- The Warlocks May-December 1965
- The Grateful Dead January-April 1967
- The Grateful Dead May-June 1967
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia July-August 1969
What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia dates, including The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, from September and October 1969. I am focused on which performances occurred when, rather than the performances themselves. For known performances, I have assumed that they are easy to assess on Deadlists, The Archive and elsewhere, and have made little comment. As a point of comparison, I am comparing my list to Deadlists and The Jerry Site (for Garcia dates), but I realize that different databases may include or exclude different dates (I am not considering recording dates, interviews or Television and radio broadcast dates in this context).
My working assumption is that the Grateful Dead, while already a legendary rock band in 1969, were living hand to mouth and scrambling to find paying gigs. Even by 1969, most paying performances were on Friday and Saturday nights, so I am particularly interested in Friday and Saturday nights where no Grateful Dead performances were scheduled or known.
I have linked to existing posters where available.
September 1, 1969 New Orleans Pop Festival, Baton Rouge Speedway, Prairieville, LA
1969 was the Summer of outdoor Rock Festivals, and the Grateful Dead started September by completing a long run of Festivals, including Woodstock, Oregon, British Columbia and finally Louisiana.
The New Orleans Pop Festival was held at a tiny racetrack outside of Baton Rouge. It was a two day Festival and the Dead appear to have played on the last day. Numerous major acts performed to a crowd of about 50,000, which apparently included 116 undercover cops looking to arrest people for drugs.
The ad (left) is from the Panama City, FL News, from August 22, 1969. Note that the band name is "Greatful Dead."
update: According to Tom Constanten, the Jefferson Airplane sat in with the Dead at this show. The existing tape cuts off in the middle of "Lovelight"--perhaps the Airplane (or some of them, at any rate) joined in after that.
September 7, 1969 Hyde Park, London, England Crosby, Stills and Nash/Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Joni Mitchell (canceled)
As if San Francisco's Wild West Festival fiasco wasn't enough, just a few days later (August 27) Ralph Gleason announced (above) plans for the Grateful Dead to join Crosby Stills and Nash, The Jefferson Airplane and Joni Mitchell to play a free concert in London for a Granada TV Special.
I have no idea how close this event actually came to fruition. It appears to have been enough of a plan, however, that the Dead and the Airplane had an empty weekend on their tour schedule. I do know that Graham Nash had throat problems around this time, and some CSN gigs were curtailed, but I have no idea if that was a factor.
September 6, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead
I speculated on this mysterious show on a previous post, supported in turn by an epic Comment thread. I managed to get all tied up in knots, but it now appears that Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead played a show at The Family Dog On The Great Highway with little or no publicity. This may have been because they were booked at Winterland later in the month, and were not allowed to advertise (per their contract with Bill Graham) or it may have simply been that since they could sell out the show they didn't bother to advertise. I now realize that both bands were available because a (perhaps hare-brained) scheme to go to London had fallen through.
The Airplane were a significantly bigger band than the Dead at this point, so they closed the show. Excellent Owsley tapes survive of both sets, and his consistently accurate dating ultimately persuaded me that this show really occurred. Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart jammed a little with the Airplane at the end of their set.
Its possible that either Hot Tuna or The New Riders of The Purple Sage played, but I have not yet been able to determine that. One interesting thing that remains undiscussed is what the Grateful Dead may have been doing on Friday September 5, as weekends were the most likely nights for gigs, and the Dead perpetually needed money.
September 7, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway Jam Session?
