Sunday, January 3, 2010

February 12, 1970 Ungano's, New York, NY 210 West 70th Street The Grateful Dead

Ad ad from the Village Voice of February 12, 1970, promoting a scheduled Grateful Dead show at Ungano's in Manhattan
This mysterious, somewhat controversial show was advertised on page 36 in the Village Voice of February 12, 1970 (scroll to the right of the article).The advertisement for the show in the Village Voice begs four questions

  • Did the event actually occur?
  • Why did the Grateful Dead schedule a gig at a tiny club during a Fillmore East weekend?
  • Why did Bill Graham allow the show to be advertised?
  • What were the Grateful Dead doing in New York City in the first place?
Before I discuss the club and the possible performance directly, let me take a rare sideways step to consider process, a step I normally avoid. Way back in the dark ages before the Internet, I spent a great week in New York one summer in 1983. A pioneering Deadhead friend of mine invested a bunch of money at a flea market or something to buy a huge collection of Village Voices so we could look for Grateful Dead ephemera (Bobby F--if you're out there, contact me!). Amazingly, we found this ad for the Grateful Dead playing Ungano's, a club about which we knew nothing.

At the time, the "Janet Soto" list and the Paul Grushkin Book Of The Deadheads list (just released in 1983) were the only circulating lists, so every new date was a "found date." At some point, I passed on the information about the Ungano's date, to John Dwork, Dennis McNally and John Scott of Deadbase. As the rise of Deadbase and then the Internet formalized tape trading (all for the better), various bits of knowledge began to intersect, and an audience tape  began to circulate as "Feb 12 1970 Ungano's," which seemed like exciting confirmation to me that the show really occurred. Much research ensued (which can be pursued on Deadlists and elsewhere), revealing the tape to be from the early show at Fillmore East on February 13, 1970. Whatever the backstory on the tape, some probably well-meaning soul had taken a grainy audience tape and put it together with the date I had found (and no doubt confirmed by others), so rather than being "proof" of a missing show, it was in effect helping to create its own unverified verification (this is how modern political discourse works, but I digress).

I had largely forgotten about this peculiar chain of events until I recently found a quite amazing blog about NYC rock and roll venues of the prior century. It had a particularly detailed post about Ungano's, which while not revealing anything new about the Dead's performance, it caused me to rethink the gig in general. The particular question is not only whether the gig occurred, in itself an open question, but why the gig was even advertised at all, which to me is an even bigger question.

First to briefly summarize what I learned about Ungano's:

Ungano's was a club at 210 West 70th St (between Amsterdam and West End). It seems to have been open from about 1964 to 1971, and run by two brothers, Arnie and Nicky Ungano. Despite its modest size, it seemed to have been a sort of "showcase" club where major acts could play for record company people, talent agents and other important folks, and where celebrities could hang out and perhaps perform under the radar. Clubs like these are not uncommon in entertainment capitals like New York, Los Angeles or London. A comparable venue in New York was The Scene, which was a club primarily aimed at promo men and journalists.

Ungano's appearance, however, seemed to be a sort of a leftover from a prior era, according to ace researcher Mike Fornatale, who described it as "a bit of a holdover from the Copacabana Era." More intriguingly, singer Genya Ravan said, after having played the club about 1964, that it was "another Italian-owned club." This implies a mob connection, although I will say having worked in Manhattan for a number of years that many places in New York City enjoy the cachet of a rumored Mob "connection" when in fact any actual association is ancient, distant or imaginary.

The Grateful Dead at Ungano's, Manhattan February 12, 1970
Returning to our original questons about the advertisement for the show in the Village Voice
  • Did the event actually occur?
  • Why did the Grateful Dead schedule a gig at a tiny club during a Fillmore East weekend?
  • Why did Bill Graham allow the show to be advertised?
  • What were the Grateful Dead doing in New York City in the first place?
I will address these in reverse order.

What were the Grateful Dead doing in New York City in the first place?
The Grateful Dead's touring schedule for the beginning of 1970 was actually quite strange. With a new album (Live/Dead) out in November, an East Coast run at the end of 1969 made a lot of sense. New Year's Eve in Boston was followed by a weekend show at the Fillmore East on January 2-3, 1970. Presumably the band returned home, but what follows is quite odd.

January 2-3, 1970 Fillmore East
January 10, 1970 Community Concourse, San Diego
January 16-17-18, 1970 Oregon
January 23-24, 1970 Hawaii
Presumably also partially a vacation. 
January 30-31, 1970 New Orleans with Fleetwood Mac
Busted down on Bourbon Street, they add an additional show on February 1
February 2, 1970 St. Louis MO
Why did they fly to St. Louis for a Monday night gig before returning home?
February 4, 1970 Family Dog, San Francisco
Filming a TV Special on a Wednesday night with Quicksilver and Santana
February 5-8 Fillmore West, San Francisco
A Thursday thru Sunday headline weekend at their home court

Why did the Grateful Dead fly to New York at all for a return gig at the Fillmore East? Sure, it was a profitable gig, but Bill Graham and the Dead had a great relationship by this time, and they could headline any weekend they wanted at the Fillmore East. The next weekend they were in Texas--why fly to New York?

The answer has to be that the Grateful Dead needed to be in New York that weekend, and Fillmore East gave them a profitable excuse to be there.

Why did the Grateful Dead schedule a gig at a tiny club during a Fillmore East weekend?
Fillmore East shows followed a very strict pattern. Headliners played double shows Friday and Saturday night, with the early show being the "industry" show for reviewers and record company types. Big acts like Crosby Stills Nash & Young,  or acts popular in New York sometimes added a Thursday and/or Sunday show as well. Tuesday night was "audition night" for local bands. Any open days on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday were sometimes filled by benefits or special events, not always involving rock acts at all.

I'm quite knowledgeable about the history of the Fillmore East, and there was no other remotely similar instance where a headliner played Wednesday night, skipped Thursday, and then headlined the weekend. This means that Bill Graham was confident he could sell out six shows, but wasn't able to book the Dead on Thursday, so he booked them on Wednesday. The only plausible explanation was that Graham knew the Dead were going to be busy Thursday, so he scheduled around it, to the mutual financial profit of all involved.

Why did Bill Graham allow the show to be advertised?
Most rock promoters were pretty benign about the fact that groups like the Dead might "drop in" around town or play a free concert. The Dead had definitively shown that the buzz was good for business. But promoters like Graham generally had strict contractual arrangements with their headliners limiting how other shows in the area could be promoted. A typical rider might be that, for example, a Fillmore East or West headliner could not have an advertised show within two weeks or 50 miles of the venue, or terms to that effect. With advance ticket sales a big part of the business, the need to insure that your headliner's presence was an "exclusive" was paramount. Graham was probably matter of fact about locally-printed flyers on telephone poles by this time, but an advertisement in the Village Voice takes some planning.

