Tuesday, April 27, 2010

March 17, 1969 Winterland, San Francisco Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Sons of Champlin "Monster Jam" for Olompali,

Earlier, I had found a reference to this show and speculated that a 1969 Benefit Jam for Olompali might include members of the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane. Expert research by Ross turned up the goods, namely an article from the March 17, 1969 Berkeley Barb (left) promising that the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sons of Champlin and others would perform. The article says
A "Superjam" dance and concert will be thrown at Winterland this Monday, St. Patrick's Nite, to benefit the Chosen Family that was busted and burned out at Rancho Olompali in Novato.

Featured will be musicians from the leading Bay Area rock groups, according to Bob McKendrick from Olompali, the Airplane, the Dead, and Sons of Champlin are expected to show up; also jamming will be the Garden of Delights, and a blues-rock group new to San Francisco, Red Mountain. Glen McKay's Headlights will provide enlightenment for all. The Superjam is for a good cause . . . something like 18 to 20 people from Olompali haven't the bread to pay their attorney's fees, and they are all homeless, as Burdell Mansion on Olompall burned down after the bust.

The Benefit is being sponsored by the Deja Vu Foundation, Inc., in association with Crinkle Productions, and will happen at Winterland, Post and Sterner Streets in The City. That's Monday, March 17th, from 8:30 pm till 1 am; donation asked at the door will be $3.00 . . .for some beautiful people.
Rancho Olompali was the Marin County retreat for the Grateful Dead in Spring 1966, before they moved to 710 Ashbury (via Western Marin) in September.  It was owned by Don McCoy, who later lived across the street at 715 Ashbury. In 1967, McCoy started a commune called The Chosen Family. A fire caused by faulty wiring burned down the mansion, possibly connected to a drug bust at the same time.

Most San Francisco bands didn't work Monday nights, so a benefit for friends was somewhat easier to put together. Some will recognize Bob McKendrick (the Olompali resident quoted in the article) as a promoter of San Francisco rock shows in 1966 and 1967. Mind you, calling the event "Super Jam" and not mentioning the groups by name means that its not an absolute guarantee that the complete Dead or Airplane showed up. The show could very well have featured some combination of Hot Tuna and/or Mickey and The Hartbeats instead, although to me that makes the show even more intriguing.

Rancho Olompali, and the mansion on it, had a long and complicated history dating back to 1843, General Vallejo and Mexican California. The property had ended up in the hands of the University of San Francisco by the 1950s. In the 1960s, they attempted to sell it various times, but when various buyers defaulted, the property kept reverting back to USF. I assume Don McCoy gave up on the property as well. In 1977, the State of California purchased the property from USF, and turned it into Olompali Historic State Park. The address of the park is 8901 Old Redwood Highway, 3.5 miles East of Novato, CA.

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