Monday, July 6, 2009

September 9, 1971 Gold St Club, San Francisco: Pigpen

A remarkable listing in the September 8, 1971 Oakland Tribune says “Ron McKernan, better known as “Pigpen” of the Grateful Dead, will make his first solo performance in concert at in the Gold St. Club in San Francisco tomorrow night at 9:30.”

I wonder if this even happened, as I have never even heard a rumor about Pig playing solo. I wonder if there is even a rehearsal tape, even if he never played. I know nothing about the venue either.

Gold Street in San Francisco is in North Beach, near Jackson between Montgomery and Sansome.


  1. I was just trying to poke around this Gold Street ... looks like a single block. There appears to be a little club called "Bix" nowadays, which has the back-alley feel of a place that I met expect Pigpen to play.

    Check out what I think/hope will be a Google Earth-related photo, from a third party user. Looks like the Google Earth mobile didn't make it down this particular back alley?

  2. (Posted a comment on JGMF, but it also belongs here.)

    In early Sept '71, I think Pigpen was starting to think of a musical future apart from the Dead.
    Pigpen had, of course, been performing solo at folk clubs for years before the Dead, so it's not that unlikely for him.

    Pigpen was also planning a solo album. Billboard had announced it, Bob Matthews had given him a home recorder, and he was said to be working on songs - basically getting a lot of encouragement to work on his own. Further reason for a solo show.

    The Dead also were not on tour at the time - in fact, they played no shows between 8/26 and 10/19/71.
    This is an unusually long break for the time (although, granted, they played a mere four shows between 4/29 and 7/31/71).
    I'm not sure if they had any canceled show plans at the time, or if Pigpen's poor health was the cause of the long break.

    Plans for a solo Pigpen career would have soon been cut short.
    McNally says he entered the hospital on Sept 17. Ironically, Keith's first rehearsal with Garcia must have happened sometime around then...

  3. LIA, these are all very good points. I just wish we could find out if this show even happened.

  4. I doubt we can ever find out if it actually happened - but the fact that it was scheduled already tells us a lot.
    I think I'll make another post on this subject!

  5. LIA found out some remarkable information about this show. It seems that the idea was for Pigpen to play while backed by Merl Saunders, but it never happened.

  6. Interestingly, for those of us into that sort of thing, the same billing was given for 9/2/71. This in JLW's "Something Else" listing, SFC 9/1/71 p. 57.

  7. My roommates and I went to the gig advertised on Sept 9. When we got there, we were told we had missed it, and it had been the previous week (Sept 1). They told us that the ad (as I recall in The Berkeley Barb) had printed the wrong date. Whether it actually DID happen on the 1st, I don't know, but that's what the people at the bar told us.

    1. Er, the previous week would have been Sept 2

  8. A small footnote: I believe the Gold Street Bar might be the same as the former Gold Street Saloon, where Terry Riley got his "start" in the early '60s playing ragtime piano.