David Bowie: Fans call for permanent memorials to legendary musician

Devotees call for streets and venues to be named after Bowie, and even for him to be honoured at Westminster Abbey

Nick Clark
Arts Correspondent
Tuesday 12 January 2016 21:46
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LA street artist Jules Muck paints a Bowie mural
LA street artist Jules Muck paints a Bowie mural

After impromptu shrines to David Bowie appeared on both sides of the Atlantic, fans have called for more permanent memorials to the legendary musician.

Initial plans to honour him include renaming the historic bandstand in Beckenham, South London, where Bowie performed in 1969, “as a permanent memory of his genius”.

Some devotees have called for streets and venues to be named after the musician, who will be given a tribute at next month’s Brit Awards, after his death was confirmed on Monday morning at the age of 69 following an 18-month battle with cancer.

Several have even suggested honouring him at Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner and a petition has been launched to put up a statue of the musician on the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.

“I started the petition as there have been many sculptures on the fourth plinth that maybe didn’t touch people culturally in a way that David Bowie did,” said Ronnie Joice, the man who set it up. “I’m hopeful it can happen. If not the Fourth Plinth, then maybe Brixton would be fitting.”

The south London district, Bowie’s birthplace, falls within Lambeth, where the local council has called for fans to suggest appropriate memorials. “The council would like to commemorate Bowie and welcomes suggestions,” it said in a statement, adding it would talk to the family “at an appropriate time”.

One council source said it could memorialise the artist in a range of ways, from its own version of the blue plaque outside the house where he was born, to a statue or even renaming a street after him. Bowie already features on the £10 note of the Brixton Pound, the area’s ‘local currency’ scheme, and a mural of him was painted there in 2013 inspired by the album cover of his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. Fans organised a street party in Brixton in his honour on Monday night.

Organist plays David Bowie's Life On Mars in touching tribute

Chris Charlesworth, editor of Omnibus Press who knew Bowie during the 1970s and early 1980s, said: “His work will be his legacy. Someone who turned down a knighthood probably wouldn’t want a statue.”

He continued: “Renaming a venue or a theatre after him would get my vote. It would show a great deal of respect.” Liverpool named its airport after former Beatle John Lennon, but Mr Charlesworth said: “You can’t do that with Bowie, he absolutely hated flying.”

Bowie moved to Beckenham in 1953 when he was six. Bromley Council is raising money to restore the nearby Croydon Road Recreation Ground bandstand, where Bowie played in 1969. Colin Smith, the council’s deputy leader, said: “I believe it would be an extremely fitting tribute to rename the historic bandstand after Bowie as a permanent memorial of his genius.” The council will consult with the group Friends of Beck Rec, which is working on the restoration project, before taking a final decision.

A tribute concert called The Music of David Bowie with Tony Visconti, Bowie’s longtime collaborator, had been announced just hours before his death in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Following the news it was changed from a tribute to a memorial concert.

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