May 28, 2013

June 1967: New York City



[The article starts with a fight between police & hippies in Tompkins Square Park on Tuesday May 30, Memorial Day.]
...In the late afternoon on Memorial Day, the Flower People were out in force, complete with kirtan and bongoes... The park foreman had had enough. It had been a peaceful, if boring, park before the hippies came... The hippies were playing musical instruments, and sitting on the grass at that, both in violation of park regulations.
[A noise complaint was made to the police.]
A couple of cops went over to the park and told the hippies to shut up and get off the grass. The kids laughed, and kept singing. The cops ordered them to leave. “They laughed at us,” patrolman John Rodd explained. “That’s when the trouble began.”
[The cops attacked & arrested a bunch of the hippies, but this backfired.]
...As city departments competed with self-absolutions and veiled accusations, the hippies emerged from the crisis as a community. They had won the park. The next day, the grassy battleground was designated a “troubador area” by Parks Commissioner August Heckscher, the gates were opened, and the “keep off the grass” signs removed. [ . . . ]
The Group Image played to a packed park Wednesday night, but there were no cops around to love. Their absence was regretted later in the evening when a group of Puerto Rican youths, upset by the hippies’ newly-won dominance of the park, rained rocks and beer cans on the musicians. The Group Image made a hasty exit. [ . . . ]
[The police captain met with the East Village Defense Committee, hearing protests against police actions.]
June began on Thursday, and the Grateful Dead were in town and, despite some rumble rumors from the Puerto Ricans, the prospects for peace looked promising. A happy, scruffy parade of 80 marched down St. Mark’s Place, complete with police escort, to present the Dead with a white carnation key to the East Village, graciously accepted by Pigpen. And the Tompkins Square bandshell rocked with San Francisco glory until a noise complaint was lodged in the late afternoon. Rather than tune down, the Dead turned off. [ . . . ]
[There was another committee meeting that night.]
Meanwhile, the Tactical Police Force was back in Tompkins Square Park.
All day there were rumors that the Puerto Ricans were uptight. The rumors were true. They knew about Memorial Day, and they had heard the “LSD music” and they thought that the hippies were taking over the park. The park was tense Thursday night as the Pageant Players performed three anti-war plays. “There was some hostile response,” Michael Brown of the Pageant Players recalled, “but there always is when we perform in the street. The last thing we tried was an improvisation about the events in the park Tuesday. At the end of it, there was a small fight in the audience.”
The Pageant Players were followed by a folk-rock group, and a group of Puerto Ricans came to the bandshell and demanded Latin music. Some words were exchanged, and a scuffle started, and the iron curtain was pulled down to close the stage. [ . . . ]
[A mob formed, attacking people & wrecking cars; police arrived & dispersed the crowd. The Puerto Rican community met & decided to have another concert Friday night, June 2.]
The park was jammed Friday night. Mongo Santamaria played, and Len Chandler sang, and China Garcia from the Real Great Society mc’d in Spanish. [ . . . ] Hippies and Puerto Ricans together grooved on the Latin music. And when the music stopped, shortly before midnight, everyone held his breath. But there was no riot. [ . . . ]
Saturday afternoon the Fugs played in the bandshell, and tourists swarmed into the park. [ . . . ] The community rallied to discourage the tourists, and Sunday the bandshell was closed. [After a stabbing, the Parks Commissioner revoked a permit for further concerts in the bandshell.] It was felt that the concerts attracted tourists, but were not representative enough to satisfy the community.

(by Don McNeill, from the Village Voice, June 8 1967) (6/8/67 Village Voice - Dead mentioned on p. 21)

See also: (particularly the comments)



Tompkins Square Park began to emerge as a sort of Mecca of psychedelia yesterday as about 3,000 assorted hippies gathered to commemorate the two-day-old Memorial Day Bash-In.
They sprawled out in every direction from a bandstand in the three-block-square park in the East Village, listening to an amplified explosion of rock 'n' roll by a San Francisco band that calls itself The Grateful Dead. They drew wide-eyed stares from oldsters sunning themselves in the park, and won support from at least one old woman who commented, "If I was young again, I'd probably be doing just the same thing."
Since nothing can be called just a crowd anymore, this gathering was called a "real-in." Its alleged purpose was to show police that the hippie element had not been intimidated by the battle Tuesday in which 42 hippies were arrested after they defied orders to leave the park. Several policemen stood at the rear of the crowd yesterday but did not interfere with the hippies' day in the sun.
The Grateful Dead, playing loud enough to raise the ungrateful dead, began playing at 2 PM and the music could be heard for blocks in every direction. The hippies began emerging from their nearby tenements and lofts and converging on the park in their usual varied get-up, including assorted combinations of long hair, beards, sandals, boots, saris, jeans and miniskirts. "We just gather here to be in the sun," said one hippie as he did his yoga exercises.
Some of the hippies were still in the park last night, but a large crowd gathered that was a mixture of non-hippie or anti-hippie, most of them youths. Several incidents were reported, and scores of police were rushed to the scene. In one incident a motoryclist was pulled from his cycle, which was then wrecked. In another, some clothes were ripped off a 29-year-old woman. Police rescued her, and she refused to press charges against anyone. Both incidents were attributed to the anti-hippie element, since the hippie code centers on peace and nonviolence. In contrast to Tuesday's battle, the cops asked the crowd to disperse last night, and then most of the policemen left without trying to break up the crowd with force.

