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David Bowie: Where Are We Now

David Bowie releases his new recording on his 66th birthday. His first in a decade. Courtesy Sony Music.

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Veteran music star David Bowie has broken years of silence and speculation to release his first single and album in a decade.

The glam-rock singer, who shot to fame in the late '60s with Space Oddity, has released the recording Where Are We Now? on iTunes to coincide with his 66th birthday.

A follow-up album called The Next Day is set to be released in March.

British singer David Bowie.

Birthday celebration ... British singer David Bowie. Photo: Reuters

Bowie has not performed live since 2006 and has rarely been seen in public since then, leading to rumours of possible ill-health which were denied by his spokesman.

Once known for his flamboyance, the star turned down the opportunity to appear at the Olympics Opening Ceremony last year despite a personal plea by director Danny Boyle.

A spokesman said: "Throwing shadows and avoiding the industry treadmill is very David Bowie despite his extraordinary track record that includes album sales in excess of 130 million not to mention his massive contributions in the area of art, fashion, style, sexual exploration and social commentary.

"It goes without saying that he has sold out stadiums and broken ticket records throughout the world during this most influential of careers."

He added that Bowie was the sort of artist who "writes and performs what he wants when he wants".

Produced by long term collaborator Tony Visconti, Where Are We Now? was written by Bowie and was recorded in New York, where he was last reported to be living with his wife and daughter.

The single is accompanied by a video directed by Tony Oursler which harks back to Bowie's time in Berlin, with his face projected onto the body of a puppet.

PA