Why David Bowie Once Turned Down A Chance To Perform At The Olympics

The 2012 Olympics was an enormous event for its host city of London. In fact, it's almost impossible to overstate, or to fathom, what a huge deal it was. According to the BBC, the opening and closing ceremonies of the games drew in 27.3 million and 26.3 million viewers respectively on the network, and 90% of all U.K. residents (just shy of 52 million people) tuned in to some of the televised proceedings.

The 2012 Olympic games were marked, as always, by remarkable and inspirational feats of athlete prowess, from talents from around the world. Team Great Britain itself, per Metro, won an impressive crop of 29 gold medals. It's only right, then, that a selection of some of Britain's finest musical talents were also tapped to perform during the event.

David Bowie, one of the finest British musical exports of all time, did not appear on stage in person. Here's why he declined to do so.

Bowie's music was heavily featured at the 2012 London Olympics

As NBC Sports states, Bowie's music was prominently featured at the event. At the Opening Ceremony, when Team Great Britain took the stage, "Heroes" played. This was certainly an appropriate choice, given the team's stunning performance in the events that followed.

Another of Bowie's songs was played during the grand finale of the 2012 Olympics. The Closing Ceremony was punctuated by "Fashion." Another of the star's heavy-hitters, this tune was also perfectly placed, accompanying the fashion parade from, per Vogue, some of Britain's most iconic supermodels. Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were among those who performed in resplendent golden gowns. The stars emerged from billboards of themselves to kick off the elaborate performance.

Both "Heroes" and "Fashion," in short, were played during high-profile, glamorous moments that the ostentatiously dressed Ziggy Stardust should have loved, by all accounts. Bowie, however, who had distanced himself somewhat from his work by this time, didn't perform himself.

Bowie and several other stars were missing from the show

According to The Guardian, Bowie was 65 years old at the time of the Olympics, and living in New York City. It had also been several years since he had last toured. In fact, The Bowie Bible explains, his final performance took place in November of 2006, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. He had then all but retired as a performer.

In 2013, Danny Boyle told The Toronto Star that he had personally visited Bowie in New York to plead with him to perform at the Olympics. The encounter was, Boyle admitted, "a big thing for me, because he's a hero of mine, a serious hero ... I was really nervous meeting him." Tragically for Boyle, and for the fans, Bowie could not be convinced. "He sadly didn't want to do anything live," Boyle concluded.

The Guardian goes on to report that Bowie was far from the only one to turn down an invitation to appear. The "Symphony for British Music" featured live performances from The Spice Girls and the Who, among others, but the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones and Kate Bush, three fellow British musical stars, reportedly declined the offer too.

Ultimately, with nothing to promote and his move to the United States, it's plain to see why a "Symphony for British Music" wouldn't have appealed to Bowie. At the same time, though, his music was still celebrated at the event, and quite rightly so.