“Memory of a Free Festival” is a 1970 single by David Bowie. The song had originally been recorded as a seven-minute opus for Bowie’s second self-titled album (reissued as Space Oddity in 1972). It was reworked at the behest of Mercury Records, the label believing that the track had a better chance of success as a single than “The Prettiest Star”, released earlier in the year. Bowie and Tony Visconti roughly split the track in half, re-recording it so both halves could function as individual songs. A more rock-orientated version than the earlier album cut, this rendition marked drummer Mick Woodmansey’s studio debut with Bowie’s band, bringing together the line-up that would shortly record The Man Who Sold the World. Biographer David Buckley described “Memory of a Free Festival” as “a sort of trippy retake of the Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ but with a smiley lyric”. The track was written as a homage to the Free Festival, organised by the Beckenham Arts Lab, which was held at Croydon Road Recreational Ground in Beckenham on August 16, 1969. The single was a commercial disaster on release in America in June 1970, with only a few hundred copies selling. It was also issued in the UK, but was similarly unsuccessful.
[via Niels Fez]