Tuesday, December 15, 2009

June 1, 1967 Tompkins Square Park, New York, NY Grateful Dead (free concert)

The Grateful Dead's first Eastern tour began with an eleven-day booking at the Cafe Au Go Go, a nightclub in Greenwich Village on 152 Bleecker Street. The Au Go Go was a small (400 capacity) place with low ceilings, not an ideal venue for the band, but the Dead were unheard legends from the West, and the Village was where it was all happening.

Interestingly, however, thanks to careful research by an esteemed scholar, it appears that the Dead's first appearance in New York City was actually at Tompkins Square Park, on Thursday June 1. I have seen allusions to the Dead's performance in Tompkins Square Park, but until now I have not had it pinned down. However (h/t Psychlops), a careful review of the June 8, 1967 Village Voice, in a lengthy story about police hassling hippies and free concerts in the city, reveals this paragraph:
June began on Thursday, and the Grateful Dead were in town, and, despite some rumble rumors from the Puerto Ricans, the prospects for peace looked promising.  A happy, scruffy parade of 80 marched down St. Mark's Place, complete with police escort, to present the Dead with a white carnation key to the East Village, graciously accepted by Pigpen. And the Tompkins Square bandshell rocked with San Francisco glory until a noise complaint was lodged in the late afternoon. Rather than tune down, the Dead turned off.
The link to the article is here--see page 21.


When the Dead had played Vancouver in July and August of 1966, underground legends but with no records to their name, they had hit on the idea of playing for free in a public park to publicize their performances. The performances in Stanley Park in Vancouver actually preceded any free shows in the Panhandle, and as the Dead started to tour they used free shows in public parks to attract publicity. It seems to have worked in this case, and it would work again when the Dead played Toronto and Montreal a few months later.

Tompkins Square Park is a relatively small public park in the East Village, bounded by East 10th Street, Avenue A, East 7th Street and Avenue B. A look at the entertainment section of the Village Voice shows what a happening place it was: the Grateful Dead were playing the Cafe Au Go Go, supported by Toronto's coolest band, Luke And The Apostles. Moby Grape was at The Scene, and The Doors were booked for the following week. Wes Montgomery was at the Village Vanguard, andthe Roy Haynes Quartet was at Slug's, although as always, Slug's on Monday night, Sun Ra held court. Upstairs from the Cafe Au Go Go was The Garrick Theater, and the featured act that Summer was Frank Zappa and The Mothers, with their show "Absolutely Free" (which was not, in fact, free, as at least one visitor from New Jersey discovered). Zappa, of course, was famous for not letting his band smoke pot, a prohibition that was very difficult to enforce with the Grateful Dead performing in the basement. According to Rock Scully, members of the Mothers told the Dead that if Zappa caught them smoking pot, they would be punished with more rehearsal.

So although the Dead were underground legends, the 1967 Village was a happening place indeed, so its not surprising that the Dead had to put themselves out there to make sure that rock fans chose them over the numerous other excellent choices.

41 comments:

  1. This has been on Deadlists for awhile, but that's good additional sourcing.

    I have two other questions about this timeframe.

    1) do you list the GD in the Central Park Bandshell on June 8th? It's not listed at Deadlists, but there's a mention in the NYT ("The Music is Hip in Central Park," New York Times, June 9, 1967, p. 40.)

    2) do you know the dates of the Au Go Go run? I found a display ad in the NYT that shows it June 1-11, but DL has it at June 1-10.

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  3. Updated after a quick proof read:

    In answer to your questions - or rather to throw in my two new pence, my own list has:

    (1) 08 June 67: Bandshell on The Mall, Central Park, New York, NY

    (2) Firstly, the poster reads June 1 to 10. Now the spanner in the works, my latest list for the June 1 to June 11 window reads:

    01 June 1967: Tompkins Square Park, New York, NY
    01 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY (Cancelled)
    02 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY (Cancelled)
    03 June 1967: Gym, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY
    03 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY (Cancelled)
    04 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY (Cancelled)
    05 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY (Cancelled)
    06 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY
    07 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY
    08 June 1967: Bandshell on the Mall, Central Park, New York, NY
    08 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY
    09 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY
    10 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY
    11 June 1967: Cafe au Go-Go, New York, NY

    I have gone back to earlier lists - the first dating back to 1981 (which had the June 1-10 dates which would have been based on the poster). For some reason, and Corry might remember if he was involved in the thought process at the time, I removed the first few dates at the Cafe au Go-Go. However, given all the lists Corry and I have shared and created together over the years, I cannot recall us ever getting too wrapped up in the Grateful Dead shows. I guess a lot of folk were giving a lot of attention to the Grateful Dead so we took our modest efforts toward figuring who played the Questing Beast one wet Thursday evening in January 1966.

    The bottom line is that these dates were deliberately removed by me about four years ago - and I don't have any recollection why. The June 11 date was added at least 10 years ago. If I were doing this all over again I would do a much better job of annotating the reasons behind my apparent irrational behaviour.

    In my defence, and I rather hope that Corry will agree, experience has shown the order of reliability of source material to be something along the lines of (best to worst): immediate post show reviews in daily papers > listings of shows in daily papers > contracts (generally larger venues only) > listings of shows in weekly papers (hip, e.g. The Berkeley Barb) > listings of shows in weekly papers (straight, the Sunday's) > handbills > posters > memories (of those who vaguely recall being on the bus).

    Most dates originally came from posters – they were by a long way the best source of available information. We all traded tapes back in the 70s and 80s (and I appreciate a lot of readers will not recall the 70s or 80s, and a few probably not know what “tapes” are) and the confusion over the dating of tapes only made matters worse. 6/7/67 would immediately spark a European date of July 6 and a US date of June 7. It has taken years to figure out. If the month cannot be spelled out only a numeric yyyymmdd seems to be a reasonable way forward – and it keeps everything in date order when sorted alphabetically.

    I know this has probably just made matters worse. Apologies.

    Ross

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  4. Well, it turns out that the Village Voice is accessible via Google News Archive. I don't know how long this has been true--maybe years for all I know--but I provides a lot of information.

    By showtime, the Dead are definitely advertised at the Au Go Go from June 1-11. However, while most Au Go Go engagements ran through the weekends, Sundays tended to be a wild card: some bands played Sunday, some didn't. It would make sense that the Dead were booked Thursday (June 1) through Saturday (June 10), and then a Sunday was added later.

    Some of the Grateful Dead ads for the Au Go Go ran right below ads for The Mothers at The Garrick, the upstairs theater in the same building. The Mothers seemed to play Wednesday thru Sunday, and with his schedule printed in the ad, it would be possible to mistake that for the Au Go Go downstairs.

    I have to assume the Dead played, simply because they lived hand to mouth on the road and needed the gigs. Also, it would have been possible to play an early evening gig at Stony Brook and show up late at the Au Go Go.

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  5. The weird thing about the Stony Brook gig is that the campus newspaper, the Statesman, is available online and there is no mention of the '67 show that I could find. The '68 show for the SUNY Stony Brook spring concert is there, but nothing for '67. And it seems like a hip enough spot that they would not have failed to mention it.

    What's the basis for the June 3rd '67 SUNY Stony Brook listing? (Apologies if this is documented at Deadlists ... I am working on the fly.)

    BTW, for me, yyyymmdd or yyyy-mm-dd is the cat's meow, but in prose I try to type out the month unless there will be no confusion (i.e., the day of the month > 12).

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  6. I see what you mean about Stony Brook, there's not any evidence of the 1967 gig. Perhaps it was a kind of unauthorized stealth gig? Maybe some of the students invited the band, and perhaps paid them, under slightly false pretenses, so it didn't make the paper? I know there were people like Sandy Perlman around Stony Brook, taking control of the student entertainment budget and booking interesting bands.

    This may be one of those concerts that got on the list somehow, and no one can recall why, but the only remaining proof is that its "on the list."

