Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guest Flute Players with The Grateful Dead: June 13, August 3 and August 21, 1969

I recently wrote about the Grateful Dead's performance at the Aqua Theater in Seattle, WA on August 21, 1969. During this show, they were joined by a flute player for a few numbers, the third time it happened in 1969. This peculiarity has never been directly discussed, to my knowledge, so I will address it here.

Charles Lloyd

I was recently looking at an excellent blog post that summarized all the known guest appearances with the Grateful Dead from 1967-75. Clicking on all the links, mostly to the archive site, I was reminded that every time a flute or saxophone player sat in in with the Grateful Dead, people have always asserted that it was Charles Lloyd. This gets repeated so often that it became gospel, and the archive site lists Charles Lloyd as the guest on Aug 21 (with a question mark), with similar (albeit skeptical) comments on June 13, 1969 in Fresno and August 3 at The Family Dog.

In fact, I think there is a lot less evidence that Charles Lloyd played with the Grateful Dead after 1967, much as he may have wanted to, and that the flute player on the August 21 Seattle show and the June 13 Fresno show was actually one of the horn players for the group San Paku, although I have not been able to determine that individual's name. August 3 is a different matter, which I will deal with at the end.

Charles Lloyd and The Grateful Dead
Charles Lloyd was an exceptional modern jazz musician who excelled on both the tenor saxophone and flute. He rose to prominence with drummer Chico Hamilton's great Los Angeles groups in the early 1960s, featuring Gabor Szabo on guitar and Albert Stinson on bass. In the mid-1960s Lloyd formed his own quartet, with Keith Jarrett on piano, Ron McClure on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Lloyd was one of the first jazz musicians to see the commercial and musical possibilities of crossing over to the Fillmore market, and he played the Fillmore and Avalon a number of times (His Atlantic album Love-In was recorded at the Fillmore on January 27, 1967, when he was opening for Paul Butterfield).

Exactly where Charles Lloyd met the Grateful Dead isn't clear, but he was part of the San Francisco music scene in early 1967. In early January 1967 group was playing a club near the Haight called The Both/And (at 350 Divisadero--the ad above is from the January 24, 1967 Chronicle) and somehow Lloyd ended up onstage with the Grateful Dead at the Human Be-In, adding flute to "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." A few months later, Lloyd played several nights with the Grateful Dead at a place on Mission Street called The Rock Garden, and probably jammed with them there as well. Lloyd and Garcia apparently hit it off, but efforts to record or tour together never came to fruition. Lloyd largely dropped out of playing live jazz for most of the 1970s, although he returned fully charged in the 1980s and remains an exceptional performer today.

Although Lloyd actually played more tenor sax than flute, Lloyd was one of the few flautists playing aggressive Coltrane-style jazz on the instrument (Eric Dolphy and arguably Herbie Mann and Jeremy Steig were among the others). Some of Lloyd's recordings, such as his great 1965 Columbia album Of Course, Of Course (with Szabo, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) were seminal recordings for jazz flute. As a result, Lloyd is so influential as a flautist that even though the August 21 flute playing (on "Minglewood" and "China Cat Sunflower") sound like Lloyd, most modern jazz flute players owe a lot to Lloyd, and most rock ones too (Ian Anderson certainly included). So the fact that the flute-playing on the August 21tape sounds like Charles Lloyd means less than you think, since most forward looking players at the time owed a lot to Lloyd.

Charles Lloyd is a great musician, and I love the idea that his 1967 jamming with the Dead was so memorable that he turned up in Fresno, San Francisco and Seattle two years later to sit in with them. I just don't think there's much evidence beyond wishful thinking to support it. A hard-nosed look at the history of Grateful Dead guests always points towards members of bands on the bill or players who live or have a gig in the town the Dead were in. I find the idea that Lloyd played tenor sax on "Dark Star" at the Family Dog quite plausible, since the Southern California based Lloyd might have had reason to be in San Francisco, but from that point of view John Handy is more plausible, and Lloyd in  Fresno and Seattle are an awful reach, much as I'd like it to be so. Lloyd wasn't working much in 1969, for personal reasons (he was interested in Transcendental Meditation) but I actually think that makes him less likely to go to strange places to jam with his peers.

