Thursday, May 6, 2010

August 14-15, 1971 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA--Ned Lagin

(An ad for upcoming shows at the Berkeley Community Theater from August and September 1971)

Back before Deadbase and the Internet, one of the few ways to learn about Grateful Dead historical events was chatting up strangers between sets at shows. While I heard many tall tales, I also heard many things that turned out to be true, and at times it gave me a clue to know what I was looking for when more sophisticated research became possible. I particularly recall chatting with someone in the lobby of Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael in 1983 or '84. He told me about seeing the Grateful Dead at Berkeley Community Theater in August 1971, and seeing a piano player sit in for most of the show. He concluded by saying "the next year, I realized it was Keith Godchaux." He was very clear eyed and convincing eyewitness, not one of those people who told stories like "my brother said he saw Jerry jamming with Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd at a bar on 46th Street!"

I pursued this for a few years, but I largely reached a Dead end. As the whole story of the Godchauxs became clearer by the mid-80s, it became plain that the mystery piano player wasn't Keith. A knowledgeable person suggested that it very well might have been Vince Guaraldi, a San Francisco jazz pianist whose wife worked in the Grateful Dead office in the early 1970s, and I cherished this theory for a while. Then I was left stumped when I finally heard some tapes, and I couldn't hear any piano. Was my informant deluded? I had talked to plenty of goofy stoners, and he didn't seem to be one of them.

Ultimately, a David Gans interview broadcast on KPFA (on February 3, 2001) solved the mystery. It had been long-time Dead associate Ned Lagin on electric piano at Berkeley. Gans's interview revealed that not only had Lagin sat in with the Dead numerous times in the early 1970s, he was never plugged into the PA, so while his piano was audible to the musicians and the audience, it was not present on any soundboard tapes. I do not know enough about gear and recording to say whether this was a typical configuration or a specific choice by Lagin, but it means that a number of Grateful Dead performances need to be viewed in a different light. This post will attempt to document which shows might need reconsideration, although more focused ears than mine will need to provide the analysis (you know who you are).

Ned Lagin
Ned Lagin was a trained jazz musician raised in New York City. While going to college at MIT, training to be a biologist, he attended a Grateful Dead concert (probably at either The Ark or Boston Tea Party, which were actually the same place) and was duly impressed. He wrote a letter to Jerry Garcia, as had so many others. Unlike the rest of us, however, when the Dead came to MIT in May, 1970 the Dead were looking for him and so Jerry, Phil, Pigpen and Mickey spent an afternoon hanging out in Lagin's dorm room prior to the concert (the dream of all college-age Deadheads from 1967 to 1995, but I digress).

As a result of his MIT meeting, Lagin was invited out to San Francisco, and that Summer he played on American Beauty. Ned Lagin is best known today for his Seastones project with Phil Lesh, a unique electronic music experiment. There were two local concerts that I am aware of (Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco November 28, 1973 and Dominican College, San Rafael June 6, 1975), both of which featured Jerry Garcia and others as special guests. From June 1974 onwards, Lesh and Lagin would appear between sets at Grateful Dead concerts, playing their unique brand of music on the "Wall Of Sound," sometimes joined by other members of the Dead. On occasion, Lagin would remain on stage playing electric piano as the band morphed from electronic music to regular Dead material. To my knowledge, Lagin's playing was not recorded on the circulating board tapes (although I will defer to experts as to whether that was always true).

Gans's 2001 interview was wrapped around a broadcast of a studio recording from Ned Lagin's birthday party on March 17, 1975, featuring Lagin, Garcia, David Crosby, Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, jamming on the chord changes to some David Crosby tunes. This tape had circulated in various forms, but this was far and away the best version. Lagin had been making his living via means other than music (he was an MIT trained biologist, after all), and he had been largely invisible musically since 1975. Gans's interview, however, revealed that Lagin had played at considerably more Grateful Dead concerts than had been realized, and I will attempt to document those appearances here.

Sargent Gym, Boston U, Boston, MA November 21, 1970
Lagin (via Gans):
The first time I performed with the Grateful Dead, was at Boston University in 1970. That is true, I can’t be heard and that is because while I was heard onstage and in the immediate present, I was not plugged into the P.A.

That was a concert that was in a gymnasium at Boston University, and there had been counterfeit tickets sold. So before the concert started, as they just started letting people in, it was realized that there were more people than there was room in the hall, and a short riot ensued, where the band was trapped onstage and people were basically running amok. And, in fact, the Boston Tactical Squad – the riot squad – was called out to straighten things out.
Presumably Lagin was playing a Fender Rhodes electric piano, itself probably a first for the Dead. Since there is only a brief (21 minute) soundboard and no audience tape, Lagin's performance at this show remains a mystery.

Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA April 7-8, 1971
There were several other times where the same thing is true – that I can be minimally heard or not heard ‘cause I wasn’t plugged into the P.A. The times that the band returned to Boston in ’71, I played or sat in at the Music Hall.
Spectacular Betty boards exist of these shows. Was Ned Lagin on stage playing Fender Rhodes electric piano for some of it? April 8, 1971 has a particularly spacy second set beginning with Dark Star. Was the band responding to an added yet unheard to us musical voice?

