Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 31, 1973, Cow Palace, Daly City, CA: Allman Brothers Band with Jerry Garcia, Boz Scaggs and Bill Kreutzmann (FM VII)

An ad from the December 28, 1973 Hayward Daily Review for the New Year's Eve Allman Brothers concert
By the end of 1973, the Allman Brothers Band were the most popular touring band in America. Now, it's true that during that year neither The Rolling Stones, nor Bob Dylan nor any member of The Beatles mounted any American tours, but with that caveat aside, the Allmans drew huge crowds like no one else. In particular, when the Allmans were paired with the Grateful Dead, they drew some large crowds indeed. The most legendary of those crowds was the event at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse on July 28, 1973, when the Allmans, the Dead and The Band drew an estimated 600,000 people, at the time the largest outdoor rock concert ever. However, earlier in the summer, the Dead and the Allmans had packed RFK stadium in Washington, DC, so it was no fluke.

Given their status, when the Allman Brothers chose to play New Year's Eve in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Cow Palace, it was a benediction indeed, since they could have played anywhere. Yet there was a paradox--wasn't San Francisco's New Year's Eve now the exclusive property of the Grateful Dead? Whether or not New Year's Eve in San Francisco required the Grateful Dead, the paradox was resolved to a national FM radio audience some time after midnight when Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann joined the Allman Brothers Band onstage. At the time, Garcia's appearance seemed to cement a synergistic relationship between the two bands that became enshrined in rock history. At the same time, it turned out to be the end of an era not just for the two bands, but for a certain aura in post-60s rock, none of which seemed obvious at the time. This post will examine the events leading up to Garcia's appearance with the Allman Brothers on New Year's Eve 1973, and put them into an historical context.

The Grateful Dead: 1973
At the end of 1972, with their Warner Brothers contract expiring, the Grateful Dead had surprised the record industry by refusing to either re-sign with Warners or sign a new contract with another label, choosing instead to go it alone and start their own independent record company. Initially, things had gone pretty well, financially speaking. The Dead had released their new album Wake Of The Flood on their own label in October of 1973. It wasn't a giant hit, officially selling about 400,000 copies, but the band was receiving four times as much money (supposedly $1.22 vs 31 cents for each album sold, per McNally), so they were doing well. Also, the band was a more popular concert attraction than ever, so concert receipts were improving at the same time. In general, the Grateful Dead were in the best financial condition they had ever been up until that time.

Bill Graham had often retailed the story that in 1973 he called the Grateful Dead in the recording studio, asked for Jerry Garcia, and offered the band a New Year's Eve show at the Cow Palace. I first heard Graham tell this story at a free lecture in Berkeley in 1976. If Graham's timeline was remembered correctly, it would have had to have been in August of 1973, when the Dead were recording Wake Of The Flood at the Record Plant. According to Graham, Jerry refused the offer. A shocked Graham said "but Jerry, I'm offering you $75,000 to play the Cow Palace on New Year's Eve!" Garcia reputedly said, "no, Bill, we want to play a private party at your house." According to Graham, when I heard him tell the story, the party was attempted, but it fell through for unexplained reasons. Yet it remains that 1973 was the only year other than 1967 when the Grateful Dead were actively touring, while Bill Graham was alive, when the Dead did not play somewhere.

The party-at-Bill's story has been repeated so many times that everyone takes it for granted. I myself think that Graham was truncating a complex series of negotiations into a single vignette, in order to improve the story. Put another way, the basic arc of the anecdote seems to contain some kernels of truth, but I highly doubt the conversation between Graham and Garcia actually took place in the form he described. To name just a few things, why would Graham call Garcia at the studio? The Dead had a booking agent--Sam Cutler--and while Graham didn't like him, it's unlikely that Garcia would have wanted to discuss business with Bill and thus bypass his own agent. For another thing, would the notoriously disputatious Grateful Dead have had an answer so readily prepared? Finally, in August 1973, Wake had not yet come out, and the Dead's finances would not have been settled yet, and I doubt that they would have been so quick to turn down a big offer without thinking about it.

