introduction
Contemporary music has absorbed the whole thing called rock or rock and roll and
what’s coming out right now is a wide variety of creative efforts by people with both
jazz and rock backgrounds. It’s not classifiable as either jazz or rock, it’s just music
that is as good as the people doing it.—Larry Coryell
For Christ’s sake, I wish somebody would make up a name for this kind of music,
’cause it ain’t jazz and it ain’t rock. It’s got overtones of both, but it’s really got no
name of its
own.—Jeff
Beck
In 1969 the jazz impresario George Wein decided to book rock acts for the
first time at the Newport Jazz Festival as a way to attract young people and,
more important, to reap greater ticket sales. He would not be entirely disap-
pointed. Large crowds of young rock fans converged on the small Connecti-
cut town that gave the festival its name to hear Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Sly and
the Family Stone, and Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately, the inadequate facilities
and security forces were overwhelmed by the thousands of fans, many of
whom expressed their disappointment in the lack of tickets by simply forc-
ing their way into the festival during Sly and the Family Stone’s set. Rolling
Stone described the scenario:
Everything went off. The rain. The crowds. Firecrackers. And, above
all, establishment paranoia. . . . To prevent more damage to the fence,
the gates were opened and bands of wild hippies, lsD on their breath,
swarmed through, pushing the bleacher audience forward, vaulting over
the viP box seats, shoving into the press section, slamming the cus-
tomers into the stage, all the while Sly, monarch of his own fascist jungle,
urging everyone higher! Higher! Higher! . . . [Wein] stalked the stage,
crying, “Alright you kids, be cool, be cool, we don’t want any riots,” as
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