LONDON – Legendary singer David Bowie has died at 69, he died peacefully 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.
Bowie had a incomparable sound and chameleon-like ability to reinvent himself made him a pop music fixture for more than four decades.
Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day he released a new album called Blackstar, which earned rave reviews. It was the 25th album from the glam-rock icon, who was born David Jones in South London on Jan. 8, 1947. He took up saxophone when he was 12 years old and played with a slew of bands after high school, eventually changing his name to “Bowie” in order to avoid confusion with The Monkees’ lead singer Davy Jones.
He released his self-titled debut album in 1967, but didn’t break out until two years later with Space Oddity, which is best remembered for introducting fictional astronaut character Major Tom. It was one of nearly two dozen songs that Bowie charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 in his five-decade career (including No. 1 hits Let’s Dance and John Lennon co-write Fame).
On tour and through his music, Bowie slipped in and out of various personas and alter egos: most famously, the androgynous Iggy Stardust, eccentric Aladdin Sane and drug-fueled The Thin White Duke, created during his mid-’70s Young Americans era.
It was around this time that Bowie struck up an interest in acting, starring in movies such as 1976 sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell to Earth and Jim Henson’s 1986 cult classic Labyrinth, in which he played the devilish Jareth, the Goblin King, and wrote songs featured in the film.
But his onscreen roles dwindled in the years that followed, which he acknowledged apathetically in a 1990 interview with USA TODAY. “You have to some some commitment, and I’m not good at wining and dining the right people or studying acting or showing much interest,” Bowie said. “It’s unutterably boring.”
After hitting critical and commercial highs in the 1980s with albums such as Tonight and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), Bowie continued to reinvent himself artistically to varying degrees of success.
He also saw ups and downs in his personal life. After a highly publicized 1980 divorce from model Angela Barnett (with whom he had his son, Duncan), Bowie married model/actress Iman in 1992. Together, they had a daughter, Alexandria, born in 2000.
As the world mourns Bowie’s death, fan Dean Podsta put it best:
“If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”