Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grateful Dead Solo Album Contracts, 1970-73

(the cover to Mickey Hart's 1972 album Rolling Thunder)

The basic timeline of the Grateful Dead's recording history is that Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970, elevated the band from underground oddballs to profitable hitmakers. Within the next few years, a variety of Grateful Dead projects were available in stores, including the first New Riders album (released August 1971), Hooteroll by Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia (released September 1971), Garcia's first solo album (December 1971), Bob Weir's solo album Ace (May 1972) and most mysteriously, Mickey Hart's solo album Rolling Thunder (September 1972). Deadheads generally see these releases as a sign of the band's diverse musical talents, finally given some exposure once the band became a profitable entity.

While all the solo albums and side projects had sincere musical goals, I have been considering the motives that would probably have driven the record companies to support these projects. A recent post of mine questioning when the Hooteroll album was recorded generated a sequence of fascinating Comments and some excellent follow-up posts on JGMF. While JGMF's analysis of the timeline of Hooteroll is fairly accurately defined, numerous other information came to light in his research. The most significant factor is the critical role that Columbia Records played for Dead-related releases in the early 1970s, a significant factor because the Dead recorded for Warner Brothers. Why was Columbia anxious to promote a band whose recordings they did not even own?

The thesis I am going to propose here is that Columbia Records was very anxious to sign the Grateful Dead to a recording contract after their Warner Brothers contract expired, and their various efforts were designed to make Columbia attractive to the Dead, and particularly Garcia. Warner Brothers, in turn, anxious not to lose a potentially profitable act on the verge of getting very popular, had little choice but to respond by offering solo record deals to Garcia, Weir and Hart, in order to emphasize how they could be just as cool as Columbia. In the end, of course, the Dead signed with neither company, but they seemed to have milked the cow fairly dry in the meantime. I am not aware of this thesis being directly postulated elsewhere, and I do not have any special inside information, but I think the sequence of events in 1970-72 points to a great anxiety on the parts of Warner Brothers and Columbia Records to curry favor with Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead by financing a variety of solo projects.

Original Grateful Dead Record Contract, October 1966
According to Dennis McNally, the Dead signed with Warner Brothers in October 1966. Although record company contracts were (and are) shocking in the amount of power and reward they provide to the record company versus the artist, by 1960s standards the Dead's contract was not particularly ruinous. In general, this would have put Warner's in good standing when the Dead compared themselves to many of their peers, who had had unfortunate experiences. Another advantage for Warners was that Joe Smith, the executive who had signed the Dead, was still in place in the early 1970s, and his relationship with the band was intact.

However, California law limits the duration of record company contracts to seven years. Typical contracts were something like 5 years with two renewable one year options, or something similar, so the Warners contract could not have extended beyond October 1973. I am probably simplifying a complex subject, but for the purposes of this argument I am emphasizing that while the Dead had little control over their recording career in the 1960s, as the 1970s began Warners had to consider their contract status (update: a Commenter has pointed out that Lenny Hart had secretly extended the Dead's Warners contract in Fall '69, as their three album deal had expired, but Hart pocketed the $75,000 check without telling the band. While this complicates my hypothesis somewhat, the broad narrative is still intact).
 
Workingman's Dead, the band's first release of the 1970s, was strikingly commercial, much to the surprise of Joe Smith, and when American Beauty followed later in the year Warner Brother suddenly had to consider how far they were willing to go to hang onto the Dead. Columbia got interested, too, and that had to affect how Warners saw the band (update: Columbia had tried to sign the Dead when Lenny Hart secretly renewed their contract with Warners). The circumstances were similar to a star baseball player who is entering free agency--as the end of the contract nears the horizon, the team has to start thinking of how to entice the player to remain on the team, rather than forcing the player to put up with his role and be quiet about it.

The Grateful Dead and The Recording Industry, 1966-69
When the Grateful Dead were signed by Warners in Fall 1966, they were a hip underground band, but no one at Warners probably thought they would be hugely successful. Warners was Hollywood's most unhip company, and the Dead had what would now be called "street cred." The company probably hoped the band's infamy would sell a few records and make a little money, but in an industry dominated by hit singles by the likes of The Beach Boys, nobody really thought a band with a lead singer named Pig Pen were going to become big stars. Rock music was considered disposable pop music, and no one considered the idea that even the Beatles would still be selling records in five years, much less some band playing improvised blues. However, just as record companies in the 1970 signed punk bands with few prospects in order to look cool, Los Angeles and New York companies all wanted to have a few underground sensations on their label, and the Dead were the epitome of that in 1966.

The Grateful Dead's four releases of the 1960s probably fit Warner's expectations. The Dead remained famous and infamous, were regularly written up in Rolling Stone and had a knack for showing up at important events like Monterey Pop, Woodstock and Altamont.  None of their records sold very well, and no hit singles were forthcoming. The Dead had spent something like $125,000 in studio time to record Aoxomoxoa--a Beatles-like sum of money at the time--and the record hadn't sold much. Live/Dead was cheaper and better reviewed, but nobody at Warners thought that rock bands could record mostly instrumental albums that would sell forever, like jazz albums--in fact, they probably didn't believe jazz albums would sell forever, either, because Warners didn't release jazz. Still, Warners was probably happy with the Dead, since they were hip and Warners wanted to be hip, so losing a little money on the band was well worth it (and they must have continued to feel that way, since they renewed the Dead in 1969).

The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and The Recording Industry, 1970
Much to everyone's surprise, the Dead's relationship to the musical landscape changed dramatically in 1970s. When Joe Smith received the advance tape of Workingman's Dead in Spring 1970, he put it on expecting a new psychedelic opus, and before "Uncle John's Band" was even over, he realized he might have a hit on his hands. FM rock radio, another San Francisco invention, had spread to most major cities, so hit singles in and of themselves were not the only way to get airplay. In FM, cool counted, and the Dead were cool, so songs with hooks and lyrics about cocaine were going to get a lot of airplay because they were racy, rather than in spite of it.

The biggest trend in the rock music history in early 1970 was the rise of Crosby, Stills and Nash, whose first album was not only a giant hit, but seemed to be ushering in a wave of quieter and more melodic music that emphasized traditional songwriting and harmony singing. Not only was Workingman's Dead right in line with that trend, but the widely awaited follow up album, Deja Vu (now with Neil Young on board), released in March , 1970, featured Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. "Teach Your Children" was released as a single in May 1970, and had risen to #16 by mid-Summer.  I cannot emphasize enough that record company presidents would have been impressed more by the fact that Garcia had played the introductory hook to a Top 20 single than by the finest "Dark Star" ever imagined.

Workingman's Dead was released in June 1970, as "Teach Your Children" was climbing the charts, and the November 1970 release of American Beauty would have confirmed that the Dead's ability to write and sing catchy, FM-friendly songs was no fluke. While the industry would not have cared about the Dead's live performances per se, they would have appreciated that the band was out there touring non-stop. By the end of 1970, so many of the Dead's contemporaries had broken up (like Big Brother) or undergone dramatic personnel changes (like Quicksilver), and even bands who managed to stay together (like the Airplane) did not tour with the relentlessness of the Dead.

