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Bowie single tops the charts
Bowie single tops the charts

David Bowie's representative has thanked fans for giving the star a birthday to remember by sending his new song to the top of the charts.

The reclusive musician returned to the spotlight on Tuesday - his 66th birthday - by releasing his first new music in a decade.

The new track, titled Where Are We Now?, shot straight to the top of Britain's iTunes chart, and a spokesperson for Bowie has thanked fans for their support.

"The response . . . has been incredible and what nicer way to wish David Bowie a Happy Birthday than with all the positive responses on TV, radio, newspaper and social media sites," a message posted on Bowie's newly revamped website states.

"The reaction from iTunes users has also been remarkable with . . . the single, Where Are We Now?, currently at No.1 on the UK iTunes site."

Bowie's new album, titled The Next Day, is due to hit stores in March.

Meanwhile, the designer behind Bowie's new album cover has defended his decision to re-work the singer's iconic Heroes image instead of using a new picture of the star.

British graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook collaborated with the legendary musician to put together the sleeve of Bowie's comeback album The Next Day.

The record's cover was released online this week as Bowie announced his first new music in a decade, but fans were baffled to see the artwork was simply an update of the famous image from the front of the star's 1977 album Heroes.

The Next Day cover adds a simple white box bearing the new title over Bowie's face, while Heroes is crossed out.

Barnbrook has tried to explain the move to fans, writing in a post on his blog: "We understand that many would have preferred a nice new picture of Bowie but we believed that would be far less interesting.

"We dare to think this is something new. Normally using an image from the past means, 'recycle' or 'greatest hits' but here we are referring to the title The Next Day. The Heroes cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is 'of the moment', forgetting or obliterating the past.

"However, we all know . . . we cannot break free from the past. When you are creative . . . it seeps out in every new mark you make (particularly in the case of an artist like Bowie).

"People will judge you always in relation to your history."

Barnbrook goes on to defend the decision to tamper with such an iconic album cover: "If you are going to subvert an album by David Bowie there are many to choose from but this is one of his most revered. It had to be an image that would really jar if it were subverted in some way and we thought Heroes worked best on all counts."

The designer is also full of praise for Bowie.

"He is quite a private person, so no need to say too much about him other than that he is a pleasure to work with," Barnbrook said.

"Very intelligent, funny, serious when he needs to be and generous in his thoughts and actions.

"He simply did what he always does, which is to go with a radical idea and that takes courage and intelligence."

Bowie has remained largely out of the spotlight over the past few years - his most recent album, Reality, was released in 2003, his last live show was in 2006, and he is rarely seen in public.