singer Annie Lennox has urged people to "seriously weigh up the pros and cons" of the independence referendum vote after David Bowie called for Scotland to "stay with us" in the United Kingdom.

Lennox, the former Eurythmics and Tourists star, spoke out yesterday after rock and pop star Bowie shocked campaigners when he delivered the message at The Brits, the music industry's annual awards ceremony.

He asked model Kate Moss to make the political statement as she collected the 67-year-old star's award in London on Wednesday.

Aberdeen-born Lennox said: "Would breaking away from the UK bring long term benefits, or would the cessation of union be an unmitigated disaster from which there would be no turning back?

"From my perspective, I think the issue is complex and there is certainly a strong element of risk.

"I'm neither a gambler nor soothsayer and my view doesn't count in any case."

Lennox, who in 2008 appeared to clearly back an independent Scotland, added in a less decisive message: "One thing I do know is that the decision is not something to be taken lightly, or to be swayed by heady patriotic emotion."

Bowie, who lives in New York, is the most distinguished artist and cultural figure to urge the retention of the UK, although he is not affiliated to the Better Together campaign, which admitted it was not expecting his comments.

Bowie's comments drew a range of responses from the public and public figures, including some abuse on his page on internet site Facebook, as well as on Twitter.

Frankie Boyle, the comedian, said on Twitter: "I completely respect Bowie's right to express views on independence, just as I'd respect Iggy Pop's opinions on the CERN particle accelerator."

Author Irvine Welsh, who wrote Trainspotting, said: "Regarding Bowie wanting Scotland to stay or go, I couldn't give a t**s one way or the other. He's entitled to a view, like anybody else."

Singer Billy Bragg, who has voiced support for a Yes vote, said: "Bowie's intervention encourages people in England to discuss the issues of the independence referendum, and I think English people should be discussing it."

Bowie has several little known links to Scotland. In 1967 he stayed at a Buddhist retreat in Eskdalemuir, Dumfries and Galloway, when he was thinking of becoming a monk and his son, Duncan, now a film-maker, attended Gordonstoun School, Moray.

Gretna Green's Blacksmiths Shop yesterday said Bowie had made a trip north in 1991, when he touched its famous wedding anvil. Worker Jean Duff said: "We all got such a shock. Very few people walking around realised who he was as he strolled into the shop to see the wedding anvil."

Bowie wore a distressed Union Jack jacket designed by Alexander McQueen for his 1997 Earthling album cover, and tour.

In the Scottish Parliament, MSPs slipped Bowie lyrics into yesterday's debate at First Minister's Questions.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont began her questioning by asking Alex Salmond to "turn and face the strain", a pun on a lyric from his song Changes.

Later, responding to Team GB's Scottish women curlers' bronze medal success in the Winter Olympics, Mr Salmond said it was a "demonstration we all can be heroes just for one day".

A spokesman for the Yes Scotland campaign said: "We welcome David Bowie's comments, as they raise the profile of Scotland's referendum across the UK and internationally."

A Better Together spokesman said: "David Bowie has spoken for the millions of people across Britain who don't want Scotland to leave."