The whole record industry would have noticed that during 1970, the Grateful Dead had gone from being a colorful gang of pirate outlaws to a band completely in tune with musical trends, touring heavily behind not one but two albums that were receiving heavy FM airplay and selling well. The industry would have also known that the Dead's contract with Warners was going to expire somewhere between 1971 and 1973, and if a company wanted to sign the band they would have to make themselves seem attractive to the Dead long before the Warners contract was set to end.

Clive Davis and Columbia Records
The record industry was always hugely profitable, and once the Beatles expanded the universe of musical purchasers, the amount of money to be made was very large. Columbia Records had always been the most successful record company, and when staff attorney Clive Davis took it over in 1967, he made them the industry's biggest success. Davis was not a musician, but he had a knack for working with stars. He signed Big Brother in order to get Janis Joplin, and although he was criticized for overpaying at the time, the low six figures he paid to get the band out of a terrible contract was repaid many times over, first with Cheap Thrills and later with Janis's solo albums. Davis has admitted that he was trying to sign the Dead in the early 1970s, and not surprisingly his focus was on Jerry Garcia, who was the Dead's "star," however much Garcia himself was uncomfortable with the role.

There had been a number of interesting efforts at country rock in the late 1960s, including The Byrds lp Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and Ian & Sylvia, to name a few. None of them had sold very many records. Nonetheless, in late 1970, Columbia signed the New Riders Of The Purple Sage. Now, to give Davis some credit, Columbia was a promoter of country rock (they had the Byrds and Poco, for example), and in fact Columbia made plenty of money out of the Riders. However, it's plain to me that Davis signed the New Riders in order to get some traction with Garcia (update: a Commenter cites John Dawson's confirmation of this). The Riders had the same endless studio time at Wally Heider's that the Dead and the Airplane did, and as a new band that need not have been indulged that way. Plainly, Davis wanted to show Garcia how generous Columbia could be.

Alan Douglas and Douglas Records
Alan Douglas was mainly a jazz producer. While he had his own label, Douglas Records, it was financed and distributed by Columbia, so it was another branch of the Columbia tree. Douglas was quoted a lot in Rolling Stone and Billboard, and he seems to have been one of the "house hippies" at otherwise staid Columbia. Record companies in Manhattan and Hollywood had discovered that a lot of younger, long-haired bands were not comfortable with attorneys and accountants wearing suits and drinking martinis, so they made sure to have some hip guys on the staff who shared the tastes and vices of the musicians they were trying to court. Columbia was particularly big and stuffy, so Douglas had a particularly important role in persuading musicians that Columbia wasn't just a bunch of suits.

Douglas Records signed Howard Wales to a contract in Summer 1970, and Alan Douglas seems to have persuaded Jerry Garcia to participate in Wales's album project. At this time, I do not think Warners had any rights to Garcia as a solo artist, as the company had not originally thought there was much potential for noodly guitar players without movie star looks. I think Douglas was Clive Davis's man in this enterprise, trying to prove to Garcia that Columbia would support the weirdest, most far out music imaginable. Davis had signed the New Riders, but they were a song-based entity, potentially quite commercial. Howard Wales, on the other hand was way, way out, so Davis sent his most way out producer--Douglas--to demonstrate to Garcia that there were no barriers to playing at Columbia. Columbia, unlike Warners, had a great jazz catalog, and Davis was shrewd enough to know that Garcia might want to be on Miles Davis's label.

More surprisingly, JGMF found a November 7, 1970 Billboard article not only announces that Garcia would be recording with Howard Wales, but that Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann will be recording a "percussion album." To top it off, Douglas--meaning Columbia--built Hart a studio:
The Kreitzmann[sic]-Hart LP will be recorded at a fully-equipped 16-track studio Douglas has installed in Hart's barn in Navato [sic], Calif. The studio, designed by Kreitzmann [sic], Hart and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead under the supervision of engineer Dan Healy, will be completed within the month.
We know that the Dead were broke in 1970, because Lenny Hart stole so much money from them. I had wondered how Mickey Hart could have afforded to build a studio, but now we can see that Columbia paid for it. Columbia Records, it seems, had signed two of Garcia's pals (Howard Wales and the New Riders) and built the Dead their own studio. Columbia was also providing seemingly unlimited studio time for the Riders and supporting two uncommercial projects (Wales and Hart) in the interests of art. Columbia Records was a money-making proposition, and they didn't expect to sell a lot of Howard Wales albums. Clive Davis wanted Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, and throwing money around on quixotic recording projects was his coin of the realm.

Joe Smith and Warner Brothers Response, 1971-72
After signing the Grateful Dead as a sort of hip money loser, Joe Smith would have found himself in a dilemma in early 1971. The Grateful Dead had released two successful albums the year before, seemed right in tune with the mellower direction of the early 1970s and were more popular than ever on the concert trail. Warner Brothers controlled the Dead through 1971 and beyond, up to a point, but they would have suddenly had to start thinking about how they could keep the Dead on the label. Record companies, like baseball teams, have to be concerned not only with success but the appearance of success. If the Dead left Warners for Columbia, other bands might draw the conclusion that Warners wasn't a cool place to work.

Garcia had stated that he only did his first solo album because he needed the advance money to buy a house for Mountain Girl and their family, which is why the album is bracketed by a "Wheel" and a "Deal." Until recently, however, I had never really considered why Warners had offered Garcia a solo album. While I doubt that Columbia could have recorded Garcia as a true solo artist, they had gotten him to make two albums, and Garcia got paid session fees for the endless New Riders sessions. Songs like "Deal" could have been used on a new Grateful Dead album, but I think Joe Smith was interested in showing Garcia that Warners was just as generous and open-minded as Columbia. I know Garcia was recorded in July 1971, so that means Smith put the deal together before that, shortly before Hooteroll was released in September 1971.

Warners would have extended the Dead's contract for 1972--I think the Dead had little say in the matter--but the clock would have been ticking. Nobody had necessarily considered Bob Weir a potential star back in the 1960s, but Smith must have recognized that lavishing too much attention on Garcia alone might not have been a winning strategy. While I believe that Weir's 1972 solo album Ace was part of the Grateful Dead contract, the Dead must have known they finally had some leverage, and Weir's album was the result.

Mickey Hart's Rolling Thunder album, released in September 1972, was a quizzical release even at the time. Although there were a few conventional songs, and an all-star cast, even hip radio stations were not going to play tracks like "Insect Fear." Hart had left the Dead 16 months before the album was released, and Warners must have known it would not sell, so they had to have some motive for releasing it. The history of the album is made even stranger knowing that it appears to have originally been a Columbia project for a Hart/Kreutzmann percussion album.

It's my hypothesis that in early 1971 Joe Smith was on a campaign to show Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead that they should stay at Warner Brothers when their contract expired, and the money that Smith would have thrown around would have been done with that in mind. Mickey Hart was unable to continue touring with the Dead in February 1971, due mainly to the stress resulting from his father's corrupt handling of the band's finances. However, while the Dead remained close to Hart and considered him an ex officio member of the group, the fact was the Dead were still digging themselves out of debt, and would not have had much money to spare. How was Hart going to afford his ranch and studio without joining a band or scaling down or otherwise changing his plans?

