for science fiction, continued with the album Life on Mars and his early work is credited for inspiring glam rock. He has also appeared in films The Man Who Fell To Earth and Labyrinth.