NEW YORK – David Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-bending persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday. He was 69 and had just released a new album.
Bowie, whose hits included “Fame,” “Heroes” and “Let’s Dance,” died “peacefully” and was surrounded by family, representative Steve Martin said early Monday. The singer had fought cancer for 18 months.
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Long before alter egos and wild outfits became commonplace in pop, Bowie set the music world on its ear with the release of the 1972 album, “The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars,” which introduced one of music’s most famous personas. Ziggy Stardust was a concept album that imagined a genre-bending rock star from outer space trying to make his way in the music world. The persona – the red-headed, eyeliner wearing Stardust – would become an enduring part of his legacy, and a touchstone for the way entertainers packaged themselves for years to come.
January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle… https://t.co/ENRSiT43Zy
— David Bowie Official (@DavidBowieReal) January 11, 2016
WATCH BELOW: David Bowie’s death will be remembered in much the same way as Elvis’ or JFK’s, according to his biographer, Wendy Leigh.
Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day as he released a new album called “Blackstar.”
“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” said a statement issued via his social media accounts. No more details were provided.
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Bowie’s son, filmmaker Duncan Jones, confirmed the news on his 广州蒲友 accound and shared a photo of him with his father.
Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter广州桑拿网/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
The singer, who was born David Jones in London, came of age in the glam rock era of the early 1970s. He had a striking androgynous look in his early days and was known for changing his looks and sounds. He had launched a provocative alter-ego named Ziggy Stardust, and the stuttering rock sound of “Changes” gave way to the disco soul of “Young Americans,” co-written with John Lennon, to a droning collaboration with Brian Eno in Berlin that produced “Heroes.”
WATCH BELOW: People from around the world mourned the death of 70s superstar David Bowie on Monday, following the news that he died at the age of 69.
He had some of his biggest successes in the early 1980s with the stylist “Let’s Dance,” and a massive American tour.
“My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter,” Bowie told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. “The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety – all of the high points of one’s life.”
WATCH BELOW: David Bowie performs “Heroes” live in 2006
At a concert for rescue workers after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, his performance of “Heroes” was a highlight.
“What I’m most proud of is that I can’t help but notice that I’ve affected the vocabulary of pop music. For me, frankly, as an artist, that’s the most satisfying thing for the ego.”
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Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, but he didn’t attend the ceremony. Madonna, another artist who knew something about changing styles to stay ahead of the curve, accepted for him and recounted how a Bowie concert changed her life when she attended it as a teenager. David Byrne, of the art rockers Talking Heads, inducted Bowie and said he gave rock music a necessary shot in the arm.
“Like all rock ‘n’ roll, it was visionary, it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was crass, it was sexy and it was confusing,” Byrne said.
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Bowie kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart attack in the 2000s. He made a moody album three years ago called “The Next Day” – his first recording in a decade which was made in secret in New York City. “Blackstar,” which earned positive reviews from critics, represented yet another stylistic shift, as he gathered jazz players to join him.
Looking Back at David Bowie's Career | PrettyFamous
He released a music video on Friday for the new song “Lazarus,” which shows a frail Bowie lying in bed and singing the track’s lyrics. The song begins with the line: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.”
Tributes poured in for the singer. British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted about his sadness from outer space aboard the International Space Station, saying “his music was an inspiration to many.”
WATCH BELOW: Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday paid tribute to British singer David Bowie, who died of cancer on Sunday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that Bowie’s death is “a huge loss.” He wrote he had grown up listening to and watching Bowie and called the singer a “master of reinvention” and a pop genius who kept on getting it right.
I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) January 11, 2016
Comedian Ricky Gervais, who had just wrapped hosting the Golden Globe awards, said he “lost a hero.”
I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 11, 2016
Rapper Kanye West also tweeted about the loss of Bowie.
David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 11, 2016
Many other celebrities and fans took to social media to mourn the icon’s death.
Nearly brought to tears by sudden news of @DavidBowieReal David Bowie’s passing RIP
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) January 11, 2016
Very sad to hear about the death of David Bowie but through his music he will live forever
— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) January 11, 2016
Please could every radio station around the globe just play David Bowie music today – I think the world owes him that.
— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) January 11, 2016
It’s not often I truly cry at the loss of an artist but I’m devastated. He meant so much. Goodbye David Bowie and our youth. We loved you. X
— Marc Almond (@MarcAlmond) January 11, 2016
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Bowie felt uneasy about some of his greatest material, once embarking on a “greatest hits” tour saying it would be the last time performing much of his old material. He later relented, however.
“I’m not a natural performer,” he said in the 2002 interview. “I don’t enjoy performing terribly much. Never have. I can do it and, if my mind’s on the situation, do it quite well. But five or six shows in, I’m dying to get off the road and go back into the studio.”
WATCH: Bowie fans mourn his loss. Ryan Kessler reports.
Bowie was married to international supermodel Iman since 1992.
With files from Global News