The plaque commemorating David's time in Beckenham.
We used to be so happy, Remember, remember...
"Hello everyone. We're here to celebrate the achievements of David Bowie - One of Beckenham's most illustrious former residents - together with the people who joined him at The Three Tuns to create a weird and wonderful phenomenon called the Beckenham Arts Lab."
...So begun Mary Finnigan's unveiling speech at The Rat & Parrot, formerly The Three Tuns, in Beckenham yesterday.
You all know about David's involvement with Growth and the Beckenham Arts Lab and the characters around that scene, many of whom attended yesterday. It's also common knowledge that Mary put David up for a while, (no pun intended) as did Christina Jackson and her partner of the time, Barry. (That's Christina on the left in the picture below)
Christina Ostrom (Nee Jackson) and Mary Finnigan, The Electric Land Ladies,
backstage with Steve Harley at the Rat and Parrot. Picture by Total Blam Blam.
In her speech, Mary explained how the four of them started the ball rolling for the Arts Lab and what an incredibly fertile place The Three Tuns was for a while:
"David Bowie was the energy and the inspiration behind the success of the Beckenham Arts Lab. We touched the lives of the whole community because we took our enthusiasm into the streets and into the parks. We did a series of concerts and talks at the Bromley Arts Centre and we threw a free festival (Blam note: The very festival that inspired the 'Space Oddity' track, 'Memory Of A Free Festival') that crowned our summer of love - and made a profit. In 1969 we believed we could change the world and maybe in some ways - we did."
David Bowie at the Growth Arts Festival August 1969. Ã‚Â© David Bebbington.
After Mary's speech and a few short recollections from Christina, the plaque was unveiled to much cheering from the assembled crowd as a nervous local police force looked on. Then it was all back inside for a short, but very sweet set from
Mr Harley was accompanied for yesterday's performance by the ever-faithful and breathtakingly brilliant Robbie Gladwell - who has to be heard to be believed. The pair wowed an appreciative audience with a handful of classics that included 'Judy Teen', 'Sebastian', 'Star For A Week', 'Mr Soft' and 'Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)'.
It was all over too quickly and everybody readied themselves for the evening's entertainment that our reporter in the field, Spaceface, will be bringing you details and pictorial evidence of in the near future. That's when she's dragged herself out of the Beckenham gutter that her and Susans are currently sleeping in. Having left the event soon after Steve Harley's performance, I asked Susans this morning for details of the evening's fun (Bowie tribute bands, a raffle an auction etc., etc.) she remembered nothing...which I guess is kind of fitting in a way, as it is often said of The Sixties that if you can remember them*, you just weren't there!
Steve Harley rockin' out at the Rat and Parrot
almost thirty years on. Picture by Total Blam Blam.
*You may not remember The Sixties, but with Steve Harley's help you can remember The Seventies every Tuesday night at 22:00 (GMT), in his regular RADIO2 show,