The Dead returned to the Boston Music Hall on December 1 and 2, 1971, and its possible that Ned Lagin made an appearance. In the Gans interview, however, he says "this was in the period of time when T.C. had left the band and it was before Keith had joined the band," so it seems less likely. Nonetheless, the second set of December 1, 1971 begins with "spacey jam"--a Lagin marker, perhaps?

Berkeley Community Theater, August 14-15, 1971
When I came out in ’70, ’71, and ’72 – ’71 in particular at the Berkeley Community Theater – I’m also playing.
Gans and Lagin have resolved my Berkeley Community Theater mystery, and my original interviewer did not have a brain fade, even if the piano player did not turn out to be Keith Godchaux.  However, this does put the tapes in a different light. Based on my eyewitness and general comments from Lagin, Ned's contributions were focused on numbers with a heavy improvisational component, like "The Other One" or "Dark Star". Some of the most interesting jamming on these two nights may in fact be only a partial document of what was heard in the crowd, but without an audience tape its impossible to say.

Lagin's remark about coming to the Bay Area and playing in 70, 71 and 72 suggests that he made intermittent appearances at various concerts at Fillmore West and Winterland as well, presumably even with Keith on stage.

Ned Lagin Playing Organ with The Grateful Dead: Speculative Dates
I had an interesting and close relationship with Pigpen, which has never really much been talked about. Pigpen has this aura of the blues musician and the Hell’s Angel relationships. But he was a very, very interesting and interested person. And as I said, when we were hanging out at MIT Pigpen was there hanging out. He thought I was like the Mr. Wizard science kid. But he read a lot and knew a lot, and we hung out together. And he – like at Berkeley Community Theater and at Portchester and other places – if I was standing next to him on the organ and they were gonna go into “The Other One,” or “The Eleven,” or some of the other larger, longer jams, he would have me sit down at the organ or he’d push me into the organ. A lot of times I was in the shadows. 
This quote offers some tantalizing evidence, and further mysteries. It appears that Lagin may not have been very visible at all from the audience, even when playing piano. More interestingly, it seems that Pigpen would invite Lagin to play organ on some of the more improvisational numbers. This means that Lagin may be quite audible, as Pigpen's organ was not separated from whatever feed went to the soundboard.

I have a laser-like focus for buildings, addresses and calendars, which is why my blogs focus on them. I find great music so powerful, however, that whenever I listen I am transported. As a result, I am America's worst comparer of tapes, since I get carried away and can never remember what I was listening for. Thus, I can only wonder if anyone else has noticed some exceptional organ playing on some of the big jams at the following shows, which might indicate an audible Ned Lagin performance.
  • November 21, 1970 Sargent Gym, Boston U, Boston, MA
  • February 18-24, 1971 Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY
  • March 3, 1971 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
  • March 24, 1971 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
  • April 7-8, 1971 Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA
  • May 29-30, 1971 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
  • August 14-15, 1971 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA
  • December 1-2, 1971 Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA
  • December 31, 1971 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
  • March 5, 1972 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
Unlike the other dates, where we have to wait in vain for audience tapes to surface, many of the shows listed above do have circulating board tapes, and a good listener might find persuasive evidence that Ned Lagin was playing organ instead of Pigpen at certain times.


  1. You know, I've been meaning to listen to those Aug 14 & 15 shows again to see if I can hear any traces of Ned....these important missions keep getting put off, though!

    Of course, I've talked a bit about Ned's contributions here:

    On 2-18-71 he is fairly audible on clavichord, during Dark Star, Wharf Rat, and Candyman. (Candyman was also the track he played on in American Beauty.)
    In his excellent interview in the book Conversations with the Dead, where he provides an amazingly full & detailed history of his meetings with the Dead, he points out that he did not sit in during the rest of that Capitol Theater run, since the rest of the band was adjusting to Mickey Hart's departure.

    On 4-8-71 he is faintly audible on electric piano during Dark Star. (I should mention, the board is not really "spectacular" as it has a spectacular hum that muffles some of the music, and I never even heard Ned here until I listened to a 'remastered' stream.)

    You'd think he might show up at the Boston shows that December... There is an audience recording of the 12-1 show, but the set seems standard and I didn't notice a trace of Ned; and he's very unlikely to be anywhere in the 12-2 show.

    Those Berkeley '71 shows, it's possible a sharp ear might pick up something... They played the Other One on both nights; the one on the 14th is exceptional.

    I'm not sure if Ned's attested at any Winterland shows at all. I was also intrigued by his comment about Pigpen pushing him onto the organ (for sure he never played on an "Eleven", though!) - but which shows could those be?
    There are (terrible) audience recordings of the May 29 & 30 Winterland shows - the SBD of 5-30 reveals no Ned, and I'm pretty dubious about a possible presence on 5-29.

