Mary Finnigan’s new book Psychedelic Suburbia on David Bowie

An intimate and personal account of life with Bowie on the cusp of stardom

“Psychedelic Suburbia – David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab” by journalist and broadcaster Mary Finnigan presents an entirely new insight into the period in 1969 when Bowie lived, worked and played with the author.

Published by Jorvik Press and on sale from 8th January 2016, Psychedelic Suburbia is a personal account of the time when David Bowie was a struggling folk singer patrolling the London clubs in search of gigs, to the moment when his Ziggy Stardust album catapulted him into the musical stratosphere.

The publication date coincides with Bowie’s 69th birthday and the release of his latest album Blackstar.


 Journalist and broadcaster Mary Finnigan

Journalist and broadcaster Mary Finnigan


Mary Finnigan welcomed Bowie into her home in the London suburb of Beckenham, supported him financially and provided him with the foundations for his subsequent rise to his present iconic status. They became lovers and founded a folk club which resonated with the spirit of the hippie era and attracted capacity audiences from all over south London and beyond.

The folk club graduated into The Beckenham Arts Lab. This wide artistic remit encouraged many creative endeavours including visual arts, puppetry, poetry, film making and theatre – as well as the music which formed the bedrock of the Arts Lab Sunday evenings at The Three Tuns pub on Beckenham High Street.


Psychedelic Suburbia


In August 1969 David, Mary and Arts Lab enthusiasts staged the UK’s first Free Festival at The Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham. David immortalised this event with his song Memory of a Free Festival. David’s first hit single Space Oddity started to climb the charts at the same time.

Psychedelic Suburbia chronicles this slice of social history in intimate detail from a unique personal perspective. The book also recounts the after-effects on Mary’s life from her involvement with David – culminating in the 2013 and 2014 Memory of a Free Festival events, which were held in the same place, on the same bandstand 45 years later.