- The Warlocks May-December 1965
- The Grateful Dead January-April 1967
- The Grateful Dead May-June 1967
- The Grateful Dead November-December 1967
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia July-August 1969
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia September-October 1969
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia November 1969
What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead performance dates for March and April 1968. 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, 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 1968, were living hand to mouth and scrambling to find paying gigs. Even by 1968, 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.
March 1-2, 1968 Looking Glass, Walnut Creek, CA Grateful Dead
This event and venue are the most mysterious of this time period. Lewis Carroll was considered "psychedelic" at the time, so a coffee house, nightclub or venue with a name like "Looking Glass" would seem to be a Grateful Dead-friendly establishment. Nonetheless, I know nothing about any such place in Walnut Creek beyond this reference from Deadbase. I know of no tape, eyewitness account or poster from this show, nor any other reference to a rock club in Walnut Creek.
Walnut Creek is in Contra Costa County, just over the hill from Berkeley. However, it was a sleepy town at the time--there will still walnut trees there--and the County was not particularly friendly to hippies or anything associated with them. My guess is that The Looking Glass was an effort to start some sort of psychedelic outpost in Contra Costa that was shut down almost immediately--whether by permit problems, police harassment or just financial inadvisability.
[update] Apparently the address of The Looking Glass was 1300 Boulevard Way in Walnut Creek, still a valid address. This leads me to think there was a long-lost flyer that generated this date. I can't help but think that this was a booked date that never occurred, because the venue never opened.
March 3, 1968 Haight Street Fair Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead had moved to 710 Ashbury in about September 1966, but the neighborhood had declined and the Dead had become a tourist attraction. Various entities persuaded the city to block off Haight Street for a few blocks and have a Sunday afternoon party, which was the genesis of today's Haight Street Fair. The Dead had already effectively moved out of 710 by this time, so irritating the City was not a concern (although perhaps it was a goal). After promising not to play, the Dead arranged to have two flatbed trucks back up to each other, and with a ready made stage the band had an impromptu hour-long show as a goodbye to Haight Street.
The show was taped, although the taper's batteries ran out. I have read that the batteries ran out because they had been used to tape Cream at Winterland the night before.
Deadlists shows the Grateful Dead performing on March 7, 1968 outside of San Quentin, but Ross has persuasively argued elsewhere that the actual date was February 15, 1968. March 7 is not impossible, but I don't know of any confirmation of a second show.
March 8-9, 1968 Melodyland Theater, Disneyland, Anaheim, CA Jefferson Airplane & Friends
The Jefferson Airplane "and Friends" were billed at the Melodyland Theater in Disneyland. The "Friends" turned out to be the Grateful Dead. I assume that the show was booked with the idea that another San Francisco band would join the Airplane, but it hadn't been determined who it would be. I doubt there was anything secretive or special about the Dead not being advertised in advance.
Melodyland regularly had name entertainers. Disneyland made a few stabs at being hip, and gave it up. There were early and late shows on Saturday March 9.
March 11, 1968 Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA Cream/Grateful Dead
Cream, busy conquering the world, played Sacramento Civic Auditorium, with the Dead opening. The San Francisco bands were very impressed with Cream. Jerry Garcia and Jack Casady talked at least casually about forming a power trio (presumably as a sideline).
Tom Constanten sat in with the Dead for this show, per his website. TC was still in the Air Force at the time, based in Nevada, and made appearances when he could.
March 15-16, 1968 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead
March 17, 1968 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA Grateful Dead/Blue Cheer
The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and The Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane had decided they were letting concert promoters make too much money off them, and banded together to open their own place. As a result, none of those bands played Bill Graham's Fillmore nor Chet Helms's Avalon during the first half of 1968, as they were competitors. Old age and revisionism caused everyone to conveniently forget the fact that Bill Graham (and Chet Helms) and the bands were dueling with each other, and Graham won. While I don't think band members personally disliked Bill (or Chet) they weren't necessarily enamored of promoter's business practices either.
The Dead effectively ran the Carousel, as the other bands only provided finance and played some gigs. The Carousel operation was professionally unwise from beginning to end, showing that Graham and Helms did bring something to the table, even if it wasn't always overtly apparent. This was the Dead's third booking at the Carousel. The first was the debut on January 17, then the famous Valentine's show on February 14, and then this weekend. This weekend was the Airplane's debut at the Carousel. For the final night (Sunday March 17), Blue Cheer was booked instead of the Airplane.
Part of the March 17 show was released in 2005 as Volume 6 of the Grateful Dead's Download Series.
