Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grateful Dead Tour Itinerary December 1966

 

A promotional picture of Jerry Garcia for the December 23-24, 1966 Grateful Dead show at the Avalon Ballroom, published in the December 20, 1966 San Francisco Chronicle
I have been constructing tour itineraries for the Grateful Dead for brief periods of their history. There is so much information circulating on websites and blogs (including my own) that go beyond published lists on Deadlists and Dead.net that these posts make useful forums for discussing what is known and missing during each period. Rather than go in strictly chronological order, I am focusing on periods where recent research has been done by myself or others.  My principal focus here is on identifying which dates have Grateful Dead shows, which dates might have Grateful Dead shows, and which dates are in dispute or may be of interest (other entries in my Grateful Dead tour itinerary series can be seen here).

What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead performance dates for December, 1966. 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.  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 an infamous  rock band by the end of 1966, 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.

Grateful Dead Tour Itinerary, December 1966

A listing for the Grateful Dead/Jerry Pond shows at The Matrix, from the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, November 27, 1966
November 28-December 1, 1966: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Jerry Pond
The Grateful Dead had played the tiny Matrix club in January of 1966, but they rapidly graduated to shows at the Fillmore and the Avalon. For some reason, the band played a Monday-to-Thursday run at the Matrix at the end of November. It's hard to say why. If the Dead were desperate for money (their normal state) and the Matrix was financially worth their while, why hadn't they played there more often? Yet the Matrix only seated 100 people and dancing was not allowed (really), so it couldn't have been too lucrative.

I have floated the idea that the Dead were interested in getting a live recording of themselves, perhaps as a sort of demo tape. I haven't convinced everyone, but at least it's worth noting that the Dead played different kinds of sets than they appear to have played at The Fillmore. The opener was local folksinger Jerry Pond. The Dead did not play the Matrix again, although Jerry Garcia played there many times in subsequent years.

A promotional photo of Jerry Garcia and Pigpen, for the Grateful Dead/Country Joe and The Fish concert at Pauley Ballroom on the UC Berkeley campus. Published in the San Francisco Chronicle, December 1, 1966
December 2, 1966: Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Grateful Dead/Country Joe And The Fish
On Friday, December 2, the Grateful Dead headlined at the Pauley Ballroom in UC Berkeley with Berkeley heroes Country Joe and The Fish. Both bands were in the process of signing record contracts (the Dead with Warners and Joe and The Fish with Vanguard). Pauley Ballroom had a capacity of about 1000. It's unlikely the University allowed shows to go on past 11:00pm. This was probably the last live performance of Joe and The Fish with original drummer John Francis Gunning.

Saturday, December 3 is an open date on the Dead's calendar. If there is a rumor of a lost show, this seems a very likely date. Colleges and high schools were ending their terms, so there would have been a lot of activity, and perhaps the Dead played a dance or something. They were popular, but still broke, and could hardly turn down a paid booking.

Listing for the opening night of Grateful Dead's performances at the Fillmore on the weekend of December 9-11. Published in the San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 1966
December 9-11, 1966: Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Tim Rose/Big Mama Thornton
The Grateful Dead were sole headliners at the Fillmore for the first time on the weekend of December 9-11. They had shared top booking a number of times, depending on how you want to define "top," but there's no question they were the principal attraction this weekend. Big Mama Thornton was just starting to get known to white hippies, but she wasn't a big draw. Tim Rose had had some modest hit singles, and was getting a little radio airplay, but he was no headliner. Thus, the Dead were topping the bill by themselves, another sign of their rising popularity.

I have speculated about these shows at length, mainly from the point of view that Tim Rose almost certainly performed his own very different arrangement of "Morning Dew." The Dead's version is so different that I doubt there was any musical influence from Rose, but I wouldn't be surprised if hearing Rose's version was an impetus for Garcia and the Dead to start playing their own arrangement publicly.

December 14, 1966: Gym, City College of Marin, San Rafael, CA: Grateful Dead
This largely unknown show was a Pep Rally/Dance for Marin's junior college. My eyewitness was (then future) Sons Of Champlin road manager Charlie Kelly. When you read the entire tale, you'll see why Kelly's memories of the entire week are very clear, and while the show may have been Thursday December 15, there's no question that Kelly's reactions are accurate (to tell the tale briefly: Kelly returned home from basic training to celebrate his 21st birthday by seeing his childhood friends The Sons Of Champlin play The Avalon, and then shipped out to Vietnam, so it wasn't a week he would forget).

