Thursday, December 3, 2009

November 1 or 2, 1970, Lion's Share, San Anselmo Grateful Dead (Janis Joplin's Wake)

(Update: a Commenter has shown that the Janis wake was on Monday, October 26, 1970. The general thrust of this post is true, but I now think that Jerry Garcia flew back after the St. Louis show on October 24 and then again the next week. See below for further details)

The Grateful Dead toured the East Coast extensively in October and November 1970. From October 10 through 31, playing mostly weekends, they criscrossed the East and Midwest, going from Queens (Oct 10) to St. Louis, MO (Oct 24) and back to Long Island for some famous shows at Stony Brook on October 30 and 31. The tour picked up again the next Thursday (Nov 5) for an epic stand at Port Chester, followed by extensive touring up and down the Eastern seaboard throughout November. An alert researcher, however, pointed out that not only are there PERRO tapes from San Francisco with Jerry Garcia dated November 3 and 4, there is evidence of a booked New Riders gig in San Francisco on Halloween weekend. This begs the question: why would Jerry race home that quickly for a tiny gig, knowing he was going to return to the East Coast just 5 days later?

A November 3 AP Wire story, published in many newspapers, gives the answer. Janis Joplin, who had died October 4, had left instructions in her will to throw a giant party for all her friends. The AP story says
'Pearl' Pays For All-Night Party
San Anselmo, CA (AP)
The invitations read "The drinks are on Pearl," and an estimated 200 persons participated in an all-night party paid for by the late Janis Joplin, known to her closest friends as Pearl.

Lyndall Earb, onetime roommate of the 27-year-old rock-blues singer, who died of a drug overdose in Hollywood two weeks ago, said Miss Joplin left $2,500 in her will "so my friends can have a ball after I'm gone."

The scene, Miss Earb said, was The Lions Share, a night spot in San Anselmo. The Grateful Dead and other rock music groups entertained. The tab was estimated at $1,600.

The article appears in a variety of newspapers on November 3 (I used a clipping from the Appleton, WI Post-Crescent from November 7 because it was easier to read). The party could have been no later than Monday November 2, and if it was an all-night party it could not have appeared in newspapers on the 3rd, so that points to an event on Sunday, November 1, extending well into the early morning of Monday Nov 2. Monday is typically the working musician's weekend, so Sunday night is a good time for an all-night bash.

A number of timeline threads fall into place:
  • The Dead and New Riders flew home from Stony Brook on Halloween ASAP, because they were going to Janis's wake. They would have known about it some time before, and planned their getaway. Whatever the exact story of the New Riders gig in San Francisco on November 1, it could have fit in with the all-nighter at the Lions Share. 
  • A Benefit show at Harding Theater in San Francisco on November 2, with Jerry Garcia and Friends, Big Brother, Cleveland Wrecking Company, Ice and Kwane and The Kwan-ditos, whether or not it occurred, now falls into the realm of the plausible
  • I am hardly an expert on the PERRO sessions, but it seems the all-star sessions around November 2-3-4 were almost an after party for Janis's wake. At the very least, it explains why all those musicians were in town the same night.

The Lions Share was a tiny club at 60 Red Hill in San Anselmo. It was mainly a musicians hangout. Throughout much of 1970, the house band had been called Nu Boogaloo Express, featuring Mike Finnegan or Bill Champlin alternating on keyboards and vocals, and other local players like Danny Nudalman (guitar) Dave Schallock (bass or guitar) and Bill Vitt (drums), but I do not know if they were still featured there. Local residents like Phil Lesh or Van Morrison regularly hung out or played there.

I doubt the Dead played a formal show, and they wouldn't have had their equipment, but the jams must have been pretty interesting. Of course, no one who was there probably remembers a thing, and the one guy who could have been counted on to tape the proceedings, Augustus Owsley Stanley III, was not available due to a prior booking (at the Terminal Island Correctional Facility in San Pedro).

Update: an intrepid researcher has found a copy of the actual invitation, which puts the Janis Joplin wake definitively on Monday, October 26.  The general thrust is still true here, in that the Grateful Dead flew home for the wake, but they did it between St. Louis and Stony Brook, thus answering the question of their activities during that time. It still appears that Garcia, at least, flew back to San Francisco between the Stony Brook and Port Chester shows, based on the dating of the PERRO sessions and the likely performance at the Harding.


  1. As a note, Lyndall Erb was: (a) at one time a girlfriend of Joe McDonald, (b) a shirt design/maker for Joe and I think janis Joplin, (c) one of the prime movers behind the Intergalactic Fish Fan Club who also published "The Fish Rapper":

  2. I have seen this AP story before. Yes, it does fit well with (and even goes so far as to explain) the return from the east coast b/w Stony Brook and Port Chester.

    What is the canceled 11/1 Harding gig to which you refer?

  3. I just looked at the Jerry Site, and it was the same 11/2 show with Big Brother. Quoting the Jerry Site quoting the Barb, it says

    Billed as "Benefit Rock Concert at the Harding Theater (616 Divisidero). Jerry Garcia and Friends, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Clevelend Wrecking Company, Ice Kwan and the Kwandoes. For the Learning Place a non-structured school for 11-15 year olds". Listing from newspaper advertisement. The Dead were on tour in the Northeast at this time and it's unlikely Garcia returned to San Francisco for this show.

    I don't know whether the Harding show happened, or if Jerry played, but I'll change my post to be more accurate.

  4. Right. I think that conjecture --that JG wouldn't have come home between Stony Brook and Port Chester-- is just that, a conjecture, and I think it's coming into serious question with the evidence that is amassing.

  5. Ha! You know about this one too. It was Monday October 26th if thise info iscorrect:

    Image of invitation:

    The building:

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Also, the famous group shots of the Dead and the NRPS (dated 70-11-xx) must have been taken on this occasion - either the short trip home for 70-10-26 or perhaps there was still another one between 10-31 and 11-05.

  8. The GD/NRPS photos mentioned above were probably taken in September 1970 during the AMERICAN BEAUTY sessions. They were used to promote the LP in different rock magazines such as Rolling Stone.
    11-xx-70 was the date the record was released.

  9. I found a Herb Caen article with a little more detail:
    “The drinks are on Pearl!” read the invitations to her friends, and they all turned out for the big party one night at Mike Considine’s Lion’s Share in San Anselmo. It began at 8:30 p.m. and it went rollicking on till 6:30 a.m… The music was sensational: Big Brother and the Holding Company, with members of the Airplane, Dead, and Quicksilver joining in. The tab for food and drinks added up to about $1600 but there was no sweat. Pearl’s budget for the party was $2500… The only sad note was that the hostess wasn’t there. A couple of weeks earlier she had been found dead in a Hollywood motel room – but in her will she had left $2500 “so my friends can have a ball after I’m gone.”
    (from "Herb Caen - San Francisco," the Honolulu Advertiser, 11/4/70)

    Most of this is also in the AP report, but Caen specifies the times and the bands. Sounds like more of a Big Brother show, but with "members" of the Dead and other bands joining in.