Legendary singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and performer David Bowie passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.
"Rest in peace David Bowie. You are the best. You're right up there with the greats," Howard said Monday morning's show, adding "I'm really sad about it."
"David Bowie died peacefully [Sunday] surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief," a message posted to his official social media accounts read.
Bowie, who has long been one of Howard's musical heroes, made a surprise appearance at Howard's 44th birthday bash in 1998, where he performed "Fame," "Hallo Spaceboy," and his then-new single "I'm Afraid of Americans."
Howard shared several Bowie related memories on Monday's show, including the time Wack Packers Nicole Bass and Hank the Angry Dwarf passed around a blow-up doll in the front row during Bowie's performance at the birthday bash. "I wonder what they told [Bowie] before he came out that he would see," Gary Dell'Abate, Howard's executive producer, said Monday. Bowie's performance, which happened exactly 18 years ago this Tuesday, would ultimately go down as one of the finest in birthday bash history.
In the late '90s, Bowie sold the rights to his music catalog in a unique deal that offered investors his royalties for a set amount of years for an upfront fee. Howard found the deal fascinating at the time: "Sounds like big business Robin," he remarked. "Yeah! Can we do that?" his perhaps prophetic co-host responded.
As an official guest on the Stern Show, however, Bowie proved elusive. The singer was scheduled to come by the studio in October of 1999 to perform "Rebel Rebel" (which superfans will remember as the opening theme to "The History of Howard Stern") and "China Girl" in an effort to promote his album "Hours...." But Bowie fell extremely ill and was forced to cancel his appearance that morning. His team had already set up the band's musical gear in the studio, which the staff was left to marvel at. Unfortunately, Bowie was never able to return for what surely would have been an incredible interview and performance.
Bowie's people had indicated that he was nervous to be interviewed by Howard for fear he would bring up the story about Angie Bowie allegedly finding him in bed with Mick Jagger (which she revealed to Joan Rivers while she and Howard were both guests on "The Joan Rivers Show"). "I couldn't have cared less if he was gay or straight," Howard said Monday. "I wanted to talk to him about his amazing career."