The Archive.

updated Dec 2011


The Ninth National Jazz and Blues Festival.
8th-10th August 1969.
Plumpton Race Track.
Streat. 
East Sussex.

FESTIVAL TIMELINE
  In 1969 the Festival relocated yet again and in fact had trouble finding a new home . Plans were made to move to West Drayton in Middlesex but the local council refused permission to use the site, so the venue was hurriedly changed to East Sussex . The festival did however, have better facilities as a result- the introduction of the village with its stalls, improved toilets and eating areas was a boost for festival attendees.
 
   The use of two performance areas is a tradition that stretched back to 1965 at least, when there used to be a small performance tent in which luminaries such as The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac made their festival debut's. 

    This had both advantages and disadvantages.  It did allow longer sets for some of the bands, but if you went thinking you were going to be able to see ALL the acts then you were in for a rude awakening.

    Punters would have had to be selective and since acts only performed once- unlike modern day WOMAD festivals where its usually possible to catch all the acts over the course of a 3 day event - one might be sorely disappointed - as the poster does not explain the performance set up - one would have needed to buy the programme to find that out. 

All photos on this page courtesy Repfoto© 1969.

You can view many great photos of almost all the acts at the festival here at Repfoto or by clikcing on the images


Plumpton review .
   In nine years the British music scene has changed enormously and the yearly barometer reading of change since 1961 has been the National Jazz and Blues Festival.
  Over the years it has wandered about Southern England harried by the forces of reaction upset at noise and disturbance during the three-day marathon. Last weekend the National Jazz Federation found a happy resting place at Plumpton Race Course in Sussex, where there were no neighbours to complain and the beautiful countryside and perfect weather induced a basically peaceful atmosphere. After memories of mud and trouble in recent years, the Ninth proved one of the best of the series.
  The Who, Nice, Family, Yes and Bonzos scored the greatest triumphs with a surprise ovation for Clouds who were squeezed on to the Sunday night bill with only two numbers.
  There was a water shortage and a few power failures. The road managers had their usual struggle with equipment changeovers. People threw Coke cans at compere John C. Gee. The cast of Hair had a hard time. But generally there were few hang-ups.

Friday

    Friday was the dullest day with the Pink Floyd topping. Having heard the Azimuth co-ordinator at work several times this year, the novelty is beginning to wear off, and even the Floyd are getting a bit blasť about the recorded seagulls! But they played well especially on "Cymbaline" and "The Journey" sounded effective with stereo speakers booming around the field.
Soft Machine were hit by two successive power failures. They gave up and walked off, their drummer, Robert Wyatt, tearfully kicking over his kit in frustration.
     Blossom Toes probably gained the best reaction with their "Mummy - where's daddy?" war and peace epic. Village, featuring Peter Bardens on organ, the amazing Bruce Thomas on bass and Bill Porter on drums, played some of the best music on Friday, with Juniors Eyes and East of Eden, in the marquee alternative to the main stage.

   Keith Tippett's band I missed as they opened the festival and I was being diverted around East Grinstead by constables of the law at the time.
However rumour had it they played well and were given a good reception by a cold crowd.

Saturday

    The Who just have to be the most exciting rock band in the world. They brought Saturday to a shattering climax which included a 45-minute excerpt from their pop opera "Tommy".

Roy Harper

    Other highlights in a great day were Yes, the Bonzos - and the audience themselves who kept their cool, in behaviour at least, right through the Who's wildest moment.
The only real hang-ups were the time factor - most groups ran over time and Fat Mattress had to be dropped altogether - and amplification trouble, which hit several acts.
    Roy Harper, in the afternoon session, was one of the first to run into amp problems. Harper is a most compelling performer and managed to rise above it to some extent. But his fine guitar work was marred by poor sound. His songs included the excellent "Beautiful Wife Like Yours."

    The Strawbs proved to be a great - if not an incredible - string band. Dave Cousins and Tony Hooper on guitars were supported for the first time by bass and cello and the overall sound was strong but peaceful and came over clearly. A pleasing formula of fine vocals applied to good melodies and direct unpretentious lyrics, including "We'll Meet Again Sometime", "Poor Jimmy Wilson", "Josephine For Better Or Worse" and the witty "Man Who Called Himself Jesus". They won strong applause.

    The Bonzos came on strong with their usual erratic mixture of inspired lunacy and schoolboy foolishness. Viewed objectively their act is a ludicrous shamble. But they put it over with the kind of gusto and apparent amateurishness which defies criticism.
VIv Stanshall, with his outraged dignity and innocent bawdiness, and Legs Larry Smith, camping it up like mad, were both on form. And there were some nice "straight", or fairly straight vocals and piano from Neil Innes.

    The Who drummer Keith Moon joined them, glasses of ale were produced, and it seemed likely they would break into "Give Booze A Chance." But finally they launched into a splendid looning cacophony on "Breathalyser Baby" with Moon thundering away and a monstrous plastic balloon snaking across the stage.

    The John Surman Octet kicked off the evening show with drummer Tony Oxley as special guest. They blew some meaty jazz and they - together with the Don Ellis records played during the breaks - must have won quite a lot of new friends for jazz.
Spirit of John Morgan continued the jazzy feel, though in a blues context. They play the blues amazingly well, with a wonderful relaxed style that sounds just right. John is particularly fine on organ and piano, and his solo on "Honky Tonk Train Blues" went down very well indeed. Lead guitarist Fagin's "Yorkshire Blues" is funny and true and stands up to repeated hearings.

The late and throroughly inestimable Viv Stanshall of the Bonzos


    British blues bands have been knocked a lot recently and it must be admitted that the sound has palled. In the hands of groups like Aynsley Dunbar and Chicken Shack it retains a lot of power and authority but neither group was outstanding. Aynsley Dunbar played a hard, aggressive set, sparked by some fine drumming. Chicken Shack made a happier, jumping sound. Stan Webb played fast exciting guitar but his somewhat frantic style suffered by comparison with some of the more relaxed styles heard during the evening.

Yes

    Hit of the show, apart from the Who, were quite definitely Yes. They stole the show in the same way that Jethro Tull did last year.
    Yes have a strikingly fresh sound, although their surging rhythms and sweeping organ riffs are slightly reminiscent of the Nice which can't be bad. They have a relaxed and deceptively effortless style; their arrangements contain light and shade and they make good use of tempo changes.

    Their distinctive vocalist, John Anderson, was impressive on "Something's Coming" and "Then" and bassist Chris Squire shone on " It's Love." Yes have a distinctly jazzy feel, and this was strengthened when they were joined by none other than jazz singer Jon Hendricks. His duet with John Anderson on Steve Stills' "Everydays" was applauded long and hard. Who says the festival is neglecting jazz!

   After the beauty and subtlety of the "Tommy" album, it was great to be reminded that the Who are also probably the greatest hard rock act around - not that they are around often enough.
     Despite less than perfect amplification, they were on top form and looked to be enjoying themselves. They roared into "Can't Explain" and "Fortune Teller" before launching into excerpts from "Tommy." The complex arrangements on the album were missing, of course, but this was more than compensated by the power and vitality of the performance.
    They were incredibly dynamic, both visually and musically. Roger Daltry, resplendent in a fringed leather outfit, swinging the mike round his head in alarming fashion. Peter Townshend, arm swinging, leaping in the air, pushing his guitar to its furthest limits.

    Daltry's vocals get better and better and Townshend extracts more brute power from his instrument than any other guitarist on the scene. Moon, for all his looner image, is a tremendous drummer and John Entwistle underpins the whole thing with his pounding, relentless bass lines. After Tommy came shattering versions of "Summertime Blues" and "Substitute" which must have prompted any aspiring rock group to jack it all in. Then finally they thundered into an untitled, mind-blistering rave-up with the traditional guitar smashing, mike-bashing finale.

