“Pushing through the market square”
Regular visitors to these pages will know that today is the anniversary of the very first Ziggy Stardust gig, which took the form of a warm up show at Aylesbury Friars, Borough Assembly Hall, on January 29th, 1972.
Billed by the club as THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON IN THE WORLD, Bowie gave the Friars audience an exciting taster of the phenomenon that would shortly sweep the UK and ultimately the civilised world.
So what could be more appropriate than the news that tickets go on sale for the first ever Aylesbury Friars exhibition at the weekend?
There are several Bowie shows related to Aylesbury Friars, but there is a wonderful piece of memorabilia that has surfaced from Bowie’s appearance on Saturday, July 15th, 1972. The show that Friars awarded THE MOST CELEBRATED GIG IN FRIARS HISTORY.
But before that, here’s a recollection from that July 15th show via the healthy brain cells of Mr Memory Man himself, Rick Pearce...
“Memories of the gig itself are a jumble of confused images and impressions:
A huge wave of energy and sound coming off the stage, Hang On To Yourself always hits like a bolt of lightning and it’s the first time I’ve seen them in a small venue since they played here in January…Blue lit otherwise darkened stage for The Supermen… Total strobe disorientation and fragments of She Shook Me Cold during the jam section of I Feel Free… Ronno raising his arm to signal the end of White Light White Heat and Woody just keeps on drumming… Crushed against the PA by the crowd with Jackie, Jenny and her friend Tim and being deaf for days after… Bowie taking off his jacket towards the end of the show, ripping it to pieces, throwing rags to the crowd. At the same time Stuey George and (probably) Stage Manager Peter Hunsley are hurling fliers from both sides of the stage, girls are fighting over bits of white satin and I’m wondering how it’s possible to look cool in the middle of all of this, realising it’s impossible and giving up on even trying… Grabbing Ronno’s guitar as he runs to the front of the stage and shoves it out into the audience… The surface of the guitar is rough, almost like sandpaper and the strings are very light gauge… Wondering if seeing the Beatles at the Cavern was anywhere near as good as this…”
You've no doubt already guessed what aforementioned scrap of memorabilia is, Rick’s words and the image here being a bit of a giveaway.
Well, it’s a piece of the satin shirt Bowie threw from the stage, which was caught by Vivien Symons, then 16, who was standing as close to the stage as she could. Vivien describes the moment thus...
“Everyone grabbed at it. We all held on but it ripped, and I ended up with a piece from the front with some buttons and a sequin.”
Great stuff. Scroll the images here to see Mick Rock’s before and after shots from the night.
Friars founder and promoter David Stopps said: “I have been hoping to present a major exhibition on Friars for years and at last it’s going to happen. It’s a huge undertaking.”
The exhibition will feature rare posters, photographs and memorabilia from Friars extensive archive as well as unique items including guitars, keyboards, horns and drums on loan from artists who have performed there.
It will also relay some of the many stories from artists and Friars members from the many concerts presented over the years. Whilst most of the shows took place in Aylesbury the exhibition will also cover "Foreign Gigs" in towns such as Bedford, Dunstable, Watford, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough.
Friars members and artists have been specially filmed talking about their memories of Friars, which will be shown in a specially created cinema section of the exhibition.
The exhibition will be open to the public from 1st March to 5th July. There will be an exclusive Private View on Friday 28 February with drinks and canapés.
Tickets on sale from 1st February 2014
Students/ES40 holders: £2.00
Under 16's: Free
Exhibition Season Ticket: £15.00
Special Preview Evening Tickets 28 Feb 6.30pm – 9.30pm: £15.00
Tickets available in advance online from:
www.theticketsellers.co.uk or by phone 0844 870 0000
Booking fees and other charges apply.
Entry is by timed ticket.
Tickets can be booked up to the day before visit to ensure entry.
Tickets also available at the Museum for The Preview Evening and in person on day of visit (subject to availability)
1 March to 31 March: Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 4pm
1 April to 5 July: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm
Also on the following Mondays: 7,14,21 April and 26 May 10am – 5pm
Buckinghamshire County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP