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Updated Jan 2012

The Twelfth National Jazz ,Blues and Rock Festival.
Richfield Avenue. 
August 11-13th 1972.

Attention nit pickers !!!!!

Yes we know it states the festival is the eleventh festival on the adverts, but they cocked up in 1971 and the mistake in numbering was not rectified on the posters until the 1974 festival.

Reading crowd Sunday 13th August 1972 © Vin Miles

Photos courtesy © Steve Austin unless otherwise indicated

    The second year at the Reading site and the 1972 festival was once again marred by police arrests of festival goers. 130 people were arrested over the weekend, mostly for drug offences but some for offensive behaviour (many instances of which were debatable ) , or petty vandalism . Once again a very large sum of money was spent on policing what was a largely inoffensive crowd. The police presence was way over what was needed for an event of this nature, with police choppers circling the site and special courts busy processing those rounded up by the police as they once again continually stopped festival goers and randomly searched both them and their baggage.

    For some strange reason ( pressure from the police , or politicking between relief organizations ? ) Release were not invited to attend but BIT and ADE were there ministering to those who had OD 'd , been incarcerated or simply fallen ill through eating out of date burgers.

    There is little doubt that the threatening level of paranoia shown by the Thames Valley police towards festival goers during the early 1970s is almost unprecedented in the history of the British police forces. This was to culminate in the nasty scenes at the Windsor Free Festival in 1974.It is perhaps fortunate that the more of middle of the road crowds who attended the Reading festivals were so passive. If they had shown any sort of resistance towards the oppressive tactics that were utilised by the police during this period they would no doubt have been met with considerable force .

     It is ironic that so much effort was put into policing the non violent hippie crowds of the day who smoked dope and so much tolerance was shown to the violent drunken football crowds that regularly terrorised unfortunate British towns throughout the decade and beyond . Its ironic that this violence pretty much only became less virulent when large numbers of soccer fans began to take ecstasy in the 90s .Its also not coincidence that the level of violence at Reading increased when the crowd began to be more interested in hard drinking or combined their drugs of choice with booze. It was then that the beer cans began to rain down on the heads of luckless attendees ......

    But drug related rock festival paranoia always seems to take priority over beer fuelled sport related violence doesn't it ? I wonder if the revenue the government derives from booze has anything to do with it ?


© Steve Austin

Intrepid TV police take to the water to help stamp out the scourge of water bourne drugs !

The BIT solicitors report concluded

Courtesy Mick Davis

The government issued a questionnaire for attendees to hand in

Courtesy Mick Davis

Panoramic view of the 72 site.

The Music

Oh yeah, the MUSIC , right, in between busts, we had music . Not the most memorable Reading, but some reasonable acts took to the boards.

    Genesis were the stars of an otherwise fairly lacklustre bill on Friday . The weather was fine , but most bands failed to move the crowd to their feet. By contrast Genesis had the crowd screaming for a full five minutes after they had left the stage .

   Even former crowd pleasers Mungo Jerry ( a brit rock festival hit of 1970 ) could not make much of an impact , perhaps the novelty of their act had by now worn off. Nazareth did not play despite being present. Their late arrival meant they were not allowed to play and the other acts sets were extended to cover the gap.

   Curved Air came on around midnight and eventually built up a good head of steam, despite the cold conditions at that hour , but despite their headliner status it was Genesis who made the most impact with the crowd.

By 1972 the festival featured two stages enabling a quick turn around between acts.

Inside the arena


   Saturday was mostly dull, both weather wise and in the response of the audience to the majority of the acts. The PA acted up during some sets and Solid Gold Cadillac did not play due to their transport packing in and a consequent late arrival , it appears that late arrivals were not slotted in whenever possible, they just were factored out of the lineup.

   The Johnny Otis R & B show , featuring the Three Tons of Joy , Mighty Flea and Big Daddy Rucker were notable for stirring up the crowd , along with the Edgar Broughton Band who actually got the crowd to their feet for the first time during the day. Focus were the hit of the afternoon , by 1974 they were back as one of the headliners.

   The Faces were often noted for their slackness in those days, but this time they delivered . They performed a fairly tight set, with a minimum of stuffing up and no overt drunkenness on their part .



    The weather brightened up considerably on Sunday , which helped to produce a better vibe than the day before although once again it did not make up for the lack of musical highs .

   Wizzard kicked off proceedings to a lacklustre reception, and it was left to Stackridge to get the first good response from the audience , although their set was spoilt to some extent by sound problems . Ten Years After put on a good show to finish off the festival to warm applause from the appreciative crowd .

