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David Bowie, iconic musicmaker, dies at 69

David Bowie, photographed in 1983. | RALPH GATTI/AFP/Getty Images)

David Bowie, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most prolific artists, has died. He was 69.

David Bowie, pictured in 1987. | GETTY IMAGES
David Bowie, pictured in 1987. | GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Bowie’s passing was confirmed by his business manager, Bill Zyblat, who revealed the artists died Sunday peacefully, surrounded by his family, after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Iman and David Bowie, pictured in 2006 in New York. | AFP / STAN HONDASTAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
Iman and David Bowie, pictured in 2006 in New York. | AFP / STAN HONDASTAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Somali-American supermodel/entrepreneur Iman (Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid), Mr. Bowie’s wife of 24 years, tweeted out the passing of her husband overnight:

Mr. Bowie released what would be his final album, “Blackstar” on Friday, the day of his 69th birthday. In its review of the album, Billboard.com summed it up in part: “The new David Bowie release, ‘Blackstar,’ begins with an execution, and from there the tidings only get ­grimmer. His 25th studio album features just seven songs, but they serve up a veritable Grand Guignol of dread, death, even dismemberment.”

Just as in his fashion choices, the singer-songwriter was chameleonlike in his 40-year music career, criss-crossing myriad musical genres from glam rock and art rock to soul, dance pop and electronica during his 40-plus-year career. His breakthrough was the 1972 seminal “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” which birthed his fictional rock star alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Other benchmark albums include “Space Oddity” (1969), “Diamond Dogs” (1974) and “Changesonebowie” (1976), and “Let’s Dance” (1983).

In addition, a previously planned tribute concert benefit scheduled for March 31 at New York’s Carnegie Hal, was announced just hours before news of the singer’s death was made public. Organizers of “The Music Of” series now say it will be a memorial concert instead.

An off-Broadway production of “Lazarus,” co-written by Mr. Bowie and Tony Award-winner Enda Walsh (“Once”), which includes both re-worked material from Bowie’s catalogue alongside brand new music, is scheduled to run through Jan. 19 at the New York Theatre Workshop.

‘David Bowie Is…’ a retrospective of Mr. Bowie’s career as musician, artist and fashion innovator, became one of the most successful exhibit ever mounted at the Museum of Contemporary Art when it arrived in 2014. The touring exhibit, which made its only U.S. stop at the Chicago museum, was an interactive treasure trove of his fashion, album covers, music, concert, film and television appearances, and so much more.

“We were so very fortunate to have hosted the exhibit here, Chicago being such a vibrant music city,” said MCA chief curator Michael Darling, who oversaw “David Bowie Is.”

“I think one of the most striking things I learned [looking back on the exhibit] was how sustained his career was. How he was able to keep it going for so long in such a relevant way, decade after decade staying at the cutting edge of popular culture throughout all of it,” Darling said.

More than 193,000 people took in the MCA exhibit during its 15-week run. Celebrity visitors included Sophia Bush, Margaret Cho, Billy Corgan, Jesse Lee Soffer, Gillian Flynn, Adrian Grenier, Daryl Hannah, George Lucas, William H. Macy, Bob Mould, Stella Maeve, Rita Ora, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman, Earl Slick, Usher, Peter Wolf and Neil Young, among others.

In addition, Mr. Bowie brought his major world tours to Chicago, including the Ziggy Stardust Tour (1972), the Diamond Dogs tour (1974), the Serious Moonlight Tour (1983), and what would become his final world trek, A Reality Tour (which played three nights in Rosemont) in 2004. In a 2015 interview Bowie’s booking agent told The Guardian the singer had officially retired from touring.

Mr. Bowie and Iman have a 16-year-old daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones. Mr. Bowie also had a son, musician/filmmaker Duncan Jones, from his first marriage to model Angela Barnett.

In a most poignant and loving message, Iman tweeted: “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” the day before her husband’s passing.

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“David Bowie Is” was one of the most successful exhibits at Chicago’s MCA in 2014 . | SUN-TIMES PHOTO
“David Bowie Is” was one of the most successful exhibits at Chicago’s MCA in 2014 . | SUN-TIMES PHOTO
Just a sampling of the many costumes that featured throughout the “David Bowie Is” exhibit at the MCA. This exhibit area will feature clips from various Bowie concerts and the related costumes he wore. | PHOTO BY PETER HOLDERNESS/SUN-TIMES
Just a sampling of the many costumes that featured throughout the “David Bowie Is” exhibit at the MCA. This exhibit area will feature clips from various Bowie concerts and the related costumes he wore. | PHOTO BY PETER HOLDERNESS/SUN-TIMES
It’s grainy here, but trust me it’s dazzling in person. One of the many exhibits at “David Bowie Is” that will feature multimedia video projections. | PHOTO BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/SUN-TIMES
It’s grainy here, but trust me it’s dazzling in person. One of the many exhibits at “David Bowie Is” that will feature multimedia video projections. | PHOTO BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/SUN-TIMES
David Bowie’s original music for “Space Oddity,” on display at the exhibit “David Bowie Is” at the MCA. | PHOTO BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/SUN-TIMES
David Bowie’s original music for “Space Oddity,” on display at the exhibit “David Bowie Is” at the MCA. | PHOTO BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/SUN-TIMES
Flowers are left below a mural of David Bowie on the wall of a Morley’s store in Brixton, London, the singer’s birthplace, after the rock star died following an 18-month battle with cancer, Monday Jan. 11, 2016. | Anthony Devlin/PA via AP
Flowers are left below a mural of David Bowie on the wall of a Morley’s store in Brixton, London, the singer’s birthplace, after the rock star died following an 18-month battle with cancer, Monday Jan. 11, 2016. | Anthony Devlin/PA via AP