Bowie’s inspirational Beckenham bandstand gets historic listing

BY GEORGINA GAMBETTA

A banstand on which David Bowie perfomed on has been listed as a Grade II to protect it from future neglect.

The legendary singer performed under the structure in Croyden Recreational Ground in the summer of 1969, a month after the release of his seminal breakthrough album Space Oddity.

The performance was part of a one-day hippie counterculture festival called the Growth Summer Festival organised by Bowie and his friends.

Brixton-raised Bowie was living in Beckenham at the time with his landlady, and later lover, Mary Finnigan

Princess Margaret, President of the Invalid Children’s Aid Association (ICAA), meets The Equals pop group at the London Palladium in December 1969 after they appeared in this year’s Save Rave Charity Show, aiding the ICAA. Clodagh Rogers, the singer (background) replaced The Marmalade, who had to withdraw. *David Bowie in centre

The seven-minute song on his second album, Memory Of A Free Festival was inspired by this event – with its chorus “The Sun Machine is coming down, and we’re gonna have a party.”

It is also rumoured, that one of his biggest early hits, Life On Mars, from 1971 album Hunky Dory, was written on its steps.

Fifty years on, the “Bowie Bandstand” – as it is known to residents is now in need of a facelift.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “Its significance as a site that inspired David Bowie shows us how powerful our historic places can be and how important it is that we protect them so they will continue to inspire people for years to come.”

On Saturday musicians and Bowie lovers will be holding a special event to celebrate the milestone.

Picture: Singer-songwriter Keith Christmas, aged 72, from Torquay, who played acoustic guitar on David Bowie’s Space Oddity album, performs at the bandstand, constructed in 1905, in Croydon Recreation Ground. It was the centrepiece of the one-day Growth Summer Festival – where Keith also played – which Bowie helped to organise in 1969, and has been Grade II listed.

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