Actuel

 

The Festival

Paul Alessandrini, "Les folles nuits d'Amougies," Rock & Folk, December, 1969

Déjà, il nous faut citer la présence quotidienne de Frank Zappa, discret, presque timide, qui fit très souvent le "boeuf", nous prouvant ses incomparables qualités d'instrumentiste. [...] Colosseum précéda de peu Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. Dans ces deux groupes, deux anciens batteurs de Mayall. Pour le second, on ne perçoit pas pas cet indispensable décollage après les premières armes de l'initiation au blues. Ce n'est pas la présence de Frank Zappa, venu apporter sa maîtrise instrumentale, qui put engendrer, à aucun moment une atmosphère de création. Juste une heure de musique bluesy; pour Zappa, une sorte de piétinement où, sa voix ne fut jamais qu'un greffon rejeté, un rajout sans définition précise, sans justification. [...]

Plongés que nous étions dans cet univers, nous fûmes transportés dans un autre monde, celui, onirique et multidi-mensionnel, du Pink Floyd: frissons, flou ombrageux qui pénètre les sens. Cette musique qu'en un temps on appela psychédélique, faite non de performances de solistes, mais de grâce à la richesse et la maîtrise instrumentale, la possibilité de création en groupe. [...] Un grand moment, lorsque Zappa vint se joindre au Pink Floyd: pris dans une suite de vertiges, les sons arrachés s'étaient, se désintègrent, reprennent leur course. Ce fut une partie libre, totalement libre, détours, contours, retours, les sons devenant de plus en plus tendus, vers la fusion dans l'extase. [...]

Les Blossom Toes, présentèrent deux visages forts différents: le premier, insipide, musique proche de celle des Beach Boys ou des Bee Gees, trainante et profondément soporifique, noyée, de plus, dans un flot de prétention; ils surent pourtant éveiller la salle fatiguée dans le dernier très long morceau, auquel Zappa participa. [...]

Nous n'eûmes que peu de temps pour retrouver nos esprits, avant qu'Archie Shepp, escorté d'une douzaine de musiciens, n'envahit la scène, arborant son inséparable toque de velours cerné d'or, avec, à son côté, Ray Draper, les bras chargés de son tuba, la tête ceinte d'un turban rouge, grognant, râlant, hurlant. Auprès d'eux, ceux qui furent invités à ce sacrifice, à la gigantesque orgie des sons. [...] Chacun vint y mêler sa voix; Mongezi Feza que nous découvrimes, petite fourmi noire, pantin désarticulé faisait gonfler son cou à éclater; Clifford Thornton écrasait furieusement ses doigts meurtris sur la peau des tumbas. Deux harmonicistes de Chicago apportèrent leurs sons éraillés, vieillots, au coeur de cette horde en marche, frappant en tous sens les barrières du ghetto. La présence de Zappa était presque incongrue, seul blanc, invisible derrière le rideau des visages o&ugrav, perlait la sueur d'un instant trop fort, trop dur.

[...] Sam Apple Pie, groupe de rockers sans imagination, nous le fit trouver encore long, même avec la courte intrusion de Zappa. [...] De même avec Captain Beefheart, avec qui l'on va retrouver Zappa, privé de ses autres mamans de l'invention, en chef d'orchestre qui fait gonfler l'espace sonore, le fait rétrécir, virer, serpenter ou se briser. mais le coeur n'y était plus. [...]

Google Translate:

Already, we must mention the daily presence of Frank Zappa, discreet, almost shy, who very often made the "beef", proving us his incomparable qualities of instrumentalist. [...] Colosseum preceded by little Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. In these two groups, two former Mayall drummers. For the second, we do not perceive this essential take-off after the first weapons of the initiation to the blues. It was not the presence of Frank Zappa, who came to bring his instrumental mastery, that could at any time create an atmosphere of creation. Just an hour of bluesy music; for Zappa, a kind of trampling where, his voice was never anything but a rejected graft, an addition without precise definition, without justification. [...]

Immersed that we were in this universe, we were transported to another world, that, dreamlike and multi-monthly, of Pink Floyd: chills, shady blur that penetrates the senses. This music that at one time was called psychedelic, made not of soloists' performances, but thanks to the richness and the instrumental mastery, the possibility of creation in group. [...] A great moment, when Zappa came to join the Pink Floyd: caught in a series of vertigo, the torn sounds were, disintegrate, resume their course. It was a free part, totally free, detours, contours, returns, the sounds becoming more and more tense, towards fusion in ecstasy. [...]