San Paku
San Paku was a now little known band managed by the Bill Graham organization, and booked by Bill Graham's Millard Agency. During the 1968-69 period, the Millard Agency also booked the Grateful Dead. Other groups working with the Millard Agency included Santana, Elvin Bishop, Cold Blood, Aum and Its A Beautiful Day. A look at Northern California and West Coast rock poster from late 1968 through 1970 shows that all these bands played together many times, so the musicians all must have hung out regularly. It is not surprising to find out that members of those bands were periodic guests, studio collaborators or jamming partners with the Dead or Garcia: Bishop, Wayne Ceballos (of Aum), David LaFlamme (IABD) and Santana band members (including Carlos) were among the most prominent.

Its my understanding that San Paku was an eight-piece jazz rock group, perhaps with a Latin tinge, and they played with the Dead a number of times. I just find it more plausible that a guy from the opening act was a jamming partner in a place like Fresno or Seattle, far from home, than a jazz musician with no specific ties to either area. There are no circulating recordings of San Paku, so I have to guess as to their true sound. I know their lead singer was Rico Reyes, who worked with Santana and Quicksilver and later helped lead the fine group Azteca, and the guitarist was Sacramento musician Mark Pearson, later of Nielsen/Pearson Band. Supposedly they were a hopping group, but they broke up in Fall 1969, and I have been unable to follow up on my theory--hopefully a San Paku band member is out there and can confirm or reject my theory that the flute on the June 13 and August 21 shows was actually one of the players in San Paku.

August 3, 1969 The Family Dog At The Great Highway

The Grateful Dead played The Family Dog At The Great Highway on Sunday, August 3, and for the first three numbers ("Hard To Handle", "Beat It On Down The Line" and "High Heeled Sneakers") they are joined by flute and electric violin and later "Dark Star" they are joined by a tenor sax and electric violin. The archive notes list David LaFlamme on violin and Charles Lloyd on tenor, both of which seem like conventional choices. However, since there is flute on the first number and great tenor sax on "Dark Star", Lloyd seems like a pretty likely possibility. Lloyd probably lived in Los Angeles at the time, but its not so unlikely to think he would be in San Francisco (as opposed to Fresno).

There were so few electric violin players in San Francisco, or anywhere, that LaFlamme is a reasonable choice too. However, I wouldn't rule out Michael White as a possibility. White had pioneered electric violin playing in jazz with John Handy's mid-1960s group, based in San Francisco. By 1969, White was in the jazz rock group The Fourth Way, who were regulars at The New Orleans House rock club in Berkeley. In fact, The Fourth Way were scheduled at the New Orleans House on August 3, but that gig may have been earlier in the evening (bassist Ron McClure, formerly of Lloyd's quartet, was in The Fourth Way, so there were plenty of connections).

To my ears, the playing on "Dark Star" sounds more like White than LaFlamme to me, but we'll have to wait for some firmer evidence, as LaFlamme is still a plausible choice. The presence of the electric violin and tenor sax on this night make the "Dark Star" very different than most 1969 versions, and that is why I am inclined to think top-of-the-line players like Charles Lloyd and Michael White are participating. The version of "High Heeled Sneakers" is unique as well, with the electric violin triggering the song and a strange swinging tempo.


  1. Lloyd shared a festival bill with the GD in '68 at the Newport Pop Festival (August 4, 1968, Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, CA), FWIW.

