Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fillmore West June 6 and 8, 1969-Guest Appearances

The existing tape of the Grateful Dead's performances at Fillmore West on June 6 and 8, 1969 raises a number of curious questions. Not least among those questions is who actually plays on stage during some parts of those shows. McNally alludes to a June 1969 show at Fillmore West when Jerry Garcia was too dosed to play, and Phil Lesh recounts a similar story about jamming on stage with Elvin Bishop. Were these the same shows? There's no point in asking the participants.

According to Deadlists (and the Archive) both the June 6 (Friday) and June 8 (Sunday) tapes feature Elvin Bishop, and some have theorized that the tapes might be mislabeled and belong to the same show. In any case, numerous numbers from June 6 and June 8 feature lead guitarists other than Jerry Garcia. The opening numbers of June 6 lack Garcia, and Weir and Lesh even joke about it. On June 8, the middle of the set is taken up with a performance of blues standards, lacking any Grateful Dead vocalists for the most part, until Pigpen joins in at the end. A careful listening of both nights, however, suggests a wide variety of guests, and a somewhat simpler narrative.

The existing first set of Friday, June 6 features
  1. Smokestack Lightning (13:12)
  2. Green Green Grass Of Home (4:25)
  3. Me and My Uncle (3:56)
  4. Checkin' Up On My Baby (5:26)
  5. Beat It On Down The Line (2:39)
  6. Turn On Your Lovelight (46:59)
Garcia joins for "Lovelight." The implication is that another set follows. Was Garcia too high to play? It would make a great story. I think the actual story is more prosaic, but no less fascinating. Garcia said once in an interview that he was late to a Fillmore West show and found the Grateful Dead on stage with Wayne Ceballos of Aum on lead guitar. I think June 6, 1969 is that show.

Wayne "The Harp" Ceballos was the leader of the group Aum. Aum was managed by Bill Graham, booked by Graham's Millard Agency and they played many shows with the Grateful Dead.  After the opening number, Weir and Lesh joke about being "sadly depleted" and says "one guitar player is pretty much like another."

The segment on June 6 clearly features Wayne Ceballos on guitar. Whatever the Archive notes might say, its not Elvin Bishop singing on "Checkin' Up On My Baby," and it sounds a lot like Ceballos. Ceballos also seems to be singing Jerry's part on "Beat It On Down The Line" (and it isn't Elvin). Ceballos speedy style is very prominent on the solo on "Beat It." Jerry Garcia was famously late to shows, and I think this was the night that Bill Graham got fed up and simply put the band on stage with whatever player was in the house. Listen to it and decide for yourself. Garcia steps up on "Lovelight" and presumably Ceballos steps aside.

The June 8 show features some classic Dead, yet it is then followed by an odd segment that runs
  1. Turn On Your Lovelight (34:47)
  2. The Things I Used To Do (7:47)
  3. Who's Lovin You Tonight (5:13)
The vocals on "Turn On Your Lovelight" are provided by Wayne Ceballos, who probably also played guitar. Any idea that Pigpen was incapacitated or unavailable is undermined by the fact that at the end of "Lovelight" Pig introduces Wayne Ceballos. Yet Pigpen himself seemed to have no involvement in "Turn On Your Lovelight." It appears that Bob Weir was onstage, but he may have left at some point. Its important to remember that "Lovelight" was an R&B standard at the time, and many musicians knew the song well. Thus if it sounds like someone was "playing Weir's part," in fact they were just playing (more or less) the same guitar part from the Bobby Blue Band record that Weir was playing.

A careful listening to the entire "Lovelight" jam suggests a variety of other guests. From the middle of the song onwards there is some pretty substantial conga playing, a lot more active than Pigpen usually contributed, and possibly some additional drummers as well. There is a distinctly Latin feel, and that points directly at Santana's rhythm section. There were very few Latin percussionists playing in a rock vein at that time, and anyway, how many of them were friends with the Dead? Santana had just had a dynamic jam with the Dead in San Diego (on May 11), and had been in San Mateo recording their groundbreaking first album. I've got to assume they were taking a break in recording and went to the Fillmore West to hang out and play.