The Blossom Toes presented two very different faces: the first, tasteless, music close to that of the Beach Boys or the Bee Gees, trailing and deeply soporific, drowned, moreover, in a flood of pretension; however, they were able to awaken the tired hall in the last very long piece, in which Zappa participated. [...]

We had little time to recover our spirits, before Archie Shepp, escorted by a dozen musicians, invaded the scene, wearing his inseparable velvet cap surrounded by gold, with, at his side, Ray Draper, arms laden with his snorkel, head wrapped in a red turban, growling, moaning, howling. Beside them, those who were invited to this sacrifice, to the gigantic orgy of sounds. [...] Everyone came to mingle their voice; Mongezi Feza whom we discovered, a little black ant, a dislocated puppet made his neck swell to burst; Clifford Thornton furiously crushed his bruised fingers on the skin of the tumbas. Two harmonica players from Chicago brought their old-fashioned, hoarse sounds to the heart of this moving horde, hitting the ghetto barriers in all directions. The presence of Zappa was almost incongruous, the only white man, invisible behind the curtain of the faces where they were, beading the sweat for a moment too strong, too hard.

[...] Sam Apple Pie, group of rockers without imagination, made us find it still long, even with the short intrusion of Zappa. [...] Likewise with Captain Beefheart, with whom we are going to find Zappa, deprived of his other mothers of the invention, as a conductor who makes the sound space swell, makes it shrink, veer, meander or break. but the heart was no longer there. [...]

Nik Lowenberg, "Anyone Heard The Live Zappa/Pink Floyd Jam '69?," alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 18-19, 1999

FZ and PF jammed on Interstellar Overdrive on 10/25/69 at the Actuel Festival in Belgium. Last I heard a private collector had the film of it but wouldn't release it. I think the audio is out there...has anyone heard it?

There was no show on 11/17/69. 10/25/69 is the correct date. The Actuel Festival was held at Mont de I'Enclus in Amougies, Belgium. It was going to be the first ever rock festival in France, but the promoters couldn't get a licence, so they tried another place in France and then finally ended up in Belgium.

Um...yeah, there is a film. Two documentaries were made of the festival and one called Music Power featured Pink Floyd and it went on the French cinema circiut in June '70. It is highly probable that the jam was filmed as it was played in the middle of the set (as opposed to an encore or at a different time all together). Now, I haven't seen the film and the jam may not be in it. It could be on the editing room's floor. But I read somewhere else that a private collector had it.

This was found on a Gong website, and mentions that FZ hosted the festival. "Shortly after the album was recorded, Karakos set up the infamous Amougies Festival, originally scheduled for Paris but, after a court order, hastily reconvened just over the Belgian border. An amazing affair, the acts included Beefheart, The Soft Machine, Blossom Toes, Caravan etc. etc., the whole thing hosteby Frank Zappa."

Denis Griffin

I did a bit of research on the net about the Amougies Festival. I found bits and pieces of information that more or less resembles to what we already know. The only thing that contains new information is here: (once on the page just use the "find in page" function using the word Amougies)

http://www.musart.co.uk/watrat/wr92.htm

I will try to contact Martin Laplante and I will also try to talk to the people at the Cinemathèque. Hopefully they will tell me were the film came from and/or who is the owner. Looks like the screening took place at the Cinemathèque in Montréal on June 4, 1998 at 5pm. (where the f%#$ was I?)

Here is a nice picture of FZ & CB at the Amougies Festival. It's from the Alain Dister book.

FZ

Also an ad for the festival before it was moved to Belgium.

Festival "Actuel"

Brandon Burke, Organissimo Forums, November 1, 2003

Actuel

United Mutations, October 3, 2007

Amougies 1969

United Mutations, June 6, 2007

In 1969, Frank Zappa jammed with Philly Joe Jones, Earl Freeman, Louis Maholo, John Dyani, Grachan Moncur III and Archie Shepp at the Amougies festival.