    Many of the 1974 Seastones performances are available on board tapes (including the four times in Sept/Oct when the rest of the band joined in) - I'm pretty sure Ned is quite audible on these occasions, though now you're making me doubt my memory!
    (Ironically, when official releases were compiled from these Sept & Oct shows, two of the shows where Ned played throughout the second set were not picked for release, perhaps being considered just "too spacy"!)
    But some of the Seastones performances from '74 are audience-tape only (missing from the boards), or don't circulate at all. It's unclear why.

    I'm not sure Ned had any aversion to being recorded...the Dead's recordings were solely for their own listening, with (at the time) no possibility of release. If anything, if Ned was aware of the tapes rolling, you'd think he might want to be audible on them.
    His decision (before '74) to stay in the background & not plugged into the PA when he was on electric piano - wouldn't that make him harder to hear from the audience as well? He may have been playing more for the others onstage than for the audience...

  2. From Conversations with the Dead (part one) -

    11-21-70: "When the Dead came to Boston in November, Jerry said, 'Hi, you can play with us tonight' - my first Grateful Dead gig completely from beginning to end, with a Wurlitzer I'd borrowed - a small electric piano. Ram Rod set me up with Jerry's extra guitar amp, and the PA was minimal - there wasn't an input for me - so I wouldn't be as loud as everyone else. We were playing at DuPont Gymnasium, so I had no problem being heard... Everybody in the band listened very carefully, because we had never rehearsed together - only played individually, and in small groups jamming that summer [in the studio]."

    Then he makes a very interesting comment - that it was during the November '70 Port Chester shows, "if I was standing next to Pigpen and they were going to go into the Other One or Dark Star, he would point to the keyboard and say, 'Sit down.'"
    Now, he was talking to David Gans, and had a Taping Compendium at hand, so he should've known very well that the Port Chester run was two weeks before the Boston show. So his memory seems off here - but it's possible that on those famed Capitol Theater tapes, some of Ned's organ playing is quietly enshrined.

    2-18-71: "The first night at Port Chester, I used the clavichord as well as the Farfisa portable organ onstage when I sat in on the Dark Star sequence and a few songs after. I did not sit in after the first night because everyone was adjusting to Mickey's departure from the band."

    4-8-71: "The next show I sat in on was at the Boston Music Hall in April - I did the Dark Star, St Stephen, and part of Not Fade Away."

    8-71: "I sat in two nights at the Berkeley Community Theater... On the first night, when the band got to the Truckin into the Other One jam, Pigpen waved me over to the organ and got up so I could sit in. The same thing happened the next night."

    He doesn't mention any other specific shows he played in (possibly that's it) until 1974. The first Seastones show was the second night in Miami, 6-23-74: "After the Ned-and-Phil set, my electric piano was left onstage and I played the jam into Ship of Fools, and then the Dark Star into Spanish Jam."

  3. From Conversations with the Dead (continued) -

    Ned points out that in '70/71, he was hard to hear (on recordings and in the audience) because of "PA input limitations and/or whoever was mixing." Whereas in 1974, "I played through the vocal system. When band members were singing through the system, I wasn't playing through it. So I could be heard, at least onstage, there was a monitor system set up for me to hear myself, and Jerry and Phil could hear me, and people on or near the stage. But well out in the audience I couldn't be heard. And in a recording mix most times, the vocal system switch was set to the vocal mics."
    He was happy though, with not being heard, playing 'ghost performances' - he also disliked being photographed with the band!

    He mentions, "Some of the business and management and touring family were not particularly receptive to my being there. They did not want to see the band go off into outer space and not return. There were people who thought those prescribed happy sequences of Grateful Dead tunes should just go on."
    He goes into much more detail about his experiences & Dead life on the tour.
    But for this comment, I'll just say that he was especially happy about the 9-11-74 show where he played through the second set. Interestingly, he remembers the whole band joining Seastones at Dijon on 9-18-74 - but he may just be talking about the afternoon soundcheck, since there's no trace of this on the show recording. He missed the first Paris show on 9-20; but on 9-21 he & the band played almost the whole second set (Seastones>Playing in the Band) without Keith, who wouldn't come onstage!

    Winterland '74 is an interesting case. "The plan was that I would guest every night... I played mostly through all the second sets every night, and two sets & two encores on the last night - for some of Weir's tunes and some rock & roll tunes, I would split and then come back. Extra equipment was added so I could hear and be heard continuously and recorded in stereo, and filmed - a lot of preparation went into how they would photograph me. Jerry had some tune sequences and jam goals in mind... It was so disappointing when it turned out, while some of my tracks were OK, some of my tracks were damaged or had disappeared. It was decided I could replace my tracks later..."
    But in the summer of '75, after the Seastones album flopped and Ned had become very disillusioned about the direction of the Dead, he decided to go his own way. He played at the famed 3-23-75 show; but walked out of the 6-17-75 show without playing, fed up with the others. They agreed he would be "removed from the movie as much as possible... To be in it would mean I would have to do all these overdubs to fix the damaged or missing tracks. It looked like that could drag on forever. I felt that if I wasn't going to be involved with the Dead in performance anymore, why should I be in the movie?"
    Many more interesting topics are covered as well, but that pretty much covers Ned's guest appearances.