Because of the recording obligations, Santana only had some occasional local gigs at the time. According to the most reliable source, Santanamigos, Santana had no shows between a Merced show on May 30 and the Palo Alto High School Graduation Dance on Tuesday, June 10. The "Lovelight" jam also features some electric piano that doesn't sound at all like Tom Constanten, or for that matter anything like Gregg Rolie, who would have taken over the organ (rather than piano) if he were there. It beats me as to who it might have been--Albert Gianquinto?--but its got a different feel to it. Also, since Elvin Bishop ends up on stage on the next number, I have to think he had joined in on stage after the drum solo, if not before.

After the "Lovelight," Pigpen, of all people, comes out and introduces Wayne Ceballos (whom he calls "Wayne The Harp"). Pigpen rarely acted as Master of Ceremonies on stage, so this leads me to think that June 8 was the day that the whole band was too dosed to play. If Garcia was offstage, Weir had left (halfway through "Lovelight") and Lesh was as gone as he says he was in his book, that would leave Pigpen. Its still odd that Pig wasn't on for "Lovelight," but keep in mind that in the 1960s, a bunch of musicians who didn't know each other would have considered the song a standard that everyone knew, so they may have started it without Pig on stage.

Afterwards, Elvin Bishop and Pigpen briefly discuss (on and off mike) what songs to play, and settle for a couple of blues numbers. Pigpen isn't sure of the lyrics to some songs, and in fact sings the lyrics to "It Hurts Me Too" to "Who's Loving You Tonight." I don't know who else is onstage with Pig and Elvin, but I don't hear a second guitar, so I think its just Pig, Elvin, Phil and the drummers. Lesh's description of the event (pp. 146-150) more or less fits the tape, given the inherent confusion of such narratives (ahem).

The balance of the tape is the regular Grateful Dead. I have to assume there was a delay, if not a complete set break. In conclusion, I believe the June 6 and June 8 tapes to be accurate as marked. I think June 6 was the day Garcia was late, and Wayne Ceballos played for the first 5 numbers, and I think June 8 was the day Garcia was simply too high and stood down for the middle of the concert. It sounds like every (good) musician backstage was invited up for a jam on June 8, and if anyone could find a photo there might be some interesting people on stage.

16 comments:

  1. A couple of random notes. The annotations to my list of Fillmore shows lists Wayne Ceballos sitting in the the 6th and Elvin Bishop, Billy Nix and others sitting in on the 8th. These annotations are by no means recent and may dat back as far as tape covers in the late 1970s.

    As a matter of interest, KSAN broadcast a Grateful Dead tribute from 7 through 10 on the 8th.

    There were also two other major music events happening in the city on the 8th. In Golden Gate Park (from midday) the 13th Tribe had Elvin Bishop, Sons of Champlin, Crazy Horse, Cedro Wooly, Linn County at Speedway Meadow. Also, from 2 through midnight, there was a Benefit for Church of Fellowship of All Peoples at the Unitarian Center (Geary and Franklin) with Sons of Champlin, Phoenix, Bicycle, Dementia, Ace of Cups, Freedom Highway, Morning Glory, Interplayers Circus, Lights by Dr Zarkov.

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  2. I think it should read Nicks rather than Nix.

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  3. I like this line of thinking. There were two Festival type events in the city in the afternoon of June 8, and many of the musicians probably came to Fillmore West to hang out afterwards. We know Elvin Bishop was on stage, so I'll bet a few others from those shows were too.

    I wonder who Billy Nicks might have been?

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  4. Phil Lesh photos from The Fillmore - http://www.performanceimpressions.com/PhilLesh&FriendsNewYear%27sShow+Kimock.html

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  5. Nice work here... This does make more sense than the suggestion that some reel(s) got switched between dates.