I think Joe Smith offered Mickey Hart a two album deal and an advance in 1971 when he left the group. This would have given him the cash to keep his ranch and studio while taking a break from touring. This would also have taken a monkey off the Grateful Dead's back. If Warners was looking out for Mickey, then the Dead could rest easy about his status. Joe Smith didn't expect anyone to buy Rolling Thunder when it came out, but he would have been in the midst of negotiations with the Dead for their future, so he would have been happy to keep his promises. The next year, when the Dead had already departed for their own label, Smith had no interest in releasing Hart's follow up album and the record remained in the can, yet another sign of how Smith and Warners saw the contract with Hart.

Aftermath 1973
Of course, after the heated courtship between Columbia and Warner Brothers, the Grateful Dead chose neither. To the surprise of the entire industry, the Grateful Dead started their own label. I assume Warners exercised their final option, because the Dead owed them one more album. They released the desultory Bear's Choice, which we now know was a selection of the least interesting material from one of the greatest Dead weekends ever.  Bear's Choice was released in July 1973, and Wake Of The Flood  was released in October 1973. The Grateful Dead had signed their Warners contract in October 1966, and they "played out their option," so that they were free to set their own path after the full seven years.

For all the record company machinations that I have asserted took place, I do not mean for a second to suggest that all the recordings made by Garcia, Weir, Hart and their friends were not sincerely intended to be music of the highest quality. Art is a commercial enterprise, however, whether or not artists like to admit it, so Garcia and the others were probably happy that the cards were falling their way. To give the record companies their due, the Grateful Dead turned out to be bigger than anyone could have expected, and many of the album projects must have provided a handsome profit for the record companies.

Garcia and the rest of the band were hardly naive about music as a business, but their role in it was to make music. The untold part of this story, which I cannot divine by mere ratiocination, was this: who negotiated these advantageous arrangements for the Dead? It takes a cool head to play off two suitors only to jilt both of them, and I hardly see Garcia or Weir sitting in meetings all day with attorneys. I have to think that one of the principal players in this little dance was future Grateful Dead Records executive Ron Rakow, a wheeler and a dealer from way back. Given Rakow's checkered history, if he shrewdly navigated solo contracts for Garcia, Weir and Hart, and helped facilitate arrangements for Howard Wales and the New Riders, it would go a long way towards explaining how the band had enough confidence in Rakow to make him the head of their record company. Until Rakow or others explain what really went on, if they ever choose to do so, the financial mechanics of the Dead's first side ventures will remain obscured.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

February 24 and 26, 1969, The Matrix, San Francisco: Mickey Hart and The Heartbeats

(a clipping from the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook section from Monday, February 24, 1969)

The performances of Mickey Hart and The Heartbeats (not sic) at The Matrix on February 24 and 26, 1969 are "known" because they have been listed on Deadlists and elsewhere for some years. Their listing is a result of being publicized in the San Francisco Chronicle, the primary source for research into 60s Grateful Dead performances in the Bay Area. With that being said, nothing else is known about these concerts. Since I have uncovered the actual listings, I thought I would post them and speculate a little about what they may or may not mean. In the event that some reader actually recalls these events or has some access to a recording, then we perhaps may learn something about the shows beyond mere speculation.

San Francisco Chronicle Datebook Conventions
Each day in the San Francisco Chronicle Entertainment section, there was a Datebook box (excerpted above) that listed events that were opening on that day. While one function of the box was to highlight events that were opening on that evening, it also provided a space of flexible size that could be modified based on how many column inches were filled by articles or ads. While the box favored major events or events that were promoted by Chronicle advertisers, it could be expanded as needed with press releases when an extra inch or two was needed. Although The Matrix was no longer a Chronicle advertiser by 1969, the paper would often list the club's bookings to fill space, as Matrix listings made for more interesting reading than most clubs. This was particularly true on days of the week where there wasn't much happening, such as Mondays.

The Matrix Datebook listing for Monday, February 24 (above) says
ROCK CLUB--Mickey Hart and The Heartbeats (Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesch and Bill Sommers) and Frumious Bandersnatch at the Matrix, 3138 Fillmore

Monday night was usually "jam night" at The Matrix, so it is not so far fetched that members of the Grateful Dead were apparently hosting some sort of relaxed jam session at the club. Although The Matrix wasn't a Chronicle advertiser, there wasn't much else happening that night, so it's not surprising the Chronicle listed the Matrix event. Where, however, did they get the name "Mickey Heart and The Heartbeats?"

The Chronicle, like all papers, got most of its material from press releases issued by the venues or promoters. Thus, the spelling of the listing must of come from The Matrix itself. Given the contrary spelling of "Heartbeats" (as opposed to "Hartbeats"), the misspelling of "Lesch" and the use of "Bill Sommers," it opens some odd papyrological questions that I will parse here.

Mickey Hart and The Heartbeats
When the group members agreed to this gig, they must have told the name to the Matrix booker. However, although the person seems to have known how Mickey Hart spelled his name, the band or their manager probably did not specify the spelling of "Heartbeats." It probably never occurred to anyone. It's worth noting that at the prior incarnation of this lineup, in October 1968, the "group" was billed as "Jerry Garcia and Friends" and the name "Mickey Hart And The Hartbeats" comes from some onstage banter by Garcia, and no one had thought twice about how the name should be spelled.

It does beg the question of why the band wanted to play a show without Weir, Pigpen and TC. In Fall '68, there had been some tension in the band, but it had clearly been resolved. However, it's important to remember that the Grateful Dead had a big weekend booked at Fillmore West in the coming weekend, and may not have been able to play under their own name. Certainly, Graham's standard contract would have prevented any "Grateful Dead" booking. It's possible, then, that the Matrix show was a full band performance, or close to it, and the booking was just a polite dodge to honor the Graham contract.

I think the band was recording Aoxomoxoa at this time, and I wonder what their motives were for having band members perform (in any configuration) prior to a Fillmore West gig, in the midst of recording session. One possibility is that the band simply wanted to perform in public prior to recording live. Given how well we know they played that weekend, if the full band played at The Matrix, they must have rattled the walls.

Phil Lesch
I'm sure this is just a misspelling, but it leads me to believe that someone at The Matrix took information over the phone.

Bill Sommers
Seeing Bill Kreutzmann's name listed as Bill Sommers is in many ways the most curious item. This can't be sloughed off to a misunderstood conversation, like the spelling of "Heartbeat" or "Lesch." When The Warlocks first started, Weir and Kreutzmann were too young to play in bars. Kreutzmann somehow obtained a draft card with the name "Bill Sommers," so some early Grateful Dead publicity lists Bill Sommers as the Grateful Dead's drummer. This peculiarity probably accounts for Kreutzmann being listed as "Bill The Drummer" on the first Grateful Dead album.

By 1969, however, Kreutzmann's name was known and he was over 21 years old. Why was he listed as "Bill Sommers?" Honestly, I think this was some kind of in-joke, but this pranksterish naming convention leads me to wonder what this booking was all about.

Adding to the confusion, in Ralph Gleason's Monday Chronicle Ad Lib column, he doesn't mention The Heartbeats playing The Matrix. Now, he didn't have any obligation to do so, and he probably wrote up the column on Sunday afternoon, so maybe he didn't have access to the press release announcing the performance at The Matrix on Monday. Still, note that Gleason does mention the upcoming Matrix bookings, saying "at The Matrix tomorrow night through Thursday: Frumious Bandersnatch," with no mention of the Wednesday Heartbeats show (Johnny Cash at Chico State sounds like it would have been fun, by the way).
Come Wednesday, however, Gleason mentions the Heartbeats show (above, from February 26, 1969). We can tell by the spelling that Gleason has access to the same press release, since "Sommers" and "Heartbeats" are giveaways. He has spelled "Lesh" correctly.

