January 11, 2016 6:48 pm
Updated: January 22, 2016 6:24 pm

David Bowie leaves behind legacy of performing for good causes

WATCH: Eric Alper discusses the impact on the music industry by British artist David Bowie who passed away at 69.


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The death of music visionary David Bowie is not just a loss for rock music, but it’s also a blow to the humanitarian causes for which he advocated.

Bowie, who passed away over the weekend after an 18-month battle with cancer, lent his fame to support several causes over the course of his five decades in the spotlight.

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Monday, in the hours following the announcement of Bowie’s death, many of the organizations honoured Bowie for his contributions over the years.

READ MORE: David Bowie wasn’t just a music icon; he was also an Internet pioneer

According to the website Look to the Stars, the 69-year-old music and cultural icon supported at least 10 charities including Save the Children, 21st Century Leaders and the Lunchbox Fund (among others).

Along with his wife of 23 years, former supermodel Iman, he lent his celebrity to several charities supporting people living with HIV/AIDS around the world.

He memorably performed Under Pressure, his 1982 collaboration with Queen, at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute concert in London. Queen front man Freddie Mercury died of AIDS-related illness on Nov. 24, 1991.

WATCH: Fans pay tribute to David Bowie at music icon’s star in Hollywood

Annie Lennox sang Mercury’s part for the performance.

All the proceeds from the concert went to the the Mercury Phoenix Trust,which continues to raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness and research.

The organization tweeted this photo of Bowie with Mercury as a tribute.

Bowie also supported the Keep A Child Alive Campaign, co-founded by singer Alicia Keyes.

The organization works to “combat the physical, social and economic impact of HIV on children and families” in Africa and India.

A 2006 performance at the charity’s Black Ball fundraiser was Bowie’s last live stage performance.

Slate reported he performed the 1972 song Changes — his first hit single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Keyes joined him on stage at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom for the performance.

Keep A Child Alive posted its condolences on its Facebook page.

“David Bowie was an icon and an inspiration for us all. He was a longtime supporter and friend of Keep a Child Alive, for which we’ll be forever grateful. We know his legacy will live on and he will be remembered for generations to come. RIP.”

READ MORE: Was David Bowie’s last album, ‘Blackstar,’ a goodbye to fans?

Throughout his career, Bowie took to the stage for several events that raised awareness and money.

Three decades ago, Bowie took part in the Band Aid campaign to support those affected by the famine in Ethiopia.

In 1984, Bowie lent his voice to the song Do They Know It’s Christmas — the sales of which raised £8million (the equivalent of CAD $16.5 million today) for the cause.

Months later, he was among the slate of performers who took the stage for the Live Aid concert.

The July 13, 1985 event — two concerts performed simultaneously in London and Philadelphia — was reportedly watched by some 1.5 billion people around the globe and raised £50 million (CAD $103.4 million today) to support famine relief.

David Bowie performing at Live Aid. Bowie died at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. (File photo)

STRPA, File/The Canadian Press

Amnesty International recalled Bowie’s support for a 1997 campaign to support refugees.

“We were immensely proud when #DavidBowie supported Amnesty UK’s 1997 refugee campaign. Mr Bowie, you will be missed.

Bowie performed at the human rights organization’s Phoenix Festival where, according to the blog Exploring David Bowie, he said Amnesty’s Respect Refugees campaign was “a reminder to us as international artists, that we are part of a global community.

“Music is a way of connecting people all over the world from all walks of life and so it is our responsibility to send out a message that human rights abuses must not be tolerated. Music is international and the Phoenix’s Festival’s range of musicians illustrates this perfectly. Amnesty International’s work is instrumental in highlighting the inter-connection of peoples and culture around the world.”

Bowie, at that time, noted there were 15 million refugees around the world who could benefit from the help of groups like Amnesty International. Today, the world is facing the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, with a staggering 59.5 million people displaced by conflict in 2014.

Bowie also performed the Concert for New York City, which benefitted the emergency workers who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center towers. He opened with a cover of the Simon and Garfunkle song America before performing his 1977 hit song Heroes to a crowd filled with New York City firefighters and police officers.

The song Heroes also featured on the album War Child: Heroes, the proceeds of which went to the charity War Child.

Although Bowie, along with Paul McCartney, was the first to lend his support to the 2008 project, the band TV on the Radio performed the song on the album.

In honour of David Bowie

Even in death, Bowie and his legacy are raising money for important causes.

His latest album Blackstar was released Friday — his 69th birthday and just two days before his death was announced.

READ MORE: David Bowie even kept friends in dark over illness

In the wake of the sudden news of his death, British independent music store Rough Trade promised to donate all profits from the sale of Bowie’s albums to Cancer Research UK.

At one point in the day Monday, Rough Trade apologized that its website was down due to high traffic, suggesting it was from people purchasing Bowie’s albums.

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