(from Newsday, June 2 1967)



NEW YORK (UPI) - The biggest outpouring of hippies in the short history of New York's dropout generation converged on Tompkins Square Park Thursday to prove to police that they cannot be intimidated.
Clad in exotic attire that managed to combine the fashions and fragrances of Delhi and Dogpatch, the longhaired ones were over 3,000 strong at the daylong "real-in" in the Lower East Side park.
Tompkins Square was the scene of a bloody melee Memorial Day night when 200 hippies refused police orders to stay away from grassy sections of the park, which were closed to the public in order to keep the turf green. Nine persons were injured and 38 were jailed.
Mayor John V. Lindsay appeared to go along with subsequent criticisms of police, allowing that the incident might have been avoided if patrolmen had been "more tactful." The gates to the park's grassy areas were opened and the hippies lolled on the greensward playing bongo drums and reading poetry unmolested.

Parks Commissioner August Heckscher, one of the nation's leading experts in cultural transition, voiced concern that "America's youth are involved in a musical explosion and New York's Bohemian element has to get a permit to take part."
The explosion burst on Tompkins Square Thursday afternoon when a rock 'n' roll band, "The Grateful Dead" from San Francisco, with amplifiers turned up to infinity took over the bandshell and loosed a blast that could be heard blocks away. Oldsters sunning themselves in the normally quiet park looked stunned.
From surrounding streets the longhaired ones in leather, saris, jhelabas, jeans, and miniskirts filtered into the park. Many danced as in a trance, beads and Buddhist bells attached to their costumes jangling in weird accompaniment. Others sat on the grass, swayed, clapped hands, and smoked.
"We just gather here to be in the sun," said one hippy as he did his Yoga exercises. "We're friends, that's all."
He found an unexpected friend in a septuagenarian woman on a nearby bench.
"If I was young again, I'd be doing just the same thing," she said.

(UPI report, from the Independent,  2 June 1967)


From the New York Daily News:


The hippies were back in Tompkins Square Park last night [May 31]. So were their bongo drums, guitars, a harmonica, and all the noise they could produce. In fact, they had a sound truck amplifying the music so it could be heard six blocks to the north, at 13th St.
Thirty-five gyrating hippies swayed on the bandstand where four guitarists, a harmonica player, and a bongo player twanged and banged. And 1,000 other hippies, ringed by about 500 scowling older neighborhood residents, were gathered round the bandstand, at the south end of the park, which is between Avenues A and B and Seventh and 10th Sts.
The shindig lasted four hours, until 10:40 P.M., 20 minutes before the permit time limit.
And the hippies promised even bigger and bashier doings today. Between 2 and 5 P.M. the Grateful Dead, a California outfit, will perform before a turnout expected to be large. And from 6 to 11 P.M. there will be a concert by a unit calling itself the Group Image.

Five of the 38 hippies arrested Tuesday were interviewed on Bleecker St. yesterday and said they still loved the police. "Let us accept the police as people in a peaceful manner, with gentle voices," they urged other hippies.
Gentleness was not particularly noticeable in hippie music at the park last night. And the band's loud speakered noise was punctuated by the explosion of firecrackers set off by hippies in the crowd around the bandstand.
Hyman Abromowitz, 67, a cab driver who lives nearby at 40 Avenue D, sat with his wife, Rae, 62, on a park bench. His music comment for the evening was: "I never saw anything like this. They're wild people." His wife nodded and said: "They're for the birds."
Another neighborhood veteran chimed in: "It's a shame. The old-timers around here are afraid to come into the park because these bums have taken over."

