David Bowie's untimely passing on Sunday wasn't only a shock for fans around the world – close friends of the icon were also kept in the dark. In retrospect, longtime collaborator and friend Brian Eno realizes his last correspondence with the singer just last week was a thinly veiled and tender goodbye.
Brian, who produced the singer's Berlin Trilogy, Low, Heroes and Lodger, told the BBC that David's death "came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him ... I feel a huge gap now."
"We knew each other for over 40 years … Over the last few years – with him living in New York and me in London – our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were Mr Showbiz, Milton Keynes, Rhoda Borrocks and the Duke of Ear," Brian continued.
" I received an email from him seven days ago. It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did.
"It ended with this sentence: ' Thank you for our good times, Brian. They will not rot.' And it was signed 'Dawn'. I realize now he was saying goodbye."
The last known image taken of David was posted on the singer's Instagram account on Friday, just two days before he died – to mark his 69th birthday and the release of his 28th, and final, album.
The picture, which perfectly captures the star's vitality and charisma, shows him wearing a classic trilby, a dark fitted suit and a huge smile. It was taken by his official photographer Jimmy King, who wrote alongside, "Why is this man so happy? Is it because it's his 69th birthday or that he has released his 28th studio album today and it's a corker?
"Who knows, but we're sure you'll want to join us in congratulating him on both."
David's final album, Blackstar, has been critically acclaimed by fans and critics alike. It features the haunting track Lazarus, which poignantly opens with the lyrics: "Look up here, I'm in Heaven."