Updated Dec 2011
Sixth National Jazz and Blues Festival.
30th ,31st July 1966.
wet. wet. heavy rain arrived for the first time in the festivals history
© Barry Irving
1966 Festival was notable for featuring the first major performance by
Cream and for the fact
that it was the first year at the wonderfully named Balloon
Meadow site at Windsor.
National Jazz and Blues Festivals
of the middle to late sixties were important musical events
because they showcased the best of the British rock, jazz and pop bands
of the time. Many bands got their big breaks at these festivals, if you
performed well, receiving audience acclaim could lead to residencies at
the prestigious Marquee club
. Some artists even got recording contracts out of their
you can see from the flyer on the right, the jazz sessions had been relegated
to the afternoon and cost half the price of the rock sessions . 1966 featured
some good US jazz artists ,
but no one of huge stature. Its interesting that the festival never aspired
to coaxing such jazz greats as Miles Davis or John Coltrane to play at
the event . By 1966 the opportunity had probably passed as the UK jazz
boom had died to a great extent. However the following year, the Montreux
Jazz festival began a successful 40+ year run . Its a shame that nothing
similar was ever attempted in the UK. Possibly the inclusion of bigger
names may have allowed the National Jazz festival to feature at least
one jazz evening session , but it was not to be .
The National Jazz and Blues Fests were often used as debuts for
upcoming acts and the 1966 festival was notable as being the first major
Uk debut of Cream, the
band having only played one other warm -up show beforehand , in Manchester
on the 29th.
it rained like hell during their set and the festival turned into something
of a mud bath, but it did not stop Cream
being greeted rapturously. Fortunately it was the last night so the rain
did not put too much of a damper on the proceedings.Dik
was also at Windsor in 1966 (we were told it was Cream's first show,
but it seems it wasn't - your speculative play list is about right,
but I don't remember "Lawdy Momma" until much later and I
don't think Toad was in, but then it's 35 years ago now) it was only
a short set with the sainted Gee announcing "there are no more
numbers" at the end of it. I think I remember Pentangle playing
(Bert Janch was almost completely out of it and still playing) but you
have them down for 1967, so I wouldn't claim to be certain.
friend Austin Reeve recollects
it did pee down on the Sunday night at the '66 when Cream were about
to play. I remember walking down toward the stage following Eric Clapton
who was being escorted by a gorgeous blonde carrying a multicoloured
golf umbrella. As it was raining , a lot of people didn't come out of
hiding for quite a while, so we had very little competition for viewing
sites. It was certainly a very memorable set and ,although I saw Cream
many times after that , this one was special!
the Cream set very clearly. I was there with my boyfriend
who was a Clapton 'freak' & we sat in the pouring rain (with
his black PVC mac over our heads) but it didn't matter! If 'Toad'
is the number with the long drum solo then they definitely played
it. When Ginger Baker finally stopped after about 20 minutes the
crowd yelled for more! I also remember getting the coach back
to Windsor & Eton station & on the train home sitting opposite
2 girls - one said to the other 'that Eric Clapton's quite
good, isn't he', which made us fall about laughing - what an understatement!
The only other band there who made a lasting impression on me were the
Alan Bown Set. It was my first festival (at the age of 15) and
I'm still a festival-goer at the ripe old age of ** (you can work it
was there and saw the Cream set - 3 songs as I recall and they did
no more despite the cheering because that's all they knew or had rehearsed
or some such. It was nonsense because they'd played a
longer club set somewhere up north just before this.
Somewhere, I still have my 1966 handbill and I'm sure Cream were not
called Cream and that it just listed the three as individuals.(
this is correct -they are not even collected together as one entity
in the program, its possible they had not decided on a name for the
band when the program was printed -Ed )
Festival performance information
NB : Underlined
entries have more details if you follow the link..
on the graphic above
to see a larger version
the Festival Program
FAME AND THE BLUE FLAMES-July 31st.
COVEY & THE MACHINE
JAMES & THE VAGABONDS
KINGSWELLS JAZZ BANDITS
ORLEANS QUARTET & THE BIG BAND
WELSH & HIS BAND
You can find out the complete
line ups of the first festivals if you follow the links below.
Most of these
have fairly complete documentation .