  4. I knew you'd know all this. Fantastic research on the Comments.

    Two points stick out to me:

    First, whatever the logic behind Ned's equipment setup, he seems to be a unique guest in that only the band members could hear him, more or less. Thus he seems unique as a sort of ghost performer. Some guests were poorly amplified due to the inherent problems of ad hoc jamming, but that's different than being intentionally spectral.

    Second, I wonder who in the business, management and family side thought Ned was "too spacey." Its one of those whiffs of the complex politics behind the scenes that underlie a lot of successful bands, and the Dead were apparently no exception.

  5. Ned the Ghost!
    It's understandable that in '70/71, the crew might not have been prepared to plug in & mix an extra instrument, especially if Ned was only really playing for the other band members anyway.
    But in '74, with Ned traveling with the band & playing almost every night, and an enormous Wall of Sound with hundreds of amps available to them, it boggles the mind that Ned would choose to be placed only on the vocal channel! He talks a bit about his philosophy of being the 'invisible player', and the value of quiet playing - this was a strange fit in a band dedicated to turning up the volume, and perhaps one cause for strain between them; but they respected his wishes.
    (And the Winterland '74 film-recording team notoriously screwed up everything, not just Ned's mix - Weir was practically erased, as well...)

    Being a kind soul, Ned doesn't name names as far as people who didn't make him feel welcome... In general terms, though, he does talk a lot about the business & success issues the band was going through in '74, and how they affected the music (and the band's behavior).

  6. One of many things that interests me about the Grateful Dead's musical history is that of roads not traveled. Think of the history of improvisational music performed live--are there any other instances of a "ghost player" to inspire the audible performing musicians? I don't think so.

    Its an entirely new way of contemplating and creating performed improvisational music, and with seemingly spectacular results (well, if Jerry, Phil and Bob were involved), and it was only tried a few times in the early 1970s.

    In that respect, its like the "Blues For Allah" suite: a brilliant concept, tried a few times and dropped.

  7. On a different note, Ned Lagin's perception that his playing made the Dead "too spacey" and wasn't welcomed by non-band members seems to coalesce around June 1975, when he walks away from performing with the Dead at Winterland.

    During the same period, namely the Summer of 1975, Merl Saunders is pushed aside from Jerry Garcia's club band. Merl had darkly suggested over the years that it was people in the organization who didn't like his relationship with Jerry. Merl was more or less leading Jerry towards playing jazz, of a sort (not, as George Costanza would say, that there's anything wrong with that). From that perspective, Ned and Merl were two aspects of the same trend.

    Art and Commerce always have a contested discourse, where one feeds, thwarts and inspires the other (not, as Karl Marx would say, that there's anything wrong that), but its interesting to see that different expressions of Jerry Garcia's less commercial side find themselves frustrated in mid-1975. Ned and Merl were both on stage at Kezar Stadium on March 23, 1975, and both were out of the picture before Labor Day.

  8. And after the star-crossed attempts to bring in players that were geniuses in their-own-right in late '75 and early '76 (Hopkins and Booker, respectively), he settles into a comfort band (Keith and Donna variant of JGB), comfort music (slow swampy gospel) and comfort drugs. While we can't know causes (which may in any case be really, really complex) it doesn't surprise that someone with such creative juice has to find ways to dull the attendant impulses, insofar as the structure of the situation (or the GD Organization, or whatever) wouldn't allow them to be pursued. I.e., crassly, stifled by the GD and the "business" side of things, Garcia needed to find a way to suppress the creative impulses that could not be expressed. Sad, to say the least.

  9. Another multi-part comment...
    More from Ned, on 1974:
    "How the band interacted in the musical realm should have been very different. But the 'family' issues increasingly spilled over into the music. There was a lot of interpersonal politics and frustration, related to the growth of the band, the growth of the audience... Although the Dead came from the counterculture, they wound up behaving just like the dominant culture. They weren't living within their musical means any more...they thought they had to continue to expand to stay alive."
    Jerry, of course, shared some of these feelings, which was one reason (aside from the Wall of Sound financial drain) for the '75 hiatus. As Jerry said, "That represented the end of the line, developmentally... You can't go anywhere else; you can't get any bigger. So what we would like to do is improve the quality of the experience - both what we're doing amongst ourselves, and how we interact with the audience, and what the audience experiences." He also pointed out, "Fame and success are human-eaters. They'd like for you to go for it. They love it when you go to Hollywood and get yourself a comfortable pad and a swimming pool and get into the pleasure palace trip. And either you go for it or you say, 'No, I don't want that.'"
    Ned was one who simply walked away.
    [Incidentally, Ned also corroborates Rock Scully's story that the band decided to get rid of all their cocaine at the Alexandra Palace shows, out of sheer frustration: "Everybody was clearly doing too many drugs. We had a meeting with everybody who was on the road with the band. We agreed that everything was fucked up...and all agreed to flush our stashes." A classic rock-star episode!]