If the Grateful Dead were playing a College of Marin Pep Rally the week after they headlined the Fillmore, there's a good chance they were playing a college dance on Saturday, December 3 (above). 

The listing for the Otis Redding/Grateful Dead concert at the Fillmore on December 20, 1966, from the San Francisco Chronicle of the same date
December 20, 1966: Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Otis Redding/Grateful Dead
Much has been in retrospect of Otis Redding's appearance at the Fillmore. Otis Redding headlined three nights at the end of 1966 (December 20-22), and although it was a midweek booking, since it was heading towards Christmas that may not have mattered as much. Bill Graham endlessly repeated the story that the Bay Area rock bands begged to open the show, and Janis Joplin demanded front row seats every night (I heard Graham himself tell this story at a lecture in 1976).  The story was generally told as a talisman to show either how much the rock musicians liked soul music, or how popular Otis Redding was in crossing over to a rock audience. Over the years, this story has been re-told many times, and sometimes it expands in the retelling.

The outlines of the story are basically correct. Otis Redding headlined three nights, and the Grateful Dead opened Tuesday (December 20) and Country Joe And The Fish opened Thursday (December 22). The middle night's opening slot was taken by the Oakland R&B group Johnny Talbot And De Thangs, who played both the local soul circuit and also on occasion at the Fillmore. I don't doubt that the Dead and Country Joe and The Fish were enthusiastic about opening for the great Otis Redding.

However, everyone seems to forget that the Fillmore Auditorium was in the heart of the largely African-American Fillmore district. Prior to Bill Graham, the Fillmore was an important stop on the R&B circuit, under the aegis of promoter Charles Sullivan, whose retirement opened the door for Graham to take over the lease. It's very likely that Redding had played the Fillmore before. In any case, while I don't doubt that there were a few open minded hippies in the audience, the fact is that most of Otis's audience was probably African American, and many of them would have lived right there in the Fillmore. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I don't think Otis headlining the Fillmore signified anything more than that he was very popular and Graham knew a good booking when it came his way.

One implicit tip-off about the audience came from Graham's version of the story. If Janis was requesting front row seats every night, then there were seats, presumably folding chairs. The festival seating, light-show vibe was not in the cards for the no doubt well-dressed African American crowd. With all those caveats aside, it's still cool that the Grateful Dead were happy to open the show. They had just headlined the Fillmore 10 days earlier, yet they seemed to have been honored to have been on the bill, as were Country Joe And The Fish.
A poster for the Grateful Dead's appearance at the Continental Ballroom in Santa Clara on Wednesday, December 21, 196
December 21, 1966: Continental Ballroom, Santa Clara, CA: New Arrivals/Grateful Dead/Elgin Marble/Yellow Pages
The Continental Ballroom, at 1600 Martin Avenue in Santa Clara, not far from downtown San Jose, has a very intriguing and largely untold rock and roll history. The building was San Jose's main rock and roll palace from about 1965 to 1970, and lots of great bands played there. I don't know about the building's history or ownership (and not for lack of trying to find out), but in general it was not associated with a single promoter. Part of the legend of the Fillmore and the Avalon comes from their association with Bill Graham and Chet Helms, respectively, and both men were very good at memorializing their own achievements. That isn't to deny the importance of the Fillmore and the Avalon, but the Continental was an interesting place, too, but there was no major figure to tell the story.

The San Jose area had a thriving live rock scene from 1965 onwards. Initially, many of the popular groups were made up of local teenagers, like The Syndicate Of Sound, but there was a huge population of suburban kids with cars, and there was plenty of live rock. Some really good bands came out of San Jose as well, particularly the Chocolate Watch Band. However, San Francisco and Berkeley tended to look down on San Jose, and so the Watch Band and other San Jose groups never really got their due at the Fillmore (Graham's rivalry with CWB manager Ron Roupe didn't help). There were many great rock shows at The Continental with San Jose bands, and when the San Francisco bands got popular they played a lot of shows there as well.

Since the San Jose market was oriented towards teenagers, a show on December 21st was effectively a weekend, since it was the Wednesday before Christmas and almost all students would have been out of school. Note the Munsters theme on the poster--this show isn't really directed at a psychedelic crowd. At this point, the Grateful Dead would have merely been a name that San Jose kids would have seen in the paper. However, San Jose had the kind of market where teenagers just went out to have fun, and saw whoever was around. They may have been kind of surprised by the Dead, but in fact San Jose had some good bands, so the kids probably really liked it. The light show may not yet have been a typical thing at San Jose shows. Elgin Marble was a local San Jose band who were around for a few years, but I don't recognize The Yellow Pages.