With all those caveats listed, however, I think the basic dynamic of the story was probably correct. The Grateful Dead were independent, and did not have to explain to a Los Angeles record company why they would or would not play New Year's Eve. Garcia, among others, never spoke fondly of playing New Year's. Finally, by November, when it would have been fish-or-cut-bait time, the Dead would have felt comfortable financially, and willing to tell Graham "no." The business about playing a party at Graham's house sounds like a typical bit of GD snarkiness, suggesting something difficult or ill-advised, just to see if it could happen.

It didn't happen. The Allman Brothers Band, the most popular band in the land, ended up headlining two nights at the Cow Palace on December 31, 1973 and January 1, 1974. It was a tribute to the Allmans drawing power that they could not only sell out New Year's Eve, but sell out the next night also, even though New Years was a Tuesday. Support acts were the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band, then both up-and-coming, although hardly unknown. I suspect that the hidden part of the narrative was that at some point Graham must have pitched a joint Dead/Allmans New Year's, but the Dead must have passed. It's also possible that the amount of money required to both book the Allmans and tempt the Dead was too large for an indoor venue. In any case, the Allman Brothers at the Cow Palace were the feature attraction for New Year's Eve in the Bay Area--although the Santana/Herbie Hancock/Malo/Journey show over at Winterland was probably pretty cool--and the Grateful Dead were not working.

The cover to the Allman Brothers hit 1973 album Brothers And Sisters, on Capricorn Records
The Allman Brothers Band: 1973
Duane and Gregg Allman had first been professional musicians in Florida in 1966, playing as the Allman Joys. They were 'discovered' and moved to Los Angeles, where they led a group called The Hour Glass in 1967-68, and they mostly played around California. They had played the Fillmore and the Avalon a few times (the SF group called All Man Joy had no connection to them), but they never broke out of the 'almost' mode. While in Los Angeles, however, Duane learned to play slide guitar from Ry Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis, and that set his guitar playing apart from almost everyone else at the time. With the demise of The Hour Glass, Duane returned to the Southeast, playing sessions in Muscle Shoals, AL while trying to put a band together.

By 1969, Duane had indeed put a band together, with two drummers and two members of a group called The Second Coming, bassist Berry Oakley and guitarist Dickey Betts. All that was missing was a lead singer, so Gregg was called back from LA (did you know that Gregg had flunked an audition as bassist for Poco?). With Gregg playing organ, writing songs and singing lead, and with the backing of Phil Walden, manager of the late Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers Band was ready to conquer America. With twin lead guitars and two drummers, the Allmans had a unique sound that merged Miles Davis with soul and the blues, and all of the players had been around and were equipped for battle.

I don't think the Allman Brothers owed anything to the Grateful Dead musically, even if Berry Oakley was reputedly a big Deadhead. However, they were based in Macon, GA, and the sixties had come somewhat later to the South. Thus the Allmans adopted the strategy of bands like the Dead, regularly playing for free in places like Piedmont Park in Atlanta, building a loyal audience where they would otherwise have been unknown. Playing for free in the park was old hat in California, but it was a new thing in Georgia. Seeing the natal Allman Brothers Band in mid-'69 for free must have spun around a lot of heads. The Allman Brothers started to tour around, and crowds were knocked out everywhere they went, so every time they came back to a city they had a bigger crowd.

By November 1971, just as the Allman Brothers were breaking out to a huge national audience with their third album, the unforgettable Live At Fillmore East double-lp, leader Duane Allman died in a motorcycle crash. Yet the Allman Brothers Band soldiered on, with Berry Oakley as their de facto leader, and their next album, Eat A Peach, broke them out to a huge national FM audience. Unbelievably, almost a year to the day later, Oakley died in a motorcycle crash himself, not far from the site of Duane's death. Astonishingly, the next Allman Brothers album, Brothers And Sisters, was the band's biggest album ever, behind classic hits like "Rambling Man" and "Jessica."

The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band, 1969-1973
The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band crossed paths many times. I do not necessarily think that the individual band members were that close personally. Nonetheless, the bands were kindred spirits in many ways, and great musicians, and seemed to have enjoyed playing together.

July 7, 1969, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA
After the triumph of the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969, which was actually held out in the suburbs, promoter Alex Cooley held a free "thank you" concert in Piedmont Park in Atlanta on the Monday afternoon following the festival. The Grateful Dead were flown in from Chicago. Although the Allmans had played earlier in the day, the Dead would not have seen them play. The Dead closed the show. After the Dead set, there was some jamming, and it appears that Duane and Jerry were both on stage, although no one can confirm if it was at the same time.

