David Bowie thought he "had a few more months" to live.

The music legend died on Sunday at the age of 69 after a secret 18-month battle with cancer but according to his longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti, Bowie - who released his final album Blackstar just days before his death - believed he had more time.

Detailing their final phone call, Visconti told Rolling Stone magazine: "At that late stage, he was planning the follow-up to Blackstar. And I was thrilled, and I thought, and he thought, that he'd have a few months, at least. Obviously, if he's excited about doing his next album, he must've thought he had a few more months.

"So the end must've been very rapid. I'm not privy to it. I don't know exactly, but he must've taken ill very quickly after that phone call."

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Last year Bowie was briefly in remission from cancer but Tony revealed he discovered in November that it was back and terminal.

He explained: "David was optimistic because he was doing the chemo and it was working and at one point in the middle of last year, he was in remission. I was thrilled. And he was a bit apprehensive. He said, 'Well, don't celebrate too quickly. For now I'm in remission, and we'll see how it goes.' And he continued the chemotherapy. So I thought he was going to make it.

"And in November, it just suddenly came back. It had spread all over his body, so there's no recovering from that."

However, Visconti believes Blackstar was Bowie's way of saying goodbye, as he revealed that after hearing some of the lyrics he said to the singer: "You canny b*****d. You're writing a farewell album. He was so brave and courageous," says Visconti.

"And his energy was still incredible for a man who had cancer. He never showed any fear. He was just all business about making the album."

- Bang! Showbiz