A mention of the upcoming concerts at the Avalon Ballroom on December 23 and 24, 1966, featuring the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and the Steve Miller Blues Band, from Ralph J. Gleason's column in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 23, 1966. Note the listing for the Smokey Grass Boys at The Jabberwock; the Smokey Grass Boys was a bluegrass band featuring David Grisman, Herb Pedersen and Rick Shubb
December 23-24, 1966: Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Moby Grape/Steve Miller Blues Band
With the Fillmore closed for Christmas, the Grateful Dead took the opportunity to headline on the weekend before Christmas (Christmas was on a Sunday). The San Francisco Chronicle published its second picture of Jerry Garcia in a month (above). One of the reasons that Garcia became such a figure long before the Dead's music itself became popular was that he seems to have received a lot of publicity of this sort, probably much to his own dismay.

This weekend's shows at the Avalon were more important in the histories of Moby Grape and the Steve Miller Band than for the Grateful Dead. Moby Grape had debuted the month before, after rehearsing at The Ark in Sausalito. Their manager Matthew Katz had put on a show at California Hall at the end of November, but he had no idea about underground promotion, and there were only a few dozen people present. Moby Grape immediately split with Katz--with whom they are still in litigation 46 years later--and guitarist Peter Lewis started booking the gigs. Lewis had gotten the Grape a few nights at the Matrix, and now they were on the bill at the Avalon. Moby Grape was a great band, and a great live band, and playing the Avalon meant that everyone was about to find that out. Lead guitarist Jerry Miller had been friendly with Garcia since the Warlocks days, when Miller (and drummer Don Stevenson) had been in a group called The Frantics.

Steve Miller had been based in Chicago, but he had scouted out the Bay Area in Fall 1965. He returned in his VW Microbus on October 15, 1966, stopping off at the Fillmore to jam with his friend Paul Butterfield. By Thanksgiving, he had imported some friends from Madison, WI and they started playing as The Steve Miller Blues Band. They weren't making any money, however, and Miller was still living in his van. Once Chet Helms offered the group $500 for this weekend at the Avalon, Miller was in town to stay.

December 25, 1966: Christmas Party, Big Brother house, Lagunitas, CA
In December, 1966, the Grateful Dead were living in an unused resort camp in Lagunitas, in the San Geronimo Valley. The Dead shared the camp with Quicksilver Messenger Service. Living "next door," a few miles away, in a rambling ranch house, were Big Brother And The Holding Company. For obscure reasons, Big Brother called their house "Argentina." On Christmas, Big Brother had a Christmas party, and invited their next door neighbors. Big Brother, Quicksilver and the Grateful Dead had an all day and all of the night Christmas party for all their friends and roommates, and apparently the jamming went on constantly.

Members of all three bands had begun 1966 as penniless folk musicians who were experimenting with electric music. They barely had any gigs, and had no realistic chance of succeeding in the music industry. By the end of the year, all three bands were popular local attractions who were making enough money to support themselves and their friends, and the music industry had come to them. The bands had made few, if any concessions to conventional business practices and they knew that their music was getting better every day. By all accounts, it was a happy, memorable party for everyone who attended, before it all went national during the so-called Summer Of Love in 1967.

Supposedly, one of the reasons that Jerry Garcia chose Forest Knolls in Lagunitas for his final rehab was that he though it was on the same site as the Dead's 1966 camp in Lagunitas. It wasn't far away, in fact, but it wasn't actually the same site. Here's to hoping that Jerry ended that final night jamming with Janis, Cippo and Pigpen anyway, just as he had 29 years earlier.

 A poster for the "Beaux Arts Ball" at Governors Hall in Sacramento on December 28, 1966
December 28, 1966: Governors Hall, Sacramento, CA: Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service
There are a number of posters for this event. There is a poster with no groups mentioned that advertises the event at the College gym, and it appears that "The Beuax Arts Ball" was a presentation of a student group at Sacramento City College.  Two others that advertise the Dead and Quicskilver at Governors Hall at the Fairgounds do not seem to be directly school connected, although I cannot read all the writing. To my knowledge, this would have been the Dead's (and Quicksilver's) Sacramento debut.

In many colleges, certainly on the West Coast, an annual "Beaux Arts Ball" was a sort of campus wide arts festival, but it's a little odd that it was taking place when school would have been out of session. It may be that "Beaux Arts Ball" was a promotional title of sorts, and didn't really have any meaning beyond that. It doesn't quite explain the Sacramento City College poster, but that could be a parallel event, or a poster from another year. I have contacted Sacramento sources who may have attended this event, but they haven't recalled anything yet.

