Monday, December 14, 2009

"Lucky Strike"=Jerry Garcia--Not

I had a delicious theory, namely that whenever the Keystone Berkeley advertised the band Lucky Strike it was code for Jerry Garcia. My evidence was that Lucky Strike was advertised both for New Year's Eve 1974 and 1975, and both times Jerry Garcia was in fact the featured the performer. I found another show as well (May 13, 1975) that appeared to fit the profile.

An awesome theory, but apparently not the case. A loyal Commenter gives me the sad but accurate news
Hate to ruin a good theory, but unless Kathie Staska and George Mangrum were *really* into promoting the ruse, it doesn't seem like it holds up. Check out the "Rock Talk from KG" column in, e.g., the Fremont Argus from 1/24/75.

"Lucky Strike is the best East Bay band that is not yet on a record label. A very easy band to get behind. They are a very together clear sounding group of six young men that play danceable rock. When they play clubs in your area Lucky Strike is a must to see and hear. They play their own material and it is excellent."

I have been poking around this and the theory really *almost* works. There are many "Lucky Strike" dates that could plausibly be Garcia dates. There are many that couldn't (e.g., November 8, 1974), but maybe Merl and Martin and them would just jam without Jerry. But the above --and evidence that Lucky Strike played other venues, including Winterland-- seems pretty cut-and-dried.

Despite my brief (36 hour) elation that I had cracked a secret Keystone code, I'd rather be right. Still, I will say in my (rather self-serving) defense that Lucky Strike must have had some connection to Keystone management, since getting pre-empted for big shows by a local headliner more than once isn't likely to be a coincidence.

Its a good lesson though--I had heard from many people that Jerry was a Camel guy, and I didn't pay attention.


  1. Amen to the tone and substance! It's a blog. Fun to try on possibilities. If not here, where? And, having gone through 1974's listings for Lucky Strike, it really does almost work. There are very few dates (of the many on which Lucky Strike is billed) where Jerry was demonstrably elsewhere, and the majority seem like plausible dates for a stealth Garcia performance in Berkeley.

    I have one more arrow in my quiver in re learning more about this, because you are right that there seems to be a connection of some kind.

    Who ran the Longbranch? That's the only other venue that was listed more than once, I think. I also found listings for the Orphanage and Winterland (the latter opening for Moby Grape).

  2. Lucky Strike's managers must have been willing for them to be pre-empted, which leads me to think that they were connected to Keystone management (Freddie Herrera, Bobby Corona Sr and Jr).

    I'm also thinking that Lucky Strike may have been a placeholder when Garcia--or someone--was planning to show up, but couldn't guarantee it because of potential conflicts. Santana played at least one date at Keystone Berkeley in 1972, I'll have to look at how its billed, and Van Morrison was known to drop by.

  3. As far as I know (your joking aside), Jerry was a Pall Mall man

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