The picture below is taken from the January 1970 issue of Downbeat magazine. (thanks to slime.oofytv.set)

Free Jazz Jam

 

FZ & The Actuel Festival

Denis Griffin, "Amougies 69 And Pînk Floyd," alt.fan.frank-zappa, May 6, 2001

From: Frank Zappa et les Mothers of Invention, by Alain Dister

Now on his own, Zappa takes time to work on some old projects and movies. Does a bit of tourism. He is invited by Pierre Lattès to the Amougies Festival. He plays with almost everybody, especially with Pink Floyd, Blossom Toes, Archie Shepp and Aynsley Dunbar, a fabulous drummer he will hire shortly thereafter. He introduces his friend Captain Beefheart, and he maintains during the three nights, regardless of the cold weather and late time, a presence that provides a powerful stimulant to all the other musicians.

Richard Williams, "The Beefheart Zappa Talk-In," Melody Maker, November 8, 1969

I asked Frank about the Actuel Pop and Jazz Festival in Belgium, from which he had just returned.

"I guess it was more of a political than a musical success. The festival was moved around so much that it was a triumph to get it on at all.

"It was so disorganised that when all the lights and amplifications worked on the first night, the organisers looked at each other in amazement. They couldn't believe that it was really going to happen.

"But I was there. Six to 12 hours a night, I was there.

"It was very difficult because it was so cold, and in that temperature several things happen to musical instruments: guitar-players' fingers get cold, which makes it hard to play, and the strings go out of tune at different levels."

Did any of the groups or musicians impress him?

"Yeah, I really like the Nice. They were good musically, and they've got a very exciting stage act, too. And I dug Colosseum—particularly Dick, the guy who plays tenor and soprano. Does he do sessions in London? He ought to—he's really a bitch."

FZ, quoted by Jonathon Green, "It's All In Self-Defence," Friends, November 22, 1969

There were this group of people from Paris who put the shit on this festival mainly because they were scared to death of having large numbers in that city. So these guys who wanted to put the festival on just refused to quit and they finally wound up choosing a cow pasture about two hours out of Brussels. A lot of fog and I guess it must have been twenty or thirty degrees out there, it was really miserable, a few tents and the people began to turn up from nowhere and they turned on the PA and that worked, and they turned on the lights and they worked, and the groups actually began to play and by God they had a pop festival. And then they looked at it and realised that they had to keep on for five days. I was asked to join the festival. They first of all asked for the Mothers to play but there weren't any Mothers at that time, so Pierre Lotez, who I had known for some time, asked me to co-host the festival, but when I arrived there I found that most of the people spoke French and they wouldn't know what the fuck I was talking about so it was useless for me to introduce the groups. So Pierre suggested that I might play with some of the groups. But I was at a great disadvantage because I didn't have my own guitar and I had to use other people's guitars and the amps that were around for everyone at the festival to use and they kept blowing up and fucking up and on top of that some of the groups found it a little difficult to relate to what I was playing. Cause, if you have a group that has certain arrangements and sets that they play every night it's difficult to stick in an alien element that isn't part of the set up. The audience and the reviewer forget about those variables-perhaps seeming a little anxious to prove that I was a crappy guitar player.

First of all there is a wider and larger void (void is exactly the word) between what I play on the guitar and what I write on paper. The intent is basically different. When I get a guitar in my hands what I want to express is what I'm thinking right at that moment, the chord progression that happens to be going by, and eighty per cent of the time I can manage to project what is happening. I'm a composer who plays the guitar, not a guitar player who is out there doing his reputation on the thing and my intent to what I'm trying to do on the instrument involve not just the individual notes but the overall sound of what I'm doing. So wide with so much inside and narrowing down so . . . and it's like drawing pictures with it. I try to keep it as spontaneous as possible. I'm really limited when I'm handed a guitar with strings an inch off the finger board designed that way to suit another guitar player's hands. And being plugged into an amplifier that decided not to work the minute you turn your switch on. That gives you a bit of a problem. The rest of the music, the written stuff romantic, rhythmic, exploring not just weird time signatures but polyrhythmic combinations where you can take a bar of 3/4 and ordinarily in that bar of 3/4 you have six eighth notes and I jam things like five eighth notes in the space of four, and five sixteenth notes in the remaining part of the bar. That's for one instrument. For another instrument you have five eighth notes in the space of six eighth notes overlapping the whole thing. This causes some problems sometimes 'cos a lot of musicians don't play those fives convincingly. I found that even among some of the best studio players in LA they see a group of notes with a five over the top and they freak off. And they guess at where they fall and don't really count it out.

