Why were David Bowie’s eyes two different colours?
If you take a look at any close up photo of David Bowie, you will see that his right eye was blue, while his left eye looked to be a darker green. Although rare, it is possible to have two completely different coloured eyes from birth, due to a condition called heterochromia. What’s interesting is that David Bowie’s eye colour is not a result of this genetic condition.
David Bowie had a different eye condition, called anisocoria, which means that his pupils were actually different sizes. This is not because of a genetic condition, but rather an eye injury that the famous musician sustained in his youth.
This condition gave David Bowie his unique and striking appearance. The story of how he got the now signature ‘David Bowie eyes’ is a fairly interesting one.
While studying in Bromley Technical High School in 1962, David Bowie got into a fistfight with his friend, George Underwood, over a girl. George punched Bowie directly in the left eye. The wounded young David Bowie was then sent to a hospital to be operated on.
Bowie was hospitalized for four months and had multiple operations on his left eye, but ultimately, the doctors deemed that the damage to Bowie’s eye would never be repaired fully, and he was left with a permanently dilated left pupil and faulty depth perception.
The punch thrown by George Underwood scratched Bowie’s eyeball and left his pupil in a fixed open position, meaning that his left eye no longer responded to stimulation from light, while his right eye remained healthy.
This permanent dilation of his pupil gave David Bowie the illusion of having two different eye colours because his left eye looked significantly darker than his bright blue right eye. This ‘deformity’ actually turned into Bowie's most recognisable feature.
How did his eyes affect David Bowie’s career?
Though George Underwood had seriously damaged David Bowie’s eye, the two remained friends, and even played in different bands together, until Underwood turned away from music to focus on painting and graphic design, even designing the artwork for Bowie’s early albums.
Bowie did not bear a grudge on Underwood, and even apparently thanked him for the iconic eye injury, saying that it gave him “a kind of mystique.” His unique eyes contributed a lot to his public image and brand.
Making it as a musician in the 1970s was no easy task and many talented musicians failed before Bowie himself. However, due to a combination of his innovative music, his flamboyant style, and of course, his trademark eyes, Bowie was able to carve out a niche and find success in an incredibly competitive industry.
David Bowie’s striking eyes complemented his odd style and lent a shocking, almost otherworldly quality to his iconic posters and album covers. David Bowie was mysterious and appealing to a world that was primed for change. Combined with his innovative and new music, David Bowie quickly became a household name and one of the most influential musicians of all time.
In his old age, David Bowie still retained his differently coloured eyes. Even though his red-blonde hair had turned grey, his eyes remained as striking as ever, providing him with the same air of mystique made him so famous in his youth.