The Archive.
The Seventh National Jazz and Blues Festival.
11th , 12th & 13th August 1967.
Royal Windsor Racecourse.

  The 1967 Festival P.A. -
Breaking the sound barrier.


  This was the first time ever that a P.A. for a festival in the UK had passed the magical 1000 watt level, and this was such an event that WEM, the manufacturers, advertised the fact in the official programme. Unfortunately, this sort of advance is always going to lead to some teething problems and true to form ,the sound quality was a problem for most of the weekend. 

  It appears that, instead of producing a more advanced sound for the crowd , there were complaints from those in the audience that lead guitarists in particular could not be heard sufficiently well , which could have been due to a mixing problem, rather than one of pure loudness of the amplification. Also, its possible that wind gusts could have blown the sound around the site, which is often a problem at outdoor festivals.


Creams setup onstage,plenty of Marshals for Eric © Des Cambridge

   Could it have been that the mixers used with the PA just weren't up to the job, or that there were unforeseen incompatibilities between systems ? . One can safely assume that an experienced sound man like Charlie Watkins would have tested out the system before the event, so perhaps it was just a case of the gremlins getting into the system on the weekend in question. Perhaps one of the sound crew will appear out of cyberspace and let us know just what happened. 

Reg Godwin comments

Poor old Charlie gets some stick on the site but he was actually breaking new ground in festival PAs and 1000 watts was previously unheard of -so heaven knows how people heard guitarists at gigs previously if they couldn't hear this! Charlie really couldn't win - the crowd wanted it louder and the police and residents wanted it turned down. Even with the compromise sound level, Charlie was hauled before the judge for disturbing the peace. Fortunately he wasn't convicted after explaining the circumstances.

All the best,
Reg Godwin

Find out more about the Watkins PA used at British festivals.

1967 Festival menu.
Programme info.

The early festivals.

You can find out the complete line ups of the first festivals if you follow the links below, but otherwise information is fairly limited.

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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