Pop Icon David Bowie Dies of Cancer at 69

Singer-songwriter David Bowie, shown in 2002, had a 50-year career during which his influence stretched far beyond the world of music. (Rring Huang / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Legendary musician and artist David Bowie has died in New York. He was 69.

One of the most influential musicians of his time, Bowie was constantly reinventing his persona and sound in ways that were both genre-defying and -defining.

Bowie’s death was confirmed in a Facebook post on his official page: “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.”

The singer’s latest album, “Blackstar,” was released last week, on his 69th birthday, to widespread critical acclaim.

Writing on Twitter, Bowie’s son, the film director Duncan Jones, confirmed the news (below).

From The Guardian:

Until the last, David Bowie, who has died of cancer, was still capable of springing surprises. His latest album Blackstar appeared on his 69th birthday on 8 January, and proved that his gift for making dramatic statements as well as challenging, disturbing music hadn’t deserted him.

Throughout the 1970s, Bowie was a trailblazer of musical trends and pop fashion. Having been a late-60s mime and cabaret entertainer, he evolved into a singer-songwriter, a pioneer of glam-rock, then veered into what he called “plastic soul”, before moving to Berlin to create innovative electronic music.

In subsequent decades his influence became less pervasive, but he remained creatively restless and constantly innovative across a variety of media. His capacity for mixing brilliant changes of sound and image underpinned by a genuine intellectual curiosity is rivalled by few in pop history. Blackstar was proof that this curiosity had not diminished in his later career.

Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, south London. His mother, Peggy, had met his father, John, after he had been demobilised from second world war service in the Royal Fusiliers. John subsequently worked for the Barnardo’s children’s charity. They married in September 1947.

In 1953 the family moved to Bromley, Kent, where David attended Burnt Ash junior school and showed aptitude in singing and playing the recorder. Later, after he failed his 11-plus exam, he went to Bromley technical high school and studied art, music and design. His half-brother, Terry Burns, nearly a decade older than David, introduced him to jazz musicians, such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and in 1961 David’s mother bought him a plastic saxophone, introducing him to an instrument which would become a recurring ingredient in his music.

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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