|A poster for the 1969 Oregon shows on May 30 (Springer's) and May 31 (McArthur Court)|
- The Warlocks May-December 1965
- The Grateful Dead January-April 1967
- The Grateful Dead May-June 1967
- The Grateful Dead November-December 1967
- The Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia January 1968
- The Grateful Dead March-April 1968
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia March 1969
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia July-August 1969
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia September-October 1969
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia November 1969
- Grateful Dead December 1969
- Grateful Dead January 1970
- Grateful Dead February 1970
- Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia March 1970
- Grateful Dead November 1970
What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia performance dates for May, 1969. 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 by 1968, were living hand to mouth and scrambling to find paying gigs. 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.
By May, 1969 the Grateful Dead had completed the exhausting process of recording Aoxomoxoa. Of course, recording the Aoxomoxoa album was exhausting because the band had made it so: they had recorded an entire album by the end of 1968, tentatively entitled Earthquake Country, but chose to re-record the album on a newly-available 16-track Ampex recorder. The endless experimenting, overdubs and goofiness took another few months, and the Dead ended up in debt to Warner Brothers to the tune of $150,000, serious money for the time. In any case, by May they were done, and the Aoxomoxoa album would be released in June.
The Grateful Dead were always perpetually broke, and they must have known that their huge debt to Warner Brothers insured that any future record royalties would be few and far between. As a result they embarked on a fairly intense schedule of regional and national touring. By 1969, although the Dead were not really successful recording artists, they were legendary, as San Francisco and the Fillmore had mythic status, so the band had some cachet out in the hinterlands. The band capitalized on that by performing far and wide, very far from the safety zones of hip psychedelic clubs in big cities.
In the context of the Dead's forthcoming album and renewed commitment to heavy touring, it is a telling Garcia paradox that he would choose this time to start his first extra-curricular band. As I have discussed at length elsewhere, Garcia had brought a pedal steel guitar in Colorado (probably Boulder) in April. Old Palo Alto friend John "Marmaduke" Dawson had dropped by to hear him play it, playing his own songs, which Garcia was probably familiar with, so that Garcia would have a platform for accompanying him. Seemingly on the spot, when Garcia found out that Dawson was playing his songs at a Hofbrau in Menlo Park, Garcia offered to be his "sideman" and back him up on the pedal steel guitar.
John Dawson, David Nelson and Jerry Garcia have repeated the story about the birth of the New Riders numerous times. Dawson was playing his songs on Wednesday nights at a hip hofbrau on El Camino Real called The Underground, not far from where the Warlocks had debuted at Magoo's Pizza. All the stories imply a lengthy process where Garcia started to drop in, people started to find out, and Nelson was invited to join in, all leading to the genesis of the New Riders of The Purple Sage. However, like many events that are recalled with intensity years later, time seems to have elongated for the participants. There can hardly have been more than six occasions when Garcia played Wednesday nights with Marmaduke at the Underground, and it may have been even fewer. That's not to say that the stories are untrue, by any means, but the entire process was much shorter than may have been thought.
Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Tour Itinerary May 1969
May 2-3, 1969: Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Mongo Santamaria
The Grateful Dead had not played Winterland or the Fillmore West with the Jefferson Airplane in some time. Of course, the Dead had set themselves up as competitors to Bill Graham in early 1968, so it wasn't a coincidence. Nonetheless, with Graham having taken over the Carousel and the Dead always in search of a paying date, bygones had become bygones and the two acts shared a Friday and Saturday booking at Winterland.
Mongo Santamaria was a highly regarded Latin Jazz bandleader and conguero. According to some comments on the Archive, on at least one of the nights, Mongo sat in for some serious jamming with members of the Dead and the Airplane into the wee hours.
May 3, 1969: [Football Stadium], Sierra College, Rocklin, CA: Grateful Dead (afternoon)
Rocklin, CA, is a small town a half hour North of Sacramento, and 108 miles Northeast of San Francisco. Originally the site of a granite quarry in the 19th century, since it was on the original transcontinental rail line, a town grew up around it. With the quarry long since closed, Rocklin did not come to life again until Interstate 80 was completed in the 1960s, making the town a commutable suburb of Sacramento. While there is plenty of suburban sprawl today, and Rocklin seems part of greater Sacramento, in 1969 the town would have been small and distant. Rocklin's population at the tmie was probably around 20,000 (it's only 56,000 today).
