Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 31, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Jerry Garcia Band

The Jerry Garcia Band played Keystone Berkeley on New Year's Eve 1975. It was Nicky Hopkins last performance with the Garcia Band, and Gregg Errico sat in for Ron Tutt, as Tutt had a conflict with his other employer, Elvis Presley (the Jerry Garcia of the 1950s), playing a gig at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, MI. We can be certain the Garcia Band played New Year's Eve, because the extant tape includes Hopkins leading a New Year's Countdown.

However, it is interesting to see that the show appears not to have been advertised. Above is the weekly listings from the December 26, 1975 edition of the Hayward Daily Review. For the Keystone Berkeley, it lists
  • Friday, December 26 Cold Blood, Ruby with Tom Fogerty
  • Sunday, December 28 Kathi McDonald
  • Monday and Tuesday, December 29 and 30 The Bold Truth
  • Wednesday, December 31 Grayson St., Lucky Strike
  • Thursday and Friday, January 1 and 2 Stoneground with Kathi McDonald
  • Saturday, January 3 Eddie Money
Most of these bands were established East Bay club bands. Only Bold Truth and Lucky Strike are unknown to me. For the record, I assume Cold Blood and Ruby also played Saturday the 27th. At this time, Eddie Money was simply a local East Bay singer, some years from stardom.

Grayson Street, booked for New Year's Eve, were a popular East Bay band. I believe they played a sort of funky rock music, typical of groups like Stoneground or The Loading Zone. Note, however, that there is no sign of the Jerry Garcia Band, not even a hint like "Special Guest." Given that this list was published on December 26, and based on a weekly calendar probably mailed the week before, this means the Jerry Garcia Band show was not being publicized as of two weeks before.

I think the reason for the surreptitious gig is quite simple. The Jerry Garcia Band was headlining two shows at Winterland on December 19 and 20, and Bill Graham probably insisted that Garcia not advertise gigs in the area before his shows were past history. Obviously, Bill knew he couldn't stop Jerry from actually playing, but it was a common request to insist contractually that bands booked at a major show refrain from advertised show within a certain distance and certain time of the event. Also, while JGB played some shows in San Diego (Dec 27-28) between Winterland and New Year's, there may have been some uncertainty about the group's plans.

I assume there was a secondary reason, which was that while Garcia Band shows at the Keystone Berkeley were a routine occurrence, a well publicized New Year's show could start the inevitable rumor that the Grateful Dead were appearing, causing no end of trouble on the intersection of Shattuck and University. In any case, Garcia Band shows at the Keystone Berkeley never sold advance tickets. All Garcia Band shows only sold day-of-show tickets, so the need for advance publicity was small.

I have to assume that Grayson Street played anyway, as it would be unconscionable for a club to cancel a lucrative gig for them without warning. Anyway, since Deadheads would have been lined up all day and come in as soon as the doors opened at 7:00, they would have been happy to hear music before Jerry finally came on stage some hours later, probably about 10:00 or 10:30.


  1. Greg Errico did not even know Nicky Hopkins was in the band the NYE show he sat in on.
    "I remember being pleasantly surprised that evening with Nicky Hopkins showing up to play with us," Errico tells Rolling Stone. I didn't know he was coming! [Jerry's guitar playing had] a very distinct voice. He had a very big sound – custom Fender amps all reworked – so when he wanted to give it the gas, you heard him. And when you heard a note, you knew it was Jerry before the phrase was finished."

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  3. I was at this show. I knew the Grayson Street band from other venues, but I can't confirm whether or not they played, as I missed the first set.

    Several of us Deadheads had arrived without tickets and could not get in. But, as happened at a number of these gigs (such as the GAMH dates with Keith & Donna in August) the management relented after intermission and let in, at full price, the dozen or so of us who'd waited outside the door throughout the first set.
    I don't remember much about the material in the second set, but I can tell you all that Bob Weir showed up to play a sloppy but fun version of Junior Walker's "Road Runner" to close out the night. He was in a festive mood and high-fived several of us as he left the stage afterward.

  4. Well, I hate to blow your theory that Wolfgang prevented advertising the NYE show, but the Keystone's regular Datebook ad has JGB playing NYE on 12/14, 12/21 and 12/28, no bones about it. The Hayward and Marin papers had other listings. This is an odd inconsistency, but these ads disconfirm the Wolfgang theory.

    1. So Garcia and the Keystone were either exempt from BGP's "no advertising" dictum, or simply ignored it. A sign of Garcia's status either way.

      Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that the Dec 19-20 '75 shows were the first for-profit BGP Garcia shows, ever (there were a few benefits, I think). It must have driven Bill nuts to know that Garcia, a famously profitable performer, was playing regularly in his own territory and yet BGP had not booked him.

    2. Sheesh - that had never crossed my mind, but without much reflection it seems right.

  5. And his final victory wouldn't come until 1987. Garcia did four nights at the Stone at the end of May, and never played for Freddie again, but only Bill in the Bay Area for the rest of his career. 7/7/88 in Cotati may be the only exception to that.