David Bowie's producer Tony Visconti has spoken out to clarify long-standing rumours about the musician's health, assuring fans his boss is "not dying" and "has not lost a single brain cell".

The reclusive rock icon returned to the music scene this month (Jan13) to share a new song with fans nearly 10 years after his last release. He hasn't played live since 2006 and has rarely been seen out in public over the last few years, and his decision to shun the spotlight for such a long time led to intense speculation about his health.

However, Visconti, who has spent the last couple of years working on Bowie's upcoming album The Next Day, has now spoken out to silence the gossip for good.

He tells Britain's The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, "People thought he was dying. He's not dying any time soon, let me tell you... He couldn't have done two years' work if he was a sick man. He's very healthy, he's very fit. He had the heart operation (in 2004) and that's it. He's long since recovered from that."

Bowie, 66, famously collapsed on stage at a music festival in Germany in 2004 and subsequently underwent emergency heart surgery to treat an acutely blocked artery.

In recent years, rumours have also suggested that Bowie has been dealing with degenerative brain condition Alzheimer's disease, but Visconti is adamant the story is not true: "He is as sharp as a tack. He is sharper than ever. This boy has not lost a single brain cell."

Visconti goes on to refute reports suggesting his boss will never play live again, insisting Bowie does not want to put himself through a full tour, but is not opposed to playing one-off live shows.

He adds, "He doesn't want to tour any more. He's had enough of it. But he hasn't ruled out that he might do a show. It was a relief to me to hear that he was open to that."

The producer also hints that Bowie is planning to release another album after The Next Day hits the charts in March (13): "We recorded 29 titles. We have at least four finished songs that could start the next album. If all goes well, we will be back in the studio by the end of the year. He's back. Bowie has found out what he wants to do: he wants to make records. Nothing else."