  2. Hi there-- I was told (I think by Ihor Slabicky, author of the Dead Discography) that David LaFlamme has said that it was not him on 8/3/69. The White suggestion may be really good-- I seem to remember that Ihor also told me that the John Handy band also played that night, either on the same bill or somewhere else in the city. I lost this email correspondence with Ihor Sablicky so I'm doing this by my own failing memory! This is a very cool Dark Star-- reminds me more of the much later ones with Branford Marsalis.

  3. There's a lot of great tenor saxophonists, and at least some great flute players, but how many electric violinists were there in 1969 willing and able to play at the Grateful Dead's level? If LaFlamme has eliminated himself (and it doesn't sound like him), my money's on Michael White.

    Jean-Luc Ponty had in fact played the week before in Los Angeles (at Thee Experience in Hollywood, with the George Duke Trio), so its not inconceivable that its him.

    And just to close off the question, Papa John Creach had not met the Airplane yet, and in any case it doesn't sound like him.

  4. Thanks for noting my blog!
    Lost Live Dead is a great site & I'm very impressed by your researches.

    On the subject of guests, I was listening again to the (very hot) 6-13-70 Oahu show....deadlists notes that Gary Duncan & Dino Valenti are on Good Lovin' & Lovelight. But I wonder about this....granted the sound isn't pristine, nor are my ears, but I didn't hear anyone else in Good Lovin', and maybe a third guitar in the middle of Lovelight. (There is some unexpected piano in New Speedway, from Pigpen.) Someone should try to settle this.... (I wonder if they appeared in the 6/12 show, which isn't circulating.)

    Anyway - in my blog posts "The Strange Case of 1970" and "Missing Shows of 1969 & 1970" there are lists of bunches of shows which are possible candidates for your blog (& some here already) - there are probably quite a few blank spots you'd be able to fill in!

    Also - pardon the digression - there was a question on the Archive Forum recently, about the allstar-jam at the Carousel on 5/21/68, whether this was a frequent (or even weekly) event there, since there was another similar benefit advertised for June 4 '68. (The list of Carousel shows over at chickenonaunicycle looks like it may have some gaps.)
    Seemed like the kind of thing you'd know, and perhaps have already posted about....

  5. To answer the question raised by "Light Into Ashes" in respect of the Carousel Ballroom. You are right about some gaps at Chicken On A Unicycle - but I have taken the hint and uploaded my latest list to

    As for the "jams", the first I know of was the May 21 event which led to the advertising of "Tuesday Night Jams" - and they are known to have taken place on May 28, June 4, June 11, June 18 and June 25. The Carousel's lease was taken on by Bill Graham - who ran it as the Fillmore West (leaving the Carousel sign intact throughout). There were regualr shows on Tuesdays under BG so the jams would have halted. Those shows that took place whilst Bill Graham held the lease (July 5, 1968 to July 4, 1971) but were not promoted by Graham still utilised the Carousel Ballroom name.

    An interesting point is that if Bill Graham had have waited a further week before putting on shows at the Carousel, the final weekend would have seen Jimi Hendrix and BB King performing. The artwork for Rick Shubb's poster is currently being restored and will miraculously appear at a later date. There was at least one month's notice given for the cancellation.

  6. There is an ad for a "Jam Session with Jerry Garcia and Others" on 5/22/68 in the Express Times, but unfortunately I don't have the bibliographic details.

    Also, just checked your Carousel list, YS, and you have Mr. Cooke's name misspelled Curly, when it is actually Curley.

  7. I have added the May 22 listing but have so far I have been unable to add any other details. Mr Cooke's name has been amended. Interestingly, whilst looking May 22 show I found details that it was Mad River who replaced Big Brother and the Holding Company who had cancelled out of the May 24-26 shows.

