David Bowie, arguably one of the most influential figures in modern music for the past 40-plus years, died on Sunday, Jan. 10 after a battle with cancer. He was 69.
While previous rumors of his death in years past were greatly exaggerated, the news has been confirmed by Bowie’s representatives and his son Duncan Jones (via Twitter). The following statement appears on Bowie’s official Facebook page:
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
The news of Bowie’s death came just two days after the release of his 25th album, Blackstar, which dropped on his 69th birthday, January 8.
Born David Jones in 1947, David eventually changed his last name to Bowie to differentiate himself from Monkees’ star Davey Jones. Known as much for his flamboyance, resistance to convention and mixed messages about his sexuality as he was for his diverse range of musical styles, Bowie’s music over the years encompassed art rock, glam rock, punk, new wave, jazz, funk and other genres, and his musical influence spans multiple generations. He first rose to international fame in 1972 with his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, in which Bowie took the alter ego of a rocking space alien; a few years later, he scored his first Number 1 hit in the U.S. with “Fame” from the album Young Americans. The years following would yield a string of hits that includes “Heroes,” “Let’s Dance,” “Modern Love, “Rebel, Rebel” and many others, as well as a surprisingly prolific acting career. After suffering a heart attack in 2004, Bowie went into semi-retirement, reducing his output and appearances. His album The Next Day, released in 2013, was his first album of original music in a decade.
Bowie sold over 140 million records during his career (a number sure to rise), received numerous awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Ten years later, Bowie was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy for his musical contributions.
News of Bowie’s death spread like wildfire over social media, sparking reactions from many noted celebrities. Madonna tweeted, “Talented. Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth.” Iggy Pop said in a tweet, “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”
RIP, David Bowie. You will be sorely missed.