The ad for Ungano's in the February 5 Village Voice ends at February 11, and does not mention the Dead. The February 12 voice would have hit the street on Wednesday February 11, and the Grateful Dead stand out as the most prominent act. The acts listed were:

Wednesday February 11-Rotary Connection
Thursday February 12-The Grateful Dead
Friday February 13-The Illusion ("every Friday")
Saturday February 14-Teddy Boys
Sunday February 15-Tuesday February 17-Creedmore State and Funkadelic
The ad says "Shows 10 and Midnight. Dancing Nightly."

Rotary Connection were a popular psychedelic soul band from Chicago (with lead singer Minnie Ripperton) but little known outside of the Midwest. George Clinton's mighty Funkadelics had a record contract and were popular in their home base in Detroit, but unknown beyond Clinton's hometown of Plainfield, NJ.

The Grateful Dead could have packed tiny Ungano's (capacity a few hundred) with one announcement from the Fillmore East stage. Since an advertisement had the potential to violate Bill Graham's contract, why advertise the show at all, for what amounted to one day, since most people would not get in anyway? The answer has to be that Graham expected and accepted the advertised gig at Ungano's, most likely because the Dead's presence at Ungano's was the very reason he was able to book the group at Fillmore East in between weekends in San Francisco and Texas. 

Did the event actually occur?
 My assertion is that it was very likely the Dead played Ungano's on Thursday February 12, 1970, because that is why there in New York in the first place. The historic Fillmore East gigs were simply a profitable byproduct of the Ungano's gig, or else someone else has to find different answers to the above questions.

It is a delicious thought to think that the supposed Mob connections at Ungano's hide a secret story of wads of cash and perhaps a mobster's daughter, but I think the answer is considerably more prosaic. Ungano's was a record company hangout. Warner Brothers had invested a ton of money (125,000 1969 dollars) in the poorly-selling Aoxomoxoa, but they had a happening album on their hands with Live/Dead. The Grateful Dead had a sort of outlaw reputation in the 1960s (with some justification) but in fact they were a terrific live band willing to tour nonstop, not so common a combination as you might think. Warners probably had an inkling of what was coming on Workingman's Dead, and may have figured they had a chance to sell some records if talent agents, radio people and promotional staff got a chance to see the Dead in person.

I think the February 12 Ungano's gig was a Warner Brothers Records showcase, probably tied in with a convention or sales event at the same time. I think Warners, The Grateful Dead and Bill Graham arranged the Fillmore East gigs to happen at the same time, but Warners was driving the date. There are no tapes or eyewitness accounts of the show because no civilians got in--Warner Brothers and the club itself would have controlled the guest list.

The Dead would not have used their own sound system, since it was on the way to Texas, as they used the Fillmore East house PA while there. On an inferior sound system, its unlikely Owsley would deign to show up, much less tape. The "advertisement" in the Village Voice was to make Ungano's look cool--important in Manhattan--but a moot point since Warners had all the tickets. As such, Ungano's was not competing with the Fillmore East, assuaging any business concerns of Bill Graham. If I'm correct, it would be no surprise that Spring 1970 was when the Dead started to break out to the college market in the Northeast.

Can't prove it, probably never will. But I think in the midst of one of their great concert stands, the Grateful Dead rocked a tiny club at 210 West 70th Street.

Appendix: A Note About Peter Green

The Grateful Dead's late show on Wednesday, February 11, 1970 is one of their most legendary performances. They had met the opening act the Allman Brothers, but never heard them play until that night. Duane and Gregg Allman, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks joined the Dead for an epic jam that included Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. What were the Mac doing at Fillmore East that night?

According to the definitive source, Christopher Hjort's book Strange Brew (Jawbone Books, 2007), the Mac were between a February 5-7 weekend at the Boston Tea Party and a Friday, February 13, 1970 gig at Madison Square Garden opening for Sly And The Family Stone. A scheduled gig at Massey Hall in Toronto was canceled, so the band came to New York early. Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead had been good friends for some time, and Green had jammed with the Dead just two weeks early in New Orleans (Feb 1). Green, a fantastic guitarist himself, was particularly excited and intrigued by Jerry Garcia's creative approach to music, so its no suprise Green and other bandmembers took a free night to hang with the Dead.

Let's speculate: Peter Green loved Jerry and The Dead to the point where he dropped by Fillmore East to jam on a free night. Fleetwood Mac was on a sister label (Reprise) to Warner Brothers, just  10 weeks earlier the Mac had played four nights at Ungano's themselves (November 30-December 3, 1969), and Fleetwood Mac had no gig until Friday night. After Wednesday's epic jam, if Jerry said, "hey, we're playing uptown tomorrow night, " do you think Green missed the party?

I'm just sayin'.


  1. Alan Mande claims to have attended this show. So, I gather from, does Marty Weinberg. Either can be reached to confirm, I am sure.

  2. << A comparable venue in New York was The Scene, which was a club primarily aimed at promo men and journalists (The Scene eventually became Electric Ladyland Studios) >>

    Ohhhh no no no. The Scene was on W. 44th Street. Electric Lady was, and is, on W. 8th Street!

  3. Whoops. I fixed the post. I think I confused The Generation with The Scene. Thanks.

  4. Another excellent post!
    Lots of interesting speculations - although this is an area where conjecture piles on conjecture...

    First - I have to link to the "fake" tape (actually 2-13-70 early show), because Serafin's made-up story about the tape is the most hilarious piece of misinformation I've seen:

    I suspect that no memories of this show have circulated because there were so few there...certainly there were larger shows at the time that have equally 'vanished'.

    The idea that this show could have been a record company showcase is....well, so strange & unexpected, it's very thought-provoking. It also raises many other questions....
    Like, why a special showcase when the Live/Dead album had been released 3 months earlier, and the next album wasn't going to be recorded til after the Fillmore East shows? (And if a showcase, why the pointless ad? Just for 'club prestige'? I thought that would make more sense if it wasn't an industry gig - but I could be way off here.)
    I also wonder whether the agents & promo-men you mention ever deigned to show up at all those packed Fillmore shows, to mix with the hairy crowds they were selling records to....but that's a separate issue!

    In accounts I've read, Warner Bros was quite surprised by how Workingman's Dead sounded, far from anticipating the new direction...this could be a topic for more research.

    The lack of a tape of this show doesn't mean much, considering how many from early '70 are missing. The suggestion that the Dead's sound system was already on the way to Texas (for a show on the 20th) seems odd to me, when as you pointed out, they'd done much briefer cross-country hops just earlier that month.
    [In fact, these weird jumps were routine for the year! Consider - a 3/8 show in Phoenix, followed by a 3/17 appearance in NY - after the last NY show on 3/21, then a hop down to Florida for one show on 3/24 - then a break, with one single show in Ohio on 4/3. Later in April, we get the Denver shows on 4/25-25, then the band whisks off to Wisconsin on 4/26 before the NE tour starts on 5/1. (At least the direction makes sense.) Then the middle of May sees a glorious zigzag, with a 5/9 show in Massachusetts, then a 5/10 show in Atlanta, followed by Missouri on 5/14, and zooming over to NY on 5/15! That's just three months I looked at - the Dead seemed to have little compunction about flying to far-flung gigs.]

