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Blackstar Theory

Blackstar Theory takes a close look at David Bowie's ambitious last works: his surprise 'comeback' project The Next Day (2013), the off-Broadway musical Lazarus (2015) and the album that preceded the artist's death in 2016 by two days, Blackstar. The book explores the swirl of themes that orbit and entangle these projects from a starting point in musical analysis and features new interviews with key collaborators from the period: producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, musical director Henry Hey, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and assistant sound engineer Erin Tonkon.


These works tackle the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality. They enact a process of individuation for the Bowie meta-persona and invite us to consider what happens when a star dies. In our universe, dying stars do not disappear - they transform into new stellar objects, remnants and gravitational forces. The radical potential of the Blackstar is demonstrated in the rock star supernova that creates a singularity resulting in cultural iconicity. It is how a man approaching his own death can create art that illuminates the immortal potential of all matter in the known universe.

Blackstar Theory

  • Leah Kardos

    This book considers David Bowie's ambitious late works - 2013's The Next Day, the science fiction musical Lazarus (2015) and the Blackstar album (2016) - which were shortly followed by the artist's death in early 2016, a final transformative gesture that turns popular music into death art, expanding contemporary secular prospects of human potential and immortality.

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  • Book Details

    Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
    Publication Date: 13-01-2022
    Format: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
    264 pages
  • About the Author

    Leah Kardos is a senior lecturer in music at Kingston University London, UK, where she co-founded the Visconti Studio with music producer Tony Visconti. She specializes in the areas of record production, pop aesthetics and criticism, and exploring interdisciplinary approaches to creative practice.

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