The singer celebrated his 69th birthday on Friday when he released his 25th album, called Blackstar.
David Bowie has died after an 18-month battle with cancer, the singer’s son has confirmed.
Duncan Jones wrote on Twitter: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”
Statements were posted on the star’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts saying the star died on Sunday.
They read: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer.
“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
Bowie released his 25th album, called Blackstar, on Friday 8 January, to coincide with his 69th birthday.
The album contains seven songs, including one called Lazarus which starts with the lyrics: “Look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen, I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen, everybody knows me now.”
Bowie’s good friend and producer Tony Visconti said Blackstar – released two days before his death – was “his parting gift” to the world.
It is currently in the number one spot.
The Heroes singer was famously very private but there had been rumours about his health for years.
Bowie’s ex-wife Angie Bowie is currently a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother. Producers told her off-camera about his passing, and she has decided to remain inside the house.
Paying tribute to the singer on twitter, comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, who convinced his long-time idol Bowie to star as himself – and ridicule Gervais – in an episode of 2006 sitcom Extras, wrote simply: “I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.”
Former NME editor Krissi Murison told Sky News the only other musician’s death she could think of which was comparable was that of John Lennon.
“For a music fan, he was everything,” she said.
Madonna tweeted a series of messages, saying: “I’m devastated! This great artist changed my life! First concert I ever saw in Detroit!
“Talented. Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever!”
Iggy Pop said: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”
Germany has today credited Bowie with “helping to bring down” the Berlin Wall.
He lived in Berlin at the height of the Cold War, and performed on the west side of the wall in 1987 with thousands of East Berliners singing along on the other side.
Bowie made a surprise comeback in 2013 when he suddenly released a new single on his 66th birthday with an album out just weeks later, his first for 10 years.
Bowie was awarded a Grammy lifetime achievement award in February 2006 and his final performance on stage was later that year when he sang alongside Alicia Keys at the Black Ball in New York.
The star made a habit of confounding the critics – killing off his most famous creation, Ziggy Stardust, at the height of his fame – and reinventing himself in roles including glam rocker, soul singer and hippie songwriter.
Bowie, born David Jones in post-war Brixton, south London, kicked off his music career in the R&B boom of the early Sixties.