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  7. I have spent an hour having a hunt around and have found nothing to support my striking the first five days at the Café au Go Go. From mid May adverts were appearing in the Village Voice for the Grateful Dead at the Café au Go-Go. The June 8 issue of the Village Voice mentions the Tompkins Square Park event and confirms that they were due to play through Sunday (so June 8-11) with Luke and The Apostles as support – but has no comments or reviews about how the previous shows had turned out.

    The June 15 issue of the Village Voice discuses the free show by the Grateful Dead and Blues Image at The Cheetah as the third free show of their ten (sic) day tour – which I guess provides further support to the June 1 and June 8 shows. This is the first I knew of the Cheetah show being free – although I had never given it any thought. A 20070520 SFGate interview with Bob Weir alludes to the band playing a shorter run – but it is very much a throw away statement: “In June of '67, we had our first New York gig, I think, Café au Go Go and we did most a week there.”

    So there seems to be nothing to support my list at present.

    As for the SUNY show, it appears on DeadLists and identifies DeadBase X as the source. I would not have used that as the source – I have one issue of DeadBase and it is 8 I seem to recall.

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    1. I thought it was Group Image rather than Blues Image who opened for the Dead at these gigs...

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  8. Just off the top of my head: I got ripped off directly on checking into Hotel 5 Park Ave. for $1500, our road money ( per diems ) I had to borrow against the remaining 50% due from the GoGo. So Stony Brook was part stealth and part fund raiser for us. The Cheetah,was a bit of an Acid Test kind of experiment with the Image ( more a 2nd Ave. tribe than a music outfit)and ,I believe, we charged $3.00 and split it with them. They had a lengthy guest list so many got in free. I do not remember cancelling shows at the GoGo as we had taken the advance beyond our original deal.The club was overjoyed at the attention we were bringing to the club with our free shows. Zappa, having never dropped, was generally a complete butt and no fun at all. I still remember much more but really just wanted to help along this wonderful part of our history. Yrs. and cheers to you historians, Rock Scully

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  9. Rock, thanks so much for weighing in. Without some insight from people who were there, we won't ever be able to sort these events out.

    Following the New York adventure, my chronology has the band playing Los Angeles the Friday before Monterey Pop (per your book), and I have assumed that was at the Santa Monica Cheetah.

    http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2009/07/june-16-1967-cheetah-santa-monica.html

    Do you recall the venue in SoCal?

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  10. OK - I accept that there were probably no cancelled shows so will change my list. Now here is one final little thing - I have the same LA date at the Cheetah as Corry - but I then have a Straight Theater "Christening" date with the Wildflower before Monterey. This Straight show is on the 15th. Ross

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  11. Rock are you sure about the hotel? Could it have been the Hotel Earl at the northwest corner of Washington Sq. Park? I was crashing at the Group Image (that was their name) a tribe if anything. I lived there for the better part of a month and I don't think anybody ever noticed me. The Dead came one day and moved in. They brought a record with them from The Coast called Country Joe and the Fish - Electric Music For The Mind and Body. And a soundman who looked a lot like Owsley. We spent a night tripping listening to the album and at one point we went to a beach on Staten Island. Transport was a gutted VW bus. We went over the Brooklyn Bridge. The roadbed of the bridge has there transverse metal ridges. The VW was packed and as we went over the bridge it was uphill to the middle. The engine strained and the bus went slower and slower and the metal ridges went "that-that-that" more and more slowly and it seemed as though the VW was saying "yes I can, yes I can" but it wasn't going to make it. We arrived at the apex of the bridge, seemed to stop just for a nano second, then the dive put the clutch in, shifted into neutral, and slowly we went downhill, the rhythm of the that-that-that growing faster and faster until it was just a burrrr. We went faster and faster and faster until at the end we took a turn through a cloverleaf ramp and went 360 degrees around to an expressway.
    We also did the Verrazano Bridge but it was no Brooklyn Bridge.

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  12. 30 years later I saw their crashing at The Group Image was because they couldn't remember the way to their hotel, the Hotel Earl, the residence of choice for musicians. (This is where The Mamas and Papas left to walk into a church and begin California Dreaming).
    What I would like is if anybody has any film or still photos of the concert in Tomkins Sq.