A poster for the Grateful Dead's headline appearance at the Santa Venetia Armory, near San Rafael, on December 29, 1966, with Moby Grape and The Morning Glory
December 29. 1966: Santa Venetia Armory, San Rafael, CA: Grateful Dead/Morning Glory/Moby Grape
Ralph and Al Pepe promoted dances in Marin County. They often used the Santa Venetia Armory. Although it was a separate town about 2 miles North of San Rafael, Santa Venetia is almost a separate district of San Rafael.  The Santa Venetia Armory, at 155 Madison, was the National Guard Armory, and apparently a regular site of “Teen” dances in the mid-60s.  It was used briefly for psychedelic rock concerts in 1966-67, before it was superseded by the Fillmore and the Avalon.

While typical Pepe dances had local bands who cranked out cover versions, they seemed to have recognized that the Fillmore bands were a little different. Almost all the Pepe posters are done in the same boxing style. The highlighted L-I-G-H-T-S  suggests that the music won't quite be the regular dance fare. It's important to recall, however, that the Fillmore and the Avalon were promoting themselves as dance halls, and most of the the audiences were young, so a dance wouldn't be an alien setting by any means for the Dead. In any case, if Pigpen was cranking it out, there would be plenty of dancing going on.

Moby Grape was playing their second booking with the Dead in a week. Morning Glory were a local Marin band who had sort of an Airplane sound. They weren't bad, actually, and released an OK album on Fontana a year later.

A picture of Marty Balin from the December 29, 1966 San Francisco Chronicle listing of the New Year's Eve concert at the Fillmore on December 30 and 31, featuring Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service
December 30-31: Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service
The Grateful Dead played the first of their legendary New Year's Eve shows in 1966. The initial version featured Jefferson Airplane, the Dead and Quicksilver for a show that was advertised from 9pm to 9am. I wonder how many sets the Grateful Dead played, and who jammed with who? Of course, as I have discussed elsewhere, 60s shows like this were so epic that no one can remember a thing about them.

On New Year's Day, the Grateful Dead played with Big Brother at the Panhandle near Golden Gate Park. As a practical matter, assuming that the Dead played in the early afternoon, they must have gone straight from the Fillmore over to the Panhandle. Big Brother had also played a New Year's Eve show, at an obscure venue in Golden Gate Park called Kezar Pavilion. While Big Brother was not booked until 9am, since they and the Dead both lived in Lagunitas, neither of the bands would have made any effort to go home before playing in the afternoon.

11 comments:

  1. Re: "but I don't recognize The Yellow Pages"

    Corry, actually the poster billed the band as "The Yellow Paiges", but I think this was only a typo of the guy who print the poster, because the real name of the band was "The Yellow Payges". They were a famous rock and roll band from Los Angeles. Their lead singer, Dan Hortter, remember that the band once opened for the Grateful Dead, although he did not remember any details about that gig.

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  3. Actually the Yellow "Paiges" or whatever did not open this show for the Grateful Dead. They played with the Elgin Marble the previous Friday (December 16) and the Dead played with with no or an unknown support. The term "New Arrivals" is purely descriptive.

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  4. Thanks Ross!

    BTW, if The Yellow Payges did not opened for the Dead on that show, so they opened for them at another venue and at another date, because as I said above, their lead singer Dan Hortter clearly remember that his band once opened for the Dead, although he do not remember where and when.

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  5. I have no knowledge of where and when either Bruno. Perhaps one of the LA shows?

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  6. I do not know, maybe Corry have the answer because he is the biggest expert of the Grateful Dead's history in the world! Go Corry! ha ha ha

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  7. McNally's book has more details on the New Year's Eve show: the diaper baby was Graham's stage manager Jim Haynie. "Country Joe & the Fish were at the Avalon that night, and when they were finished, they went over to the Fillmore to join in a memorable jam that included Garcia, Lesh, John Cipollina, and Barry Melton."

    McNally also has the story that Bill Graham booked Otis Redding because "he didn't listen to the radio, but...the musicians were unanimous in telling him that he needed to book Otis Redding."
    McNally says, "The Dead were there each night, rapt." (Though they could hardly have been at the 12/21 show, since they were playing in Santa Clara!)
    Pigpen had already been covering Pain in My Heart earlier in '66, though it's possible the Dead got it via the Stones' cover.

