He began making the album after his cancer diagnosis. The idea of having jazz musicians on the record came when he was in a jazz club and saw some musicians that he liked in mid-2014. The album was confirmed by producer Tony Visconti to be designed as a parting gift to the fans, with Bowie knowing it would be his last. Blackstar was recorded earlier in 2015, yet held off until Bowie knew he was near the end of his life. The hit album is peppered with Jazz music throughout, though it remains a rock album at its core. Bowie also drew inspiration from Kendrick Lamar.
The music video for his haunting new single "Lazarus" was carefully planned to be released to the public when he was sure he only had a few days left. The lyrics to the song begin as, "Look up here, I'm in heaven!" The whole album is filled with lyrics about mortality, and when it was released a few days ago it was met with acclaim. Yet, none of us took any of the lyrics of the video for "Lazarus" to actually symbolize his fate.
After a 10 year hiatus from music, he released The Next Day in January 2013 without much advance notice, and followed that up with an EP in the fall. That album was also received well and showed Bowie had reached yet another creative high point. He stayed away from touring though, with his last live performance coming in 2006 at a charity concert with Alicia Keys.
Bowie was a true innovator right up until the end.
There's a starman waiting in the sky.