  8. Nice Blog!
    I was the road manager for Sanpaku and am the unofficial archivist. We open a number of shows for The Dead in 1969, including Seattle (w/NRPS) and Fresno (w/Aum). Sanpaku had 2 horn players, one is deceased and I located the other one a few months ago-40 years after the crime. He remembered the Seattle gig clearly, including the name of the nightclub we invaded on the rain delay night. I'll ask him if was the flautist. Also I am looking for any tapes of Sanpaku that might exist out there in GD land. All known recordings were lost, taped over or lost in a tragic house fire. Sapaku was a short-lived but fantastic group - think Sons of Champlin or Buffalo Springfiels with horns and chemicals. I'll be in touch.

  9. "somehow Lloyd ended up onstage with the Grateful Dead at the Human Be-In, adding flute to "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.""

    I am going through some duplicate copies of Blair Jackson's masterful magazine Golden Road and coming across a bunch of stuff. In no. 13 (Winter 1987), pp. 20-21 there's a brief 20 year look book at the Human Be-In. Among the photos is one by Jim Marshall of Casady and Kantner playing, and an unidentified flute player blowing right into a vocal mic. This is a scraggly-looking white guy. I have always assumed that Lloyd was black. Is that assumption wrong? If not, wouldn't it be weird if two separate flute players stepped up to play with the JA and the GD on the same day? I don't know that evidence there is, but I am obviously opening the question of whether it was this white guy, and not Lloyd, blowing with the GD at the Human Be-In on January 14, 1967.

  10. Charles Lloyd isn't white. The one picture I saw of (ostensibly) the Dead at the Be-In had a black guy on stage with him, but he was playing harmonica, and it wasn't Charles Lloyd.

    The original theme of my post was that Deadheads always assume any flute player with the Dead was Charles Lloyd. Maybe Lloyd didn't play with them at all on that day, even if he was around town and (probably) at the Be-In.

    There are a lot of mysteries, because everyone was high. Could the Airplane guest have been Quicksilver equipment manager Steven Schuster (better known as Jack Bonus)? I believe Schuster married Ginger Jackson, who was an old housemate of Kantner's (and Crosby, Freiberg, etc).

  11. Over on dimeadozen, someone has raised the possibility that the electric violinist on August 3, 1969 was Jerry Goodman of The Flock (later of Mahavishnu Orchestra). Although The Flock were Chicago-based, this isn't as far fetched as it might sound. The Flock were touring California in the month of July, and had played Fillmore West fairly recently (July 22-24, opening for Ike & Tina).

    Of course, it seems more likely they would have a weekend show outside of San Francisco, but maybe they were hanging around on Sunday. The Flock had a whole horn section, too, so that might explain the other guests as well.

    My money is still on Michael White and either Charles Lloyd or John Handy (or both), but Goodman and some other players from The Flock is definitely a viable choice.

  12. Apropos of nothing, an old 1967 album called Jerry Hahn and His Quintet came up on my iPod. The album was recorded for Arhoolie, and features Hahn on guitar and Michael White on electric violin. I hadn't heard this album in a while, but having heard it, I'm more convinced than ever that Michael White was the electric violinist on the August 3, 1969 Family Dog show. There aren't many choices in any case, and I'm certain it's not David LaFlamme, so my money is very definitely on Michael White.

    It's a great album, by the way. The other players are all great as well: Jack DeJohnette on drums, Ron McClure on bass and Noel Jewkes on flute and tenor sax. Actually, I should at least consider the possibility that Jewkes was the guest on flute and sax on August 3, as he was definitely socially connected to the rock crowd.

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  14. re Michael White on 8/3/69 -- I emailed Mr. White about this and got a response that he has no recollection of ever playing with the GD. Rats. It would have been a long trek from the New Orleans House to the Family Dog anyway, right? The search continues.

    1. Thanks for checking this out. But there were so few electric violin players back then--who could this be? An appearance by Richard Greene that he himself forgot?

    2. Why not John Tenney?
      We know he played fiddle in the studio with the Dead around that time, for Pigpen's abandoned "solo album."

    3. Since Tenney was in a local SF band at the time (Mother's Country Jam), he would almost certainly have been in the area; and his being in the studio with the Dead in that time period makes him seem a very likely candidate to me.

