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Home » Entertainments » Music

David Bowie dies at the age of 69

David Bowie, the iconographic rock star whose career spanned more than half a century and whose influence transcended music, fashion and sexuality, has died aged 69.

The singer’s death was confirmed in a Facebook post on his official 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.”

Writing on Twitter, Bowie’s son, the film director Duncan Jones, confirmed the news, and his publicist Steve Martin also verified Bowie’s death.

The singer’s latest album, Blackstar, was released last week to coincide with his 69th birthday, and had received widespread critical acclaim.

The news came as a shock to some. Martin told the Reuters news agency: “It’s not a hoax.”

Tributes were paid on social media to the performer, who was known for hits such as Changes, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

Ricky Gervais, the comedian and actor, who convinced the famously private Bowie to star as himself in an episode of the 2006 sitcom Extras, wrote: “I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie”.

Rock guitarist Joel Madden, quoting Changes, wrote simply: “Turn and face the strange”.

Rapper Kanye West said: “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”

Bowie released 25 albums in his career and also acted in several films. He was known for his experimentation across diverse musical genres, and for his alter egos as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke.

He was born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947 in Brixton, south London, to mother Margaret “Peggy”, a waitress, and charity worker Haywood “John” Jones. His older brother’s record collection introduced him to rock music at an early age.

After the family moved to southeast London, he graduated from Bromley technical high school at 16, forming a number of bands and led a group. He called himself Davy Jones, laterchanginghis name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. The name was reportedly inspired by a knife developed by the 19th century American pioneer Jim Bowie.

He released three singles as a solo artist for Pye Records, and a debut album The World of David Bowie, but did not achieve huge success and retreated to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland in 1967.

On returning to London, he started arts troupe Feathers in 1968, then helped create the Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969 before releasing Space Oddity later than year which was his first UK No 1. The release the following year of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars made him an international star as he conquered the US with his theatrical stage show.

He produced albums for Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, as well as writing All the Young Dudes, which he gave to Mott The Hoople who had a massive hit with it. In the late 1970s he produced a three-album collaboration with Brian Eno known as the Berlin trilogy.

He found chart success with songs such as Let’s Dance and the Queen collaboration Under Pressure.

He combined his rock career with appearances in films. Bowie’s acting career took off with his performance in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, followed by roles in films such as Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ and Absolute Beginners. More recently, he appeared as himself in the film Zoolander.

Though he officially retired Ziggy Startdust, making the announcement during a London gig, the hits kept coming with albums including Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs and Pin Ups.

He changed direction with the soul-inspired Young Americans. His first US No 1 was a collaboration with John Lennon on Fame, which topped the charts in 1975.

He continued to sell millions of albums and pack out stadiums with the rise of the New Romantic scene in 80s Britain.

Bowie married model Iman in 1992, with whom he had a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, and the following year settled in New York. He continued to record and tour until 2003, when he released Reality, his 23rd album, which many assumed to be his last.

In recent years there were a few low-key live appearances – his last at a charity show in New York in 2006 – and an acting role in the film Prestige the same year.

In a rare interview in 2002, he explained: “My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter. The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve alswats chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety, all of the high points of one’s life.”

The British prime minister David Cameron and musician Marc Almond were among the first to pay tribute to Bowie online.

Former prime minister, Tony Blair, a keen guitarist, said in a statement: “I am so sorry to hear the news of David Bowie’s death. I was a huge fan.

“From the time I saw his Ziggy Stardust concert as a student, I thought he was a brilliant artist and an exciting and interesting human being.

“It was a great privilege when I got to meet him later in life. My thoughts are with his family and friends. He will be deeply mourned.”

Scottish singer-songwriter Midge Ure paid tribute on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, saying he and other musicians had seen Bowie as a role model.

He said: “I think if you spoke to any musician who has been around in the last 30, 40 years, we all have benchmarks that we try and emulate, we all have benchmarks that we put our feeble efforts next to, and somewhere along the line you do think, ‘well, what would David Bowie do here?’.

“Because he wasn’t just a brilliant songwriter and an amazing creator, he excelled at everything. He gave us the point to run towards, we are all still trying to run towards that, everyone.

“We are all swimming in his wake, so I don’t think you could top on creativity, and consistent creativity, I don’t think you could top, anyone could top, David Bowie in the UK musical history.”

On Bowie’s illness, Ure said: “I think people within the industry had heard rumours about cancer, we’d heard rumours about him not being well.

“We all knew something was amiss but this is more than just turning on your phone in the morning or turning on the television and finding out that another celebrity has passed on.

“I’m standing here, my hands are shaking, I feel as though I’ve lost something, I’ve lost something incredibly important today.”

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