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Newport Jazz Festival








Newport strained by festival experimentation


The festival's 1969 program was an experiment in fusing jazz, soul and rock music and audiences. Its lineup included, besides jazz, Friday evening appearances by rock groups Jeff Beck, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Ten Years After and Jethro Tull. Saturday's schedule mixed jazz acts such as Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck with others including John Mayall andSly & the Family Stone. James Brown was among those who appeared Sunday afternoon, followed in the evening by Herbie Hancock, blues musician B. B. King and English rock group Led Zeppelin.


Miles Davis remarked that the various artists involved were highly encouraging to each other and that he enjoyed the festival more than ever before. He noticed and appreciated the spirited nature of the younger audience. But some clashes did occur. Excess crowds estimated at twenty thousand who had been unable to obtain tickets filled an adjacent hillside, and the weekend was marred by disturbances including fence crashing and crowd surging during the most popular performances. Saturday evening's disturbances were particularly significant, prompting producer George Wein who feared a riot to announce that the Sunday evening Led Zeppelin appearance was cancelled. That show was allowed to go forward as initially scheduled after much of the overflow crowd had left the city following the cancellation announcement.


For 1971 the festival booked The Allman Brothers Band, a pioneering Southern rock group. Many more fans were drawn than Festival Field could cope with. On the second night of the festival, would-be festival goers occupying the adjacent hillside crashed the fence during Dionne Warwick's performance of "What The World Needs Now Is Love", initiating a major disturbance. That year's festival was halted after the stage was rushed by the intruders and equipment destroyed. The festival would not return to Newport in 1972.


Expanded format, relocation to New York City


In 1972, festival producer George Wein transplanted the festival to New York City, calling it the Newport Jazz Festival-New York. An expanded format involved multiple venues, that year including Yankee Stadium and Radio City Music Hall. The 1972 festival consisted of thirty concerts with 62 all-star performers including Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles and Roberta Flack. In 1973, there were two concerts at Fenway Park in Boston, under the name "Newport New England Jazz Festival."

This format continued with fair success through the next years, but producer George Wein would grow to miss the classic outdoor festival environment lost in the transition to New York City's multiple metropolitan venues.

In 1977, George Wein arranged with Saratoga Springs, New York to move the Newport Jazz Festival from New York City to its Saratoga Performing Arts Center during the following year. He established the Newport Jazz Festival-Saratoga there, but also reversed his decision to pull out of New York City, retaining the Newport Jazz Festival-New York in what amounted to an expansion of the festival

The Saratoga addition demonstrated a trend of using the "Newport Jazz Festival" name in branding festivals other than the original festival at Newport. This trend continued elsewhere, even to Japan's Newport Jazz Festival in Madarao

Also in the 1970s, the Newport Jazz Festival pioneered the involvement of corporate sponsorship with music festivals. Working with brands including Schlitz and KOOL, the Newport Jazz Festival was presented under various names utilizing a title sponsorship in conjunction with the Newport Jazz Festival brand

Information courtesy of Wikipedia



NO SHOWS from 1972-1980 except..........

In 1978 the promoters Banzini Brothers & Rhody productions put together a 3-day jazz festival not affiliated with the original George Wein Festival and called it Newport Jazz 78'.  It was held in Fort Adams State Park in Newport instead of the old Festival Field.  Not too much information on this and the possible legal ramifications of promoting under anything Newport Jazz on the internet but it did get George Wien to move the festival back to its original city where the festival was born.



Newport Jazz Festival Lineup 1978




*Note: if you were there and would like to share your memories, pictures or tape please send it





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