Feb 15, 2012

July 15, 1966: A Fan Poem


Speaking of the rock band, the Jefferson Airplane, this weekend (Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon) the Airplane will be at the Fillmore Auditorium with the Grateful Dead, and just to show you what kind of a world it is, while Mr. Poole is pointing out my slighting of the S.F. State Festival, a rock fan named Denise Brown petitions me to, please, pay some attention to the Grateful Dead and offers a poem about them to support her case. It is reprinted herewith in its entirety:

"To the Grateful Dead
There's a Really groovy group I know
Their called the Grateful Dead
When you stand there and listen to them play
They drive you out of your head
The guys are great, their music is fine
They can absolutely blow your mind
Bobby is my favorite one, the cutest and
The best, with Pig Pen coming right behind
I dig his groovy vest. Jerry is the sexy one,
His guitar playing's out of sight. And Phil is
Really a sweet guy, who plays with all his might.
I'm sorry to say I don't know the drummer
But his playing is really great. I bet he's really
A nice guy, with a personality first rate."

And a happy weekend to you, too, Denise.

(From Ralph Gleason's "On The Town" column, July 15 1966.)


  1. Blair Jackson quotes from Gleason's 7/20/66 "On The Town" column in the 1993 Golden Road:

    "[The Fillmore] has become, in recent months, the general headquarters for the artistic revolution that is taking place here. Last weekend, for instance, two rock bands played there on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. They were the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. They loaded the place to capacity with a crowd whose diversification in dress was characterized only by a departure from Ivy League or Montgomery Street.
    On Saturday night, the police cars blocked off Fillmore at the corner of Geary, while upstairs the jammed house listened to a half-hour-long rendition of Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour" performed by the massed band and sung by Marty Balin (from the Airplane), Pigpen (from the Dead), Joan Baez and Mimi Farina. It was quite a night."

    The show was 7/16/66, but the Midnight Hour does not circulate, if it survives.

  2. Apparently this was not the first time Ralph Gleason had paid attention to the Grateful Dead in his column.
    In May, he'd written, “Jerry Garcia, their lead guitarist, is an interesting soloist with a wild surge of inventiveness and the band gets a groovy ensemble sound from the electric organ, lead & rhythm guitars, bass & drums.” (Gleason, “A Great Weekend for Dancing,” Chronicle 5/9/66)
    Since I don't have the article & have only seen the one sentence quoted from it, I don't know what show he was reviewing - I presume it was 5/7/66 at UC Berkeley. But it's neat to see Gleason, as early as May '66, complimenting Garcia's guitar style and the band's "groovy ensemble sound."

    Jann Wenner, incidentally, was apparently at the Berkeley show and said Midnight Hour was the highlight: "one of their best numbers, and the best version of that song I've heard any group do."

  3. Surprisingly, this poem came up in a 1972 KSAN interview with Garcia.
    KSAN: When the Grateful Dead were known as the Warlocks...a long time ago, a young lady apparently wrote some sort of poem...Ralph Gleason printed it in an article...
    JERRY: Yeah, I even know the girl that wrote that, she's like a good friend of ours.
    A caller asked where they could find a copy of the poem! (KSAN recommended, "Go down to the San Francisco public library if you know about when it was reprinted.")