René Angélil, musician and husband of Céline Dion, died Thursday morning at his Las Vegas home after a years-long battle with throat cancer, their rep said in a statement. He was 73.
PEOPLE was first to report the news.
The Montreal-born Angélil got his start in the music business in the ’60s as a singer before switching to the business side and eventually managing Dion, who he married in 1994. The couple went on to have a son René-Charles in 2001 and twin boys Nelson and Eddy in 2010.
Angélil continued managing Dion until 2014, when he stepped down soon after his throat cancer — which he was first diagnosed with in the late ’90s — returned. His health had been worsening ever since the more recent diagnosis, and Dion told USA Today in March that he “got a feeding tube.”
Two months after Angélil stepped down, Dion announced she’d be taking a yearlong break from her Las Vegas concert residency to care for her ailing husband. She returned a year later partly thanks to Angélil’s encouragement.
“I’m doing it for him. I’m doing it for my fans,” Dion said in a March 2015 interview with ABC’s Deborah Roberts announcing her comeback. “We have a ticket to live. We have a ticket to ride. We’re living, so let’s live. Let’s go.”
Before returning to the residency this past August, Dion spoke with USA Today about the kinds of conversations she had with Angélil during her hiatus. “I’ll say, ‘You’re scared? I understand. Talk to me about it,’” she said. “And René says to me, ‘I want to die in your arms.’ Okay, fine, I’ll be there, you’ll die in my arms.”
“You can have your shaking knees at the end,” she went on, “but when someone you love falls and needs help, it’s not time to cry. Afterwards, sure. But not yet.”