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france 24 Culture

British music legend David Bowie dies at 69 after cancer battle

© Philippe Wojazer, AFP | Music icon David Bowie gives a concert in Paris on June 9, 1983.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-01-11

David Bowie, the iconic singer and songwriter whose illustrious career spanned decades and musical genres, died on Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," his representative Steve Martin said early on Monday.

"While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."

The British singer, songwriter, actor and record producer had only just released his latest album, "Blackstar", on his birthday on January 8.

Tributes poured in on Monday, with musicians, actors, politicians, clerics and an astronaut offering their recollections of the music idol.

In a statement on Twitter, his friend and collaborator Iggy Pop described him as "the light of my life".

"Bowie existed so all of us misfits learned that an oddity was a precious thing. He changed the world forever," tweeted filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

"Your spirit lives on for ever!" said Madonna, saluting a "genius" who "changed my life".

Referring to Bowie's 1987 concert in Berlin, Germany's Foreign Ministry tweeted: "Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among #Heroes. Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall."

There were even words of sorrow from outer space as British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted his homage from the International Space Station.

Ziggy Stardust

Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, south London, on January 8, 1947.

He changed his name to avoid being confused with The Monkees singer Davy Jones and scored his first major hit in 1969 with the song “Space Oddity”.

His breakthrough came three years later with the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, which saw Bowie embody the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

His other personas, including the Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane, established him as music's definitive chameleon who took on everything from glam rock and soul to electronica and punk.

Bowie released 25 albums over a career spanning five decades, including a three-album collaboration with Brian Eno, known as the Berlin trilogy.

He co-wrote "Fame" with John Lennon which became his first American No. 1 single.

Bowie embraced pop in the early 1980s, enjoying one of his biggest successes with the album "Let's Dance" and a massive American tour.

Other hits included “Heroes”, “Rebel, Rebel”, “Life on Mars”, and “Under Pressure”, which he sang alongside Queen’s Freddy Mercury.

How Bowie changed his image over the years

Bowie was also an accomplished actor, starring in "The Man Who Fell to Earth" in 1976 and "Labyrinth" in 1986.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and was a recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Health concerns

"My entire career, I've only really worked with the same subject matter," Bowie told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview.

"The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I've always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety – all of the high points of one's life."

Bowie kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart attack in 2004.

He made an errie and impressive album three years ago called "The Next Day" – his first recording in a decade which was made in secret in New York City.

"Blackstar," which has earned widespread positive reviews from critics, represented yet another stylistic shift with the British star working with jazz musicians.

Date created : 2016-01-11

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