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David Bowie to Be Honored at Brit Awards, Set for Transatlantic No. 1 Debut With ‘Blackstar’

Columbia
Columbia

David Bowie will be honored with a posthumous tribute at the Brit Awards on Feb. 24, weeks after he notches what looks likely to be his first No. 1 album in the U.S.

In the days since the news of Bowie’s death broke, Classic Rock magazine notes that sales across his catalog have spiked, especially in his native U.K. This is nothing new for recently deceased artists, but unlike most, Bowie released a new record just days before his death — and that album, Blackstar, seems to be headed for a chart-topping debut on both sides of the Atlantic.

Billboard shares preliminary sales data pointing to first-week sales of more than 130,000 units for Blackstar, which the trade magazine predicts will be enough to “easily” end Adele‘s lengthy recent run at the top spot with her latest effort, 25. This would serve as a bittersweet coda for a distinguished recording career that never saw Bowie hit No. 1 on the U.S. album chart while he was alive.

In fact, as Slate‘s Chris Molanphy points out, Bowie was something of a chart underachiever in the States, and many of what we think of as his biggest singles (e.g. “Changes,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Heroes”) weren’t really hits here at all. And although he still enjoyed plenty of commercial success in the U.S. while rarely even seeming to be aware of current trends or pop formula, he enjoyed having a hit as much as anyone; the article notes that during the ascension of 1983’s Let’s Dance, he’d frequently phone producer Nile Rodgers offering excited updates on its chart progress.

Whether or not American buyers turn out in sufficient numbers to give Blackstar a No. 1 debut, the record looks like a lock for the top of the charts in the U.K. — which is where Bowie is scheduled to receive what’s being described as “a major tribute” when the Brit Awards convene on Feb. 24. Awards chairman Max Lousada has pledged to honor the “extraordinary life and work” of an artist he described as “visionary and groundbreaking.”

“He has inspired generations of musicians and will continue to shape music for many years to come,” said Lousada. “We wish to honor his extraordinary life and work at the forthcoming Brit Awards and pay a fitting tribute to one of our greatest icons.”

In other Bowie-related news, Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn has shared that he had a cameo role reserved for him in the sequel — and if the timing had worked out a little differently, we might have seen Bowie sharing IMAX screens with Groot and Rocket Raccoon.

Gunn wrote about his experience in a Facebook post, saying he and Marvel chairman Kevin Feige were spitballing ideas for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cameos when Bowie’s name came up. “[Feige] brought up Bowie’s name. I told him nothing in the world would make me happier, but I heard from common friends he wasn’t doing well. We heard back that he was okay and it could potentially happen,” Gunn continued. “Who knows what that was about? But, for whatever reason, it made my Twitter revelation [of Bowie’s death] more of a surprise.”

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