Legendary singer, songwriter, and actor David Bowie died on Sunday at the age of 69. With a career that spanned nearly five decades, he not only created impactful, memorable musical moments but influenced generations of musicians.
The New York Times confirmed his death with his publicist, Steve Martin, on Monday morning.
According to a post on his Facebook page, “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family.” Various statements on Bowie’s social media accounts confirm he died after an 18-month battle with cancer.
Jan. 8th not only marked Bowie’s 69th birthday, but also the release of his latest album, Blackstar. Carnegie Hall recently announced plans for a David Bowie tribute concert on March 31. The Roots, The Mountain Goats, Cyndi Lauper, Perry Farrell, Jakob Dylan, and Ann Wilson (Heart) are all slated to perform in what will now be a tribute to Bowie’s life, music and legacy.
Longtime collaborator and producer Tony Visconti, who worked with Bowie on his album’s since his 1969 breakthrough Space Oddity, wrote on his facebook page that he felt Blackstar was intended to be Bowie’s “parting gift.”
“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 released his self-titled debut album in 1967. Over the course of 28 albums, he constantly reinvented himself in persona, musical styling and fashion.
After his first UK hit, “Space Oddity” in 1969, Bowie emerged in the early 70s as “Ziggy Stardust”. His alter ego’s album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, was ranked #35 by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the greatest albums of all-time. The 70s also gave birth to Bowie’s first US crossover hit “Fame” while his 1975 release Young Americans saw another shift in style and sound.
By the 1980s, Bowie enjoyed mounting commercial success. In the UK, he landed #1 singles with “Ashes to Ashes” and the Queen collaboration “Under Pressure.” His career reached new heights in 1983 with the release of Let’s Dance, his best-selling album to date. The title track would become his biggest hit, reaching #1 in the UK, US and various other countries. The album also launched several other singles including “China Girl” and “Modern Love.”
Bowie continued to write and create new materials throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He stopped touring after his 2003-2004 Reality Tour. His final live performance was in 2006 for a charity event.
In addition to music, Bowie enjoyed success in both stage, television and film. He collaborated on an Off Broadway musical “Lazarus”, a sequel to his role in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth. His two dozen film roles included Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth and Andy Warhol in Basquiat.
Bowie’s legacy is highlighted by his 1996 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in Feb. 2006.
David Robert Jones was born in Brixton, London on January 8, 1947. Bowie would later change his moniker in the mid 60’s to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. He renamed himself after the 19th-century American frontiersman Jim Bowie, who popularized the bowie knife. As a young man in the UK, Bowie studied art, music and design.
Bowie is survived by his son, director Duncan Jones from his marriage with his first wife Angela Barnett, his wife fashion model Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid (known professionally as Iman) and their daughter, Alexandra “Lexi” Zahra Jones.
A slew of celebrities took to Twitter on news that Bowie had passed.
“Very sad news to wake up to on this raining morning. David was a great star and I treasure the moments we had together.” Paul McCartney
“Talented. Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever!” – Madonna
“David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is. – Iggy Pop”
“I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.” – Ricky Gervais
“Never imagined a world without him. He has ascended into the cosmos from whence he came. Farewell, David Bowie.” – Elijah Wood
“He never seemed of this earth. Now he’s left it. He bent rules, gender, genres, and our minds. RIP David Bowie. One. Of. A. Kind.” – Josh Groban
“RIP David . I loved your music. I loved you. One of the greatest performance artists to have ever lived. #sorrow.” – Russel Crowe
” David Bowie was a true innovator, a true creative. May he rest in peace #RIPDavidBowie” – Pharrel Williams
“I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me – I was not ready for this. RIP Bowie.” – Weird Al Yankovic
“I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss.” – British Prime Minister David Cameron