Updated at 12.30pm, Monday, January 11, 2015
Close friend of David Bowie, artist George Underwood, from Buxted, “still cannot believe the singer has died”.
Paul Watson reports
Mr Underwood, who first met Bowie when they were children in Bromley, Kent, said: “I had no idea he was ill.”
The two kept in regular contact via email but Mr Underwood admitted there had been no contact in recent times, writes Paul Watson.
“He has been very quiet for about a year and I thought he was busy working on an album.”
He sent Bowie, whose birthday was on January 8, a small painting as a gift.
“He always sent me a hamper for my birthday,” he said.
Mr Underwood heard the news this morning while still in bed when he received a text message.
He said: “I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was some kind of joke but it is for real.”
Mr Underwood and Bowie, then David Jones, first met when they were enrolling for the 18th Bromley Cubs. “Our friendship grew from that,” he said.
Mr Underwood, before deciding to concentrate on his art, made one record with Bowie (The King Bees) and also a solo record under the name Calvin James.
Our original story
David Bowie, who has died aged 69, had different coloured eyes.
The answer, according to an obituary on ITV.com/Meridian was because of a fight.
The TV station’s website says George Underwood and Bowie were teenage friends who fell out over a girl – and a fight ensued with a man who, UckfieldNews.com has learned, lives at Buxted, near Uckfield.
“Fortunately, Bowie didn’t hold a grudge. He and George, from Uckfield, played together in several bands,” the Meridian report states.
The cause of the injury to Bowie’s eye is also reported on the BBC website which says in a list of 69 facts about Bowie:
[Fact] 5. One of his pupils was permanently dilated – after his friend George Underwood punched him in the eye while the pair were still at school. The fight was over a girl.
[Fact 6]. Underwood and Bowie remained good friends with Underwood doing artwork for some of Bowie’s earlier albums.
George Underwood now lives in Buxted and is 68.
Mr Underwood’s website says he was a lifelong friend of Bowie.
Working as a freelance artist, he did artwork for the first T-Rex album and later Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust album covers.
On his website there is a quote from Bowie:
“George has, over the years, refined his work to the point where I would put him among the top figurative painters coming out of the UK right now.
“There’s a sublime isolation surrounding his subjects that really touches the viewer, the figures being both heroic and vulnerable simultaneously.
“There’s a timeless element in the choice of subject matter that overlaps with the mythical world of Odd Nerdrum, say.
“Now that a huge shift to painting is taking place, I would expect to see George’s name pushed further and further to the front.”
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