FZ, interviewed by Murray Roman, The Murray Roman Show, 1970

It seems that the French government is really stupid. And they had an opportunity to hold a pop festival just outside of Paris. And this festival was being promoted by a French record company called Byg. B-Y-G. And originally they had permission to hold the festival just outside of Paris, but then the government began to panic about large numbers of young people getting together and so they said, "You can't have it outside of Paris." So they started looking for other places in France to hold it. And they kept getting the runaround from various officials in different parts of France. And finally they said, "Forget it, we'll go to Belgium."

So, they went to Belgium and uh, the people there gave 'em a bunch of static. They were gonna hold it outside of Brussels. Finally it wound up in this turnip patch, which is two hours outside of Brussels. And the conditions under which the festival were held were so ridiculous—like the temperature was 20 or 30º. It was foggy. It was damp. It was in the middle of a cow pasture, and they set up this tent that held 15,000 people. A generator in the back, which was providing enough power to operate the P.A. system, a whole set of stage lights like you have here, and all the juice for all the groups. And they did it, they put the thing together in five days.

FZ, interviewed by Don Menn & Matt Groening, "The Mother Of All Interviews, Act II," Zappa!, 1992, p. 55

MG: You were Captain Beefheart's road manager for a short time.

Yeah.

MG: And you went to Europe?

I was supposed to be MC for the first big rock festival in France, at a time when the French government was very right-wing, and they didn't want to have large-scale rock and roll in the country. And so at the last minute, this festival was moved from France to Belgium, right across the border, into a turnip field. They constructed a tent, which was held up by these enormous girders. They had 15,000 people in a big circus tent. This was in November, I think. The weather was really not very nice. It's cold, and it's damp, and it was in the middle of a turnip field. I mean mondo turnips. And all the acts, and all the people who wished to see these acts, were urged to find this location in the turnip field, and show up for this festival. And they'd hired me to be the MC and also to bring over Captain Beefheart. It was his first appearance over there. And it was a nightmare, because nobody could speak English, and I couldn't speak French, or anything else for that matter. So my function was really rather limited. I felt a little bit like Linda McCartney. I'd stand there and go wave, wave, wave.

I sat in with a few of the groups during the three days of the festival. But it was so miserable because all these European hippies had brought their sleeping bags, and they had the bags laid out on the ground in this tent, and they basically froze and slept through the entire festival, which went on 24 hours a day, around the clock. One of the highlights of the event was the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, which went on at 5:00 A.M. to an audience of slumbering Euro-hippies.

DM: In turnips. . . .

And to alert them to the fact that they were performing, one of the guys lit a flare and threw it fight out into the middle of the audience, which made some of them jump up and dance around wildly and try and put the fire out.

MG: Tell about the hot dogs.

Oh, yeah. Because it was located in a turnip area, and far away from anything that you would call necessary supports for civilization, the menu was limited. The people who were attending this festival, including all the talent, had access to these foodstuffs: Belgian waffles in plastic—these puffy little waffles in plastic, you could have that—or you could have a hot dog. Now the hot dogs were kept in this tank. When I was a kid, they used to have these big tanks for Nehi beverages, you know, a rectangular tank full of water, and there would be drink bottles in it. Well, in this case, there was a tank full of these Belgian weenies. Now, some of them would float to the surface, and the tips that would stick out were green, and we don't know what color the material under the water was, but it was a tank of green weenies poking out, and you could either eat that or the Belgian waffles. And you couldn't send out for a pizza. You were in the middle of nowhere.

 

Aynsley Dunbar

FZ, quoted by Neil Slaven, Record Hunter, July, 1992

It was that horrible. I think that the real reason I ended up going there in a cosmic sense was to finally wind up with Aynsley Dunbar in the band.

Al Fresco, "FZ w Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation—Amougies '69," October 24, 1969

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation with FZ
[Aynsley Dunbar, Alex Dmchowski, FZ.]

