Thursday, September 4, 2014

July 2, 1971: Fillmore West, San Francisco Grateful Dead KSAN-fm Broadcast (FM IV)

The entertainments listings from the Hayward Daily Review of July 1, 1971. showing the bookings for the closing of Fillmore West along with the other coming attractions
The Grateful Dead have been influential to the music industry in ways that are not always self-evident. One way in which the Dead have had a huge influence on the music industry was their enthusiasm for live FM broadcasts of their concerts. In the early 1970s, the Dead's willingness to broadcast their performances for free over the airwaves was in complete opposition to music business orthodoxy. Very rapidly, however, as the Dead started to sell records without benefit of a hit, the industry started to take notice. Live FM broadcasts became a staple of rock radio by the mid-70s, and they laid the groundwork for the explosion of music available on the internet, however distant that future might have been.

In the first installment of this series, I described the very earliest live FM broadcasts of rock shows. The first show broadcast, to my knowledge, was the HALO Benefit at Winterland on May 30, 1967. I remain alone in asserting that the Dead did not play that show, even though they were billed, but the show was unquestionably broadcast, as KMPX-fm's Tom Donahue can be heard as the host on a circulating Quicksilver tape. In any case, the Grateful Dead and Country Joe and The Fish broadcast live from the Carousel Ballroom on February 14, 1968, and the resulting copies were foundational for Grateful Dead tape collectors over the years. There were a few other early experiments, including a live broadcast on Berkeley's KPFA-fm from the Avalon Ballroom on April 6, 1969, and a set from San Diego on KPRI-fm (106.5) on May 11, 1969.

For my second installment, I analyzed how many of the Grateful Dead tapes from the 1960s that circulated in the 1970s and 80s were broadcast on San Francisco's KSAN-fm in the 1970s, although they were not in fact actually broadcast during the 60s. In my third post, I looked at all the live broadcasts by the Grateful Dead and various individual members from 1970.  None of the circumstances of any of the 1970 broadcasts were ever duplicated, but it made a good case study on how the Grateful Dead determined the best way to promote their music for their own benefit. For this post, I will look at the live broadcast of the Grateful Dead's concert at the closing of the Fillmore West on July 2, 1971.

The Fillmore West broadcast was the basic blueprint for just about all the Grateful Dead concerts that were broadcast throughout the 1970s. KSAN-fm was the best rated music station in what at the time was the hippest music city in the United States. When a band played live on the air for nearly three hours, with no commercials (except during the setbreak), it was an unprecedented event. By 1971, enough people had tape recorders hooked up to FM receivers that great sounding tapes could circulate. Thus the July 2 '71 Fillmore West Grateful Dead show was the first concert in wide underground circulation, even if that circulation was mostly by bootleg albums rather than tapes.

The front cover of a bootleg double-lp made from the FM broadcast of the Grateful Dead's performance at the Fillmore West on July 2, 1971. Upper right it says "entire 1 3/4 hour show". I purchased the album in a used record store for $4.00 or so in about 1974 (photo courtesy u.t.)

The Closing Of The Fillmore West, June 29-July 4, 1971
Bill Graham and Chet Helms had made the Trips Festival into regular musical performances at the original Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom, respectively. But it was Graham who made the weekly Fillmore rock concerts into a commercially viable proposition. His empire expanded to the Fillmore East in Manhattan and then to the Fillmore West in San Francisco. The Fillmores were the first venues that stood on their own as a mark of taste and style in the 60s rock universe. If a band had played any of the Fillmores, they had status in Albuquerque or Altoona.

However, though Bill Graham had been critical in defining how to run a proper rock concert, the very success of the young industry made the Fillmores too small to complete. Graham had moved out of the original Fillmore (official capacity 1500) to the larger Fillmore West (official capacity 2500) in July 1968, but by 1971the rock market had outgrown the Fillmore West as well. The last night at the Fillmore East was June 27, 1971, and last call at the Fillmore West was a week later. At the time, Rolling Stone and other observers considered this "the end of the 60s," and so on. This was probably true, as a matter of fact, although Graham and many of the Fillmore headliners went on to become even more successful in the 70s. At the time, however, the classic San Francisco bands were in flux, and it did seem like things would never be the same again. The final week's bill at the Fillmore West was:
June 29, 1971: Sawbuck/Malo/Kwane and The Kwanditos 
June 30, 1971: Boz Scaggs/Cold Blood/Stoneground/Flamin' Groovies
July 1, 1971: It's A Beautiful Day/Elvin Bishop Group/Lamb
July 2, 1971: Grateful Dead/New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Rowan Brothers
July 3, 1971: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Hot Tuna
July 4, 1971: Santana/Creedence Clearwater Revival/Tower Of Power plus closing jam
Of the groups that could legitimately be called 'original' Fillmore performers, only the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver were really the same continuous group. Many of the bands featured players that had played the Fillmore in the day (such as Boz Scaggs with the Steve Miller Band), and the Santana Blues Band had opened for some shows as far back as 1967.  By 1971, Santana and Creedence had become the biggest rock bands to come out of San Francisco, but it was left to the Dead and Quicksilver to show the flag from days of yore.

The Grateful Dead, Summer 1971
In the middle of 1971, the Grateful Dead were in a very different position than they had ever been before. For the first few years of their existence, the Dead were underground legends, with all the baggage that entailed: three inconsistent albums, lots of peculiar gigs, some of them rumored to be great, along with a devoted clutch of diehard fans. In November, 1969, Live/Dead suggested to discerning listeners that those legends might be true. More shockingly, the arrival of Workingman's Dead in June, 1970 revealed a completely different band, accessible and reflective, yet without quite removing the stoned overtone. Soon after, American Beauty was released in November, 1970, and the Dead were no longer underground. Workingman's and American Beauty were played regularly on FM radio across the country, and rock fans all over America started getting curious about the Dead's legendary performances.

Of the classic Fillmore bands, only the Dead were on an upward trajectory in Summer '71. Jefferson Airplane kept losing members, and hadn't put out an album in a while. Quicksilver had lost their archetypal guitarist John Cipollina, and while new lead singer Dino Valenti helped them sell records, older fans of Quicksilver weren't happy with the new sound. Country Joe and The Fish had broken up, and while Big Brother And The Holding Company had four of their original members, with Janis Joplin not on board they were no longer Fillmore West material. Yet the Dead were bigger than they had ever been back in the day, and their previous two albums had been their most coherent and popular. By modern standards, however, the rock concert industry was still small. The Dead's magic was in live performance, and there was no way for them to play for enough people. The Dead, like every other 60s group, had tried the rock festival circuit, but by '71 bands, communities and promoters were fairly fed up with outdoor festivals in a muddy field.

The answer turned out to be live FM broadcasts of Grateful Dead concerts. The Dead, along with a few other groups, had experimented with different ways to broadcast their shows. Included amongst these ideas were studio tv performances, quadrophonic fm and a variety of other configurations which we would not now recognize as typical. However, once uninterrupted Grateful Dead concerts were broadcast in every city that the Dead played, the Dead landscape changed dramatically. The rock audience was young and suburban, and new FM rock stations ruled the market. When the Dead were on the radio for hours at a time, all the hipsters had to listen. Enough of them liked what they heard, particularly some who were too young, too broke to too carless to get to wherever the Dead were playing. It didn't matter--the FM radio was a bus stop just the same, and people in every city got on.

The first broadcast that we would recognize as a "typical" Grateful Dead broadcast was the July 2, 1971 Fillmore West show. Soon afterwards, in the Fall, to support their new live album, the Dead would get Warner Brothers Records to agree to spend $100,000 in promotional money--a lot of money for those days--to broadcast 14 shows throughout the country [McNally p.410]. No rock band had ever done anything like this. Of course, no rock band would ever do anything like this again, either, except for the Dead themselves in 1976. Still, after the success of the Grateful Dead (aka Skull And Roses) album, behind the FM broadcasts, the industry took notice. Live FM broadcasts became a staple of rock marketing from 1973 onward, and it was no coincidence. Even thought the Fillmore West was closing, even in its waning moments it was still a place that influenced the rock music business.

The label from one of the bootleg lps. The album was on the Record Revolution label (not that any such label really existed)
The Broadcast
The Grateful Dead's Fillmore West performance on Friday, July 2, 1971 was broadcast on KSAN-fm, then San Francisco's leading rock station. KSAN was one of the top-rated stations in the Bay Area, against all other types of programming, not just other music stations. KSAN had grown out of the groundbreaking KMPX, and it prided itself on being innovative. KSAN had already broadcast the Dead a few times, so they were the obvious choice as the broadcaster for the Fillmore West show. With both the Rowan Brothers and the New Riders Of Purple Sage opening the show, the Dead probably came on stage at about 10:00 or 10:30, and probably played until a little before 2:00am.

It is important to emphasize that KSAN would not have been broadcasting the Grateful Dead on a Friday night just for charity. Warner Brothers Records would had to have compensated the station for the lost advertising time. There would be no ads during the performance, although there may have been ads during the set break, and KSAN would not go without ad revenue for four hours. In any case, Warners probably would not have paid cash directly to KSAN (although they might have). More likely, Warners probably committed to a certain number of ads on KSAN in the next month, or some other similar arrangement.

I have also seen indications that the Fillmore West show was broadcast on KMET in Los Angeles. I do not know if this was a full or partial broadcast, or live or tape-delayed. However, KSAN and KMET were owned by the same corporation, Metromedia--who also owned WNEW in New York--so the collaboration seems very plausible.

To tape aficionados, the performances from the closing of the Fillmore West are well-known and circulate widely. It is generally asserted that all the shows from the last week were broadcast on either KSAN or KSFX-fm (which may have been a less-hip corporate sister to KSAN). After many years of research and speculation, I for one, do not believe that the closing week of Fillmore West was broadcast. Yes, the Dead were broadcast; yes, the closing jam from the final night (in the wee hours of July 5) was broadcast; and I think Hot Tuna was broadcast, although I'm not certain of that.