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  13. There are some headshots of Jerry, Bob and Pig at the link Corry posted near the top of this article - see page 14 of the issue.

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  14. Does anyone recall Justin Green's "Musical Legends" comic strip that was in Tower Record's "Pulse" magazine? He portrayed a free Grateful Dead concert in either Washington Square Park or Tompkins Square Park and his (or someone's account) of throwing some candy on the stage for the band. The person doing this thought it was a friendly gesture, but the band perceived it as a hostile act and sent someone over to ask him to leave the audience, with everyone present staring him down. Is there any other account of this anecdote? The strip may be in Green's book of his comic work.

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  16. There is a film: TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK 1967 by Karl Cohen with the Grateful Dead. I cant find anything about it or the guy who made it, i saw a ad for a screening in a old paper.

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  17. There is indeed a notice for "Tompkins Square Park" (1967) with the Grateful Dead, at an independent-film screening of "the Lower East Side on film", advertised in New York magazine on 9/17/84.
    I can't find any other mention of this film anywhere. I would guess that it was never "distributed" per se except maybe for similar small-group screenings. No telling how much Dead footage it might feature.

    The only connected reference I found was in a showing of "the films of Karl Cohen": "THE BEDROOM, an experimental film shot while on LSD and listening to the Grateful Dead."

    I wonder if this is the same Karl Cohen who is currently an animation historian, president of ASIFA-SF, and professor of animation at San Francisco State U.
    Should anyone want to contact him:
    http://www.cinema.sfsu.edu/people/lecturers/karl-cohen

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    1. It is the same Karl but no footage.

      "I saw them at Fillmore East, but not in the park. I did use their music in the film (off their first record), but not footage of them."

      Nice guy.

      V00D00N01A

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    2. Thanks for checking! Too bad there isn't actual film of their Tompkins Square Park show after all...

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  18. Referring to the mysterious 6/3/67 SUNY show earlier in the comments - McNally goes into some detail in his book (p.198) -
    "Lacking an agent, Rock and Danny had booked this tour on their own ["tour" being a euphemism, since apparently only the week at Cafe au Go Go was booked in advance]... [Cafe owner] Howard Solomon had joined forces with Howie Klein, chairman of the Student Activities Board at Stony Brook... Consequently, the Dead's first paying East Coast gig was at Stony Brook... They made $750." (McNally goes on about the relationship between Klein & Sandy Pearlman, a Crawdaddy editor at SUNY.)
    So, along with Rock's memory of there being a SUNY show, this would confirm that there was a show there, despite its absence from the school paper. I wonder where McNally got his specific $750 figure from!

    And, referring to John's comment from 8-27-10 above - McNally mentions that during the 6/1/67 Tompkins Square Park show, "someone threw a framed portrait of Jesus onto the stage. It landed on the drums, scattering fragments of glass... Weir thought of it as a challenge." (p.196)
    The full Village Voice article quoted from in this post makes it clear that throwing things at rock bands in the bandshell was apparently a pastime for the locals. The Group Image had been pelted by rocks & cans at a free show there the day before & had fled the stage; another unnamed folk-rock group that played there the night of June 1 was also driven off the stage by an angry mob.
    In other words, welcome to New York!

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  19. Here's a couple of color photos from Tompkins Square Park;

    http://rchrd.com/Gallery/Sixties/NYC67/index3.html

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  20. To add one little more detail to this show, here's Garcia, speaking to Richard Gehr in Newsday, 9/9/91:

    "Somebody picked us up at the airport in VW buses," recalled the guitarist by telephone
    recently. "We hit town and there was a little parade. The hippies from the East Village came,
    and we took our gear to Tompkins Square Park and played with the Fugs. It was fun."

    The Fugs detail is significant, I think, as they were sort of East Village ambassadors.

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  22. The Fugs? That is interesting... Hopefully Garcia's memory is accurate, and he isn't mixing them up with the Group Image.
    The Village Voice article referred to in this post doesn't mention any other band at the Tompkins Square Park show (but does say that the Fugs played there the next Saturday, June 3).
    A member of the Group Image later recalled playing with the Dead at Tompkins Square Park (which is also uncertain, but we know for sure they played together at Central Park on June 8).

