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The 1963
National Jazz and Blues Festival.

Richmond Athletic Grounds
Richmond. Surrey. UK.
August 10-11th 1963.

   The festival is still known as the National Jazz festival and the emphasis is definitely on British jazz, as opposed to overseas jazz , Blues or R&B . However, the first wedge had been inserted into the door and the likes of Cyril Davies All Stars , Long John Baldrey and ( gasp ) The Rolling Stones , had managed to slither through the crack.

   This was the first of two appearances at the festival by the Stones, who were still in not well known outside of London at the time. Note their status , right at the bottom of the bill. However, the Stones apparently went down a storm and by the following year were the main headliners in the rock section of the festival.

Longshot of the stage at the 1963 festival

Photo © John Clark

BBC broadcast on 8.8.63 , Rugby Club stage . l-r : Roy Crimmins, Al Fairweather (standing), Tony Milliner and Alex Welsh
 Photo © John Clark

Timeline and list of acts

  • Chris Barber
  • Acker Bilk's Paramount Jazz Band
  • Blue Note Jazz Band
  • Cyril Davis Rhythm and Blues All Stars
  • Joe Harriott Quartet
  • Tubby Hayes Quintet
  • Frank Holder
  • Ginger Johnson's African Drums
  • Dil Jones Trio
  • Terry Lightfoot
  • Long John Baldrey
  • Humphrey Lyttleton
  • The Nightshift
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Rustix Jumpet
  • The Velvetts
  • The Village
  • Alex Walsh and His Band
  • John Williams Big Band
  • Milton James Sextet
  • Ronnie Ross Quintet
  • Ottilie Patterson
  • Alex Welsh Band .

    Stage setup , note camera right of stage, indicating film footage was shot of at least part of the festival.

    Photos © John Clark

    John has these recollections of the festival as well as some great memories of the early jazz and R&b Scene of the early 60s

       Started looking for Richmond Jazz Club on the net as I had seen two of my friends who were members over Christmas. Still in touch 40 years on. in the early 60's our lives revolved around Richmond jazz Club, Ealing jazz club, the Marquee and a couple pf pubs. Because I had a wider taste in music I was also at Ronnie Scott's and the Flamingo, attending Duke Ellington/MJQ/Jazz at the Phil and similar concerts and the great Blues festivals at Fairfield Hall.

        The photos are from slides on 828 film, now long gone , but I did note on them that the outside photos were taken during the amateur band contest on Sunday 11 August with Humph as the announcer. did you know that he still has a weekly jazz programme on BBC radio ? . I helped friends run a jazz club at the Station Hotel, Richmond. Our band was a typical trad outfit called the Rustics Jazz Band  but they won a national band contest . However like many they found the music too restrictive and changed their name to the Rustix Jumptet, an Ellington small group outfit. Heady with success we moved from the Station Hotel. They were doing well with dates three times a week when they all had full time jobs.

       We took over the Friday slot at the Rugby club leaving a vacancy at the Station Hotel. This was filled by a group called the Rolling Stones. We would drop by to see how they were doing. After a while the pub got fed up with them and they took Sunday night at the Rugby club. We found that we could get 90 people for most evenings, Humph or Sandy Brown would bring in  200-300 but the unrecorded Stones had 400 every Sunday night . When we gave up the Friday slot a different R & B outfit took up residence, the Yardbirds. Yes I could have unpublished photos of the Stones, Clapton etc but it never crossed our minds that they would be so big. Their fans were about two years younger than the jazzers and the bar stall complained that 90 jazzers on Friday spent more than 400 Stones fans on Sunday......

        Because we  knew several of the promoters of the National Jazz Festival we were asked to provide "security". It was all very casual , John Woods took his ancient boxer dog , we were concerned that if it growled people would see it had no teeth !. Dick Lazenby and I slept in the beer tent but other than that there were not staff on site. A low paling fence was all that was used to keep the crowds out .

         The programme is slightly misleading as the crowds were such that on Sunday we used two venues, the main stage shown in the photos and the rugby club house , as seen in the other pictures. Early Sunday evening Acker played a set on the main stage while the Stones did their stuff in the club house. It was  packed, if you had fainted you could not have hit the floor. At the end of the set Mick Jagger gave a little speech saying that we were running to a timetable and they were going to play one more number then make way for the next band. he referred to the riots at the Beaulea jazz festival the previous year when Acker's fans had wrecked the place when he stopped playing. Mick said that if that happened here the Stones would not be able to play venues like this again. They played one more number whilst  we  4 or 5 "security staff " crossed their fingers then after suitable applause the crowd left in an orderly manner, I had always shared much of Mick's musical taste but this was the first time I realised just how good he was at crowd control.

    John Clark


    Just a quick comment about the 1963 Festival.

    On Sunday was the first National Amateur Jazz Contest and the winning group in the modern jazz section was The Milton James Sextet. Milt played tenor sax, Mike Falana – trumpet, Richard Rushton – piano, James Mene – drums, Paul Edoh – conga drums and David Cain – bass!! That’s me!!

    I remember going down to the tent at the bottom of the field after we’d won and hearing some R and B group doing “Route Sixty-six” – and the rest is history.

    We went on to compete in the European Competition and came third. We recorded a BBC Jazz Club programme when we got back.

    I even have a disk of the broadcast!!

    Best from Poland

    David Cain


    I was trying to be a jazz fan, aged 13, in 1963 and I have a vivid memory of that great festival, my first, from the awards of the amateur jazz band competition, held on Sunday. Humph introduced a band he said just failed to make it into contention but he thought we should give them an ear. They were called "The New Jungle Orchestra", a thirteen piece band which featured such instruments as a bass saxophone and a contra bass clarinet and a kind of trombone with valves.

    Now aged 64 I still have the sound of that afternoon tho' I can't tell you the tune. They received three ! standing ovations and then were gone. After that I developed a hunger for jazz music not yet satisfied (lucky me). The winners of the competition, The Milton James Sextet had a photograph of their gig in Zurich for sale on Ebay in April, unsold and now removed. It was pretty poor anyway and most members were out of shot. Shame.


    Frank Wellwood,



    The early festivals.

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

    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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