Sierra College was a two year Community College, originally founded in 1936. I have to assume that the event was student sponsored, since there couldn't have been that much of a crowd, and student funds would have helped subsidize the Dead's fee. I am assuming also that the Dead played on the school's football field, but since the current stadium (built 2007) only holds 1,500, it must have been a casual event indeed. I have never seen a newspaper article, handbill or anything else about this show, so I have to guess what the circumstances may have been. Rocklin was near enough to San Francisco that the band could have played an afternoon show there and easily returned to Winterland for the Saturday evening show.
The Grateful Dead were booked on the West Coast in this period by Bill Graham's Millard Agency. The Millard Agency excelled at finding new gigs for San Francisco bands outside of the obvious Bay Area and Los Angeles venues. For the students at Sierra College in 1969, a Sunday afternoon visit by the Grateful Dead must have been the biggest thing ever to happen in Rocklin. Sometime in the 1980s, the San Francisco 49ers took to holding their training camp there--they may still--but until Joe Montana and Jerry Rice arrived, I have to think the Grateful Dead were the highest profile event since the railroad came to town.
May 7, 1969: Polo Grounds, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead (free afternoon concert)
While free concerts in Golden Gate Park had become standard fare in San Francisco, the city was uncomfortable with major headliners playing the park. This show was on a Wednesday, and I suspect that there was no pre-event publicity. The Polo Grounds had been the site of the Human Be-In, and while it could accommodate a large crowd, the City did not actually want a large crowd. According to extant tapes, both the Dead and the Airplane played single sets. I have no idea how large the crowd actually was.
May 7, 1969: The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: Marmaduke (tentative)
The earliest Wednesday that Jerry Garcia could have joined John Dawson at the Underground would have been this night. I am inclined to believe that since the Grateful Dead would have played an afternoon show with the Airplane at Golden Gate Park, and indeed came on first, the compulsive Garcia could have headed South to Menlo Park to check out Marmaduke's scene at the Hofbrau. The Dead would have only have returned from tour on about Monday, April 28, and there had to be both a Grateful Dead rehearsal (for Dawson to come hang out) and a visit Garcia's home (for them to play), so the earliest date I can see Garcia sitting in would be the first week of May.
Since no one has ever seen a newspaper listing or anything else for The Underground, it's hard to be certain about any of this--the Wednesday night gig, how (or whether) Dawson was billed, even the address of The Underground. A long-time Bay Area resident recalls the restaurant, and we know it's approximate location, but we can't be certain. For now, I think The Underground was at 1029 El Camino Real, and is currently the site of The Oak City Bar And Grill. My assumption for May 7 was that Garcia drove down, checked it out, and plugged in his pedal steel for a second or later set, noodling quietly in the background.
May 9, 1969: Hall Of Flowers, San Mateo County Fairgrounds, San Mateo, CA: Grateful Dead
The Millard Agency specialized in finding bookings in the Bay Area suburbs, particularly places that hadn't hosted major bands before. Rock music was popular in the suburbs now, and there were a lot of fans who wouldn't (or wouldn't be allowed to) go to San Francisco but wanted to see hip bands.
I know nothing about this concert save it's listing in Deadbase: I don't know who promoted it, who else was on the bill or anything else. The San Mateo County Fairgrounds were right off El Camino, very much in the Warlocks old stomping grounds of a few years earler. The band did play a benefit at the Fairgrounds a dozen years later (December 12, 1981 with Joan Baez) but I believe that was in a different building (Fiesta Hall). I think the Hall of Flowers was much smaller, but I can't prove that yet.
|An alternate handbill for the May 9-10, 1969 shows at the Rose Palace|
I have written about this show elsewhere. Pasadena was another suburban market, and the Dead had played there two months earlier. Rather uniquely, the "headliner" was a movie, a concert film of Cream's farewell performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 26, 1968.
May 11, 1969: Aztec Bowl, San Diego State College, San Diego, CA: Canned Heat/Grateful Dead/Lee Michaels/Santana/Tarantula
Continuing the Millard plan of creating new markets, the Grateful Dead returned to San Diego for the second time (the first had been a two-night stand at the downtown Hippodrome on May 2-3, 1968). The Aztec Bowl was a modest sized football stadium. Canned Heat was the headliner, both because they had genuine hits (like "On The Road Again") and because they were much better known in Southern California. Lee Michaels had a certain following as well, and may have been booked through Millard, too. Michaels was a very talented musician, and had a fairly singular sound. Michaels sang and played Hammond organ at ear-splitting volume through a stack of Leslie amps, accompanied by only his drummer, Bartholomew "Frosty" Smith. It sounds weird, but actually it was really great.