Until we get either eyewitnesses or tapes, we are left with a variety of fascinating unanswered questions:
  • Given the recording underway, why did members of the Dead even want to play The Matrix at all? A full band rehearsal of some kind seems more likely than a spacey jam session. 
  • Why the Bill Sommers listing? It's clearly a joke, but in reference to what?
  • Why play a Monday and a Wednesday? A Wednesday band warmup preceding Fillmore West seems more likely, and the contradictions in Gleason's listings suggest that maybe the Datebook copy editor got the listing wrong, and the band played Wednesday but not Monday. We can all think of numerous explanations for either interpretation of course, but in general Gleason had a vested interest in listing interesting performances at The Matrix, and in the event of a late change the Matrix would have called him at home (he knew everyone), so his failure to list the show for Monday isn't trivial. I grant it's all speculation on my part, but the sole justification for the February 24 listing is the reference in the Chronicle Datebook--what if it's just a mistake?
Of course, I can add yet another strange twist to these shows. One of the most perpetually fascinating Garcia tapes is a 1969 tape with Garcia at The Matrix playing banjo with the bluegrass group High Country. The tape has it's own history which I won't detail, but it's excellent traditional bluegrass, featuring David Nelson on guitar (who was an "adjunct" member of High Country) and band founders Butch Waller and Rich Wilber.

Traditionally, the Matrix tape was dated February 19, 1969, but it has since been shown categorically that the Grateful Dead were playing the Fillmore West on Wednesday, February 19. This begs the question of what the actual date of the Garcia/High Country bluegrass show might be. The subject of dating Matrix tapes is a difficult subject in its own right, but in general, while every Matrix show was taped, nowhere near every recording was kept, due to expense. Tapes were constantly recorded over. The limited evidence suggests that dates on Matrix tapes were more like approximations, since an original tape label may have listed a show that was taped over in succeeding nights.

With that in mind, I am inclined to think that Garcia and High Country played around February 19, but not on that actual date. It's not hard to think that Garcia had his bluegrass excursion on either February 24 or 26. Whether High Country played in support of the Heartbeats--whoever they might have been--or were the evening's "headliner" of course remains unknown.

What is lost amidst these papyrological ramblings was the Grateful Dead would spend the weekend at the Fillmore West, playing epically memorable shows that would form the basis of the band's iconic Live/Dead, and all of which would be archivally released by the band in the next century. Even the Frumious Bandersnatch, who were either playing with the Dead at The Matrix, or on alternate nights (depending on how you read this), ended up replacing the Sir Douglas Quintet at the Fillmore West and opening some of the classic shows.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hooteroll--When Was It Recorded?

(the cover of the Howard Wales & Jerry Garcia album Hooteroll?, released December 1971 on Douglas 5/CBS Records)

I do not usually focus on released albums, as the Deaddisc site generally does such an excellent job. My focus has always been on live performances, specifically the different dates and venues and exact lineups that performed. However, a recent discussion about Jerry Garcia's brief East Coast tour with Howard Wales in January 1972 begged an interesting question: when was Hooteroll? recorded?

The Hooteroll? album was released in December 1971, on Douglas 5 Records. Credited to Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia, the label seems to have been the private imprint of jazz producer Alan Douglas, but since it was manufactured and distributed by Columbia (with a Columbia record number), it was essentially a Columbia release. Hooteroll was released the month before Garcia's first solo album (Garcia) on Warner Brothers. I can't imagine that Warners was pleased to have an album of Jerry Garcia jams in the store at the same time as his first solo album. On the other hand, the Columbia sponsored tour of the East Coast in January 1972 acted as pretty good publicity for the Garcia solo album, so it all worked out well in the end.

The passage of time, however, has obscured the timing of the recording. JGMF has established fairly convincingly that Merl Saunders took over for Howard Wales in the Monday night jams at the Matrix on or about September 7, 1970. Without a doubt, Saunders was partners with Garcia, Kahn and Vitt by October 1970. Did Garcia go back and record the album later with Howard Wales?

The personnel on the Hooteroll album was
  • Howard Wales - piano, organ
  • Jerry Garcia - guitar
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Curly Cook - rhythm guitar
  • Bill Vitt - drums
  • Michael Marinelli - drums
  • Ken Balzall - trumpet
  • Martin Fierro - saxophone, flute

Wales, Garcia, Kahn and Vitt were the "Monday Night Band" at The Matrix from about April through August, 1970. Martin Fierro is a familiar name to Garcia fans, as he joined the Garcia/Saunders group in 1974, but his performance on Hooteroll seems to pre-date that by at least 3 years.  Curly Cook was a familiar name in Bay Area music, having played with Steve Miller Band, AB Skhy, Crowfoot and others, but who felt that the quartet needed a rhythm guitar player? Douglas? Did Garcia ever talk about the recording of the Hooteroll album?

Questions abound. Who were drummer Michael Marinelli and trumpeter Ken Balzall? What studio was the album recorded at? Was Garcia present in the studio, or did he overdub his parts? If Garcia did some overdubbing, on some songs at least, it would have explained Curly Cook's presence. Alan Douglas had a reputation as a producer of having a clear idea of how his artists should sound, even if the artist wasn't as inclined in that direction. I have a feeling that Douglas felt that Garcia could become established as a jazz player--not a bad idea--but that may not have been Garcia's intent. Douglas had attempted a similar thing with Jimi Hendrix and organist Larry Young, so I am not simply imagining this.

I do have a theory. I think the material was recorded in the Summer of 1970. In the Fall of 1971, various people must have persuaded Garcia to let the album be released as a favor to Howard Wales. I think the motivating force was Clive Davis. Davis had always wanted to sign the Grateful Dead, and he had signed the New Riders at least in part in order to court Garcia. Davis would have been sympathetic to the idea that Garcia could have been made into some kind of jazz guitar hero, and he would have encouraged the release of what was otherwise fairly uncommercial music. Davis surely knew that the Grateful Dead's contract with Warners would be over by 1973, and he had to be interested in the Dead.

Since Warner Brothers was releasing the Garcia album, they may have tolerated the Columbia release in order to attract attention to Garcia as a solo act. Interestingly, Warner Brothers was not thanked for giving permission for Garcia to appear on the album, leading me to wonder what Garcia's contractual status was as a solo artist.

However, Alan Douglas and co-producer Doris Dynamite did produce another album in San Francisco in the middle of 1970, instrumental music that was used as the soundtrack to the Spanish allegorical Western movie El Topo. Since El Topo was released in December of 1970, I have to assume the soundtrack was recorded in the Summer or Fall of '70. The soundtrack album was credited to the group Shades Of Joy. The principal arranger for the music was Martin Fierro. Howard Wales appears on the album, as does trumpeter Ken Balzall. Also on the record are drummer Jerry Love and bassist Roger "Jelly Roll" Troy, both of whom would join Wales in early '72 when he toured the East Coast with Garcia.