A tape also exists of a sort of oldies jam session between Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, drummer Joey Covington and some others (possibly Mickey Hart or Bill Kreutzmann). The reel is dated September 7. I do not know if this was
- a late night jam from the Saturday (Sep 6) show, dated September 7
- a Sunday afternoon "jam" show featuring whichever band members felt like showing up
- an indication of another show by both bands on Sunday, September 7
September 11, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway jam
I have since changed my tune on the September 11 show. Whatever the peculiar provenance of the tape, a nice audience recording of a single tune, "Easy Wind," with an early, simple arrangement, and a guest slide guitarist, I am now inclined to believe that some or most members of the Grateful Dead were at the Family Dog on this date. However, my current line of reasoning is that Chet Helms was holding an afternoon jam for musicians, so this event would not have been advertised. It was probably more like a Mickey And The Hartbeats show, where anything went, rather than a Dead show. I would speculate that the slide guitarist was Robbie Stokes, from the Family Dog houseband, Devil's Kitchen.
The activities of The Grateful Dead and its members are mostly unknown to me from September 7 to September 25 (
I am assuming that throughout the months of September and October 1969, there were a number of low key shows by the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, many possibly on weeknights. One show we do know about, thanks to a surviving tape, is on Thursday, September 18 at the Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati.
Iconoclastic Cotati, CA was the "college town" associated with the then newly-opened (1966) Sonoma State College. Before wineries priced Cotati out of the range of regular people, the town was a bucolic hippie dream, a relaxed agricultural area, next to a college and still an easy drive to San Francisco. The Inn Of The Beginning, a sort of coffee house with music at 8201 Old Redwood Highway, opened on September 28, 1968 with the band Bronze Hog. The Bronze Hog still live in Cotati, and still periodically played The Inn Of The Beginning until it closed a few years ago, which nicely sums up the many charms of Cotati (and I'll bet they're not unknown at the Irish Bar which replaced it).
Cotati was a friendly out-of-the-way place for the New Riders to work on their material. One unique thing about the surviving tape is that Garcia sings more on this show than all his other Riders shows put together. While he takes no lead vocals, he duets with John Dawson on the choruses of all the covers (such as "Games People Play" and "Mighty Quinn"), and he isn't just humming along, either. Its an interesting insight into the way the Riders could have sounded, and another interesting peek at Garcia's willingness to experiment on stage. Of course, its very difficult to sing and play pedal steel at the same time, which is why no one does it, and presumably why Garcia didn't continue the experiment. Still, its a reminder that many unheralded Dead or Garcia shows were full of surprises.
I believe there were other New Riders shows at the Inn Of The Beginning around this time. At one point on the club website, it said words to the effect that "the Dead used to play every Tuesday for a year." While that is self-evidently incorrect, it does imply more than one Garcia show, at least, and I wouldn't be surprised to find more NRPS shows here between August 69 and Spring 1970, if I could ever figure out how to track them down.
September 26-27, 1969 Fillmore East Country Joe and The Fish/Grateful Dead/Sha-Na-Na
The Grateful Dead then embarked on a brief Eastern tour. Looking at the Fillmore East flyer, it is notable to remember that Country Joe and The Fish were billed over the Dead because they were a much more popular band. Although the Dead were growing in popularity on the East Coast, the band was still playing the Fillmore East under the conventional set-up of early and late shows both nights, so a bill had to sell out four shows. Once Live/Dead and then Workingman's Dead were released, the Grateful Dead could headline Fillmore East on their own, but at this time they still required a co-headliner.
Although the Dead were suitably legendary, in fact Country Joe and The Fish's first two albums (Electric Music For The Mind And Body and Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin-To-Die, both on Vanguard) had sold considerably more than the first two Dead albums.
At this time, Sha-Na-Na were apparently mostly still Columbia University students, and the band was still somewhat of a lark.
The Cafe Au Go Go had been an important venue in Greenwich Village, during the transition from the folk era to the rock era. Many great bands had appeared there from 1964-69 (for a complete list of performers, see here; for the history of the venue itself, see here). The Grateful Dead had introduced themselves to Manhattan with an infamous 11-day stand there, from June 1-11, 1967.
