David Bowie backs campaign to save Beckenham bandstand that inspired ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’

A fan is trying to get the site in south London restored to its former glory

David Bowie has backed a campaign to get a bandstand he once performed on in Beckenham, South London, restored to its former glory.

On August 16, 1969 – the same weekend as Woodstock – Bowie was an aspiring psycadelic folk singer and organised a gig at Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham, which aimed to encourage donations for his Beckenham Arts Lab project. He later wrote about the experience in the single ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’ – listen to the track below.

The Independent reports that a fan who moved from Russia to Beckenham and discovered that the bandstand has now fallen into disrepair is organising a gig next Sunday (September 15) to raise money to return the site to its former glory. While Bowie won’t be appearing on the day, he has sent a stash of signed albums which will be raffled for the cause.

“We’re very grateful for David Bowie’s generosity in supporting our event,” organiser Natasha Ryzhova Lau said. “We want to celebrate [his] time in Beckenham but our most important objective is to rescue the bandstand, which is part of Beckenham’s heritage and urgently needs repairs. It is totally dilapidated but cannot be restored with funding from the public purse.”

In Bowie’s place, a tribute band will perform as well as US folk singer Amory Kane, who performed at the original show in 1969.