The cover for the archival cd Fillmore East, February 1970 by The Allman Brothers Band, produced and recorded by Owsley Stanley and released on Grateful Dead Records in 1996
February 11, 1970 Fillmore East
The most famous Dead/Allmans jam, and one of the legendary rock jams of all time, was on Wednesday, February 11 at Fillmore East. The day after was the Lincoln's Birthday holiday. The Grateful Dead headlined over Love and the Allman Brothers. For the late show, the Dead were joined by Arthur Lee (of Love), Duane and Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks and Berry Oakley from the Allmans, and Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green and Danny Kirwan of Fleetwood Mac (in town and hanging out). They played an unforgettable hour long "Dark Star">"Spanish Jam">"Turn On Your Lovelight."

The Allman Brothers Band (and Love) opened for the Grateful Dead on Friday and Saturday, February 13 and 14, but they did not jam. At least one night, members of the Allman Brothers, including Duane, and Love drummer George Suranovich went over to an infamous joint called Slug's to see Pharaoh Sanders. This piece of evidence is one of the clues to me that shows that while Duane enjoyed jamming with the Dead, it wasn't more important than other musical explorations.

November 21, 1970 WBCN Studios, Boston, MA
Boston, packed with college students, was always a hot stop on the circuit for rising bands. It was one of the first Northern cities where the Allman Brothers had a staunch following. On the weekend of November 19-21, the Allmans headlined at the Boston Tea Party. The Grateful Dead, meanwhile, were headlining that Saturday night in the gym at Boston University. Late that night at radio station WBCN, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Pigpen, Duane and Gregg Allman all stopped by the studio. Ironically enough, there were only two acoustic guitars, so Weir and Duane and then Garcia and Weir played a few numbers, but the tape is more of a curio than anything else.

April 26, 1971 Fillmore East
For the Grateful Dead's final run at Fillmore East, various friends dropped in, one of whom was Duane, who played on three numbers on April 26: "Sugar Magnolia," "It Hurst Me Too" and "Beat It On Down The Line."

July 16, 1972 Dillon Stadium, Hartford, CT
The Grateful Dead headlined a small football stadium in Connecticutt, and Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley and Jaimoe joined the Dead for "Not Fade Away">"Going Down The Road Feeling Bad">"Hey Bo Diddley." 

July 17, 1972 Gaelic Park, The Bronx, New York, NY
The day after the Hartford show, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir joined the Allman Brothers in the Bronx for an extended version of "Mountain Jam." It was around this time that serious discussion began about a combined Dead/Allmans tour. At this time, both groups were popular but not huge live attractions, and both camps seemed to have recognized that sharing a bill would allow them to play much larger places. My own inference is that Berry Oakley, the effective leader of the Allmans at this time, would have been the one most in favor of the Dead and the Allmans working together on an extended basis. An entire tour was actually booked for Fall '72, sadly trumped by Oakley's death. For the scheduled San Francisco dates, on December 10-12, 1972, different acts opened for the Dead, the last time the Grateful Dead had openers at a non-New Years Winterland show.

I am aware that there is some dispute about the date of this show--it was originally scheduled for Thursday July 13--but the entire weekend will be the subject of a future post.

The poster for the June 9-10, 1973 concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC: Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers Band/Doug Sahm/Wet Willie
June 9-10, 1973 RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
The Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and Doug Sahm played not one but two shows at RFK stadium in Washington, DC, packing both of them as far as I know. These were really huge shows for the era, as full-sized stadium concerts were still quite rare. The fact that the Dead and the Allmans together were more than twice as attractive a bill than either band as headliner was a significant flag to promoters like Bill Graham, who would make multi-act stadium acts a staple of the rock world in the next few years.

On Saturday, June 9, with the Allman Brothers closing the show, Bob Weir and Ronnie Montrose joined the Allmans for "Mountain Jam." For the final set on Sunday, June 10, when the Dead closed the show, Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks joined the Dead and Merl Saunders for an additional set of loosely jammed out songs (as a side note, what was Merl Saunders doing in Washington, DC?).

