Updated at 10.38pm
DAVID BOWIE HAS died at the age of 69.
One of the major figures of rock and an influence on generations of musicians, he passed away after a battle with cancer, a publicist confirmed.
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer,” a statement on Facebook said.
While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.
Bowie, who stopped touring in 2004 following health concerns, had just released his latest album, Blackstar, to hugely positive reviews.
The Guardian called it “urgent, contemporary and elliptical”.
His son, the film director Duncan Jones, tweeted a picture of himself with his father, and the following simple message:
Born David Jones on 8 January 1947, the London singer changed his name in the mid-60s to avoid confusion with the Monkees member of the same name.
His artistic and commercial breakthrough came with 1972’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which included the songs Starman, Ziggy Stardust and Five Years.
A late addition to the album, Starman entered the UK top ten after Bowie’s iconic appearance on Top of the Pops, and spent 11 weeks in the charts.
Known for his unexpected stylistic and image changes from album to album, Bowie’s title as rock’s greatest ‘chameleon’ became a cliché over the decades.
An influence on and friend of other major figures in rock like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, his output included glam rock, pop, soul, electronic, art rock, drum n’bass and experimental releases.
The hits are almost too numerous to mention – but include, in no particular order, Changes, Heroes, Let’s Dance, Life on Mars, Rebel Rebel, Ashes to Ashes, Golden Years, Young Americans, China Girl, and The Man Who Sold the World.
He also had a successful, if intermittent, acting career, that included iconic performances in the science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth and the Jim Henson fantasy epic Labyrinth.
Hiatus and triumphant return
The star began a prolonged career hiatus after a health emergency on tour in 2004: he underwent an emergency angioplasty after a concert in Prague.
There were some appearances and acting gigs in the decade that followed – like his performance with Arcade Fire at the televised Fashion Rocks event, and a memorable showing in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.
He eventually faded away further from public view, his once-busy website going unattended, leading to speculation that he was ill or had simply chosen to retire.
In January 2013, however, on his 66th birthday, the website sprang back into life and a new album The Next Day was announced, earning hugely positive reviews.
It sparked a renewed interest in the singer – and an exhibition of artefacts, ‘David Bowie is’ was sold-out for months at Victoria and Albert Museum in London before touring the world.
Originally published at 7am