Having flown from Rome to London earlier in the day, on the evening of 3 August 1969 David Bowie performed at the Three Tuns pub in Beckenham.
This was his 11th appearance at Growth – the Beckenham Arts Lab, which he had helped set up and run since May 1969.
Following his performance on this night, co-founder Mary Finnigan told Bowie that his father John Jones was seriously ill. Bowie reacted angrily, saying that he should have been informed sooner. He was driven to 4 Plaistow Grove in Bromley, where his father was suffering from pneumonia. Jones died on 5 August 1969.
We got back to London on Sunday, August 3 and David, unusually tanned and healthy looking, went to Beckenham and his beloved Arts Lab, where he arrived in time to perform. He was in high spirits and no doubt greatly relieved once again to be playing to his own people. But his euphoria was short lived. At the close of the proceedings Mary Finnigan broke the news to him that his father was ill. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ he angrily demanded.
‘I suppose I should have told him when he arrived,’ Mary has said. ‘It was naïve of me not to have done so, not malicious.’
David went home to Plaistow Grove, where he was shocked to find his father lying pale and wasted. Never a robust man, Haywood Jones’s constitution had been further weakened by earlier stomach operations and he was now suffering from an infection of the lungs, from which a stronger man would probably have recovered.
The Pitt Report
Also on this day...
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.