Friday, December 11, 2009

Greynolds Park Love-In, North Miami Beach, FL April 14, 1968 Grateful Dead/Blues Image

A fellow scholar  uncovered yet another lost Grateful Dead gig, and and it in turn revealed a number of other lost gigs. An AP Wire Service story from Monday, April 15, 1968 described a free concert at an Easter Sunday "Love-In" in Greynolds Park in Miami (the story above is from the Colorado Springs Gazette of April 15, 1968). A crowd of over 3,000 attended the event, and guitarist Mike Pinera of the Florida band Blues Image described it as "just like church." The article ends by saying "when the happening began to drag, a six-man combo from San Francisco called the Grateful Dead climbed onto the stage and added cool sounds to the love-in." On the weekend following the Love-In, the Grateful Dead played Miami's main psychedelic venue, Thee Image on Friday (April 19), Saturday (April 20) and Sunday (April 21). Thee Image was a former bowling alley at 18330 Collins Avenue, and had only begun presenting shows the previous month. The venue had debuted with The Mothers of Invention and Blues Image on March 15 and 16, 1968.

The fact that the Grateful Dead were in town the weekend before begs the question of what they were doing there. Up until now, after a possible San Francisco gig on April 3, 1968, it was thought that the Spring 1968 tour began on April 19, 1968 at Thee Image. However, it was one thing for the Dead to play for free in the Bay Area, since the expense of performing was little more than gas money and generator rental. It was quite another for them to fly to Miami a week early, potentially foregoing a weekend gig in California or elsewhere. However, a careful look at the poster for the April 19-20-21 gig at Thee Image (better viewed here) shows the words "Held Over," so in fact the Spring 68 Grateful Dead tour began on Friday April 12. The Grateful Dead April performance schedule properly reads

April 3, 1968 Winterland KMPX-fm Strike Benefit
April 12-13-14, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL (probably with Blues Image)
April 14, 1968 Graynolds Park, North Miami Beach, FL free afternoon concert with Blues Image
April 19-20-21, 1968 Thee Image, Miami FL (probably with Blues Image)
April 26-27-28, 1968 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

According to the limited information available about Thee Image, the operators regularly produced free events in Greynolds Park, just across the bay at 17530 West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach. Bill Graham had shown on his 1967 Dead and Airplane tour of Canada how free concerts by little known bands from out of town could draw a crowd, and indeed the Dead had pioneered that strategy in their first trip to Vancouver in August 1966.

However, the South was slow to open itself to psychedelic rock, not due to lack of interest from young people, but due to the more conservative nature of the area and police hostility to long hair, drug use and draft resisters.  Miami, while very much part of the South, was also primarily a resort town and a destination for many people from the Northeast, and it had the relaxed informality of most seaside communities. While not necessarily hippie friendly, and while not yet quite Margaritaville, it was less conservative than other port cities in the South.

The first psychedelic rock venue in Miami was The World (Biscayne Blvd at NE 142nd St), which opened in 1967, and it turned out to be too small, so Thee Image opened in an old 32-lane bowling alley at 18330 Collins Avenue. Thee Image and the Vulcan Gas Company in Austin were the only two psychedelic venues in the South in 1968.

Update: it turns out that there was a poster from the week of April 5-14 that includes the Grateful Dead. The Dead came to Miami to work in Criteria Studios, probably mixing Anthem Of The Sun, although apparently little was accomplished.

Appendices: The Blues Image and Marshall Brevitz
Elsewhere, I have dealt with at some length about what is known about the history of Thee Image during the 13 months it was open (from March 1968 to April 1969). However, it is worth repeating a few words about The Blues Image and Marshall Brevitz, some of the principal entities behind Thee Image.

Blues Image
Blues Image were a 6-piece R&B band called The Motions from Tampa, Florida, with two drummers, one of several acts around the country who started playing with two drummers, including the Dead in San Francisco and Clear Light in Los Angeles. There seems to be a good argument to make that The Motions were first in 1966, but in any case none of the bands seemed aware of each other. The Motions moved to Miami because they felt they had a better chance to make it. They changed their name, too, and Blues Image was a homage to Al Kooper and The Blues Project, at that time an ultra-hip band (and rightly so). The best known members of Blues Image today are guitarist Mike Pinera, still rocking it today, and drummer/percussionist Joe Lala, active for many years as a session man and best known for working with Stephen Stills Manassas (not to mention a lengthy acting career).