The credits for El Topo say that the album was recorded at CBS Studios in San Francisco, with Douglas and Doris Dynamite as the producers. I think Douglas invited Garcia, Kahn and Vitt to jam with Howard Wales on CBS's dime, with an eye to releasing an album in the future. I suspect that many of Fierro's horn parts were added to Hooteroll later, as was Balzall's trumpet. Cook or Marinelli may have been present at some of the jams, or overdubbed some bits and pieces as needed. A few long nights in the Summer of 1970 would have provided enough material for the album and the outtakes that were added later.

The extreme vagueness on the record cover about recording details is typically a sign that something funky was happening with the recording or the timing, since usually album covers were full of things like the name of the studio and thanks to special friends. The engineer is named on the album (Russ Geary), who was not the engineer on El Topo (Glen Kolotkin handled the desk for the soundtrack). The album was mixed by Tom Bongiovi, who would work with Douglas many times (Bongiovi's younger cousin is the famous rock singer Jon Bon Jovi).

Whatever the very peculiar circumstances of the release of Hooteroll might have been--and they had to be peculiar--Garcia was a willing participant. There are pictures of Garcia and Wales on the back and inside covers, and Garcia played several dates with Wales's band in early 1972. Still, it's odd: an album recorded in the Summer of 1970 by a band who had moved on (Saunders had replaced Wales), playing noncommercial music and released on a label that wasn't Garcia's, fully a year later with no explanation, while a Warner's solo album was released, publicized by Garcia's first paying East Coast solo shows playing nothing off the solo album.

Garcia may have been willing or even eager to do a favor for Howard Wales, but he was too busy recording and touring to be working on strange backroom deals with record companies. Given the strangeness of Hooteroll's recording and release--I am open to any other theories, but they are likely to be just as convoluted as my proposals--someone had to have a vested interest in making sure Garcia appeared on the Wales album.

The back cover of the album has a photo of Garcia and Wales sitting on a couch, smoking a joint--racy stuff for 1971. A close look at Garcia's hands suggests that the photo's negative is reversed, since Garcia's left hand appears to be missing a finger. A look at the original LP credits says Photographs: Ron Rakow. Whatever peculiar path was that led to Hooteroll's release, Garcia was always willing to go along with Rakow's schemes, and I have to think that we owe the album to Mr. Rakow. I have to say, for all the aspersions rightly cast on Rakow, if I am correct about this we would not have had an idea about the music of Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia without the release of Hooteroll, so he did everyone a musical favor there. The true story may never be known--Rakow doesn't talk much--but at least the music made it out into the world.

Update: JGMF has done some amazing research, and makes a pretty convincing case for Hooteroll having been recorded at the end of 1970. He also illustrates how there were considerably more machinations between Douglas Records and the members of the Dead than I had realized, which adds to my idea that Columbia was courting the Dead in anticipation of stealing them from Warners.

May 19, 1979: The Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA: Reconstruction/Horslips

Two recent posts had lengthy discussions about Jerry Garcia's dozen year commitment to playing the Keystone Berkeley and the outsize role the Keystone clubs had in Jerry Garcia's solo career. A stark contrast to Garcia's casual arrangement at the Keystone is illustrated by my experience at seeing Garcia with the band Reconstruction on May 19, 1979, the second night of a two night booking at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco. Garcia had played a benefit at the Old Waldorf the previous month (April 23, 1979), and it was Garcia's first performances at the Old Waldorf, then the Bay Area's premier rock nightclub. However, the May concerts were clearly not a comfortable event for the club nor Garcia, and he did not play the club again until Bill Graham took it over in January 1982. This post will take a closer look at the May 19, 1979 Reconstruction show from a commercial perspective rather than from a musical one.

Reconstruction
The version of the Jerry Garcia Band that featured Keith and Donna had ground to a halt at the end of 1978. With Garcia and Weir already having decided to replace Keith and Donna, it doesn't seem surprising that the Garcia Band would need to re-think itself, too. Heavy touring by the Grateful Dead, complicated by a late November illness for Garcia, insured that Garcia's extra-cirricular activites were all but non-existent during the end of 1978. Nonetheless, Garcia resurfaced rather unexpectedly at the end of January at his regular haunt, the Keystone Berkeley. Reconstruction debuted Jan 30-31, 1979.

John Kahn explained (in the Winter 1987 Golden Road interview) that he was the one who put together Reconstruction, with the idea of focusing on playing jazz music. Kahn had originally gone to the San Francisco Conservatory in Fall 1966 to become a professional jazz musician as an acoustic bassist, but he had become sidetracked. Thus Reconstruction was a return to his roots, in a manner of speaking. However, jazz trends in the late 1970s had a heavy funk orientation, so many Deadheads without much knowledge of contemporary jazz (including myself) tended to categorize Reconstruction as "funk music," a somewhat limiting assessment. The members of Reconstruction were
  • Jerry Garcia-guitar, vocals
  • Ron Stallings-tenor sax, vocals
  • Ed Neumeister-trombone
  • Merl Saunders-organ, keyboards, vocals
  • John Kahn-bass
  • Gaylord Birch-drums
Since Kahn never gave interviews--probably because no one asked him--the change in direction from the straight rock of JGB to Reconstruction's funky jazz was generally attributed to Merl Saunders. Garcia fans recognized Saunders, and remembered his funkier sound, so Reconstruction was perceived to be Merl's band. The idea seemed to be that Garcia was just another band member. He would sing a couple of songs each set, but so would Stallings and Saunders, the other vocalists, and there were a number of instrumentals, as well. Garcia did not perform the "standards" that we had come to expect in the Jerry Garcia Band, and limited himself to an entirely different set of songs.

As usual in the Bay Area, there was almost no press coverage of Reconstruction, nor of the demise of the Jerry Garcia Band. Joel Selvin in the San Francisco Chronicle and Blair Jackson in BAM probably made a few remarks, because I knew a little bit of what to expect when I saw them in May. However, I had not yet heard a tape, nor were tapes or eyewitnesses numerous. By May, Reconstruction had only played a few dozen shows at traditional Garcia haunts in the Bay Area, plus a three-night stand in Denver. Saunders and Kahn were well known to Garcia fans, of course, but the other players were new to us.
  • Ron Stallings (tenor sax, vocals) was an old friend of Kahn's. Stallings and Kahn had played in the strangely named T&A R&B Band in 1967-68, and Stallings had gone on to play with Mother Earth and Southern Comfort. He had extensive experience as a jazz and soul player around the Bay Area throughout the 1970s, but he was not well-known.
  • Ed Neumeister (trombone) in fact had already had a fascinating career as a jazz and classical trombonist (well worth reading about), but of course this was completely unknown to Deadheads at the time, since no one ever interviewed or even talked about the group. During 1979, Neumeister had a successful jazz quartet (with Mark Levine, Mike Formanek and Jerry Granelli) and was a member of the Circle Star Theater house orchestra.
  • Gaylord Birch (drums) was well-known on the Oakland funk scene, but better known professionally as a drummer for The Pointer Sisters, Herbie Hancock, Cold Blood and others (including Santana, briefly).
According to Kahn, the idea for the group was that it was supposed to exist separately from Jerry Garcia, giving Kahn something to do when the Dead were on tour. This may account for Garcia acting just as the lead guitarist and occasional singer, rather than as front man. Of course, all the bookings for the group prominently featured Garcia, so it was a difficult path for Reconstruction to carve out its own name.