As to the tapes of the rest of the week, all of which circulate (many as a sort of collection curated by the gaily-named "Hell's Honkies"), they are generally marked as "pre-FM." I'm not aware of actual FM broadcasts of any of the other bands, the sort of tapes where djs cut in and with other anomalies. Even if one or two of the other bands were broadcast, and I'm not aware of it, I'm still convinced that the bulk of the shows were not broadcast. I would be very interested in hearing from Bay Area rock fans of the era (you know who you are) who may recall how much was actually broadcast.

My reasoning for believing that most of the shows were not broadcast is worthy of a lengthy blog post on a different blog, so I will just point out some highlights:
  • Bill Graham and CBS Records were recording the shows for the planned Closing Of The Fillmore West album and movie, so the existence of the tapes is not surprising
  • Broadcasting a complete live performance was a radical thing for a band to do, and not something that would generally be approved by record companies. Even if bands were inclined to do it, their record companies would have to pay for it, which was another layer of difficulty. Bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy) and It's A Beautiful Day (CBS) had no history of management approving untried, costly new approaches to promotion.
  • Although many of the bands who played the closing week of Fillmore West are well-known to us today, lots of them were quite obscure at the time. Boz Scaggs and The New Riders for example, were not big acts--the Riders didn't even have an album.
  • As for July 2 itself, the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and the Rowan Brothers were both Columbia (CBS) acts who had not yet released their first album. CBS was not going to pay KSAN to broadcast groups who did not yet have albums they could sell.
My thinking is that the fact that the Dead show and the closing jam (and perhaps one or two others) were broadcast was so unprecedented that the story morphed over the years into "all of them" being broadcast. I would be very interested to know exactly which sets made it out over the air.

[update] Correspondent Rion weighs in with some memories
having lived to tell the tale, I can affirm that the whole week was broadcast, except 6/29, which I never thought of as part of the closing celebration.  Proof:  in the Fillmore movie, Graham is arguing with Santana’s manager and says that all the groups for the entire week agreed to let their music be broadcast except Santana.   The bill for the last night was not revealed before hand.  Everybody I knew thought it was the Airplane, and were disappointed because Creedence was not that interesting.  I had tapes of everything, but didn’t keep them because most of the music wasn’t that interesting.  Santana’s show was not broadcast. 
As far as I can remember, all the shows were on KSAN.   I would bet that  they were all on KSFX too, because the Hot Tuna tape I made again had Paul Krassner as the announcer.   The big tease for the final night was the last act.   That wasn’t announced until showtime, I believe.   I’m sure I didn’t make it all the way through and have no info about the jam.
As you can see from the ad above, the final night's bill was listed as Santana and Tower Of Power, so there must have been plenty of intentionally placed rumors about a "surprise guest" on July 4. I do find it fascinating that the unrecorded opening acts were broadcast as well. 
The back cover of the bootleg lp. Since the album appears to have been made in 1971, the song titles are just guesses ("Had To Move," "My Uncle" and "No Chance Of Losing" for example) (photo courstesy u.t)

The Bootleg
Bay Area rock fans had had more opportunities to hear the Grateful Dead perform live on the radio than anyone else. What few FM broadcasts there had been were mostly in the Bay Area, whereas other parts of the country had mostly only heard the May 2 '70 Pacifica broadcast (from Harper College at Binghamton, NY), if they were lucky. For the then-small-but-daily-growing coterie of Deadheads, it wasn't enough. Bay Area Deadheads at least could see the band with great regularity. However, in the Dead's other stronghold, New York City, other means were needed to disseminate live Grateful Dead music. 

The sprawling, interconnected web that links the Grateful Dead taping community is now world-renowned. It is little recalled, however, that in the early 70s the principal way that interested Dead fans heard alternative Grateful Dead music was through bootleg lps. These lps, with minimal graphics, or just white covers, and incorrect song titles and little or no information about the recording, were quietly available in hip (non-chain) record stores. Unofficial recordings of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones had led the way, as documented in the Clinton Heylin book Bootleg. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the truly committed amongst the Deadheads made their own live tapes and produced them as albums, often selling them outside of concerts.

The subject of bootleg Grateful Dead albums, and their intimate connection to the underground movement of tapes and other products from one coast to another is worthy of a book. Fortunately, one is being written. Fellow scholar Jesse Jarnow is working on Heads: A Biography Of Psychedelic America, and the bootleg lp will be resurrected and given its rightful due. It will be well worth the wait to see the rightful context. As for me, I can give a flavor of their importance by describing the bootleg lp of the Closing of The Fillmore West show that I purchased in late 1973 or so.

When I was in the 10th grade (1972-73), a friend with older siblings had loaned me the Bob Dylan Royal Albert Hall bootleg (actually Manchester, but of course we didn't know that). I was floored. The idea that there was a different, better, live version of Dylan's greatest music was staggering. Grateful Dead bootlegs started to appear in Palo Alto and Berkeley the next year (1973-74). By this time, I had the existing Grateful Dead albums and had memorized them. I purchased a double-lp of the Fillmore West show in the middle of the school year. The front and back cover (or most of it, anyway) and the label are reproduced above. I bought it as a "used" record, which I think was the dodge to get around the illegality. It was a revelation.

Now, I had gotten a couple of Dead bootlegs along with it, around the same time, and they were great. But I couldn't tell where they were from, nor anything else about them, so they were straight up mysteries. Within a few years I figured out that they were from Binghamton (May 2 '70) and Felt Forum, but I didn't know that at the time. But the Fillmore West lp seemed to be a complete concert, with a date and everything. I had even seen the Dead a couple of times, so I wasn't completely innocent. Yet here was an alternative version of Skull And Roses, complete with strange cover versions that I had never heard of.

It is a 21st century opinion to dismiss the Jul 2 '71 Fillmore West show as a weak show. From some points of view, that may be correct, although I think people are unnecessarily harsh. From my 11th grade point of view, however, it was beside the point. At the time, there were 9 Grateful Dead albums, and I perceived the band's music as having had a certain arc. Here was a 10th album, and my perception of the band's arc was completely wrong. I didn't yet know what it was, of course, but I had to throw out everything I had thought. Here was a different, Godchaux-less "China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider"; here were lengthy covers of "Good Lovin" and "Sing Me Back Home"; here they went back into "Not Fade Away" after "Going Down The Road."

It was all well and good for grizzled veterans of the Fillmores (all of about 26 years old at the time) to say, "c'mon, everybody knew that." I didn't know that, and I didn't know any grizzled heads, either. I was stuck in the suburbs, wishing I was in the mix. Bootleg Grateful Dead lps put me in that mix. I ended up with about 12 of them, and a couple of New Riders bootlegs as well, and I memorized them all. Of course, a few years later, I discovered cassettes and the tape-trading universe, and the bootleg lps didn't matter, but without them, the doors would have taken a lot longer to open.

The blue double lp that I had was regularly seen in Bay Area used record stores for the next several years--it was about as near to a "regional hit" as a bootleg could ever be considered. It's not surprising. A local show, broadcast locally, pressed somehow, and quietly distributed to sufficiently cool stores. That was, in fact, pretty common on the East Coast and less so in the Bay Area, but with respect to my listening it jump started me by about four years. I couldn't have been the only one.

After the distribution of the Rolling Stones bootleg lp Liver Than You'll Ever Be, record companies and bands were very worried about disintermediation. The Grateful Dead were no exception, and went to some lengths to stop bootleg lps from being sold. One of the reasons bands were so cautious about live broadcasts, and record companies so unwilling to support it, was the fear that once the shows were broadcast, the bootleg lps would cut into "real" record sales. The Dead, though no fans of bootlegs, were pretty much alone in thinking the rewards of live broadcasts outweighed the risks, and hewed their own path.

For major 70s rock bands, indeed for any 70s rock band, the Grateful Dead must have had more hours of concert broadcast by several magnitudes over other bands. After various experiments from1968 through 1970, the Dead had finally found the formula at Fillmore West, and that concert was the template for almost all the broadcasts that would follow. Whether or not you think July 2, 1971 was a good show--my feelings are obviously quite personal--it was a critical performance in Grateful Dead history.

The King Biscuit Flower Hour
The record industry surely noticed that after two successful studio albums, the Dead put out a comparatively indifferent double live album (Skull And Roses). It had no hits, they only included one older and sort of weird song, and there was a bunch of pretty strange cover versions, plus some new material. Yet the album was the first Grateful Dead record to go gold. The only thing different about the album was that Warners had spent $100,000 getting them broadcast live in 14 cities. Fear of bootlegging, as well as fear that some 70s bands couldn't really deliver on stage, kept any other bands from really joining in.

However, the rock industry noticed. One of the ways the industry took notice was with a syndicated radio show called The King Biscuit Flower Hour. The King Biscuit Flower Hour was started by some young rock veterans, including some Fillmore East managers, who recognized what was going on. King Biscuit was a weekly hour long syndicated radio show that featured live recordings of touring bands (in my day, it was on at 9:00pm on Sunday nights on KSAN). King Biscuit would record the bands professionally. Some larger bands had the entire show, but more typically there were two half-hour segments with different bands.

Since the show was syndicated, there were regular ads between songs, which made it a viable proposition. The bands (or their management) got to choose the songs, so any fears about what should or should not be circulated could be assuaged. Since only part of the concert was typically broadcast, any clunkers could be edited out as well. King Biscuit would let the artists mix the tape themselves, if they wanted. Record companies could time the broadcast, more or less, to get maximum effect for their promotional campaign.

The first King Biscuit Flower Hour was broadcast on February 18, 1973, with Blood, Sweat And Tears. For many years, King Biscuit shows were the only circulating FM soundboards for many touring bands. King Biscuit finally ground to a halt in 1993, but they were a critical part of rock music marketing in the 1970s. Although some tapes were lost in a fire, the remaining material is now part of Wolfgang's Vault. There's no question in my mind that the record companies saw what the Grateful Dead had done and looked at the Biscuit as a way to commodify the market channel (as they say). Without the Grateful Dead and Fillmore West, the King Biscuit experiment would not have happened the way it did.