Bowery derelicts had drifted into the park, looking for handouts. One could distinguish them from the hippies because the derelicts were older, quieter, less extreme in their clothing, and were pinch-smoking cigaret butts.
Some hippies were inhaling a smoke that smelled like incense. They waved thin, burning strips before their noses and breathed deeply. Another hippie wore a World War I helmet, painted black and emblazoned with this message on white: "LSD Forever."
Yesterday afternoon hippies "grooved" on the bright sunshine and on some of their music tootled by a flute player in the park.
[ . . . ]

(by Edward Benes & Patrick Doyle, from the Daily News, 1 June 1967)


The lower East Side got a small taste of the long, hot summer yesterday as several thousand hippies cosied into Tompkins Square Park to hear teeth-rattling rock music that even had the concrete band shell vibrating.
But if some neighborhood residents expected a replay of Tuesday night's riot, they were disappointed. What they saw was a massive display of "flower power," otherwise known as the power of love and peace.
Love was much in evidence, from the couples lolling on the grass to the lyrics of songs belted by a group called The Grateful Dead.
The day's events opened at 2 P.M. with a parade from Cooper Square to the park. It can be stated authoritatively that the line of march totalled 82 persons, not counting the occupants of three police radio cars that brought up the rear.
The real show was in the audience, where the mode of dress would have driven a fashion editor into shock. Girl hippies wore everything from baggy granny dresses to blush-length miniskirts. Boy hippies went from Luftwaffe jackets to cowboy outfits. Ronnie Jackson, known locally as Ronnie Mau Mau, and who seemed in charge, made the scene in a shirt open to the navel.
An anxious police sergeant from the 9th Precinct asked Ronnie if it was true that 4 or 5,000 college kids were expected to show up for tomorrow's concert by The Fugs and got a who-knows? answer.
It was obvious that police were walking a tightrope to avoid a repetition of the riot. Uniformed cops remained discreetly outside the park but others in casual civilian dress tried vainly to blend into the scene around the band shell.

[... The rest of the article warns that "50,000 Hippies from all over the country will be migrating to the East Village" this summer, bringing marijuana and LSD with them. Local hippie representatives are working to establish communes where they can stay, and raising a communal bail fund in anticipation of increased "narco busts."

(by Douglas Sefton, from the Daily News, 2 June 1967)

[ . . . ] The hippies had their third happening yesterday in the now un-restricted area of the park and it went without incident.
Police were nowhere to be found as some 500 weirdly dressed patrons of love-ins clapped their hands in rhythm as they marched behind "The Grateful Dead," a guitar playing group of mangy hippies from the West Coast.
Older residents sat trying to enjoy the park, but it was impossible as the hippies all sang and danced along with the group.
[ . . . ]
Meanwhile reports have been coming into City Hall, Police and Parks Department that a swarm of the new beat-generation who believe in love and music, were on their way from all parts of the country.
With a long summer ahead, officials are trying to cope with the problem and yet not allow the same situation to arise as in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco.
For the past month police have been deluged with parents asking for help in finding their young daughters and sons. Daily parents come into the station houses and ask for an escort into the "Land of the Hippie" to retrieve a child.
Bigger and better things are planned for the newly arriving "lovers," including a community center where the hippie can get a place to live, raise bail, and maybe even a few bucks.

(by William Federici, excerpt from "Night Mayor Hit On Hippie Foulup," Daily News, 2 June 1967)


The hot sun shone on Tompkins Square Park yesterday [Sat. June 3] as swarms of hippies, college kids, tourists, and local young people converged for an afternoon and evening of entertainment. Serenity reigned under the watchful eyes of hundreds of cops.
Braced for a hot day and night of action in the battle-torn park, police watched from rooftops and inside the park for that spark of trouble - but vigilante groups from all factions of the neighborhood kept the peace.
In the band shell, the Fugs, an off-key rock group, bounced, twanged, and sweated out three hours of songs and antics as a varied group sat entranced.
The sound could be heard all over the park, but was barely audible outside the fence surrounding Tompkins Square.
Parks Department technicians manned the audio equipment, donated by an electronics company.
The older residents and the mothers with children seemed to be unaware of the entertainment. They enjoyed the park and sun.
Police and city officials on the scene seemed relaxed after Friday's meeting at City Hall. [ . . . ]
Leaders of all factions of the lower East Side neighborhood - Puerto Ricans, Negroes, Slavs, Italians, Jews and hippies - were cooperating.
Constantly on the move in the swarm of beards, long hair, crewcuts and miniskirts were men with white armbands. They were appointed by the vigilante committee, and had the full force of the police waiting for a sign of trouble.
Trouble had been expected, for the Fugs' appearance at the park was widely publicized at East Coast colleges. They are noted for songs of protest and irreverant presentations, and authorities watched intent listeners.
"It's amazing," one official said. "Why anyone would want to sit in the hot sun and listen to this is beyond me. But look at them. They're not all of the same cut. This is the new 'in' thing, I guess, and so everybody gets into the act."
Police will remain on duty until 10:30 P.M. daily. They hope they will not have to move in, as they did on Memorial Day and last Thursday [June 1]. 

