David Bowie’s Birthday – George Underwood and Chris Duffy come together to remember Bowie
David Bowie’s lifelong friend and the artist behind the album cover designs of Space Oddity and Hunky Dory was presented with the Duffy Archive’s most famous print at ‘Bowie’s Brixton’ event on what would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday.
George Underwood, who also created the artwork for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars album sleeve, and is famously responsible for giving Bowie his distinctive ‘alien eye’ during a fight at school, received the print from Chris Duffy, son of the late photographer Brian Duffy.
The pair met at a panel event hosted by London’s Original David Bowie Musical Walking Tour on 8 January in Brixton, Bowie’s birth town.
Brian Duffy worked on several photo sessions for David Bowie and took the famous Aladdin Sane album cover photo and the zigzag portrait, which the V&A used to publicise the David Bowie is exhibition as it toured around the world.
It was this particular image that the Duffy Archive chose to present to George as a gift at the Bowie’s Brixton event, which comprised of a 2-hour walking tour of various sites in Brixton that relate the legendary singer’s life and death with live music on route, plus a panel talk with audience Q&A in Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema.
Chris Duffy himself worked with David Bowie and his father on the Scary Monsters album sleeve, making his presentation a significant event in Bowie album history.
Nick Stephenson, who launched London’s Original David Bowie Musical Walking Tour on the singer’s birthday last year comments: “As a huge fan of David Bowie, and indeed the albums and album art that both of these men and Brian Duffy have worked on, it was a real honour to have brought them together for this event. George described the print as ‘wonderful’ and told the audience that it was a ‘lovely surprise’.”
Duffy’s image was also used by Australian artist Jimmy C, who painted the famous Brixton Bowie mural in 2013. Today thousands of Bowie fans have used the mural as a shrine to lay flowers and tributes to Brixton’s most famous son.
Bowie’s Brixton Poll
But that is not the only landmark to draw Bowie fans from across the globe onto Brixton’s streets. A recent poll by London’s Original David Bowie Musical Walking Tour revealed that – excluding the mural – more than half of the David Bowie fans who visit Brixton want to glimpse the house where he was born.
54% of the 2,000 fans surveyed, including tour visitors from as far as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and across the United States, Asia and Europe, cited the house on Stansfield Road as their biggest incentive for visiting the district.
Tour Founder Nick Stephenson added: “I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and host hundreds of Bowie fans from across the globe over the last year, and have loved showcasing the history and culture of Brixton. This event was wonderful opportunity to further explore the heritage of Bowie’s career in relation to his hometown.”
The recent poll also found that 21% of fans visit Brixton to get their hands on a Brixton £10 note; legal tender which also features one of Brian Duffy’s Aladdin Sane portraits.
Brixton pound designer Charlie Waterhouse was a guest panellist at the Bowie’s Brixton event, alongside Simon Parkes, who is known for buying the Brixton Academy – a popular photo spot of the tour – for just £1 and turning it into one of London’s most iconic music venues where he organised for David Bowie to perform in 1991.
Photofusion Gallery on Electric Lane, which hosted the historical Silhouettes and Shadows Bowie Exhibition in September 2016, attracts 16% of fans while 9% chose standing in Windrush Square outside the Ritzy Cinema (where a huge tribute party was held on the night of Bowie’s death in 2016) as a prominent reason for coming to Brixton.
Other panellists at David Bowie’s Musical Walking Tour Presents: Bowie’s Brixton were Wendy Faulkner, organiser of Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity, and the man behind the 20,000-strong Instagram fandom LegoDavidBowieIs who provided goody bags at the event. The Ritzy Cinema, which has previously paid homage to ‘Our Brixton Boy’, was the venue for the panel discussion.
To see what our guests had to say, check out our David Bowie Birthday Panel Talk playlist:
There will be two walking tours running on 10 January, the anniversary of Bowie’s death, at 11am and 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at www.bowietourlondon.co.uk
Guest post by Kate Snowdon