Singer David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of his era, has died of cancer at the age of 69.
A statement was issued on his social media accounts, saying he “died peacefully, surrounded by his family” after an “18-month battle with cancer”.
Tributes have been paid from around the world to the “extraordinary artist” whose last album was released days ago.
Sir Paul McCartney described him as a “great star” who “played a very strong part in British musical history”.
Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, who is a Bafta-winning film director, wrote on Twitter: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”
The artist’s hits include Let’s Dance, Changes, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel Rebel and Life on Mars.
He was also well known for creating his flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
The singer, who had been living in New York in recent years, released his latest album Blackstar only last Friday, his birthday.
The album has been well received by critics and was intended as a “parting gift” to the world, according to long-time friend and producer Tony Visconti.
Visconti wrote on Facebook: “His death was no different from his life – a work of art.”
He added: “He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us.”
Blackstar is on course to be number one in the UK this Friday, according to the Official Charts Company, with combined sales of more than 43,000.
Hundreds of fans have gathered in his birthplace of Brixton, south London, to pay tribute to the singer, laying flowers and candles at his mural and taking part in an impromptu sing-along of his hits.
There have also been crowds outside his New York home and in Berlin where he lived in the late 1970s.
Sir Paul McCartney said he would “always remember the great laughs” the pair shared, saying in a statement: “David was a great star and I treasure the moments we had together.
“His music played a very strong part in British musical history and I’m proud to think of the huge influence he has had on people all around the world.”
Friend and collaborator Brian Eno said: “David’s death came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him. I feel a huge gap now.”
The Rolling Stones paid tribute to “an extraordinary artist” and a “true original”.
Brian May, guitarist with Queen – with whom Bowie collaborated on Under Pressure – described him as “a fearsome talent”.
Friend and collaborator Iggy Pop wrote on Twitter: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”
Madonna said she was “devastated”, writing on Facebook that Bowie “changed the course” of her life after she saw him perform – her first ever concert.
“I found him so inspiring and innovative,” she wrote. “Unique and provocative. A real genius.”
Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, who convinced Bowie to star as himself and ridicule Gervais in an episode of 2006 sitcom Extras, simply wrote: “I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.”
Midge Ure, who helped organise the Live Aid concert in 1985 – at which Bowie performed – said: “He wasn’t just a brilliant songwriter and an amazing creator, he excelled at everything.”