Singer David Bowie dies of cancer at age 69

David Bowie dies at age 69   

Singer David Bowie has died at age 69 following "a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," the pop icon's website said.

He died Sunday, two days after his birthday, when his album "Blackstar" was released.

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family," the site said. "While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."

Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, also tweeted the news.

Bowie rose to fame in the early 1970s and was revered as an innovative songwriter and performer, including his particularly eye-catching alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

His many hits included "Let's Dance," "Space Oddity," "Heroes," "Life on Mars," "Rebel Rebel" and "Changes." He was also an actor, appearing in cult films such as "Labyrinth" and "The Last Temptation of Christ."

His new album includes the song "Lazarus," which begins with the words: "Look up here, I'm in heaven."

As well as breaking new ground musically, Bowie shook up financial markets in 1997, forgoing future royalties by auctioning bonds linked to future revenues from his CD sales. Despite raising $55 million at the time, according to a report in the Financial Times, the "Bowie bonds" fell victim to the rise of online music and were downgraded to one level above junk by rating agency Moody's in 2004.

Following the news of Bowie's death, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted "on the loss of a genius."

Other fans, comedian Ricky Gervais and rapper Kanye West, also tweeted their condolences.

Gijsbert Hanekroot | Redferns | Getty Images