    Also strange to me is the idea that Bear wouldn't have bothered showing up at Ungano's (despite his being with the band in NY), just because of a possibly inferior sound system. He seemed to have no trouble taping the Fillmore shows, so presumably he had equipment & reels at the ready?

    I am also wondering how much the Dead's NE 'breakout' in spring '70 was due to "talent agents, radio people, and promotional staff" who'd been at Ungano's.... You're more familiar with the media of the time than I am, but my picture of the Dead was that they were still pretty "underground" - did that rabid, screaming audience at the 3-21-70 Port Chester show come there because of radio play or lots of ads?

    Note that these aren't criticisms, just counter-speculations and goads to further research!

  5. (Had to split this into 2 comments due to the length....)

    As far as "no civilians getting in", there was a poster on a Dead forum a while back who claimed he was at this show (and all the Fillmore & Port Chester shows)....for whatever it's worth, he said:
    "Despite my interest in hallucinogens around this time, I was at the show. It was not advertised. Seemed like the boys just wanted to play and to pull off a stealth gig in N.Y.C. much as they used to do in S.F. Ungano's was on West 70th street and was a small nightclub that generally featured jazz musicians though a few rock groups played there as well. It held perhaps 200-300 people.
    The Ungano show was only one set--this much I remember. It seemed as if it were almost an afterthought, being sandwiched between two of their most amazing shows. Never heard an audience tape of 2-12, though audiences from the Fillmore run used to make the rounds waaay back when. The limited seating may have precluded the few tapers from getting in."

    As far as Bill Graham & competitive venues -
    I also wonder about that 11-16-70 Fillmore East show that followed an entire week of Dead shows in New did that come about? Is there more info on all those 'lost shows' at the Action House & Rock Palace that November? (Perhaps this was a situation like you describe, where the Dead were in town for other gigs that were booked ahead of Graham?)

    I had this to say about Peter Green & 2-11-70 (from my Allmans & the Dead post) -
    "Members of Fleetwood Mac also joined in (even though they were not on the bill, and weren't even playing in New York!) - Peter Green had been a fan of the Dead since playing a run at the Carousel with them in June 1968; in fact he had just played some shows with them in New Orleans. Fleetwood Mac had started out as a strictly-blues band, but under the corrupting influence of the Dead, by early '70 they were doing long rock jams (as we can hear on their Boston Tea Party CDs, which were recorded just the week before, on Feb 5-7)."
    It's a shame that later that year Peter Green went nuts & quit, as the Mac's 1970 jams show so much promise..... Before he sputtered out though, he did a "fusion" instrumental-improv album called End of the Game which I enjoy, it has some beautiful moments.

  6. And finally....

    Probably worth mentioning that Bear says this show never happened - he also goes on at great length to say the Dead did not play two shows a day at the Fillmore East, it was only one show with two sets!
    Bear may be bonkers. Just cause he was there doesn't mean he remembers....but all sides are worth considering, if only to be the more firmly refuted.

  7. Man, this is fantastic stuff. I too will have to split my responses into a couple of comments. First of all, I'm thrilled to find out there were eyewitnesses. When I said "no civilians got in," I didn't mean to imply there were no fans there, just that it wasn't like playing a State Fairgrounds, where people just lined up and bought tickets.

    With respect to the Dead's touring schedule, think about this. Prior to 1970, the Dead played "hippie places" (Boston Tea Party, Kinetic Playground, etc) and a few colleges where, it usually turns out (like SUNY Stony Brook) that some hippies got ahold of the entertainment budget and invited the Dead without exactly telling the campus Dean.

    From Spring '70 onwards, however, there is a steady diet of campus bookings, at some pretty out of the way places (SUNY Alfred, Merrimec College, etc--and that's just May). Booking shows at college campuses was actually a pretty specific part of the music industry at the time (and probably still is). My point about the Dead being "underground" was the idea that an agent used to booking The Association probably had a vague notion that the Dead were like barbarians, with no idea that they were a rocking band who played songs. Once those people had seen the Dead in concert, they might consider booking them out on the circuit.

    This has a lot to do with the role of Talent Agents,a subject for my other blog (, but its important to think about how the music industry was not just "record companies," there were other participants. To some extent touring East Coast colleges from 1970-72 made the Dead what they became, as everyone who saw them became a Deadhead for life (or swore off drugs, depending), but I refuse to believe it happened by accident.

  8. The 11/16/70 Fillmore East show is a story in itself, but as I recall the Dead and the Airplane were touring up and down the East Coast all month. Nov 16 was a Monday, when the Fillmore East was usually dark. The weekend before (when Frank Zappa was headlining) a very pregnant Grace Slick came on stage and announced a Dead/Hot Tuna show on Monday night (Nov 16).

    I think the Dead and Airplane were just bored, and I think to some extent Graham was dissing the 46th St Rock Palace in Brooklyn by showing them he could get those bands any time he wanted them. At the same time, contracts would have prevented the show from being advertised.

    My general understanding is that Grace's pregnancy limited the Airplane per se, but Jack and Jorma were always ready. I have always assumed that the musicians probably planned to get together and jam and called Bill, who said, "hey, do it at my place."

    Some of the other cool things that happened on the tour, like Jorma sitting in with the Dead, are related to this. If you look at the Dead and Airplane schedules, they had various nights where they weren't both playing, and if you were in upstate New York (ok, Central NY) in the winter you'd go hang with your friends too. Apparently Jorma's parents were nearby (Canada?), so that accounted for some of his travel.

    Gee, this is kind of turning into a post, isn't it?

  9. The question I am trying to answer is why the Dead played Ungano's at all, in the midst of a Fillmore East run. Did you know its the only Wednesday Grateful Dead Fillmore East show? Coincidence? I doubt it.

    And why Ungano's? Its all well and good to say "the Dead wanted to play a stealth gig," perhaps they did, but why there? And it was advertised in the Village Voice, which means it had to be planned a minimum of the week before.It's one thing in SF, where the Dead knew any number of people, but who did they know in New York? They could have played club, and they chose a place 64 block uptown from the Fillmore East.

  10. Another excellent post for sure.

    There are some notes on Bear's website about DP4. Two of the assertions he makes in great detail are that the Dead had stopped playing the early shows in 1969 after a double bill with Cosmic Blues Band. Partly because the band didn't like it and that the crew didn't like the extra work.
    The second thing is that there is no way that Bill Grahman would have allowed them to play another gig in town this week and that it definetely didn't happen.

