Pop icon David Bowie has died at the age of 69 following an 18-month battle with cancer, according to The Verge.
A tweet sent out on the gender-bending pop icon’s official Twitter page confirmed that Bowie had died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends.
The death came as a massive shock to Bowie fans, who had been unaware that the musician had been been fighting cancer for the last year-and-a-half.
Bowie had always been flamboyant and artistically experimental — he was known, like Madonna, for the way he continually reinvented himself and revitalized his image. This enabled him to hold the attention of a fickle music-purchasing public for decades. No one knew what sort of sound, look or even persona the pop icon would embrace next.
Bowie had a number of personas throughout his career, the best known of which are probably Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. The star known as The Thin White Duke declared himself gay early in his career, recalling a moment as a boy when he saw the tanned body of a male schoolmate. Bowie reported that he felt a surge of lust.
“I thought, ‘well that’s quite nice, isn’t it?'”
While the artist later appeared to take his “outing” back, declaring himself straight and marrying supermodel Iman (the woman who plays the queen in Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time” video), he continued to be known for his extravagance, wild fashion choices, and taboo-shattering appeal, as well as his masterful songwriting and musicianship.
Bowie’s most popular songs often dealt with cosmic themes — “Space Oddity,” “Starman,” “Life On Mars” and “Ziggy Stardust” were hits that enraptured the public, with intergalactic story-lines and soundscapes where synths whooshed like spaceships in counterpoint to chunky guitar riffs. Bowie would appear on stage in slim-line metallic suits, with a technicolor mullet and a face as pale as a geisha’s. The white makeup offset his strange eyes — Bowie had one blue eye and one brown eye, reportedly the result of a schoolyard punch-up.
Flavorwire has provided a look at the 12 eras of David Bowie. Early hit “The Man Who Sold The World” was later covered by grunge supergroup Nirvana.
Bowie owed a lot to his collaborators — while an accomplished instrumentalist himself, he had a knack for selecting band members who brought truly outstanding licks, riffs and solos to his innovative songs.
What would the excellent “Aladdin Sane” be without Mike Garson’s manic piano solo?
Bowie just kept on delivering. 2002’s Heathen is one of his best albums, with atmospheric, yearning pieces like “I Would Be Your Slave” sitting alongside quirky, rollicking songs like “I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spacecraft.” Reality from 2004 saw Bowie covering an underrated George Harrison-penned song “Try Some, Buy Some,” an ode to drug-taking in which the singer reminisces about the first time he touched some of the stuff.
“I love this song so much,” Bowie declared, tears in his eyes, as he introduced the Harrison-penned song during a 2005 live recorded performance of Reality songs. Did Bowie identify with the sentiments in the track, which describes how a first encounter with a substance can be like meeting a new friend?
Bowie’s publicist spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, confirming that the legendary singer died peacefully. Bowie is survived by his wife Iman, whom he married in 1992; his son, director Duncan Jones; and his daughter Alexandria.
Fans took to Twitter to pay tribute to the star, who will be sorely missed:
[Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images]