Grumpy Old Man Wakeman declares Palace Bowl as ‘magical’

The campaign to restore the Crystal Palace Bowl as a leading London music venue got two huge boosts this week, including the backing of one of the world’s most famous rock keyboard players, Rick Wakeman, who has called it the “best outdoor venue in London… magical”.

Rick Wakeman: given his backing the Crystal Palace Bowl campaign

A member in the 1970s of prog rock group Yes, Wakeman responded to pleas for support from local activists who are seeking to raise funds for the repair and maintenance of the stage area in Crystal Palace Park which, from 1961 to the 1990s, was the venue for a series of packed concerts, from punk to pop to classical, and including reggae superstar Bob Marley.

A crowd-funding campaign to pay for a plaque to commemorate Marley’s last London gig is close to reaching its target.

And this week the stage at the Bowl was listed as an Asset of Community Value by Bromley Council and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, another important step towards getting it fully restored and capable again of staging sold-out concerts around the lake in the park.

Wakeman’s fame as one of television’s Grumpy Old Men is now possibly as great as anything he achieved during his long music career, which also included playing as a session musician for Elton John, Cat Stevens and on the recording of “Space Oddity” for David Bowie.

His comments about the Bowl came in response to the appeal seeking his support, and also highlighted how the Crystal Palace venue had fallen dangerously into disrepair over the last decade or so. Crystal Palace Park was previously under the control of the then relatively well-resourced GLC; after Thatcher abolished the London-wide authority, the park, which forms part of the borough boundary with Croydon, was placed in the care of Bromley.

Wakeman tweeted to his 76,000 followers: “Best outdoor venue in London… magical…

“I tried to redo Journey to the Centre of the Earth there, but on inspection the stage was rotting and dangerous… would be a great asset if restored.”

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