George Wein, long-time producer of the Newport Jazz Festival, passed away earlier this week. The Newport Historical Society would like to celebrate his legacy by sharing a selection of photographs of the Newport Jazz Festival from our collection:
Held over the weekend of July 17-18, 1954, the inaugural Newport Jazz Festival was attended by over 13,000 people, who gathered at a specially constructed bandstand at the Newport Casino to enjoy the festival’s much-anticipated debut.
Based on its banner turnout, Wein told the Newport Daily News that he was certain the festival would become an annual event; now approaching its 68th year, Wein’s prediction has indeed held true.
The 1954 Newport Jazz Festival welcomed the likes of Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald, and the list of legendary performers drawn to the festival has only grown over the years.