July 28, 1973 Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse, Watkins Glen, NY
The high water mark for the Allmans was their prominence at the 'one-day' event at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse in upstate New York. The auto racing track was the site of the annual United States (Formula 1) Grand Prix (which would be won in 1973 by the great Ronnie Peterson in a Lotus 72 Cosworth), and it could absorb a huge crowd. In response to Woodstock, the state of New York had passed a law banning concerts that lasted more than one day. Thus the "Summer Jam" on July 28 was officially a one-day event, with the Allman Brothers, The Band and The Grateful Dead. The Dead supplied the 60s vibe, and The Band were paragons of credibility back in the day, but the Allman Brothers were unquestionably the big-money headliners, the straw stirring the drink.

All three bands played extended "soundchecks" the day before the official concert, as the crowd was already huge. By the day of the show, the crowd was estimated at an incredible 600,000. Members of all three bands had a loose jam to close the show, playing "Not Fade Away," "Mountain Jam" and "Johnny B. Goode," but it doesn't seem to have been musically memorable.

The Cow Palace, Daly City, CA, New Year's Eve 1973/74
The Allman Brothers Band ended up headlining New Year's Eve at the Cow Palace, with a nationwide radio broadcast. San Francisco's KSAN was the host station, and I think that its Metromedia sister stations, WNEW-fm in New York and KMET-fm in Los Angeles, also ran the broadcast. I gather there were other stations, but I don't know which ones or how many. The broadcast functioned like a nationwide Watkins Glen. San Francisco was still the official capital of "free concerts," even if none had been held in the city for quite some time.

The Watkins Glen concert had in many ways been a last hurrah of the 60s. There was a huge, friendly crowd, bands and promoters made some money, but most people got in for free, the mood was relaxed and a good time was largely had by all. The outdoor jam vibe had been established by the Grateful Dead and their friends in Golden Gate Park a mere six years earlier, and now it was almost outdated. In some ways, the Allman Brothers New Year's Eve broadcast from the Cow Palace was the last high water mark for an avowedly San Francisco style of music, jamming the blues for hours on end as if time had no meaning, with everyone listening for free. In that respect, it was appropriate that Jerry Garcia was there to provide both an actual and symbolic link to the Fillmore and Golden Gate Park.

Live music isn't really free, of course. Some entity, almost certainly Capricorn Records (the Allmans' label) had to have paid for the radio time. Since the Allman Brothers played from about 10pm until 4 am, the cost of the radio time was not prohibitive at that hour. On the East Coast, the time would have been 1am until dawn, an even less expensive time slot, so Capricorn would have gotten some bang for their buck. Nonetheless, the record company would have paid the radio stations for the lost ad revenue, and charged it against the Allman Brothers' future royalties. I assume that the great concert that was played encouraged the sales of a lot of Allman Brothers albums, so it probably worked out OK, but its important to remember that radio broadcasts on commercial FM stations were business propositions.

Garcia's actual appearance on stage on New Year's Eve was paradoxical. On one hand, Garcia continually grumbled over the years that New Year's Eve concerts weren't that fun. Nonetheless, having turned down a lucrative concert date at the Cow Palace, Garcia ended up showing up to play anyway. It goes without saying that the Garcia and the Grateful Dead's peculiar choices were only possible because they owed no allegiance to a record company. At the end of 1973, with Wake Of The Flood selling profitably, the Grateful Dead's financial condition was good, and they could afford to turn down high profile shows on a whim. Yet Garcia seems to have been unable to resist the opportunity to play anyway. He was onstage for around two hours with the Allman Brothers, a full night's work by the standards of regular musicians. 

The Music
The concert began with sets by The Marshall Tucker Band and The Charlie Daniels Band, although I'm not certain in exactly which order. At the time, both groups were rising bands that were helping to expand the genre of "Southern Rock" that had come to prominence due to the fame of the Allman Brothers. The Marshall Tucker Band was from Spartanburg, SC and had just released their first album on Capricorn. Charlie Daniels, a veteran session musician and producer in Nashville, had gone solo in 1971. His third album, on Kama Sutra Records, Sweet Honey In The Rock, had spawned the unlikely hit "Uneasy Rider." Both the Tucker and Daniels bands featured twin guitars, hard driving rhythms and country-style vocals.

