David Bowie had liver cancer, said friend

A memorial outside the apartment building of David Bowie's home in New York.
A memorial outside the apartment building of David Bowie's home in New York.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - David Bowie's friend and collaborator Ivo van Hove said the rock legend died from liver cancer.

Bowie, 69, died on Sunday following an 18-month-long battle with cancer. A statement announcing his death did not give further details on his illness.

Van Hove, who worked with Bowie as the director on the off-Broadway musical Lazarus, said in a Dutch radio interview on Monday that Bowie had liver cancer, reported the New York Times.

He was among a handful of collaborators with knowledge of Bowie's condition, said the Times.

He told the Times that Bowie informed him that he was sick in November 2014, via Skype, when the show was in its early stages, but requested the information remain strictly confidential.

"It was immediately clear it was very serious," Van Hove said, as quoted by the Times.

But he kept it a secret from the cast of Lazarus - including Michael C. Hall, who stars as the extraterrestrial Bowie stand-in, Thomas Newton.

"Confidential is confidential."

"I saw a man fighting. He fought like a lion and kept working through it all. I had incredible respect for that," Van Hove had told NPO Radio 4.