WATCH: Madonna honours David Bowie in dramatic cover of Rebel Rebel

2016-01-14 17:00

New York - David Bowie's music has returned to stage after his death, with stars including Madonna and Elton John dedicating emotional tributes to the legend - by singing his songs.

The British rock legend's death on Sunday at age 69 after an undisclosed battle with cancer has triggered an outpouring of grief from fans and leading artists, many of whom cite him as a towering influence.

"He was one of the geniuses in the music industry, one of the great singer-songwriters of the 20th century," Madonna told the audience at her concert on Tuesday night in Houston, according to a video posted online.

Madonna, known for her elaborate show routines and expansive sense of sexuality, said that she saw Bowie in Detroit when she was growing up in Michigan and "he changed my life."

"He showed me that it was okay to be different," she said.

"He was the first Rebel Heart I laid eyes on," said the pop superstar, referring to the title of her latest album.

With a slideshow of Bowie images on the screen behind her, Madonna sang an energetic cover of his Rebel Rebel, throwing down her skirt to prance across the stage in bright purple and red shorts.

Watch the performance here:

Elton John offered a more sedated cover as he taped an appearance on the Sirius XM satellite radio station in Los Angeles.

As his band was still setting up, John spontaneously sang and played piano to Space Oddity, Bowie's early hit with the probing opening lines, "Ground control to Major Tom."

"We don't have to say anything about the music: It speaks for itself. He was innovative, he was boundary-changing, and he danced to his own tune - which in any artist is really rare," John said, as quoted by Billboard magazine.

John applauded Bowie for keeping his illness quiet in an age of 24-hour social media.

"We know David Bowie the figure, the singer, the outrageous performer, but actually, we don't know anything about him -- and that's the way it should be in music and should be in any art form whatsoever," he said.

Among other tributes, Britt Daniel, lead singer of indie rockers Spoon, posted on Facebook an acoustic cover of Bowie's Never Let Me Down recorded after his death.

"No other artist has meant as much to me personally or inspired my own songs as much," Daniel wrote.

"What a spirit. What an inspiration. What a shining example of the beauty that humanity can create."

Listen to the cover here:

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