Written by Erin Lindholm

The legendary jazz festival has been making history for decades, with help from artists like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin and Mos Def.  


Held each summer in the seaside New England town of Newport, Rhode Island, the Newport Jazz Festival has rightfully earned its reputation over the past 62 years as one of the world’s preeminent musical showcases for emerging and established talent. Case in point: Norah Jones is headlining the 2016 festival and will feature a lineup of 55 musical acts.


Here’s a look back at big moments in the festival’s history:

1954: The Newport Jazz Festival hit a home run right out of the gate. Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday headlined the inaugural event, which drew approximately 13,000 attendees and established jazz as a bona fide music genre.

1955: Legendary jazzman Miles Davis made his Newport Jazz Festival debut on stage with Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan, together for one of the most famous musical sets in jazz history. Davis’s solo during the group’s rendition of “Round Midnight” is considered a key moment in his career, one that further solidified his place in jazz history.

1965: Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, made his first (and only) Newport Jazz Festival appearance this year, arriving by private helicopter to perform with the Count Basie Orchestra before a sold out crowd.

1969: The Newport Jazz Festival diversified its musical offerings in 1969, with performances by Sly & the Family Stone, Led Zeppelin, James Brown and B.B. King. In response to the unruly crowd those rock n’ roll acts drew, Newport’s City Council banned rock music from the fest going forward.


1970: While Louis Armstrong had performed at the Newport Jazz Festival numerous times over the years, 1970 stands out for Armstrong’s 70th birthday concert. Notable artists on the lineup included Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hackett and New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

1993: On the 40th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival, President Clinton honored the festival’s legacy at the White House in June and Ray Charles headlined the milestone event that summer.

2009: After a few rocky years under other management, the Newport Jazz Festival’s founder, George Wein, returned. Tony Bennett and Mos Def shared top billing at the festival, which boasted a diverse list of acts including younger, boundary-pushing artists like jazz singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding.

2016: Which musical moments will take place this year and be added to the annals of all-time Newport Jazz greatness? You’ll have to wait to find out, but we can guarantee the magic will occur on August 4-6, 2017! Make sure the #CHARMEDARMS you Instagram from the festival includes the ALEX AND ANI Music Note Charm Bangle, Peace Love and Music Charm Bangle, and even the Newport Charm Bangle.


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