Just as the incumbent psychedelic movement began to split into three distinctive camps – folk, heavy blues and a more intense form of progressive rock – the National Jazz & Blues Festival, still in its nomadic phase, moved to Kempton Park Racecourse in Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex for its eighth edition over the weekend of August 9th-11th 1968.
Along with the move came the birth of a new technical services company that would become branded as Entec.
In the spirit of upping the ante, lighting designer Pat Chapman approached Harold Pendleton with the idea of offering the light show and special effects he had been developing under the trading name of Crab Nebula.
The venture worked remarkably well and encouraged a new business relationship, as Harold recalled in 2016. “Chapman’s lights reflected that post-psychedelic period and I could see the potential, so immediately after we returned from the festival I gave him the basement of the Marquee Club for him to occupy as his workshop.
“It was here that he created his liquid light projections, out of which we started a company that was incorporated as Entertainment Technicians Limited but soon became less formally known as Entec.”
The incredible line-up at Kempton Park spanned everything from old time rock’n’roll (Jerry Lee Lewis) and folk (The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Marc Bolan’s emerging Tyrannosaurus Rex), to blues (Jethro Tull, John Mayall, Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack and Rory Gallagher’s Taste) and heavier, sometimes experimental rock sounds from The Nice, Traffic, Deep Purple, the Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart) and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
Also witnessed by the audience was the historic drumming duel between Ginger Baker and his mentor Phil Seaman, featuring a surprise guest appearance by Eric Clapton. And an ex-apprentice gas fitter from Sheffield called Joe Cocker performed his heavy soul version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ for the first time at a festival. Three months later, his single was towering at No.1.
Keith Altham wrote in his review: “Mr Cocker [above] is most impressive… a jazz-blues singer with an infectious in-built rasp to his voice. Should be successful.”