The director of David Bowie musical Lazarus has told Sky News the singer “was still full of plans” for the future and “didn’t want to die at all”.
Ivo van Hove said the singer had told him about his cancer in November 2014 before the first workshop for the New York show.
“He said, ‘I have to tell you guys something because we are going to work intensely together. I want you to know if I’m not available or not there, why it is.’ He asked us to keep it confidential.”
Van Hove said Bowie was still very much involved in the musical – which he co-wrote with Enda Walsh.
“He was there a lot. It worked out really fine. He wrote a lot of new songs – not only Blackstar but also four new songs for the musical. He did this in one year and a half.
“He was totally not giving in to the disease and to his cancer – he was really a fighter.”
The Belgian director last saw Bowie at the Lazarus premiere in December and told Sky News he feared it would be their final meeting as the singer looked “fragile”.
“He came on stage with us. He looked well for the people in the audience, but he was fragile.
“We had a long conversation backstage after the show.
“It was beautiful and he was still full of plans because he said immediately, let’s make the second musical now – the sequel.
“He was very enthusiastic about the band which played on the Blackstar album.
“He said I want to make immediately a new album … He didn’t want to die at all. It was really not a fight against death, but a struggle for life.
“That’s the way I felt it. I admire him a lot, and it was hard sometimes but you could feel he suffered from it – he didn’t want to die, he wanted to go on.”
Lazarus, based on the book The Man Who Fell To Earth, is at the New York Theatre Workshop until 19 January.
It includes new songs by Bowie, as well as re-worked songs from his back catalogue.
Bowie himself starred in the 1976 film version of the novel.