Newport Riot, 50 Years Later - JazzWax

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July 01, 2010


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Alan Kurtz

My favorite contemporaneous coverage of the riot appeared in the July 18, 1960 issue of LIFE (average weekly circulation 6.7 million). Indignantly hyperbolic, LIFE devoted a full-page spread (and LIFE had large pages) to "The Wild Newport Stomp," replete with language left over from the Normandy invasion. "The battle lines were drawn under cover of a hot summer night," began the heated dispatch from the resort frontlines. Newport's besieged city manager, who'd previously declared his realm "perfectly capable of maintaining its own law and order," played along, saying, "We did not expect this attack any more than Pearl Harbor." By marking the 50th anniversary of this besotted event, JazzWax helps ensure that July 2, 1960 is a date which will live in infamy.

Herb Arnold

I was in the NAVY at the time of the riot stationed aboard the USS BEATTY tied to Pier #1 in Newport. We were called out to help put down a riot. Our group of Shore Patrol helped break up and push the crowed to the beach. I was 22 at the time. My buddy got hiy in the head with a full can of beer and landed in the hospital. My picture was in the Boston Harald,thus my moment of fame.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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