Tuesday, June 29, 2010

December 27-28, 1975 La Paloma Theater, Encinitas, CA: Jerry Garcia Band--Did They Happen?

I have previously alluded to the historical reality that in the pre-Internet era one of the few useful sources of new information about Dead shows in other cities was chatting with strangers between sets at Dead shows. I learned many interesting things over the years, and many of them turned out to be true. Yet after all these years, some of those conversations remain unresolved in my mind. One of the many benefits of the Internet is that I can put these questions out there for review--who knows? The person I spoke with may read it and weigh in.

One night in Winterland in 1977--sorry, even I don't recall when--I was talking to some guy about the Jerry Garcia Band. I mentioned how much I liked seeing Garcia with Nicky Hopkins, even though at times Hopkins seemed a bit out of it. He told me about seeing Garcia and Hopkins in San Diego at a theater in San Diego which he called "Paloma Blanca." He said that after a few numbers, Hopkins just collapsed, seeming to burst into tears. Garcia went over and talked to Nicky, and then after a while Jerry came to the microphone and told everyone that the show was canceled and they could get their money back.

Over the years, as Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia scholarship has improved, little pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. The Jerry Site lists Jerry Garcia Band shows on December 27-28, 1975 at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas (at 471 1st Street), a few miles North of San Diego. La Paloma Theater in Encinitas is close enough to "Paloma Blanca" that I reasonably assumed it was the event in question, but I have waited in vain for any more information.

I do notice that there were no tapes, set lists or reviews for either night in 1975 at La Paloma, however. Maybe my acquaintance' story was true, and there are no set lists or tapes because the shows weren't played, beyond a few numbers the first night. Garcia only played one more show with Hopkins, on New Year's Eve, and perhaps Hopkins's breakdown was the last straw. Garcia epitomizes the sort of player who will go on stage with a myriad of personal, financial or health problems and still focus on his playing, so as a musician Jerry can't have been willing to keep working with someone who couldn't get through a show.

The Garcia Band returned to La Paloma Theater in Encinitas just two months later, on February 21 and 22, 1976. The band played double shows (early and late) on two nights, and tapes confirm that the shows did indeed happen. La Paloma Theater had not been part of any regular rotation of Garcia shows. Could the return engagement in February with Keith and Donna Godchaux have been a makeup show for the abortive December shows with Hopkins? It's possible.

This exhausts my knowledge of the December 27-28, 1975 Jerry Garcia Band shows with Nicky Hopkins at the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas--a casual conversation on the floor at Winterland, some time in 1977. But I have lots of other memories, too, like a guy who told me in December 1977 that the Dead had played an unforgettable show in Binghampton the month before, and he turned out to be right, even if it took me many years to finally hear the tape, so I'm not dismissing it yet. I would be delighted to find out that Garcia and Hopkins played a few shows between Winterland (Dec 19-20, 1975) and Keystone Berkeley (Dec 31, 1975), but I need to hear from some Southern Californians whether the La Paloma Theater shows happened or not.
  • Did the Jerry Garcia Band interrupt themselves and cancel a show because Nicky Hopkins couldn't play?
  • How many shows were canceled? If the first show on the first night was canceled, as many as four shows could have been canceled?
If it went down anything like it was described to me, it would have been a unique if unfortunate event in Garcia history, when a show started and was not completed. I can't think of another instance where Garcia made it onto the stage and did not complete the show of his own volition.


  1. 5/19/94 in Phoenix, second set was canceled due to Garcia having the flu. That's the only example that comes to mind.

    Great question about the La Paloma shows in '75. I am going to try to put this in front of a few people who might know. Also, was the San Diego "underground" paper door still publishing in late '75? If so, it might shed some light. It's in the underground newspaper microfilm collection.

  2. here is a bit of info on the show:

    Doug Sclar
    10-24-2006, 10:41 AM
    Well I've got one I forgot about. It wasn't really a band argument, but I got into an argument with Jerry Garcia once. He was on the way down, playing a gig at the La Paloma Theater in 1975. He told me he didn't want to sing with the the SM58 I had set up for him. He told me that the SM58 had tons of distortion and was unsuitable for his voice. He wanted me to give him an EV mic. The problem was that I had no EV mics there. I tried to assure him that nobody at this gig was going to complain about vocal distortion with that mic. Who knows, perhaps he did a shoot out and determined that the EV worked better for his voice. :rolleyes:

    He threw a fit and said he'd not play the gig unless we got him the EV's. The promoter finally reasoned with him and he recanted. It's not like this was a live album or Carnegie Hall. It was a small gig with a few hundred people. He was all upset and acted like a little baby. The show was fine, but he was pouting the whole night.

    Of course I had no idea that he'd make a comeback and the Dead would get back together. He was with the Jerry Garcia Band at this time. Also the La Paloma was famous for booking acts that were on the way down after being in the big time and the feeling at the time was that this gig was no exception.

    I've never been a real Dead Head, but any good feelings I had towards them or him were ended that day.


    maybe nicky was crying because jerry's vocals were so distorted

  3. Someone who might know about this show is my friend George McNulty ,he &lived nearby &I'll ask him.He 's now in Adamstown,Pa.Zrichard Moss May also know ,,he is in Virginia,now,,he was born &raised there.

  4. Rasputin, that would be great if you could quiz someone from the area. Another mystery has arisen, too: it seems that the month before this (November 22, 1975), Ned Lagin and Phil Lesh played a "Seastones" show at La Paloma. There apparently was even a tape, although it doesn't circulate. If your sources have any memories about the Seastones show, that would be very interesting too.

  5. I saw Nicky Hopkins and the Jerry Garcia Band at the La Paloma. I'm not sure of the date. Nicky was high and frail and I spend a lot of time talking to him, but he played the entire set and it was a good show.

    1. It would be great if you had a ticket stub or anything else that might help pin down which show you saw? They were scheduled for two shows, 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., each night.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I actually attended one of the Dec. shows at the La Paloma Theater—not sure of the specific date though. It featured the four-piece lineup, and Nicky did indeed play the whole set, along with JGB members John Kahn on bass, Ron Tutt (previously with Elvis Presley's band) on drums, and Jerry. I grew up in San Diego and used to go to the La Paloma fairly regularly (don't remember hearing about the Lesh gig though). It was a great show and I have a clear memory of it (I was 18 at the time). I used to have a show poster, but lost it long ago, sadly. If Nicky did indeed have a breakdown, and Jerry called the gig, it must have been the following Dec. date. But as I recall, Nicky played the entire set and sounded great. I have only come across one other person who was there, just recently in fact. Guess it was a little piece of history, since Nicky and Jerry only played a handful of gigs together. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share, and trip down memory lane.
      *Jerry Lives* (*Nicky too*)

    4. I meant to say that Jerry and Nicky only played a handful of gigs together after this.

    5. I worked at (and later managed) La Paloma. Part of my job was to spend the night on the stage between the two gig days and protect the equipment. I remember playing through Jerry's Mesa Boogie amp to pass the time. He did seem in a pissy mood, though, and I was therefore unimpressed. I also remember Nicky Hopkins being very sweet, but frail and out of it. He had me print my BACKSTAGE stamp on his forehead. It was kind of funny, but in a sad way.