If there was any musician who understood the idea of reinvention, it was David Bowie. The musician made it a statement since his debut in the 1970s to always be forward-thinking, always invoke drama, theatrics, persona and more to match his unflappable pop music that bridged rock and pop. He influenced thousands if not millions to be themselves and recently crafted an album in Blackstar that is one of the first great releases of the new year.

Bowie died Sunday after a battle with cancer, his publicist Steve Martin said. Bowie was 69, two days removed from his birthday. Bowie had been battling cancer for the past 18 months, Martin stated in a release. On Friday, what was Bowie’s 69th birthday, he released Blackstar, an exploratory album where Bowie, flanked by a jazz quintet played up to his legendary flare and oddball wizardry. A video for the track, “Lazarus” was released only four days ago.

Bowie’s contributions to film and Broadway are also steep notes in his legendary resume. “The Man Who Fell To Earth” a film about an alien, Thomas Jerome Newton who had come to Earth to bring back water to his home planet, was his signature role. In music, he wrote about the times, of sexual adventure, being an outsider, an alien, and at times captured the mundane yet dramatic aspects of life. Hit singles like “Let’s Dance”, “Changes”, “Fame” and “The Man Who Sold The World” became iconic. Nirvana chose “The Man Who Sold The World”, Bowie’s 1970 single to cover during it’s now landmark 1993 Unplugged set.

Bowie resurfaced in minor controversy in early 1990 as he and Queen’s hit single, “Under Pressure” had been lifted by Vanilla Ice for his hit single, “Ice Ice Baby”. The two later settled. His metamorphoses inspired other kids of drama and theatrics such as Kanye West, Lady Gaga & Madonna. Always around at times, his voice was one of the more imitated in rock. Bowie was a one of one, Major Tom who arrived with 1969’s Space Oddity and 1972’s Ziggy Stardust became all-things glam and absurdity.

Born David Robert Jones on Jan. 8, 1947, in South London, David Bowie is survived by his wife, international model Iman, a daughter, Alexandria Jones & a son, Duncan Jones from a previous marriage.