    I like the story and like to think that it did happen. I also think that with more probing evidence will arise to prove or disprove this gig. Keep up the good work!

  11. The Fillmore East was supposedly the only place where the Dead used the house PA as opposed to their own. Obviously rock festivals were an exception, but with respect to some of the schedules you point out, they could fly to Fillmore East since they didn't have to set up their PA, and fly out again.

    I think they often flew their sound system, as it was still that small, but the peculiar booking history of the Dead at FE is more easily explained if you realize it was the only small venue where they felt comfortable flying in and flying out with just guitars and amps (so to speak).

  12. Ah, you should say more about talent agents & college bookings, it sounds like an important part of the story....

    Of course the Dead weren't strangers to college tours, they'd done one in April '69.
    I've never really given thought to how they went about arranging such a tour, who did it for them, or how much they insisted on having things done "their way"...
    It seems like simple common sense to book a tour of colleges, especially in a tight place like NE with short distances & large population - and the Dead knew how well-received they were in NY from previous shows. If anything, it seems a wonder they hadn't done such a tour before.... But I guess that, before Live/Dead was released, the Dead found safe havens mainly only in the "hippie places" you mentioned, and were known only by name & ill repute (if at all) in most places.
    Their ecstatic reception in spring '70 must have a lot to do with a lot of college kids hearing Live/Dead first....which leads to another question, did that record get much airplay? I assumed that college or 'indie' FM stations would have been the only ones to play such stuff - which could be independent of any WB promotion?

    And I assume the Dead had a pretty poor reputation among booking agents (even among rock bands) - so I wonder, would it be customary for agents who considered the Dead drug-ridden "barbarians" to show up at an invite-only showcase to see how they sounded? This is a side of the music biz that's pretty murky to me, and perhaps to other readers as well.

    And - re 11-16-70 - would the Dead have been "bored" after playing ten nights straight at three theaters? (11/5 - 11/14)
    But yeah, Jorma definitely lost no opportunity to jam with the Dead that month....

  13. "And I assume the Dead had a pretty poor reputation among booking agents (even among rock bands) - so I wonder, would it be customary for agents who considered the Dead drug-ridden "barbarians" to show up at an invite-only showcase to see how they sounded? This is a side of the music biz that's pretty murky to me, and perhaps to other readers as well."

    The short answer is "free drinks." The longer answer is that Agents, personal taste aside, have a professional need to hear what's happening (in 1969 or 2009), but two dozen talent agents and 200 lucky hippies might equal a lot of college bookings.

    Agents may not have been willing or able (schedule wise) to check out the band at Fillmore East, but a specially arranged showcase would be a different matter. I checked Google, incidentally, but they do not have the Jan/Feb Billboard Magazines in Google Books.

  14. Don't forget also that outside of big cities (SF/NYC/LA etc) there were very few FM stations playing rock before 1969. The first FM rock station was KMPX-fm in SF on Feb 12, 1967. Boston (a hip town if there ever was one) only went FM on March 15, 1968 (WBCNM-fm). There weren't many FM rock stations to play the Dead on prior to 1969--just one of the important factors of Live/Dead's popularity.

  15. Let's separate a few things.

    First, re: early/late at the Fillmore East. Bear is JUST WRONG. I don't know how many times it has to be said, nor how much evidence needs to be produced. Go through the Village Voice of the era. Or the New York Times. Look at the Fillmore East listings for the GD. There were early and late shows. There are ticket stubs. There are other eyewitnesses. There are well known patterns of FE bookings. It is quite simply unreasonable to continue to imagine that this is an open question. Bear is wrong.

    Second, re: Ungano's. There's the ad and there are at least three eyewitnesses, all of whom I find credible. The son of the Ungano's proprietor has also come forward to say that his father told him the GD played his club, though he could not mention the date. Alan Mande, whose own place in the world of the GD/Fillmore East should be the stuff of legend, has said repeatedly in many forums that he attended the Ungano's show. Legendary taper Marty Weinberg also apparently attended, though I am awaiting confirmation on that.

    This one is a little less solid than the early/late question, but for me it's another closed question. All of the evidence supports that the gig happened, and arguments pointing in the other direction (e.g., Bill Graham wouldn't have allowed it) just seem not to have determined the outcome in this case.

  16. An update - the story now gets more complicated!

    The 'eyewitness' I quoted earlier has changed his mind & retracted his story.
    He now says:

    "The Ungano's show, to the best of my close knowledge, did not take place. I attended the 2-11,13,and 14 shows (early and late). I never missed a NYC Dead show that I know of. The Ungano's ad was widely noticed, and every NY head went up there to try to score tickets, myself included. I was told at the door in no uncertain terms that this show had been cancelled due to conflicts with BGP. No tickets. They could have proudly said, "sold out," but they did not. I know at least a dozen people who tried and got the same response. Further, no one that I knew went or even pretended to have gone.

    Mind you, my take is no more gospel than anyone elses, but I surely would have heard some report, some gossip, someone crowing about having been there. Nada.

    But I can at least confirm, Mr. Owsley, that there were two shows per night. And I can confirm the Action Theater, Rock Palce, and 11-16-70 Fillmore East shows, all of which I attended. With the Capitol shows a week earlier, it was Grateful Dead heaven. "

    Can someone quote what Alan Mande said about this show?

  17. I am trying to find some of Alan Mande's posts on this. Here's Marco Ungano's post:

  18. And I note that Marco Ungano's post says (emphasis mine)

    My father was Nick Ungano, owner of Ungano's night club. Jerry and the boys, went to Ungano's in between shows at the Filmmore. My father worked for Bill Graham as a promoter and booking agent. Both my father and mother were at the show.

    It did happen. Just wanted to let you know.....couldn't possibly come from a more reliable source.

    Marco Ungano

    So a booking agent is at least part of the tale. Anyway, the other witness just says he wasn't let in and that he was told the Dead canceled. It doesn't rule out that the Dead actually played.

    Maybe the mistake was the ad--maybe the show was OK, but it wasn't supposed to be advertised, but someone effed up. Of course, it doesn't explain why if Graham wanted the Dead for three nights he skipped Thursday instead of booking them.

    Although my opinion changes with each comment, I'm currently going with

    >it happened

    >there was a Talent Agent/industry connection; Showcase, favor or Convention, or all of the above

    >the ad may have been a mistake, as it was supposed to be a Stealth gig. Graham's anger would have been directed at the ad, not the secret gig, as the Dead had always done that

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  20. Corry, as usual your insight into the intracies of the industry and all that serve you well. I got confirmation from Marty Weinberg about the show, and there is an industry connection. I paste his reply below.


    I remember the gig, somewhat. Those days had a lot of shows…

    Ungano’s was a bit like an uptown Steve Paul’s Scene. Kind of a hip post beat jazz vibe. Real NY club.

    A friend ... called me that afternoon, her dad worked for the agency that handled Warner’s print advertising, “wanna go?”