(by William Federici, from the Daily News, 4 June 1967)



450 at the Band Shell Hear Electric-Guitar Combos

Hippies armed with electric guitars occupied the band shell at the Mall in Central Park yesterday and opened up their musical artillery. An audience of about 450 withstood the two-and-a-half-hour barrage.
About half the audience was composed of hippies, from 15 to 32 years old. The rest appeared to be passers-by.
Earlier this week the Parks Department barred such musical entertainment at the amphitheater in Tompkins Square Park, on the Lower East Side. But it gave permission for the use of the Central Park bandshell from 2 to 5 p.m. yesterday.
A combo called the Group Image - five electric guitars plus drums - achieved a sound at times that suggested a derailed freight train plunging over a cliff. Then a group called the Grateful Dead came on with electronically amplified variations on rock 'n' roll music.
The young people, some with bare feet and others wearing sandals or socks, did some moderately contortionate dancing at first. But then the pace quickened, and soon they were jumping around like rag dolls being jerked by wires.
"Part of our thing is to try to turn people on with our music, because if you're up tight, you can't relax," said Laird C. Grant of the Grateful Dead.
"I'm a pothead," a young man said amiably, walking by with a kitchen pot on his head.

(from the New York Times, June 9 1967)

Previously included here:



SCENES (from the Village Voice 6/15/67)

The Flower People went uptown Monday night for the first of a series of “Inter-Tribal Community Benefits” at Cheetah... Many who came in suits took out their handkerchiefs and used them for headbands. Many who came in shirts took them off.
The Grateful Dead played to their people for the third free time in their ten-day tour. They have functioned not only as missionaries of the San Francisco sound but as emissaries from the Haight. “It’s happening here,” Rock Scully said. “New York is still two years behind the Haight, but two months ago it was three years behind.”
The Group Image also played and they made people dance. It is possible that the tribal-fling sound might catch on further out than the East Village because of its influence on dancing.
Years ago the twist revolutionized dancing because it was so easy to do, but during the last few Beatle years, rock music has become complex and with it discotheque dancing has become something more demanding than just moving your hips.
The kind of full throttle runaway tuning up raga blast that the Group Image plays is very formless. A newcomer trying to dance to this sound at first finds it hard to figure out what to do. After a while the sound gets to you and you discover that you can dance to it but only if you forget old cliches.
Anyone, repeat, anyone can frenzy dance to the Group Image. You can jump up and down and wave your hands in the air and hurtle in circles and fall on the floor. Anything goes.
More freaking out at the Cheetah next Monday and profits go to buy paper for the Communications Company and more bail money for the Jade Companions. (6/15/67 Village Voice, see p. 19)

[Note: the show wasn't actually free. The same column also prints a letter from the San Francisco Oracle, saying they’re expecting thousands of people journeying to San Francisco, and they need to bring more than flowers and bananas: money for rent & food, sleeping bags, camping equipment, extra food, warm clothing, and ID. This issue of the Village Voice also has some fascinating articles & letters about the Tompkins Square situation, and the divisions in the community, particularly between the pacifist hippies who want to drop out & the political activists who want to reform society, and the inability of anyone to agree on what to do.]


From "What Goes On," Crawdaddy, Issue 10, July/Aug 1967:

There's still no real rock scene in New York, but things are happening very fast. (Rock Scully: "When I was here a month ago, New York was three years behind the Haight. Now it's two years behind.") The Grateful Dead came to town, and played so many free concerts that the SF tradition of music in the parks seems firmly established here.
The Group Image has been a particularly important influence on the scene. (The Image are an amorphous bunch who produce music, posters, confusion, and other useful items. As yet, their music is nothing very good, but their performance is very enjoyable - the audience makes as much noise as the Image, and it's all very tribal and very real.)
Monday nights at the Cheetah are now devoted to the community, following a marvelous Grateful Dead-Group Image concert there early in June. For the first time, the Cheetah had good people onstage and good people in the audience, and it made all the difference in the world.


From “Miles’ Trip: New York,” by Barry Miles, from the UK magazine International Times, 6/30/67 – an update on the NYC scene for English readers.

Tompkins Square Park is the focal point for hippie-power in the Lower East Side of New York. In the surrounding blocks are the Tompkins Square Bookshop, 10th Street Books, The Peace Eye Bookshop, the old E.V.O. Office, The Leather Shop, The Psychedehcatessen, Psychedelic Community Centre and many cafes, bars and boutiques all serving the hippie community. Two weeks ago the first major encounter between police and hippies occured in the park where the hippies got their heads smashed and the city apologised – Mayor Lindsey's second in command saying that the hippies should remember that the police are essentially a fascist organisation... Three police stand on each corner of the park now and more are available from an emergency van parked just off the square. The Ukranians and Puerto Ricans of the area have not made any arrangements with the hip community and the "melting pot" just doesn't melt. [. . . ]

The Mothers of Invention expect to be here [London] in late September. Their stage act in New York is, like their new album Absolutely Free, structured like an opera. Zappa stands amid dozens of people who appear in a state of total anarchy. At the raise of his arm they move from one number to another or stop or start. Groupies leap about the stage with tambourines or sweep up the mashed fruit that another Mother eats and spits out again into the audience – all a bit messy. The act requires a fairly complete knowledge of American classic pop music for a good appreciation of its musical content – they will blow people's minds here.