The Old Waldorf
The Old Waldorf was at 444 Battery Street, on the second floor of a building in the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, a shopping mall and office complex near Downtown. It was opened in early 1976 by Jeffrey Pollack, who had extensive experience in the restaurant business. It became the premier rock club in the Bay Area almost immediately after it opened, because Pollack shrewdly anticipated the marketplace that was to come.

San Francisco rock was founded by a bunch of hippies, and all of the initial venues emphasized the values of the Fillmore and the Avalon: a relaxed atmosphere, plenty of room to dance and an assumption that if a party was bigger and longer, it had to be better. Rock music had become big business, and concerts had moved from the intimate Fillmore to the larger Fillmore West to the even larger Winterland, and finally to the Oakland Coliseum and Cow Palace, the Bay Area's biggest venues.

However, rock fans had--by definition--gotten older as time passed, and some of them had even gotten jobs. As a result, there were a lot of people in the Bay Area who were willing to pay a little extra to see good bands and more than willing to buy a few drinks along the way, but they didn't want to battle hordes of goofballs in the parking lot of some giant arena. At the same time, record companies backed by large corporations had a vested interest in promoting up and coming rock bands, since the rewards for a hit album greatly outweighed the expenses of recording or promoting up-and-coming bands.

Pollack correctly anticipated that many rock fans who lived, worked or amused themselves in San Francisco were ready to spend some money at a rock club that had hip bands in an intimate setting. San Franciscans love to say they saw a hot band in some tiny place on the way up, but they didn't want to go to some dump in Berkeley where it was impossible to park and there was sawdust on the floor. The parking lot for the Embarcadero Center offices served nicely to insure that parking was always available, as long as you had a few bucks to pay for it. The bathrooms were always clean at the Old Waldorf, everybody had their own seat, you could get a mixed drink, and the cover charge kept out weird riffraff.

At the same time, record companies liked sending their bands into the Old Waldorf. In the early 70s, the key to success was FM airplay, and the trick was to get radio staff and other professionals to see new bands. Radio pros much preferred The Old Waldorf to any other club, for the parking alone. One way that record companies could serve all their needs was by comping drinks for invited guests: radio people and other saw the band, they all all had a good time, and the club sold a lot of drinks that they billed the record company for. The bar at the Old Waldorf always had some hipoisie working on a tab, clearly people who had not paid to get in, hanging out in order to see and be seen or network. All in all, The Old Waldorf was an institution of the Peak 70s.

Greenpeace Benefit, Old Waldorf, April 23, 1979
Reconstruction had played The Old Waldorf before, for a Greenpeace Benefit on April 23, 1979. Tapes of both the early and late shows have survived. I have to assume that the Greenpeace shows were well attended, since the Old Waldorf booked Reconstruction to headline two weekend nights a month later (Friday and Saturday May 18-19). Without knowing a single person who attended the Greenpeace shows in April, I am suspecting that since Greenpeace was then a new, exciting cause--the Bay Area loves things that are new and exciting--the Benefit audience included some people who were not typical of the Deadhead/Garcia audience. I have to assume that, since the Old Waldorf show I attended in May seemed to be neither a success nor anything likely to succeed, and it was not repeated.

A number of practices set the Old Waldorf apart from other rock clubs in the Bay Area. In the first place, all Old Waldorf shows were advertised as having two shows, usually at 8:00pm and 11:00 pm. However, the club generally let people stay for both shows, unless the late show was completely sold out. The significance of the "two show" setup was manifold, however. For one thing, people who worked downtown could see a full show (headliner and opener) and still be out the door by 11:00pm, important for an audience that included people with jobs. For another thing, it allowed the club to kind of have it both ways: if the show was casually attended, the club could sell drinks to people who were willing to stay through both shows, but if the band was a breakout hit, the club could sell double the tickets. Finally, the setup allowed the club to enforce a two drink minimum for each show, so if you wanted to stay for both sets you had to buy four drinks instead of two.

Like most California rock clubs at the time, the Old Waldorf was considered a restaurant. I don't know if the food was any good, but since they served an "after-work" audience at the 8:00 shows, food service probably wasn't a complete prop. As a result of its restaurant status, the Old Waldorf allowed people over 18 but under 21. Other clubs, like the Keystones, probably could have done that too, but I think they didn't because of the risk of getting busted for serving under 21s. The Old Waldorf was much more organized than the Keystones, however, and the sophisticated urban waitresses (they were probably 23, but they seemed like exotic older women to me) knew how to manage tricky situations. At the time, I was still under 21 so the Old Waldorf was an option for me in a way that the Keystones were not (I refused to get a fake ID). Knowing what I know now, I realize the real purpose of the 18-and-over rule was so that 20-something men could bring younger dates, but I was oblivious to that at the time.

May 19, 1979 The Old Waldorf, San Francisco: Reconstruction/Horslips
I had a friend who worked at KALX, the Berkeley college radio station. At the time, all college stations played "non-commercial" music, but the whole alternative "left-of-the-dial" thing hadn't become ossified, so the station still played a wide variety of music. Horslips was an excellent Irish rock group, kind of like an Irish Fairport Convention, using Irish melodies while still playing melodic, exciting electric rock. Their record company was pushing their West Coast tour, and they were handing out free tickets to the forward looking side of the local music scene. However, since Horslips were opening for Jerry Garcia at the Old Waldorf, a lot of KALX types didn't want the tickets (not that many of them had heard of Horslips, anyway). My friend liked Horslips, however, and he knew I did, so we got free tickets to see Horslips and Reconstruction at the Old Waldorf.

My friend and I arrived at about 7:30 for the early show, looking to get good seats. The Old Waldorf had rows of tables at a 90 degree angle from the stage. There was an open dance floor, but it was off to the side with poor sightlines. The Old Waldorf was laid out to favor the drinkers. Of course, my friend and I were completely broke college students. Just because we were under 21 didn't exempt us from the two-drink minimums (I no longer recall if the waitress let us buy beer), but it seemed worth the effort. We were quite surprised to find the place almost deserted. Sometimes at the Old Waldorf you could get away with not buying a drink when the waitresses were super busy, but there was no way around it now.

People trickled in. Sometime after 8:00pm, a contingent arrived from Rather Ripped Records, Berkeley's coolest record store. Since I was their most faithful customer, they all recognized me (for old RRR habitues, it was Russ, Doug, Paul and maybe Ray). They were there to see Horslips--being a Deadhead was definitely so last-decade at Rather Ripped. My friend and I inquired about the late start, and the store owner (Russ) told us that the night before (May 18) Horslips had played a short half hour set at 8:00pm, the standard arrangement at the Old Waldorf, and then Garcia's group had not come until nearly eleven. Reconstruction then played so long that there was no time for Horslip's late set. The Rather Ripped people implicitly blamed Reconstruction's behavior on Garcia being a stoned hippie.

Even at the time, it sounded more like a misunderstanding to me, but who knows what really happened. In any case, the deal for our Saturday night show was that Horslips would play a single extended set, and then Reconstruction would play two sets. Since there seemed to be no chance of a sellout, the idea that it "two shows" was only a fiction maintained for the purpose of selling drinks. In any case, by accident or design the setup at the Old Waldorf was now similar to Garcia's general run at the Keystone, except with prettier waitresses and table service: an opening act, then a late start with two sets.

