Credit: Jimmy KingOne year ago today, David Bowie‘s death shocked the world. The rock icon’s unexpected passing from cancer came just two days after his 69th birthday, and the release of what turned out to be his final studio album, Blackstar.

In the wake of Bowie’s passing, Blackstar shot to #1 on the Billboard 200, becoming his first-ever record to top that chart. Meanwhile, fans and music journalists alike immediately noted that the album’s songs, and the two eerie and enigmatic videos that pre-dated its release, seemed to find Bowie reflecting on his impending demise.

As Billboard Senior Editor Jem Aswad tells ABC Radio, “The album is loaded with references to death and tombstones and lots of creepy and dark imagery. So, whether or not [Bowie] knew that his cancer was terminal, mortality was definitely on his mind.”

Aswad adds that he feels Blackstar is Bowie’s strongest and most innovative album since 1980’s Scary Monsters.

After his death, Bowie became the subject of a slew of tributes, including Lady Gaga‘s not-so-well-received performance on the 2016 Grammy Awards, and a pair of star-studded New York City benefit shows at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall. Meanwhile, countless artists paid homage to Bowie by performing his songs at their own shows.

As Aswad points out, David’s death also has spurred sales of his back catalog, with older music fans rediscovering his work and younger ones “discover[ing] him for the first time.” In addition, Jem maintains that during the past year, people have come to realize how influential and great the albums from Bowie’s 1970s heyday albums are.

Meanwhile, Bowie will have the chance to come away with some posthumous Grammy Awards February 12: he received five nominations in various categories, thanks to Blackstar.

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