Bath Festival of Blues1969

Bath Festival of Blues1969
Authored By John Nicholson

Held on Sat Jun 28, 1969, in the centre of Bath, at the Pavilion Recreation Ground, this was pretty much a gathering of the cream of the British blues rock boom. 

It was promoter Freddie Bannister’s first UK rock festival. He’d go on to put on the Knebworth Festivals as well as the better known and much bigger 1970 Bath festival at Shepton Mallet.

Cleverly, they put up two stages to make sure the music kept flowing. I say stages, they were more like wee wooden sheds with a canopy over. Nothing highlights the difference between these modest early shows and the massive affairs to come, more than the nature and size of the stage. Imagine a festival stage at anything other than a church fete being this small today.

Ironically, they didn’t do the two stages in 1970 and that led to long delays as bands changed over. 

It pulled in 12,000 people into the centre of town for the show and they all sat there very respectfully by the look of photos. 

The full line up was:

Babylon, Blodwyn Pig, Champion Jack Dupree, Chicken Shack, Clouds, Deep Blues Band, Fleetwood Mac, Group Therapy, John Mayall, Jon Hiseman's Colosseum, Just Before Dawn, Keef Hartley, Led Zeppelin, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, Savoy Brown, Taste, Ten Years After, The Liverpool Scene, The Nice

Principal Edwards, Babylon, Group Therapy and Clouds didn’t play due to shortage of time. It does look like a big bill for a one-day gig, so maybe that’s no surprise. Led Zep topped the bill, with Edgar Broughton on before them and TYA third top. Fleetwood Mac, was 10th out of 15 bands to play, but had a good claim in 1969 to be the biggest band in the land and topped most of the 1969 polls as such.

I love the photos of this show which come from the ever excellent http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/the-69-bath-festival.html They show a very different ‘rock’ crowd to even a year or two later. More respectful, if you like.

I think we forget now that there were few prescribed ways to behave at such an event, whereas today, there absolutely is. So you just sat there quietly and got your groove on quite internally. Well, this is England, old boy. We don’t get over excited about anything. That’d be bad form.



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