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The Eleventh National Jazz and Blues Festival.
Richfield Avenue. 
Reading 
June 25-27th,1971.

 

Renaissance onstage Reading 1971 © Vin Miles

   Following the move to Reading ( the festival had not exactly been welcomed by some of the denizens of Plumpton and I expect the move was prompted by the heat generated by the tory MP who had tried to place injunctions to prevent the festival going ahead ) specific details now became very sketchy and we had to rely on a few short press articles for details of the festivals from 1971 -75. We have now built up a large archive of images and more personal accounts from punters who attended .My own opinion is that by now the Festival was past its glory years and was a on a long slow downhill path , not only musically, but in its festival spirit , which had always been pretty friendly and laid back in the 60s and early 70s . However, others may disagree and I'm sure the new audience got as much out of the festival as we did in the 60s - its just that the experience was a different one , more booze, less dope and which generally involved a lot of can throwing at the bands and the audience , which no doubt added a certain frisson to the proceedings !

   As part of the move to a new site , the festival advertising was changed, the familiar Marquee club emblem that had proudly featured on the publicity items since the early 60s had been relegated to the bottom of the flyers ! a new short term logo had the nerve to appear in its place. Such heresy !!!!! But never fear, it returned the next year ( the new logo was banished and is not doubt sulking in a filing cabinet somewhere) so the warm fuzzy glow of familiarity returned . The only issue was that this new artwork neglected to mention the fact that this was the eleventh festival. In 1972 some copy writer cocked up and mistakenly advertised the 72 festival as the eleventh festival and the mistake in numbering was not rectified on the posters until the 1974 event.

    Reading is a hard, red brick town with little beauty . Whereas previous festivals had been held near villages or the upper crust areas such as Richmond and Windsor, this move was not one that placed the festival in the midst of verdent countryside.The organizers  gradual movement towards specializing in booking mainly heavy bands which would cater for the burgeoning Heavy Metal audience seemed to somehow go with the turf.Certainly the move did not deter the punters. The change proved to be very successful, as the festival is still going to this day , albeit with a changed name - the very concept of including jazz in the title would alienate the crowds who attend the event nowadays.

 

The nicest bit- river campsite at Reading 1971 © Vin Miles

   In some ways its a shame that we now have to offer a more limited range of music at festivals , the majority of them seem to have to be genre specific. The concept of having a mix of music on the bill is only really used at the Womad festivals. Attempts to present lineups that are diverse in their makeup meet with either apathy, or result in the bottling of those artists who fail to meet the expectations of those audience members who only want to hear the music THEY like and who don't want to expand their musical horizons. As the 70s progressed this became increasingly the case.The 80s only consolidated the situation.

   Although the PA's and facilities are generally much better then these early festivals, we have regressed to some extent in the open mindedness of crowds towards accepting a wide range of music - although I can think of times in the early festivals where crowds were ugly towards certain types of acts - so perhaps its just promoters playing safe and giving the punters more of what they know they want . However, the chance of a non genre specific band like Mungo Jerry breaking out to stardom from the Reading Festival is practically zero, whereas it would have been possible in the Nat Jazz fests of the 60's.

     As the bill changed towards the more heavy acts it attracted a younger generation who had a different idea of what was acceptable festival behavior -their drug of preference was booze , not dope . Increasingly , the optimism and relatively open mindedness of audiences of the 60s was being replaced by a partisanship which became increasingly ugly , with excessive booze consumption being the order of the day. Can throwing at the acts and other audience members was so bad by 1974 that many veteran festival goers no longer attended . By 1978 the transformation was complete, Uriah Heap were the headliners and hard rock bands dominated the entire weekend. I remember seeing a documentary about Reading from this era- the entire field was a sea of cans , several layers deep !!!!.

The stage at Reading 71

,click to see a larger image

      From an old hands point of view it was rather depressing to see just how much the festival had changed ...... but then times DO change and I'm sure those who attended in later years had a great time - and massive hangovers to boot ......

Renaissance © Vin Miles


1971 Line-up.
 

 

Friday 25th June

  • Arthur Brown
  • Warm Dust
  • Bell & Arc
  • Daddy Loglegs
  • Armada
  • Anno Domini
  • Clouds
  • Universe
  • Ricotti/Alberquerque
  • Accrington Stanley

Saturday 26th June

  • Steelmill
  • East Of Eden
  • Lindisfarne
  • Ralph McTell
  • Hardin and York
  • Pete York Percussion Band
  • Wishbone Ash
  • Audience .
  • Terry Reid
  • Stud
  • Renaissance
  • Audience
  • Genesis
  • Gillian McPherson
  • Sha-Na-Na

Sunday 27th June

  • Colosseum
  • Rory Gallagher
  • Ian Matthews
  • Medicine Head
  • Van Der Graaf Generator
  • Osibisa
  • Stray
  • Storyteller
  • Demick And Armstrong
  • Clark-Hutchinson
  • C.M.J.
  • Colonel Bagshot
  • Al Kooper

These artists probably performed but exact date is not known .

