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'I lost a hero': David Bowie's death inspires touching celebrity reactions

As news spread Sunday night of rock legend David Bowie's death, luminaries across the entertainment spectrum remembered the innovative songwriter who transcended music, art and fashion in a career that spanned six decades.

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David Bowie kept cancer secret, allowed new album ‘to speak for itself’

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David Bowie kept cancer secret, allowed new album ‘to speak for itself’

Play Video - 3:36

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Bowie died on Sunday, two days after turning 69 years old. His family, who released a statement overnight, said he "died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer." He passed only days after releasing his 25th studio album, "Blackstar," on Friday.

"Quite simply, he was one of rock's first self-conscious artists,'' Rolling Stone contributing editor Joe Levy said on TODAY Monday. "He looked at everything he did as art. The way he dressed, the way he lived his life, his sexuality, he pushed boundaries all the time.''

From his ascent to stardom with his first hit, "Space Oddity,'' in 1969 to his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust in the 1970s to his final album, Bowie was constantly innovating.

Bowie had kept his battle with cancer private, which made the announcement of his death so stunning.

"People would've received it so differently if they had known of his illness,'' Levy said of his final album. "Clearly it's a record that faces and faces down the question of mortality. The decision to keep all this private allows the art to come out, to be evaluated, to speak for itself."

Celebrities from across the entertainment world and beyond paid tribute to Bowie on Monday.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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