When Thee Image opened in March 1968, Blues Image were not only the house band, they ran the club. It appears that Blues Image played pretty much every weekend at Thee Image, whether or not they were on the poster. Visiting musicians were very impressed with the group, and both Frank Zappa and Eric Burdon told them that they had to move to New York or Los Angeles to make it. Since Zappa and Burdon were both based in Los Angeles, Blues Image moved to Los Angeles. They released a few albums, enjoyable blues rock for the most part, but clearly somewhat tamer than their impressive live reputation, a typical result of 60s record production.

After their self-titled debut album on Atco in 1969, Blues Image's second album in 1970 was called Open, and it featured the single "Ride, Captain, Ride" a worldwide monster hit. Mike Pinera had actually left the band he helped found by that time, but he went on to play with Iron Butterfly, Ramatam, New Cactus, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and many others. After a final album in 1971 (Red, White and Blues Image) the group broke up for good. 

Marshall Brevitz
Although the Blues Image ran Thee Image, one of the key participants was a promoter named Marshall Brevitz. He seems to have been a big mover and shaker on the Florida rock scene in 1968. He organized two outdoor concerts in 1968 at Gulfstream Park (May 18-19 and December 28-30) in Hallandale, FL. Hallandale is fairly near to Thee Image. The Dead played the Hollywood Pop Festival in December 1968 (Hollywood is a small town near Hallandale). Brevitz worked with future Woodstock promoter Michael Lang on these concerts.

Brevitz, too, was looking for a larger stage than Miami could offer at the time, and he moved with The Blues Image to Los Angeles in April 1969. With the house band and staff gone, Thee Image closed. Brevitz opened a hip Hollywood (California) nightclub called Thee Experience, at 7551 Sunset Boulevard (between Stanley and Curson), with "Thee" a homage to the prior club. Blues Image initially were the house band at Thee Experience, until they were rapidly snapped up by Atco, just as Zappa and Burdon had predicted (Blues Image apparently backed Eric Burdon for a tour as well, in mid-1969).

In 1970, Thee Experience closed, and Brevitz replaced it with a venue called Thee Club, with his signature "Thee" intact. Thee Club was somewhat ahead of its time, an upscale restaurant and rock club, but the rock market was not ready for it. Still, Brevitz opened Thee Club with an appropriate bang, bringing in the acoustic Grateful Dead to open the venue on August 28, 1970.

Thee Club did not last long either, however, and Brevitz moved on to artist management, where his primary client was Bobby Womack. Womack was successful as a performer, producer and writer in the 1970s, but Brevitz died under suspicious circumstances in the late 1970s, and his intriguing career was cut short.

16 comments:

  1. I was at Thee Image for the gig. I don't remember which night, I was 17 at the time.

    My cousin and I sat in a circle on the floor with about 10 people passing ..... The announcer introduced the Grateful Dead and the guys we were with all stood up and went on stage.

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  2. http://ionamiller.weebly.com/sunset-strip.html

    Here, between Stanley and Curson, was a big club called The Experience. They had food here and ice-cream. This club was famous as a jam hangout---musicians who were in town playing bigger concerts elsewhere would come here after their shows or on the nights they were off to jam. I've been hoping to make the Teaszer conducive to impromptu jams, but it seems musicians today just aren't into jamming. A shame. Hendrix jammed here all the time. There were always famous celebrities in the audience. There was a big picture of Hendrix (on the exterior front wall of the club), and his mouth was the front door---you'd walk in through his mouth!

    The big summer for The Experience was '69; it was probably here for a year-and-a-half, two years, maybe. I remember jamming here with some of the Quicksilver Messenger Service. The Blues Magoos played here on their way down; Alice Cooper played here on their way up---got booed off the stage.

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  3. Some time ago, a poster on the Archive (GatorGuy) wrote a description of seeing the Dead at Thee Image; I'll quote his comments:

