Celine Dion's husband Rene Angelil dies of cancer two days before birthday

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Canadian singer Celine Dion and her husband Rene Angelil in happier times, posing after receiving the Order of Canada in July 26, 2013. Reuters/Mathieu Belanger

Rene Angélil, Celine Dion’s husband and manager, died Thursday morning local time in Las Vegas after a long battle with throat cancer. He would have turned 74 on January 16.

The news was confirmed by Dion's representatives on her website and Facebook page:

“Rene Angelil, 73, passed away this morning at his home in Las Vegas after a long and courageous battle against cancer. The family requests that their privacy be respected at the moment; more details will be provided at a later time.”

-Team Celine-

Angélil leaves behind the couple's twins Eddy and Nelson, 5, and son René-Charles Jr., 15. He also has three adult children - son Patrick, 47, Jean-Pierre, 41, and daughter Anne-Marie - from his ex-wives.

The Canadian singer had battled with throat cancer for 17 long years, and passed away in his home in Henderson while under the care of a physician. The Clark County Office of the Coroner said in a statement to PEOPLE that Angélil's death was "due to natural causes" and that "no further investigation into his death is expected".

Dion first met her husband in 1981 when she was just 12. Angélil, then 38, became her manager and eventually married her in 1994. 

The "My Heart Will Go On" singer has openly talked about Angélil's illness in the past, saying her level of respect for him grew after his battle with three cancers. Angélil had to resign in 2013 due to his declining health after managing Celine for many years. The singer also suspended her Las Vegas residency in 2014 to take care of her husband.

“I was in love with him the first day, and today I find the strength and I look at him and I learn so much from him,” she said in an interview late last year

She had also promised him that he would die in her arms.

"I'll say, 'You're scared? I understand. Talk to me about it' … And René says to me, 'I want to die in your arms.' Okay, fine, I'll be there, you'll die in my arms." 

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