Evening Standard - 28th July 2004

Bowie feeling Hunky Dory

By Richard Simpson

David Bowie emerged from his New York apartment today for the first time since recovering from an emergency heart operation.

The 57-year-old singer walked alone around the streets of the Chinatown district and shook hands with shoppers who congratulated him on his speedy recovery only one month after lifesaving surgery.

Bowie, wearing a cowboy hat, also popped into a health food shop to stock up on tea and a variety of ancient Chinese remedies.

He cancelled his European tour at the end of last month with what was believed to be a trapped nerve. But during a hospital check-up doctors discovered a blocked coronary artery. It was serious enough for doctors in Germany to operate immediately.

Bowie, a former heavy smoker, was operated on at St Georg Hospital in Hamburg on 26 June and returned to New York two weeks later. He has since been resting in bed at his SoHo apartment where staff said he was "very poorly". His wife, model Iman, was at his bedside.

Today, as he strolled around the streets near his home. an onlooker said he looked a picture of health. "David looks fantastic. He was chatting and shaking everyone's hands. People were genuinely surprised and excited to see him. You wouldn't have believed by looking at him that he had major heart surgery a month ago."

News of the operation did not emerge until after Bowie had checked out of hospital. The star released a statement in which he said he was disappointed "because the last 10 months of this tour have been so fantastic. Can't wait to be fully recovered and get back to work again. I tell you what, though, I won't be writing a song about this one."

However, sources close to the singer admitted he had felt "run down" on the tour. "He missed his family and he was tired," said one source.

Patients with heart disease sometimes do not know they have it until they have a full-blown heart attack.