Having kept the news of his illness hidden so effectively from the public, the news of David Bowie's passing that broke on the morning of Monday 11th January sent shockwaves across the entertainment world. Not for the first time people reacted to the news of the death of a much-revered superstar performer by creating a huge demand for his back catalogue. The most high profile rock and pop death since that of Michael Jackson has inevitably impacted on both the Official UK Singles and Albums charts this week, skewing the listings beyond all recognition as the full impact of what we all lost this week hit home.
As befitted a man whose work includes some of the most famous albums of his generation, it is on the album chart that Bowie makes the most impact this week. What we now know to be his final work Blackstar was already heading for the top of the charts, even before this week's sad news but it now charges to Number One in quite spectacular fashion, selling almost 150,000 copies to become his tenth chart-topper in this country.
Inevitably that isn't all. David Bowie works account for fully one-quarter of the Top 40 albums this week and he has 19 in total on the Top 100 as a whole, a brand new record for any artist eclipsing the 11 chart entries Elvis Presley landed in what was then a Top 75 in the wake of his own death in 1977. Two Greatest Hits collections lead the way: 2014 collection Nothing Has Changed - The Very Best Of rockets to Number 5 in its best chart placing ever whilst 1997 release The Best Of 1969/74 lands at Number 11, also a new lifetime best. The biggest selling David Bowie studio album of his back catalogue turned out to be Hunky Dory which rests at Number 14, the 1972 release originally peaking at Number 3 in August 1973 almost a year after it first hit the shops. It hasn’t been a Top 20 album since March 1974.
Rather morbidly Music Week magazine notes this week that this is the most posthumous album chart in history, records from Elvis, Amy Winehouse, Cilla Black, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson all helping to ensure that no less than 23 of this week's Top 100 album chart are by deceased acts.
Individual Bowie tracks also saw a sales boost this week and are scattered liberally around the singles chart although their eventual impact is perhaps more muted than appeared to be the case midweek, the sales surge following his death lasting just a couple of days before something resembling normality began to return to the sales listings. Nonetheless those who wondered out loud just what everyone's favourite David Bowie track of choice would be finally have their answer as Heroes charges to Number 12. Something of an underachiever first time around, the now acknowledged classic originally peaked at a lowly Number 24 back in 1977 and so this week also lands its best chart placing ever. The song was taken to Number One by the 2010 X Factor Finalists in December that year and by a strange coincidence was the inspiration for Alesso and Tove Lo's Heroes (We Could Be) which was a Top 10 hit this time last year.
Other Bowie songs in the Top 40 this week are Life On Mars at Number 16; Starman at Number 18; Let's Dance at Number 23 and Space Oddity at Number 24. The latter two were Number One hit singles back in the day. Oddly enough his other celebrated chart-topper Ashes To Ashes only makes Number 62. In all 13 of this week's Top 100 are David Bowie songs although five out of the Top 40 is some way short of the 13 out of 40 notched up by Michael Jackson in the wake of his passing in 2009 and indeed dare I say it the 8 out of 40 managed by one Justin Bieber at the tail end of last year.
In all well over half a million David Bowie records were sold in Britain in the last week - 241,000 albums and 167,000 singles. His work clocked up a staggering 19 million total streams across the major streaming services. Put simply in the last four days practically everyone has exposed themselves to some of David Bowie's work, either to remember what he meant to them in their youth or perhaps even to discover him for the first time. It is a spectacular musical legacy that he leaves behind.
It seems almost odd to relegate the actual Number One single of the week to little more than a footnote, but then again this is no ordinary week. Despite surrendering its sales crown at long last to Shawn Mendes' Stitches, Love Yourself by Justin Bieber still just has the edge thanks to its still powerfully strong streaming support and so this week enjoys a sixth week at the top of the charts. It requires just one more week to equal Uptown Funk's seven week total as the longest running Number One single of the decade so far. By a strange coincidence Justin Bieber has now spent 13 weeks at Number One, level with both Pharrell Williams and "Uptown Funk" singer Bruno Mars as the acts with the most time at the top of the charts in the 2010s so far.
Keep the faith though, there are new hits on the way. Snakehips featuring Tinashe and Chance The Rapper rockets 27-11 with All My Friends, Major Lazer and Nyla move 21-13 with Light It Up whilst Craig David and Big Narstie make an impressive 36-15 jump with When The Bassline Drops, the latter far and away the biggest chart hit for David since 2007 Top 10 single Hot Stuff (Let's Dance).