What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia dates, including The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, from July and August 1969. I am focused on which performances occurred when, rather than the performances themselves. For known performances, I have assumed that they are easy to assess on Deadlists, The Archive and elsewhere. As a point of comparison, I am comparing my list to Deadlists and The Jerry Site (for Garcia dates), but I realize that different databases may include or exclude different dates (I am not considering recording dates, interviews or Television or radio broadcast dates in this context).
My working assumption is that the Grateful Dead, while already a legendary rock band in 1969, were living hand to mouth and scrambling to find paying gigs. Even by 1969, most paying performances were on Friday and Saturday nights, and I am particularly interested in Friday and Saturday nights where no Grateful Dead performances were scheduled or known. I have linked to existing posters where available.
July 3, 1969 Reeds Ranch, Colorado Springs, CO Grateful Dead/Alice Cooper/Zephyr/others
Many fledlging promoters tried to put on rock festivals in the Summer of 1969, the most famous of which was of course Woodstock. But there were numerous other such events around the country. Colorado Springs is in a flatter, less freewheeling part of Colorado than the Denver/Boulder area. The Grateful Dead, always intrepid, headlined over a variety of local bands and one other California band, a strangely unpopular Los Angeles group that had been signed by Frank Zappa.
Amongst the many regional acts on the bill were Zephyr, the best and best known band on the Boulder scene, featuring the great Tommy Bolin on guitar.
July 4-5, 1969 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL Grateful Dead/Buddy Miles Express
The Kinetic Playground, at 4812 N. Clark St, had originally been called the Electric Theater, but had to change its name due to a lawsuit from a similarly named New York City establishment (The Electric Circus).
July 7, 1969 Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA Grateful Dead/Chicago Transit Authority/Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Allman Brothers Band
The Grateful Dead played a Monday afternoon free concert at an outdoor park in Atlanta. I have to assume that this was primarily for publicity purposes, since the Dead had no real following in the Southeast. This event was put on by the promoters of the Atlanta Pop Festival (h/t sawgrassbooks for the link). One thing I find curious is not that the Dead played for free, as that was part of their "business model," to the extent they had one; the odd part is that they had to fly to Atlanta to do it, at a time when money was tight. I see a few possibilities:
- Warner Bros helped pay for the band to go to Atlanta, or
- The promoters of the Atlanta Pop Festival (held July 3-4-5) footed the bill, or
- The Dead played Atlanta or somewhere in the Southeast on Sunday July 6
July 8, 1969 The Rock Pile, Toronto, ON Grateful Dead
The Rock Pile was Toronto's version of The Fillmore, although I don't think it was a large venue. I do not know if Mel Slirrup hosted the show.
July 10, 1969 Evergreen Estate, Norwalk, CT The Grateful Dead
This show is listed on Dead.net as a Hells Angels Party. I have no idea if the event actually occurred, but I fervently hope it did. The Evergreen Estate (now Cranbury Park) was the grounds of a large mansion that had been taken over by the City of Norwalk in 1965. While the odds today on an outdoor concert by the Grateful Dead, sponsored by the Hells Angels, anywhere near the city of Norwalk border on zero, it might just have been possible in 1969.
July 10 would have been a Thursday, between a Tuesday show in Toronto and a weekend stand in Queens. A tape circulates with this date, but apparently it is just a pastiche of other shows. However, paradoxically I find this date so unlikely that I am actually inclined to believe it. Anyone with any further proof or even hints of this show is encouraged to put them in the Comments. [not on Deadlists]
July 11-12, 1969 New York State Pavilion, Flushing Meadows Park, Queens Grateful Dead/Joe Cocker And The Grease Band/Tribe
The Dead played two big days outdoors at the site of the 1964 World's Fair, near Shea Stadium and LaGuardia Airport. Joe Cocker and The Grease Band were on their first American tour.
July 16, 1969 Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Ice
This show was a Wednesday night Hells Angels Party, also a sort of wake for an apparently deceased Angel. There was a poster, and the public was welcome, although I suspect that attending a Hells Angels wake was not for the faint. Its not surprising that I'm not aware of a review or a tape.
Cleveland Wrecking Company was a jazz-rock band who were popular on the local dance circuit. They played original music, but never recorded. Ice was a local band associated with Quicksilver Messenger Service manager Ron Polte.
The most interesting fact about this show was the report from Blair Jackson (in outtakes from his fine Garcia biography) that this show featured the debut of The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, although they were not yet known by that name. Apparently, according to the late John Dawson, their set was marred by equipment problems with Bear's sound system.
There are no Grateful Dead performances on the weekends of either July 18-19 or July 25-26. The Dead were not recording to my knowledge, but I have no accounts of their activities during this time. Dennis McNally does mention (p. 322) that the band went to Garcia's house on Sunday July 20 to watch the moon landing (only Jerry had a TV), so we know they were in town that day, but otherwise these two weeks are a mystery.
