Tony Visconti hints at Blackstar 5.1 mix & leaves heartfelt tribute to David Bowie


Producer Tony Visconti yesterday left a moving tribute to his friend of 48 years, David Bowie and also revealed that a 5.1 surround sound of ★ (Blackstar) in may just happen…

Two days ago, Visconti wrote on his facebook page that the premiere of David Bowie’s video for Blackstar was one of the happiest days of his life. He revealed how he’d “feverishly worked on a surround sound mix for the theater” and how Rob Stringer CEO of Sony Music said “This sounds f***ing great!”. Visconti went on to say that “When I told him it was a surround sound mix he said I should mix the whole album in surround sound. Well, that time may come eventually.”

The last David Bowie album to be issued in 5.1 was 2003’s Reality, which came out as an SACD and in the now defunct ‘DualDisc’ format.

[socialpug_tweet tweet=”Yes, @Tonuspomus, a 5.1 mix of ‘Blackstar’ would be amazing. Please help to make this happen! “]

In another note written on the first anniversary of David Bowie’s death, Visconti also wrote movingly about how he heard the terrible news while on tour with his tribute band Holy Holy (with Woody Woodmansey, the drummer from The Spiders from Mars). He said “I was sound asleep in a hotel room in Toronto when my phone lit up around 2 am with texts every second. The messages were more or less the same thing – ‘David Bowie has died’, something I had been dreading for a year.”

He added “My band, Holy Holy, hadn’t any idea David was terminally ill. I had signed an NDA a year earlier (which was unnecessary) vowing I wouldn’t reveal any details about the recording of Blackstar. The shock was obviously greater to them.”

Tony ends his note by saying  “I will try to accept that David has passed. I’ve been through every stage of grief in the past 365 days, including anger. Of course, he never left us in spirit. We are fortunate to have lived in the same time as him. We’ve seen him, we’ve heard him sing and speak, we’ve hugged him, we’ve worshipped him and we are constantly reminded of him daily. He was a legend in his lifetime and he will be a legend until the end of time. But he was my friend too. I miss him dearly.”

Read the full text of Tony’s note to fans on his facebook page.

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Joseph Stone

Any news on the 5.1 release of Blackstar?


A little off topic. But just bought the “who can i be now” vinyl boxset for 175€ from amazon.it.



It would be a start if they simply reissued the CD without such a horribly compressed mastering. Thankfully the vinyl is a much more pleasant treat for the ears.

Julian H

How about a petition to bring this to Tony’s attention?

“We all love David Bowie’s music and this is obviously one of his best albums, but if you bought the CD or digital version you can only feel shortchanged because the vinyl LP features a much better mastering. Why can’t the CD have the same amount of dynamic range as the LP? Physically it’s entirely possible. The argument of “louder sells better” seems moot because the album isn’t very commercial and already proved to be a big seller before David’s sad passing.

Should the album get a re-release with bonus tracks and/or a 5.1 mix in the future, we plead for releasing the uncompressed mastering on CD so people can enjoy the uncompromised sound quality of this production, no matter what listening format they prefer. Being stuck with having to digitize vinyl rips (!) if you want to listen to ★ on the move without listening fatigue is not a good situation at all.”


CD’s have better dynamic range then vinyl. I thought you might want to know.


I still think that the DB box sets are way to expensive.

Kris from Perth

Gee…its been an empty 12 months without David… miss him…more than I thought!
Rock on ‘Starman’.


I’ve been listening to every studio album in its entirety since David’s birthday. I try to get at least three albums in each day. I’m up to Black Tie/White Noise. I think this will become a yearly ritual. Rock on, db!


If they just would let Steven Wilson do the 5.1 mix, there’s no dout it would sound amazing!


Blu-ray 5.1 of Backstar plus the songs from No Plan and any alternate versions of the songs. If however Visconti is going to sit on this release for years, why not pass it on to Steven Wilson?


The Bowie estate need to reissue all of the 5.1 mixes again. Whether they will or not…..

Based on what we’ve seen in the past, just about the worst curator of Bowie’s music was Bowie himself. He wasn’t someone who looked backward. From a record buying/fan perspective, that’s about the opposite of what we want.

The Bowie catalog needs a real curator. I have no faith that the Bowie family will come through for the fans. I don’t mean that as a knock on them, it’s just not their thing.


I hope they include the original unedited 12 minute version of “Blackstar”.


Visconti’s 5.1 mixes have been really decent, apart from some dominant percussion on a couple of YA tracks. Of course most fans have been longing for 5.1 versions of Low, “Heroes” and Lodger. The first two will celebrate their 40th anniversary this year (Low only days from now).


I’d be down for a Blackstar 5.1 as well, but honestly, most 5.1 mixes I’ve ever heard (short of the REM DVD-A’s awhile back which I thought were “decent”) just aren’t all that great. I picked up the Reality DualDisc a couple weeks ago and it’s…okay. Nothing special really and not nearly enough rear channel to suit my surround sound fancy. The Station To Station 5.1 from the deluxe box set is rather disappointing and I’ve not read good things about the Ziggy SACD multichannel (or lack thereof!) either. Here’s hoping that the Blackstar 5.1 (if it comes to fruition) is actually immersive.