    I hadn’t seen them in a small club since the CafĂ© Au go go in September. A real treat compared to the vast Fillmore.

    I didn’t bring my Uher, I forgot to recharge the batteries!

    Don’t remember specifics of the show set; crappy PA, very crowded, respectful drunken party vibes.

    They played some Workingman’s stuff; I don’t think it was out yet. They really worked on the harmony, quiet stuff was nice.

    A lot of banter with the audience, relaxed scene.


    Do you agree that the question of *whether* the gig happened is now settled? I certainly feel that way.

  21. Oh, it happened. The burden isn't on us to prove it did.

    The logic makes sense--Graham knew there was a Warner's event, and scheduled around it with a Wednesday show. He may have been irritated that the Dead were mentioned in the Village Voice ad, instead of just saying "private party" or having a token name (like, y'know "Lucky Strike"--ha ha).

  22. LOL. I am following up on another "Lucky Strike" possibility too and may post about it depending on what I find.

    Yep, I increasingly agree that the only weird thing about the Ungano's appearance is why it was advertised. I assume it was just a mistake by someone, or a Prankster in the mix somewhere.

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  24. I worked for Nick and Arnie in those days...The shows (2 sets) did happen and they more of a record company function (as mentioned).

    Remember we were a pretty happening club at the was the place to was quite the popular hang out.

    Jimi was a regular,Paul McCartney,George Harrison each came at different times to introduce the Apple band Badfinger.

    Rod Stewart and the Faces,The Allmans,Free,Black Sabbath,Alice Cooper,Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison are just some of the artists that made their American debuts at the club (as we called it).

    One other note I've seen posted on here that Nick booked shows at the Fillmore East....Not true. Bill,Chip Rachlin and Kip Cohen booked all the Fillmore shows and Nicky never had anything to do with the Fillmore East.

    Also lots of mob references to the club....anybody operating a venue obviously had some kind of contact with lets say the boys...cigarette and other vending machines,food distributors,liquor etc, yes we knew certain parties that might may have been tied to certain familes....but they had no influence on us what so ever.

    Back in those days the cops and fire department were just as crooked.

    Anyways getting back to the reason I posted this here was just to confirm for you all that yes The Grateful Dead did play Ungano's at 210 West 70th street in on febuary the 12th 1970.

    Look both ways before you trip ( Jimi saying ).

  25. Thanks for the great on-the-scene perspective. Given the bands that played Ungano's before the Fillmore East, it seems like there must have been a lot of cooperation in booking Ungano's and the Fillmore East, informally at least.

    You also give a good description of commercial businesses in Manhattan (and many big cities) in that time, with respect to the fact that some vendors may have been "connected," but that hardly made an establishment a "mob joint."

  26. Bill's, two month 30 mile radius was really designed to keep people like Howard Stein and Ron Delsener at bay.

    We had a very good relationship with Bill and his staff (some of whom worked on and off for us) at Ungano's.And if you look in some of the old Fillmore programs you'd see us listed in the around town section in them.

    What we actually wound up becoming was a show case club for agents,record companies and managers.We we uptown and not far from most of their offices,so it 210 west 70th turned out to be an ideal location.

    Obviously a lot of the artists we had went on to play The Fillmore and we served as a launching pad for a lot of them.

    We had several press conferences at the club including Led Zeppelin's first U S one,Paul McCartney introducing Apple's Badfinger,George Harrison doing the same about a year later.

    American or NYC debuts of artists such as The Small Faces w/ Rod,Dr John,Love,Free,Lee Michaels,Alice Copper,Terry Reid,Black Sabbath,Mountain was basically formed as a result of jam sessions and Jimi Hendrix jammed with them on two seperate occasions. The Allman Brothers (we booked them as openers for $100.00 a night 8/69 4 nights 2 shows a night) and they opened two other two other times that year.

    Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green days) one night w/ Jimi and Janis jamming with them.BB King w/Jimi once again jamming,NRBQ w/ Jimi,Creed Moore State (we use to mange them) w/Jimi jamming.....Jimi jammed so many other times....We wound up buying him the left handed white SG that are in some photos out there....Jimi was a regular and he loved the club.

    Eric Clapton jamming w/Dr John,blues greats Muddy Waters,Howlin Wolf,Albert King,John Lee Hooker,Big Mama Thornton and BB King'

    Remember they all played two sets a night and anywhere from 2 to 6 night stands depending on the booking.

    The booking cooperation was helped by the fact we were up and running long time before Bill opened the Fillmore and we were at the time in no mans land....The east and west villages were the happening areas in those days.

    Agents like Jonny Podell and Frank Barsalona in particular knew that we were a very important in the breaking in and honing of new talent.

    Those were some incredible days,a lot of the people mentioned became friends....We all learned and grew together. We were in what I call the prehistoric days of the music business and a lot of the things we made up as we went along.....Unbelievable times.

    Shame greed took over and things got out of hand ....SFX,Clear Channel,Live Nation,Irving Azoff,AEG,MTV,and VH1 are just some of the reasons that new talent don't stand a fucking chance of making it and that's really sad.

    All the best!

  27. "I think the February 12 Ungano's gig was a Warner Brothers Records showcase, probably tied in with a convention or sales event at the same time." "There are no tapes or eyewitness accounts of the show because no civilians got in--Warner Brothers and the club itself would have controlled the guest list."

    No. If that were the case, it wouldn't have been advertised in the newspaper in the first place. There certainly was a crowd of civilians outside Unganos trying to get into the two shows (at 10 and midnight per the ad) that night, since there was an advertisement in the paper. Maybe Ungnaos became a showcase club, but in Feb 1970 it clearly was doing shows open to the public.

  28. Dark Toast, Its interesting to have confirmation that people read the Village Voice and saw the ad. However, record company showcases were usually advertised and open to the public, there were just a lot fewer tickets available. Look at it the other way: if it wasn't a record company sanctioned event in a comparatively small place, it would have been in violation of the conventional BGP contract (no advertised shows within 3 weeks or 50 miles).

  29. Hi. I have often wodered about this particular show. And I indeed conversed with the late, great Bear about this particular show. His response to me was not only did this show never happen, but he expressed doubt about whether the place actually existed. Now, I know his recollections have definitely been, how do you say.. incorrect but I do find it a little strange that Bear did not record the show when at that stage according to him, he was even recording their soundchecks. (On a side note, to back up the notion that Bear has been incorrect, he strongly stated that the Dead never shared the bill with the Doors although the weight of overwhelming evidence proves the contrary). In relation to the old late show/ early show at the Fillmore East that JGMF mentioned, it seems strange that no one seems to have taken up Bears' offer of US1000 to prove the late and early shows existed, that has been on his website for years. His evidence that he put forward seems convincing. I must say, I have always assumed that this show was another Deadbase mistake, but since reading this blog I just may be convinced otherwise! And I find it deliciously ironic that the ad in the Village Voice may have been a mistake, when we have known of this show only by the discovery of that particular ad! Keep up the great work!!!