 

Captain Beefheart

Richard Williams, "The Mothers Are Dead, But Zappa's Still Very Much Alive," Melody Maker, October 25, 1969

Frank will be bringing Beefheart over to Europe for the BYG pop and jazz festival this weekend, and says that he hopes to bring the Captain and his Magic Band to Britain for a press reception.

"Beefheart's operating at a disadvantage at the moment," he said. "One of the lead guitarists hit the bass player in the mouth and broke his dentures.

"So the other lead guitarist smashed Jeff's ribs and put him in hospital. Then the whole group got together, got Jeff [Cotton] out of hospital, bought him some clothes, and sent him back to the desert.

"Now one guitarist—Zoot Horn Rollo—is playing both guitar parts, which are very intricate. I don't know how he does it."

Cle4d, "Anyone Heard The Live Zappa/Pink Floyd Jam '69?," alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 19, 1999

Capt Beefheart was there. FZ introduces him to the crowd.

 

Pink Floyd

Biffy the Elephant Shrew, "Anyone Heard The Live Zappa/Pink Floyd Jam '69?," alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 23, 1999

In Society Pages USA #2, Zappa stated unequivocally that he did not play onstage with Pink Floyd. Then two issues later, they turned up a photo of the jam, showing FZ ca. 1969 onstage with a guy who is identifiably Nick Mason and another guy with a P-Bass whose face isn't visible but whose hunched posture is that of Roger Waters...

Craig, "Anyone Heard The Live Zappa/Pink Floyd Jam '69?," alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 23, 1999

There has been a photograph published in the 1970's, that was re-printed in one of the Society Pages (USA) fanzines that shows FZ on stage with Pink Floyd at Amougies. I believe Dominique Chevalier forwarded it on to Den & Rob to help clear up the matter, after FZ stated in one of his interviews with Society Pages that he didn't play with the Floyd. Sorry but I don't remember which edition of SP it was in.

Johan Lif, "Anyone Heard The Live Zappa/Pink Floyd Jam '69?," alt.fan.frank-zappa, January 23, 1999

An interview with PF drummer Nick Mason mentions this Amougies jam with Zappa; I remember him saying something to the effect that "very few people have the right personality to play with us", but what Zappa did was "terribly right".

Nick Mason, interviewed in March, 1973

Question: But, nevertheless, you played with Frank Zappa in the Amougies festival.

Nick Mason: Frank Zappa is really one of those rare musicians that can play with us. The little he did in Amougies was terribly correct. But he's the exception. Our music and the way we behave on stage, makes it very hard to improvise with us.

Denis Griffin

I have the picture that is mentioned in the article "Music Power". It's in the book "Frank Zappa et les Mothers of Invention" by Alain Dister, it's a French book.

Denis Griffin

FZ & Pink Floyd

hans

Looks like Zappa is in that picture twice, as a guitarist and drummer, had to search for Pink Floyd photo's to convince myself the drummer is Nick Mason. Btw Patrick the picture is on page 80 of the mentioned book and taken by Christian Rose. The text about that festival on p. 79:

Rendu a sa solitude, Zappa se consacre a quelques vieux projects, prepare ses films, travaille sa musique dans d'autres directions, fait du tourisme. On le voit au festival d'Amougies, en octobre 1969, ou il se rend a titre personnel, invite par Pieree Lattes. Il y fera le boef avec presque tous les groupes du programme, en particulier le Pink Floyd, le Blossom Toes, Archie Shepp et Aynsley Dunbar, en qui il decourvre un fabuleux batteur qu'il ne tardera pas a embaucher. Il presente son ami Captain Beefheart, et maintient tout au long de ces trois nuits, quel que soil le froid ou l'heure tardive, une presence qui est un stimulant puissant pour tous les musiciens presents.

sorry, my french is not that good, so I hope someone who knows to, translates this.

Neptune Pink Floyd forum

Pink Floyd with FZ

From theoutercircle:

The Amougies picture comes from 'Livre Compact—Pink Floyd' by Jean Marie Leduc, published in 1987.

The photo is credited to Jacques Bisceglia from the Birmapress Agency.

Avo Raup, January 27, 2006

Society Pages issue no. 2

"They're doing the Interview of the Century"
December 22, 1989
FZ interview by Eric Buxton, Rob Samler, Den Simms.