I would be all in for any more Bowie in 5.1 and Tony Visconti has done some of the better 5.1’s of Bowie material. The Berlin 3 albums would be ones that I would most want to hear in 5.1 and Blackstar album would be the icing on the cake so yes sure hope they make this happen.

Richard B

A deluxe Blackstar might also include “Blaze” a song from the sessions that Nicholas Pegg has clearly heard and which he raved about in the latest edition of his “Complete David Bowie”. I had hoped that it might have been released on the 70th birthday. Oh well. Something to look forward to.


I have a UK version of the YA 5.1 album, sadly now in Canada, I can’t play it due to it being PAL. Doesn’t work with my 5.1 system. Wish they would reissue it as they are going for stupid money nowadays.


I would love this, but sadly there may be a long wait. In his autobiography (published 10 years ago), Tony says that he’s mixed Low into 5.1, but we’ve not heard that yet. He makes it clear that he really likes 5.1, so I’m sure he’s doing all he can to get both Low and Blackstar and maybe others released.

Minor point: Young Americans was released in 5.1 after Reality (in 2007, on DTS DVD).



Charles K.

I refrained from recent box set album collections because I have all the Ryko’s and ’99 remasters. This is great news and I’ll buy if it comes out, however, I hope it’s the impetus to release his whole catalog on 5.1. At least for the albums they have the tapes for. That’s what I’m holding out for.


That would be amazing. Please make this happen. Also other Bowie albums in 5.1. please.


I want a ‘Blackstar’ deluxe too, just hope they don’t go with a massive box set of sort, full of useless crap. The format they choose for ‘The Next Day’ was very neat: original album + bonus tracks + videos. For ‘Blackstar’ they might just add a fourth disc for the 5.1 mix and it’d be perfect.


After his death I couldn’t listen to Blackstar for a while, as it obviously had all the associated grief and meaning with what happened.

Recently i’ve ‘allowed’ it creep back in on shuffle, and now its opened up to me like never before – a truly wonderful album and one which from the sounds of it, will benefit again from a superb 5.1 mix if it comes to light…


“Reality” is from 2003, not 2013 ;-)


★ just grows and grows in my heart with every listen;i couldn’t bear to listen to it after Mr Bowie’s passing,but after a few months started playing the album late at night in bed.Now that seems to be a ritual,as soon as the title track plays i come over all wistful.Thanks again David for a lifetime of joy you have given me [well from 1972 on wards]

Kevin Allen

Of course Blackstar will be released in 5.1 Surround. It will be released in every format imaginable. As will everything else Bowie has ever done. A lot of the albums are already available as High Resolution downloads. They’ll be available in whatever is next touted as the “best sound ever” in a few years. MQS seems to be the latest variant. No doubt, in time, there’ll be something else to replace MQS.

I don’t mind that one bit. I love trying out all the new formats. There isn’t going to be anything new from Bowie so it’ll be remixes, re-imaginings, orchestral re-workings and so on. For ever. Think Elvis.

Personally, I am looking forward to the a cappella mix of Blackstar. It’s only a matter of time.

Jim Edwards

Tony’s words made me crumple again. This pain will never end. To those who say they can’t play David’s music, take out your records and play them loud. It doesn’t matter if you cry, that’s good. Just play Our Friend as loud as you can.

Larry Davis

I’m playing the Lazarus cast album right now…it’s quite awesome and feels more like either a tribute/covers album or a gathering of like-minded people celebrating Our Friend’s musical legacy…not a so-called “Cast” album…played “*” yesterday in full…first time in a year…an awesome experience and less painful with some distance of time…still my fave album of 2016…

Steve W

I bought Blackstar on the release day so was very much into the album when I learnt of his death; I wasn’t able to listen to it then for a couple of weeks but then I cam to realise and appreciate it for what it was: his last will & testament and his own epitath.

And – typically – an absolutely stunning album.

I’m not someone who bothers with 5.1 mixes but I would love a new version to incorporate the tracks currently orphaned on the new virtual ep & Lazarus cast album.

Paul W

You have agood idea, lets hope it happens


I own a clear vinyl edition of Blackstar and so far haven’t been able to face opening it.


Truth be told, I’ve not been able to face Bowie’s music since his passing. I played him regularly for decades, but it’s still difficult to listen for me. I don’t own Blackstar, I know the time wasn’t/isn’t right for it in my life.

I’ll get to Blackstar at some time in the future, but Bowie’s loss remains a difficult moment. One day I’ll be able to park the feeling of loss, and go back to the celebration that is his music, but for the past year, and right now, the time’s not right for me to listen.


I take it from your post that DB was a close and personal friend.


You can take it any time you want. Bowie has been part of my life for decades, he’s played a part in good times and bad. I’m sorry if you can’t understand that, perhaps when you mature a little more?


Opposite for me. Rather than just playing things haphazardly and randomly, I have really been getting into Lazarus (amongst other things). Even revisited the Absolute Beginners album I bought in my youth.
This guy was/is still awesome.


I understand how you feel, he obviously influenced so many aspects of your life and continues to do so and you appear to be progressing well. Give time to time, (I love his slant on time) we are all different but some of us are very similar. Live long and prosper!


you are so gonna love Blackstar dean : )


That would amazing! Preferably in bluray audio of course