    Would you have the exact Garcia quote about finding Ceballos playing with the Dead?
    The text file on the Archive suggests that while Ceballos is singing on the 6th, it's still Bishop playing. I don't know their styles enough to comment on that, but perhaps it's a possibility. (Especially since they were also both onstage on the 8th.)

    The 8th is also interesting because of the Dead's quick recovery... They don't sound at all incapacitated for that first set, and are able to pull together an Other One suite after the 'guest set'. Course, who knows how much later that was...

    By the way - Billy Nicks was the drummer for Junior Walker & the All Stars, who were also playing at that show!

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  6. Ok, Billy Nicks was the drummer with Junior Walker and The All-Stars...that might explain the extra drummers. Perhaps Nicks took over the traps, or played congas, but it really fits.

    As for the Bishop/Ceballos thing on the 6th, its not Elvin. I have plenty of Elvin Bishop albums, I've seen him and heard him many times--it isn't him. To top it off, I've got an AUM album (the first one). Whoever says its Elvin Bishop on the 6th is just wrong, period.

    Ceballos is a technically proficient guitarist, but he doesn't really have a defined style. Someone makes a point on the Archive reviews that whoever it is plays Jerry's rig (Gibson SG plus Fender Twin Reverb), and a mimetic guitarist like Ceballos is going to play in Garcia's groove. A player like Bishop, with his own (underrated) style, wouldn't sound like Garcia even on Jerry's equipment.

    As for McNally's vague remark about Jerry "missing a show," it could just as well mean that Garcia walked off stage for a while. There may have been a set break after the two Bishop songs, so the time offstage may have been substantial.

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  7. June 6th it was Wayne Ceballos, according to the man himself at http://db.etree.org/shninfo_detail.php?shnid=9494:

    Hi guys-
    Seems to me "I" was playing guitar on "Beat It On Down the Line" that night. I was walking by the stage when Phil (Lesh) asked me to come up and sit in on guitar. I distinctly remember playing guitar on BIODTL. Things were so crazy that night- but I DO remember playing on BIODTL.

    I can back up my statement up because Jerry (Garcia) himself states in Bill Graham's autobiography that

    "...One night I came to the gig REAL late and there was this OTHER guy playing guitar with the Grateful Dead. This guy from AUM.(my band) He was a pretty good blues guitar player. I thought, 'Geez, Bill is gonna fuckin' kill me,' but he didn't say anything..." (P. 220- 222, I believe).

    I have a copy of me singing "Love Light" with the Dead- (possibly Pigpen in the mix as well). I don't know if that was the gig two days later, or was at the Monterey Peninsula College gig a few days before...
    Man, we were ALL pretty toasted! : ) Anyway- thought my info might help clarify things.
    Cheers!

    Wayne "Tha Harpe" Ceballos
    2715 Crownspoint Dr.
    Austin, Texas. 78748
    (512) 292-7221

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  8. Raises a number of curious questions, not "begs". ("Begs the question" means "applies circular logic").
    begthequestion.info

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  9. One random comment here. I have been pondering 8/1/69 at the Family Dog as the only time there was a Grateful Dead show without Jerry Garcia (McNally discusses). These shows do seem to score at least fractions of points in that regard, anyway.

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  10. I wonder what kind of Dead show there was on 8/1/69; McNally is a little vague.
    His account: "When the band arrived, they found the Light Artists Guild picketing the building and, with power supplied by Helms, staging a light show on the outside walls of the Dog... There were around 400 people inside and perhaps 1000 outside at the Family Dog when Garcia and Hart arrived... Chet, Jerry, Mickey, Rock, and a representative of the LAG crowded into Ram Rod's equipment truck and began to talk... By the time they exited the truck [reaching no agreement], it was too late to play; in their absence, the band had thrown together a jam, but the full Dead did not perform." (p.324)

