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David Bowie, the Picasso of Pop Music Dies of Cancer at 69

Singer David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of his era, has died of cancer at the age of 69.

A statement was issued on his social media accounts, saying he “died peacefully, surrounded by his family” after an “18-month battle with cancer”.

Tributes have been paid from around the world to the “extraordinary artist” whose last album was released days ago.

Sir Paul McCartney described him as a “great star” who “played a very strong part in British musical history”.

Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, who directed Bafta-winning film Moon, wrote on Twitter: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”

The artist’s hits include Let’s Dance, Changes, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel Rebel and Life on Mars.

He was also well known for creating his flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

The singer, who had been living in New York in recent years, only released his latest album Blackstar on his birthday last Friday.

The album, which includes just seven songs, has been well received by critics and was intended as a “parting gift” to the world, according to long-time friend and producer Tony Visconti.

Visconti wrote on Facebook: “His death was no different from his life – a work of art.

“He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.

“I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us.”

Blackstar is on course to be number one this Friday, according to the Official Charts Company, with combined sales of more than 43,000.

Sir Paul McCartney said he would “always remember the great laughs” the pair shared, saying in a statement: “David was a great star and I treasure the moments we had together.

“His music played a very strong part in British musical history and I’m proud to think of the huge influence he has had on people all around the world.”

Friend and collaborator Brian Eno said: “David’s death came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him. I feel a huge gap now.”

He said he received an email from Bowie a week ago, which was “as funny as always, and as surreal”, which ended with the line: “Thank you for our good times, Brian. They will never rot,”.

Eno added: “I realise now he was saying goodbye.”

‘Light of my life’

The Rolling Stones paid tribute to “an extraordinary artist” and a “true original”.

Brian May, guitarist with Queen – with whom Bowie collaborated on Under Pressure – described him as “a fearsome talent”.

Friend and collaborator Iggy Pop wrote on Twitter: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”

Madonna said she was “devastated” and that Bowie had “changed her life”. Shewrote on Twitter: “Talented . Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever!”

Rapper Kanye West said: “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”

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