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MEMORIES: Led Zeppelin Newport, RI July 6 1969


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Led Zeppelin: Newport, Rhode Island July 6th 1969

In 1969 the Newport Jazz Festival included several "jazz-rock" groups that the organizer, George Wein, invited on the recommendation of advisors hip to the new wave of sounds in the late sixties. He thought he needed to have some of this to keep up with music trends. Well it turned out to be a ROCK festival, with all that goes along with it, i.e. drugs, nudity, and assorted hippiedom.

There were also traditional jazz performers mixed in with the rock groups. Many of the blue blooded rich of Newport were near the front rows and they were mortified by the blasting volume and antics of the rock bands. The local newspaper had photos of these people and their facial reactions to the proceedings. It was GREAT! Some of the rock performers were Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter, Frank Zappa, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jethro Tull. Friday night was billed as "Jazz-Rock" night and had the bulk of these bands then. However, Led Zeppelin played as the last band on the last night of the festival, Sunday.

As the festival was about to begin on Thursday, the townspeople and the police began to take notice of the undesirable element (hippies) invading the small town of Newport, Rhode Island. People had no place to stay so they ended up camping on lawns, in parks, and on the beach. During the shows people surged the stage and many outside of the festival grounds snuck in through the fence. It was seen as a riot and George Wein freaked out. He made an announcement that Led Zeppelin would NOT be performing. He was trying to get the masses of hippies to leave and restore normalcy.

I attended the Sunday evening show, I was only 12 years old but into the whole scene. My father was in the Navy and as a result I lived on the base only 1/4 mile away from the grounds! I could hear the Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows from my house! My next door neighbor and I walked to the concert just outside the base gate. Let's see, Buddy Rich, Herbie Hancock, Gypsy and the Savage Rose, B.B. King and Johnny Winter played before Zeppelin. As Led Zeppelin were coming into town in a limo they noticed all these cars leaving. They were wondering why. Well, Peter Grant (their manager) found out about George Wein making his announcement of an Led Zeppelin no-show and gave George Wein a piece of his mind and said they WERE GONNA PLAY! Since festival goers had heard about the no-show many had left by the time Led Zeppelin came on. It seemed to be about midnight when they took the stage.

Opening with Train Kept a Rollin' that electrified the few that had stayed, the place appeared to be less than half full. Robert Plant said over the loudspeakers that he heard there were rumors of their non-appearance but assured the crowd they never intended not to play. Drawing mostly from their first album they played about an hour. I remember How Many More Times the best. It was my favorite Zep tune. They really jammed. Also, Dazed And Confused sent the crowd crazy with the violin bow section.

After it was over my friend and I walked back to the Navy base gate where my parents were waiting, angry at me staying so long. Being only 12 at the time I had to be reminded by some newspaper accounts to validate my faded memories. I still remember the Joshua Light Show (brought in from the Fillmore shows), the smell of my first time around pot, and how the P.A system sounded pretty shitty. But what a great experience to see these bands and it was a full month before WOODSTOCK!!


Newport Daily News Reports:

Jazz Festival Near Sellout; Rock Wins Place in Program

July 2, 1969

By T. Curtis Forbes

The Newport Jazz Festival will be 16 years of age when it opens Thursday night. Judging by the advance interest it has more admirers than ever.

Friday night's program billed as "An Evening of Jazz-Rock" already is sold out, and tickets for the Saturday night concert probably will be unavailable by tomorrow.

"All we have left for Saturday are $6.50 tickets, and we don't know how long that will last." a salesgirl at a Bellevue Avenue shop said this morning. "It changes from minute to minute."

At Festival Field box office activity was described as hectic. All telephones were ringing and queues were forming at ticket windows.

Advance ticket sales have been greater than ever fefore in the history of Newport Jazz Festivals, a festival spokesman said, predicting a good chance of a record breaking attendance for the four day event.

The festival will have the largest press corps in history with journalists from all over Europe, S. America and Japan present.

Depending on one's taste in music, there is something for everyone in the 16th edition of the Jazz Festival, which opnes Thursday night George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Bill Evans, Jerey Steig Young Holt Unlimited, Freddie Hubbard, Sunny Murray, Anita O'Day, Sun-Ra and Phil Woods.

Traditionalists and older jazz buffs will have the generation gap dramitically brought home to them by the sound of Roland Kirk, Blood Sweat and Tears, Led Zeppelin and the Mothers of Invention on different nights.

Although the schedule for this year's festival includes a heavy dose of jazz-rock, it is not the type of rock the jazz afficionados objected to a decade ago.

The new jazz-rock has a strong footing in the traditional without giving up it's own originality and freedom of expression.