    So on June 1, the Dead might have played with the Fugs, Group Image, both, or neither! What a day...

    Further muddying the waters - McNally says in his book that Richie Havens opened for the Dead on June 1! (p.198)

    However, check out this memory of the 6/1/67 show which also says it was the Dead & the Fugs:
    http://www.oocities.org/sunsetstrip/gala/8574/6167.txt
    (The NYT review he refers to, though, was of the 6/8/67 Central Park show...)

    The Fugs apparently played frequently in Tompkins Square Park.

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  23. Found another obscure Fugs reference during that trip -

    Barry Miles wrote to deadlists back in 1998:
    "I visited New York in July 1967 and went with Ken Weaver of the Fugs, who I was staying with, to see the Grateful Dead who were playing, if my memory is correct, at a place called The Cheetah. After the set Ken introduced me to Pigpen, who was a big friend of his and he came with us to see a Fugs show."

    Also found another brief reference to the 6/1/67 Dead show in the deadlists forum:

    A UPI wire story appeared in many newspapers which said "The explosion burst on Tompkins Square Thursday afternoon when a rock 'n' roll band, "The Grateful Dead" from San Francisco, with amplifiers turned up to infinity took over the bandshell and loosed a blast that could be heard blocks away. Oldsters sunning themselves in the normally quiet park looked stunned."
    (Doesn't cite the article, though.)

    For what it's worth (not much), Rock Scully's book claims that "a lot of different groups" played at that Tompkins Square Park show...

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  24. Here's an observer's account (albeit 29 years later) posted on rec.music.gdead that also mentions The Fugs' appearance at the June 1st show. It also mentions a New York Times cover story about the show (!?), allegedly published the next day. http://bit.ly/1buEGLi

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    1. As mentioned above, I am pretty sure he's remembering the 6/9/67 Times article, which was of a different park show a week later, but easy to conflate in the memory!

      But if both Garcia & another witness remember the Fugs on 6/1/67, that's pretty convincing even if everyone else has forgotten them being there...

      It seems the Dead may already have been friendly with the Fugs, who had visited San Francisco in April '67 & played in the park with Country Joe.

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    2. Also, I believe The Fugs were socially connected to The Diggers, so there were plenty of points of contact.

      I guess it's too much to hope for that Garcia and Pigpen sat in on "Kill For Peace".

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  25. Yes, the Fugs were very much part of the extended network the Dead belonged to, surely only one or two steps removed at many points. They played one of the first SF Mime Troupe benefits on 11/6/65 with the Airplane.

    In his book "Fug You" (a must for anybody interested in the nitty gritty of the parallel NYC world) Ed Sanders says the Diggers were a big influence on the Lower East Side scene, especially after a spring '67 visit by Grogan & Berg. Later in '67, The Fugs (and others) helped raise money to open a Free Store in NYC.

    The usually quite reliable Sanders also notes that he saw the Dead at the Fillmore during the days after the Fugs performed at the Berkeley Community Theater on 4/22/67. Another date for the 1/67-4/67 itinerary post?

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  26. The Dead played at the Fillmore on 4/12/67 at a Mime Troupe benefit (with the Airplane, Quicksilver, Moby Grape etc), and on May 5-6 (with the Paupers). Would the Fugs have been in town either of those weeks?

    I see that book also has a reference to the 2/7/69 show (p.369) -
    "On February 7 we performed with the Velvet Underground and the Grateful Dead at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh. We used the Grateful Dead's sound system, and I was determined that the words to Fugs tunes be heard, so I kissed the microphone very closely. There was a party at the Grateful Dead's various rooms at the hotel afterward, although after a few initial elevators full of partiers, the hotel called a halt to further fans."

    Somehow I imagine the Dead & Fugs in an all-night party while the Velvet Underground sulk & scowl in their rooms...