The Allman Brothers came on at about 10:00 or 10:30, as near as I can determine. The Allman Brothers lineup in 1973 was as follows:
Dickey Betts-lead and slide guitar, vocals
Gregg Allman-Hammond organ, rhythm guitar, vocals
Chuck Leavell-grand piano, electric piano, harmony vocals
Lamar Williams-electric bass
Butch Trucks-drums
The Allmans played a strong but conventional first set, probably about 70 minutes long (the timings are from Wolfgangs Vault. There was a reel flip between "Midnight Rider" and "Blue Sky").
Bill Graham Introduction 0:36
Wasted Words 5:20
Done Somebody Wrong 6:02
One Way Out 9:50
Stormy Monday 10:11
Midnight Rider
Blue Sky
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed 17:30
The Allman Brothers Band returned a few minutes before midnight. The first part of the second set was still typical of their concerts at the time
Countdown to Midnight 5:58
Statesboro Blues 5:47
Southbound 7:58
Interlude 0:14
Come And Go Blues 5:20
Ramblin Man 8:22
Trouble No More 4:07
Jessica 13:08
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.1) 6:21
Drum Solo 11:33
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.2) 10:32
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.3) / Whipping Post 14:59
During the last section of the rarely performed "Les Brers In A Minor," (listed above as Part 3), at about 1:15am, Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann came on stage and started to play. I assume Garcia played the Wolf, but I don't know whether Kreutzmann took over for Trucks or Jaimoe, or played percussion or what. Obviously, this was a planned event. Garcia's equipment must have already been set up, and drummers don't bump aside people on stage without fair warning. In any case, it was apparently a fairly electric moment in the hall, but there was no announcement on the radio.

Garcia and Betts led the band into a jazzy version of "Whipping Post." Remarkably, and possibly uniquely, Gregg Allman never actually sang what at the time was the band's most iconic song. Garcia and Betts sounded great together. Much as I like Chuck Leavell's playing, the Allman Brothers sound needs twin guitars. Garcia played in the more straight ahead, major key style of the Allmans, not really venturing "outside" as he might of with the Dead, but on the other hand he played at the much livelier tempos of the Allmans.

After the "Whipping Post" jam, a radio dj announced that Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann had joined the band on stage. That must have been a pretty surprising announcement, particularly at about 4:30am on the East Coast, in a post-New Year's Eve haze. For the extensive blues jamming that followed, it appears that Gregg Allman had left the stage, and vocals were handled by Boz Scaggs. Scaggs' connection to the Allman Brothers was probably through his lead guitarist, Les Dudek, a fine Florida musician who had played on the Allmans' studio recordings of "Rambling Man" and "Jessica." By the end of the set, Dudek had joined the jamming as well.
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.3) / Whipping Post 14:59
Whipping Post 11:57
Linda Lou / Mary Lou 9:56
You Upset Me / Hideaway Jam 17:55
Hey Bo Diddley 28:29
Save My Life 8:44
I Don't See Nothing 10:12
Blues Jam / Bill Graham Announcements 11:22
 Somewhere in the middle of "Hey Bo Diddley," the national radio network signed off the air.  I suspect that Capricorn had purchased radio time on various stations from 10pm-2am Pacific time, which was 1am-5am in the East, and Tuesday drive time ad rates were kicking in. If anyone was awake on the East Coast listening to this, it must have been pretty frustrating to hear Garcia and Betts jamming away and to find out that the broadcast was being turned over to the morning DJ.

Fortunately, however, for San Francisco listeners, the familiar voice of KSAN's Tom Donahue chimed in after the network signoff and said (more or less) "this is KSAN, and we will be keeping it right here as long as the music is playing." It was this sort of ethos that KSAN seem like the coolest station in the world to its listeners (which it was). By the time the extended second set ended with a variety of improvised blues jams, sung by Scaggs, it must have been pushing 3am. Bill Graham came out, thanked and named everybody, announced that a couple backstage had decided to get married onstage, and--incredibly--announced that the Allman Brothers would be coming back.

