ON July 30 1960, “things got out of hand” at the Beaulieu jazz festival. One of the UK’s early al fresco music festivals became The ‘Battle of Beaulieu’ and it was all caught on camera by the BBC.
Set against the backdrop of the beautifully tranquil Palace House at Lord Montagu's estate here in Beaulieu, the 3rd Beaulieu Jazz festival took place to crowds of teenage jazz fans, with stars including Memphis Slim, Cleo Lane, Ottilie Patterson and Chris Barber.
It was a violent episode in the history of British pop music. A teenage riot at an outdoor festival. But we're not...
Posted by BBC South Today on Friday, February 5, 2016
Over the course of the weekend, The Montagu Arms sold 330 gallons of draft beer and 24000 bottles of beer, much of which had been drunk by Saturday night!
Jazz at the time, was a hotbed of varying styles and class differences which would invariably cause antagonism between doting fans. Couple this with a spread of juvenile delinquency among what was new breed of human being, known as the teenager, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Stuart Nicholson, now the distinguished columnist of Jazzwise magazine, remembers that as the lighting gantry collapsed “someone grabbed a microphone and demanded 'free beer for the working man'.” A lone figure made it to the top of the stage, a converted merry-go-round complete with fairground horses, and once the crowd realised he was on television, a mass climb began to join him.”
Some say it was the bearded trad fans versus the modern jazzers. Other say it was nothing to do with music at all. One witness insists it was Teddy Boys shouting “We want Acker!” (meaning trad jazz clarinettist and singer Acker Bilk), while the correspondent for Melody Maker sniffed about working-class “mobsters” coming from Portsmouth and Southampton. Once the stage had been invaded, chaos quickly ensued. A building was set on fire, 39 people were injured, and the BBC pulled its outside broadcast feed off the air six minutes early. “Things are getting quite out of hand,” said the announcer primly.
Look closely at this film and you’ll catch a glimpse of a very young Rod Stewart among the eager crowds.
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