  10. Ned, on his feelings in 1975:
    "This was a period of transition for Phil and Jerry and the Grateful Dead - getting bigger and more famous and doing more stuff. There was, at least to my way of thinking, a bigger emphasis on a family culture of extremes and nihilism. Everyone seemed to want something from someone else - music was not enough. I was as guilty as anybody else - but it didn't feel good, and I walked away from that... We were leading in other directions from what I wanted to do... [He mentions Phil not playing in Seastones the way he would've liked.] We couldn't get back to the delicate places, the intimate, small, cozy little places, and I really wanted to play that kind of music. I wanted to do an acoustic Seastones, and use the clavichord. There was too much emphasis on electronic instruments and technology, rather than on collective intuition and expression...
    "Once Jerry was telling me about his frustrations with the Grateful Dead. One of the things he said was that he was the only real beatnik in the entire group - and that I was the only person who had a true and deep avant-garde music and art and literature experience. We talked about free improvisations still having intent, that freedom didn't always mean extremes. But because of where the Dead were going, and because of the frustrations and dynamics within the band - the nihilism and extremes and hardness and edge and the requirements of meeting a rock & roll extrovert culture - it didn't seem we could get back to moments of gentleness and delicacy...
    "Jerry didn't like audience rejection - he worked very hard to be popular, quite honestly. People weren't as open, or as mentally free, as they said they were - and I think Jerry was not happy in acknowledging that. There was a lot of criticism about weird music, strange music - which none of us really liked. I took it as natural human close-mindedness, given my experience in avant-garde jazz & classical music. Phil had the rest of the Grateful Dead to create beauty & sometimes he used our [Seastones] sets to deconstruct the beauty & coherence, and to deconstruct his frustration. And it's impossible to build when someone else is unbuilding.
    "I wanted to be more cool, introspective, and Phil & Jerry were in a different place... Both within the Dead, and within Seastones, it was harder to play condensed - minimally, delicately."

  11. 1975 was, of course, a very busy year for Jerry, between work on the film, recording a Dead album with a new style of music (which Ned was heavily involved in, at first), the Legion of Mary and other projects... But it is certainly interesting that later in the year, he dropped Saunders and the jazz approach for the more 'conventional' JGMF says, "comfort music". (Just as, in '76, the Dead's style also became more "comfort music" and somewhat less experimental than it had been - no more Blues for Allah! - and no more Dark Stars or half-hour improvs, either.)

    There is the possibility that parts of the Dead family felt threatened by the Saunders band. As Garcia's agent said, "I think the Dead viewed all of Jerry's outside bands as a big threat... Jerry always insisted that the outside stuff had to be fit around the Grateful Dead, and not vice versa. We would never ask the Dead to change a date. But the band didn't have the wealth it has today, and everybody was making not quite enough to be really comfortable - so some people felt that the Dead should play more, and Jerry's solo stuff was getting in the way of them making more. I didn't see it that way at all - I think what Jerry did on the side helped him be a better member of the Dead, because it stretched him in interesting ways, and it made him happy."
    Saunders & Fierro were surprised by the backhanded way they were dropped (actually a typical Garcia avoidance method!) - Saunders suggested, "It was professional jealousy. It had nothing to do with Jerry. It was the power that Jerry and I had together...some people were threatened by it. Sometimes something would happen, and Jerry would know about it, and he'd just turn his head...and let it happen."
    Given how many outside projects Jerry had been working in since 1970, though, I'm not sure how much this 'threat' was a factor by '75, especially since the Dead were not on tour that year! Perhaps you could see Jerry's shift in direction around '76 (both inside and outside the Dead) as a slump in ambition, or a weary willingness to settle for the easiest course - I'm not sure how to analyze it myself. Perhaps it's no such thing.

  12. And, finally!
    I've checked the Other Ones from those August '71 Berkeley shows again - and sad to say (but typical!), the organ is mixed so low on both nights, it can barely be heard. There's no way to tell, from listening, that Ned's on organ, or even influencing anyone else's playing. Might as well be Pigpen, sonically speaking...
    At least in these '71 shows, Ned is a ghostly presence, whereas in our 11-21-70 snippet, he's completely inaudible. (Doesn't help that it comes from a buzzy cassette copy - I wonder whatever happened to the presumably complete original source?)
    His suggestion that he played in those Nov '70 Port Chester shows has been nagging me...if true, is it possible he was contributing to that 11-8-70 Dark Star>Main Ten>jam? And I also wonder if any trace of him can be picked up on the 6-23-74 audience tape of those second-set jams (he's quite absent on the SBD tape). Probably not, underneath Keith's piano...