Peter Hamill
Vinegar Joe

   The move to Reading came about because Harold Pendleton was invited to hold a festival as a part of the Reading Councils annual Festival( recordings exist of  acts such as John Mayall and Jeff Beck which are from earlier festivals held in Reading in the 60s ). Apparently the Council still thought it was a jazz festival . But since it made a profit  and because it was also trouble free ( apart from the Police busting over 100 people for soft drug possession in an extreme over reaction  ) it was allowed to remain . The festival had finally found a permanent home.    

   The festival was held in late June , reverting back to its previous three day schedule and was heralded with the usual press warnings of dire events of rape, pillage and destruction - and this supposedly was to be perpetuated by Ian Matthews fans !

The News of the World predicted
" the way out impact of thousands of hippies ........on a picture po
stcard village"- obviously the author had never visited Reading , but then the accuracy of  facts has never really interested the writers from such publications.

    What WAS dire was the unprecedented invasion of the audience by the drug squad of the infamous Thames Valley police, who were notorious for heavy handed and over the top responses to anything alternative. The National Jazz Festival had never been targeted before , but this year 115 poor sods were arrested and carted away . It was a portent of what was to come when the same police force were involved in policing of the Windsor Free Festivals in 1974 .The News of the World called the festival a " jamboree of pop and pot"

So predictable.

Some poor sod being frisked © J Mortis

Just a note to thank you for your site. Reading in 1971 was the first music festival I ever went to. I was 14. My friend and I got through a hole in the fence! I live in the Bay Area California now, and I was talking to someone about the group Gnidrolog. I thought maybe I had seen them at the festival that day, so I thought I'd look up and see if I could find out.
Thanks to your great site I can see that they didn't play that Sunday, the day we went. But it did jog my mind a bit seeing who did play. I'm sure we saw Clark Hutchinson Band, and Colosseum. I remember both of those distinctly. The guy from Clark Hutchinson had a red Gibson 335 I think. I liked his playing.
It's very satisfying to be able to look back at these details from that time. I so appreciate your making it available. I try to do my bit by being a musician, but I'm very appreciative of what you have done here.
Thank you, Steve Burch.

As a local loony who built a high fence between himself and the unwashed hordes said, "we shall fight them on the beaches ....

 

.... but not at the fish and chip shops on site , as the unwashedbedenimedlonghairedlayabout hordes are protected by rogue nuns .We have written an angry letter to the Pope, but so far he has taken no action ...."

Vin Miles remembers how he came to take his photos of Reading

In 1971 I was 17 and had never been to a rock concert or festival. I lived only 10 miles from Reading so I went along, perhaps because it was the first year the festival had been held in Reading. A keen but somewhat inept photographer, I wanted to emulate the photos of rock stars I saw each week in Melody Maker, NME and Disc. So I wanted to take pictures at Reading, but when I got there I discovered that there was a high fence all round the arena ( as well as round the pub :ED). Spoilsports!

Not having the money to get in, the only way I could see the stage was by somehow managing to stand on a post or something so that I could peek over the fence. It was an uncomfortable position, so I didn't stay there for long. In order to take a picture with my telephoto lens I had to hang on to the top of the fence using my elbows. So I took just one picture over the fence, and it was of a group I thought were Lindisfarne, but who turned out to be Renaissance. I remember that it was cold, windy and drizzly, so Annie Haslam,Renaissance's singer, must have been freezing in that dress. There was a lighting tower in the way, so not the greatest shot. The other two snaps were of the campsite down by the Thames and of people queuing to enter the site in the rain. I think I went home after not very long.

 

Queueing to get in on Saturday © Vin Miles


Reading 71 contents .


The early festivals.

You can find out the complete line ups of the first festivals if you follow the links below .
  1961
1962
1963
1964

Festivals 1965-1990

Most of these have fairly complete documentation .But new contributions of any sort are always welcome regarding any of the festivals.
Richmond 1965
Windsor 1966
 Windsor 1967
Sunbury 1968
Plumpton 1969
Plumpton 1970
Reading 1971
Reading 1972
Reading 1973
Reading 1974

 

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