August 1, 1969 Bear's Lair, UC Berkeley Jerry Garcia, Marmaduke and Friends
This show was billed as "Jerry Garcia, Marmaduke and Friends," the name the band used before Hunter coined the name New Riders Of The Purple Sage. The group played at The Bear's Lair, a coffee shop in the basement of the Student Union building on Bancroft (Pauley Ballroom was two floors above it). This was supposedly the only show where Bob Matthews played bass with the Riders. The subject of the New Riders 1969 bass player is worthy of a post in itself, but according to Robert Hunter, both Hunter and Matthews rehearsed as bassist, but Phil Lesh played all the gigs.
More interesting to me is the booking of the date itself. A look at the poster (below) for the weekend's shows at The Family Dog At The Great Highway lists the Dead playing on August 1, 2 and 3 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). There was a labor dispute going on in San Francisco at the time, involving light shows trying to unionize, and there were plans to picket the Family Dog. Dennis McNally describes the Friday, August 1 confrontation in some detail (p.324), with an unhappy Garcia feeling put upon but still unwilling to cross a picket line.
Eventually the dust settled, and peace of some kind was made, but Garcia had left the scene. There was a show of some kind at the Family Dog on this night, and some Dead members (apparently Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann) participated in some kind of jam, but Garcia was long gone and all in all it was a strange night for the San Francisco scene.
How then, does this jibe with the scheduled show at The Bear's Lair? The show was advertised, so that date is not in dispute, and John Dawson mentioned it as the Riders first "real" show, so it happened. But when? Did Garcia book another date, planning to bail on the Family Dog event no matter what? There is something very hard to reconcile about these dates. The only way the narrative makes sense is if Garcia planned to avoid confrontation all along and simply booked another gig.
August 2-3, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Ballet Afro-Haiti/Albert Collins
On August 3, the Dead were joined by a a flautist, a tenor saxophonist and an electric violinist. I have suggested that Charles Lloyd was the flute player, also probably the tenor player--unless it was John Handy--and Michael White the violinist.
August ? 1969 Lion's Share, San Anselmo New Riders Of The Purple Sage
The Lions Share was a tiny club in San Anselmo that mainly catered to local musicians (at 60 Red Hill Drive), and it had just opened. It has recently come to light that the New Riders were one of the first performers at the club, and it was one of their first performances as well. Research continues on this matter, and I will put in a link when more details get locked down. [not on TheJerrySite]
August 6-9, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage
A New Riders tape from the Matrix dated August 7, 1969 has circulated for many years. I recently confirmed that these were the first gigs under the name New Riders of The Purple Sage. They definitely played two nights (Wednesday Aug 6 and Thursday Aug 7), and I think they played Friday and Saturday also.
The band was billed in the SF Chronicle as The New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart. Although Phil Lesh actually performed with the group, he seems not to have been considered a regular member. [not on TheJerrySite]
August 13, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Lost City Ramblers/New Riders of The Purple Sage "Hoe Down"
This hitherto unknown show was mentioned in the Berkeley Tribe newspaper (August 22-29). [not on TheJerrySite]
update: it appears that old South Bay pal Pete Grant sat in with the New Riders on banjo for a few numbers. Not surprisingly, Garcia and Nelson were very excited to play on the same bill with the New Lost City Ramblers, and at the end of the show members of both bands played a few tunes together.
August 16, 1969 Max Yasgur's Farm, Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, Bethel, NY
The Grateful Dead played a miserable set under difficult circumstances at Woodstock. There is little to add to all that has been written about the festival, so I will only wonder how stoned must the band have been in order to need Country Joe McDonald--not exactly an advertisement for being straight himself--to come on stage during the Dead's set and warn people about the brown acid.
August 19, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Dennis McNally listed this date without comment on his initial list of Garcia performances. My reaction for many years was that a Tuesday night Riders show between Woodstock and Seattle made no sense at all, and dismissed it. I have since re-thought my views.
The New Riders of The Purple Sage were about to embark on a brief Northwestern tour with the Dead, trying out their idea of bringing an opening act (with its attendant fee) while only bringing two extra people (John Dawson and David Nelson). Given the problems the Riders had at Longshoreman's Hall, I would not be surprised if this was a rehearsal on the Dead's equipment, in anticipation of the Seattle show. I assume the event would have been open to the public--why not sell a few tickets?--but there wouldn't have been much publicity.
My theory, while interesting, falls into the category of "not proven." [not on TheJerrySite]
Update: Jerry Garcia was definitely at a meeting at the Dog on August 19, as it was mentioned in the Berkeley Tribe, but there's no evidence he actually played.
August 20, 1969 El Roach Tavern, Ballard, WA Grateful Dead
The Dead, The New Riders of The Purple Sage and a group called Sanpaku were scheduled to play an outdoor venue in Seattle. They got rained out, so the Dead played a scary biker bar in Seattle called El Roach. I have written about this at length.[not on Deadlists]
August 21, 1969 Aqua Theatre, Seattle, WA Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Sanpaku
After the rainout, the Dead and their support acts came back and played Seattle's Aquatheatre, joined by Sanpaku flautist Gary Larkey. This was the last performance at the unique outdoor venue, and I have written about it as well.
