David Bowie’s eyes have been a topic of intrigue and fascination for many fans and observers throughout his career. As a musician ahead of his time, his music, his adopted personas, and his overall otherworldly uniqueness made him a prodigious rock deity who mastered reinvention.
One physical feature that added to his spell-binding mystique was his mismatched eye colors: one limpid blue while the other a darker shade of brown.
Who would’ve thought that his most recognizable feature was thanks to a teenage altercation over a girl against his good friend and former bandmate?
#DYK The unusual appearance of celebrity David Bowie’s eyes is a result of a schoolyard brawl? After being struck in the head, Bowie was left with this condition called Anisocoria, where his left pupil is permanently dilated➡️https://t.co/EYRrcHkaBk #funfacts #celebrity pic.twitter.com/IP8OaoJEiF
— Kugler Vision (@KuglerVision) January 15, 2020
Formative Years Early Interest in Music
David Bowie, born David Robert Jones, came into this world on January 8, 1947, in Brixton, London. Growing up in a working-class family, he developed a keen interest in music from a young age. Bowie’s parents encouraged his passion and even bought him a saxophone on his 13th birthday, sparking his journey into the world of music.
As a child, Bowie would spend hours listening to his parents’ record collection, immersing himself in the sounds of artists like Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry. These early influences would shape his musical taste and inspire him to pursue a career in the industry.
As Bowie entered his teenage years, he formed a skiffle band called The Konrads. This early musical endeavor laid the foundation for his future career. Bowie’s talent gradually blossomed, and he experimented with various musical styles, eventually finding his own unique sound and style.
On this day, 54 years ago, The Konrads record ‘I Never Dreamed’ demo at Decca Studios, West Hampstead in 1963 pic.twitter.com/igcQO4u2HK
— David Bowie Wonderworld (@bowieww) August 30, 2017
During this time of teenage uncertainties, Bowie nearly quit music to join a brotherhood of Tibetan monks in Scotland at the age of 19. His meeting with British dancer and mime artist Lindsay Kemp changed his life and career path. Kemp would later become a close mentor and controversial lover.
The Injury That Left a Lasting Mark
In January 1962, the future rock avant-garde David Jones was at school in Bromley when he got into a fight with George Underwood, a close friend and Konrads bandmate. The reason? A girl they both fancied.
“I had a 15th birthday party. One of the reasons I had the party was because both of us fancied this girl. It was a ploy to talk to her,” Underwood revealed in a 2016 interview with TheTab.
The party was a ploy to talk to the said lucky girl, Carol Goldsmith. “Before she left I asked if I could meet her at her youth club on the Wednesday at 7pm,” Underwood said.
But Bowie didn’t want the meeting to happen. The future Star-Man called his friend and said that Carol didn’t want to meet, that she wanted to go out with David.
“I went down to the youth club later and her friends said she’d been waiting the whole hour for me!” Yikes.
An understandably infuriated George confronted David and punched him, though he only wanted to leave him with a black eye.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a lasting mark.” And a lasting mark, it did.
The punch did more damage than George wanted. The accounts differ, one said that his nail grazed the left eye of David. Another revealed that the injury was caused by a ring he wore on one of his fingers, which paralyzed a muscle in the Starman’s eye.
Whatever it was, it did not look good for David Bowie.
Bowie underwent a series of operations within four months, but his eye can’t be saved. He will not be able to see completely clearly, and he might suffer from a poor depth of perception.
The irreversible damage to his left eye left his pupil permanently enlarged and gave the appearance of different-colored eyes. Often mistaken as heterochromia, or the condition of having different-colored irises, Bowie has suffered from anisocoria, which is what happens when someone’s pupils have different sizes.
Bowie’s right eye was blue, while the left eye appeared either dark gray or sometimes brown due to the dilated pupil. They’re still the same color, though, as he once said in an interview.
The Man Behind the Mismatched Eyes
Luckily, the man was going to be someone who will embrace oddities in the later years of his life. ‘Tis but a scratch.
Bowie, ever the resilient spirit, refused to let his condition define him. Instead, he embraced his mismatched eyes as an integral part of his identity and aesthetic. Realizing that his eyes had become a distinctive feature, he began to experiment with different makeup techniques to accentuate this captivating asymmetry.
The mystique surrounding his eyes has also illuminated his persona with added mystique, building on more on the enigmatic allure that he cultivated throughout his career.
This ‘alien’ look was vividly on display during his Ziggy Stardust era. Bowie fully embraced his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, a vibrant and otherworldly character.
As for his friend, George, they would later become schoolmates at Bromley Technical College, where they sat next to each other in Art. The pair would also realize that they shared an interest in music.
Their friendship would continue after school though they would lead different careers. George would become an artist who would design David’s
As he once said, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise I won’t bore you,” the Starman’s artistic vision and nonconformity projected his persona—a wonderful mosaic of individuality—through his quirky, mismatched eyes.
The captivating story behind his eyes embodied his promise, a constant reminder that life is meant to be lived boldly and authentically, just like the enigmatic and mesmerizing gaze of David Bowie.