I don't know how long the wedding took, and I don't think the third set was broadcast on KSAN, although it's possible. Anyway, it's preserved on Wolfgang's Vault. The final configuration was Garcia, Betts, Chuck Leavell, Lamar Williams, Jaimoe and Kreutzmann. They played three extended numbers, with no vocals. After "And We Bid You Goodnight," it seemed like the show was over, but Garcia and Betts took it into a lively "Mountain Jam," which must have been pretty amazing if anyone was still conscious as the time headed towards 4am.
You Don't Love Me 10:01
We Bid You Goodnight 4:37
Mountain Jam / closing announcements 16:23
After New Year's Eve '73, to my knowledge, no member of the Grateful Dead ever played with a member of The Allman Brothers Band until after Garcia's death. The Allmans played the next night at the Cow Palace, and they were joined at the end with some different special guests--John Lee Hooker, Steve Miller, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Daniels and Buddy Miles--but no members of the Dead. Garcia and Kreutzmann had been booked for New Year's Eve, but other players were there for the next night.

It's interesting to compare the Dead's relationship to the Allman Brothers with their connection to the Jefferson Airplane/Starship crowd. Long after the Dead stopped having too many musical interactions with the Starship, they were still good friends with the various band members. The relationship with the Allmans seems to have been more professional, in an early 70s hippie rock musician kind of way. Both bands were on a high level musically, and the various extended families seemed to get along, which made cooperation easier. It was great business and good musical fun to work together, but ultimately both groups were just people who worked together, rather than close friends.

The Allman Brothers Band was at its apex on New Year's Eve 1973, and they would never attain such heights again. Various problems beset the band, not least the inability to come up with a worthwhile follow-up album to the massive success of Brothers And Sisters and "Rambling Man" (quick, hum the chorus of "Louisiana Lou And Three-Card Monte John").

Another problem was Gregg Allman's increasing drug issues. Gregg Allman's dubious place in rock history was cemented by his agreement around 1976 to testify for the Federal Government in a drug trial that would send Allman Brothers Band road manager John "Scooter" Herring to prison on charges of drug dealing. Although Allman must have had serious problems and risks himself, his cooperation put him at odds with his fellow rock and rollers. Garcia reputedly said that Gregg Allman was "a narc," but whether that was a direct quote or apocryphal is unknown to me. But in a universe where road crew and bands conspired to acquire and consume felonious substances, the code of silence was paramount, and a violator of that code couldn't be taken lightly. Indeed, the code continues long after Garcia's death: Jerry's drug habits are discussed at length by his friends and fellows, but the names from whom and the circumstances under which he actually acquired drugs remain completely unknown, long after any statute of limitations has expired.

Advertisement for a Dead/Allmans/Outlaws show on November 27, 1981 in Orlando, FL. The show did not take place.
In any case, as the Allmans' star sank, the Grateful Dead's slowly rose. When the Allman Brothers Band finally gave it up the first time around, in about 1981, the Dead were a much larger band. A joint Dead/Allmans show was actually planned for the "Tangerine Bowl," a stadium in Orlando, FL, on November 27, 1981. Although the show was advertised, it was never held. Ironically, by 1981 both the Dead and the Allmans were on Arista Records, but any chances for label head Clive Davis to facilitate collaboration seem to have passed by. The Allman Brothers disintegrated shortly after this in any case.

By the time of the Allman Brothers triumphal return at the end of the 1980s, the Dead's stature as a concert attraction rivaled that of the Allmans 16 years earlier. Yet whatever distance or animosity had set in during the mid-70s remained in place, so the natural pairing of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers was kept at bay until it was no longer possible.

By the late 90s, the dust had settled, and various plans were afoot to release a track with Duane Allman playing with the Grateful Dead at Fillmore East, and a multi-disc set from Watkins Glen, but both were throttled by lawsuits involving the Duane Allman estate. During the Dead's brief era  as an independent record company, they released an Allman Brothers album from Fillmore East, but the Allmans soon took to releasing their own archival cds. Ultimately, of course, Warren Haynes would play for the 21st century version of both bands, but much water had passed under the bridge by that time.

The Grateful Dead epitomized the San Francisco rock ethos of setting your own path and following it, and letting the music world conform to you. The Allman Brothers Band did just that, even when that path was continually interrupted by tragedy. The Allmans were to Atlanta what the Grateful Dead were to San Francisco, and perhaps as a precursor to the rise of the prominence of the Sun Belt in America, the Allmans got farther than the Grateful Dead did, at least initially. For one night in the Bay Area, the Allman Brothers Band were the most popular touring band in the land, and it was appropriate that Jerry Garcia was there too, for what was and for what would eventually be.