The Fugs are still playing in the Village – the words making up for a certain lack of music continuity. Ken Weaver's brilliant humour and Sanders' direct approach hold the audience in a way that no other group could... The pornographic interlude in the middle of the show would probably be unintelligible here but is very funny. Tuli Kupferberg visualises many of the songs in a way of his own, particularly in 'Kill For Peace'.

The Grateful Dead and the Group Image were at the Cheetah with an expensive light show. The Dead play like a more electronic version of Tomorrow, the Group Image are a mixture of the Soft Machine and A.M.M. – heavily experimental, heavily amplified. The light show is overdone and becomes tame. It seems to be preselected or programmed in some way though there seemed to be operators on the projectors.

[The rest of the article is about Tim Leary's activities.]

The Bob Fass radio show from 6/7/67 has an interview with several Group Image members, and Rock Scully & Danny Rifkin representing the Dead.
This isn't a normal question & answer radio show, though, mostly just stoned banter & laughter. (There's even a group humming session.)

They announce the Central Park show the next day, from 2-5 pm. The Group Image are looking forward to playing out in the park. “Free in the park, tomorrow – free freak!”
Foss asks the Group Image to describe their sound. "Come tomorrow and find out, listen to us!"
Foss: “You’re also doing something at the Cheetah for money.”
“It’s a benefit for the Lower East Side community, it’s gonna be every Monday night during the summer at the Cheetah.” They talk about ticket arrangements, how the money will be divided between the tribes, Group Image's control of the events, the situation at Cheetah, and how the light show is run.

Foss says, "The peace in Tompkins Square Park seems to have been restored by the people wearing armbands.”
“And playing in rock bands – of course the rock bands started it!”
Foss: “You think that’s true?”
“No. [But] that kind of music stirs people up - it gets people to freak.”
"You know something, it doesn't stir people up violently in sunshine, rock music and sunshine go together real well."

Introducing the Dead, Foss says to Scully, “I hear a lot of beautiful things about you, you have a lot to live up to... People have been telling me about you for well over a year, and that's a long time..."
He says, “Rock’s from San Francisco where the name ‘Grateful Dead’ makes a lot of sense.”
And he asks Rifkin, “How do you guys compare with Moby Grape?”

Scully & Rifkin complain about the scary police in San Francisco, who are out to get the hippies. (They seem to think that in NYC, police just keep the peace & stop crime...) Foss compares the San Francisco & New York Be-Ins (there had been a couple Be-Ins in Central Park), feeling that in SF the people were all watching the bands, while in NYC everyone did their own thing. Scully & Rifkin disagree, talking about the different circles of people all over Golden Gate Park, and describing the experience in glowing terms. Foss is curious about San Francisco & asks them what the "tribes" are like out there - they think it's much the same as in NYC, but it's easier for people to get together out west.

Jim Fosso, a Group Image member, remembers playing with the Dead at the Tompkins Square Park show.

"The park had become a hippie hangout of sorts, with weed being smoked more or less openly until the cops staged a big raid, beat up several people and threw them in jail. This caused a huge uproar, police were shamed for their brutality, and proclaimed that they wouldn't be patrolling the park anymore.
I had co-founded a band called "Group Image" (name inspired by Marshall McCluhan's "The Medium Is The Message"). We planned to play a benefit concert, I think to help with legal expenses for the police victims, and we contacted the Dead to invite them to join in. They accepted because they were in town anyway, and visited us at the loft for a brief jam a day or two before.
They played a few of their songs for us, and then asked us to play some of ours. One of us replied, "We don't have any songs. We just play free." We were known as the loudest band in New York, having learned how to stack columns of Marshall amps together at a time when the Beatles were using little Standells. We would often set up at St Mark's Church or some other venue such as the Balloon Farm, set up a light show, and just start jamming, improvising, the word would spread, crowds showed up. We were wild, primitive, unstructured, like a tribe, and the music sprang from that roughly organized chaos.
I was a fan of Charles Lloyd, a jazz musician in the Coltrane, Albert Ayler mold (although much more whimsical in his "Free Music" style) and had translated that genre into rock in my own crude way, with a lead guitar style similar to the Byrds "Eight Miles High". I was also a hanging-out friend of Larry Coryell, one of the early jazz fusion guitarists, whose apartment was across the street from Tompkins Square. Anyway, I brought my crude oddball guitar style with those influences to the Tompkins Square concert. I think the Dead and Group Image played some songs, then jammed for about 5-6 hours. The crowd went insane, as they usually did at our shows.
Toward the end, things got increasingly crazy and scary...women being assaulted, weapons brandished by ethnic groups that were somewhat resentful of the hippie invasion of the Lower East Side, with no cops in sight. We were on our own to get out of there. We quickly tore down our gear, packed up and ran for our lives. I think I remember Weir slamming the last of their gear into the back of a Chevy panel truck."

