The Newport Jazz Festival experimented with rock music for the first time on July 3, 1969.

The festival’s 1969 program was an experiment in fusing jazz, soul and rock music and audiences. Its lineup included, besides jazz, Friday evening appearances by rock groups Jeff Beck, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Ten Years After and Jethro Tull. Saturday’s schedule mixed jazz acts such as Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck with others including John Mayall and Sly & the Family Stone.

James Brown was among those who appeared Sunday afternoon, followed in the evening by Herbie Hancock, blues musician B. B. King and English rock group Led Zeppelin.

Miles Davis remarked that the various artists involved were highly encouraging to each other and that he enjoyed the festival more than ever before. He noticed and appreciated the spirited nature of the younger audience. But some clashes did occur. Excess crowds estimated at twenty thousand who had been unable to obtain tickets filled an adjacent hillside, and the weekend was marred by disturbances including fence crashing and crowd surging during the most popular performances.

Saturday evening’s disturbances were particularly significant, prompting producer George Wein, who feared a riot, to announce that the Sunday evening Led Zeppelin appearance was cancelled. That show was allowed to go forward as initially scheduled after much of the overflow crowd had left the city following the cancellation announcement.

For 1971, the festival booked The Allman Brothers Band, a pioneering Southern bluesrock group. Many more fans were drawn than Festival Field could cope with. On the second night of the festival, following the recording of what would be released as “The Dave Brubeck Quartet featuring Gerry Mulligan – The Last Set at Newport” on Atlantic Records, over 12,000 people (would-be festival goers combined with young college age anti-Vietnam war protesters of that era) occupying the adjacent hillside crashed the fence during Dionne Warwick’s performance of “What The World Needs Now Is Love”, initiating a major disturbance.

That year’s festival was halted after the stage was rushed by the intruders and equipment destroyed.

The festival would not return to Newport in 1972, it was in Newport York City and then Saratoga Springs for several years. The Newport Jazz Festival would finally return to Newport in 1981.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.