   Overall it was a "nice " festival, nothing to really complain about apart from the police presence outside the arena and the overall lack of really talented acts who could raise the collective audience consciousness into the heights that the really top notch festival acts are capable of achieving.



1972 festival Line-up

1972 acts and fees paid to the artists.

  •  ELO
  •  FOCUS
  •  IF
  •  MAGMA
  •  MAN
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • £ 20
  • £1000
  • £400
  • £4000
  • £300
  • £15
  • £175
  • £200
  • N/A
  • £25
  • £50
  • £150
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • £75
  • £125
  •  STRAY
  • £ 30
  • £ 350
  • £ 20
  • N/A
  • £400
  • N/A
  • £125
  • £25
  • £350
  • £75
  • N/A
  • £25
  • £50
  • £75
  • N/A
  • £100
  • £325

Posters and tickets

Someone at the NJF could not count ....


Status Quo onstage Reading 1972 © Vin Miles

Known recordings of the 1972 festival.


Audience tape


The Knife -Twilight Alehouse -Watcher Of The Skies - The Musical box - The Return Of The Giant Hogweed .

B quality  . 50 minutes

More Genesis info on the 72 festival here

The Faces

Unofficial boot has been released , audience recording recorded from the press compound.

  • Miss Judy’s Farm,
  • Angel
  • Stay With Me
  • True Blue
  • I’d Rather Go Blind
  • Too Bad
  • That’s All You Need
  • (I Know) I’m Losing You
  • Twistin’ The Night Away >Every Picture Tells A Story
  • Maggie May

In 1972 I decided on the spur of the moment to go along on the Sunday (August 13th), with my girlfriend. I still hadn't been to a rock concert, and was into the Beatles, Stones, and, most recently, David Bowie. I wrote a brief account of our day in my diary that night: "Woke up with the idea of going to 3rd and last day of Rock Festival at Reading. Saw pix in paper. Weather looked good. Borrowed £5 from M. [my sister] and we got 3 o'clock train. S. [my girlfriend] wearing ochre cords, smock and white clogs. 20 mins [from Reading station] to festival site. Expecting £1.75 entrance - a bloke sold me a ticket for £1 and I found they'd reduced it to that anyway! Great! Very warm.

We tried to get a place in front of the stage but it was too packed. We walked right round the site and came back and settled down to the far right of the stage. Heard Vinegar Joe. Status Quo got the crowd on their feet clapping. Drizzle - we got a nice bit of shelter under a Daily Mirror banner. Roy Wood's new band - Wizard - self- indulgent but a good spectacle. John Peel was Then as it began to get dark - Stray -fairly good - used smoke bombs, firecrackers and fireworks, rockets in act. Then Mahatma Kane Jeeves (?) - dark - lights on. Before Stray I'd had 1 hot dog, 1 hamburger, 1 can of Coke and 1 strawberry yogurt - 2p. All S. had was a raspberry yogurt - !! She kept asking me for my opinion - I kept hating each band!

Then it got darker and they set the coloured lights on the crowd - great sight. Long wait for Ten Years After: on just after 10, when we had to go. Just missed 10.30 train so we got a bus at 10.40. Very bumpy."
Vin Miles

At the time I was working in The Marquee, which was owned and run by the same people who had Reading, and previously back to Richmond. I was in charge of the Artists Bar. It was a great atmosphere and the good people of Reading were just beginning to realise the value of this event, despite the efforts of Thames Valley Police. Backstage, no big caravans, only small changing rooms and everyone drank in the bar, roadies, A&R chaps, the Bands, groupies and it was like a grand night in the Speakeasy. Only downside was I had to sleep behind the bar !

Geoff Sloan

I went to the reading festival in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Each of which had their high points.

For 1971 it was Arthur Brown, Terry Reid and Rory Gallagher even though most of the festival weekend was cool and wet.

For 1972 it was Magma (strange but interesting), Matching Mole (an early outing) and Focus who stormed the festival that year but is not mentioned on your page. The next day somebody managed to find a copy of Hocus Pocus for the DJ to play and the crowd went wild.

For 1973 it was Rory Gallagher (he never fails), Status Quo (who the Faces found impossible to follow) and Tim Hardin (with Danny Thompson on string bass).
All the best,
Graham Reed

1972 Festival pages

Bit solicitors report on police excesses updated Dec 2011

Peoples Defence leaflets on what to do if you get stopped and searched

ELO page on their performance at the festival

Arena Map

Timeline updated Dec 2011

The early festivals.

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

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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