Santana was also booked through the Millard Agency, who were slowly building an audience for the band throughout California. Santana had been signed to Columbia and had begun working on their first album, but at this time they would have merely been an underground legend in Southern California. They had played SoCal a few times, but this was their first time in San Diego. Tarantula were apparently a local group.
Interestingly, the Grateful Dead's set seems to have been broadcast on KPRI-fm (106.5) in San Diego, a very early instance of this practice. As a result of the circulating tape, we know that members of Santana joined the Dead for "Turn On Your Lovelight." The percussion section (presumably Mike Carabello, Chepito Areas and possibly Mike Shrieve) adds some oomph to the drum solos, and it sounds like Gregg Rolie adding a few vocals during the song as well.
May 14, 1969: The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: Marmaduke
This would have been either the first or second appearance by Garcia with Marmaduke.
May 16, 1969: Campolindo High School, Moraga, CA: Grateful Dead/Frumious Bandersnatch/Velvet Hammer
There are a variety of amazing stories about the Grateful Dead's performance at suburban Campolindo High School in Moraga, on the other side of the hills from Berkeley. Some of them may even be true. The key takeaway for the Grateful Dead's schedule seems to be that the Dead had an unbooked weekend, and seemed happy to get a payday, even if they weren't making as much as they might some nights. Perhaps a planned date fell through, and the Dead picked up the Campolindo date as the best available remaining booking.
Campolindo had held two major concerts in the 1968/69 school year, featuring Santana in the Fall (November 22, 1968) and the Grateful Dead in the Spring. Both headliners were Millard Agency acts, another indicator of the agency's shrewd plan to export the Fillmore sound to the suburbs.
May 21, 1969: The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: Marmaduke
Whether you think that this was the second or third show where Garcia played with Dawson, I have to think that David Nelson was already playing with them. Once again, however, we have no real evidence to go on. My assumption is that Dawson was singing his songs on acoustic guitar, with Garcia playing pedal steel and Nelson playing a Fender.
May 23-24, 1969: Big Rock Pow Wow, Seminole Indian Reservation, Hollywood, FL
May 23; Grateful Dead/Johnny Winter/Muddy Waters/Joe South/Nervous System/Jane & The Electric Jive Wire
May 24: Grateful Dead/Sweetwater/Youngbloods/Joe South/Aum/Sun Country
Psychedelic rock had broken through on the Coasts, and then along the I80 and I70 corridors where all the touring bands went through (Chicago, Salt Lake City, Denver, etc). It took a longer time for hippie music to reach the rest of the country. Florida was one of the first places where there were places for the Fillmore bands to play in the South, and the Dead played a big part. The band had played two weekends at Thee Image in 1968, Miami's premier psychedelic ballroom (though not it's first), and the Dead had also played the first free concert in Graynolds Park in Miami, on April 14, 1968.The Dead had played a rock festival in North Miami in December, 1968 as well.
By 1969, however, police pressure and fear of Jim Morrison had helped to shut down Thee Image. Florida's solution was to move the fun to an Indian Reservation north of Miami, where the local police had no jurisdiction. The 'Big Rock Pow-Wow' was a three-day festival, and the Dead were the headline act on Friday and Saturday. The excellent though now obscure band Rhinoceros were the Sunday headliner (May 25). Both Dead shows were released in their entirety on the Road Trips series, and Blair Jackson's liner notes tell the whole hilarious story.
|A handbill for the People's Park Bail Benefit show at Winterland on May 28, 1969|
People's Park Bail Ball
The People's Park protests in Berkeley were a seminal event in the Bay Area, too complex to go into here. Although initially a civic issue--an empty grass field was going to be turned into a parking lot by the University--it became a flashpoint for the needs of the community versus the needs of a State-run institution (UC Berkeley). Ultimately there were huge riots, the National Guard was called in and the entire conflict escalated significantly. From this point of view, the Grateful Dead playing a benefit for people who had been arrested at one of the many riot was more of a social statement than an explicitly political one. Obviously, the band's participation was not without political content, but the event would not have been seen as support of a specific political group but more as an act of solidarity.
This was a Wednesday night event, so bands weren't losing out on a paying gig. Generally, bands weren't paid at these sorts of benefits, although they might receive a little money for expenses--what constituted "a little" remains unknown. I presume that the organizers hired Bill Graham Presents to organize the show, but it was not a BGP show per se. The event ran from 6:00pm until 2am, and probably every band played a single set.
