David Bowie’s second performance at the Three Tuns in Beckenham took place on 11 May 1969.
The Sunday night sessions were initially billed as The Folk Club, but would later become the Beckenham Arts Lab. The event was masterminded by Bowie and his landlady and lover Mary Finnigan, and the founder members also included Barrie and Christina Jackson.
David’s self-made gig was obviously a success. Ninety people came the second week, one-hundred-and-twenty the third week and thereafter there were never less than that figure, causing the club to expand into the Three Tuns’ conservatory and garden. ‘David was very idealistic in those days,’ Mary wistfully recalls, ‘and we began to get more of a community feeling. Love and Peace were moving out to the suburbs. Then one Sunday night David announced that the Folk Club was to become an Arts Lab. We called it Growth.’
The Pitt Report
The Three Tuns became the Rat and Parrot in the 1990s, but reverted to its old name shortly before its closure in 2003. It reopened later that year as an Italian restaurant. A plaque outside says: “David Bowie Rock Musician Lived in Beckenham & Launched His Career in The Three Tuns 1969 – 1973”.
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