Music legend David Bowie has died after an 18-month long battle with cancer.
Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day he released his latest album called “Blackstar.”
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” read a statement on his Facebook page dated Sunday.
Bowie’s breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Bowie and Ziggy, wearing outrageous costumes, makeup and bright orange hair, took the music world by storm.
Born David Jones in the Brixton area of south London, Bowie used androgynous displays of sexuality and glittering costumes to frame his legendary rock hits. He changed his name in 1966 after The Monkees’ Davy Jones achieved stardom. He also created fictitious personas, transforming himself in Ziggy Stardust, who became Aladdin Sane, who became the Thin White Duke.
His long list of hits include Let’s Dance, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars.
Bowie also had a successful acting career, including his role as an alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. In the 1980s, he stared in Labyrinth, Cat People and The Hunger, along with a three-month stint as The Elephant Man on Broadway.
Producer and long-time friend of Bowie’s, Tony Visconti, wrote on Facebook. “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”
Bowie’s last live performance was at a charity concert in New York in 2006.
Bowie said he was gay in an interview in the Melody Maker newspaper in 1972, coinciding with the launch of his persona, with red lightning bolt across his face and flamboyant clothes.
He told Playboy four years later he was bisexual, but in the eighties he told Rolling Stone magazine that the declaration was “the biggest mistake I ever made”, and he was “always a closet heterosexual.”
Bowie has kept a relatively low profile since he underwent emergency heart surgery in 2004.
His two last albums, The Next Day released in 2013 and Blackstar released last week, ranked with his best, the former celebrating his past, the latter looking forward to the future.