“The sun machine is coming down”
Just over forty four years ago (Friday June 26th, 1970), David Bowie released the single Memory Of A Free Festival to mark an event that took place in his home town of Beckenham the previous August.
The record didn’t worry the UK singles chart and promptly disappeared from view. David Bowie’s public wasn't quite ready for him just yet.
However, the festival is now set to become an annual fundraiser in support of the dilapidated Beckenham bandstand where Bowie and friends played on the day, with the news that this year’s festival will also take place at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham on Saturday 16 August, just like it did exactly forty five years previously.
Last year £7,000 was collected for the restoration fund, £600 of which was raised at auction from the proceeds of Bowie-donated signed memorabilia.
David has kindly supplied a signed Love Is Lost white vinyl 12" this year and we’ve also dug into the vaults and found a ten-year-old tour poster designed by Rex Ray, signed by both Bowie and Rex in 2004.
We also found a limited edition 2002 Heathen CD in album packaging with a signed-by-Bowie promotional postcard. Scroll the images here to view the items.
Keep updated about this year’s festival via the Beckenham Bowie FB page and keep reading for Mary Finnigan’s press release.
DAVID BOWIE DOES IT AGAIN!
More support for the Beckenham bandstand
Rock mega star David Bowie is making a second generous contribution to the restoration fund for the bandstand where he performed 45 years ago.
Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab organised Britain's first ever Free Festival at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham on Saturday 16 August 1969. The event is celebrated as a cultural milestone, immortalised by Bowie with his anthem Memory of a Free Festival.
Last year Memory of a Free Festival morphed from a song into a contemporary event – organised by fashion designer Natasha Ryzhova Lau as a fundraiser for the iconic Victorian bandstand, which is urgently in need of repair. David Bowie donated signed memorabilia which raised £600 at auction. In total £7,000 was collected for the restoration fund.
The first Memory of a Free Festival was a great success. It returns by popular request and looks set to become an annual event. The second edition this year kicks off at 1.00pm on Saturday 16 August – in the same place, on the same day 45 years after the Bowie original. Once again David is donating signed items for the bandstand fund – including Love is Lost – a 12” white vinyl double A side single – described by fans as “very desirable”.
The lineup this year includes three musicians who played in 1969. There's a return visit by American folk/blues legend Amory Kane who made a special trip from California last year. He's joined by guitar maestro Bill Liesegang, who was a 16 year old prodigy in 1969.
This year the festival welcomes singer/songwriter Roger Wotton, leader of the avant garde band Comus who were resident at the Arts Lab Sunday night gigs and a star attraction at the Free Festival.
“It’s like a strange dream where my life is starting over again” says Roger,
“Comus have reformed, I'm playing the Beckenham Festival and meeting up with all the people I used to know. It is as if the wheel has turned full circle and I'm going into a repeat pattern.”
Also on the bandstand this year are return visits from Raf and O, Low Rent Tractors and the Bowie tribute band Thin White Duke. Newcomers include Joey Herzfeld and his So Called Friends and Julia Gray.
As well as non-stop live music there's a Gingham Goose craft market, food, drinks and a beer tent.
An innovation this year is an art-in-action feature, with visual artists at work and with their creations on display.
“We want to encourage artists to take part” says organiser Natasha Ryzhova Lau, “this can include all sorts of artistic expression –poetry, storytelling, painting and sculpture.”
Times have changed and it is no longer possible to present a free festival. There's a £5 entry fee to cover expenses, payable at the gate. Donations to the bandstand fund will be gratefully received. The auction will happen just before the festival ends at 7.00pm.