The British musician David Bowie died today of cancer, two days after his 69th birthday.

Singer David Bowie has died of cancer, just two days after the release of his 25th studio album, Darkstar.

 

Legendary singer David Bowie died peacefully on Sunday night of cancer. His family and friends were beside him.

There had been no indication that Bowie was terminally ill until news of his death was posted on his facebook page and website, www.davidbowie.com, then tweeted.

Initial reactions on social media were of disbelief, with some people suspecting a hoax until his son, film director Duncan Jones, confirmed the news, posting the message “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all” on Twitter.

Born David Jones in Brixton, London, on January 8, 1947, Bowie’s career spanned six decades.

David Bowie performing on stage during his Ziggy Stardust glam-rock period, circa 1973.

David Bowie performing on stage during his Ziggy Stardust glam-rock period, circa 1973.

He was performing professionally at the age of 16, but despite the success of Space Oddity in 1969, it took three more years to consolidate that achievement, both as a performer and producer (he co-produced Lou Reed’s seminal album Transformers). Over the years he reinvented himself regularly, finding new personas to capture the spirit of the times, from the glam-rock character Ziggy Stardust and his glamboyant glittery flair to the iconic and elegant “thin white duke”.

Will Gompertz, arts editor of the BBC, wrote in a tribute yesterday that Bowie was the Picasso of pop:

“He was an innovative, visionary, restless artist: the ultimate ever-changing postmodernist. Along with the Beatles, Stones and Elvis Presley, Bowie defined what pop music could and should be. He brought art to the pop party, infusing his music and performances with [avant-garde ideas].”

Social media have been abuzz all day, with musical greats of all generations posting tributes, among them Paul McCartney, Kanye West, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Brian May of Queen and Iggy Pop. One of the most unexpected, and appropriate tweets came from the Vatican’s cultural affairs chief, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi:

 

Bowie’s latest album Blackstar has already drawn generally favourable reviews from the critics. It is a dark, brooding work that uses jazz-oriented backing group. John Pareles of The New York Times commented “Thoughts of death hover throughout Blackstar in his review.

The music video for the title track is a stunning, thought-provoking fantasy:

Bowie leaves behind his two children Duncan (born 1971) and Alexandria Jones (born 2000) – The Newsroom Team

Top photo of David Bowie from his official website.