March 18, 1968 Pier 10, Washington and Embarcadero Streets, San Francisco, CA KMPX Strike Rally Traffic with Jerry Garcia/others
KMPX-fm was the first underground FM rock station, and it was critical in promoting the new rock bands. When the staff went on strike, all the bands supported them. The strike began at 3am on Monday March 18. The station was at 50 Green Street, and a flatbed truck was set up nearby at Green and Embarcadero to allow bands to perform in support of the strikers. Creedence Clearwater Revival were very proud of being the first on at 3am, although that was too noisy for the neighborhood and the cops shut that down. The Grateful Dead may have been planning to play, having come over after their Carousel show, but it was not to be.
Around 9 am, however, the music started up again at Pier 10, near Washington and Embarcadero. San Francisco has always been a pro-Union town, and the cops would not hassle a strike, so the bands were free to play. In any case, they were far from any residential area.
Steve Winwood and Traffic played, as they were headlining two weekends at the Fillmore, thanks to KMPX's constant play of their debut album. Various musicians sat in for "Dear Mr. Fantasy," including Jerry Garcia. Remarkably, art student Andrew Wong took a bunch of great photos that are well worth looking at.
March 20, 1968 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA KMPX Strike Benefit
There were a number of events in support of the KMPX strike (and the strike of its sister station, KPPC in Pasadena). One of the first events was a benefit for striking staff at the Avalon on Wednesday, March 20. Although the Grateful Dead are reputed to have played this show, I have never seen confirmation, and in fact I do not have any idea who played.
I am not at all ruling out that the Grateful Dead played; they very likely did. However, given that they played the Green Street event (March 18 above) and the Winterland show (April 3), there is an historic tendency to lump all the shows together. I'm not taking this show off the list, but it still stands as "unproven" in my mind. Update: Jef Jaisun mentions the Dead's performance in a Berkeley Barb article, so I am now treating this show is now confirmed.
March 22, 1968 State Fair Coliseum, Detroit, MI Eric Burdon and The Animals/Grateful Dead/Eire Apparent/Apostles/The Rationals
Detroit had an exciting rock scene, promoted by DJ Russ Gibb and based at the Grande Ballroom in Downtown Detroit. In some general ways, it was consciously modeled on the San Francisco scene, in that it attempted to be self-contained and driven by popular local bands rather than mainstream radio bands. With that being said, the Detroit scene was hard rocking and overtly political, in distinct contrast to the more laid back San Francisco scene.
The poster for this show features two shows at the much larger Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum (1120 W. State Fair Avenue, Detroit, MI). The Coliseum, built in 1922, had a capacity of 5,600. The idea was that Eric Burdon plus the Dead would bring a much larger audience than the Grande could hold, so the shows were booked at the much larger Fairgrounds Pavilion. In fact, however, the shows did not sell that well, and the second night was moved back to the Grande.
Eire Apparent were an Irish band associated with Mike Jeffereys, who managed both Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon. The Apostles and Rationals were Detroit bands.
March 23, 1968 Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI Eric Burdon and The Animals/Eire Apparent/Apostles/The Rationals--Dead cancel
After the poor attendance at the Fairgrounds, the show was returned to the smaller Grande Ballroom. Animal guitarist Vic Briggs clearly recalls that the Dead went home on Saturday and did not play the Grande.
The Grande Ballroom, at 8952 Grand River Avenue, had been built in 1928. Its story is too long to tell here, but it's a great one. Since Russ Gibb closed the Grande in 1972, however, the building has remained dormant.
March 24, 1968 Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, MI Grateful Dead--canceled
As pointed out in the Comments, a Grateful Dead show was scheduled for Grand Rapids, and there's even a poster, but it was canceled because a heavy blizzard made the 150-mile trip unwise. I have to think bad weather also hurt attendance at the State Fairgrounds on Friday night (22) as well.
March 29-31, 1968 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA Grateful Dead/Chuck Berry/Curly Cook's Hurdy Gurdy Band
The Dead returned home from their weekend jaunt to Michigan to headline another weekend at the Carousel. They probably spent a lot of March working on Anthem Of The Sun, mixing down the live tapes from their February shows.
James "Curly" Cook, from Madison, WI had come out to California in late 1966 to join the Steve Miller Band. He fell ill in mid-1967, however, and was replaced by Boz Scaggs. Cook returned to action with his own band in 1968, although the only other member that I know was bassist Doug Kilmer. Per common practice, I assume Curly Cook's band backed Chuck Berry for his set.