Appendix:     Grateful Dead, Fillmore West, July 2, 1971

One Bertha [5:47] ;
Me And Bobby McGee [5:38] ;
Next Time You See Me [3:50] ;
China Cat Sunflower [4:50] >
I Know You Rider [5:47] ;
Playing In The Band [4:54] ;
Loser [6:33] ;
The Rub [3:34] ;
Me And My Uncle [3:10] ;
Big Railroad Blues [3:35] ;
Hard To Handle [7:19] ;
Deal [6:13] ;
The Promised Land [2:46] ;
Good Lovin' [17:16]
Two Sugar Magnolia [6:41] ;
Sing Me Back Home [9:48] ;
Mama Tried [2:47] ;
Cryptical Envelopment [2:02] >
Drums [5:16] >
The Other One [15:40] ;
Big Boss Man [5:18] ;
Casey Jones [5:36] ;
Not Fade Away [3:49] >
Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad [7:22] >
Jam [1:09] >
Not Fade Away [3:35]
Encore Johnny B. Goode [3:43]

Johnny B. Goode [3:43]

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 13, 1975: Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA (FM VIII)

The Great American Music Hall, at 859 O'Farrell Street in San Francisco
The Grateful Dead's performance on Wednesday, August 13, 1975 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco is well-known to most Deadheads. The show was recorded, and much of it was later broadcast live on various FM stations on September 1, 1975, to publicize the release of the new Grateful Dead album Blues For Allah. Thus the music from the show was widely circulated both as a vinyl bootleg and on cassette almost immediately. Many years later, when the Grateful Dead decided to begin releasing archival recordings, the entire Music Hall show was released as a double cd set in April, 1991, called One From The Vault.

As a result, the Grateful Dead's performance at the Great American Music Hall had a triple significance to most Deadheads. First, it was a live performance at a time when many Deadheads were still afraid that live Grateful Dead performances had gone the way of the dinosaur. Second, it was a live broadcast in a year when the Grateful Dead had not been seen or heard outside the Bay Area. Thirdly, the entire show inaugurated the Dead's release of music from their vaults. Yet although the music from the Dead's Music Hall show is as well-known as any Grateful Dead show, the context of the event itself has become obscured. This post will look at the actual Great American Music Hall show by the Grateful Dead on August 13, 1975 in its original frame.

The Grateful Dead, Summer 1975
The Grateful Dead had stopped performing after their 5-night stand at Winterland in October, 1974. A the time, it seemed like the end of yet another 60s institution from San Francisco. The Fillmores had closed in mid-1971, the Jefferson Airplane had evolved into the Jefferson Starship in 1974, and so on. The Dead had announced that they were going to continue to make music, but no one really believed them. Yet the Dead had surprised everybody by making an appearance at the SNACK Benefit at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park on March 22, 1975. While billed as Jerry Garcia And Friends, they surprised everyone by performing a 45-minute instrumental set of new material.

On June 17, the Grateful Dead had headlined a benefit at Winterland for the late artist Bob Fried. Although billed once again as Jerry Garcia And Friends, there was no doubt in the Bay Area that the Dead were playing, and the show sold out immediately. However, unless you went to the show or knew someone who did, it remained mysterious what exactly they had played. I believe that Joel Selvin mentioned the show in his Lively Arts column in the Sunday Chronicle, so it was confirmed that they had performed, but all but the most wired-in people had little idea what actually occurred. Nonetheless, even a casual Dead fan recognized that the Dead were definitely working on something.

Thus when word leaked out--probably from Selvin's column--that the Dead were working on a new album, most readers probably believed it. In the mid-70s, it was common to read in the Random Notes column of Rolling Stone that some iconic group or duo was working together again, and it was usually untrue. Numerous Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young projects were always "just about" to be released, Paul and John were always "talking about" some project or something, and so on. In hindsight, we now know the reality quotient of some of these rumors (various CSNY projects nearly happened, for example), but at the time they just seemed like nothing but hype. However, with two Bay Area performances under their belt, and some apparently new material broadcast from Kezar, rumors of a Grateful Dead album seemed far more plausible in the Summer of 1975 than another CSNY album.

An illustration from the rock critic column of the Hayward Daily Review on August 22, 1975. Under the Hart-less illustration of the band, it says "THE GRATEFUL DEAD HAVE A NEW LP OUT-'Blues For Allah' took months to finish"
Grateful Dead Records and Blues For Allah
The Grateful Dead had shocked the music industry in 1973 by going fully independent and starting their own record companies. Initially, the Grateful Dead Records experiment went very well. Their initial release, Wake Of The Flood, in October of 1973, sold fairly steadily. Although not a huge hit, the Dead were apparently making four times as much per record as they had with Warner Brothers. At the same time, concert receipts were increasing and the Dead were doing pretty well financially.

Yet by 1975, the Dead's financial superstructure was on a rickety foundation indeed. The massively expensive Wall Of Sound ate up much of their concert revenue, so the Dead paradoxically chose to stop touring. To commemorate the end of their touring life--the Winterland shows were billed as "The Last Five Nights" and there was a notion they would never play live again--Grateful Dead Records chief Ron Rakow agreed with Jerry Garcia that a six figure sum should be spent on filming the shows, even though the band could no longer really afford it.

By the middle of '75, the Grateful Dead organization was hemorrhaging money. With no touring income, the Dead were financing both the movie and the quirky Round Records, whose financial problems I have documented at length. In order to finance continued operations, Rakow signed a distribution deal with United Artists Records. This effectively undermined the Grateful Dead's independence. UA was not going to interfere with the music, exactly, but the Dead's freedom to do what they wanted, when they wanted to do it, had gone away. The band had a nut to meet, which included 4 Grateful Dead albums as well as Garcia and Weir solo albums.

For all their problems, however, the Grateful Dead had excellent original material, thoroughly worked over during endless jamming sessions at the studio above Bob Weir's garage in Mill Valley. The music was finally recorded at the end of Spring, and the album was put together throughout the Summer. By Summer's end, the band was ready to put out the album on Labor Day. Even quirky iconoclasts like the Grateful Dead knew they had to do something to promote the album. To have a successful record in the 70s, you needed radio play, and that meant getting djs and radio station program directors on your side. Billboard Magazine was an anchor for the music industry, and they were having a Radio Programmers Forum, essentially a convention, in San Francisco. So the Dead held a private party to perform their new music for some of the key players in the music industry. To host the party, they chose The Great American Music Hall.

Typical bookings for the Great American Music Hall, the week after the Dead played there (August 22-30, '75): Les Paul on Friday and Saturday, Vassar Clements on Tuesday, The Persuasions on Wednesday and Thursday, and Ralph Towner and Oregon on the next Friday and Saturday
The Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA
The Great American Music Hall, at 859 O'Farrell, was a club in a beautiful old building in a very sleazy part of San Francisco. The establishment was built in 1907. It was initially a nightclub, restaurant and house of ill-repute called Blanco's, until 1933 and the end of Prohibition. The infamous Sally Rand ran the place as a sort of burlesque dance hall called The Music Box from 1936 to '46. It went through various incarnations in the next few decades, reopening as a jazz club called Blanco's in '48, and then taken over by members of The Moose Lodge. The building was nearly condemned, but at the last second the building was refurbished around 1970 as a short-lived French restaurant called Charles, after its proprietor.

Finally, in 1972, Tom and Jeannie Bradshaw opened the Great American Music Hall. The club featured jazz, and its full capacity was supposedly about 600, although I actually think far fewer than that were present, even for sold out shows. For the most part there were tables on the floor and the balconies, although the room was occasionally cleared of the tables to create a dance floor. Unlike many Bay Area rock clubs, there was a full bar and a kitchen, so in that respect the Great American Music Hall was a true nightclub, rather than a beer soaked dance joint like the Keystone Berkeley.

Initially, the Great American Music Hall was focused on jazz bookings. This was timely, as the older jazz clubs in San Francisco had closed or were on their last legs. There was the Keystone Korner, of course, but it did not have a liquor license (I think they did sell beer, but I'm not sure). The location was appropriate, too, as it was not too far from main streets and downtown, halfway between the Fillmore West and the old Fillmore, at the edge of a very seedy old neighborhood called The Tenderloin. However, inside the refurbished bordello it was quite beautiful, and the sound was wonderful: elegant sounds in a seedy neighborhood is the essence of jazz in many ways.

Very quickly, however, the "Great American Music" name took on a broader significance. There were plenty of rock nightclubs in the Bay Area, but with folk music no longer viable, there were plenty of artists who didn't really have a place to play. Thus the Great American became a stopping point for great American musicians like Vassar Clements or John Fahey, working in a variety of musical traditions in a mostly acoustic style, but with an appropriate seriousness that put them on the level of the jazz musicians who also played there. Sitting down at a table with a drink was a far better way to hear Doc Watson or Howard Roberts than some noisy place that was better suited for rockin' out.

The Great American Music Hall was just two doors down from a truly notorious San Francisco institution, called The O'Farrell Theater. The O'Farrell Theater, at 895 O'Farrell (at Polk), formerly a Pontiac dealership, had actually briefly been a former Grateful Dead rehearsal hall in early 1967. Later in 1967 it became a rock venue called The Western Front, but there were various problems, and they were never able to book high profile bands, so the venue closed. Near the end of The Western Front, in late 1967, it was taken over by two brothers from Antioch named Jim and Artie Mitchell. The truly infamous Mitchell Brothers gave up putting on rock shows and instead used the venue to show the movies they had made, changing the name to The O'Farrell Theater.

There is quite a lot more to the Mitchell Brothers story, although I strongly advise you not to google it at work. By 1975, although the Mitchell Brothers had made some very lucrative movies--Mitchell Brothers lawsuits are responsible for those FBI warnings you see prior to watching a video--the O'Farrell Theater was primarily focused on live performance, although not of a kind that competed directly with the Great American Music Hall.