Fans who attended festival producer George Wein's Boston Jazz Festival several months ago were pleased with the mixture of jazz and jazz-rock thqat the impresario concocted for the Hub audience.

One of the unforgettable moments of that event was the impromptu finale with the Mothers of Invention and Roland Kirk. The same finale could be repeated here.

Sunday afternoon with James Brown is a palatable offering following a performance that morning of "The Light and Wilderness." an oratorio by Dave Brubeck.

Saturday night Brubeck will share the bill with Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan, Sly and the Family Stone, O.C. Smith and others.

Sunday night's "Schlitz Mixed Bag" will include Buddy Rich, Willie Bobo, BB King, Johnny Winter, The Savage Rose, Herbie Hancock and Led Zeppelin.

Which performances draw the biggest crowds and the most attention will give the pundits some idea as to the direction of jazz development for years to come.

Jazz Festival Tickets Scarce; 90,000 Coming

July 3, 1969

Newport Daily News (author uncredited)

The 16th annual Newport Jazz Festival will be the biggest festival in the history of Newport music, George Wein, producer,said this afternoon.

Wein made that prediction as computerized reports showed advance ticket sales of 75,000 at noon today. Last year's advance ticket sakes were 50,000. Total attendance for the four day event will be about 90,000.

"We never have had such a demand for tickets for any festival as we are having for this one", he said. "This is the first time we have not had to worry about weather affecting the gate."

Wein noted the festival opening tonight is a unique historical event never done on this scale anywhere.

"This is not just another pop festival, of which there have been several", he said. "This is a total music festival including everyone from Miles to James Brown.

The producer noted that last year the festival succeeded on a more traditional program. That program included Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick.

This year, after what he called a lot of soul searching, Wein decided to appeal to youth. The result has been a tremendous amount of advance interest.

'Wein commented that cooperation with the city manager, city council and police has been better than ever. He paid special tribute to the police, who probably have had more experience with music festivals and large crowds than the police of any city the same size as this.

"They know how to respond to youth and have shown good judgment." "There are a lot of people coming and we hope they all respect the city and the festival."

To most observers, the attitude in the city was more positive that ever, with festival and city officials keeping in constant communication on developments.

This morning it was "systems go" at Festival Field, with everything ready for the opening concert at 8pm. Long lines had formed at the box office long beforethe opening at 9am.

Some ticket buyers said they had waited in the cars all night for the opening of the box office. The lines continued through the day.

Friday night's concert was sold out earlier this week, and few tickets were available for Saturday night's performance. Tickets for other concerts are going rapidly.

Hotels and motels on the island were booked nearly solid this morning. Some ticket buyers said this morning the nearest accomodations they could get were in Providence.

Tonight's concert includes Anita O'Day, alto saxist Phil Woods and the European Machine, and Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra, jazz pianist Bill Evans with jazz-rock flutist Jeremy Steigh.

Tomorrow's Fourth of July fireworks includes jam session with organist Jimmy Smith in the afternoon and an evening of jazz-rock featuring Blood Sweat and Tears and Jeff Beck.

Commenting on the heavy dose of jazz-rock in this year's festival, Wein said, "This is no longer an experimental form. This is an established artform and we intend to recognize it."

A festival aside will be a recognition of Wein's contribution to music. Tomorrow he will be presented a plaque from ASCAP from president Stanley Adams.

The presentation will be made by Billy Taylor, jazz pianist and a memeber of ASCAP's writer's advisory committee. The plaque will be given on behalf of the more thaqn 14,000 members of the society.

In making the presentation announcement, Adams said, "ASCAP membership includes talented men and women in every field of musical literature. We have in the society some of the outstanding writers of American jazz. We have watched with great pleasure the success of the Newport Jazz Festival, and we take this opportunity to pay tribute to George Wein, the able producer of the festival.

Joelmon's summation :

The writer failed to note that 10 Years After and Jethro Tull would also be playing on Friday night along with Jeff Beck and others. I also find it funny that all the pre-concert accolades given to the police and the 'respect' Wein is giving this 'new' artform later backfired. At the end of the festival, Wein ended up battling with the police about the slack security that allowed many fans to break down the fence of storm the field. Wein ended up paying big fines cause the city council determined he was responsible for the mayhem. :cheesy: Also at the end he called it the "worst 4 days of his life" and still regrets bringing in what he described as a new legit form of jazz....hahahahahaha......none of the 'traditionalist's' had any idea what to expect.....oh what fun for the freaks and what a horror for the ghostlike faces of the staunchy uppercrusted crowd and Wein himself.....

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