Many years ago, Bob Weir said that he learned the song "Me and My Uncle" in 1966 from "a hippie named Curly Jim." Grateful Dead scholars (including me) assumed that he meant that he learned the song from Curly Cook. A person who was there at the time, however, swears that there was an entirely different person on the scene named Curly Jim. She knew Curly Cook as well, and even sent me a picture of Curly Jim, standing on the steps of 710 Ashbury, but she doesn't remember his last name. Make of this what you will.
April 3, 1968 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
Electric Flag/Grateful Dead/Moby Grape/Mother Earth/Youngbloods/It's A Beautiful Day
"Super Ball" KMPX First Birthday Benefit
KMPX-fm had begun broadcasting rock music 24 hours a day in April, 1967, so calling this a "First Birthday" was accurate, although the first rock music on KMPX was actually broadcast from midnight to 6:00 am on February 12. This Wednesday night event at the largest arena in town (Winterland's capacity was 5,500) was a substantial event. The Electric Flag and Moby Grape were both high profile bands, as were the Dead, and Mother Earth, The Youngboods and It's A Beautiful Day all had local followings as well. The ticket price was $5.00, high for the era, and a sign that the event was a significant fundraiser. I assume the Dead only played one set, since there were at least six bands. Its worth noting however, that I am not yet aware of any eyewitness, tape or review of the Dead's appearance. Ross noted in the Comments that various groups (including the Dead) were invited but had not yet confirmed.
The Grateful Dead have no scheduled activity that I am aware of for the weekend of April 5-7. I assume that they were finishing Anthem Of The Sun at the time, although I don't know that for an absolute fact. Its possible that there might be at least one show for this weekend. It was pointed out in the Comments, however, that the Dead had scheduled some time at Criteria Studios in Miami, in order to work on Anthem. The exact timing of the studio work--where apparently little was accomplished--is unknown, but it explains the subsequent trip to Miami.
April 12-14, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Grateful Dead/Blues Image
Thee Image was Miami's contribution to the psychedelic landscape. It was a former bowling alley at 18330 Collins Avenue in North Miami, which I have discussed at length elsewhere. The Grateful Dead kicked off their Spring 1968 tour by playing two weekends there [update: from the Comments, it turns out a poster advertising the show endures].
It remains obscure what the Grateful Dead did in Miami during the week, but at least some of the time before or after the first Thee Image date was spent at Criteria Studios in Miami, presumably attempting to mix or overdub parts of Anthem Of The Sun.
Blues Image were originally from Tampa, FL (and known as The Motions), but they moved to Miami to get more exposure. They helped run Thee Image, and acted as the house band, playing most nights. Blues Image had two drummers, but came to the idea on their own in the wilds of Florida. They were apparently an excellent band live, and their ok-but-not-great albums supposedly did not do them justice. They moved to Los Angeles in late 1968, and did have a big hit with "Ride Captain Ride" in 1970. [not on Deadlists]
April 14, 1968 Greynolds Park, Miami, FL Grateful Dead/Blues Image
The Dead and Blues Image held a "Love In" at a park near Thee Image on Sunday afternoon. Greynolds Park was at 17530 West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach. The event was reported by the National wire services. The Dead were always willing to "break in" new territory by playing a free show to attract attention to their paid events. [not on Deadlists]
April 19-21, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Grateful Dead/Blues Image
This poster is well known, but few people have noticed that it says "held over," a reference to the previous weekend's shows.
April 26-28, 1968 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA Grateful Dead
Philadelphia was one of the largest markets in the country, but it took a little while for a psychedelic rock scene to develop. After various smaller venues sputtered in 1967 (The Trauma at 2121 Arch and the Kaleidoscope in Manayunk), the Spivak brothers and Larry Magid opened the Electric Factory in a former tire warehouse at 2201 Arch Street. Electric Factory opened in February 1968 with the Chambers Brothers, and it presented all the top acts of the 1960s. Electric Factory was the biggest rock promoter in Philadelphia for many decades, and is now part of LiveNation.
Rock Scully has an hysterical story in his book about this Grateful Dead's appearance at the Electric Factory (pp. 145-47), as the band was offered free accommodations in a hotel above a blues bar for the weekend. When the band arrives, however, they discover they will be spending the weekend in a house of prostitution. All but Pigpen are completely unsettled--Pigpen spends the weekend hanging out at the blues bar--and Rock has to scramble to find students willing to put the band up for the weekend. The interesting note in his story was that the band would have no money for another hotel until they played the shows, a sharp indicator of the hand-to-mouth touring in the 60s.
Incidentally, the Grateful Dead played for the Electric Factory promoters the next year, and more or less continuously for the balance of their career, so any misunderstandings seem to have been resolved. I have to assume they got to stay in hotels on later trips.