(Judging by the newspaper reports, which describe neither long jams nor assaults at either of the Dead's park shows, he may be mixing up memories of the Group Image's May 31 Tompkins Square Park show and the Dead/Group Image June 8 Central Park show.)

See also: - the Group Image on TV, 1969

The Dead also played at the Cafe au Go Go from June 1-11, but I haven't seen any news reports about that.


  1. One thing that struck me was that in mid-1967, the Dead were considered legends before they even played in New York City. They have a parade greeting them on the street (!) - one of the cool local DJs says he's been hearing about them for a year: "I hear a lot of beautiful things about you, you have a lot to live up to" - the Village Voice calls them "missionaries of the San Francisco sound [and] emissaries from the Haight" - and Rock Scully's comment about New York being years behind the Haight gets quoted in two articles, like the word of a prophet.
    This kind of word-of-mouth couldn't have come from their first album alone!

    Miles, visiting from England, is notably less starry-eyed - he's more impressed by the Fugs & Zappa (by their "performance art" in particular) - but the Dead & Group Image just get wan comparisons to London underground bands, and he's more curious about their light show.
    Soft Machine & AMM were more on the weird avant-garde side of the musical pool, so the experimental Group Image could be aptly compared to them. (One reviewer calls their music a formless "full throttle runaway tuning up raga blast," another a "derailed freight train," & special attention is paid to the excited audience reaction.)
    Tomorrow, though, were a Beatles-esque light-psych-pop group on their 1968 album; they must have been quite different in live shows, for Miles to call the Dead "a more electronic version of Tomorrow."

  2. From Richard Goldstein's column in the 6/22/67 Village Voice:


    It was inevitable enough to actually happen. With every slick magazine in God's domain proclaiming the rise of the San Francisco sound, it is risen. The Jefferson Airplane made the top ten nationally, and their new single "White Rabbit" is bound to soar unless somebody finds something subversive in all that harmless talk about pills and hookahs and magic mushrooms. If I had to pick a new American group with the best chance of achieving the diversity and artistic integrity of the Beatles I'd choose Marty Balin's flight crew, if they stay together long enough.
    Meanwhile, the Frisco sound has hit New York with all the hype and circumstance worthy of a renaissance. Some of it is a revival of the lost dialogue between performer and audience. As Chett Helmes [sic] told Billboard: "San Francisco groups have had little studio experience, and they're not inclined technically, but they are inclined musically."
    So the Grateful Dead open at the Cafe Au Go Go, which has become an Ellis Island for West Coast hip groups of late. The Airplane suffocated on that tiny coffin-stage; they faced that coffee-sipping, hippy-dipping audience with more of a glare than a glint in their eyes. The Dead have been eluding claustrophobia by performing in the parks and streets (thus learning too what a summer festival Fun City really is). They shared billing at Cheetah with the Group Image, which is the Lower East Side's answer to white noise - and they will return to San Francisco just in time to witness the construction of Kama Sutra Records' new $25,000 studio right inside the Avalon Ballroom. The investment will insure the preservation of spontaneous performance, and may eliminate the reason Bay Area groups sound so much less spectacular on record than they do live and lit.
    Meanwhile the list of studio approximations of the magic sound grows. Country Joe and the Fish are on Vanguard (the record hasn't arrived for review yet). And Moby Grape...[are on] Columbia Records. All this cash has gone into a massive ad campaign proclaiming what a great bunch these guys are...
    No matter. The album is nice, if you like lots of rock energy, with a touch of the Airplane and the Dead, but a hefty chunk of original work. All the instruments coalesce impressively, the vacuum cleaner sound (otherwise known in the trades as psychedelic music) is kept to a merciful minimum, and the tunes show - which is nice because they deserve the exposure. Skip Spence plays guitar with a romping, stomping grace, and if the group ever starts to smother in hype, I'd give him a more than even chance of coming out alive. [!!! - ed.] The best cut on the album is "Omaha" (credited to Spence), and the pieces that stand out in my mind as I write (too late to play the album without earphones) are "Hey Grandma," "Naked if I Want To," and a wailing "Changes."
    You can buy Moby Grape on 45 rpm since Columbia has released five singles from the album. If this doesn't convince you the group is important (and I hope it won't) you should give a listen. It's no assault, no revelation; it isn't even hip. But it's got a beat, and you can listen. And like the best San Francisco music, it sounds like fun.

