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1979 Edinburgh Jazz Festival

1979 Edinburgh Jazz Festival image

40 Years of Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival - 1979

1979 was an iconic year in Scotland and the UK. The referendum for Scottish Devolution was conducted and while a majority (51.6%) voted in favour only 32.9% of the registered electorate voted Yes. This was below the threshold of 40% required and devolution was not introduced. Meanwhile, in UK politics Margaret Thatcher became the first British female prime minister, British athlete Sebastian Coe set the fastest time for running a mile, Michael Jackson’s ‘Off the Wall’ was released worldwide and the second Edinburgh Jazz festival was held in August 1979.

Please see below for the 1979 brochure.

The festival was set over five days across Tiffany’s Ballroom, George Hotel, Claremont Hotel, Calton Studios, La Grenouille, The Northern Bar, The Hopetoun Bar, The Tankard Lounge, Abercorn Inn, Tramps, The St. Vincent Bar and The Broughton Bar. Nowadays, only the Claremont and the St. Vincent Bar still exist as the rest have been lost to renaming, redevelopment and fallen into Edinburgh folklore.

In 1979 the prgramme featured the likes of Climax Jazz Band, Louisiana Ragtime Band, Deep South, Charlie McNair’s Jazz Band, Savannah Syncopators, Old Bailey’s Jazz Advocates and many more playing across the different venues. A programme highlight was the Festival Jazz Ball where a packed crowd jived the night away to the hottest music. Sponsorship and advertising came from the likes of Drybroughs, The Kilt Shop, Air Anglia, The Royal Bank, Yamaha and Antiguarian Inns Ltd.

The programme was an ambitious undertaking for the festival and was much larger than the year before. While the programme introduction talks about this being the first Edinburgh International Jazz Festival, technically this was the first official commercial/sponsored project run as the Jazz festival. Whereas 1978 was an experimental trial run to see if Edinburgh had the appetite for the festival, which 40 years later proves that it does.

If you have any old images or promotional materials from this year or any of the venues mentioned then get in touch with us at we would love to share them.


February 2019

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