Sunday, 27 October 2013

We emailed David Bowie...

If you've lived in the Bromley borough for more than about 5 minutes there's no way you haven't been told that you're living in David Bowie's hometown. Bowie was raised here during the 1950s and continued to live in Beckenham and Bromley during the '60s and '70s, so apart from Bob Crier from The Bill and H G Wells he has to be up there with Bromley's most famous residents.

In 1969 Bowie set up The Arts Lab, a varied arts and music venue in Beckenham with friend and journalist Mary Finnigan. Every Sunday The Three Tuns, now Zizzi's, turned into a celebration of local arts and music and by its fourth week it had become so popular that it expanded out into the conservatory and garden. Bowie explained the project in an interview with Melody Maker in 1969: "I run an arts lab which is my chief occupation. It's in Beckenham and I think it's the best in the country. There isn't one pseud involved. All the people are real - like labourers or bank clerks. It started out as a folk club, arts labs generally have such a bad reputation as pseud places but there's a lot of talent in the green belt and there is a load of tripe in Drury Lane. I think the arts lab movement is extremely important and should take over from the youth club concept as a social service. We've got a few greasers who come and a few skinheads who are just as enthusiastic. We started our lab a few months ago with poets and artists who just came along. It's got bigger and bigger and now we have our own light show and sculptures, et cetera. And I never knew there were so many sitar players in Beckenham."