Horslips played about a 50 minute set, and they were really good. This was during the tour for their album The Man Who Built America, and they were a terrific band in any case, but I won't dwell on them here. There were maybe 100 people in the club to see them, maybe less. Many of the people who saw Horslips promptly left, including all the Rather Ripped crew. This wasn't surprising--The Old Waldorf was a club that featured what was new and cool, and familiar old Jerry Garcia didn't count as that in Bay Area 1979.

My friend and I nursed our drinks, and eventually Reconstruction came onstage, probably about 10:00pm. More people had come in by that time, but not a huge number. Off the top of my head, I'd say there were between 100 and 200 people there, but it was hard to tell in the dark. Many of the Deadhead types preferred the dance floor to the tables, not surprisingly, but that didn't put them in place to buy a lot of drinks. The tables were pretty sparse and my friend and I had plenty of room.

I sort of knew Reconstruction would be "funky," but I didn't know what to expect otherwise. I do recall that the group played about an hour long set of 7 songs. Ron Stallings sang at least two, including "Telling My Friends," Merl sang "Do I Move You," there were a couple of instrumentals (one of which sounded like the Doobie Brothers "Long Train Running") and Jerry sang two songs. Garcia sang about the 3rd and 6th numbers, neither the first nor last song. He was very much framing himself as just another band member. Much to my surprise, Garcia took the lead on "When The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" and "Struggling Man."

Given that I knew little about Reconstruction going in, I was very pleased to hear such unexpected songs. As a listener, I liked jazz, but I hadn't really graduated to appreciating how you could play jazz on top of a funk beat, so I didn't really comprehend the density of what Reconstruction was doing. On the other hand, I had already seen the Garcia Band four times by that point, so I appreciated that it was worth seeing something different.

Ironically, however, my friend and I were both really broke. It's possible I actually had money in my pocket, but I couldn't afford to spend it. My friend liked the Dead a little bit, but he wasn't a huge fan and had little interest in sticking around for the second set. It was also the end of the quarter and we probably both had homework to do the next day, so a late night we couldn't afford wasn't in order. So we left before the second set, in order to avoid having to pay for two more drinks each.

At this great remove it may seem shocking that I didn't do everything in my power to stay for the second set. However, although I would have really enjoyed it, even for a serious Deadhead like me Garcia was just "around," and in any case since I would turn 21 soon I was convinced I would then see Garcia as much as I wanted to. It didn't really turn out that way, and Reconstruction had broken up by the end of that Summer, so I missed any other chances to see them. The tape that circulates is clearly from the late set.

I don't know how many people showed up after we left, but I suspect it wasn't that many. The Old Waldorf was outside of many Deadhead's orbit, and the intimidatingly pretty waitresses can not have been pleased at what foggy hippies were there, buying the occasional grudging beer. Reconstruction and the newly reconstituted Jerry Garcia Band promptly returned to the Keystones, where they belonged. The Jerry Garcia Band did play the Old Waldorf twice when Bill Graham bought it (January 11 and 13, 1982) but that too was not repeated.

When the Grateful Dead became huge in the late 80s, there was a tendency to assume that all Garcia appearances had always been an event. While Garcia had built a reliable audience at the Keystone Berkeley, allowing him to play what he wanted in a relaxed environment, the Keystone experience did not translate well to other venues. Despite the central location of The Old Waldorf, and Garcia's undeniable fame, it was plain that the conditions that made the Keystone viable was very difficult to export.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Jerry Garcia and Keystone Shows Overview

(a newspaper ad from late January 1980 for the Keystone family of clubs: Keystone Berkeley, Keystone Palo Alto and The Stone. Note that Jerry Garcia Band shows are listed as "Jerry Garcia")

In a recent post, I discussed at length Jerry Garcia's unique and lengthy professional relationship with the Keystone Berkeley. Over the course of 12 years (1972-84), Garcia played the club at University and Shattuck Avenues an amazing 206 times, in numerous different aggregations. Uniquely, Keystone Berkeley shows never had advance tickets, and often didn't sell out, so Garcia managed to retain one place where he was just another local player, even after he was a worldwide rock star.

The Keystone Berkeley was owned and managed by partners Freddie Herrera and Bobby Corona. Bobby Corona's son (Bobby Corona Jr.) was also an important part of the partnership. John Kahn had played regularly with Mike Bloomfield at the Keystone Korner, a San Francisco club founded by Herrera. I believe Kahn's connection to Herrera was instrumental in getting Garcia to switch his "home base" to the Keystone Korner in 1971, after The Matrix (his prior base) closed. However, Garcia's commitment to working with Herrera and his partners extended for another 16 years. It must have been no casual thing, and yet that relationship was never publicly discussed by Garcia, to my knowledge.

Not only was Garcia a mainstay of the Keystone Berkeley, but at various times the Herrera/Corona team operated 4 different clubs, and Garcia played steadily in all of them. On top of that, and more significantly, after 1972, when the Keystones had a club in a city, with few exceptions Garcia generally did not play other venues in or near that city. The Grateful Dead were a separate business entity from the Jerry Garcia Band, and that restriction did not apply to the Dead, and there were occasional exceptions for Garcia, but most of those exceptions involved benefits rather than competing clubs. The particular significance of Garcia's loyalty is that his commitment to Herrera and the Coronas meant that he generally did not play for Bill Graham in cities where there was a Keystone. Bill Graham Presents was the dominant promoter in the Bay Area, and Graham and Garcia were personal friends, but Garcia's pattern of performances demonstrates an unmistakable commitment to Graham's competitors.

Let me say at the outset of this analysis that I am not suggesting some secret animosity between Graham and Garcia, or shadowy dealings with the Keystone owners. However, while Bill Graham is rightly revered as a key figure in San Francisco rock, and his business relationship to the Grateful Dead was an essential part of their story, the Jerry Garcia Band and Garcia's associated ventures were a distinct entity. Garcia and his manager Richard Loren obviously found a comfortable niche in their original setup with the Keystone Berkeley, and seemed to have felt it served their ends better. This, too, seems to have been a business decision, but at the very least it shows that Garcia's relationship with Bill Graham was considerably more nuanced than it may have appeared from the outside.

Overview of Garcia Keystone Performances
The breadth of Garcia's relationship to the Keystones can be seen by the number of performances he made for them (note: I have not reconciled these counts with disputed shows, etc, and your own exact count may vary).

Keystone Korner, 750 Vallejo Street, San Francisco
First and Last Garcia shows: April 1, 1971 (Garcia-Saunders)>July 8, 1972 (Garcia-Saunders)
Total Garcia Performances: 40
Bands: Garcia-Saunders, New Riders of The Purple Sage
Note: the last Garcia-Saunders shows at Keystone Korner (July 7-8, '72) were actually played for Todd Barkan, who had bought the club from Freddie Herrera. The show was previously booked, and Barkan honored the date.

Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University, Berkeley
First and Last Garcia Shows: March 8, 1972 (Garcia-Saunders)>March 22, 1984 (JGB)
Total Garcia Performances: 206
Bands: Garcia-Saunders,  Old And In The Way, Great American String Band, Legion Of Mary, Jerry Garcia Band, Reconstruction
Other Dead spinoffs who played there: Kingfish (70s), Keith and Donna, Toulousse To Truck, Robert Hunter and Comfort, Bob Weir Band, Robert Hunter, Bobby And The Midnites, Healy-Treece Band, High Noon, Bill Kreutzmann's All-Stars
Note 1: Garcia-Saunders played 4 shows at the venue in June, 1971 (Jun4>June 27) when it was still called The New Monk. The shows were probably booked by Freddie Herrera, who bought the club a few months later.
Note 2: There was a Keith and Donna show at Keystone Berkeley on August 18, 1975 that may have featured Garcia, which I have not counted in the totals.

