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National Jazz and Blues Festival

National Jazz, Blues & Rock Festival
The 15th National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival held at Reading in 1975
Genre Jazz, blues, etc.
Location(s) Richmond Athletic Ground, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
Years active 1961– 1980s
Founded by Harold Pendleton

The National Jazz and Blues Festival was the precursor to the Reading Rock Festival and was the brainchild of Harold Pendleton, the manager of the prestigious Marquee Club in Soho.[1]


  • History 1
  • Move to Reading 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The 9th National Jazz & Blues Festival held at Plumpton in 1969

Initially called The National Jazz Festival, it was a showcase for British and US Jazz and was held at Richmond Athletic Ground in the sedate London suburb of Richmond. In 1964 the festival changed its name to "The National Jazz and Blues Festival", which reflected the change in musical tastes occurring in Britain in the early 1960s. Gradually the jazz component of the festival was whittled away and by 1967, the festival was featuring the likes of Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Jeff Beck, whilst the jazz groups were relegated to an afternoon session.

One of the constants of the festival during the 1960s was its constant search for a permanent home: festival noise and crowds alienated locals and the festival moved from Richmond to Windsor in Berkshire (1966–67), to Sunbury in Surrey (1968) and then to Plumpton (1969–70). By this time the jazz content was almost non-existent and the festival was featuring a mix of progressive rock, folk and blues and drawing crowds of around 30,000. Sunbury's event was tragic - large sections of the audience climbed onto the roof of a walkway for a better view. Stamping on the corrugated roof in time to the music it collapsed. Many were injured.

Move to Reading

In 1971, the festival finally found a permanent home when Pendleton moved base to John McLaughlin did participate in these years, it was bands such as Hawkwind, Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher who drew the crowds.

By 1975, the festival attendance had swollen to 70,000 and there were nasty scenes where can fights became the norm and some reggae artists were received with hostility. In 1976 the festival changed its name to "Reading Rock" and the transformation was complete. Hard rock and heavy metal were the staple of the festival until well into the 1980s.

See also


  1. ^ National Jazz and Blues Festival and The Marquee Club

External links

  • The Archive: a history of UK rock festivals
  • National Jazz and Blues Festival and The Marquee Club
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