    At any rate - Ned praises the idea of 'negative notes' - "anti-presence, absence, silence, being felt but not heard. Instead of sound emanating from my playing, sound disappeared into me. That was one of the more magical elements of not being heard onstage. That I could create negative notes - subtracting sound to call into relief melodies & harmonies & rhythms... Being heard or seen is of secondary importance. No matter whether there's an audience that sees or hears it, it's still part of the universe. It's that butterfly effect. You can play good stuff, create beauty, without being photographed or known. That's the best way to be yourself... And also there are advantages to being invisible. I could walk through the crowd and no one would know who I was... It was more authentic to be invisible and unknown."

    (Phil commented that Ned was being "too pure"!)

  13. "As Garcia's agent said ..."

    LIA, what is the source for this quote? Thanks!

  14. The quote is from Richard Loren and may be found on pp213 (at least in the UK version) of Blair Jackson's "Garcia: An American Life".

  15. Something that was mentioned briefly here but has never been corroborated with a recording or personal recollection is Vince Guaraldi's performance(s)? with the Dead. In a brief interview during the Harding Theatre 11/7/71 show, Garcia agrees with the interviewer that Guaraldi had played with the Dead "Yeah, that was fun - I haven't seen Vince in awhile though" which confirms it as being before then. Guaraldi's online web bio corroborates "He even filled in on piano for a number of Bay Area shows by the Grateful Dead in the early 1970s." There aren't too many possibilities, although I have wondered if these might possibly be the Fillmore West 8/70 shows. Although I went to these and took photographs (no way to see the keyboardist on these), the tapes reveal a very unusual (and un-Pig-like) piano on the acoustic versions of the new songs. Since both Jerry and Vince are no longer with us- we will probably never know.

    I can confirm that Ned was definitely present and playing at the 8/14/71 BCT show, which I also attended, and Ned has obviously confirmed it as well. It took me years to figure out who the young pony-tailed keyboardist was who suddenly took over the organ from McKernan. Ned looked quite a bit different by the '74 tour where he played a much more visible and audible role.

  16. Its very interesting that you mention the Guaraldi connection. I ellided the beginning of the story, in order to focus on the Ned Lagin part, but the whole tale actually fits your research very well.

    After I had my mysterious conversation in the lobby of the Marin Civic, I ruminated on it for a year or two. I had figured out that it wasn't likely to have been Keith Godchaux (I think because of David Gans interviews with Donna). By 1985 I had met Dennis McNally (through Blair Jackson), and I mentioned the mystery keyboardist.

    It was McNally who suggested to me, unbidden, that the guest was Vince Guaraldi. Apparently (according to him), Vince's wife worked with the Dead on the office side (possibly in the office), and Dennis seemed to suggest that Vince had jammed with the Dead many times.

    McNally also added, intriguingly, that Vince apparently had been "led offstage because he was stepping all over Jerry's lines." Whatever the substance of this story, I find it plausible. Guaraldi was a fine, original musician, but generally led his own trios where he was the lead soloist. I'm sure Vince could improvise along with the Dead easily enough (in itself not that easy), but he was not used to playing as part of a loud, large ensemble. Of course, there might be any number of other reasons for Guaraldi to leave the stage, and the story of "stepping on Jerry" may just be apocryphal.

    The person who might know about this would be Mrs Vince Guaraldi, if indeed she worked with the Dead office, but who that was is also a mystery to me.

    1970 in the Bay Area is a weird period for the Dead. There are a number of shows that are known without really being documented, like the Family Dog April shows, or the Winterland shows just before (4/15/70), Pepperland (5/21/70) and some Winterland one-offs (10/5/70, 12/23/70). There would have been plenty of opportunities for various people to sit in without us quite realizing it.

  17. i hear a very faint clavichord / organ on the dark star from this show:

    i think that is some evidence of mr. NED!

  18. Vince Guaraldi & the Dead...a deep mystery!
    One website says: "In 1971 he became an unofficial member of the Grateful Dead, jamming with them in Bay Area concerts while the group was between permanent keyboardists."

    That seems to be overstating it. You'd think Jackson or McNally might have mentioned it in their books, if this was the case?
    Now 1970, as you note, has a number of missing shows (even from the Bay Area) - and it's also quite likely that even if Guaraldi were to sit in, that doesn't mean he'd be audible in the mix... But in 1971, it's even harder to think of shows he might've played in. (Presumably the others, such as Garcia, would play something unusual or different, as they did when Ned was aboard?)
    And what are the odds that he'd jam with them regularly and there would be not a peep, not a rumor, about which shows it was? Unlike Ned Lagin, the guy was not unknown & invisible... But given the holes in our Dead knowledge (and tapes), it's not impossible.

    There IS one possible candidate, though - 4/15/70.
    In the first, very unique jam in the Other One, there is someone on organ. (Deadlists also says there's a third guitarist, but I can't hear one.) Normally I'd assume this was Pigpen (in fact, I always did assume it) - but I've just noticed, there doesn't seem to be any audible organ in the REST of the Other One. (Where Pigpen usually played, as in the 4/9/70 version....presuming that's him.)
    So there is one *possible* Guaraldi/Dead jam...strangely brief, but it does fit our criteria of being unusual & distinctive.

