Sad news to report this Sunday night. Musical legend David Bowie has passed away at the age of 69. A singer, songwriter and actor, David Bowie was also a producer who helped pioneer the glam rock movement of the 70s and 80s. He also dabbled in art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica. Over the course of his 40 year career, he also appeared in movies such as the 1976 cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth and Labyrinth in 1986. David Bowie succumbed to a long bout with cancer. The artist's personal social media accounts left this announcement about his passing.
"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."
David Bowie just celebrated his 69th birthday this past Friday, January 8. On that same day he released his 25th album entitled Blackstar. As a musician, he experienced his first true breakthrough with the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. A concept album, it positioned David Bowie as an alien from outer space who became a rock star. With the album, the singer combined Japanese kabuki, British mod style and rock and roll theater, thus bestowing his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardut onto the world.
David Bowie's first major American success came three years later in 1975, when he released his first number 1 single Fame, which appears on the top 10 album Young Americans. In 1976, he releases the rock record Station to Station, which reached number 3 on the charts and featured the top 10 hit Golden Years. His only other number 1 hit in the U.S. was Let's Dance, which debuted in 1983.
Other popular songs from the creative maestro include Space Oddity, Heroes, Changes, Under Pressure, China Girl, Modern Love, Rebel, Rebel, All the Young Dudes, Panic in Detroit, Fashion, Life on Mars, Suffragette City and his 1977 Christmas medley with Bing Crosby. But music wasn't his only love. Along with The Man Who Fell to Earth and Labyrinth, David Bowie appeared in quite a few other popular movies over the span of his illustrious career. In 1983, he took the lead in the cult hit The Hunger, which capitalized on the popular vampire genre that reemerged during that decade. That same year, he took a decidedly different role in the war drama Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.
He would continue to appear in a number of 80s cult favorites, including John Landis's Into the Night in 1985, followed by Absolute Beginners in 1986. He also appeared in director Martin Scorsese's controversial drama The Last Temptation of Christ.
His acting career slowed down in the 90s, though he did have a prominent role in the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. In the late 90s, he co-hosted the horror anthology series The Hunger alongside Terence Stamp, though it had nothing to do with his movie of the same name. In the 2000s, he had a small role in the Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander. And he even voiced the character of Lord Royal Highness on SpongeBob SquarePants. The last character he played was Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's 2006 thriller The Prestige opposite Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine. Though, his last film role came three years later in 2009, when he played himself in the teen musical drama Bandslam.
David Bowie also won critical praise for his lead in The Elephant Man on Broadway, playing the misshapened John Merrick. In September 1998, the artist became the first ever rock star to morph into an Internet Service Provider when he launched BowieNet. His real name was David Jones, born in London in 1947. He was forced to change his name after Davy Jones of The Monkees found international success. He started his musical career as a saxophone player, and played in several bands when he was first starting out. Throughout the years, he has switched gears many times, playing in a number of different styles and genres of music.