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New single from birthday boy Bowie
Music idol David Bowie has broken years of silence and speculation to release his first new single in a decade - with an album to follow.
The star, who shot to fame in the late '60s with Space Oddity, surprised fans by suddenly releasing a new recording, Where Are We Now?, on his 66th birthday.
The track appeared on iTunes at 5am with the accompanying atmospheric video premiering on his website.
It was instantly well received by his devotees, with long-time fan Boy George declaring it "bloody gorgeous".
Bowie's last album of new material, Reality, was released in 2003 and after touring the songs he largely withdrew from the public eye, concentrating on his family life as he lived in New York.
Unsurprisingly, 10 years since he was last heard, Bowie's voice sounds older and more world-weary. The melancholic song sees him reviewing his time in Berlin - where he created some of his most groundbreaking music in the 1970s - as he lists some of his haunts with the repeated line "just walking the dead".
And in the video directed by Tony Oursler, with the musician's pensive face projected on to a puppet, he appears to be almost biting back tears as he looks back on his life.
Where Are We Now? was written by Bowie and recorded in New York. It was produced by long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, who has worked on many of his most famous albums, beginning with 1969's Space Oddity.
A follow-up album called The Next Day is set to be released in March.
Bowie has not performed live since 2006 when he appeared alongside David Gilmour at London's Royal Albert Hall and a few months later on the bill of a charity concert in New York.
His public withdrawal has led to rumours of poor health, although this has continually been denied.
Bowie, who is known for the constant reinvention of his look and sound, particularly in the 1970s, turned down the opportunity to appear at the Olympics Opening Ceremony last year despite a personal plea by director Danny Boyle.
His re-emergence quickly caused a buzz online with many praising the single.
Broadcaster and writer Jon Ronson wrote on Twitter: "Did you think David Bowie would never release another record or be seen again? We were wrong. And it's great."
Boy George said: "Just bought David Bowie's new single Where Are We Now? - bloody gorgeous. New album coming. How happy am I?"
The single sleeve is an upside-down black and white picture of the star in his "Thin White Duke" days in the 1970s.