Home / Music & Arts / David Bowie dead at 69: Music legend loses cancer battle

David Bowie dead at 69: Music legend loses cancer battle

Rock icon David Bowie — whose decades of self-reinvention influenced generations of artists — died Sunday of cancer, two days after his 69th birthday.

His latest album, “Blackstar,” had been released Friday.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” a message on his Facebook page read.

David Bowie died at age 69 following a battle with cancer, according to his family.The WB/Frank Ockenfels II/TLP

David Bowie died at age 69 following a battle with cancer, according to his family.

DAVID BOWIE DEAD AT 69: STARS REACT TO MUSIC LEGEND’S DEATH

“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”

His son from an earlier marriage with Angela Bowie tweeted his grief.

“Very sorry and sad to say it’s true,” the film director Duncan Jones said.

The death shocked Bowie’s devoted fans — and even some of his closest friends.

DAVID BOWIE’S FINAL ALBUM ‘BLACKSTAR’ IS ‘PARTING GIFT’

His frequent collaborator and friend for over 40 years, the musician Brian Eno, said the death “came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him.”

Ivo Van Hove, a Belgian theater director who worked with Bowie on the New York Theater Workshop production of “Lazarus,” told a Dutch radio station Bowie had liver cancer.

“I saw a man fighting. He fought like a lion and kept working through it all. I had incredible respect for that,” Van Hove told NPO Radio 4.

Model Iman, Bowie’s wife of 24 years, did not release a comment on his death. Instead, a series of tweets she sent prior to the rock legend’s death hinted she knew the end was near.

Fans paid their respects at a growing vigil outside David Bowie's SoHo apartment on Monday night, leaving behind flowers, candles and copies of his vinyl records.L.E. Miller / NY Daily News

Fans paid their respects at a growing vigil outside David Bowie’s SoHo apartment on Monday night, leaving behind flowers, candles and copies of his vinyl records.

Born as David Jones in South London in 1947, he changed his last name to Bowie professionally to avoid being confused with The Monkees lead singer Davy Jones.

Bowie crossed paths with his future producer Visconti as a budding 19-year-old folk rocker in the late 1960s, who had a passion for musical theater. His evolving style boggled his management.

“His publisher beckoned me,” Visconti recalled to WNYC’s Soundcheck on Thursday. “We have this singer, songwriter. We don’t know how to categorize him. He’s kind of different.”

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” Iman, 60, wrote Saturday.

The couple has a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, 15.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger — whose duet of “Dancing in the Streets” with Bowie hit No. 2 in 1985 — also hailed Bowie.

“David was always an inspiration to me and a true original. He was wonderfully shameless in his work,” Jagger said.

The death of the singer, film and fashion legend follows rumors of poor health dating back to 2004, when he collapsed backstage at a music festival in Germany. After the scare he underwent surgery for a clogged artery.

Fans and critics reexamined Bowie’s 25th studio album, “Blackstar” for clues about his shocking death.

Bowie (seen in 1973) changed his style constantly, moving from the glam rock god of 1972's "Ziggy Stardust" ... Michael Ochs Archives

Bowie (seen in 1973) changed his style constantly, moving from the glam rock god of 1972’s “Ziggy Stardust” …

Enlarge ... to the effortless cool of 1977's "Heroes."

… to the effortless cool of 1977’s “Heroes.”

Enlarge

Bowie changed his style constantly, moving from the glam rock god of 1972’s “Ziggy Stardust” (left) to the effortless cool of 1977’s “Heroes” (right).

“Something happened on the day he died/Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside,” reads lyrics from the album’s title track.

Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Visconti said mortality had been on the star’s mind.

“He made ‘Blackstar’ for us — his parting gift,” Visconti said. “I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it.”

The album was embraced by fans who considered it Bowie’s final rebirth.

“I’m devastated,” said Alexandrea Nieto, 31, who joined other fans to mourn the rock icon outside of his SoHo apartment building. “To me David Bowie was not only an artist. He was an icon.”

DAVID BOWIE’S EX-WIFE ANGIE ON BIG BROTHER, UNAWARE OF DEATH

Born as David Jones in South London in 1947, he changed his last name to Bowie professionally to avoid being confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees.

Bowie crossed paths with Visconti in the late 1960s as a budding 19-year-old folk rocker, who had a passion for musical theater. His evolving style boggled his management.

“His publisher beckoned me,” Visconti recalled to WNYC’s Soundcheck on Thursday. “We have this singer, songwriter. We don’t know how to categorize him. He’s kind of different.”

“Every song is a different kind of song,” the publisher told Visconti. “We’re hoping that you’ll work with him to channel him into one style.”

(GERMANY OUT) ullstein bild via Getty Images

The rock star’s “Reality Tour,” which ended in 2004, was his last.

Enlarge Bowie (seen in 2007) was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Evan Agostini/Getty Images For Tribeca Film Fe

Bowie (seen in 2007) was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Enlarge

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. His “Reality Tour,” which ended in 2004, was his last.

That never happened. Bowie mixed and matched his diverse love for music depending on the decade. After releasing his first mega-hit, the 1969 song “Space Oddity,” nobody could confuse him with anyone else.

The tune revolved around a theme of otherworldly otherness that Bowie revisited throughout his eclectic career.

The 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” birthed an alter ego of the same name. And with it, his music became buoyed by his look: futuristic costumes, jarring makeup, gender-bending sexuality and dyed hair that contrasted with the hippie culture of the late ’60s.

The outrageous outfits anticipated the rise of glam rock years later.

Throughout the ’70s, he dominated the charts with a string of anthems, including “Rebel, Rebel,” “Young Americans” and “Changes.”

During that period he also played a critical role in the careers of two other influential performers, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. But as the era changed, his androgynous “Ziggy Stardust” persona gave way to an MTV-friendly, dapper image and poppy hits such as “Modern Love” in the ’80s.

“What I have is a malevolent curiosity,” Bowie told the Daily News in 2002. “That’s what drives my need to write, and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew.”

Bowie — who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 — had a voracious artistic appetite. He told Vanity Fair in a 1998 Proust questionnaire that his idea of perfect happiness was reading.

“I’m a born librarian with a sex drive,” he said.

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With ,

nhensley@nydailynews.com

Tags:
david bowie ,
obituaries ,
cancer ,
the rolling stones

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