      For the curious, here is a page of Tenney's recent music - experimental sampled collages & ambient soundscapes, not so far removed from the spirit of the wild 8/3/69 Caution:

    4. LIA, I really like this line of reasoning. John Tenney is a very plausible candidate. We know he could play in a more traditional style, but he was also into wide open music as well.

    5. Well, scratch that idea. Tenney says it wasn't him.

      He says a couple other likely suspects are Sid Page (of Dan Hicks' band) or possibly Spencer Perskin (who was in the Austin-based Shiva's Headband, which may have been in San Francisco that summer).

      On the other hand, we may be on the wrong track looking for GOOD violin players. I'm not sure the 8/3/69 violin guest was that great (granted he was jumping off the deep end with the Dead that night). He might not have been in a band, and might be forgotten & unrecorded...

      Another possibility is Rodney Albin, who played violin, was a central figure in the SF scene, and had known Garcia since the early '60s (he later played violin with Robert Hunter's band).

    6. Thanks for checking this out. I think you are right, that the violin player was adventurous, but not necessarily an A-player. From what I know of Rodney Albin at the time, I think he simply wouldn't have plugged in.

      The Spencer Perskin idea is a very good one. I have to look into this, but Shiva's Headband spent a summer on the West Coast. There used to be an interesting site about this, the band were primarily pot dealers for other bands, and the touring was kind of a cover. So it makes a lot of sense on various levels.

      Sid Page isn't out of the question either, although I like the Perskin idea better.

    7. Well, Shiva's Headband hung out in Berkeley in the Summer of '68, not '69, but for reasons stated above he is still an excellent candidate.

    8. This is the day after the first meeting of The Common, after the 8/1 fiasco on which the Light Artists Guild struck the Dead at the Dog, Garcia refused to cross the picket line, and he played country music in Berkeley while the GD played a show without him (or some of them, or played something, anyway). This was a time of mending fences and experimenting with a new form for the hip community. I wouldn't be surprised if some fiddler kicking around town just plugged in. I certainly don't want to discourage you from trying to figure it all out, mind you! But my read has always been that the guests on 8/2 and 8/3 were there more in the vibe of The Common than as someone we might necessarily have heard of.

    9. Your reasoning is pretty sound. Of course, regular hippies who got to jam with the Dead usually make a big deal about it in some memoir or website.

    10. I'm less inclined to think the guest was just any old hippie with a fiddle, given how smoothly the guests fits him(?)self into the music. But, that being said, I followed up with Mr. White and he said he has no idea who else could be playing on the 8/3/69 recording, and also emphasized that at the time there were no other "modern jazz violinists" around the Bay Area. So maybe it really was just a highly talented stranger who happened to be there...

    11. There may be another candidate for the 8/3/69 violinist:
      It occurred to me that David Freiberg (of Quicksilver) played violin and viola, so he was probably capable of sitting in. I don't know if he played violin regularly (certainly not with bands), nor do I have any idea of his style, but he definitely would've known the Dead's material.
      He played viola on Quicksilver's 'The Fool,' and also played it on Garcia's lovely rehearsal of 'Loser' in the PERRO sessions.

      Now, Quicksilver was advertised as playing that night at another club in San Francisco:
      However, a couple commenters suggest that Quicksilver didn't actually play, leaving Freiberg free to guest somewhere else.

    12. We can dismiss the idea that Quicksilver played across town--my speculative post that you link was shot down. It seemed that QMS didn't play Broadway that night.

      However, intriguing as the Freiberg idea sounds, two things stand in the way: first, I'm not aware of Freiberg ever having played an amplified viola on stage, and second, John Tenney (who should know) said it was an electric violin rather than viola.

  15. Another possible name to consider would be Doug Sahm. We think of Sir Doug as a guitarist, but he played electric violin often enough. In any case, he very likely owned one.

