Friday, March 19, 2010

Atwood Hall, Clark University, Worcester, MA December 2, 7 or 16, 1967 (Tour Itinerary November-December 1967)

My recent research into the tour itinerary for the Grateful Dead for March and April 1969 turned up direct evidence of a missing Grateful Dead show at Atwood Hall at Clark University in Worcester, MA in late 1967. The Dead played tiny (capacity: 658) Atwood Hall on April 20, 1969, and a tape survives, where Jerry admits (right before "Morning Dew") "last time we were here, it was a colossal disaster."

The comment thread for the archive recording of the April 20, 1969 includes a detailed memory from a Clark student who saw both the 1967 and '69 Atwood Hall shows
I was a Freshman in the fall of '67. The Dead made their first appearance at Atwood Hall in late '67 or early '68. They performed a lot of material from Anthem although it had not been released yet. I was sitting near the center aisle when all of I sudden, maybe 40 minutes into the set, Paul MacGalliard goes running down the aisle towards the stage. That's funny, I thought. I wasn't used to seeing Paul, a man of significant size, move so fast. I was working with the theater group, learning stage lighting, and Paul, who was a year or two ahead of me, tolerated me and taught me the ropes. Suddenly I realized that all of the little red lights on the guitar amps had gone out. The Dead had blown out the power, but I was so entranced, I didn't even notice. The stage lights were still on, they were on a different circuit. The band members all picked up percussion instruments and just kept playing. (Maybe this was not the first time this had happened). They kept jamming until Paul threw the breakers and the power came back.

The Dead played a while longer until the circuits heated up and they blew the power again. It was no use, they excused themselves, and promised to come back, which they did in April of 1969. We had new power lines in Atwood, installed especially for them.
The writer is not certain of the date, and attempts to speculate later in the thread, but we now have more information than we did at that time, so I will make another proposition here. The Grateful Dead came East in December 1967, and there is no evidence that they left California in early 1968, so all theories point towards a late 1967 show.

According to Dennis McNally (pp. 231-235), the band was recording in New York at the Olmstead Studios on 48th Street, with Dave Hassinger as the engineer. Ramrod, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Matthews had driven the equipment truck cross country, and the band was in the Chelsea Hotel and then at a house in Englewood, New Jersey. Given the band's always precarious financial condition, it would make sense that they would play a few weekend gigs while recording, because they would have needed the money. With this in mind, let's review the known dates for late 1967:

November 10-11, 1967 Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles Buffalo Springfield/Grateful Dead/Blue Cheer
November 12, 1967 Winterland
The Dead were recording in Los Angeles before and after the November Shrine shows, and probably flew up for the Winterland show (which was a benefit of some kind). I am still looking for some confirmation of this show beyond the listing in Deadbase.
December 8-9 Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston
See my post for an explanation of this long-lost show
December 13 Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles
I have a lot of questions about this date--see below
December 22-23 Palm Gardens, New York Grateful Dead/The Gray Company/Aluminum Dream/Group Image
December 26-27 Village Theater, New York Grateful Dead/Peggy Emerson/Take Five
The run-down Village Theater would become the Fillmore East the next March.
December 29-30 Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston

The timeline suggests that the Dead had finished recording in Los Angeles by November 19, and possibly earlier, and if we give the crew a week to get across the country, it seems clear that the band's equipment was in New York by Thanksgiving. I do not know exactly when they started recording. With the exception of the problematic Shrine show on December 13, the Dead seem to have stayed on the East Coast throughout December.

Given the clear memory of the Clark U. student, and given the tendency of colleges to schedule big events on Saturday nights, it seems most likely that the Grateful Dead played Clark University on either Saturday December 2 or Saturday December 16. I am more inclined to believe December 2, since December 16 seems a bit late for school to still be in session. It is also possible that because of end-of-term scheduling, a show would have been allowed on a weeknight. If that were the case, then Thursday December 7 seems the most likely, as Worcester was only 45 miles West of Boston.

The Shrine, Los Angeles December 13, 1967-Did It Happen?
The listing for the Shrine show has been listed in Deadbase for many years, and as a result it has been taken for granted by Dennis McNally and others. Is there any independent confirmation of this show? I have done a lot of research into Shrine rock shows in the 1960s (as yet unposted), and I have never found any sign of this show. December 13 was a Wednesday, and weekday Shrine shows were very rare, and unheard of in 1967. At this point, I'm fairly unconvinced that the Dead played in Los Angeles on December 13.

If someone can find confirmation that the Dead played the Shrine on December 13--and its still well within the realm of possibility--the Dead would have had to fly in with their guitars, play the show on someone else's equipment, and fly out. This isn't completely unreasonable. If the Dead's equipment was in the East (and that seems incontrovertible, per McNally), band members may have wanted to go home for a week or so, so a flight to LA, a paying gig and a week in San Francisco to catch up at home might make some personal sense.

I'm hoping someone from Los Angeles, or has done newspaper research on the period, has some memories or insights on one side or the other of this question.

5 comments:

  1. On a cursory examination, I don't find anything in the Los Angeles Times for a 12/13/67 GD show at the Shrine. This dog's non-bark makes me really skeptical about the date. The LAT seemed to be covering the Dead's other visits that year (Hollywood Bowl, Shrine in November, etc.) pretty well, both ex ante (ads) and ex post (reviews).

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  2. I just don't find the LA gig on Dec 13 persuasive. Does anyone even have a source? There weren't mid-week gigs at the Shrine in '67, it wasn't Dead territory--none of it makes sense.

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  3. McNally is a bit disappointing in this respect... Presumably he had the materials to make an authoritative tour history (if he'd wanted to). But his reference in his book that they played Dark Star live for the first time at that Shrine 12/13 show is a clear indication that he took it straight from Deadbase. He then says that they didn't head east til after that (thus the earlier Boston shows vanish).
    So lacking any other evidence, I'd agree with you guys that this is a nonexistent show. (And I wonder who came up with that "first Dark Star"?)
    On the other hand, perhaps it's not impossible that the Dead had unfinished business in a Los Angeles studio that was worth flying back for, in the middle of their NY studio dates?

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  4. I don't absolutely rule out the Dead flying back to Los Angeles for unfinished studio business in December 1967, but there is still absolutely no evidence of a show in Los Angeles.

    The Shrine was a big venue for 1967 LA, and there were few if any weekday shows--I think none. Both Shrine venues (the Exhibition Hall and the Auditorium) would have required multiple acts to book a show, and the Dead would not have been the headliner.

    I'm pretty knowledgeable about 60s shows at The Shrine. I have what I believe to be a pretty comprehensive list (not yet posted anywhere), and I've never found a whiff of a December 13, 1967 show by anyone, much less the Dead.

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