Closing 1973 The Year Bowie Came To Blackburn Project Note

The July 8th 2017 Final Event was a fantastic success!  Approximately 900 people attended at least one event on that day. Thanks to Woody Woodmansey, and all at King George’s Hall, The Bureau Centre for the Arts, McNally Music Tuition, Gill Burns Community Dance, Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio School, and the Action Factory. Many thanks also to Ian Alderson, Dr. Toby Manning, Sky Valley Mistress, Teri Birtwistle, Source Creative, Julia Brosnan, Dr Toby Manning, Jeff Thompson, Jonathan Kemp, Jim Wilkinson, Max Turton, Nudrat Mughal and Urmi Chowdhury, the 1973 gig goers themselves and all the other wonderful volunteers for making the project happen. Special thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund especially Rebecca Mason and Dan Head.

Please see the following link for a selection of photos of the final event


For those of you are interested, complete transcriptions of all the project’s sixteen oral history interviews with audience members of the 1973 concerts are available to be viewed at Blackburn Library. The entry can be viewed through Blackburn Library’s online catalogue and the material in located in the local history “stacks”, shelved at T65.

Here’s to 1973!

Best wishes

Frankie Mullen

Project Director / Co-founder, Dovetail: The Change-Making Agency

Tickets and Information for July 8th 2017 event: Let’s Celebrate 1973: The Year Bowie came to Blackburn 

In the 70s Blackburn’s King George’s Hall (KGH) played host to many world famous musicians and bands – and now fans are delighted to welcome back Woody Woodmansey, the drummer and last surviving member of David Bowie’s legendary Spiders From Mars, to the venue where they played on May 31, 1973. Woody will be returning to King George’s Hall as the ‘guest of honour’ for the culmination of this Heritage Lottery funded multi-arts and heritage project celebrating Bowie and the many other top bands who played KGH that year, including Status Quo, Queen, The Sweet and Mott The Hoople.

July 8th is when fans have a chance to meet Woody and hear how a phone call changed the then 20 year old’s life. Woody had just been offered a promotion – to be second in command to the foreman no less – at the Driffield factory where he worked, when Bowie called to ask if he’d like to join the band. Against all advice from family and friends, Woody said no to the factory and yes to Bowie. There followed an incredible roller-coaster touring the world with the biggest, most exciting and extraordinary band on the planet. As well as reminiscing on the 1973 performance, Woody will also talk about his recently published ‘My Life With Bowie, Spider From Mars’ a funny and poignant memoir of his years with Bowie and subsequent career.

Woody’s In Conversation and Panel Discussion are part of a packed showcase event to mark the culmination of the oral history and arts project: 1973: The Year Bowie Came to Blackburn, which in true rock and roll fashion, runs from the afternoon right into the small hours. Can a gig change your life? In the course of this project, many local people came forward with stories to demonstrate that, yes – seeing those incredible bands could really be that profound:

“A very young Freddie Mercury was playing support to Mott The Hoople. I vividly remember ….on the bus going back on the bus back to Accrington everyone just talking about this new band Queen saying they were going to be really big”

“ seeing Slade ….the atmosphere was fantastic. They had everybody going! The place was really too small for their sound, my ears were ringing for ages afterwards when I came out…. but we had such a great night.”

On the Bowie concert:

“… it was an incredible moment, something that never leaves you”
“…. a truly formative experience”
“after the gig we were just silenced and shell shocked ”
“ you were transported to another world, another reality full of possibilities”
“after something like that you are a slave to it for the rest of your life”

Woody himself says: “What an incredible ride we had with Bowie and The Spiders, it really was history in the making and I am delighted to be sharing it not only with people who were there, but with young up and coming musicians and artists who are being inspired all over again.”

Proceedings start at 1pm in King George’s Hall, going throughout the afternoon and evening, ending with an iconic 1970s Roxy / Bowie Disco ‘club for people who don’t like clubs’ and Aftershow Party from midnight – 6.00am, Cellar Bar on King Street. Full programme attached. Highlights include:

Film Premiere:- ‘1973 KGH: Our Memories’ by 1973 fans who were there
Live music including 1970s covers with a twist and the Premiere of specially composed new music by students from McNally Music Tuition, plus an original set from Sky Valley Mistress
Presentations and talks bringing the 1970s alive with music journalist Dr. Toby Manning, including an ‘In Conversation with Woody Woodmansey’ and book signing
Panel discussion: ‘Music Then And Now: Blackburn’ including Woody Woodmansey, Dr. Toby Manning music critic and academic, Kerry McGregor promoter at the Sir Charles Napier and local musician Ben Kirton.

This will be an event to remember, places limited, early booking advised!

The afternoon events are free. Tickets for the whole evening are £1.20, the same ticket price fans paid to see Bowie in 1973; ALL PROCEEDS WILL RAISE MONEY FOR ‘ALL THE YOUNG DUDES’, A NEW FUND SUPPORTING LOCAL YOUNG MUSICIANS AND ARTISTS TO SHOWCASE ANNUALLY IN HERITAGE VENUES IN BLACKBURN TOWN CENTRE.

The event is a creative collaboration with The Bureau Centre for the Arts, McNally Music Tuition, Gill Burns Community Dance and Action Factory Arts. The project is in partnership with King George’s Hall, and funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

To purchase tickets for July 8th 2017 : Contact the King George’s Hall Box Office on 0844 847 1664.  Please visit the following page for more information: 

Afternoon Programme


Evening Programme


1973 is a project by Dovetail: the Change-Making Agency in partnership with King George’s Hall. The project is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.




Creative delivery partners: McNally Music Tuition, The Bureau Centre for the Arts. Supported by Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and Blackburn Library. Media by Square Cactus and creative design by Source Creative.