David Bowie died on 10 January 2016 two days after his 69th birthday. His death was announced on his Facebook page.
In 1976, 29-year-old David Bowie’s finances were in tatters. His first wife Angela Bowie in her book: Backstage Passes, Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie, describes how he’d have had a hefty tax problem if he’d stayed in California. The money had been spent and the tax would come due. Returning to high-tax England was ruled out, so they decided instead to move to Switzerland. Angela, who had attended the private school St. Georges in Switzerland, flew over and with the help of a lawyer arranged Swiss residency in the commune of Blonay. In her book she describes Blonay as “a charming village above Lake Geneva near Montreux in the French-speaking part of the country”. She then goes on to say “The place I’d found was a commodious cuckoo-clock of a house très Swiss.”
In 1980, Angela and David divorced. David however kept this house in Blonay as his main residence until 1982, living there with his son Zowie, known now as Duncan Jones, who attended the Commonwealth-American School based in Pully – now the International School of Lausanne, located in Le Mont-sur-Lausanne.
In 1982 the Blonay house was sold and the artist and his son moved into the larger Château du Signal situated next to the Sauvabelin forest above Lausanne. Bowie married the Somalian-American model Iman in a low key ceremony in Lausanne in 1992, and as she was no great fan of the quiet pace of life at the chateau, it was put on the market. The newly-weds then set off to the United States for a change of pace.
In an interview on the Countdown show in Australia, Bowie said he thinks he wrote the single Let’s Dance while in Switzerland. The interview was done shortly before the album’s release in 1983.
From then on the couple lived primarily in London and New York. The chateau du Signal, originally constructed for a Russian prince around 1900, was eventually sold in 1995 for CHF 4 million.
After his father’s passing was announced, Duncan tweeted a photograph of him and his father when he was a baby with the comment “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”
Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) 11 Janvier 2016
Bowie was active right to the very end of his life, releasing a new album called Blackstar on his birthday, 8 January 2016, two days before his death. He had known for 18 months that his time left was probably quite limited, but chose to keep his illness private.
The video below that goes with Lazarus, one of the tracks on the album, shows the artist in a hospital bed struggling with the cancer that took him on 10 January 2016.
Bowie’s record producer, Tony Visconti wrote on Facebook: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be.
David Bowie: the discrete commander of the Chateau de Sauvabelin (24 Heures – in French) – Can’t find time to improve your French? Check out time flexible courses at Swiss French School.