Sunday

    Highspot of Sunday was the merging of the talents of Keith Emerson, the brilliant young organist with the Nice, and Mr Joseph Egar, the enthusiastic and extremely hip conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
     In a courageous blow against the huge barriers between pop music and the classics, the Nice played three pieces in conjunction with 41 string and horn players, including members of the London Symphony Orchestra.
    It was a nerve-racking experience for the musicians and their fans. Many silent prayers were offered that (a) the music would work and (b) the bulk of the crowd would react favourably.
At the end of the experiment the cheers drowned sighs of relief. "It worked!" was the cry backstage later as Nice manager Tony Stratton-Smith bought drinks for Mr. Egar and Keith, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison were congratulated by fellow groups and journalists.

The Nice and orchestra

    Naturally a few youths catcalled at the unusual sight of musicians in full evening dress clutching violins and cellos, but they were quickly silenced by the rest of the crowd who were extremely patient and showed great goodwill to the Nice's unique project.Only four hours' rehearsal had been possible during the afternoon and the greatest difficulty they had to surmount was the difference in volume power between the all-electric Nice and all-acoustic symphony players.
    Brian and Lee had great difficulty in hearing Keith who was on the opposite side of the stage. They started with Bach's Brandenburg Concerto, a trifle unsteadily, followed by the Karelia Suite which nearly came to grief with an argument between the rhythm section and the brass, but was saved by quick co-ordination from Egar.
    A contingent of Scots' pipers who frequently appear during Nice shows these days seemed a trifle superfluous, as they appeared to be playing a different tune from everybody else, but it all added to the excitement.
A quick " She Belongs To Me " with Lee giving vent to his famous throaty vocal and some fast bass playing, gave the group a chance to blow on their own, then the orchestra returned for a piece by Prokofiev combined with the ever popular "Rondo."
The venture cost the Nice a considerable sum and there was little profit for them financially, but they must be congratulated on putting music first.
    The Family were in great form, and the cheering and whistling for their act went on for five minutes after they had left the stage. This left the audience in no mood to watch members of the cast of Hair trying to cope with bad sound and a singularly weak backing band only held together by the drumming of Micky Waller.

Keef Hartley

   However Linda Kendrick sang beautifully and her song about people being cruel and unfeeling was very apt in view of the hurling of abuse and rubbish that greeted their appearance. Their flower power songs underlined just how dead is flower power.
Family are very much into violence and rock. Roger Chapman gave a superb performance of idiot dancing, the new craze, only equalled by several members of the audience, exhausting themselves with their nervous twitching and post-Arthur Brown head wobbling.

    Family's drummer and guitarist were electrically exciting and Roger's yelling is always fine entertainment. Blodwyn Pig are a heavy band and Mick Abrahams played "Cats Squirrel" nicely, but they didn't do much that struck me as new.
Chris Barber's band were a gas although doubtfully received by unhip-hippies, who weren't too sure about trumpets and banjos, A good guitar solo warmed them to Chris's highly original concept however.
    Magna Carta, Jo Ann Kelly, Pentangle, Keef Hartley and Eclection all gave sterling service and once again, one of the bands in the marquee offered a knockout bonus, this time the mighty duo of Eddie Hardin and Pete York who were a minor sensation. Pete contributed some of the finest drumming in his career and Eddie is one of the most together organist-singers to emerge in recent years.


To view a huge number of top quality photos of almost all the bands at the 1969 festival , visit Repfoto( note : you shouldn't copy Roberts photos -support his efforts to give us a record of the festival by buying his prints)
1969 Festival Menu
Known recordings of the 1969 Plumpton festival.
With set lists and recording details if available.
If you have any more details of tapes of the event then
Contact us

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 65-83

Most of these have fairly complete documentation .

 
Richmond 1965
Windsor 1966
 Windsor 1967
Sunbury 1968
Plumpton 1969
Plumpton 1970
Reading 1971
Reading 1972
Reading 1973
Reading 1974
 



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