Solidarity and politics aside, bands and management liked playing events like this, even if practically for free, since it often introduced a group to new audiences as well as making them seem cool and in touch, an important market in the 60s. Creedence Clearwater Revival, for example, were hugely popular at this time, having had a giant hit with "Proud Mary" (released in January) and followed by "Bad Moon Rising" (released in April), whose B-side, "Lodi," received nearly as much airplay. Creedence was an East Bay band, however, and it was important for them to show that even though they were big stars now, they were still going to come out for a People's Park benefit (which the individual band members surely supported).
Many of the support acts were Millard acts, as were the Dead. Millard was sharp about making sure that fans who would come out to see the Airplane, The Dead and Creedence were going to hear Millard acts like Elvin Bishop, Aum and Santana as well.
I assume that the Dead played third from last, but I don't know that for sure. It's a meaningful point insofar as determining whether or not Garcia sat in with Dawson this Wednesday night. I have assumed that Garcia did not, but truthfully, it's not totally impossible. As always, confirmation of actual dates that Garcia played with Dawson at The Underground--or for that matter, any confirmation about when Dawson played The Underground, even by himself--are all but impossible to come by.
|The Mike Aydelott poster for the May 29, 1969 UCSB show in Robertson Gym|
Santa Barbara's proximity to Los Angeles meant that there were a lot of rock concerts there in the 60s, but most of them were held at the County Fairgrounds in Santa Barbara proper. The University of California at Santa Barbara was actually in Isla Vista, about 10 miles West of the city itself. The campus had been a somewhat sleepy backwater in the UC system (it was established in 1944), but the post WW2 baby boom expanded the campus dramatically, starting in the late 1950s. By the late 1960s, Isla Vista and the UCSB community was a hotbed of anti-war activity. Still, there were relatively few major rock concerts on or near campus.
Once again the Dead led the way in taking time on a Thursday night to conquer new territory. Keep in mind that they had played San Francisco on a Wednesday, Isla Vista on a Thursday and then back North for a weekend in Oregon the next day. The Youngbloods and Lee Michaels were probably associated with the Millard Agency in some ways, as both groups played a lot with the Dead. Note that in 1969 the Grateful Dead needed two substantial supporting acts to play Robertson Gym. By the time I saw them there in 1977 (March 27), the Dead packed the place by themselves.
May 30, 1969: Springer's Inn, Gresham, OR: Grateful Dead/Palace Meat Market
Springer's Inn was an old ballroom that was built as part of a hotel that was the terminus of a long-ago electric rail line. It was actually in the town of Gresham, OR, 15 miles East of Portland. The are was fairly undeveloped at the time, and the poster doesn't even give an address--it just says "take Powell, right on 190th." That tells you there was nothing else out there. The actual address was 18300 SE Richey Rd, Gresham, OR 97080, but it wasn't necessary. Now, of course, there is a condo development, no sign of Springer's Inn and SE 190th Avenue doesn't exist off Powell Street (or as Robert Hunter has said, "That train don't run here anymore").
I have written about Springer's Inn at some length elsewhere, so I won't recap it all here. Suffice to say, the Grateful Dead were already hugely popular in Oregon, despite the relative lack of population in Oregon at the time. Rock was also moving to the suburbs, and distant Gresham could attract more suburbanites than downtown Portland, which didn't have a good venue at this time anyway, since the Crystal Ballroom had been closed.
The Palace Meat Market was a local Oregon band. Opening for the Dead this weekend was the highlight of their career.
May 31, 1969: McArthur Court, Eugene, OR: Grateful Dead/Palace Meat Market
McArthur Court, built in 1926 with a capacity of nearly 10,000, remained the home of the Oregon Ducks until it was replaced in 2011 by the Matthew Knight Arena.
The Grateful Dead were always immensely popular in Oregon, whether due to mystical connections through Ken Kesey and their road crew (three of whom were from the tiny town of Hermiston, OR) or just because Oregon liked the Dead. In any case, when the Dead headlined McArthur Court on May 31, 1969, it was one of the biggest rooms that they had headlined up until that time. The show appears to have been scheduled for the track stadium (Hayward Field) and moved indoors, but in any case it was a sign of the Dead's status in Oregon.
Ken Kesey and his Prankster pals were having some sort of Prankster reunion this weekend, and Kesey, Ken Babbs and others were in attendance at these shows, and may have appeared on stage in some capacity or other. Apparently it was a wild time, just another in a long list of memorable Oregon shows for the Grateful Dead.