Jerry Garcia first played the Great American Music Hall with Merl Saunders on July 19, 1973. The show was significant for another reason, in that it was the first time that Martin Fierro sat in with Jerry and Merl. Garcia and Saunders did not return to the club until February 5, 1974, but Garcia/Saunders played 18 dates at the Great American Music Hall in 1974, and 7 more in 1975. Although Garcia's home base was the Keystone Berkeley, the Great American seems to have been his preferred club in San Francisco. Garcia/Saunders would often play on a weeknight, so it must have been a great booking for the club, since Garcia could pack the place on a night that did not interfere with other plans.

After the demise of Old And In The Way at the end of 1973, David Grisman and Richard Greene formed a group that would play all styles of American music on acoustic instruments. The band was called either the Great American String Band or the Great American Music Band, and not surprisingly its debut was at the band's namesake, the Great American Music Hall. The initial performances of the Great American String Band were at the GAMH on March 9 and 10, 1974. Jerry Garcia had some conflict that prevented him from performing on March 9, but he was present on March 10, so in fact Garcia played the Music Hall on 19 nights in 1974.

Soundcheck, August 12, 1975
Looking backwards at decades of Grateful Dead shows, we sometimes forget how unique the show at the Great American Music Hall really was. For one thing, the GAMH was surely the smallest place the Dead had played in San Francisco since their album release party at Fugazi Hall in March of 1967. For another thing, the Dead had not been touring, so they had no sound system. Their previous two performances had been at Bill Graham Presents shows (at Kezar and Winterland), so BGP would have taken care of providing a PA. However, this was the Dead's party, so they had to get their own system. According to McNally, they used the sound system of McCune Audio. Although McCune Audio were highly respected professionals, full rock sound systems were rare in the Great American Music Hall, so the Dead were not going to leave the sound to chance.

Regular reader Dave recalls
I was at the River City club [in Fairfax] on 8/12/75 seeing the Rowan Brothers and Phil was at the bar. This was the night before the Dead's Great American Music Hall show. I understand Phil had just come from their dress rehearsal at the gamh. We heard about the next night's Dead show while we were there.
The soundcheck is mostly mentioned with respect to Mickey Hart's idea that there should be a microphone on a box of crickets, and that they should be integrated into the performance of "Blues For Allah." This apparently did not work very well, and unlike some Grateful Dead innovations, insect choirs did not become a staple of rock concerts.

Here's the part that interests me, though: did they play "Blues For Allah" at the soundcheck? There were only three live performances of "Blues For Allah", two of them instrumental, at SNACK and Winterland. They only sang "Blues For Allah" once in public, at the Great American show. If they played anything at soundcheck, particularly with the cricket scheme, I would think it would be "Blues For Allah." So maybe, just maybe, there is an innocuous tapebox that says "August 12 '75," and it's got a lost performance of the suite? With crickets? We live in hope.  

The paper cover to the bootleg lp Make Believe Ballroom, on TAKRL (The Amazing Kornyphone Record Label), the gold standard for 70s bootleg record companies. The double lp was recorded from the fm broadcast on September 1, 1975, of the August 13 Great American Music Hall show.
The Grateful Dead, Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, August 13, 1975
August 13, 1975 was a Wednesday. The Music Hall was such a nice place that it was regularly used for industry events on weeknights. On Friday, August 8, the great acoustic guitarist John Fahey had played. On Saturday, August 9, it was jazz legend Stan Kenton. Tuesday was the soundcheck, and on Wednesday the Dead were the featured attraction at the Radio Programmers party. There was no word to the public about the show, because the relatively tiny club would have been mobbed.

In the 1970s, the way to sell a lot of albums--well, assuming you had made a good record--was to get your music played on FM radio. In the mid-70s, while the ownership of FM rock stations was often corporate, the day-to-day choices for music were still controlled by the individual station. Although djs still had some freedom to play what they wanted, they were mostly under the direction of their Program Director, who was responsible for hiring and firing them. The Program Director was worried about ratings, even if the djs might not always have been.

An fm Program Director decided which albums were going to be in "high rotation" on his or her station. The dj might get to choose which tracks to play, and in what order, and might get to occasionally play some of his own favorites, but for the most part there was a big stack of albums next to the turntables, chosen by the PD, and the dj had to choose from that stack. So the key for a band was to get the PD to put their album into that stack. Probably there were about 5,00 to 10,000 rock albums released in 1975, so competition for PD attention was fierce. A private party at a nice club, with free drinks and an exclusive performance, was the kind of thing that made PDs feel important, so they would give a band's music a good listening.

The Grateful Dead's performance was recorded by Dan Healy, and all but the "Blues For Allah" suite was broadcast three weeks later. The Blues For Allah album was released on approximately September 1 (70s release dates were not precise), and the tape of the concert was broadcast that night on KSAN in San Francisco, KMET in Los Angeles and WNEW in New York, all of which were owned by the same corporation (Metromedia). I do not know if other stations carried the broadcast. I have a general idea that the same tape was broadcast later on the syndicated King Biscuit Flower Hour.

As a result of the broadcasts, many pristine copies of the tape circulated in an era when few tapes were available. The best of the bootleg companies, TAKRL (The Amazing Kornyfone Record Label), put out a nice sounding double lp. In the 70s, very few people had cassette decks, and bootleg lps were hugely influential in spreading music. I myself had a treasured copy of the TAKRL album, called Make Believe Ballroom, and wore it out.

Although he was only a guest, Bill Graham introduced the band. Of course, this was a major San Francisco event, and there was no way he wasn't going to be front and center at the party. On the One From The Vault release, Graham begins by saying "Good evening, we welcome you on behalf of the group...on the piano we have Mr. Keith Godchaux, on the drums on stage left, we have Mr. Mickey Hart," and continues on as each musician steps into their part of "Help On The Way." To the outside world, Bill Graham and the Grateful Dead were like pizza and beer, and seemed to belong together, and so it seems an appropriate and now historic introduction.

The actual introduction was longer, and was elided for the release, but it was part of the radio broadcast. I am quoting from memory, but the Make Believe Ballroom album is etched on my brain, so the essence of this is accurate. Graham said
Before the show, I was offered 25 dollars to announce the band by Mr. Ron Rakow. I flipped a coin for double or nothing and won. We flipped a coin again, and I won, so I am being paid 100 dollars to introduce the band.
Rakow had probably been out shaking hands with many of the Program Directors, so this was probably extremely funny after a few drinks. Nonetheless, it summed up Rakow's approach to money management, and I don't think the reminder was welcome when the album was released 26 years later. Thus the first part of Graham's introduction was not part of the One From The Vault release.

Since the audience were industry professionals, and not ones particularly interested in the Grateful Dead, I had never heard an eyewitness account until reader Dave checked in. He picks up the story here, one of the few civilians to have actually witnessed the show. As you will recall from above, Dave, having heard about the show by chance the night before, was not going to miss it:
We heard that earlier that night the Dead did a practice at the Great American Music Hall and the next night would be a private concert there. We went down in hopes of getting in. We heard the first set from outside. During the break many journalists who probably had to be there but didn't really want to, started leaving and would hand their invitations to us waiting fans. I think there were maybe 25 people trying to get it. I managed to get one but when I got to the door the guy asked who I got the invite from. I had to think quick because the wrong answer would mean not getting in and having the invitation taken away. I said Anton Round was the one who invited me and he let me in. I was able to see most of the second set but had to leave before the end as i was catching a plane home. As I left I asked at the door if I could have an invitation as a keep sake and he said ok as long as I didn't give it to someone else. I still have it to this day.
I wouldn't give it away, either.

The cover of the 1975 Grateful Dead album Blues For Allah, on Round/UA
However historic the Great American Music Hall show seems to us today, it was just another day at the office for the Dead. A few days after the Music Hall show, the Dead were already recording at Ace's again. My theory is that they were laying the groundwork for the next album they owed UA, and laid down existing songs like "It Must Have Been The Roses." It appears to me that this plan was changed when Garcia and Nicky Hopkins were unable to complete an album, and the tracks were used for Reflections. Now, maybe Garcia was planning them as part of his solo album, but in any case, the Dead were working at Ace's throughout August and September, just as Blues For Allah was hitting the stores.

Jerry Garcia had played 26 nights at the Great American Music Hall prior to the August 13, 1975, the most recent times having been July 4-5, 1975. However, Merl Saunders had been quietly pushed out of working with Jerry Garcia in August, right around the time of the GAMH shows. Merl himself was quite surprised, as Garcia let John Kahn do the unpleasant deed of telling his friend Merl that he was out of the band. Thus Garcia really had no side band when the Dead played the Great American Music Hall. Nevertheless, the next week's listings showed a booking of "The Jerry Garcia Band" on Wednesday and Thursday August 20 and 21, 1975.

In fact, Garcia played the Great American Music Hall on August 20 and 21 with the Keith And Donna Band. The music itself was great, from the surviving tape (on the 20th), and very different from the subsequent sound of the Jerry Garcia Band with Keith and Donna. It remains an open question as to why Garcia was billed this way--was Nicky Hopkins scheduled and not ready, or was this a canceled Garcia/Saunders booking taken over by Jerry? We do not actually have eyewitnesses from either show, so while I'm sure a fair number of tickets were sold, they were on weeknights in a highly dubious part of town, so they probably weren't packed out.

Once Nicky Hopkins joined the Jerry Garcia Band, the operation took on a more serious booking schedule. I think the Keystone Berkeley was far move lucrative for Garcia than the Great American, and the club dates that the Garcia Band tended to play were at the Keystone. The Dead and Garcia were hurting for cash, so it was no accident that Garcia's new venture was named after him and actually played a few Dead songs, unlike the willfully obscure ventures with Merl Saunders.

Jerry Garcia played The Great American Music Hall one more time, on Sunday, July 4, 1976, with the Keith And Donna edition of the Jerry Garcia Band. The Grateful Dead had already returned to touring, and Garcia and the Dead would only get bigger in ensuing decades. The opportunities to jam out in an elegant yet funky little club had slipped away, albeit because of success, but slipped away nonetheless.

