Pop legend David Bowie has died at the age of 69, following a remarkable and influential career in which he flouted gender “norms” and claimed to be gay and bisexual.
According to official reports, Bowie passed away on Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was at home with family at the time.
His death is a shock as it was not widely known that that he was ill. The English singer and songwriter released a new album Blackstar just last week.
During his 40 years in the spotlight, Bowie was not only known for his often innovative music, but also for pushing cultural boundaries with his androgynous and “gender-bending” image and statements.
In 1972, he said in an interview that he was gay and raised eyebrows by cross-dressing as part of his pop image. Later he claimed to be bisexual, with a number of reports by his ex-wife, Angie, and former lovers that he had sex with men; famously including the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger.
In later year, Bowie avoided defining his sexuality and some believed his provocative comments at the time were intended to generate publicity.
He suggested in an interview that his bisexuality was driven by “a compulsion to flout moral codes than a real biological and psychological state of being.”
In 2001, he told Blender that his claimed bisexuality had impacted his career in the US: “I had no problem with people knowing I was bisexual. But I had no inclination to hold any banners nor be a representative of any group of people… America is a very puritanical place, and I think it stood in the way of so much I wanted to do”
Bowie first made a splash with the hit song Space Oddity in 1969, and went on to embody the glam rock era with his alter ego Ziggy Stardust and the single Starman.
He produced work in numerous genres of music over the years, including variations of rock, dance pop, punk and electronica. Bowie also acted in a number of films, at times to critical acclaim.
Some of his other hits include Let’s Dance, Fame, Heroes, Under Pressure, China Girl and Fashion. Bowie released 26 studio albums, nine live albums, 111 singles, three soundtracks and 51 music videos.
He was married to Somali-American model Iman at the time of his death. He is also survived by his son Duncan Jones and daughter Alexandria “Lexi” Zahra Jones.