Monday, July 6, 2009

June 1, 1968 Panhandle, Golden Gate Park: Grateful Dead/Charlie Musselwhite/Petrus

The Dead, Charlie Musselwhite and Petrus were playing three nights at the Carousel on May 30, May 31 and June 1. With typical upside down logic, the entire bill played for free in the Panhandle on the last day (Sunday). While it may have made good publicity for the evening's show, it would have been better if it had been done earlier in the run. This performance is alluded to in various places, but I never seen it broken out in a list separately, so I am doing it here. I will add the reference when I can find it.

I believe this was the last time the Dead played in the Panhandle. They had moved out of 710 Ashbury for good in March, so casual shows were no longer possible. It is a footnote of importance to San Franciscans that the Panhandle is not actually part of Golden Gate Park, although it is sort of adjunct to it. The Panhandle is between Oak and Fell Streets, from Stanyan (bordering Golden Gate Park) just east to Baker.

Petrus featured singer Ruthann Friedman, who had written “Windy” for the Association, and guitarist Peter Kaukonen (Jorma’s brother). They were based in Half Moon Bay. Friedman had been a folk singer in the 60s, playing up and down California. Friedman had also sang the song “Little Girl Lost and Found” by The Garden Club, a made-up group (all the voices were hers), which was a modest hit in Los Angeles. Although Petrus broke up, Friedman released a 1969 album on Reprise called Constant Companion that was a collector’s classic (cd released on 2006 on Water), which also featured guitar by Kaukonen.


  1. I am surprised you've never cited the evidence for this show, considering you're often suspicious of reports of the Dead's free SF park shows!

    One interesting thing, this was apparently the last free Dead show in San Francisco in 1968 - they'd done a famous one before, March 3 on Haight St, but in '68 they were doing more free shows outside of SF.
    I think they only played Golden Gate Park once more, the free show in 5/7/69. Clearly once they moved out of the city, playing free local park shows on a whim didn't occur very often.

    (Actually I still think it would be useful for someone to list all the Dead's known free shows...)

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    1. Right, but the Panhandle isn't actually part of Golden Gate Park. It's next to the Park, but its just a grassy area between Fell and Oak, not part of the park at all.

  5. Sorry,
    You said they never played Golden Gate Park again, I kinda thought you meant the Panhandle. Please disregard.

  6. JGMF found a reference for this show:

    Sandy Darlington, "Ambrosia Cake Falstaff Bliss," San Francisco Express Times 6/6/68:

    "The Carousel, new as it is, radiates an important force in the community. There's a great sense of participation there. We are all part of it. There's jam sessions on Tuesday night for a dollar. A band forms up and plays for about an hour, then another band forms. Last week, Jerry Garcia and Elvin Bishop jammed together. And last Sunday, the Carousel moved their whole show, which included the Dead, Charley Musselwhite and Petris, out to Golden Gate Park for the afternoon as a holiday celebration. Last Friday Ron Rakow, the manager, got together with Bill Graham for a three-hour talk over breakfast about ways in which the ballrooms could cooperate so that each could do their scene and it would all work and make a more total thing."

    The article slightly criticizes Rakow for placing Carousel advertisements on KMPX during the strike, calling it "strike-breaking."
    There's a lush description of the Carousel atmosphere, and the reader is urged to hang out there and be part of the community.

  7. Does this mean that the Dead played in Golden Gate Park on Sunday 1968-06-02 or that Sandy Darlington also does not know that the Panhandle is not Golden Gate Park? It gives us a clue as to when Bill Graham contacted Ireland to get the Carousel, not too smart a move by Rakow showing their weakness to Graham. I'm sure he knew anyway but still not smart.

  8. Right, I guess Sunday implies 6/2/68, huh?

  9. Yes, Sunday would have to be June 2; I believe the run was May 31-June 2 despite the posters.
    Although playing a free show the day after the run ended would be delightfully perverse!

    And unless there's another reference that says it was the Panhandle, I'd go with the contemporary article that says Golden Gate Park. (Unless Darlington customarily conflated them in his articles - I suppose that could be checked.)