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    1. On the 2/7/69 page on archive.org, one of the commenters offers an account of a post-show party involving the Dead & the Velvets. There are so many conflated dates/venues/bills that it doesn't seem worth quoting, but it's the 7th comment down, credited to duane2:
      http://archive.org/details/gd69-02-07.early.sbd.wiley.14472.sbeok.shnf

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    2. Oh, that... I think that commenter has some credibility problems. Not only does he claim it's a Dead/Airplane/Velvets show, he claims the Velvets later played at the Syria Mosque - as far as I can see, they never did (in fact, never played Pittsburgh except for that one 2/7/69 show). He also says the Stanley Theater later became Heinz Hall, but those are two different places.
      I also wonder about that Boston University music fest in 1967 featuring a bunch of SF bands that Broadside magazine supposedly co-produced... He could possibly be referring to the Airplane's appearance at Boston's "Festival of American Music" (with Pete Seeger & Dave van Ronk) in April 1967.
      Nonetheless, given his general unreliability, I think his story of meeting the Dead & Velvets at an acid party at his commune & visiting Pigpen's aunt with him (!) is dubious. Alas.

      But who knows? He had his own blog (and is on facebook) if you'd like to check with him...
      http://duaneridesagainblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2009/07/jefferson-airplane-grateful-dead-fugs.html

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  27. i just stumbled about a couple of pics from the june 8th gig at the cafe a go go

    scroll to the middle ..

    http://www.gettyimages.de/Search/Search.aspx?contractUrl=2&language=de&family=editorial&assetType=image&mt=photography&p=grateful+dead#4

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  28. Interesting item on eBay - starting price $3500:

    Original 1967 Grateful Dead Master Tapes used in 2 movies + 1 orig. poster.

    Grateful Dead fans might be aware of a short experimental film that was made back in 1967 called "The Grateful Dead" by (my father) Robert Nelson. In addition a 1967 a movie he made called "Super Spread" also used materiel from these original recordings in it's sound track.

    These 3 tapes were recorded in 1967 at a G.D. home recording/rehearsal studio in San Francisco. Tapes were all recorded on 7" reels so they could later be played and transferred using a Nagra recorder. These are the original masters used in "Super Spread" (sound track) + some cuts used in the 1967 "The Grateful Dead" movie. [more]

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-1967-Grateful-Dead-Master-Tapes-used-in-2-movies-1-orig-poster-/200952998483#ht_602wt_1170

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    1. Fascinating.

      We were discussing "Super Spread" a while ago, but no one knew what was on the soundtrack...
      http://hooterollin.blogspot.com/2012/12/russian-river-to-mchenry-library-via.html

      I notice that ebay auction is suspiciously vague about the actual contents of the reels - the most common copy of Nelson's "Grateful Dead" short simply uses tracks from the first album...

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  29. I found a Newsday article from 6/2/67, with a picture of what looks like Phil & Weir. Uploaded as a .png:
    http://bit.ly/16vRrjk

    Not a lot of new details that I can spot (ie. whether the Fugs played, setlist info, etc.), but some more good color about the scene.

    There are some more crowd shots later in the article, but no more of the band.

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  30. To add some more to the Dead's 6/67 adventures in NY - Barlow reconnected with Weir there after 3 years apart, which is mentioned in a bunch of places. In Linda Kelly's "Deadheads" book he talks about bringing the band up to Millbrook to meet Leary.

    He notes: "Several things happened that day; one was that the Six Day War broke out. And the other was that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in New York, or at least that's the first I'd seen it in a record store. I got a copy and brought it up to Millbrook, so it was the first time the Dead and Timmy heard it." (p. 63-64)

    The Six Day War began on June 5th, so that fills in their activity for that day, assuming Barlow can be trusted.

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  31. Sorry to report the passing of Robert Nelson who did that early Grateful Dead movie.

    Here's the obit
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/27/BAIP1MTDE8.DTL

    Here's the Movie:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0iULSnZUkg

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  32. Yes indeed the Group Image played with the Dead in Thompkins Square Park and Central Park. Also at The Cheetah and also The Group Image Shows at The Palm Gardens on 52nd St. I know because I was a guitarist in The Group Image and went by the name Freddy Knuckles.

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