  3. A memory of the Tompkins Square Park show from Walter Karmazyn:

    "Seems like only yesterday that my friends and I went
    off to Tompkins Sq Park in the East Village to see this band from SF called
    the Grateful Dead, making their first east coast appearance, a freebie with
    a local band you may've heard of, the Fugs...
    I don't remember a damn thing they played, nor do any of my friends...

    A few things... Anybody walking through the park today may wonder *where*
    they played, as the bandshell is long gone. It was at the south end of the park
    (7th st) towards the east, nearer ave B. If you ever go there, you'll figure
    its exact location. At that point in time, smoking banana peels was the thing
    to do ;-) and you had people rolling banana peels, cigarettes and joints and
    smoking whatever out in the open, taunting the cops who wouldn't bust
    anybody because they didn't know just who was smoking what. First time I
    ever smoked a joint in the open and asked a cop looking at me if he wanted a

    The Electric Circus was getting ready to open on St Marks Place.
    Across the street from the park on Avenue A was the Peace Eye bookstore,
    run by Ed Sanders of the Fugs. Also on the block was the offices of the
    East Village Other, the local Underground Newspaper. At the Northwest
    end of the park and a few doors up were the Psychedelicatessin (sp) and
    a few doors from that the Cave, a neat basement club.

    Weir was still a teenager.
    The New York Times did a front page story on the show and the scene the
    follwing day, and if there was a kickoff event to New York's version of
    the Summer Of Love, this was it, although none of us knew it at the time.
    The Dead by the way if I remember right, got only a brief (one sentence)

    Throughout the summer, you could catch some dynamite music at the bandshell
    on most Fridays.
    A few days later, I paid to see my first Dead show, at the Cafe Au Go Go
    on Bleeker St, a basement club that only held a couple hundred and was
    quite cozy. The Dead played there a few other times, the last in 1969.
    You got to sit in a seat at a table and have waitresses hustle you for a
    non alcholic drink. During that first run, upstairs at the Garrick
    Theater, you could catch the Mothers of Invention and 2 blocks away at the
    Players Theater you could catch the Fugs doing their thing. If you timed
    it right, you could catch all these acts in one evening for under $15."

    Some interesting details - he remembers the Fugs playing with the Dead at the 6/1/67 show. (The NY Times article he remembers must be the one above, though, of the 6/8/67 Central Park show with Group Image.)

    Garcia also later recalled it was the Fugs: "Somebody picked us up at the airport in VW buses. We hit town and there was a little parade. The hippies from the East Village came, and we took our gear to Tompkins Square Park and played with the Fugs. It was fun." (interview with Richard Gehr in Newsday, 9/9/91)

    McNally in his book doesn't mention the Fugs, but says Richie Havens opened! (p.198)

    Another Fugs detail - Barry Miles (who wrote the review of a Cheetah show above) wrote to deadlists in 1998:
    "I visited New York in July 1967 and went with Ken Weaver of the Fugs, who I was staying with, to see the Grateful Dead who were playing, if my memory is correct, at a place called The Cheetah. After the set Ken introduced me to Pigpen, who was a big friend of his and he came with us to see a Fugs show."

    There is another account of the open smoking in Tompkins Square Park that day:
    "It was at a Grateful Dead concert at the bandshell in the park in the Summer of 1967 that the first “Smoke-In” can be said to have taken place. According to the tale, Provo Dana Beal took a bunch of weed and rolled up a bunch of joints and passed them around at the concert. Some say he got the crowd going when he threw joints in the air from the stage, a tried-and-true tactic."

  4. David Sorochty from deadlists writes:

    A UPI wire story appeared in many newspapers which said "The explosion burst on Tompkins Square Thursday afternoon when a rock 'n' roll band, "The Grateful Dead" from San Francisco, with amplifiers turned up to infinity took over the bandshell and loosed a blast that could be heard blocks away. Oldsters sunning themselves in the normally quiet park looked stunned."
    Mike Bobrik, an eyewitness, recalls they played: The Golden Road, Dancin' in the Streets, Midnight Hour, BIODTL, Schoolgirl, Cold Rain & Snow, Morning Dew, and Viola Lee Blues.

    (Note that the Village Voice article mentions the Dead's show being shut down by a noise complaint...)