While the Dead had long since outgrown the 400-seat Au Go Go, owner Howard Solomon had closed the club, and sold it to new operators. There seemed to be a distinct San Francisco connection to acts that played the Cafe Au Go Go when it re-opened in July 1969. The link was probably former Au Go Go booker Barry Imhoff, now working for Bill Graham's Millard Agency in San Francisco. It seems that the Dead played a few shows at Cafe Au Go Go, after the Fillmore East shows, on Monday thru Wednesday, in order to make a little money while they waited for their Boston weekend to start.
I'm not certain who the new owners of the Cafe Au Go Go were, but the club was not the right size for the growing rock market, and it closed for good at the end of October 1969.
October 2-4, 1969 Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA Grateful Dead/Bonzo Dog Band
The Boston Tea Party was Boston's version of The Fillmore. A legendary venue in its own right, it too was too small to compete in the booming rock concert market. Because of a fire at the original site (at 53 Berkeley Street), the Tea Party had moved into the site of its competitor The Ark, at 15 Landsdowne Street. Thus, the Dead had played the venue before, on April 21-23, 1969, when it was called The Ark. The Dead played Thursday thru Saturday, a common booking at Boston Tea Party.
The Bonzo Dog Band were a very English, very hard to explain, comic theatrical rock band with a uniquely skewed view of the world. Americans, as yet untutored by Monty Python (with whom the Bonzos were friends) were not ready for their strange performances and humor, as they pondered the question "Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?"
October 5, 1969 Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/The Byrds/Poco
Sam Houston Coliseum, at 801 Bagby Street (near Downtown) was an indoor arena built in 1937. It had a capacity of 9200 and was one of Houston's main concert venues. Elvis Presley (Oct 14, 1956), The Beatles (Aug 19, 1965) and Jimi Hendrix (June 6, 1970) all played there. The venue was torn down in 1998.
This show was billed as a "Rock Jubilee" and scheduled from 1-6 pm. According to Christopher Hjort's excellent Byrds chronology (So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star, Jawbone Books 2008), the show was delayed some hours due to equipment problems, and eventually the plug was pulled on the Airplane at 10pm. The Byrds played a shortened set, and presumably the Grateful Dead did also.
October 6, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco (doubtful)
This listing has appeared in various editions of Deadbase and elsewhere, but I don't think it happened. The source of it appears to be one of Dennis McNally's lists, where it appeared without comment. Notwithstanding that the Dead had just returned from a tour the night before, October 6 was a Monday, and Monday night shows were very rare for rock bands in the Bay Area at the time. I think this was just a mistaken listing, from somewhere (perhaps from September 6?) that got picked up.
If there was an event, it might have been the New Riders but that too is unlikely. The Grateful Dead would have arrived back from Houston on Monday morning, and rather than returning to their Novato warehouse, the crew goes to the Family Dog instead? I find it hard to fathom, but I am including it here in the remote chance that there might be a grain of truth to it.
There is no known Grateful Dead activity between October 6 and the October 24 show at Winterland. This is a surprisingly long time for a working band, particularly in October. Granted, their contract with Bill Graham may have precluded any Bay Area shows, but combined with the blank weeks in September (above), it suggests that one or some band members had something else going on--a health issue, a family obligation or a legal requirement--that might have interfered with the Dead scheduling weekend shows like they usually did. Of course, if my theory is correct, it wouldn't include any band members in the New Riders, since they played a number of gigs.
The weekend of October 10 (Friday) and October 11 (Saturday) once again shows no Grateful Dead or New Riders activity. There are lists that include Garcia shows from the Matrix, but as was pointed out in the comments, those are misdated from 1968.
October 9, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA New Riders Of The Purple Sage
I speculated that there were likely to be more New Riders shows at the Inn Of The Beginning, and I found one on Thursday, October 9 (the admittedly hard-to-read listing is from Gleason's Chronicle column of Wednesday, October 8).
