Rock legend David Bowie, whose groundbreaking music inspired generations during a career spanning six decades, has passed away just two days after his 69th birthday after a battle with cancer.
The news was posted to Bowie’s official Facebook and Twitter pages on Monday evening (AEDT).
His son, film director Duncan Jones, also confirmed the news on Twitter.
“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 Facebook statement read.
Close friends The Rolling Stones were among the first to honour the Ashes to Ashes singer.
“The Rolling Stones are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of our dear friend David Bowie. As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original,” they said.
Friend and collaborator Iggy Pop said: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”
Queen drummer Roger Taylor added: “The cleverest and most interestingly brilliant man of our time. What a vacuum he leaves, and how he will be missed.”
Bowie released 26 studio albums in an extraordinarily prolific career that spanned almost 50 years.
He was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996.
His latest album, Blackstar, was released only last week. The first line from its lead single Lazurus is: “Look up here/I’m in heaven”.
He had two number one Australian albums, a further eight in the UK but none in the United States.
The seminal musician won two Grammys, a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and the Best Video gong for Jazzin for Blue Jean in 1985.
He was nominated for 10 further Grammys.
Albums including Heroes, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Hunky Dory, Diamond Dogs, Let’s Dance and Low established him as one of music’s most innovative performers.
Bowie, born David Jones in postwar Brixton on January 8 1947, was adored for his eccentric approach, including outlandish costumes and alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
Bowie also made a series of appearances in films, including narrating The Snowman, acting in Labyrinth and as a cameo in Zoolander.
He changed his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with the Monkees’ Davy Jones. The name was said to be inspired by a knife developed by the 19th century American pioneer Jim Bowie.
Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle… https://t.co/ENRSiT43Zy
— David Bowie Official (@DavidBowieReal) January 11, 2016
Bowie’s music was an inspiration and an influence on many contemporary rock and roll and pop stars.
His enduring influence on the pop culture world was highlighted by the success of the “David Bowie is” exhibition, which came to Melbourne in 2015.
His first hit, 1969’s Space Oddity, told the story of an astronaut, Major Tom, and was released in time to coincide with the Apollo 11 launch.
He followed that up with a string of albums that defined the ostentatious, androgynous glam rock sound of the early 1970s.
The persona of Ziggy Stardust – a doomed bisexual alien rock star wearing outrageous costumes and with a shock of bright red hair – catapulted him to huge fame.
After killing Ziggy Stardust off during a final show in London in 1973, he moved to New York and later to Berlin, developing a new persona, the Thin White Duke, and collaborating with US singers Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.
Entering the 1980s his music became increasingly influenced by soul, disco and funk, while a burgeoning film career saw him appear in pictures including Labyrinth.
He sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide.
Supermodel Iman, who married Bowie in 1992, wrote a cryptic tweet early on Monday that hinted at her husband’s illness.
Together Iman and Bowie have one daughter, 15-year-old Alexandria Zahra Jones.
Long-time Bowie collaborator and producer on his final album Blackstar, David Visconti, left this tribute on Facebook.
“He always did what he wanted to do,” the message read. “And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. 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. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”
After the news of Bowie’s death, tributes poured in from actors, musicians and politicians around the world.
Gladiator actor Russell Crowe, referencing one of Bowie’s better known singles which featured on covers album Pin Ups 1973, wrote: “RIP David. I loved your music. I loved you. One of the greatest performance artists to have ever lived. #sorrow”
Actor Mark Ruffalo wrote: “Rip Father of all us freaks. Sad sad day. Love always Legendary singer David Bowie dies at 69.”
Comedian and writer Eddie Izzard said: “Very sad to hear about the death of David Bowie but through his music he will live forever.”
Some of the music world’s biggest names continued to add their voices to the outpouring of love for the rock icon.
His last musical appearance on stage is listed as a three-song set at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom in November 2006, in which he played Wild Is The Wind, Fantastic Voyage and Changes. Bowie is believed to have performed in the UK for the final time two years earlier at the 2004 Isle of Wight Festival.
He made a surprise comeback in 2013, after a 10-year break from recording, when he suddenly released a new single on his 66th birthday with an album out weeks later.
The film clip for his 1983 hit Let’s Dance was filmed in Australia: