A look back at the career of the rock star whose hit songs and striking stage presence influenced generations of musicians.
Pictured: British singer David Bowie during a press conference at the 36th Cannes Film Festival, on May 13, 1983, when he appeared in the films "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" and "The Hunger."
More photos: Bowie & Iman's love story
Born David Jones on Jan. 8, 1947, he changed his name when the singer for the Monkees beat him to stardom. It was the first of many reinventions that sustained the singer's career over more than four decades.
Bowie's eponymous first album, released in 1967, seems incongruous compared to his later glam-rock performances, such as the song "Rubber Band," which prominently features a tuba. Its release on the very same day as The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" didn't help.
Dropped by his label, Bowie followed up two year later with "Space Oddity," which was a hit in both England and the U.S. The title track, about the astronaut Major Tom's travels in space, reached Number 1 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
David Bowie is pictured in 1972, the year of his groundbreaking album, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust."
Bowie poses beside his Rolls Royce in 1973, the year he released "Aladdin Sane."
David Bowie in 1977.
David Bowie performs in New York City, 1978.
Bowie poses at a 1983 news conference to announce the signing of a multi-million dollar contract with EMI-America in New York City. His album "Let's Dance," released that year, was a huge seller.
British singer David Bowie performs on stage in Brussels, on May 20, 1983.
David Bowie plays an acoustic guitar while being photographed at a press conference in Tokyo on May 19, 1990.
Iman and David Bowie
David Bowie and Iman stand backstage at the 1993 Prince of Wales "Concert of Hope," in London.
Bowie and Iman, who'd met over dinner at a mutual friend's, married in 1992 and welcomed a daughter in 2000. Bowie also has a son, Duncan Jones, from his previous marriage to Mary Angela Barnett.
In this Sept. 14, 1995, file photo, David Bowie performs in Hartford, Conn.
VH1 Fashion and Music Awards
Bowie performs during the taping of the 1996 VH1 Fashion and Music Awards in New York.
Madison Square Garden
Bowie performs during a concert celebrating his 50th birthday at New York's Madison Square Garden, in 1997.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Rock 'n' roll legend David Bowie waves to the crowd after receiving the 2,083rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1997.
Bowie shares a laugh with Iman before receiving the 2,083rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, in 1997. Bowie has also worked as an actor, making his starring debut in a major motion picture with 1976's "The Man Who Fell to Earth." His other films include "The Hunger," "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," "Absolute Beginners," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "Basquiat," and "The Prestige."
Bowie performs at the 1999 MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto, Ontario.
New York City
Singer David Bowie during rehearsals at The Concert for New York City to benefit the victims of the World Trade Center disaster at Madison Square Garden in New York City, October 20, 2001.
Iman and David Bowie
Iman and her husband, singer David Bowie, arrive at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards in New York, June 3, 2002.
Tribeca Film Festival
Musician David Bowie performs at the MTV's Rock and Comedy Concert at Battery Park during the Tribeca Film Festival May 10, 2002 in New York City.
VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards
David Bowie onstage performing at the 2002 VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, October 15, 2002.
British singer David Bowie performs during a concert at the Zenith in Paris, September 24, 2002.
New York City
Bowie arrives at the December 2002 premiere of "Gangs of New York," held at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York.
Iman and David Bowie
Model Iman and husband musician David Bowie attend the amFAR Benefit Honors Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on February 3, 2003 in New York City.
British rock legend David Bowie performs on stage, October 20, 2003 at the Bercy stadium in Paris.
Debbie Harry and David Bowie
Singers Debbie Harry and David Bowie before his concert as part of The Reality Tour at Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester November 17, 2003.
Bowie performs at the Bell Center in Montreal, Dec. 13, 2003. Bowie, who received a Grammy nomination for best male rock vocal performance the previous week, had just completed a sold-out tour of Europe and the U.K.
Bowie performs at the 2nd annual Audi and Conde Nast Publications "Never Follow" campaign, which honored his achievements in music, May 3, 2004, in New York.
A general view of the David Bowie exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau on May 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
"David Bowie Is"
A "tire-print" suit, designed by Alexander McQueen and worn by musician and actor David Bowie, is displayed at the "David Bowie Is" exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on March 20, 2013. The exhibition featured more than 300 objects that include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie's own instruments.
"The Man Who Fell to Earth"
David Bowie brought his powerful stage presence to several films, none with more impact than in his first starring role, as an extraterrestrial in Nicholas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell to Earth " (1976).
"The Elephant Man"
David Bowie is seen rehearsing a scene in the Broadway show, "The Elephant Man" with co-star Patricia Elliott, Sept. 17, 1980. In the play by Bernard Pomerance, based on a real-life medical case, Bowie played John Merrick, whose deformities are suggested on the stage rather than depicted through makeup.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"
David Bowie played Major Jack Celliers, an officer in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II, in Nagisa Oshima's 1983 drama, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence."
Catherine Deneuve is a vampire and David Bowie her not-quite-immortal lover in the 1983 horror film, "The Hunger."
David Bowie in "The Hunger."
David Bowie in Julien Temple's mods-and-rockers musical, "Absolute Beginners" (1986).
David Bowie, as Jareth the Goblin King, threatens young Jennifer Connelly in the Jim Henson fantasy "Labyrinth" (1986).
"The Last Temptation of Christ"
David Bowie played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988).
David Bowie as Andy Warhol and Jeffrey Wright as artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in Julian Schnabel's bopic, "Basquiat" (1996).
David Bowie as inventor Nikola Tesla, with Andy Serkis and Hugh Jackman, in Christopher Nolan's mystery of science and illusion, "The Prestige" (2006).
Fans remember David Bowie on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. The singer died Sunday after a long bout with cancer.
A worker hangs vintage David Bowie albums in the window of the Vinyl Exchange record store in Manchester, England, January 11 2016. David Bowie, the music legend who used daringly androgynous displays of sexuality and glittering costumes to frame legendary rock hits "Ziggy Stardust" and "Space Oddity," died of cancer at the age of 69.
Two days before his death, Bowie released his 25th album, "Blackstar."