Ziggy Stardust will dance no more. David Bowie, the intensely private British musical genius who was a trailblazer for the second generation of rock and roll, died on Sunday, January 10th from complications related to cancer. Bowie passed just two days after his 69th birthday, but he did live long enough to see the release of his critically acclaimed final album Blackstar.
David Bowie’s son, director Duncan Jones, confirmed the news of his father’s death on Twitter: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer.”
Supermodel Imam, Bowie’s wife of 23 years, sent out a series of tweets foreshadowing his passing and expressing her love over the last few days.
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Bowie, who almost single-handedly turned glam rock into a serious musical art form, has been called the “Picasso of Pop,” and deservedly so. A few of his most well-known songs include Let’s Dance, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars.
He released 25 albums in his career, the first in 1967 (the eponymous David Bowie), with more than 140 million albums sold over almost five-decades of frenetic music-making.
Statement from David Bowie friend Tony Visconte
As one would expect, David Bowie did not rest on his laurels as his disease advanced and the handwriting was on the wall. His new, seven-song album Blackstar was lauded by critics prior to his death, and according to long-time friend and producer Tony Visconte, it was intended as Bowie’s “parting gift” to the world.
Visconti commented on his Facebook account: “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.”
Statements from artists influenced by Bowie
Musical collaborator and close friend Iggy Pop said 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 wrote on Twitter that she was “devastated” and Bowie had “changed her life”. She also said Twitter: “Talented . Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever!”
Rapper and reality media star Kanye West commented to the media: “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”
Song on final Bowie album Blackstar foreshadowed his death
The internet is abuzz with comments about Bowie’s final video Lazarus. Watching the video is an odd experience, as it’s vintage Bowie, full of surprises and difficult-to-process images, but it’s also clearly a goodbye.
The Reverend Shawn Amos has perhaps said it best: “It’s impossible to watch ”Lazarus” and not think you are seeing one of our great artists choreographing his own death. This is as close to a goodbye as we’ll get from David Bowie. Bowie wasn’t much for hellos or goodbyes. He always came and went as he pleased.”
Amos goes on to suggest that Bowie has crafted a near-perfect goodbye. He points out that Bowie’s illness only became public recently, and says: “Lazarus” is a man writing his own obituary in all the impressionistic, oblique language we would expect from someone who so generously gave his art while viciously guarding his life.”
Rest in peace, Ziggy Stardust. Ashes to Ashes.