    Doug was definitely a friend of the band, and a good enough musician to be invited on to the stage with the Dead.

    1. Doug Sahm! He'd be a fine candidate; unfortunately it's confirmed that he played at the Atlantic City Pop Festival on Aug 3, 1969. The odds that he hopped right on a plane to play fiddle with the Dead at the Family Dog that night are pretty slim.

      Freiberg's a long fact I'm not sure if he's ever played violin onstage since high school!

  16. How about Ed Bogus (aka Bogas)? Although mainly an arranger later on (he arranged the strings for Weir's Ace and the Rowans) he did play violin, including with Garcia on Lamb's Cross Between. He was involved with Clover, Country Joe and Jack Bonus and had fiddled with the Liberty Hill Aristocrats so moved in the right circles. I have no idea if his sound fits the playing on this show.

    1. Ed Bogas is a very intriguing choice. I'm not aware of him playing electric violin live, but he very much fits the profile.

  17. Don "Sugarcane" Harris? He was an electric violinist who played with John Mayall after he moved to SO CAL. Might be a possibility?

    1. Sugarcane is a plausible choice, too. I get into that subject at much greater length in the new installment

  18. I saw Charles Lloyd in early 1968, and the flute player on the Seattle show does NOT sound like him. I liked his show so much I blogged about it 50 years later!

  19. Forgive me if this was mentioned above and I missed it:
    I wish I could remember where I read this, but Phil once credited Charles Lloyd's album Dream Weaver as influencing the early Dead's approach to improvising. I wouldn't call the influence obvious, but it's cool to know. And I know that was just one of many influences.
    Also, it's a rough view at points, but there's a 1978 Beach Boys show on YouTube, from an Australian TV broadcast, which was the period that Charles Lloyd was in the touring band. He gets a couple long solos (the "All This is That" is like 9 minutes) but his stage presence--and, for me, all the squeaking-- is annoying as hell. He and Mike Love were meditation buddies, so one assumes he's high on Maharishi. He's jumping and dancing around like a maniac, while soloing. Otherwise that show is infamous because Carl Wilson is messed up and, normally the one normal Wilson brother, he just doesn't give a fuck. The story is that Dennis scored some heroin and gave each of his brothers a taste. Dennis and Brian were fine. The next day (this is also on YouTube), the Beach Boys management made Carl issue a public apology to the Australian press, at which he said the culprit was that he had a mai tai before the show and forgot that he'd earlier taken a valium. At least it was kind of approaching the truth? Anyway, on my podcast (which I hardly do these days) I'm focusing on the Dead/Beach Boys summit on 4-27-71 and doing a whole preamble about the partisan nature of the staunchest fans of each band and bring to light (with musical clips) where the sounds are compatible. Anyway the Charles Lloyd connection is part of it and I credit this blog for your research on the 1974 Day on the Green show (and the roadie setting the record straight!). I hope to have the podcast up by the end of the month.

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  21. Charles Lloyd was interviewed in yesterday's Guardian and touched on the Dead a couple of times including some lost recordings. It's a shame the interviewer doesn't get any details.

    “Around ’68 things started getting bad: my marriage and the tragic magic.” What, I ask, is the tragic magic? “Some powder that you take in you. You do things with it. And you don’t have any problems, you just need to get your tragic magic each day. I’d go play with the Grateful Dead and they’d put Peru on the table, you know, a big mountain of coke and stuff … When you’re medicating yourself like that, you’re in another zone. At first it was stimulating but, after a while, it was impeding the creative. I decided I better leave New York because I saw many of my peers dying and dropping off. I came to California to heal myself. And that’s what I did.”

    He mentions lost recordings with the Dead and plans to record with Jimi Hendrix that were thwarted by his death; he also wanted to record with the Byrds, but his label refused to sanction the collaboration. “They said no, it’s not going to happen – they were still doing racial polarities.”