Pop chameleon David Bowie dead of cancer two days after final album

Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:04pm EST
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By Paul Sandle and Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) - David Bowie, the visionary British rock star who coupled hits such as "Space Oddity" with trend-setting pop personas like "Ziggy Stardust," has died at age 69, apparently of liver cancer, just two days after releasing what appears to be the parting gift of a new album.

A pioneering chameleon of performance imagery, Bowie straddled the worlds of hedonistic rock, fashion, art and drama for five decades, pushing the boundaries of music and his own sanity to produce some of the most innovative songs of his generation.

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," read a statement on Bowie's Facebook page dated Jan. 10. Bowie's son, film director Duncan Jones, confirmed the death.

A spokesman for Bowie said he died on Sunday but declined to say where he died or from what type of cancer. Bowie had kept a low profile after having emergency heart surgery in 2004 and it was not publicly known that he had cancer.

Belgian stage director Ivo van Hove, who directed the current off-Broadway experimental play "Lazarus," which Bowie co-created and for which he provided much of the music, said the singer had been diagnosed with liver cancer some 15 months ago.

“He told me more than a year and three months ago just after he had heard himself ... he said it was liver cancer,“ van Hove told Dutch public radio broadcaster NOS in an interview on Monday.

“I saw a man who didn’t want to die, he really didn’t want to die. ... He was in a battle for his life. Sometimes he looked at me and I saw a man who was suffering through and through because he knew the clock was ticking,” the director told Dutch TV in a separate interview.

One of Bowie's last-known public appearances was in New York in mid-December to watch the show, which is due to close on Jan 19.   Continued...

David Bowie performs his North American debut of "A Reality Tour" in Montreal, in this December 13, 2003 file photo. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files