David Bowie, the genre-bending, gender-bending British music icon and larger-than-life rockstar, died Sunday, January 10th after a battle with cancer at the age of 69.
“David Bowie died peacefully today 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,” read a statement posted on several of Bowie’s official social media accounts.
The influential singer-songwriter excelled at glam rock, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eccentric 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, on his birthday, January 8th.
Bowie’s artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Fusing British modern with Japanese kabuki styles and fusing rock with theater, Bowie created the flamboyant and androgynous alter-ego Ziggy Stardust.
Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the No. 1 single “Fame.” He followed it with the 1976 avant-garde art rock Station to Station, which made it to No. 3 on the charts and featured “Golden Years.”
With his different-colored eyes (the result of a schoolyard fight) and needlelike frame, Bowie was a natural to transition from music into curious movie roles, such as the lead alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. Critics later applauded his Broadway career as the misshapen lead in 1980’s The Elephant Man.
Bowie returned to a solo career with 1993’s Black Tie White Noise, then recorded 1995’s Outside with Eno and toured with Nine Inch Nails as his opening act. He returned to the studio in 1996 to record the techno-influenced Earthling. 1999’s ‘Hours…’ and 2002’s Heathen followed. He earned a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 2006 but never performed onstage again.
Bowie was relatively quiet between the years of 2004 and 2012, re-emerging in 2013 with the album The Next Day.
David Bowie is survived by his wife, model Iman, son Duncan Jones, and daughter Alexandria Bowie.
Other milestones in Bowie’s life:
Bowie started playing sax as a teenager, at secondary school.
He formed the first artist created internet service provider, Bowienet, in 1998.
He married model Iman in Florence in 1992. They met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend.
His 50th birthday party was widely televised; his son was one of the camera crew.
A heart attack put paid to Bowie’s plans to tour the world in 2004.
By Robert Corsen