    Guaraldi did apparently jam with Garcia at the Matrix, I believe, in '70/71? It's possible the memory of these jams was mistaken for Guaraldi/Dead jams. (Unless we have a Hartbeats-type situation with quasi-Dead evenings there...)

    I strongly disagree with the comment that it wasn't Pigpen playing piano in those acoustic 1970 shows, though. If you check out, for instance, 8/19/70 where he's on several songs, it's well within his reach - just very simple accompaniments - it's obviously not an ace piano player. You can also hear him on piano in the New Speedway Boogie from 6/13/70; and on the acoustic sets from the Fillmore East in Sept '70.
    In fact, one of the most unique moments in Dead history comes in the 9/20/70 To Lay Me Down - Weir is on electric guitar, Pigpen on organ, and Garcia on piano! (Either that, or they had a keyboard 'guest' just for this song.)

  19. A couple of footnotes on Ned Lagin in visible and/or audible form. I am relatively certain he is very audible on Playing in the Band from 6/16/74 (just before the Seastones performances started). There are keyboard sounds in that jam that are not from Keith's palate. Also, Ned is visible on at least one bonus track from the Grateful Dead Movie DVD - Dark Star

  20. LIA, 4/15/70 is a great observation. The way the organ comes on in that insane Other One segment sounds utterly unlike anything Pigpen could ever have done.

    I also think it's possible folks might be conflating playing around with Jerry on the side with playing around with the GD.

  21. Just to throw in my two cents worth. I took a look through all of the known Vince Guaraldi dates at the Matrix and cross-referenced them against Dead/Garcia performances. The results are that Vince Guaraldi performed at the Matrix on the following dates - all of which are open for Garcia: January 8-9, 1970, September 28, 1970 and October 8-10, 1970.

    The most interesting looks to be September 28 which was advertised as "Vince Guaraldi and Friends".

  22. Another Vince Guaraldi Matrix date that I have newly discovered is November 20-22, 1969. The Dead had a gig in Sacramento on Saturday Nov 21, but Garcia seems otherwise to have been free.

    I'm finding the idea that Garcia sat in with Guaraldi more persuasive than the other way around. Second hand accounts that they had played together may merely have assumed that Vince sat in with the Dead, without realizing Jerry's penchant for dropping in.

    Another possibility would be relatively untraceable daytime jams at the Family Dog. I'm trying to figure out the name of Vince Guaraldi's wife, to see if I can determine if she really did work with the Dead, whether in the office or in some other way.

  23. From Tom Constanten's book, an interesting reference, when he talks about his difficulty fitting in with the group:
    "Comparing the problems more experienced players, like Vince Guaraldi and Howard Wales, encountered in interacting with the band, I began to suspect that some of the band members didn't have that clear an idea of the keyboard's role in a guitar band... Phil pointedly remarked how much he preferred Howard Wales's playing when he sat in with the band."

    Though this is a rather vague quote with no firm dates, it does offer a couple surprises: First, that Constanten was aware that Guaraldi had some 'problems' when he sat in with the Dead (strongly implying that it was during TC's tenure, though he could well have heard about later sit-ins as well).

    Also, that Phil was enthusiastic about Wales playing with the Dead in '69... The one show we know about is the 8/28/69 'Hartbeats' gig, which could be the show that excited Phil, but the implication is there were more jams between them than that one show. (I don't think we have confirmed Garcia/Wales shows til April '70?)

  24. A brief Ned addition - another commenter noted that Ned's visible on the GD Movie DVD (during the bonus Dark Star).
    Here's another brief & blurry video clip of Ned: from Paris 9/21/74, the last 40 seconds of Playing in the Band - you can see Ned playing right beside Garcia. (Keith's way in the back of this shot.)

    The quality's not so good and there's only 3 short clips circulating from this vid so far, but we can hope more will emerge someday... (One wonders if that whole Seastones exists on film?)

  25. I was at the Alexandra Palace shows (first and third nights) in London in September 1974 and there was a Seastones set played on the third night only. There was certainly a film crew at all of the Ally Pally shows so this may appear at some point. Ross

  26. A comment on another blog says

    "I've just completed a feature-length musical documentary on Vince Guaraldi where Vince's work with the Dead is addressed. You can actually see Vince on the back cover of the Dead's Aoxomoxoa album. He's standing with his hand on the horse in the background of the photo."

    very intriguing. Maybe there is a lot more to this story yet.

  27. Nedsters Dilberting Around…..from the forthcoming Hypnocrates From The Future

    so collegian fred arrow strolls up and sez….'and mebbe I kin play with you guys one time'….sure dude…anytime….come on down….and the bozos let teddy play to his hearts content….then after the kezar shew….the grand vinzikoff winks at Ned and says to Zed….yeah….i know they let you sit in back then...but they weren't gonna blast your shit into their pa didn't think....they didn't tell you????.....nah!

  28. Was just listening to the April 7th '71 show from Boston Music Hall and noticed there's a dude singing the chorus of "Johnny B. Goode" along side Jerry, Bobby, and Phil. Ned, perhaps singing from Pig's organ mic?

