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British Rock Icon David Bowie Dies at 69

  • VOA News

FILE - British Pop Star David Bowie screams into the microphone as he performs on stage during his concert in Vienna, Feb. 4, 1996.

FILE - British Pop Star David Bowie screams into the microphone as he performs on stage during his concert in Vienna, Feb. 4, 1996.

British rock music legend David Bowie has died.

On Friday, the iconic musician turned 69 and released Blackstar, his 25th album. Inventive to the end, Bowie mixed rock and jazz on the album, which critics hailed as his best work in years.

His Facebook and Twitter accounts say he died peacefully Sunday "surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer."

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​Bowie was known for his gender-bending dress and for his refusal to be pigeon-holed in any one musical genre, experimenting with glam rock, hard rock, dance, pop, soul and punk.

He shot to fame with 1969's Space Oddity, the lyrics of which summed up the loneliness of the Cold War space race and coincided with the Apollo landing on the moon: "Ground Control to Major Tom. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on ... For here am I sitting in my tin can. Far above the world. Planet Earth is blue. And there's nothing I can do."

Fans gather Monday to mourn the death of David Bowie at a mural of the singer in his native London neighborhood of Brixton, Jan. 11, 2016.

Fans gather Monday to mourn the death of David Bowie at a mural of the singer in his native London neighborhood of Brixton, Jan. 11, 2016.

Ziggy Stardust

Three years later, he released The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars, which introduced one of music's most famous personas: the red-headed, androgynous, eyeliner-wearing Stardust, who would become an enduring part of Bowie's legacy.

He was born David Jones in south London two years after the end of World War Two. But, to avoid confusion with the Monkees' Davy Jones, he later changed his name to David Bowie, according to Rolling Stone.

Bowie's Ziggy Stardust gave way to the stuttering rock sound of Changes, to the disco soul of Young Americans, co-written with John Lennon, to a droning collaboration with Brian Eno in Berlin that produced Heroes.

FILE - Singer David Bowie arrives with his wife, Iman, to attend the CFDA fashion awards in New York, June 7, 2010.

FILE - Singer David Bowie arrives with his wife, Iman, to attend the CFDA fashion awards in New York, June 7, 2010.

Some of his biggest successes occurred in the early 1980s, with the Let's Dance, Under Pressure, which he recorded with Queen, and a massive American tour.

'High points of one's life'

"My entire career, I've only really worked with the same subject matter. The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I've always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety — all of the high points of one's life," he told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview.

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. He also co-wrote the musical Lazarus, which is finishing its run on Broadway this month.

He kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart attack in the 2004. However, he was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall in March.

Bowie is survived by his wife, the model Iman, and two children.

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