Musician David Bowie Has Died at 69

He had been battling cancer for 18 months.

ByABC News
January 11, 2016, 2:18 AM

— -- Musician David Bowie has died at the age of 69, his representative confirmed to ABC News.The singer had been battling cancer for more than a year, according to a statement on his official Facebook page.

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer," the Jan. 10 statement 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, a singer, songwriter, actor and fashion icon, has been an influence in some way on nearly every modern artist, from Kanye West to Madonna to U2 to Lorde to Lady Gaga. His influence can be felt in punk rock, new wave and alternative music, ambient, dance, electronic music and beyond. Though the decades, his music encompassed pop, glam rock, R&B, funk, dance, soul, progressive rock, hard rock and more.

Born David Robert Jones in London, the musician reportedly adopted the stage name "David Bowie" in the 1960s as an homage to U.S. pioneer Jim Bowie and to avoid confusion with the Monkees singer, Davy Jones. Then, in 1967, he released his eponymous debut album, and in 1969, another, "Space Oddity."

His personal life was evolving, too: In 1969, he married his first wife, Angela Barnett, and two years later, welcomed their son, Zowie Bowie (now known as the film director Duncan Jones). He and Barnett would divorce in 1980.

The 1970s sparked a dramatic change in Bowie's image. In 1970, he released "The Man Who Sold the World," a rock album that displayed a shift from his earlier, more acoustic offerings. 1971 brought "Hunky Dory," which featured songs including "Kooks," "Changes" / "Andy Warhol" and "Life on Mars."

Meanwhile, Bowie experimented with an alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, which he adopted during the promotion of his 1972 album, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." His gender-bending wardrobe, outrageous style and fluid sexuality made him irresistible to men and women alike.

"I fell for Ziggy, too. It was quite easy to become obsessed night and day with the character. I became Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie went totally out the window," he later told Rolling Stone of the character. "Everybody was convincing me that I was a Messiah, especially on that first American tour. I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy."

Soon after, Bowie began spending more time in America, and in 1973, released his most popular album in the States at that time, "Aladdin Sane." The album also spawned a new look for the glam rocker, who, by then, was distancing himself from Ziggy Stardust.

"I came up with the flash thing on the face," he told Rolling Stone. "Lightning bolt. An electric kind of thing. Instead of, like, the flame of a lamp, I thought he would probably be cracked by lightning. Sort of an obvious-type thing, as he was sort of an electric boy. But the teardrop was Brian Duffy's, an English artist-photographer. He put that on afterward, just popped it in there. I thought it was rather sweet."

Bowie continued to release seven other albums that decade, including three that went gold, "Diamond Dogs," "Young Americans," and "Station to Station." "Station to Station" also introduced a new Bowie character to fans, the Thin White Duke. Around that time, he also began acting more, winning acclaim for playing an alien in the 1976 film, "The Man Who Fell to Earth."

Bowie, who was trained in theater and mime, would go on to appear in films as diverse as "Labyrinth," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "The Prestige" and "Zoolander."

The 1980s brought new levels of fame for Bowie, who released two platinum dance albums back-to-back: "Let's Dance" in 1983, followed by "Tonight" in 1984. But his success became overwhelming, and he retreated to Switzerland to write his next album, "Never Let Me Down," which led to the Glass Spider tour, one of his most elaborate shows of all time.