    "It was an incredible experience that I have never forgotten. It changed my music tastes forever. It was like nothing we had ever heard and it will always represent the "real" Dead and SF sound to me. As best as I can recall the first set was mostly the first album and the second set was Anthem stuff.
    If you don't know, Thee Image was a small bowling alley with the lanes and equipment removed. There are very few photos of it floating around. It was just across the road from the ocean. The stage was only a couple feet high because of the low ceiling and it was a small crowd - maybe 150 max. So it was like being at a local band concert. We were only few feet from the stage.
    During the set break I think it was Hart who came back into the room we were hanging out in and he spent the break sitting on the floor talking to a girl... During the break the Dead hung around just off to the side of the stage. We could have had a personal audience with them if we had wanted! We could also have partied with them on the beach according to Lesh's biography. Missed opportunities - or dodged bullets.
    The other two images that stick in my mind are Kreutzmann putting an incense stick on his high cymbol and never taking his eyes off it the entire second set. The other image is of Garcia standing on the edge of the stage doing his thing for what was the longest non-stop music we had ever heard.
    We missed the free concert in Grenolds Park - the local SF imitation. The Blues Image was the house band. A lot of great "underground" bands played The Image... It had the standard overhead projector colored water light show behind the band with silent movies and whatever being shown on the side walls.
    Like I said before, this was my first real exposure to anything like this and it was a lot to absorb in a few hours. The So FL music scene was pretty active and progressive compared to a lot of the country (it wasn’t all beach music) and I had roadied for my cousin’s bands that covered Vanilla Fudge, The Doors etc, but we didn’t even suspect what we were about to encounter. We went to Thee Image only on the advice of someone else. We had never even heard of the Grateful Dead and tried to not make the name of the band too explicit when I told my parent where we were headed...
    I think Jerry was really on it the night we went. Incredibly quick and constant with very few "resting spots" during his licks. It was a incredible non-stop flow that I never forgot. Not just fast but moving. Thee Image was an emptied out bowling alley with a low temporary stage so the acoustics were terrible and Pig Pen and Weir were buried in the noise as well as most of the vocals."

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  4. (continued)

    "It was the first (and only) time I heard them so I have a hard time trying to recall the set lists. I had no grid for what I was seeing/hearing. In general the first set was a lot of the first album and the second set was Anthem of the Sun but I am almost certain there was a version of Dark Star thrown in because I distinctly recall the interlude and some of the unique percussion... I have always distinctly remembered the "scraper" thing and gong from their performance and Dark Star is the only possibility. But I was always doubtful because I did not recall anything as "moody' as Dark Star from that night. However, I also just listened to the 3-16-1968 Carousel Dark Star and it is a much faster tempo with a different feel to it. If they played Dark Star with the faster tempo in Miami that would explain why it did not stand out from the rest of the set. The whole second set was played at an incredible pace - much like The Eleven from the 3-30-68 Carousel...
    One song I am sure they played was Alligator...that song stuck in memory. And of course the drums stood out on Alligator...
    It was a small crowd so I haven't found anyone else who attended the Miami shows other than my cousin who was with me."

    (A couple comments - another early showgoer on the Archive also remembered Kreutzmann with the incense stick on his cymbal in those days. There are also plenty of photos - and a snatch of film from Newport '68 - of Garcia standing on the edge of the stage during the jams, something he apparently stopped doing after 1970 or so.)

    PS - Another witness on setlists.net recalls that the Greynolds Park Love-In show was "a 4-hour free show...they played on a flatbed truck before several thousand - a very good show."

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    1. Thanks, LIA, this is a great find. I think the early Grateful Dead were an overhelming experience for the unitiated. The audiences must have often been quite small, so our eyewitness accounts are few.

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    2. There must also have been plenty of people who saw them and were not so impressed. I have read one account from someone who went to the Toronto '67 shows and thought the Dead were a minor hippie warmup act while the Airplane were an awesome revelation.

      What accounts we do have of the early Dead, though, are definitely biased in favor of those who were really impressed enough to be posting about them decades later! Thousands of people did see the Dead in the '60s, after all, but few left us accounts.

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  5. Corry, this is a striking use of simple direct observation ("held over" on the poster) and inference based on your vast understanding of the music biz around this time. I love how confident you are that the GD played the prior weekend.

    And, indeed, I have evidence for those shows, totally QED in my mind.

    ad from Miami Herald for 4/12/68 at Thee Image. Same ad appeared all three nights. I have page numbers for the next nights, not this one, but it was the 4/12/68 Miami Herald.

    Opening are The Kollection and Blues Image.

    Not that there was any question, but QED.

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  6. I had a chance to go through some Miami Heralds. Such square town in those days. All bankers and ad men in leisure suits. Here's some color from the Greynolds event, Easter Sunday, 4/14/68.

    Toner, Mike. 1968. 3,000 Tune In, Turn On for Love-In. Miami Herald, April 15, 1968, pp. 1, 2A.

    Lots of talk about the variety of the genus homo hippicus and its members' quirky ways.