The Great American Music Hall thrived throughout the1990s. Even though Tom and Jeannie Bradshaw had divorced, they continued to run the club for a long time. Many acts returned over and over to the club throughout the decades. The name of the club was prescient, too, since there has been a renewed interest in all sorts of forms of American music. The club remained a desirable destination for fans and musicians, even though the O'Farrell Theater remained open just down the street. The Great American Music Hall continues to thrive in the present day. It now shares ownership and booking with Slim's, another famous San Francisco nightclub, and continues to book great acts, even if none of them want to bring their own crickets.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

May 27, 1989 Oakland Coliseum Stadium, Oakland, CA: John Fogerty with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir (Centerfield)

Time, as Steve Miller has observed, keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. As we slip forward, we inevitably see things differently. Nonetheless, on occasion it is a healthy exercise to recall events as they appeared at the time, in contrast to how they seem now. The Grateful Dead headlined a Benefit Concert at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium on May 27, 1989. There were many fascinating aspects to this booking, but in retrospect the most fascinating was that former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty was second on the bill, and it was known before the show that Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir would be part of his backing group.

Creedence had been hugely, titanically popular, but Fogerty had been in a bitter dispute with his record company since the mid-70s, and as a result had refused to play any of his great Creedence songs in concert. By 1989, however, although Fogerty's ire towards Fantasy Records had not subsided, for various reasons he had come to terms with his old songs, so it was widely known that not only would Garcia and Weir be backing Fogerty, but that they would be playing Creedence classics as well. Everything pointed towards an event of historic proportions.

I went to the show, as did about 40,000 of my closest friends. The weather was great, the crowd was nice, the vibe was relaxed, the show ran smoothly and everyone went bonkers for John Fogerty. And yet, and yet, somehow, for Deadheads like me and others, the glow wore off quickly. It was historic to see Fogerty, and unique to see Garcia and Weir play with him, but somehow it seemed like just another rock show. I love Creedence songs, but they are basic, and Garcia and Weir's talents were not particularly needed. Somehow, my memory of that show faded into a lost opportunity, of Garcia playing with a legendary opening act and just comping away.

Yet Deadheads tend to celebrate recordings from "This Day In History," and when May 27 came around, there were some casual reminiscences about the event which caused me to re-think it. It also turned out there is accessible YouTube video of the entire Fogerty set. Seeing the video reminded me of the show, and caused me to think about it the way I thought about it at the time. So watch the video, if you haven't already, and we can think about how the show seemed so bright and exciting at the time, and in many ways genuinely was--regardless of how I feel about it today.

In Concert Against AIDS, Oakland Coliseum Stadium, Oakland, CA, May 27, 1989
Grateful Dead/Special Appearance by John Fogerty/Tracy Chapman/Los Lobos/Joe Satriani/Tower Of Power
It seems shocking today that a Benefit concert for a terrible disease would be seen as a progressive political act, but such was the Reagan 80s. At least in San Francisco, efforts to prevent AIDS and provide care for those suffering from it had finally expanded beyond the gay community into the general culture. Nonetheless it was still significant when major rock bands headlined a large benefit concert in the Bay Area's biggest venue. Concern for AIDS had finally reached parity with Amnesty International and the Rain Forest, which was a welcome thing. The Coliseum benefit was the largest of several events around the Bay Area, all organized by Bill Graham Presents, and meant to raise awareness as well as money.

Originally the Oakland show was supposed to have joint headliners, with both the Grateful Dead and Huey Lewis and The News. A few weeks before the show, however, Huey Lewis had to drop out of the show. Rather sheepishly, his management publicly conceded that the stadium show was cutting into ticket sales for Lewis around Northern California, and they couldn't afford to work for what was effectively nothing. Lewis and The News were popular, and had had a number of big AM hits, but their last album (1988's Small World) had only reached #11, whereas the previous two (1983's Fore and 1986's Sports) had both reached #1. The News had played around the Bay Area a lot, and while they put on a good show, their fans apparently weren't going to see them an infinite number of times.

The Dead, of course, had no such concerns. At a press conference, Jerry Garcia graciously said that Huey had to listen to his management, it was part of the business. Yet the Dead had just played two shows at Stanford's Frost Amphitheatre (May 6-7) and had booked three nights at Shoreline (June 18, 19 and 21)--on weeknights no less--and still packed them all. We take this for granted now, but in the Bay Area it was a public reminder of both how huge the Grateful Dead were and how committed their fan base was. Huey Lewis And The News were the biggest act in the Bay Area at the time with respect to record sales, and yet the Dead outdrew them by several multiples. The Dead were no longer an aging hippie band who hadn't broken up--they were the biggest draw in town.

John Fogerty
I no longer recall the exact sequence of booking, but I think John Fogerty replaced Huey Lewis on the bill. It wasn't entirely necessary, as the Dead sold so many tickets. Still, it was in Bill Graham's interest to make the concert a special event, and Fogerty's presence certainly met that criteria. Fogerty had a unique status in the Bay Area at the time, and everyone was reminded of that when word was unofficially "leaked", I believe through Joel Selvin's Chronicle column, that not only would Garcia and Weir back Fogerty, but that Fogerty would be playing old Creedence songs.

Creedence Clearwater Revival had originally formed in El Cerrito High School in 1959 as The Blue Velvets. The band was a quartet, featuring John Fogerty on lead guitar, his older brother Tom on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, and childhood friends Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on drums. The group soldiered on throughout the 60s, under various names (like The Golliwogs), releasing a few singles and playing numerous shows around Northern California. All four of the band members had various obligations to the military, so although the band always played, they could not participate full time in the San Francisco rock explosion of the mid-60s.

By 1968, however, with John Fogerty's service in the US Army Reserve coming to an end, the band could be all-in. The Golliwogs changed their name to the hipper sounding Creedence Clearwater Revival, and took a Monday night residency at a local rock dive called DenoCarlo's, at 750 Vallejo Street, later better known as the Keystone Korner. Soon the experienced band was playing much bigger shows around town. Their long-time label, Fantasy Records, despite mostly being a jazz label, figured they had something and recorded and released Creedence's first album quickly, releasing it in July 1968. The album got good local FM airplay, and the single "Suzie Q" reached #11.

In January 1969, Creedence Clearwater released the album Bayou Country. When John Fogerty was finally released from US Army Reserve duty, he wrote the song "Proud Mary" to celebrate. That song, along with "Born On The Bayou," began a long run of hits for Creedence. The band was hugely popular on both AM and FM radio, a rarity at the time, they were popular with hippies and servicemen, and the band's Southern flavor--they were all from a tiny town near Berkeley, nothing Southern about El Cerrito--broadened their appeal way beyond the usual bunch of hippies.

Bayou Country reached #7 on the album charts, and until Creedence broke up in 1972, they had 4 more top 10 albums and 10 singles in the top 10 as well. For all the famous bands that came out of the Bay Area in the 60s, Creedence outsold them all, both at the time and later. Yet the band's breakup in 1972 was very bitter, and made more so by lawsuits between John Fogerty and Fantasy Records. Fogerty was primed to have a great post-Creedence career, but his anger over how he felt Fantasy had taken his money caused him to lay very low. Ultimately, Fogerty forewent his Creedence royalties so that he could sign with Warner Brothers, and he had some good hits with them, like 1985's "Centerfield."

When Fogerty finally started touring to support his albums, around 1986, he absolutely refused to play any of his Creedence material, since he didn't want any money to go to Fantasy. At the same time, Fantasy was not interested in promoting Creedence, either, so by mid-80s standards, Creedence Clearwater Revival was somewhat forgotten relative to other classic rock bands. However, when Fogerty played a Vietnam Veteran's Benefit in Landover, MD on July 4, 1987, he apparently had a change of heart and his band played 8 Creedence classics, to the enthusiastic reception of the audience. So while seeing Fogerty perform Creedence songs was rare, it was not entirely unprecedented. It is also possible that some legal matters had been resolved with Fantasy, so Fogerty was freer to do what he wanted, but in any case it made the show far more intriguing.

The Concert
The weather for the Day On The Green concert was perfect. Bill Graham, apparently, had an exclusive arrangement with some greater power, so that it never, ever rained when he was having a major outdoor show, and his deal remained in place for the May '89 AIDS Benefit. Another oddity about the AIDS Benefit was that there were no less than five opening acts for the Grateful Dead, which I think was some kind of record for a Bay Area Grateful Dead show. Although I don't precisely recall, I have good reason to think that we were intentionally late, and only arrived in time to see John Fogerty and the Dead. By 1989, I no longer had any desire to spend 12 hours in the sun, just to wipe myself out for what I wanted to see at the very end.

I don't believe the show was sold out, although I no longer can remember for certain. By 1989, the Dead were huger than ever, thanks to "Touch Of Grey", and I think the Coliseum show was an opportunity for a lot of people who had always wanted to see the Dead but hadn't been been able to get tickets. Frost and Shoreline shows sold out pretty rapidly, so regular rock fans who wanted to see the Dead were out of luck. Thus the crowd was very Dead-positive, with plenty of Deadheads, but far less like the insular club of Deadhead veterans that were characteristic of Bay Area shows at the time.

Johh Fogerty hit the stage in the late afternoon, last up before the Grateful Dead. His band, previously announced, was
John Fogerty-lead guitar, vocals
Jerry Garcia-guitar
Bob Weir-guitar
Randy Jackson-bass
Steve Jordan-drums
Jackson and Jordan were well-known and well regarded as session players. Randy Jackson was a working member of Santana's band at the time, among many other gigs. Today, of course, Jackson is best known as a judge for the TV show American Idol, but that was far in his future. Jordan had played the Bay Area recently, on the 1988 tour with Keith Richards, whose album he had co-produced. Fogerty played 11 songs in about 45 minutes.
Born On The Bayou
Green River
Down On The Corner
Rock And Roll Girl
Proud Mary
Midnight Special
Bad Moon Rising
Fortunate Son
encores with Clarence Clemons-tenor saxophone
Suzie Q
Long Tall Sally
We had pretty good seats, but by definition of having seats, we were pretty far back--behind first base, as I recall. However, there was a big video screen, so we could see what was happening onstage.  I was seeing a lot of rock bands at the time, and I was pretty excited about seeing Fogerty. A lot of bands were doing what amounted to "Legacy" tours, like Pink Floyd and The Who, and I had mixed feelings about them. I had seen Fogerty a few years earlier, next door at the Coliseum Arena, and while he did a good show, the absence of all his great hits left a shadow over the concert.

