On August 16, 1969, a young folk/rock musician named David Bowie took the stage at the Free Festival, held at Croydon Road Recreational Ground in Beckenham, England. Bowie had helped organize the festival in his locale, in hopes of raising funds for the Beckenham Arts Lab. Attendees of the festival recall a well-attended and peaceful event, with vendors peddling typical festival fare, Bowie’s then-girlfriend cooking burgers in a wheelbarrow, and a variety of musical offerings, including a reggae version of Bowie’s then-unreleased “Space Oddity” filling the air. Bowie immortalized the event in his song “Memory of a Free Festival,” written soon afterward, which became the last song of the Space Oddity LP and was possibly the last song he recorded in the ’60s.
Tonight we honour that song with a Festival closing, free admission, concert presentation featuring contributions from Festival performers and a selection of special guests.