  30. Arielle, thanks for the kind words.

    It's my understanding that Bear recorded everything where he was the sound engineer, but not when he wasn't. Since this was a Warners "industry" show using (no doubt) a house system, Bear was probably not the engineer and thus it doesn't seem to have fit the category for a Bear recording, sad to say.

    As to Bear's famous bet, while I don't doubt his personal sincerity, although some people may have had access to him, for most Deadheads Bear was about as accessible as Bigfoot. Clearly he liked it that way, but it wasn't like anyone was going to bump into him in line at the bar at the Warfield in order to discuss the details (much as we would have liked to). Indeed, most people weren't even clear what he even looked like.

  31. re the early and late show thing ... when all evidence such as many others' recollections, ticket stubs, programs, newspaper advertisements, etc. etc. is dismissed as elaborate forgery, it's a little hard to generate the proof needed to collect on the bet. There is overwhelming evidence of every kind that Bear was just plain wrong about that issue but was unable or unwilling to concede the point.

    I feel the same way about Ungano's. It's open and shut. It happened, regardless of what Bear said. May he rest in peace.

  32. Well they say the proof is in the pudding... First of all let me say what a pleasure to read such informative blogs such as this, LIA, JGMF. Finally I have seen some people that are just as interested with the Dead as me (and more knowledgeable! -Argh). Well according to Bears' website, the band stopped playing 2 shows at the FE in "Feb '69 with Janis Joplin and her new band Cosmic Blues", which we can rightly assume is Feb 11/12. We know the great man was doing the sound until 7/16/70. So that does not explain Garcia's own comments from the stage in the 5/15/70 (late show?) which we presume was taped by Bear in which he states "We got a request to do this here, we did it in the first show and we're gonna do it again now" (Friend of the Devil) with Weir adding "thus breaking a long standing tradition.." So that's right from the horses mouth so to speak...
    Back to Ungano's, did I read Corry where you said 2/11/70 was the only FE Wednesday show? But was 2/12/69 a Wednesday? Anyway they supposedly played there Tuesday/Wednesday as opposed to the HIGHLY unusual Wed/Fri/Sat. Anyway, I would have LOVED to see them play such a small venue, wow!!

  33. Well, I didn't phrase it very well, but what I meant was that 2/11/70 was the only Wednesday show by a band headlining the weekend that didn't include a Thursday show. A number of groups played lengthy stands at Fillmore East, but they were uninterrupted. There were also various weekday shows (Feb 12 was Lincoln's birthday, then a national holiday), but those shows were not followed by a weekend show.

    Part of my curiosity about 2/12/70 stems from the irregularity of the Wed/Fri/Sat configuration.

  34. What a great, and interesting, blog!

    I've always thought that the Wednesday - Friday - Saturday sequence was because Wednesday was the night before a holiday, so Bill Graham could anticipate the equivalent of a weekend crowd that night. As it turned out, though, the Fillmore East was only about 1/3 full (which means only about 1000 people showed up). I had tickets for the cheap seats in the second balcony, but spent the whole show watching from the front row of the mezzanine (about the equivalent of the 12th row on the ground floor).

    It pays to remember that the Dead's huge popularity in NYC was a relatively new phenomenon at that point: a year earlier they had been the opening act at FE for Big Brother (a Tuesday-Wednesday gig, also probably related to the holiday but too far from a weekend to tie in), and as recently as September, 1969, they had been second-billed to Country Joe and the Fish at the FE. So the Dead as a top-billed act at FE was a relatively new thing. Their Jan. 2-3 shows had been huge successes, and a year later, in April 1971, they were the first band to ever play FE for 5 nights in a row. But in Feb. 1970 it seems to me that the idea of a Wednesday show there was just to catch the possibility of a larger-than-usual Wednesday audience, because of the holiday -- and while the venue was hardly sold out, it could still have made economic sense for both the Dead and for Bill Graham to get a show in on Wednesday, when the Fillmore would have normally been closed otherwise, in addition to a regular weekend set of shows.

    About the Ungano's show, I've always wondered: this blog makes it sound like it may have happened -- or not. Still, very interesting and fascinating comments about this all. Thanks.

  35. Klopez, thanks for the kind words and interesting information. To respond to some of your comments:

    The fact that Wednesday was a pre-holiday night is an important point, and one that I largely ignored since I was focused on the Ungano's question. It does account for the profusion of tapes from the 60s (for various bands) with dates around Feb 12 and 22, since those were Lincoln and Washington's birthdays, and holidays regardless of the day of the week.

    It's completely fascinating to find out that the Fillmore East only had 1000 people for the 2/11 shows. You are certainly correct that even a 40% house (FE held 2500) would have been worth it for both BGP and GD, given they were there that weekend anyway.

    If you read through the fascinating Comment thread, it's clear that the Feb 12 Ungano's show really happened. It was a Warner Bros sponsored event, and the Dead played one extended set (90 min or so) on the club's sound system. Since it was the club's system, Owsley did not tape it, nor probably even attend.A few lucky civilians got into the club either because they knew Warners people or because the club sold a few tickets at the door.

    Thanks for the interesting insight on how February 70 was still a transitional period for the Dead's popularity in NYC.

  36. To set the record straight; once and for all;
    The Dead did NOT do this show at Unganos!
    I am John E Walker of the group Creedmore State we are in that Villiage Voice add with the Dead. Unganos was our manager and we were supposed to open the show for the Dead on that night. (I WAS THERE THAT NIGHT) When we got to Unganos that night Arnie and Nicky told us that the Dead had cancelled and they were turning people away outside.So the show at Unganos didnt happen probably because Bill Graham saw the add and stopped them.Many groups playing at the Fillmore would do shows at Unganos unannounced as did Jimi when he came into Unganos and played on New Yrs Eve 69/70 right after the late show at the Fillmore. Nicky Ungano and Bill Graham were friendy rivals.

  37. John, this is completely fascinating. Do you think there is any chance that the Grateful Dead played Ungano's on a different occasion? There seem to be numerous assertions that the Dead did or did not play Ungano's, and it's hard to reconcile them.

    The detail about Hendrix playing Ungano's after Fillmore East on New Year's Eve is an amazing detail as well.

  38. Well, this certainly confuses me. Thanks for sharing, John.

  39. John, did Creedmore State get to open for Funkadelic a few days later? That must have been something.

  40. yes corry342
    we played with funkadelic and just about everyone else that unganos had at that time we were there 69/70, which included; bo didley,the stoges, john mayall, the kinks, fleetwood mac,dr. john, savoy brown,rod stewart and the faces,and tony williams lifetime just to name a few, we later signed with capitol recs and changed our name to plum nelly and put out one lp deceptive lines, our very first night at unganos we opened for buddy guy and junior wells, and jimi was there to see buddy guy play so we soon got usted to that atmosphere and got ourselves together; the night that jimi came in after the filmore with the band of gypsies we had opened for nrbq and arnie ungano told me jimi promised them he would come in after the filmore so when he played (using my marshall stack)there were only about 50 people left in the club! but the dead NEVER played there that im sure of.