Unlike some middle-aged rock acts, Fogerty looked healthy and sounded great, probably a function of Fogerty having mostly spent most of the previous 15 years at home with his family instead of grinding it out on the road like The Dead. Nonetheless, it was strange for me in many ways, as it must have been for many fans that were present: here was John Fogerty, a huge rock star, playing a relatively historic show, and here we were obsessing over what his backup guitarist was doing.

Garcia And The Fogertys
Most serious Deadheads knew that Garcia had played with Tom Fogerty, John's brother. Tom had left Creedence in 1970 over various issues, reducing the band to a trio. Merl Saunders had been on Fantasy Records since the mid-60s, and he had known the Fogerty brothers long before they were famous. Since Merl and Jerry regularly hung out at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, at 10th and Parker, the so-called "House That Creedence Built," it was hardly a surprise when Merl had invited his old friend Tom to play guitar alongside of Jerry in 1971. Tom Fogerty had played quite a few shows with Garcia and Saunders, up through late '72, and played on various studio projects with Merl and Jerry as well.

However, by 1971, relations were strained between John Fogerty and Fantasy Records, so it is very unlikely that John Fogerty ever hung out at 10th and Parker. While I assume that John Fogerty and Jerry Garcia had met backstage at some rock festival or something, the Dead and Creedence had hardly ever played shows together. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one indoor show together, a multi-act People's Park Benefit at Winterland on May 28, 1969. In that respect, it was if Garcia and John Fogerty had gone to high school together. They had many shared experiences and mutual friends and nemeses, no doubt, and had--in effect--passed each other in the halls many times, yet hardly knew each other.

Did Garcia Rehearse With John Fogerty?
The question I would most like to have answered about this show is "who rehearsed?" From watching the video, it is clear that John Fogerty had run through the songs with Randy Jackson and Steve Jordan. Now, Creedence songs are delightfully basic, as well as famous worldwide, so pros like Jackson and Jordan hardly needed many takes. On every song, however, Jackson and Jordan both provide a funky bottom and plenty of accent. They knew the tunes, and they knew how to make them swing, so I think they had worked on them with Fogerty.

Jerry Garcia, however, was notorious for never wanting to rehearse. Weir is far less notorious for avoiding rehearsals, though it is also known that he is famously not on time, so it may amount to something similar. Since John Fogerty wasn't particularly close to any members of the Dead, it's clear that Bill Graham was the one who got Garcia and Weir to accompany Fogerty, and in so doing make it "an event," in classic Graham style. Could Graham have persuaded Garcia to rehearse? The alternative is strange, namely playing a show in front of 40,000 people with at least two band members completely flying blind.

Here's what I think, although I am anxious to hear if anyone knows different. Fogerty knows his songs are simple, and assumes that everyone knows them. I think Fogerty had a rehearsal with Jackson and Jordan on a prior day. On the day of the show, I think Garcia and Weir had a dressing room run-through with Fogerty and the rhythm section, agreeing on the tempos and the intros. Sandy Rothman has described how the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band did not really practice songs, they just agreed on an intro and tempo and sang a chorus together. Granted, Rothman, Garcia and David Nelson had played all those songs before, but it was usually twenty years earlier. Still, one chorus run through was sufficient. So I think Fogerty talked Garcia and Weir through the planned songs, but they had never really played together until they got on stage.

Jerry Garcia-Electric Guitar and Backing Vocal
Garcia's appearance with John Fogerty has seemingly receded in importance over the years. Fogerty has been a relatively regular performer, touring with Bruce Springsteen for example, so his mere performance of old Creedence songs is no longer a big deal, just another classic rock guy. Creedence songs have a nice groove, but they aren't jamming platforms, so of course Garcia just plunks away through the entire show, and nothing about his playing at the Coliseum is really memorable.

However, watching the video again, after all these years, caused me to think about the show in a different light. On one hand, Jerry Garcia's health in 1989 was as good as it had been in at least a decade, nor it would ever be that good again. Yet the stunning success of "Touch Of Grey," gratifying as it must have been, insured that the bubble of Garcia's life meant that he was more insulated than ever. Garcia wasn't just a legend to Deadheads, he was in the pantheon now, the biggest rock star in the Bay Area, in a beautiful cage with no escape.

When Fogerty kicks off the familiar, booming riff of "Born On The Bayou," Garcia is tucked back on stage left, next to Steve Jordan's drums. Randy Jackson is on the other side of Jordan, and Weir is right next to Jackson. Although Garcia plays a very simple figure behind Fogerty for "Bayou," his eyes are on Jordan, and Jerry has a big, happy grin on his face. I'm not imagining this--Garcia has a big grin on his face throughout the entire set, and he mugs happily with Jordan as the drummer plays fills and accents through the set. Weir seems to be having the same kind of fun with Randy Jackson over on stage right. Fogerty is the star, front and center, but the band is getting their own groove on behind him.

The Fogerty set isn't a big deal to Deadheads, but it's hard to get around the fact that Garcia is having a great time. Whether Fogerty was "bigger" than Garcia is beside the point. Fogerty is a genuine star, with genuine hits, so he is the center of attention while he is on stage. For any singer less important than Fogerty--as in, just about all of them--Garcia could not hang back, but he can do so here. For 45 minutes, it's like Garcia is at the Keystone Berkeley or something, hanging out with his peers, playing the guitar parts that are dictated by the music, simple though they may be.

When they get to the third song, the unforgettable "Down On The Corner," Jerry is practically jumping up and down. In a small but fascinating moment, he steps up to the mic to sing the backing vocals. Now granted, the whole English speaking world knows that it goes "Down on the corner/Out in the street/Willie and The Poor Boys are playing/Bring a nickel, tap your feet," but Jerry actually steps up to sing. Over the years, I've seen and heard Garcia make lots of guest appearances with various artists. Yet how often did he sing the chorus of other people's hit songs?

After "Down On The Corner," Fogerty introduces the band, and Garcia's back is turned when it is his turn, as he's tuning up. Fogerty says "wake him up!' and Garcia turns around. "On guitar, Jerry Garcia!" Garcia grins and goes back to tuning, and Fogerty says "Genius at work." This is just musicians goofing around, albeit goofing around on stage in front of 40,000 people, but Garcia gets to be just another dude on stage, perhaps for one of the last times. A few months later (August 2, 1989), he would share the stage with Carlos Santana and Ruben Blades but that was for a TV special where he was a featured guest. At the Oakland Coliseum, he's just a hired gun playing a bunch of top 40 songs.

The event is clearly a big deal for Fogerty, as well. He puts on an A's cap, and says what an honor it is to play in his hometown in center field, and then, of course, plays "Centerfield," but Jerry seems to enjoy that too. Garcia joins Weir for the backing vocals for "Proud Mary" and "Midnight Special." Most interestingly, on "Bad Moon Rising," Weir sings the backing vocal, but Garcia does not step up to his mic. Nonetheless, he can be clearly seen mouthing the familiar lyrics, along with every other person in the Oakland Coliseum.

Clarence Clemons joins in for the encore. Bruce Springsteen was the biggest act in the country at the time, and having his chief henchman on stage made the set even more of an event. As a Grateful Dead footnote, I believe this was Clarence's first stage appearance with Garcia [update: my belief was incorrect. Clarence had played with the Grateful Dead on Dec 31 '88, and may have already played with the Garcia Band as well, back in March]. Clarence's second appearance with Garcia would come about 90 minutes later, when he joined the Grateful Dead for much of their first and second set at the Coliseum. Clemons would go on to play a number of shows with the Jerry Garcia Band, but on this May afternoon it was the first most public onstage intersection of Bruce's world with Jerry's.

The Dead played their headline sets later that day, and went on to even greater success. John Fogerty came to grips with his past, and generally speaking Creedence songs played some part in his future shows. Fogerty and the Dead only crossed paths one other time, however, once again and far more tragically engineered by Bill Graham. At the memorial concert in Golden Gate Park for Graham's death, on November 3, 1991, the Dead played the final set. Graham's deal with higher powers was good one last time, and despite being November, the weather was great. John Fogerty joined in for four songs, obviously with no rehearsal, but with plenty of confidence that it would work. The music was nice, but I don't think Jerry was grinning ear to ear this time.

As Deadheads, we always wanted certain things from Jerry. When Garcia didn't give us what we want, we grumbled, and thanks to the magic of tape and digital recording, we can collectively complain about it for decades. Good times! But we have to keep in mind that what we wanted wasn't always what Jerry wanted. For a Memorial Day Saturday, Garcia wanted to be in a band, playing songs the way they were written, singing his parts when they came around, grooving with the drummer and letting the front man do the heavy lifting. Did it ever come around again that Jerry got to play simple, popular songs with a front man with enough gravitational pull so that it wasn't All About Jerry? In that sense, Garcia's role as John Fogerty's backing musician is a last look backwards for Garcia, a time when he could just be in the band, if only for 45 minutes.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

January 20, 1967 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA: Timothy Leary with The Grateful Dead

There have been circulating lists of Grateful Dead shows since at least the early 1980s. I got my own copy of the Janet Soto list in 1981, Paul Grushkin published Dennis McNally's list in 1983 in his The Official Book Of The Deadheads, John Dwork had a circulating list and so on. When the first edition of Deadbase was published in early 1987, the baseline text for Grateful Dead scholarship was established. As the collective enterprise expanded to multiple additions of Deadbase, Deadlists,, The Jerry Site, and so on, our knowledge of the history of Grateful Dead performances expanded enormously. Yet in the never-ending quest to find new "lost" Dead shows, a quest that appears to be led by me right now, we lose sight of some unexplained mysteries that have been on "The List" for so long that we no longer question them.