***

DS: Alright. Here's a controversy you can settle. There are many people who think that you performed, in 1969, at a festival in Belgium called 'Amougies'...

FZ: Yes

DS: ... performed onstage with Pink Floyd. True or false?

FZ: Not with Pink Floyd.

DS: That's what I thought. You introduced Beefheart to the audience...

FZ: Yes, and I introduced a lot of other acts, too. You see, that was a very weird thing. I was hired to be a master of ceremonies...

DS: Gotcha.

FZ: That was after the Mothers had broken up, and y'know, I had time on my hands. These people contacted me. They offered me ten thousand dollars to be an emcee at a festival, all expenses paid, and go over there, and, y'know, whatever I wanted to do, and I said, "Fine." So, I get there, and they neglected to tell me that nobody spoke English. (laughter) I mean, most of the people there spoke French, and all I could do was point and wave, (laughter) and furthermore, the festival was originally supposed to be in France. The French government stopped it, and so, at the last minute, it was moved across the border into Belgium, into the middle of a turnip patch, in the middle of nowhere, in a tent that was held up by steel girders. This tent held fifteen thousand people. Freezing cold, damp weather, constant log, the most MISERABLE (laughter) circumstances you could find yourself in, for three days, and it was a twenty-four-hour-a-day festival, and the kids would come there, and they had their sleeping bags, and they were sleeping through ... they were just in this tent FREEZING, laying on the ground, sleeping, while music went on around the clock with all these groups...

DS: How bizarre.

FZ: ... and they were filming it.

DS: A true war story.

RS: So, did you perform with anyone?

DS: Yeah. To nail that down once and for all, you did not perform with Pink Floyd, right?

FZ: No. I think I performed with Aynsley Dunbar, and then, there was a jam session that had Archie Shepp, Philly Joe Jones, and some other jazz guys that played.

DS: OK.

The Zappa & Pink Floyd Tape

whatever

I am a Pink Floyd collector and I have been desperately seeking the famous Amougies tape where Zappa and Floyd performed together. Does such a tape exist or am I just running in circles here?

"Bossk (R)"

Quite recently, such a tape has allegedly started to circulate a little in Floyd circles, as a "rare trade only".

(I heard about this in Japan; but I don't know if the tape itself is in Japan or where it is, or who has it exactly.)

Patrick Boie

apparently the recording in question is an audience recording; and there seem to be TWO... one recording by a zappa fan, and a complete floyd set taped by a floyd fan. pieces of the floyd's set are fairly common, but not the fz/pf jam on 'interstellar overdrive'.

ponder this neat little factoid: this was frank's first live performance after recording 'hot rats'...

Charles Ulrich

There is a tape in circulation that is wrongly identified as being Pink Floyd with FZ at Amougies. This tape consists of Interstellar Overdrive, introduced as something they'd been playing since they were teenagers. But it doesn't feature FZ and it's not from Amougies. I believe it's actually from 5/1/70 Santa Monica. I don't know if the item Johan refers to above is legitimate, or if it's the same mislabeled tape resurfacing.

"Bossk (R)"

I'm not talking about an "Interstellar Overdrive" only tape, but a more complete set, alleged to have recently surfaced.

Alain TAMBURINI

I was a teenager in 1968 and I remember that some parts of this festival were broadcasted "live" directly from site at the French radio broadcast "Europe 1" ( LW waves )

I was listening that at the time and I have recorded almost 1 hour about the festival especially a zappa-pinkfloyd jam session. I remember the studio "presenter" ( may be Pierre Lates ??) said "Oh! ça c'est zappa" ( "Oh! that it is zappa" ) at the beginning of a pink floyd piece.

Unfortunately I sold all my tapes ( + recorder ) 15 years ago and I lost all traces of that.. but I suppose there are archives somewhere on " Europe 1" radio ( Still alive !!!)

Alain

 

The Amougies Tapes

Oscar Bianco, January 26, 2006

Frank Zappa
Amougies (Belgium), Actuel Festival
24 to 27 October 1969

source: audience recording

This is an amazing find that I'm sure will delight fans of Frank Zappa and the bands concerned alike. A little background : the Actuel festival was organized by the publication of the same name (who, under different editorship, went on to become a prime mover of the French counterculture in the early to mid-70s) in collaboration with the fledgling BYG label. It was originally going to take place in or near Paris, but French authorities forbid it and the marquee was eventually set up a few miles outside the French border, on Belgian soil. It took place over 5 nights, entertaining an audience of 15-20,000 to a unique mixture of progressive pop, free jazz and contemporary music.

