Rock shrines







On the 10th January 2016, David Bowie died aged 69. His death elicited extensive media coverage and an outpouring of emotion from his fans which manifested in a number of material and digital shrines, both in London and New York. With this project Hilary Orange and Paul Graves-Brown conducted a three-year longitudinal study of the development of the spontaneous shrines in London. How do these sites come into existence and how do they develop? To what extent will they become permanent (Heddon Street already has a history of more than 30 years of Bowie pilgrimage), or will fans eventually cease to visit? We were also interested in official approaches to such sites of pilgrimage. How do local authorities and building owners (such as Morleys and the Crown Estate, which owns Heddon Street) deal with the material and graffiti left at these sites? How, if at all, do museums and archives deal with the problems of accessioning non-perishable material from these sites, and how do authorities dispose of the material?


My talk on the Project at York University in 2018



A Twitter thread

Graves-Brown, P. & Orange, H. (2021) ‘Station to station: a field guide to rock music memorials in London.’ In J. Schofield & L. Maloney, (eds). Music and Heritage: New Perspectives on Place-making and Sonic Identity’. Routledge, 222-232.

Orange, H. and Graves-Brown, P. (2019) “My death waits there among the flowers”: Popular Music Shrines in London as Memory and Remembrance (accepted) in, Sarah De Nardi, Hilary Orange, Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto and Steven High (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Memory and Place. London: Routledge, 345-356.

Graves-Brown, P and Orange, H (2017) “The stars look very different today.” Celebrity veneration, grassroot memorials and the apotheosis of David Bowie, in Material Religion 

Cara Giaimo, 6 April 2017, Decoding London’s Spontaneous David Bowie Shrines, in Atlas Obscura