A show that has been part of the Canon since the early eighties is a performance at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday, January 20, 1967. The headliner at this show was former Harvard professor and "acid guru" Timothy Leary, and he was supposedly "backed" by the Grateful Dead. Upon reflection, this must have been a very strange event, so strange that I wonder if it even happened. I am aware of no eyewitness accounts, no reviews and no recollections from members of the Grateful Dead. I do know the source of our knowledge of the show, however, and it is quite fleeting. This post will consider what little we know about the Grateful Dead's performance on January 20, 1967, at the Santa Monica Civic, supporting Timothy Leary. This would have been the Grateful Dead's first performances in the Los Angeles area since their February and March sojourn with Owsley the previous year. In early 1966, the Grateful Dead were unknown, but by early 1967 the Dead were at least underground sensations who were newly-signed to Warner Brothers Records.

[update: thanks to inspirational Commenter LightIntoAshes, we know the concert took place, and we have an eyewitness account from Owsley himself]

Ralph Gleason's SF Chronicle column on Friday, January 27, mentions the Grateful Dead playing with Timothy Leary the previous week.
The primary source for adding a Tim Leary/Grateful Dead show at Santa Monica, comes from a generally reliable source, San Francisco Chronicle music columnist Ralph Gleason. He wrote four columns a week on music for the Chronicle, and he regularly covered the San Francicso psychedelic ballroom scene in great detail (along with jazz, blues and country music). The excerpt above is from Friday, January 27, 1967, and it says:
Tonight and tomorrow night, Dr. Timothy Leary will unveil the mystery of religion as show biz in his two dates here at the Berkeley Community Theater (tonight) and Winterland (tomorrow night). The Leary production was a sell-out in Santa Monica, I'm told, and the Grateful Dead played with him. 
This weekend the Dead won't be along (they're at the Avalon Ballroom) and it's not known if another rock band will perform. The Leary happening includes films, a light show, chants and a psychedelic trip induced without drugs. "It really works," an expert in this genre told me. Personally I wouldn't miss this out of sheer animal curiosity. It may be the most interesting religious event since the last Black Mass. 
A few details stand out from this description. Gleason was a supporter of all kinds of music, but he was a journalist first. When he says the show "was a sell-out in Santa Monica," and then adds "I'm told," he is noting that this was unverified by him, and raises the hint that perhaps some exaggeration may be taking place. When he says "'It really works,' an expert in this genre told me," his deadpan tone suggests that the whole thing is hype.

One of the best sources for San Francisco 60s rock history was Gleason's columns in the Chronicle, and they were relatively accessible in later years through good libraries. A mistake in Gleason's column will be repeated over and over in numerous rock tomes, a clear sign that their root source was the same. Thus I am pretty certain that the Dead's Santa Monica performance was uncovered by research on Gleason's column. Someone must have figured out that the show was Friday January 20 rather than Saturday January 21, but I have never seen an ad or listing in the paper (please send one if you've got it).

If Gleason did in fact attend one of the Leary shows in San Francisco or Berkeley, he did not write about it, which leads me to think he didn't drop by. We do have one reliable account of the Bay Area shows, however, from writer Charles Perry. Perry was a Berkeley hippie at the time--he was briefly Owsley's roommate in 1964 or so--but he became a writer for Roling Stone. Perry wrote the excellent book Haight-Ashbury: A History, in 1984. At the time, 1967 seemed farther ago than it does now, but many of Perry's friends and acquaintances had been through the whole thing, so Perry's sources were far more contemporary. In the book, Perry has an excellent chronology, clearly based on the Chronicle, but with additional details, no doubt provided by people he knew.

Perry says that the two Leary performances at Berkeley and Winterland were busts, with Leary droning on to largely empty auditoriums. There was a rock group present, a hip but obscure band called The Outfit. According to Perry, The Outfit noodled along while Leary talked. I'm not surprised that Leary drew tiny crowds: by the standards of the 1967 rock market, Winterland and BCT were huge (8900 capacity between them), and Leary was not a popular figure in the Haight. No San Francisco rock band could have sold 8900 tickets on a weekend, so it's no surprise that Leary didn't. This too, provides some grounds for suspicion about the Santa Monica show. Was Tim Leary more popular in Los Angeles? I doubt it. As for the Grateful Dead, while they did have some underground cachet, they had no record and they had hardly played LA. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium had a seated capacity of 2500, still nearly twice as large as The Fillmore, a lot of seats for the era. The more we look into this, the stranger it seems.

The Lee Conklin poster for the Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service show at the Avalon Ballroom on January 27-28, 1967, while Timothy Leary was at Berkeley and Winterland, backed by The Outfit.
The Grateful Dead, January 1967
January of 1967 was an extremely busy month for the Grateful Dead, but it is true that the weekend of January 20-21 is blank except for the Santa Monica show. The previous weekend (January 13-15), the Dead had played the Fillmore with a new Los Angeles band called The Doors. In the middle of it, the band found time to play at the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park on Saturday, January 14. All of hip San Francisco was there, as was Timothy Leary. Leary spoke to the assembled crowd at some point, but all observers say that despite his celebrity status, he had little impact on the audience.

On the weekend of January 27, the Dead played three shows at the Avalon. Friday (January 27) and Saturday (January 28) the Dead played with their pals the Quicksilver Messenger Service. On Sunday night (January 29), the Dead were joined by Big Brother and The Holding Company and Moby Grape in a benefit for the San Francisco Hare Krshna temple (no word on whether Jerry joined in for some jamming on their well known hit "Hare Krshna, Hare Krshna, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,"). On Monday, January 30, the Dead began recording their first album at RCA Studios in Los Angeles.

Yet the Dead were a working band, and perpetually in need of cash, so it makes sense that they would try to find a paid booking anywhere they could. If they were paid to play on a bill with Timothy Leary, they would have done it if the money was good. In those bygone days, it only cost $20 to fly from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Pacific Southwest Airlines, which wasn't much money even then. So the Dead, who only had one crew member at the time, could have bought six tickets, and perhaps a few extra for the guitars or managers, and flown down to the show. What is more curious is their pairing with Timothy Leary, which was at odds with what would come to follow for both Leary and the Dead.

Timothy Leary addressing the crowd at the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, January 14, 1967
Timothy Leary
The whole subject of Timothy Leary is complex and interesting for those people who are interested in that sort of thing, but I am not particularly one of them. Thus I will just recap some key points of Leary's history up through 1967, as the rest of his story is quite accessible on the web. Leary (1920-1996) had ended up as an untenured 39-year old Assistant Professor at Harvard in 1959 (his actual title was Lecturer in Clinical Psychology). Leary was a popular and charismatic lecturer, with a lengthy list of accomplishments up to that point, but he was hardly conventional. Along with his colleague Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) Leary begin clinical studies on the effects of Psilocybin and LSD.

Leary had a knack for attracting attention, and by 1962 he was actually turning away volunteers for his experiment, which apparently led to a small black market for LSD around the Harvard Campus. From another point of view, however, though Leary's research interests were sincere, his methodology was sloppy, and it seemed unlikely that he would get tenure at Harvard. This is common for Assistant Professors at Ivy League colleges, but they are supposed to get tenure elsewhere and return to the Ivies some years later in triumph. Leary, who liked undergraduate women and liquor as well as psychedelic drugs, focused more on having a party and burnishing his image.

By the time Leary was relieved his duties in May, 1963, he was already infamous. He spent the next few years as a sort of public figure, advocating the then-legal use of LSD. When the Pranksters and then Owsley arrived on the scene, there became two distinct threads of LSD advocacy. Leary had fallen in with some wealthy patrons, Peggy and Billy Hitchcock, who lived at the Millbrook Estate in New York, so he could afford to have a philosophical bent. In the Fall of '66, Leary had a sort of tour where he lectured at college campuses. He also claimed to have founded a religion, with LSD as its holy sacrament, a distinctly different approach to LSD than the one shared by Kesey, Owsley and the Dead. Thus there was a distinct philosophical divide between the Haight-Ashbury's view of LSD as a tool for living, and Leary's more patrician philosophy.

The Outfit, with Bobby Beausoleil on guitar, played at Chinatown's Dragon A Go Go on September 6, 1966
The Outfit
By early 1967, Leary was a public figure. However, he was more of a well-known figure amongst adults and "The Establishment," and younger, long-haired rock fans were somewhat indifferent to him. By 1967, Leary was 47 years old, and a master at presenting himself in provocative soundbites, like "Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out." I think many young people in 1967 thought Leary was cool, in some sort of general way, because he advocated getting high, but he hardly had iconic status. Young people weren't ultimately that interested in 47-year-old ex-Professors and their philosophical views when they faced the reality of themselves and their friends getting drafted. San Francisco, which then as now saw itself as hip central, would also have been dismissive of Leary because his hipness was of a patronizing East Coast variety that never goes over out west.

The fact that The Outfit was hired to support Leary at his performances actually tells us quite a bit. The Outfit remain a super-obscure SF band, but they were cool insiders to the core, even if their music probably wasn't particularly memorable. We know the story of The Outfit from the classic fanzine Cream Puff War #2. Originally formed in 1965, by mid-66 The Outfit rehearsed at the Straight Theater on Haight Street, along with the Grateful Dead and others. By this time, band members were singer Win Hardy, bassist John Ciambotti (later in Clover), drummer Steve Bonnicelli (later in Flying Circus), rhythm guitarist "Cousin Robert" Resner and lead guitarist Bobby Beausoleil. Robert Resner was the cousin of Straight partner Hillel Resner, so the band was hooked in from the beginning. One of their managers was Bard Dupont, the original bassist for The Great Society, chosen for his Beatles-like hair, and another real scene-maker.