  1. The 12/31/76 Cow Palace show was my first West coast GD adventure. There were a few Garcia shows at Sophie's that I went to before that. Went by myself and I stayed to the end. Unfortunately I don't remember anything about it!

    1. I’ve been able to piece together my bit of history in this by reading others accounts of these concerts. I was 15 and got a ticket and a ride from my next door friend from San Diego to Palo Alto and stayed New Year’s Eve on the floor of my friend’s brother’s apartment listening to the Allman Brothers play the Cow Palace on the radio. It went long into the morning hours as I fell asleep in my sleeping bag. I wasn’t sure were I was or what the plan was or much of anything at that age. Mostly I was just tagging alone with boys of a slightly older age and influenced by their tastes in music. I remember that there was several choices of concerts that New Years eye in the Bay Area. Steve Miller was one that I recall, but I was confined to the radio broadcast from the nearby Cow Palace. Our chance by be at an Allman Brothers concert was New Years Night. I remember being slightly disappointed that the Allman Brothers rapped up their 2nd night at the Palace at a much more reasonable hour. The next morning, we drove back to San Diego, this time the Speed limit had been reduced to 55 mph, the new law started on January 1. It didn’t really effect us as we drove south on I-5 in a 1965 Renault.

  2. Great post. I remember all of the "snitch talk" re: Greg quite vividly. My understanding was the unspoken word in the Allman's family was that the little guys were there to take the fall for the principals. Some of the Allman's roadies were "enterprising" people. I met, knew a couple of them.

    Jerry/Duane sounded better than Jerry/Jorma to me, at least on tape. Jerry and Jorma's groove never quite synched.

  3. Thanks for that write up.
    73 is one of my most listened GD years,
    (right now anyway!)
    and it's cool to know what was going on.
    I had no idea the Allman Brothers were that huge in that time.

  4. Great article! There are some pics of Jerry and Dickey from this night: Jer is playing the Wolf (and sporting a tie-die to boot). There's also this post from the GD forum that says Billy subbed in for Butch Trucks, who had been dosed by Bear and was unable to keep playing:

    1. Butch Trucks has a blog of his own, and he has an entry on the Cow Palace NYE 73/74 show

      I recommend the entire blog. Butch Trucks has a lot of stories, and he's a talented raconteur with a good memory for detail. He also comes across as a really good soul, with his musical heart in a place that most of us can relate to well.

    2. Thanks for this link, it adds a lot to the story.

  5. I've also read that Gregg got dosed, which is why he stopped singing halfway through the show. (Couldn't confirm it, though.)

    My post on the Allmans is badly in need of updating, which I hope to get to next year.

    Gregg made some comments on the Dead in his recent book, and there was some discussion of that here:
    Whether or not Jerry called him a "narc," Gregg believed he did. So I think you're right that after Duane & Berry died, there were few Allmans members left who were really friendly with the Dead, hence the lack of further "supershows."

    And, for those who'd like more dirt on Gregg, this post offers more details:

    1. Yes, Gregg was dosed along with Trucks that night, and was too far gone to play after the first set. The story is in one of the more recently published books on the Allman Brothers.

      I'm unsure whether any of the other band members were also dosed, but still capable of maintaining their musical abilities. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Garcia and Kreutzmann had a drop or two.
      I remember hearing the gig, listening to it through headphones on the East Coast. Fell asleep for a while in the early morning still wearing my friend's Koss Pro4AAs, and woke up to hear Garcia trading licks with Betts in the middle of "Les Brers". I was in my first months as a Deadhead at that point, and it was a very unexpected treat to hear Garcia's signature spiraling triplets meshing with Betts and the band.

  6. Thanks for that write up.
    73 is one of my most listened GD years,
    (right now anyway!)
    and it's cool to know what was going on.
    I had no idea the Allman Brothers were that huge in that time.

    gw2 gold

  7. regarding the 7/17/72 gaelic park show. there's always been some confusion on the date really being 7/13/72. here's what i found.

    after some research i found that on 7/13/72 it rained
    in the bronx which probably postponed the show.

