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I had no idea how ill he was.”Bowie’s representatives have refused to comment on claims he was secretly cremated with no friends or family present.A private funeral ceremony is planned for January 25 while artists including Cyndi Lauper will perform at a memorial concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31.Instagramming a picture of the time the rock god came to their studio, drummer Jaleel Bunton gave a tribute which perfectly summed up the real Bowie.“He was wonderfully unaffected,” he said.“He dressed like a dad. He asked for no special treatment and made no special demands. Dude, you are David Bowie, are you seriously asking this bunch of clowns for their opinion?

In this exclusive interview from Uncut’s October 1999 issue – which we’ll be posting up in four parts each day this week – David Bowie looks back on 30 years of genius, drugs and derangement.

“They have been queueing since the news broke on Monday,” he said. I suppose wearing jeans is the nearest I get to confounding expectations.”The idea of an entourage was “anathema” to Bowie, preferring instead to entrust the details of his daily life to his PA of 40 years, Corinne “Coco” Schwab. I don’t think I would be able to cope with the celebrity lifestyle.”The hugely influential global superstar would while away the hours in the cafes and book stores of lower Manhattan, virtually unnoticed.

His eyes fill with tears as he tells me Bowie was “the most wonderful man you could hope to meet. What he loved about the city was the fact that people were “very decent about their interactions with well-knowns”. The Strand on Broadway was a particular favourite, with Bowie once commenting: “It’s impossible to find the book you want but you always find the book you didn’t know you wanted.”Marketing manager Whitney Hu, 24, says they are considering writing the slogan on the walls of the shop. He was an avid reader and loved books.” It is the same story at Mc Nally Jackson Books on Prince Street, where he would bring daughter “Lexi” and his son Duncan, 44, from his first marriage to Angie Bowie.“He was startlingly nice,” says Allison Glasgow, who has worked there for 11 years.“He looked like this friendly Irish guy.

Danilo Durante, 58, owner of Bowie’s local Italian cafe, Bottega Falai, recalls how the singer would scribble away in a little notebook while he washed down proscuttio sandwiches and Italian pastries with cups of coffee.“He was the quintessential Englishman in New York,” he says.“He was a gentle man and a gentleman.

The last time I saw him was three or four months ago.

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