    A Dade sherrifs officers squinted at the haze of smoke drifting skyward and said, "We know they're smoking it, you can smell it in the air, but we're not going to make any arrests for possession of marijuana. There's only two of us, and there's thousands of them. Most of them dress pretty crazy, but so far they've been pretty peaceful," he said.

    He discuss the six-man GD livelying things up. The group hauled a three foot Chinese gong out for the first number ... "Morning Dew" or "Viola Lee Blues" might both have called for one ... wow, either would have been a wake-up call, indeed, on far distant quadrants of emotional space.

    Anyway, there's a little more color. Sounds like a good time.

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    1. Nice to get confirmation of all this. I'm pretty certain that the week inbetween was when the band went into Criteria Studios in Miami to attempt to remix Anthem Of The Sun. I think nothing came of it, but they were there. Criteria was a legendary studio in its own right, but it didn't seem to exert any influence on Anthem.

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  7. As a Miami hippie I was at the opening of Thee Image, The Mothers of Invention were the headliners. Zappa kept grinding cigarettes out on the brand new stage, commenting, "This'll be a fine little club if you ever get it finished." Not mentioned here as far as I can tell is that Thee Image was preceded by Thee Experience around the corner on 163rd St. Also owned by Marshall Brevitz, but with Tito & Anthony Cacace as partners. Tito & Anthony had opened, "The Mushroom,": a much-busted head-shop and hangout in 1067, after a visit to Milbrook, N.Y. headquarters of Tim Leary. The weekly Love-In in Greynolds Park were a gas - lots of woods and lagoons to get lost in etc. until they were subject to a forced move to a sun-blasted open field (not long after this Dead gig) where the police could keep an eye on everyone. Two months later, in June, I said "goodbye" and headed to Berkeley.

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    1. Gallivan, thanks very much for the eyewitness account.

      Indeed, there was a lot more to the story of Miami and Thee Image. I took a crack at it here
      http://rockprosopography101.blogspot.com/2009/12/thee-image-and-miami-rock-scene-march.html

      there's a great Comment thread, too, still ongoing as people keep Flashing Back.

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  8. These dates are wrong. I worked at Thee Image before it opened (clearing the former bowling alley of its alleys), during the late 1960s. I was there for the opening night, featuring 3 nights in a row (Friday, Saturday and sunday) of the Mothers of Invention. I met everyone in the band. Frank Zappa would not get high and party after hours. I saw many more bands there, and was there when The Cream played on Thursday before Good Friday, and Easter week. It was a TBA concert, with no one on the playbill that night. I saw the place packed based on word of mouth. It was SRO, and then some (800 bodies). The following three nights (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) were the Grateful Dead. I saw them get chewed out by Ken Collier because the club had only about 30 people in it. Though The Dead's song, "Morning Dew" was on the radio, it didn't help sales at all. I also went to the recording stdio with them the following week (Anthem of the Sun was played at Criteria Recording Studios). We just hung out. The next weekend, The Dead played an additional three nights in a row. It was an amazing experience, to say the least. You said: ("In 1970, Thee Experience closed, and Brevitz replaced it with a venue called Thee Club, with his signature "Thee" intact. Thee Club was somewhat ahead of its time, an upscale restaurant and rock club, but the rock market was not ready for it. Still, Brevitz opened Thee Club with an appropriate bang, bringing in the acoustic Grateful Dead to open the venue on August 28, 1970....")

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  9. By the way, Ken Collier was also the person who orchestrated the infamous Doors' concert at Dinner Key Auditorium. I know because I was there. Collier oversold the event by about 2,000 tickets. Talk about a huge sardine can. You couldn't even walk around. Jim Morrison was accused of exposing himself (he didn't; he only touched himself suggestively). Months later I was at a local night club when Morrison was back in town for court. He was dancing with a girlfriend of mine and I didn't even know who it was because he had gotten quite burly and was unshaven. He used to be quite the Adonis. It was really sad to see him that way. (... The Incident

    The Dinner Key Auditorium was situated strategically across the parking lot from City Hall in Coconut Grove. Ken Collier, doing-business-as Thee Image Productions, had lured The Doors away from the university hall with a deal for more money. The building was a converted seaplane hanger in general disrepair, with an official seating capacity of seven thousand. The Doors were contracted for a flat twenty-five thousand dollars, based on what they understood to be an auditorium with a forty two-thousand dollar maximum. After the contract was signed, Collier took out the seats and sold several thousand more tickets, nearly doubling the maximum. ...)

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    1. Sorry, I forgot the link. http://www.doors.com/miami/one.html

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