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David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69

2016-01-11 14:06:15

David Bowie

Singer David Bowie has died at the age of 69 from cancer.

His son, film director Duncan Jones, confirmed the news and a statement was issued on his social media accounts.

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," it said, asking for privacy for his family.

Tributes have been paid to Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of his era, from around the world.

Bowie's hits include Let's Dance, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars.

He was also well known for creating his flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

The singer, who had been living in New York in recent years, only released his latest album Blackstar on his birthday on Friday. The album, which includes just seven songs, has been well received by critics.

His son, who directed Bafta-winning film Moon, wrote on Twitter: "Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all."

David BowieFlowers have been left in tribute to Bowie at a mural in his birthplace of Brixton, south London

Bowie's long-time friend and producer Tony Visconti wrote on Facebook: "His death was no different from his life - a work of art.

"He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.

"I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us."

The Rolling Stones paid tribute to "an extraordinary artist" and a "true original".

Friend and collaborator Iggy Pop wrote on Twitter: "David's friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is."

Madonna said she was "devastated" and that Bowie had "changed her life". Shewrote on Twitter: "Talented . Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever!"

Rapper Kanye West said: "David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime."

David BowieBowie's last live performance was in 2006

Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, who convinced Bowie to star as himself and ridicule Gervais in an episode of 2006 sitcom Extras, simply wrote: "I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie."

Scottish musician Midge Ure, who helped organised the Live Aid concert in 1985 - at which Bowie performed - told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "He wasn't just a brilliant songwriter and an amazing creator, he excelled at everything.

"He gave us the point to run towards, we are all still trying to run towards that, everyone."


Will Gompertz, BBC Arts editor

David Bowie was the Picasso of pop. He was an innovative, visionary, restless artist: the ultimate ever-changing postmodernist.

Along with the Beatles, Stones and Elvis Presley, Bowie defined what pop music could and should be. He brought art to the pop party, infusing his music and performances with the avant-garde ideas of Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Andy Warhol.

He turned pop in a new direction in 1972 with the introduction of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Glam rock was the starting point, but Ziggy was much more than an eyeliner-wearing maverick: he was a truly theatrical character that at once harked backed to pre-War European theatre while anticipating 1980s androgyny and today's discussions around a transgender spectrum.

He was a great singer, songwriter, performer, actor, producer and collaborator. But beyond all that, at the very heart of the matter, David Bowie was quite simply - quite extraordinarily - cool.


Actor Simon Pegg wrote on Instagram: "If you're sad today, just remember the world is over 4 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."

Comedian and writer Eddie Izzard said: "Very sad to hear about the death of David Bowie but through his music he will live forever."

Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station whorecorded a video of a version of Space Oddity during his final mission, said his "brilliance inspired us all".

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that Bowie was a "great musician, great entertainer", saying he felt "very, very sad" about his death.

"Life On Mars comes flowing back into my mind," he said. "Wonderful song, wonderful guy."

The Vatican's chief spokesman on cultural matters, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi,tweeted lyrics to Space Oddity in tribute to Bowie while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was "very very saddened to hear of his death".

David BowieThis picture, showing Bowie performing on saxophone at a youth club at Biggin Hill in May 1963, is believed to be one of the first images of him on stage

Bowie was born David Jones in Brixton, south London, on 8 January in 1947. He changed his name in 1966 after The Monkees' Davy Jones achieved stardom.

His career spanned six decades.

He was in several bands before he signed with Mercury Records, which released his album Space Oddity in 1969, with the title track becoming his first UK number one

His breakthrough came with 1972's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.


Mark Savage, BBC Music reporter

Today's news is all the more shocking because David Bowie had recently emerged from suspended animation - revitalised and reinvigorated.

His two last albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, ranked with his best, the former celebrating his past, the latter casting forward to the future. The fact he won't be there is heartbreaking.

But then Bowie's entire career has been a vanishing act. The son of a waitress and a nightclub owner, David Jones became David Bowie, who became Ziggy Stardust, who became Aladdin Sane, who became the Thin White Duke. All of them were fictitious. All of them became iconic.

In the 1970s, he was restless, flitting between musical styles and personas, producing Lou Reed and The Stooges, and taking up painting in Berlin. His every move sparked impersonators and inspired musical sub-genres. He was the first post-modern pop star.

He struggled to remain relevant in the 1980s and 90s, but continued to push boundaries with the industrial rock of Outside and the drum and bass influenced Earthling. An enforced hiatus, prompted by an emergency angioplasty, took him out of the spotlight for most of the 2000s before that celebrated, unexpected comeback on his 66th birthday.

That late period of creativity may now be reassessed as the work of a musician who knew his time was running out. But it remains a fitting legacy for a man who subverted and reinvented pop time and time again.

Bowie also carved out a successful acting career, including his role as an alien seeking help for his dying planet in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976.

He did a three-month stint as The Elephant Man on Broadway in the 1980s, with other roles that decade including Labyrinth, Cat People, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Hunger.

The late 1980s were dominated by Bowie's involvement with his new band, a postmodernist heavy metal outfit, Tin Machine.

The 1990s saw David Bowie flirting with drum-and-bass on the Earthling album, while his 2002 album Heathen saw a long-awaited return to form for the singer.

David BowieBowie changed his name in 1966

He had headlined Glastonbury in 2000 - his first appearance there since 1971.

Festival founder Michael Eavis told the BBC: "He's one of the three greatest in the world, ever - Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and David Bowie. There's no one else even close."

Bowie's last live performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006.


David Bowie in numbers

  • Five UK number one singles: Space Oddity (1975 reissue), Ashes to Ashes (1980), Under Pressure (with Queen - 1981), Let's Dance (1983) and Dancing in the Street (with Mick Jagger -1985)
  • 13 weeks at number one in the UK singles chart
  • 61 top 40 hits. The first was Space Oddity in September 1969 and the most recent was Where Are We Now in January 2013
  • 336 weeks spent in the UK top 40 singles chart
  • Nine UK number one albums. The first was Aladdin Sane in May 1973 and the most recent was The Next Day in March 2013
  • 140 million estimated record sales, making him one of the top 10 biggest-selling UK artists of all time

But after a decade without a studio album he released The Next Day in 2013, surprising fans who thought he had retired. It became his first UK number one for 20 years.

He co-wrote Lazarus, a musical featuring his songs and inspired by his role in The Man Who Fell to Earth, which opened in New York last month.

And a truncated version of Blackstar, the title track of his new album, appears as the theme music for the TV show The Last Panthers.

A retrospective of Bowie's life, originally staged at London's Victoria & Albert Museum, is being shown at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, which was opening its door specially on Monday to allow fans to remember the star.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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