By early 1967, The Outfit hadn't really made any progress. Beausoleil had left, first to play with the intriguing Electrik Chamber Orkustra, and then to join with a disturbing Haight denizen named Charles Manson (which is why Beausoleil is serving life in prison). The Outfit added Jim Brown on lead guitar, who had been writing songs with Hardy. Some brief hope of a Columbia records contract in December, 1966 came to nothing, and the band returned to San Francisco. However, though hardly well known, The Outfit were always well connected, so they had the connections to be chosen to back Leary. For a group like The Outfit, a paying gig was always welcome, even if the circumstances were not exactly rock and roll. By the time of the Leary shows, Bard Dupont was no longer the manager and singer Win Hardy was out of the band, too, and The Outfit were down to a quartet (Jim Brown-lead guitar, Cousin Robert-guitar, John Ciambotti-bass, Steve Bonicelli-drums).

Santa Monica Civic
The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, located at 1855 Main Street in Santa Monica, was built in 1958. It had a seated capacity of 2500, and at the time of its construction it was the second largest auditorium in Los Angeles. I have to assume that a former college professor like Leary wanted his audience seated so they could concentrate on his lecture, not dancing around. Over the years, the Santa Monica Civic was used for many musical, sporting and other events, but it was never the province of one promoter, so it doesn't have particular cachet as a rock venue. In later years, as the rock market got bigger, Santa Monica Civic tended to be used only when other arenas weren't available. Because it is in the Greater Los Angeles area, however, many well known tv shows and albums have been recorded there, including The TAMI Show in 1964 and the Eagles Long Run live album in 1980.

I personally have a theory that the The Grateful Dead played Santa Monica Civic on January 17, 1969 (since there is no Santa Barbara Civic Auditorium), but that is a topic for another post. As for confirmed shows, the Dead only played Santa Monica Civic one other time, on March 7, 1970. I believe the 1970 show was promoted by Bill Graham or an associate, so the Civic was a venue that would be available to outside promoters. However, even with the unseated 3000 capacity, the Dead would outgrow Los Angeles venues the size of Santa Monica Civic in the next few years anyway, so it's not surprising that the Dead never played there after 1970.

Some Traces
So what are we left with? An unverifiable assertion from Ralph Gleason that the Grateful Dead somehow "backed" Tim Leary to a packed house in Santa Monica, even though the very next weekend Leary played to minimal crowds in the Bay Area, supported by an obscure band that would play any gig? Any subsequent reports of Grateful Dead connections to Leary, such as the band members' trip to Millbrook in June '67 (the Dead were playing the Cafe Au Go Go, and Weir had reconnected to John Barlow, who had an in at Millbrook), omit any mention of the Santa Monica gig. Leary was at the Human Be-In, but it wasn't surprising that the Dead never met him there. Why weren't any reminiscences about Millbrook flavored by any recollections about backing Leary in Santa Monica?

Are we to believe that the Grateful Dead flew down to Santa Monica to play a show with Timothy Leary, and never spoke to him? Now, Leary was notoriously autocratic, and would have thought nothing of having some sort of underling "instruct" his "backing band" on how to support his greatness, but who are we dealing with here? The 1967 Grateful Dead were hardly likely to noodle quietly for 40 minutes while Leary droned on about philosophy--they were more likely to break into an extended rave-up on "Caution: Do Not Stop On Tracks," which wouldn't have gone over well with the one-time professor.

Underneath his engaging persona, Leary had a reputation as a master manipulator. However, I suspect that one of his main methods in 1967 would have been to get people around him to drop acid, and then to take advantage of them when they were in a somewhat confused state. This strategy would have failed spectacularly with the Dead. For the 1967 Grateful Dead, dropping acid and performing was pretty much like a typical office worker having their coffee prior to the first meeting of the day, so the band would hardly have been intimidated by any high minded head games perpetrated by Leary or his minions.

If the Dead had been annoyed or offended by Leary, and particularly if they had pranked him by playing loud, or any other thing, I would think that it would have been mentioned over the years, given how many times the Dead were asked about LSD. It's more likely that the Dead simply agreed to play before or after Leary spoke, and just played a set or two of music. So whether it was a good show or not, it was just another gig for the band, and they may not have met Leary at all. Nonetheless, when you reflect upon it, it is curious to consider two icons of the 60s, one at his peak, about to go down,  and the others still on their way up, on the same bill, and none even recalling the event at all.

There is a final point to consider. When I first wrote about the Grateful Dead's touring itinerary in 1967, I made the point that most paying shows were on weekends. As such, the historiographical goal was to find empty weekends that may may have a secret lost show attached to them. Given that the Dead may have indeed gone down to Los Angeles to perform on the same bill with Timothy Leary, there may have been other Grateful Dead shows in the Los Angeles area that weekend. One of my fellow researchers is on the trail of just such a thing, and that may add a lot to the puzzle. If he comes up aces, I will be sure to report it here, but for now we have to just consider that it may have been a possibility.

It's plausible that the Santa Monica show with Timothy Leary was just another paid booking for the Grateful Dead, at a time when they needed it. If they were in Los Angeles to play more than one show, then maybe the Leary show hardly weighed on the minds of the band members, so when Leary and the Dead had their "summit meeting" some months later at Millbrook, none of them recalled it.

One of the attractive things about blogging about modern history is that the history is still contemporary. If any readers have any light to shed on this event--a listing, a review, a rumor, a screwy hypothesis--please include it in the Comments or email me.

Update: Commenter and Scholar LightIntoAshes has the scoop:
McNally has a small confirmation of the show with Leary in January, saying that the Dead opened for his lecture, and Danny Rifkin found his slide show "quite gorgeous."

Luckily, we have a longer, more complete account of the evening - it turns out Owsley also attended!
From Greenfield's biography of Leary:
"Six days after the Human Be-In, Tim appeared with the Grateful Dead at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Owsley Stanley would later recall, 'Somebody played a sitar and Tim did a rave, and then the band played. He was being Guru Tim.'

Tim later described his appearance as 'the highlight of the road tour. Hall jammed. Grateful Dead jammed. The LSD alchemist Owsley was everywhere dispensing his White Lightning pills.' He omitted mentioning the 'little old lady' who threw rotten eggs at him while yelling, 'You ruined my son with your devil drugs!' ...

'Tim did his lecture and people threw packets of hash and LSD and joints and flowers, and an old lady threw some eggs,' Rosemary Woodruff remembered. 'My mother and father were in the audience, and when I asked my mother, "What did you think of Tim's lecture?" she said, "Well, Daddy doesn't like the smell of incense, honey."

'I was backstage listening to Tim while watching Owsley pace and do the monitors. And he said, "Are you sure you guys take acid?" Because Tim was going on and on.'

'Everything he said was very provocative,' Owsley Stanley recalled. '"Fuck authorities. To hell with your parents. Turn on, tune in, drop out. Take acid, don't care about what anyone would say, do as you please.' He scared a lot of people because they thought he was too weird. And he was. He just kind of went around the bend. Everyone was saying, "Look, Tim, you're out of control here. You've got to cool it. You're bringing too much heat on everything. We don't want a lot of attention." But he wouldn't listen.'" (p.303-4)

On p.330, it's also mentioned that founding members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love went to see Leary at this appearance, though with no extra details.
So apparently there was a sort of 'multi-media' show, and Leary gave some sort of lecture, and then the Dead closed the show. There are many remarkable details embedded within these quotes. For one thing, the Grateful Dead had parted ways with Owsley in August 1966, since his "business interests" were not aligned with the Dead's goal of being successful professional musicians. Nonetheless, they were all still friends, and it sounds like Owsley was the guest soundman for the night ("do the monitors").

The most tantalizing detail is that the the founders of The Brotherhood Of Eternal Love went to see the Dead. Unraveling the double helix of connecting strands between the Dead and the BOEL would practically take a book, and fortunately one is being written right now. So it turns out that not only did the Dead and Tim Leary share the stage in Santa Monica in January 1967, but all sorts of wheels were set in motion for underground America as well.

updateII: Commenter runonguinness has found an eyewitness account, from Rosie McGee's book (in chapter 4)
During that trip to Hollywood, the band was asked to play for one of Timothy Leary’s League for Spiritual Discovery events, held in a Santa Monica auditorium for an audience of several hundred.

Backstage we all ceremoniously dropped acid with Leary and his entourage, taking our time before going out onto the stage that was covered with carpets and decorated with floral arrangements and candles. At first, we all sat cross-legged in a circle and listened as Leary started the evening’s “guided trip” by reading from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, while a slide and light show of eclectic images played on a large screen above him. (The book is a translation of an eighth century text that is traditionally read aloud over the body of a person who has just passed on, in the belief that it will guide them on their journey from death to whatever follows.)

Leary likened the stages of a psychedelic journey to the stages of transition described in that classic book and he spoke at great length. As I started to come on to the acid, my initial impression of Leary from the Be-In was validated—that he was impassioned and sincere, but tedious as hell.

I guess his more formal and serious framework for a psychedelic trip was too rigid for someone who’d so recently participated in the no-holds-barred Acid Tests. As I looked around at the guys in the band and the others who’d come with us, I saw I wasn’t alone in my impatience with Leary.

When he finished the first part of his talk, he asked the band to play, and I don’t recall it being a particularly long set. I do remember that the audience just sat there in their auditorium seats.

The most enjoyable part of the night was coming down from the acid at the beach house of a friend of Bear’s. The entire house was geared toward post-psychedelic comfort and warmth. There were overstuffed chairs and couches throughout the house, upholstered in muted shades of gold, purple and red, and covered with pillows. The lamps were fitted with amber or red bulbs, and candles were everywhere. Light and fragrant incense burned in the living room and the music, alternately classical guitar and Indian sitar pieces, was set at a low volume.

The contrast between the trip itself in a sterile auditorium and that homey re-entry was striking. That night I learned for the first time what a difference environment makes to the quality of a psychedelic experience.