Dennis McNally begins his discussion of the Grateful Dead’s appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival by saying “The Dead had played Los Angeles the night before, where Phil’s bass was stolen” (p.204). Rock Scully says “My biggest mistake was booking the Dead to play a club in LA the night before” (p. 105). In Scully’s version, Jerry’s guitar gets stolen. However, neither book mentions where they played, and I am suggesting that they played The Cheetah in Santa Monica. Since Scully refers to playing “a club” in Los Angeles, and there were relatively few clubs in Southern California that hosted Fillmore-type bands with paying gigs, as a lot of local clubs (like The Whisky A-Go-Go) simply paid union scale, I think The Cheetah is most likely.
The Cheetah was at 1 Navy Pier, in Santa Monica. It had been built in the 1930s as the Aragon Ballroom, and had reopened in March, 21,1967 as The Cheetah. It was open 7 nights a week, with bands most nights, but there were not regular posters, so publicity for Cheetah shows is hard to come by. The Dead had played The Cheetah before (April 30, 1967), and had also played The Cheetah in New York on June 12. There was also a Cheetah in Chicago, in the Aragon Ballroom. Its not clear what connection there was between the three Cheetahs, but there was probably at least an informal one, as the Santa Monica Cheetah was modeled on the New York one. I’m assuming the Dead played a successful gig in April, and booked a follow-up gig for six weeks later.
To review the facts
• McNally and Rock Scully assert the Dead played “a club” in Los Angeles on June 16
• The Santa Monica Cheetah is a likely venue
• The Dead had played The Cheetah before
• This is a different show than the June 12 show at The Cheetah in New York