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David Bowie dies at 69

The rock legend passed away peacefully after an 18-month battle with cancer

By Shantila Lee | Published: 11 Jan 2016

David Bowie dead
Photo: TPG Images

David Bowie, an everlasting icon of the glam rock scene, died after a battle with cancer today. The news came via his Twitter account, in a tweet that read: "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."

He passes on just after the release of his 27th studio album, Blackstar, and his 69th birthday on 8 January. Watch the music video below, so emblematic of his fantastic strangeness. "Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all," his son, film director Duncan Jones tweeted. Bowie leaves behind wife, Iman and his children, Duncan and Alexandria.

The news is the hardest to have hit the music industry in decades, with showbiz mourning the loss of a gender-bending, era-defining music legend who stood at the vanguard of revolution in the 70s. His songs, like Space Oddity and Rebel, Rebel, forever carved into our consciousness, went from glam rock to hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica through the years.

David Bowie
Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and the Aladdin Sane look (Photos: davidbowie.com)

What did Bowie mean to all of us, especially the generation that grew up in the 70s and 80s? He opened the floodgates for punk makeup with his Ziggy Stardust persona and Aladdin Sane album cover, singularly responsible for making wild makeup a mainstay. He gave us cult movies like Labyrinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth, defining a genre of unconventional fantasy merged with music. And most profoundly, his music and guises like The Thin White Duke liberated a generation to dare to do anything without being labelled, with total freedom of expression in music, fashion and sexuality.

David Bowie
Bowie performing in 1976 and a still from Labyrinth (Photos: davidbowie.com & TPG Images)

He was an always-evolving force of change, his cultural impact unlike any other. He quite literally set us all free. "It’s not exaggerating to say, what Elvis meant to America, David Bowie meant to the U.K. and Ireland," Bono wrote for Rolling Stone in 2010 about Bowie's impact. "It was that radical a shift in consciousness."

David Bowie
Photos: davidbowie.com

Out of all the tributes that have flooded the internet in his passing, this GIF by Helen Green says it all. RIP David Bowie, and thank you.


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