    On 7/16/72 the Dead played Dillon Stadium in Hartford which I attended.
    Members of the ABB sat in. This and the Roosevelt Stadium gig in NJ on
    7/18 were the only northeast Dead dates at the time. Garcia and Weir,
    I heard possibly Kreutzman too, all sat in with the Allmans at Gaelic Park.
    I believe this took place the day after Hartford. on 7/17.
    There would have been no reason the Dead would have come into the area 3 days early for their own show.

    Also, I saw a number of references on line to folks who specifically said that
    7/17 was the date they saw. At the time I remember hearing Garcia and Weir played
    with them and I'm pretty sure it was after the Hartford show, not before.

    "Garcia: An American Life" by Blair Jackson states: "In July 1972 Dickey Betts,
    bassist Berry Oakley and drummer Jaimoe joined the Dead for a few songs at
    Dillon Stadium in Hartford, Connecticut, and the following night Garcia,
    Weir and Kreutzmann returned the favor by jamming with the Allmans at Gaelic Park in the Bronx."

    1. Thanks DavMar. My take on Gaelic Park '7 is the same, it took place on July 17. Do you know of other GP shows that were rescheduled due to weather? I have always wondered if the weather was just an excuse to accommodate a different travel schedule.

      To my knowledge, the Dead did not have a weekend gig in the Tri-City Area, but the Allmans did, so it was in the Dead's interest not to show up until July 16.

  8. Jerry Garcia and Dickey Betts remained friends.

    1. Betts has often made a point of noting Garcia's influence on his playing in his interviews over the years, in magazines like Guitar Player and Musician.
      I think it's fairly evident in Bett's soloing on "Jessica"- there's a point where he kicks it up a notch beyond standard country or blues licks and weaves an extended line through the band sound into that classic cosmic counterpoint jamming that Garcia pioneered in the realm of rock guitar improvisation. Special credit to Chuck Leavell, for knowing exactly how to keep the melodic interplay in the zone on that tune. The rest of the band is characteristically impeccable, of course.

  9. For New Years 1973 "the Grateful Dead were not working" -- yes. But still the reasons are not fully clear. One aspect comes to mind: It can be assumed they knew months before Donna would have her baby around Dec 1973/Jan 1974. So, Donna would not be ready for a New Years show, and maybe Keith too. I think Donna's last show was Tempe 73-11-25, then she didn't take the flight to the Boston shows.

  10. It's an interesting conjecture, but I doubt that they would go dark for not having Donna (as the Boston --> Tampa shows suggest), and I somehow doubt that Keith would have insisted on time off to be around for the birth of the child. Pure conjecture on my part, you could be right, but I am skeptical.

    1. However, Keith aside, since the whole band knew that Donna was having a baby, maybe other members had planned some time off. That would have left Garcia with nothing to do, but no chance to have a Dead concert either.

      Incidentally, do we have any idea if Garcia was paid to show up? My guess would be yes. I'm not being cynical--it was a common practice amongst professionals to slip a little cash to fellow musicians who played at a gig. My guess is that Graham offered some money to Jerry (and Bill, and Boz Scaggs and Les Dukek), and checked with the Allmans (who knew them all), and it was a go.

      The next night had four different guests, again all friendly with the band, but I hardly think it was just happenstance that they all showed up.

  11. i was THERE, it was my 1st ever concert!!!
    i was 17 at the time, and we were ALL of us
    on LSD...
    amazing show, although i don't remember all
    of it!!! (lol) it was so long, and we were
    ALL so freaking high
    PS: i believe Charlie Daniels was the opening act and Marshall Tucker was 2nd...

    1. Jenifer, thanks for the eyewitness account. It's amazing how these memories stick around, isn't it?

    2. I was there - Charlie Daniels was first.

  12. Minor correction to point out, Jerry's Tiger guitar did not exist until '79. Wolf was first played in October '73.

    1. Good point. Fixed. There's a photo somewhere, which I haven't looked at again, but Garcia certainly wasn't playing Tiger,

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  14. I saw the Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker Band and Charlie Daniels Band at the Fabulous Forum in the early 70's. I recall this concert because I just heard about Charlie Daniels passing away at age 83. What an incredible show! Each band played two hours plus and unfortunately we had to leave before the Allman Brothers Band finished their set. Why? It was after 1:00 in the morning! RIP Charlie. I know you're blowing everyone away in heaven with your awesome fiddle playing


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