From what I have been able to determine, during late 1969 The Inn Of The Beginning had relatively well-known club bands on Friday and Saturday nights (on the order of, say, Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks or The Bronze Hog). I have to assume they had lesser known local bands or solo performers on other nights. Thus it makes sense that Garcia and company could quietly book a Thursday night, probably with relatively little notice, because they weren't disrupting the club or changing another band's plans.
October 14-16, 1969 Mandrake's, Berkeley New Riders of The Purple Sage
Mandrake's was a pool hall in Berkeley on 1048 University Avenue, near the intersection of 10th Street and San Pablo Avenue. It had presented music since at least 1965, but when it was taken over in mid-1968 by Mary Moore, the wife of a jazz musician (Willie Moore), the club became much more serious about booking bands. Mandrake's tended to lean towards blues and rock acts, what today would be called "Roots" music. Thus the New Riders were a good fit for the club's bookings.
Mandrake's closed about 1973, and subsequently became Jerry's Stop Sign. 1048 University now appears to be a pet hospital.
October 17, 1969 unknown venue, San Jose (see below)
This date appeared on one of Dennis McNally's lists, with no explanation, and due to its appearance in Deadbase has taken on a life of its own. I doubt that any of the places it is referenced has more information than I do, which is close to none. In that respect it is similar to the phantom October 6, 1969 date at Family Dog (above).
That being said, however, I think there is a grain of truth to it. I am confident that this was not a Grateful Dead show, but I have good reason to think it was a New Riders show, although I don't know where. Due to the restrictions on advertised Grateful Dead performances prior to the Winterland show, I would find it very unlikely that the Dead would play a stealth gig in advance of their own show in San Jose two weeks later (see below).
However, since the New Riders were playing all week, and in general seemed to be "touring" the Bay Area, a Friday night show in San Jose seems very plausible indeed. I don't think there was much of a hippie club scene in San Jose, except around the campus, but Garcia still had plenty of ties to the old San Jose State crowd that had run the Off Stage. Peter Grant, who was almost a member of the New Riders, was an integral part of the San Jose folk scene. My own guess, based on little more than plausible speculation, is that the New Riders played a campus event sponsored by a San Jose State student group, as student groups got cheap and easy access to buildings.
Anyone from San Jose with any half-remembered rumors or speculation on this matter is urged to Comment (for various reasons, I don't think NRPS played the Jonah's Wail Coffee House, although it would be neat if they had).
Update: Found it.
October 17, 1969 Loma Prieta Room, Student Union, San Jose State College, San Jose New Riders Of The Purple Sage/The Fourth Way
This listing from Gleason's column on Friday, October 17 confirms my hypothesis. I have assumed that where Gleason said "Student Union Ballroom" he was referring to the Loma Prieta Room, where the Grateful Dead would perform exactly two weeks later.
Another interesting note here is the opening act, The Fourth Way. The Fourth Way were an electric jazz rock band, originally formed to back John Handy. When Handy was unable to work with them, the band chose to continue on their own. The group were regulars at The New Orleans House in Berkeley, and ultimately released three albums on Capitol. The band consisted of New Zealander (via Boston) Mike Nock on electric piano, Ron McClure on bass, Eddie Marshall on drums and Micheal White on electric violin. In another post I had posited that White had joined the Dead for a few numbers at the Family Dog on August 3, 1969. The Fourth Way's presence at this San Jose show a few months later proves exactly nothing, but its the kind of tenuous link I find intriguing nonetheless.
October 22, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Lazarus
At this juncture, the Family Dog put on a lot of modest shows on weeknights. There was a flyer for this event, and the clipping above is from that day's Chronicle. October 22 was a Wednesday, and it fits in with the pattern of the Riders playing around the Bay Area.
For more discussion of the New Riders in October of 1969, see here.
October 24-26, 1969 Winterland Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Sons of Champlin/Doug Kershaw
Winterland, capacity 5400, was over twice the size of Fillmore West, so this was a substantial show, which is why the Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead were co-billed. The poster advertises two nights (Friday and Saturday October 24-25), and the third night (Sunday Oct 26) was added when ticket sales justified it. I'm sure this is how Bill Graham had it planned all along, but this is a relatively early instance of this strategy, which he would employ many times in subsequent decades.
