Pop music legend David Bowie dies, aged 69
London-born pop music legend David Bowie has died in New York of cancer just two days after his 69th birthday.
Bowie, born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947, lived in New York after earlier living in Los Angeles, Berlin and near Geneva, Switzerland.
His illness was also not disclosed until his death was announced – reports say he was being treated for liver cancer over the past 18 months.
Though his profile has been relatively low in recent years, he had recently been collaborating on an Off Broadway musical, Lazarus, a sequel to his starring role in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).
And last week, he had released his 25th studio album, Blackstar, backed by a small jazz group and featuring songs as boldly experimental as anything else in his long career.
Bowie has described his many and varied musical styles as “tasteful theft” with influences ranging from Elvis Presley to Edith Piaf and everyone in between.
In turn, he was imitated by others, most recently by Prince and Lady Gaga.
His skills were not restricted to music – he was trained in mime, dance and fine arts. He played saxophone, guitar, harmonica and piano.
His career started in the late 1960s and reached its peak in the early 1980s. His output between 1969 and 1983 made up “one of the longest creative streaks in rock history,” according to Rolling Stone magazine.
He adopted alter egos, such as Ziggy Stardust, a fictional rock star who is ultimately ripped to pieces by his fans, and the Thin White Duke, a spectral, disaffected figure dressed impeccably in cabaret-style evening wear who throws “darts in lovers’ eyes.”
Music: His 36 studio and live albums, plus another 46 compilations, sold a total of 140 million and produced a number of top-selling singles, starting with “Space Oddity” and including “Changes,” “Starman,” "Life on Mars?" “Young Americans,” “Ashes to Aashes,” "China Girl" and “Let’s Dance.”
Film and stage: In The Man Who Fell to Earth and the stage production of The Elephant Man (1980-81) he played sensitive freaks misunderstood by the society around them.
He also starred in Just a Gigolo with Marlene Dietrich (1978); the Tony Scott vampire film The Hunger with Catherine Deneuve (1983) and as a rebellious prisoner of war in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (also 1983).
He was Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and physicist Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006),