(a scan of the newspaper ad for the Keystone Berkeley and Keystone Palo Alto, just before The Stone opened. Note the wide variety of acts at the two clubs)

Keystone Palo Alto, 260 S. California Avenue, Palo Alto
First and Last Garcia Shows: January 23, 1977 (JGB)>May 19, 1986 (Garcia and Kahn)
Total Garcia Performances: 76
Bands: Jerry Garcia Band, Reconstruction, Jerry Garcia and John Kahn
Other Dead spinoffs who played there: Robert Hunter and Comfort, Bob Weir Band, Bobby and The Midnites, High Noon, Dinosaurs, Bill Kreutzmann's All-Stars, Kingfish (80s), Kokomo
Note: Legion of Mary and JGB played 7 shows at the venue during 1975-76 when it was called Sophie's (Jan 23 '75>Nov 16 '76).

The Stone, 412 Broadway, San Francisco
First and Last Garcia Shows: February 1, 1980 (JGB)>March 10, 1987 (JGB)
Total Garcia Performances: 88
Bands: Jerry Garcia Band, Jerry Garcia and John Kahn
Other Dead spinoffs who played there: Bobby and The Midnites, Kingfish (80s), Nightfood w/Bob Weir, High Noon, Bill Kreutzmann's All-Stars
Note: for at least the last year or two of the Stone and Keystone Palo Alto, advance tickets were available for the shows, unlike at Keystone Berkeley

Keystone Family Totals
First and Last Garcia Shows: April 1, 1971 (Keystone Korner)>March 10, 1987 (The Stone)
Total Garcia Performances: 410
Bands: Garcia-Saunders, New Riders of The Purple Sage, Old And In The Way, Great American String Band, Legion Of Mary, Jerry Garcia Band, Reconstruction, Jerry Garcia and John Kahn
Notes: There were 10 additional Garcia performances at these venues (New Monk and Sophie's).

It's revealing to compare these numbers to the only comparable Garcia venue, The Warfield. The Warfield, at 982 Market Street in San Francisco, had originally been called The Fox-Warfield when Bill Graham started putting on shows there in 1979. The Grateful Dead had a famous 15-night stand there in September and October 1980. At the time, the Fox-Warfield was a restored theater from the 1930s, with 2,200 reserved seats on a main floor and a balcony. The Warfield was in a very seedy part of the City, however, and the rock market expanded beyond such a small place. After a 1983 Rex Benefit, the Dead were simply too large for the room.

The Jerry Garcia Band did play a show at the Fox-Warfield, on June 26, 1981, and that event is worthy of a post in itself. The show was sold out, or close to it, and it was a regular Bill Graham show, so it demonstrated that the Jerry Garcia Band could have done a lucrative business with BGP had he so chosen. While it's true that Garcia might have preferred the frequency of shows at the Keystone, the Warfield was only used on weekends, and not all of those, so he could have played as many dates at the Fox-Warfield as he wanted. In about 1982, BGP took over San Francisco's leading rock nightclub, The Old Waldorf--it, too, another story--and while Garcia played a couple of shows to inaugurate the takeover (Jan 11 & 13 '82), he promptly returned to The Stone.

The Jerry Garcia Band did not return to the Warfield until late 1987, after The Stone had closed (Garcia, Weir and Mickey Hart had played a benefit for Jane Dornacker at The Warfield on November 22, 1986). (update: I had this wrong. Herrera and the Coronas operated The Stone until 1989, but it seemed that the combined pressures of the Dead's expanding popularity and Jerry's iffy health, the permanent availability of the Warfield trumped The Stone). With the Keystone family closed for good, and the Grateful Dead bigger than ever, Garcia started to play regularly for Bill Graham, both in the Bay Area and around Northern California. Garcia played a few shows at the Warfield in the late 1980s, but once the 90s beckoned the remodeled and renamed Warfield became the new home base for the Jerry Garcia Band.

By my count, Jerry Garcia played 99 shows at The Warfield between 1981 and 1995. 90 of them were from 1990 onward. By 1990, the Warfield had changed significantly as a venue. At some point in the 1980s, Graham had lost the lease to a European group who wanted to open a Euro-style disco nightclub there. They sunk a significant amount of money into the club, which immediately bombed, and Graham took over the lease again, benefiting from their upgrades and re-naming the club "The Warfield" (as opposed to Fox-Warfield). Only complete trainspotters like me ever called it "The Fox Warfield" anyway.

The most significant difference between the 90s Warfield and the early 80s Fox Warfield was the main floor. The balcony still had comfortable reserved seats with nice sightlines, but the main floor had a dance floor near the stage and rows and rows of tables and barstools on raised platforms in the back. All of these changes were designed to insure that the Warfield made its money at the bar rather than exclusively on ticket sales. The tendency of Jerry Garcia Band fans to show up early, along with the tendency of Garcia to start late and take long breaks, all made for excellent bar receipts. Garcia and the Dead were huge by the 1990s, and they could hardly have played a club without causing a ruckus, so the Warfield was as small a place as they could manage. The economics of the Keystone were in play again, with a more relaxed setup that encouraged hanging out, in a still-seedy part of town where Deadheads actually improved the neighborhood.

Even so, Garcia's 99 shows at the Warfield is less than half of what he played at Keystone Berkeley, and a quarter of what he played for the Keystone family. Without trying to count every show, I would speculate that Garcia played 200-250 shows for Bill Graham Presents (including the Warfield), and he played 410 for the Keystone, so it's hard not draw the conclusion that Garcia's personal and business interests were well served by the Keystones. Based on the Jerrysite's total of 1624 shows, fully one quarter of Garcia's shows were at Keystone family clubs. Of course, the Dead played 400-500 shows for Bill Graham, but they were a separate business entity with separate needs and musical goals.

The Warfield, 982 Market St, San Francisco
First and Last Garcia Shows: June 26, 1981 (JGB)>April 23, 1995 (JGB)
Total Garcia Performances: 99
Bands: Jerry Garcia Band, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman

Jerry Garcia expended considerable effort to make sure that the Jerry Garcia Band was a thriving musical entity. The Grateful Dead were a full time obligation, and yet Garcia kept up a huge touring schedule with the Garcia Band, and other occasional side projects, year after year. A cursory analysis of these statistics suggests that the Garcia Band would not have been viable without a home base, initially the Keystone Berkeley, then the Keystone clubs as a whole, and ultimately the Warfield. Many musicians had spent years working the same clubs until they got famous, and Garcia bore the rare distinction of playing the same clubs after he became famous.

I would be surprised if there were another major rock star who had played the same venue 99 times after he was famous, and I feel confident that there were none who played the same venue 206 times after they no longer "had to." Art and Commerce are always in conflict and in cooperation, and Garcia's need for a home base in his own endeavors was crucial both for his financial well-being and his musical goals, and it remains a largely unexamined part of his legacy.