Note that the New Riders of The Purple Sage did not open the show. Their seems to be an implicit assumption (whether by Graham or the band isn't clear) that the group wasn't quite read for prime time, which Winterland surely represented.
Parts of the Dead shows were recorded (in mono, I think) and broadcast later on KPFA-fm (Berkeley). This was part of a regular KPFA program (Sunday nights at 7:00 pm) that created a lot of fine 60s tapes that were among the first high quality tapes to circulate (of many bands) for years. On Saturday, October 25, Stephen Stills plugged in for a memorable "Turn On Your Lovelight." Apparently, Stills and David Crosby played some music as an acoustic duet between Dead and Airplane sets as well.
October 31, 1969 Loma Prieta Room, Student Union, San Jose State College, San Jose Grateful Dead
The poster for this show indicates that this was a campus event, since students can get tickets more cheaply than civilians. The show was not in the Gym (as is commonly assumed), but in the tiny Loma Prieta Ballroom in the Student Union, which has a capacity of only 588 (see for yourself).
I believe this show woulud not have been advertised until after the completion of the Winterland shows. However, a few flyers around the San Jose State campus and the tiny hall would have quickly sold out. Since it was some kind of student event, the economics were somewhat different than a regular rock concert.
Campus events usually have curfews and other limitations, so I would be surprised if the New Riders played at this show, although its possible.
November 1-2, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway Grateful Dead/Danny Cox/Golden Toad
The Grateful Dead headlined Saturday and Sunday at the Family Dog, while playing Friday night--which was Halloween--at San Jose State. Its my belief that the Dead were effectively promoting the Family Dog shows themselves, and both wanted to insure that they didn't compete with themselves (thus playing a small venue in San Jose) while insuring some sort of payday (since there was no guarantee of a profit at the Family Dog).
After the Summer debacles of the Light Show Strike and The Wild West cancellation, Chet Helms's Family Dog was in dire financial straits. It appears from various flyers that many of the shows at the Family Dog for the back half of 1969 were put on by different promoters, who would rent the Dog and its equipment. I think the Dead were effectively co-promoters of this show, although I can't prove it. Then-manager Lenny Hart was working closely with Chet Helms at the time, accounting for many of the performances at the Dog by the band.
The only handbill for this show, while elegant, seems to be very simply put together and was probably cheap and easy to produce, a sign of a low-budget program. My assumption is that the Dog show could not be advertised until the Winterland shows were complete. The fact that there was a different show on Friday night, without the Grateful Dead, indicates that there was no late change of plans involving the San Jose State show.
Danny Cox was an African-American folk singer from Kansas City, friendly with Brewer & Shipley, who later put out a 1971 solo album (produced by Nick Gravenites) on which both Merl Saunders and John Kahn played (Birth Announcement on Dunhill). The Golden Toad played Medieval and Renaissance music on traditional instruments, and were well known for playing the Renaissance Faire in Marin (and elsewhere). Golden Toad leader Bob Thomas was an old friend of Owsley's, and among many other accomplishments created the Grateful Dead's 'Lightning Bolt' logo, as well as the covers to the albums Live/Dead and Bear's Choice.
Open Weekend Dates, September-October 1969
For the period of September and October 1969, there seems to be quite a few weekend dates without a performance by either the Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia. I am not aware of any recording occurring at this time, although perhaps the band was mixing Live/Dead. Nonetheless, while I do not think all the dates below will feature missing shows, I suspect some of them will.
- Friday, September 5, 1969
- Friday, September 12, 1969
- Saturday, September 13, 1969
- Friday, September 19, 1969
- Saturday, September 20, 1969
- Friday, October 10, 1969
- Saturday, October 11, 1969
- Saturday, October 18, 1969