David Bowie performed at the Purcell Room in London’s Southbank Centre on 20 November 1969.
The event was billed as ‘An Evening with David Bowie’. The support acts were Junior’s Eyes and Comus.
The audience included Bowie’s mother Peggy, his manager Kenneth Pitt, and producer Gus Dudgeon.
The concert at the Purcell Room was a personal triumph for David. It started promptly at 7.30 and every seat was occupied by an invited audience and others who had paid either ten, eight or five shillings for their ticket. Junior’s Eyes were on the bill, also a band from David’s neighbourhood called Comus, in which he was showing an interest. David performed superbly, faultlessly. There were a few people who were disappointed that he should accompany ‘Space Oddity’ acoustically when he had all the musicians necessary for a sound more akin to that on the record. Gus Dudgeon thought to himself ‘Oh no, you can’t do this David.’
Perhaps this was part of David’s determination to resist the pressure from a hit record: his way of saying that ‘Space Oddity’, to him, was not the most important of his songs that he was singing that night.
During the concert I had been studying the audience and was disappointed that I could see not one recognisable face of a national press critic or, for that matter, the face of any highly-placed personage who, seeing David for the first time, would be likely to advance his career. Those assembled were mostly already Bowie supporters. He was preaching to the converted…
After the concert I walked up to David, who was still standing on the stage, and congratulated him. He knew that my original idea had been to stage this concert in order that the media and other powers-that-be might have an opportunity to see him. ‘Which papers were here tonight, Ken?’ he asked. When I told him that as far as I could see there were very few; one or two from the music papers, none from the dailies, he became very angry and swore.
The Pitt Report
Also in attendance, however, was Observer journalist Tony Palmer, who reported on the event in the 7 December edition of the Sunday newspaper.
Also on this day...
- 1972: Live: Municipal Auditorium, Nashville
- 1964: Live: Davie Jones and the Manish Boys, Justin Hall, West Wickham, Bromley
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.