  41. My site has some of the unganos stuff on the plum nelly tab found here;

  42. Once again, this has been/is an incredibly interesting thread, for a large number of reasons. The John E. Walker account jibes with the "eyewitness" account by a fan of having been turned away at the door.

    Marty Weinberg's account would be compelling except that he said he remembered it "somewhat" -- more about this later -- and Marco Ungano's account that his parents were there is less convincing than his parents' accounts would be, if they could make them.

    It seems like 2/12 at Ungano's didn't happen, after all, although it was intended to.

    Regarding Marty Weinberg's memory: I'm sure he went to a LOT of shows, and he could be forgiven for such a mistake. I came into this thread wondering about Ungano's as a slightly "academic" question -- I knew *I* wasn't there -- but in the context of trying to place several other shows I'd been to -- which now loiok like they never happened:

    - a "Summer of Love" throwback show at Fillmore East with Quicksilver, Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe and the Fish, which I got into by jumping the gate at Fillmore and being hidden in the ceiling of the mezzanine by helpful Fillmore East employees: apparently those three never played together at FE...

    - a Pink Floyd show I sat in the third row at and was blown away: I had left NYC by the time they played Fillmore East according to internet lists. Maybe I'm remembering a Capitol Theater show, which was in the right time frame.

    All of which is to point out, in case it needs pointing out, how dicey "memory" can be, and why Marty Weinberg's "somewhat" resonated so loudly with me.

    Again, thanks to all for participating in this exploration/discovery. It has been very interesting, and very provocative.

  43. klopez, you've made an accurate observation that memory is far less stable than people think it is (try this at home at your next family reunion!). The 2/12/70 Ungano's show turns out to be a perfect petri dish for fragmentary memories and bits of information.

    I find myself torn. No one seems able to marshal definitive evidence that the show occurred. On the other hand, it was advertised, and during a Fillmore East run at that. If one accepts the proposition that the show didn't happen, how would we explain the advertisement? A Fillmore East headliner was advertised by mistake? Really? By a club that booked shows and advertised every week? It's not an easy proposition.

    Thanks so much for weighing in.

  44. Cory theres nothing to be torn about,it was only when we (creedmore) arrived at the club that the unganos bros. told us that the dead had cancelled, we were very disapointed i can remember it clearly as we were looking foward to playing with them, unganos had a very small dressing room and we always had fun back there with all the groups. Its ovious that the voice add must have infuriated bill graham! (how dare ungano advertise the show! knowing that the filmore contract didnt allow any shows close to the filmore date)Im sure if the dead had done the show at unganos it wouldnt have affected the turnout for the filmore, but it was the point of it, and bill graham who didnt pull any punches wouldnt have been afraid to threaten the guys with legal action, and possible barring from future filmore shows, so it was easy for them to decide to not do the show at unganos. Also Nicky Ungano wasnt exactly afraid of anyones feelings and could care less if Bill Graham got mad about it.So when you weigh disapointing Unganos crowd ith being black-balled from the Filmore it was an easy decision to cancel.

  45. John, thanks so much for these fascinating revelations.

  46. Dear Corry342,

    Thanks for your comments, and for hosting as interesting a discussion as this, among many others it seems.

    My take about the Ungano's show is that it was intended to happen -- thus the ad -- but that it was cancelled, as indicated by John E. Walker and also by the Dead fan who said he was turned away at the door.

    The other reminiscences of the show are either second-hand (the son of the owner recalling that his parents were there) or qualified (Marty Weinberg's "somewhat" recollection).

    But I agree, this is still a game of speculation, and the unreliability of "memory" is one of the chief factors here, perhaps *the* chief factor.

    Again, thanks for hosting this discussion/inquiry. I, for one, am grateful.

    (*oops* I didn't sere John E. Walker's comment when I wrote this, but it coincides with my own take...)

  47. This has been a fascinating exercise in archaeological analysis when applied to memory. It's hard not to credit the fact that the first hand accounts of the Feb 12 show, from a member of the opening band (John E. Walker from Creedmore State) and someone else who hoped to get in, both recall the show being advertised but canceled. Two other sources, the son of the owner of the club and another person who had a distinct but long buried memory of seeing the Dead at Ungano's, seem to contradict that. However, the contradictory memories are either second hand (Marco Ungnao) or somewhat buried (Marty Weinberg). While it remains impossible to state anything for certain, the evidence is starting to lean against the Grateful Dead having played Ungano's on February 12, 1970, most likely because of the advertisement of what may have supposed to have been a private event.

    I don't give up easily however. In general, my experience with rock memories has been that while people's recollections may be mistaken, as they often concede, they are generally not lying. So I have a new theory: the Grateful Dead did play Ungano's, but they played there in late 1969. Nicky Ungano's memory (via his son) and Marty Weinberg's recollection stem from the earlier event, and because I raised the issue of the event being on February 12, 1970, the two events were conflated. This hypothesis would leave everyone's memories largely intact. marty Weinberg saw the Grateful Dead at Ungano's in Fall '69, and owner Nicky Ungano recalled it. John Earl Walker and others correctly recall the February 12 show being scheduled and canceled at the last second. I have to assume a Warner Brothers party was planned, featuring the Dead, but by advertising the show the band would have been in violation of Bill Graham's contract. if there were only 1000 tickets sold to the February 11 show, Graham would have been irritated at the potential competition uptown.

    I realize this theory doesn't entirely explain Marty Weinberg's recollection, as he mentions not having seen the Dead since September at the Cafe Au Go Go, and the timeline starts to get conflated. However, I find the detail about someone from the Warners Art Department pretty convincing. People forget dates and time sequences all the time, but being invited by a woman whose Dad worked for the Warners Art department has the ring of reality to me.

    [continued next Comment]

  48. [continued from previous Comment]

    If the Grateful Dead played a private Warner Brothers party for booking agents and the like at Ungano's prior to February 1970, when did they play? They played Fillmore East on September 26-27, 1969 and January 2-3, 1970. I find the idea of the Dead playing January 1, 1970, right after Boston, quite unlikely. A record company wouldn't hire a club for that night, as few of their hungover invitees would have attended. This point towards September 1969.

    Conveniently, the fabulous and historically indispensable Its All The Streets You Crossed blog has posted the Village Voice ads for Ungano's from 1969 and 1970. A close look at the September listings suggests Thursday, September 24 as a very promising date for a Grateful Dead Ungano's appearance (look at and scroll down to the ad for the Sep 3 1969 issue).