    Your suggestion that Graham was actually marketing to the local black audience makes me wonder: did he often do this? The history of Graham's (and the Fillmore's) interactions with the black community may be worth more examination, if it hasn't been detailed somewhere.

    You mention at one point when the Chronicle published another Garcia picture, "One of the reasons that Garcia became such a figure long before the Dead's music itself became popular was that he seems to have received a lot of publicity of this sort, probably much to his own dismay."
    This raises the question of just how early Garcia became known as the Dead's "spokesman" and more recognizable than, say, Pigpen. '66 or even '67 seems a bit early to me. (And in context, how often did the Chronicle run band pictures?)
    It took a few years for lengthy Garcia interviews to start surfacing, for instance in Gleason's Jefferson Airplane book in '68, or Lydon's Rolling Stone article in '69.
    It may have been a few years more before he started to get dismayed by the attention to him in particular.
    Of course, part of Garcia's emergence as "a figure" happened by default, since he was the Dead member most willing (even eager) to talk to interviewers.

    Bob Weir gave his theory in an interview with Jas Obrecht:
    "That all happened around the time that audiences sat down and started gluing their eyes on the stage... It became [more] conscious and less dances. At the Fillmore Auditorium, at the Avalon, at the Carousel in San Francisco, people stopped dancing and started watching the stage and sitting down. And at that point, personalities started to emerge. I think that was part and parcel because people had been wandering around reading. The alternative press and to some degree the mainstream press, they were interviewing these musicians, who were beginning to emerge as personalities. And, of course, the star-maker machinery was more than happy to lend its weight there. And so rather than going to a concert to dance and hit on girls and stuff like that, people went to check out these personalities that they’d been hearing about. For instance, the press was more than happy to make Garcia into a demigod. And Garcia at first was more than happy to talk. You know, he loved to rave. He was verbose. And then it wasn’t too long before he started to realize, 'Hey, this is getting out of hand.' And it stayed out of hand, as far as he was concerned."
    http://jasobrecht.com/bob-weir-psychedelic-san-francisco-birth-grateful-dead/

    One minor point that Weir touches on, which fascinates me, is the transition from dancing to sitting at SF shows. While Dead audiences are known for dancing, I believe late-'60s SF audiences mostly sat on the floor & watched shows? (And when audience taping picks up in the '70s, we hear numerous cries from seated audience members for others to "sit down!")

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  8. Deadlists notes that a show was scheduled for the SF Civic Auditorium on Monday 12/12, but was cancelled. True?

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  9. LIA, thanks for the interesting comments as always. There is no evidence, none, for any type of show at the SF Civic on December 12, 1966, by the Grateful Dead or anyone else. I have no idea where that date came from, but it's got no basis. It was a Monday night, after all--rock bands didn't play the Civic on a Monday night.

    As to pictures, I have looked through the Entertainment section (Datebook) of the SF Chronicle for just about every day from October 66 through August 67. The Chronicle regularly ran pictures of entertainers as "filler" almost every day, and they were all over the Sunday 'Pink Section.' Often enough they were of Fillmore rock bands. Once or twice a week they ran a picture of a rock band in the Datebook section (along with dancers, classical musicians, actors or other performers) and each Sunday there would be several photos of rock bands.

    These were usually canned publicity photos, sometimes taken by the Chronicle, often submitted by the band's publicist. Often the Chronicle just used the same photos over and over.That's why there is a 1970 ad for a Hot Tuna show with a 1967 photo of Jorma, for example.

    Thus Garcia, Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Janis Joplin and others became recognizable figures in San Francisco pretty early on.

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  10. As to the dancing/listening thing, I do know that the original Fillmore configuration had a stage only about two feet high. There are very few photos from that era, but the fact is that it would have been very hard to see the musicians unless you were up close, and that's not considering the light show.

    I know that by early 1967, the stage had been built up to about 5 feet high, so the musicians were visible from all over the room. I don't know the exact date of that change, but musicians and fans at the time often mention it.

    I also know that the configuration of the Avalon in 1966 was such that somehow access to the dressing rooms was through the main floor. So a band could hide in their rooms if they wanted, but there wasn't a defined backstage area. This changed in later years, but initially it was part of the comfortable vibe.

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  11. Interestingly enough, there are TWO completely different posters for the Otis shows; the Wes Wilson-designed "psychedelic" version was to attract the white hippie audience, while there was also a plain cardboard "boxing-style" poster (printed by Tighlman Press of Oakland) with a simple photo of Otis that lists NONE of the opening bands, presumably geared towards the African-American crowd.

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