    There's a piano audible to me in a few places, especially some upper register stuff during "St. Stephen."

  29. Ned singing? That would be a fascinating twist. I will say, if there's any song where a group would let an old pal come up and sing along, it would be "Johnny B Goode," so it may just be the proverbial "friend of the band," including a New Rider.

  30. That's true. Marmaduke did some yodeling a couple days previous on some tune or another, so he was definitely on the east coast. Vocals or no, there's a non-Pig-like piano vaguely audible in places.

  31. Stray piano definitely points toward Ned. What with onstage monitors, drum mics, and so on, I'm not surprised that we may get the occasional whiff of the onstage sound that the band was hearing, even if the "house" sound didn't include the piano. Like all ghosts, there is just the faintest corporeal sound.

  32. I think the most likely extra singer in Johnny B Goode is Pigpen. (That seems to be him on organ, very quietly.)
    I didn't hear even the whisper of a piano in St Stephen - however, there is definitely one in the jam that follows, very faint. Shades of 4/15/70 - ironically, of course the tape cuts in the worst possible spot. The only worthwhile moment in the show, and it's lost!

    I'm surprised there was even a piano onstage, as I'm pretty sure the Dead were not carrying a piano on that tour. But if one was set up for Ned's "guest spot", of course they didn't mic it, so it would be all but inaudible to anyone not on-stage!

  33. A couple more notes on 4/7/71:
    The mix is uneven on this show, with a lot of changes. (According to the Taping Compendium, the reels were labeled, "First night for new mixer" this may not be the sure hand of Betty!)
    Personally I think this is a dog of a show, a real off-night - I wonder if the band came on late? At the end Garcia apologizes that they can't play more because of the curfew, but the entire second set is little more than a half-hour!
    On 4/8 they make up for it - the second set on 4/8 is as long as the entire show on 4/7!
    But the short set on 4/7 also makes me wonder if we're missing a LOT of music after the cut...

  34. This post and comments are a fantastic read. The mysteries with Lagin and Guaraldi are certainly quite intriguing.

    There was a question raised about Guaraldi's wife and identifying her. Some quick research revealed that Vincent Guaraldi married Shirley Moskowitz in 1953 and divorced in 1966 (or possibly 1968 as the CA Divorce index has two listings). Shirley died on July 5, 1989.

    In searching for information on Shirley, I came across this website;

    Which speculates about Vince playing with the Dead on 12/31/1968 and mentions his girlfriend, Gretchen, who worked for Bill Graham's Millard Agency;

    "Winterland, San Francisco. Could this have been when Guaraldi jammed onstage with the Grateful Dead? This ambitious, all-night New Year's Eve bash featured the Dead, Santana, It's a Beautiful Day and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Guaraldi's girlfriend, Gretchen, would have been present as a representative of concert promoter Bill Graham's Millard Agency. Guaraldi likely would have been at her side ... but would he have joined the Dead onstage, at some point during the night? We await proof..."

    Another search reveals the girlfriend's identity as Gretchen Katamay. It appears that she was interviewed for at least one Guaraldi bio. I found a Social Security Death Index record for a Gretchen Georgann Katamay born Nov 8, 1941, died Jan 28, 2009 in Los Osos CA. I could not confirm that they are the same person.

  35. Tony, great research. I have since found out that Gretchen was Gauraldi's girlfriend, not his wife. This comes from Derrick Bang's great biography of Vince. It's Derrick's blog you quote, too, and the source for his speculation about New Year's is, in fact, me. We are all coming to similar conclusions, even if we can't yet pin it down.

  36. On Labor Day weekend in Sept 2007, I was visiting friends in Morro Bay, Calif. One morning we drove to nearby Los Osos to a locally owned coffee shop, where we sat outside and had our lattes and scones. Two very cool ladies about my Mom's age sat next to us. They apologized for their small dogs that were jumping on us, which sparked a conversation between all of us. We told them that we all were landscape architects, and we asked what their professions were. One of the ladies told us she was once a concert promoter for Bill Graham in the Bay Area, and that she toured with the Grateful Dead and other 1960s and 1970s-era rock bands. She also mentioned that she lived with Vince Guaraldi. She was surprised when I told her I was a big fan of Vince, as I was also a piano major in college. I always think of this lady whenever I play any of Vince's pieces on the piano, and now I know her name was Gretchen Katamay. I was hoping to run into her again on my next visit to Los Osos, but I was sad to read that she died in 2009. My condolences to her family and friends. From a fan of Vince and Gretchen in Idaho...

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  39. ned has released a new, remastered, 2 CD 'seastones'. it is available through the store at his web site. you can read the album notes here

    p.s. it is great!

  40. On 6/4/1971 the Dead played a surprise show at the New Monk instead of the Jerry Garcia band.

    1. Thanks for this. We talked about it on a different thread, but didnt have an exact date

      Link here:

    2. Thanks, Reverend Bobo! Were you there?