    In Fall '69, Ungano's generally had shows from Sunday to Thursday nights, and had dancing on Fridays and Saturdays. Presumably they didn't book acts on weekends , because the real action was in Greenwich Village and they wouldn't have been able to compete. The rest of the week, however, the club showcased great bands with new albums. This was a chance for touring bands to pick up a little mid-week cash and for industry people (who worked mid-town) to see who was touring.

    The groups booked at Ungano's for September and October 1969 were impressive: Mountain, Van Morrison, Sha Na Na, The Move, B.B. King, Dr. John and The Kinks. Keep in mind that Mountain and Sha Na Na had just formed, The Move and The Kinks were on their initial American tours (notwithstanding the Kinks disastrous '65 episode), Van Morrison and Dr. John had only recently attracted attention in their solo careers and B.B. King wasn't well known to white audiences. The 1969 Grateful Dead, with three obscure albums, fit in nicely with this bunch.

    On the September/October Ungano's ad, some Thursday nights have bookings, but not all of them. I have to suspect that those Thursday nights were private record company events ("Showcases" in the parlance) were the record company controlled the tickets and handed out free drinks at the bar. There's no better way to get promo men and booking agents interested in a band than to let them see the group live while drinking on someone else's dime.

    I note that no group is advertised for Thursday, September 25, 1969. I think the Grateful Dead were booked for a Warner Brothers showcase and played it, and that is what Nicky Ungano and Marty Weinberg recall. Marty may be foggy on the timeline, but I don't think he would recollect a club date out of nothing. I would point that the group booked the days before September 25, The Move, actually canceled (too long a story to go into), so the Dead could even have played Wednesday September 24. For now, however, I'm going to pursue the notion that the Grateful Dead played Ungano's on September 25, 1969, and the booked show on February 12, 1970 was inadvertently advertised and subsequently canceled.

    This has been a great comment thread and I am continually amazed at what keeps arising from it.

  49. Sorry, this is just as much a product of wishful thinking as it is of intellectual analysis.

    Lost in the primordial haze of Dead-dom, I have read all the threads and would just like to point out a couple of things:

    1) there is credible evidence the show happened- Nicky Ungano, Marty W. and Alan Mande have contributions

    2) most importantly, if you look at the actual ad in the VV, it does NOT say Creedmore State opened for the Dead at Ungano's on February 12. I believe their run was the 15th-17th. So John E. Walker could very well be correct that the Dead did not play the night they opened but MAYBE that was for a different night than the 12th.

    The part of me that is a "true believer" wants to believe the Dead did their stealth show there that night, so that is how I will lean. Maybe the best thing to do would be ask Phil Lesh or Bobby or Mickey Hart next time they're around. Phil it seems has a very good memory and unless he wants to rankle Bill Graham's bones he most likely would not mind answering.

    Cheers! Philippe Bloch (Boston)- btw not as "hip" a town as you might like to think :(

    ps you might want to question, after all, in a small club with a major headlining act such as the Dead, and an audience presumably of record execs and the like, why an "unknown" band (that was playing three nights there later that week) would warm up the stage for a presumably very limited engagement? or why not? if Marty's recollection is right and they did mostly Workingman's stuff, there would probably have been time for an opening act (depending on how many sets the Dead did). Still, it would have ben a PROMOTIONAL show, so probably not an extended one.

    Again, this theory has to be all conjecture. In the absence of absolute proof, we can only make educated guesses (as a cohort).


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  51. Black Sabbath played their first show in the United States at Ungano's. Just a little fun fact... btw, I think the club merged with the restaurant next door and the combined space became 208 West 70th St. After many changes of hands, the property is now "Lincoln Square Steak."

  52. Why doesn't someone just ask Bobby, Phil, Mickey or Billy? if Jerry were still alive I would ask him because he was a friend...

    1. Well, someone could ask them, I guess. The fact is, however, I don't think they would remember. If someone asked me what I did on a specific Thursday night at work 49 years ago, I probably wouldn't either.

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  54. In an interesting coda to this discussion, Alan Mande, in a discussion string on youtube, says he saw the Dead on Feb. 12 at a small club close to the Fillmore, not an Ungano's, which was far enough away from the Fillmore that he wouldn't have gone there. Which raises the question of "If the Dead did not play at Ungano's Feb. 12, did they play somewhere else?"

    John Earl Walker's comments seem pretty definitive, but if Alan Mande -- who says he has "crystal clear" memories of seeing the Dead in a small club near the Fillmore East on Feb. 12 -- is right, could they have played somewhere nearby (where?) and could it have been an informal gig of some sort, perhaps the way Fleetwood Mac joined the Dead and Allmans on Feb. 11?

    It certainly seems like a possibility that if the Dead had a chance to play somewhere Thursday night, maybe even just sitting in, they might have done so, and Alan Mande might have been there. But it's not a possibility I've seen raised before, and I don't know what club he might have been at that was near the Fillmore East.

    1. That is intriguing. Alan thought he saw the Dead at Ungano's but said it was "around the corner near the Fillmore" (Ungano's was miles away), and described it as "a small club with basically an open floor and a few risers in the back. They were just set up in one corner of the floor."
      Hypothetically, if the Dead were to play a stealth show at a club near the Fillmore, which club would it be?

      I'm afraid this will remain a hypothetical, though. Even if Alan remembers the location right and just got the club name wrong, I wonder whether the show he saw was actually on 2/12/70 rather than, say, some date in '69. Dates are trickier to remember than places, and seeing the "2/12/70 Ungano's" date, he may have assumed that was what he saw.
      I also wonder how Alan knew where the Dead would be playing, if it wasn't Ungano's...presumably there was some word-of-mouth among the Fillmore East staff.

      In fact, as part of the Fillmore East sound crew, Alan was one of the people who recorded the Dead's shows there in February '70, so if he didn't recognize the "2/12/70" tape as one of the Fillmore sets, I am a little skeptical of how precisely he recalls the club show.

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  56. Over on Twitter, a correspondent got in touch with Julian Ungano, younger brother of Marco quoted above (
    He says

    But this gig definitely happened, I know the post you are referring to, I think the guy that was on the bill didn't play. The story I remember my Dad telling me was something like Ungano's used to do these impromptu shows all the time, because bands would come to town to play Fillmore East, and then Graham would get mad and they'd do the shows, so sometimes they would advertise the shows and then have to pull the advertisement and say the show was canceled but the band would drop by and "jam" so it wouldn't be an official show, thus not violating any contract with the larger venue. As kids we heard dozens and dozens of stories about different acts playing there. Hendrix, Cocker, Joplin, Dylan, etc.

    I suppose the fact the gig happened is one thing, though I know it happened for sure,because there are other bands that allegedly played there that my parents would be like "no that didn't happen", the Beatles and Zeppelin for instance. But I could see how the tape might not be from there, but it would be odd that it was labeled Ungano's by whomever recorded it only to be from a different random club on the same date in same area of the country.