Frank Zappa was present at the festival (well, the first four days, it seems) in a twofold capacity. First, as Captain Beefheart's road manager; secondly, as M.C., assisting Pierre Lattes, a famous radio/TV presenter at the time (and the pop music editor for Actuel magazine). The latter task proved problematic given FZ's very limited mastery of French, the prevailing language among the audience, who themselves didn't seem to understand much English. Instead, FZ relinquished his M.C. job for one of occasional guest guitarist.

As far as I know, with the exception of FZ's performance with Captain Beefheart, this collects all of his jams with participating bands. A couple of films, directed by Jerome Laperrousaz and Jean-Noel Roy, came out in 1970 but were instantly banned because of objections from various bands (most notably Pink Floyd) whose permission hadn't been properly secured. Zappa's performance with Beefheart is included in one of them, and since the audio of the film (unlike the film itself) is in circulation, possibly in better sound than I could provide, I decided not to include it.

The whereabouts of the master tapes for the festival, if any exist, are unknown. What recordings are circulating are either the soundtrack of the film, or taken from radio broadcasts (on Luxemburg's RTL and Belgium's RTBF). The source used here is an audience recording made by a young French member of the audience using a now antiquated amateur tape recorder. The original tapes have been newly transferred, but even so, the sound quality is rather poor. Still, it seems to be the only source available at this time, so that will have to do for now.

Most legendary, of course, is Frank Zappa's jam with Pink Floyd on a very extended "Interstellar Overdrive". Apparently, despite the wealth of Pink Floyd bootlegs in circulation, no one seems to have their Amougies set, so this will probably delight a lot of people. Browsing various PF-related websites, there even seems to be a debate on whether the jam ever took place. Well, here is the final proof that it did.

Now, the tracklist:

1. Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation: Improvisation (7:08)
[October 24]
Victor Brox (vocals, harmonica); John Moorshead (guitar); Alex (Erroneous) Dmochowski (bass); Aynsley Dunbar (drums)

2. Pink Floyd: Interstellar Overdrive (20:25)
[October 25]
David Gilmour (guitar); Richard Wright (organ); Roger Waters (bass); Nick Mason (drums)

3. Caravan: If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
(7:55)
[October 26]
Pye Hastings (guitar & vocals); David Sinclair (keyboards); Richard Sinclair (bass & vocals); Richard Coughlan (drums)

4. Blossom Toes: Improvisation (26:10)
[October 26]
Brian Godding (guitar, vocals & keyboards); Jim Cregan (guitar & vocals); Brian Belshaw (bass & vocals); Kevin Westlake (drums)

5. Sam Apple Pie: Moonlight Man (6:04)
[October 27]
Sam Sampson (vocals & harmonica); Danny Barnes (lead guitar); Andy Johnson (slide guitar); Bob Renny (bass & vocals); Lee Baxter Hayes Jr (drums)

(Note: FZ also jammed with the Pretty Things, but the taper inadvertently erased the tape in question many years ago; he also participated in a jam with some of the free jazz players, led by Archie Shepp; sadly the taper was into rock, not jazz, and didn't bother recording any of the jazz acts.)

Paul Barnard, December 23, 2006

Two bootlegs have emerged of the Zappa involvement at Amougies: Inter-Zappa Overdrive and Pink Floyd Meets Frank Zappa.

More Recordings

kanzia, Zappateers, April 3, 2010

FZ jamming with Archie Shepp, Earl Freeman. John Dyani, & Gracvhan Moncur III at Actuel Festival, Mont de I'Enclus in Amougies, Belgium (October 24-28, 1969) was really a musical enjoyment, when I first heart this recording at the International New Jazz Festival Moers in June 1979. [...] it was a private reel to reel tape of a taper who was chiefly interested in Shepp, AEoC &etc (a typical Free Jazz fan).

 

Informant: Javier Al Fresco

Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
http://www.donlope.net/fz/
This dog last modified: 2020-07-15