    McNally indicates that his account of the discussion came from Mickey Hart (whose memory is not always the most detailed or precise). What kind of show took place is unclear.
    While Mickey & Jerry were in negotiations, did the rest of the band get tired of waiting & really put on a show in the Family Dog in defiance of the LAG? Did they perhaps play outside? Does "a jam" mean a few Weir country songs, perhaps; or maybe a spontaneous jam with other musicians who were there in lieu of Garcia? (The openers, Ballet Afro-Haiti and Albert Collins, were presumably also waiting around, if they didn't perform themselves.)
    However, the Dead proceeded to play regular shows there on August 2-3, so something must have been worked out.

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  11. Don't forget that Garcia and Hart were booked on August 1 at the Bears Lair in Berkeley as "Marmaduke, Jerry Garcia and Friends." So Garcia never really intended to play. I think he double booked himself to avoid a confrontation. He could just skitter out and say "hey, man, I got a gig to do."

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  12. I totally forgot about that, as well as the discussion here that even has details about the band jam w/o Garcia:
    http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/01/nrps-bears-lair-uc-berkeley-berkeley-ca.html

    Presumably the Bear's Lair booking was made after the Family Dog Aug 1-3 run was scheduled. Looks like Garcia/Marmaduke were listed for 2 shows, 8:30 & 10:30.

    Oddly, McNally says there's a dispute about whether Garcia was told about the LAG strike beforehand. The LAG leader said, "I had assurances from Jerry Garcia that he would honor our line;" but Garcia later said he didn't know in advance.
    At any rate, the Bear's Lair show was advertised days in advance. (How far ahead did the LAG even know they would strike?)

    Speculative timeline:
    - The Dead are booked for the Family Dog run
    - Garcia hears that there will be a strike there
    - He quickly books a show w/ Marmaduke & Hart at Bear's Lair on Aug 1...
    - But then he somehow turns up at the Family Dog on Aug 1 anyway? With time to kill for a discussion w/ the strikers, too. McNally specifies that Garcia & Hart arrived together - late enough in the evening that there were over a thousand people there.

    Something's not right here. Either Garcia decided to cancel the Bear's Lair, or McNally's story of that night is spurious.
    Though it is possible Garcia & Hart drove from one gig to the other. If Hart was telling the story right, far from avoiding a confrontation with the strikers, Garcia went out of his way to negotiate with them to try to get a Dead gig going that night (or, perhaps, the following two nights?).

    It still strikes me that each band-member could make his own decision about whether to cross the line & play or not; they were by no means following Garcia's choices.

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  13. LIA, he came back to the Great Highway after the gig at the Bear's Lair. There is a blow by blow in one of the local counterculture papers that I have been sitting on. I have a whole damn chapter written up about this stuff.

    But I think you have it right.

    1) GD booked three nights at the Family Dog
    2) LAG strike announced ca. 7/26/69
    3) Garcia hastily books the gig in Berkeley so as to have an excuse not to cross the line
    4) Weir and Kreutzmann and Phil (I have to check the accounts) cross the line and play the Dog.
    5) Garcia comes to the Dog after his gig, they powwow, and this clears the way for 8/2/69 and 8/3/69 gigs.
    6) The Common is born out of the whole thing. It doesn't seem to last too long, but it nets us some interesting afternoons and evenings at the Family Dog.

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  14. Thanks for clarifying; McNally's account makes more sense now. Must have been round midnight when Garcia came to the Family Dog that night, so their discussion would probably have been about the next 2 nights.

    Wonderful how access to obscure sources can clear up speculation! Looking forward to your chapter someday...

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  15. The book Bill Graham Presents also has some discussion of 8/1/69, with Garcia talking about his reaction to the strike. Chet Helms also discusses the quarrel with Graham & the subsequent birth of the Common at the Family Dog.
    It's not a book I've paid much attention to due to its vague oral-history nature, but it can be useful in spots!

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