On Friday, August 22, the Grateful Dead were scheduled to play the Wild West Festival at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. However, the event was canceled the week before, so I assume the Dead stayed in the Pacific Northwest.
August 23, 1969 Bullfrog 2 Festival, Pelletier Farm, St Helens, OR Grateful Dead/Taj Mahal/Portland Zoo/Sabatic Goat/River/Sand/Notary Sojac/Searchin Soul/The Weeds/New Colony/Chapter Five/Trilogy/Bill Feldman/Don Ross/Mixed Blood/Ron Bruce
The Grateful Dead headlined a rock festival in Oregon. This festival was originally scheduled for the Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens, Oregon, about 30 miles North of Portland, but a local judge voided the promoters contract. The festival was moved to private property nearby.
The festival ran three days (August 21-22-23). I assume Taj Mahal headlined Friday night (Aug 22) and the Dead headlined Saturday. The rest of the groups were Oregon bands. An eyewitness once reported (in a letter to an Oregon newspaper) that the New Riders (and Country Joe) played the show also, and I find that plausible since we know that Nelson, Dawson and their equipment were with the band.
August 24, 1969 Paradise Valley Resort, Squamish, BC Grateful Dead
This was the Vancouver Pop Festival, at a Resort about 40 miles North of Vancouver, BC. Dozens of name acts were listed on the poster, but its unclear which bands played on the same day as the Dead. In any case, the Festival definitely happened, albeit in the jumbled messy way of 1969 rock festivals, although I know nothing of the Dead's performance, or if they truly made it to the stage.
August 28, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway Mickey And The Hartbeats
Chet Helms had opened his Family Dog at The Great Highway operation (at 660 Great Highway) to great fanfare in June. Helms was a clever promoter, but a poor financial manager, and despite financial support from Bill Graham (of all people), the Family Dog was in dire financial straits by August, not least because of the bizarre debacle involving light shows (see August 1).The Dead had close ties to Helms, however, and in particular the Dead's manager Lenny Hart seemed to be closely connected as well, perhaps accounting for this run of peculiar shows.
This show is only known from a cassette master, labeled by Bear with the date and the word "Hartbeats." The tape features Garcia, Lesh, Hart, Kreutzmann and Howard Wales on organ. Wales was the organist for a group called AB Skhy, who had relocated to San Francisco from Milwaukee the previous Summer. Wales was a unique player, and Garcia would begin jamming with him regularly at The Matrix in early 1970, and later play with Wales on his Hooteroll? album. I believe this is the first known performance of Garcia and Wales together.
Nothing else is known of this show--I do not know of any publicity or flyer, so I have no idea if other acts played, possibly including the Dead or New Riders. I suspect this was sort of a public jam, of the sort of thing Garcia had tried various times at The Carousel (in May and June 68) and The Matrix (in October 68 and various later times into 1971). The existence of this tape is one of the reasons I am inclined to find the August 19 New Riders date (above) plausible.
Update: there is good reason to think that this show was indeed a public jam, held in the afternoon. An unknown flautist sat in as well.
August 29-30, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway Grateful Dead/Commander Cody/New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Rubber Duck Company
The Grateful Dead headlined two shows at The Family Dog, and tapes survive. The New Riders of The Purple Sage were listed on the poster, the first confirmed time that name appeared on a poster in San Francisco (we do not know how or if some of the earlier shows were advertised, if at all).
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were recently arrived from Ann Arbor, MI. These shows would have been among their earliest gigs in the Bay Area. The Rubber Duck Company were a rock group that backed a mime. The band, whose membership probably fluctuated mostly featured Berkeley musicians. Grateful Dead organist Tom Constanten would end up joining the group the next year, when they would change their name to Touchstone (update: a Commenter says that Phoenix replaces Rubber Duck at least one night, and probably both)
September 1, 1969 New Orleans Pop Festival, Baton Rouge Speedway, Prairieville, LA
The New Orleans Pop Festival was held at a tiny racetrack outside of Baton Rouge. It was a two day Festival and the Dead appear to have played on the last day. Numerous major acts performed to a crowd of about 50,000, which apparently included 116 undercover cops looking to arrest people for drugs.
The ad (right) is from the Panama City, FL News, from August 22, 1969. Note that the band name is "Greatful Dead."
The open dates of interest in this time period are
Sunday July 6 [Atlanta or the Southeast]
Friday, July 18
Saturday, July 19
Friday, July 25
Saturday, July 26
I do not expect that all of these dates have undiscovered shows, but I'll bet some of them do. It is also possible that some very low key New Riders of The Purple Sage gigs (under various names) occurred during this time at well, most likely on weeknights.
Anybody with corrections, insights or suggestions please Comment.