May 23 2013 Latest news:
Joshua Fowler, Reporter
Thursday, July 12, 2012
A gothic mansion with silver ceilings and stained glass windows was the inspirational home for David Bowie during the most productive years of his career.
Haddon Hall in Beckenham was the first home the rock superstar shared with wife Angie.
”I suppose in a way it was a little bit like a commune whose specific purpose was to get David and the band established”, says Angie.
The house would act as the base for the creation of what was to become one of music’s most recognisable figures – Ziggy Stardust.
It was October 1969 when they moved into the rock landmark, paying £14 per week in rent for one of the seven apartments in the building that had recently been home to a couple of professors and their 27 cats, according to Angie.
The couple set about transforming their first home together into a sanctuary of creation, where some of Bowie’s most memorable songs were crafted including Changes, Life on Mars? and Oh! You Pretty Things.
Having previously stayed with David’s mother, it was Angie who found Haddon Hall, remembering it as a “busy” place.
She said: “I have fond memories as most people who came to visit us have.
“We were trying to establish our careers. Before we moved in David was recording his first album for Mercury records and so we spent a lot of time in Soho at Trident Studios.
“It took [record executive] Calvin Mark Lee and myself a year and a half to get him the deal with Mercury.
“So by the time we moved into Haddon Hall, David was promoting Space Oddity and still doing a weekly gig at the Three Tuns in Beckenham.”
The title track from the 1969 album Space Oddity featured heavily in the BBCs coverage of the moon landings, beaming Bowie’s music out to millions.
Haddon Hall became a “destination” for Bowie fans according to Angie, including a young Boy George who still claims that being told, in no uncertain terms, to leave by her remains one of his happiest memories.
In the safe confines of his Beckenham home and beyond the reach of fans, having just released The Man Who Sold The World, the musician began to conceive the idea for his alien alias Ziggy.
Ziggy’s style was, in a sense, a collaboration of those surrounding David at the time, including Beckenham hairdresser Suzy Fussey and bootmakers Greenway and Sons in Penge who provided the remarkable red and black platform boots.
Angie added: “Well the album was written in Haddon Hall so of course the town of Beckenham and Bromley may claim a huge interest in David’s wonderful work.
“Suzy Fussey’s family lived in the area and while she did the hair and wardrobe for Ziggy and the Spiders from Mars, it all helped.
“Ziggy Stardust was created there and Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Pinups were all conceived in that house.”
Record producer Tony Visconti, who worked with David on Space Oddity, and his girlfriend were regular guests at the Beckenham home, creating a rehearsal room in the basement where a lot of music was made.
Other guests at Haddon Hall included composer Lionel Bart, singer Dana Gillespie and guitarist Mick Ronson, who would later marry the creator of Ziggy’s flamed hair Suzy.
It is also rumoured to have been the venue for copious sordid and experimental nights involving bus loads of groupies and clubbers.
Little today marks the sites where the rock’n’roll hall of famer cut his teeth, apart from an easily missable blue plaque on top of an Italian restaurant that once was The Three Tuns pub, in High Street, Beckenham.
42 Southend Road, otherwise known as Haddon Hall, was torn down in the early 1980s and is today replaced by the road Shannon Way and a complex of flats.
The power couple left the home in the summer of 1972, moving to Maida Vale where Angie continued to act as a driving force for her husband.
She added: “I was a trouble-shooter for all things managerial.
“I dressed David and the band, stage managed the shows and found a way to divest David of Ken Pitt who was a talent manager and not what David wanted to succeed in the music business.
“Apart from that I was the chief cheer-leader for David and the band in those early years.”
Now a successful author, the home Angie remembers is long gone but has her son Duncan Zowie Jones, born during the time there, as a constant reminder of her life in Beckenham when she played a key role in David’s success.