David Bowie, the iconic and shape-shifting British singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades with hits like “Fame,” “Heroes” and “Let’s Dance,” died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.
Representative Steve Martin said early Monday that Bowie died “peacefully” and was surrounded by family. He had battled cancer for 18 months.
Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
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
“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” the statement read. No more details were provided.
Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day he released a new album called “Blackstar.”
— Helen Green (@Helengreeen) January 7, 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.”
Listen to 680 NEWS’ tribute piece on Bowie below:
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.”
Tributes have been pouring in for Bowie on social media from fellow musicians and fans alike.
Ashes to ashes, dust to stardust. Your brilliance inspired us all. Goodbye Starman. pic.twitter.com/FbcxlAzces
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) January 11, 2016
MESSAGE FROM IGGY: "David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is. - Iggy Pop"
— Iggy Pop (@IggyPop) January 11, 2016
The Rolling Stones are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of our dear friend David Bowie… 1/2
— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) January 11, 2016
As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original. 2/2 #DavidBowie
— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) January 11, 2016
— The Who (@TheWho) January 11, 2016
— Brian Eno (@dark_shark) January 11, 2016
David Bowie was a huge influence on me throughout my life. The original star-man returned to the stars…
— florence welch (@flo_tweet) January 11, 2016
— Madonna (@Madonna) January 11, 2016
Stunned and sad. The world is emptier now, and all they stars crashing down. My love and sympathies to @ManMadeMoon.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 11, 2016
Fans are also sharing this collective image of Bowie through the ages, created by U.K.-based illustrator Helen Green.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Saddened to hear David Bowie has lost his battle with cancer – his music was an inspiration to many. @DavidBowieReal
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) January 11, 2016
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
Kanye West said on Twitter that Bowie “was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”
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
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.”
Bowie was married to international supermodel Iman since 1992.