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In a shocking loss to the international arts community, iconic musician, actor, and fashion risk-taker David Bowie has died.
The news was confirmed on Bowie’s social media pages, with a short and somber note asking for privacy for the family. Bowie, who had been quietly battling liver cancer for 18 months, passed away two days after his 69th birthday while in his New York home.
Bowie’s latest and possibly final album, Blackstar, was released only this past Friday on his 69th birthday. Bowie’s longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti called the seven-song album a ‘parting gift’ to fans.
Born David Jones in South London in 1947, Bowie first gained notoriety with Space Oddity in 1969. Three years later, he introduced his persona Ziggy Stardust and released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie found success for the first time in the US in 1975 with Fame, and again through releasing his Berlin trilogy albums with producer Brian Eno throughout the rest of the decade.
Bowie hit it big both in his native UK and North America in 1981 with his Queen collaboration Under Pressure and again in 1983 with Let’s Dance.
During this time period, Bowie also enjoyed a critically acclaimed acting career, starring in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and most famously, 1986’s Labyrinth.
Famous for his sometimes fluid sexuality and androgynous appearance, Bowie was a leader for the LGBTQ community.
Bowie is survived by his son Duncan from his first marriage to Angie Bowie and his wife Iman, whom he married in 1992. The two have a 15 year-old daughter, Alexandria “Lexi” Zahra Jones.
Selling approximately 140 million albums throughout his career, Bowie is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock musicians of all time. As the sad news of his death has begun to spread, fans are sharing their condolences online, including close friend Iggy Pop and artists like Madonna and Kanye West who were shaped by Bowie’s work.
MESSAGE FROM IGGY: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is. – Iggy Pop”
— Iggy Pop (@IggyPop) January 11, 2016
David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 11, 2016
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) January 11, 2016
— Madonna (@Madonna) January 11, 2016
Ashes to ashes, dust to stardust. Your brilliance inspired us all. Goodbye Starman. pic.twitter.com/FbcxlAzces
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) January 11, 2016
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 11, 2016
I Shed a tear for David Bowie one of the greatest artists of our generation & one of our biggest influences – a true original – we love you.
— k-os (@kosinception) January 11, 2016
David Bowie was a true innovator, a true creative. May he rest in peace 🖖🏾 #RIPDavidBowie
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) January 11, 2016
I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 11, 2016
I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me – I was not ready for this. RIP Bowie.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) January 11, 2016
Bowie is a constant reminder to be exactly who you are and to never stop expressing your awesome self.
— Abbi Jacobson (@abbijacobson) January 11, 2016
Memorials have already begun popping up, including this one photographed outside Bowie’s former Berlin home.