David Bowie has died at the age of 69 surrounded by his family following a "courageous" 18-month battle with cancer.

A statement was issued across the musician's official social media profiles, asking the public to respect the "family's privacy during their time of grief".

Bowie's followers initially rejected the statement as a hoax, perhaps out of shock and disbelief, but the sad news was confirmed by his publicist.

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There were rumours within the industry regarding Bowie's ill health, but his battle with cancer was largely kept private.

The statement on Facebook read: "January 10 2016 - 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."

His publicist is expected to make a lengthier statement shortly.

Bowie's death comes just two days after he released his 25th and final album '★' (Blackstar).

He released a music video for the track 'Lazarus' taken from it last week, which sees him frail, wrapped in bandages and lying on a hospital bed.

"Look up here, I'm in heaven," he sings. "I've got scars, that can't be seen."

The video ends with Bowie shakily writing a note before walking into a dark armoire that stands beside the bed.

Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, paid tribute to his father on Twitter before retiring from the internet to grieve.

"He was a brilliant songwriter and an amazing creator, he gave us all a goal to run towards," said Midge Ure. "No-one could top him in terms of creativity."

Kanye West tweeted: "David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime."

Golden Globes host, Ricky Gervais, who brought Bowie on board for his sitcom Extras, wrote that he had "just lost a hero," while comedian Eddie Izzard said the artist would "live forever through his music".

Known for his fierce creativity and bold transformations both in terms of identity and aesthetics, Bowie was one of the most influential men in rock. He won two Grammy awards and had nine albums go platinum in the UK.

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