When David Bowie rocked Suffolk – in Framlingham!

David Bowie in 1970.

David Bowie in 1970. - Credit: PA

As tributes to ground-breaking rock star David Bowie flowed in from around the world, a small group of Suffolk fans remembered the day he brought avant-garde music to the market town of Framlingham.

Pat Ward

Pat Ward

It is believed that Bowie’s only public performance in Suffolk was at the Assembly Rooms in Church Street, Framlingham in April 1967 as lead singer of The Riot Squad.

He was still the unknown David Jones at that time – although he had already made the novelty record “The Laughing Gnome” which would be re-released once he had become famous in 1973.

Pat Ward went to the gig with a friend from her Aldeburgh home and remembers it well – although was not entirely sure about what she was seeing at the time.

And they took the band home for a coffee after the gig!

Pat Ward with a friend in the 1960s.

Pat Ward with a friend in the 1960s.


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She remembers: “They were a bit way-out. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to make of them. They came out in clown suits and I remember them blowing bubbles at the audience.

“He wasn’t famous at that time and after the concert we invited them over to ours for a coffee. We all went over there in their tour bus which had all their equipment – their instruments and speakers as well.

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“I was really shocked when I heard the news this morning. It brought it all back.”

Pat has written a book about her experiences of growing up in Aldeburgh – and still lives in the town.

William Martin

William Martin - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

William Martin from Sudbourne was also at The Riot Squad gig.

He could not remember Bowie being the star of the show, and only realised who the lead singer was once Bowie had made it as a solo star several years later.

He said: “Bowie was with The Riot Squad for 20 dates between March and May 1967. During that time they also released an EP with four tracks on it.

“It was a very different performance to what we were used to. It was certainly something unusual for Framlingham!”

The only publicity for the concert had been a few posters put up around the area.

Mr Martin became a firm fan of the star – and saw him several times, including his last major concert tour in the UK in 1990 when he brought the “Sound and Vision” Greatest Hits show to the Milton Keynes bowl.

Mr Martin said: “It was such a shock to hear the news this morning, I didn’t know he was ill.”

The Assembly Rooms are now the Theatre Antiques Centre and its owner, Wig Darby, had heard all about the Bowie gig.

He said: “We’ve had people coming here saying ‘I saw Bowie here’. At first I though ‘Oh, yes!’ but then I heard it more and more and found out a bit more about it.

“There were quite a lot of bands came here. Most disappeared, but some made it like the Swingin’ Blue Jeans and Eric Burdon.

It was very sad to hear the news this morning.”

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