The Real Reason Why David Bowie Started Wearing An Eyepatch

"That Halloween Jack is a real cool cat and he lives on top of Manhattan Chase," David Bowie sings on his song "Diamond Dogs," from the 1974 album of the same name. Bowie was famous for creating different personas throughout his career, including Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, but another not well-known alter ego, Halloween Jack, burst to life during the rollout of "Diamond Dogs," per ABC News.

The character's attire, which kept some stylistic elements of Ziggy, included a distinctive eyepatch that, in combination with the rest of the look, gave Bowie a space-age pirate vibe that fit in with the musical themes he was exploring at the time. He'd been obsessed with George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece "1984" since his childhood, writer William Burroughs' 1971 novel "The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead," a post-apocalyptic novel where street gangs rule, and Stanley Kubrick's film "A Clockwork Orange," per The Guardian.

1984 Denied 

In 1973, David Bowie had been working on songs for a theatrical production of "1984," but the author's widow, Sonia Orwell, had refused to give Bowie the rights, according to the book "David Bowie: The Complete Guide" and The Guardian. With no other outlet for the work he'd begun on the 1984-themed songs, they found an outlet, along with ideas incorporated from William Burroughs and "A Clockwork Orange," in what became the concept album "Diamond Dogs." "They were both powerful pieces of work, especially the marauding boy gangs of Burroughs' Wild Boys with their Bowie knives," Bowie later recounted, per The Guardian.

What came out of all of this was the world of "Diamond Dogs" where Halloween Jack leads a youth gang, the Diamond Dogs, in a post-apocalyptic place called Hunger City, per Nicholas Pegg's "The Complete David Bowie." The costume that defined Bowie's alter ego Halloween Jack played up the piratical aspect of the character.

Halloween Jack's Eye Patch

David Bowie's persona of Halloween Jack didn't last that long, but with his hair dyed bright red, his eyebrows shaved off, and wearing a geometric-patterned shirt, cropped wide-legged pants, platform boots, a long scarf tied around his neck, and, the eyepatch, the character was impossible to forget. It was February 13, 1974 when David Bowie inaugurated Halloween Jack on a Dutch television show, "Top Pop," performing "Rebel Rebel," the first single from the album (per the book "David Bowie All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track").

Bowie's friend and former member of one of his early backing bands, Freddie Burretti, created the clothing for the alter ego, but the eye patch wasn't initially a design element, per Fashion United. It was medically necessary, according to Vice. Bowie contracted conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, and the infection — which can have various causes, including a virus — has symptoms that include a buildup of mucus and a swelling and reddening of the white of the eye, per the CDC. Bowie's eye eventually cleared up, and he soon jettisoned the eyepatch and then Halloween Jack for the Thin White Duke of the "Young Americans" era (per the Independent), one of several more alter egos he took on before his death in 2016 from cancer at age 69, per the BBC.