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Exhibition recalls music greats including Bowie at Friars, Aylesbury

PUBLISHED: 14:20 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:20 24 February 2014

Friars celebration: Curator David Erskine (L) and Friars founder David Stopps with Mike Rutherford's double neck guitar ready for display

Friars celebration: Curator David Erskine (L) and Friars founder David Stopps with Mike Rutherford's double neck guitar ready for display

Bucks County Council

David Bowie fan Vivien Symons, who caught the satin shirt he famously threw into the crowd at a Friars gig in 1972, will be a guest at the VIP preview of the exhibition celebrating the Buckinghamshire music club’s 45th anniversary.

Bowie's shirt: Vivien (R) and Robin (L) Symons with curator David Erskine and the treasured fabric which will go on display at the County Museum's Friars exhibitionBowie's shirt: Vivien (R) and Robin (L) Symons with curator David Erskine and the treasured fabric which will go on display at the County Museum's Friars exhibition

Vivien, who lives in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, was a regular gig-goer at Friars, in Aylesbury, and as close to the stage as she could get at Bowie’s first ever Ziggy Stardust concert, at the Borough Assembly Hall.

As the crowd screamed and cheered, Bowie tore off his overshirt and threw it to the fans. Vivien, then 16, couldn’t believe her luck as it headed straight for her.

“Everyone grabbed at it,” she said. “We all held on but it ripped, and I ended up with a piece from the front with some buttons and a sequin.”

That large satin rectangle takes pride of place in the exhibition, which will feature artists’ musical instruments and other memorabilia, opens on Saturday, March 1 at Buckinghamshire County Museum, in Church Street, Aylesbury.

Chart-topping names like Bowie, Howard Jones, Marillion, Toyah Wilcox, The Clash, Ian Dury, Marillion The Ramones, The Velvet Undergound, and Roxy Music all took the stage at Friars Aylesbury. Peter Gabriel, founder of the band Genesis, said: “I suppose it started for us at the legendary Friars Aylesbury. That’s where people first got to know us.”

Friars founder and promoter David Stopps says: “I have been hoping to present a major exhibition on Friars for years and at last it’s going to happen – it’s a huge undertaking.”

His excitement is shared by County Musuem exhibition curator David Erskine: “To have world-beating music history right on our doorstep is something we definitely wanted to celebrate, and it’s great that we’re beginning to get a lot of interest locally and nationally.”

Founded in 1969, Friars was famous for its great atmosphere, iconic bands and infectiously enthusiastic audience. Friars played a big part in the early careers of major bands, such as Genesis, Mott the Hoople, and The Clash, and is still going strong today.

Tickets for the VIP preview reception, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm on Friday (February 28) are available at £15 each on-line from theticketsellers.co.uk or by phone on 0844 870 0000, or from the Museum.

The exhibition

There’s a cinema section where artists and Friars members talk about their memories. Memorabilia from Friars extensive archive and musical instruments used by artists who appeared there include Edgar Broughton’s 1969 Stratocaster, the classic double neck guitar used by Genesis founder Mike Rutherford, Howard Jones’s 1983 Moog keyboard rig, and an amplifier used by U2, a stage costume warn by Toyah Wilcox, and Lol Coxhill’s saxophones.

The exhibition runs from March 1 to July 5. Pre-booked tickets, at £4 each, are available online www.theticketsellers.co.uk and in person from the County Museum on the day of visit, subject to availability.

With more than 93,000 members, Friars Aylesbury is the biggest and one of the most historic clubs in the UK.

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