“It was ragged and naïve, It was Heaven”
On the 50th anniversary of David Bowie’s historic appearance at the Growth Summer Festival on 16th August, 1969, the bandstand in Croydon Recreation Ground in Beckenham (on which he performed on the day), has received Grade II listing status on the advice of Historic England.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Rebecca Pow, said:
“David Bowie is a cultural icon and 50 years on from his performance at the ‘Bowie Bandstand’ in Beckenham it is right that we remember his influence on music and culture in this way. Our country's music industry is a huge success story and artists like David Bowie will always play an important role in how the rest of the world views the UK, helping us to attract millions of visitors each year to experience and enjoy our rich history and culture."
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said:
“Walking past this typical yet characterful bandstand, you probably wouldn’t expect it was once the stage for a young man who would become one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. It is a rare survival from a historic iron foundry in its own right, but 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.”
The bandstand itself was built in 1905, to the design of the McCallum and Hope Iron Foundry and is thought to be the only bandstand from this foundry still standing in Britain. Today it is owned by Bromley Council and watched over by the Friends of Croydon Road Recreation Ground.
The bandstand was the stage from which the 22-year-old Bowie performed a set and compered proceedings at the one-day festival. The event inspired him to write Memory Of A Free Festival, a seven minute song recorded for his second album (released in November 1969), and issued as a two-part single in June the following year.
Croydon Road Recreation Ground has played host to a one-day festival in August for many years since the Growth Summer Festival of 1969. Today known as Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity, this year’s festival takes place tomorrow (Saturday 17th August), 50 years and a day since Bowie’s original appearance.
Many thanks to the organisers of Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity Festival and Members of the Friends of Croydon Rec, Wendy Faulkner and Brian Blandford, and everybody else involved with the recognition of the Bowie Bandstand’s significance.
BOWIE’S BECKENHAM ODDITY is an annual fundraiser which was supported by David Bowie when he provided signed items for auction at the event. This year the Bowie Archive has donated a postcard signed by him on the 40th anniversary of the event in 2009.
FOOTNOTE: The montage here is an amalgamation of David Bebbington’s original photograph of David Bowie performing on the bandstand 50 years ago today and Sara Captain 's painting of that picture.
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