    Gene Santoro wrote in the book Highway 61 Revisited that he saw the 6/1/67 show - he'd heard about them doing a free afternoon concert:
    "The park looked full. The sweet thick scene of pot wafted over, but though there were plenty of cops dealing with outraged Ukrainians from the neighborhood, we couldn't see any busts. The Diggers seemed to be keeping things together... The Dead were playing 'Dancing in the Streets,' with Pigpen the anti-hippie, a greasy, ugly, beery biker centerstage." (p.197-8)

  5. I added an article about the Tompkins Square show, "Return of the Hippies" from Newsday 6/2/67.

  6. A clip from the concert:

    1. A great find. It looks like NBC/Reuters footage to be used in a news report, with text:

      "New York hippies quietly relaxed or danced in a city park yesterday (Thursday) to a live show of "underground" music - a contrast to the disturbance on Tuesday when 38 hippies were arrested. Only one policeman was in sight yesterday and it was peaceful despite differences in musical taste between young and old, hippie and square.
      Some of the hippies, who say they are "cool," wore far-out clothes, including Hindu and African prints, bells around the neck, and American Indian headbands. But most wore what most Americans put on when they want to relax - blue jeans, Bermuda shorts, or a shift dress.
      The music - the first in a series of summer concerts - came from a New York electronic group that gained fame and fortune in California.
      Many of the non-hippie residents from around the lower east side park muttered disapproving comments about the "wild drug addicts' music" coming from the park soundshell.
      A park employee said many complaints had been received from older residents in the area about noise in the park.
      But the concert organizer told the audience at the start of the program: "This is your theater, this is your community, and this is set up to prove it."

  7. some more footage from 06-01-67, but, no gd: Some 3,000 "hippies" found a place for themselves in the sun of Tompkins Square Park to show police

    there is a film 'tompkins square park' from 1967 by karl cohen that was shown on 09-11-84: New York Magazine - Sep 17, 1984 - Page 146 - Google Books Result: September 11, 8 p.m.: The Lower East Side on Film: "Tompkins Square Park" (1967) by Karl Cohen, with the Grateful Dead

    I-) ihor

    1. the soundtrack of film has 'viola lee blues' from the first album - there is no GD.


  8. I've added the full UPI article on the Tompkins Square Park show. Much of it is the same as the Newsday report, but this article adds more details on the battle for the park the previous weekend, and the hippie crowd. In fact, this reporter seems obsessed with the appearance and clothing of "the longhaired ones" - you could read either contempt or amusement at "the dropout generation" when he describes the hippies "lolling on the [grass] playing bongo drums and reading poetry unmolested."
    One old woman expresses her support, though, and there's an unspoken parallel between the hippies sitting, swaying, and "gathering here to be in the sun," and the "oldsters sunning themselves."
    The Dead are just noise, of course, but it's hilarious to read of them "loosing a blast...with amplifiers turned up to infinity," stunning the helpless elderly people in the park.

  9. I'm intrigued by Jim Fosso's comment that the Dead jammed with the Group Image. They were on friendly terms; the Dead visited the Group Image loft, and played shows with them at the Cheetah and (later that December) at the Palm Gardens. Rock Scully mentioned, "The Cheetah was a bit of an Acid Test kind of experiment with the Image (more a 2nd Ave. tribe than a music outfit)."

    Descriptions of the Group Image's sound circa '67 are tantalizing:
    "the Lower East Side's answer to white noise."
    "The kind of full throttle runaway tuning up raga blast that the Group Image plays is very formless."
    "The Group Image are a mixture of the Soft Machine and A.M.M. – heavily experimental, heavily amplified."
    "Five electric guitars plus drums achieved a sound at times that suggested a derailed freight train plunging over a cliff."
    Fosso says that they "were known as the loudest band in New York" with their stacks of Marshalls, and were influenced by free jazz. "We were wild, primitive, unstructured...and the music sprang from that roughly organized chaos." They told the Dead, "We don't have any songs. We just play free."
    There are references to audiences "freaking out" and "frenzy dancing" at their shows (Fosso muses, "The crowd went insane, as they usually did at our shows.") Crawdaddy gave the most balanced report:
    "The Group Image has been a particularly important influence on the scene. The Image are an amorphous bunch who produce music, posters, confusion, and other useful items. As yet, their music is nothing very good, but their performance is very enjoyable - the audience makes as much noise as the Image, and it's all very tribal and very real."

    Unfortunately I don't think they were recorded in '67, and they tamed down a lot by the time they recorded their 1968 album, which was more song-based and conventional.
    Perhaps coincidentally, the Dead were getting more aggressively noisy in June '67, with Alligators and feedback starting to show up in their sets. So it's fun to imagine what a musical interaction between the two groups might have sounded like....

  10. A UPI story about the Tompkins Square Park battles, from the Columbus Republic, June 2, 1967:

    New York (UPI) - A flower-pelting, love-nutty invasion of Tompkins Square Park by more than two thousand "hippies" was counter-attacked by anti-hippie youths Thursday night in a riotous chase in which one young woman was stripped down to her panties.
    The stripped hippie girl was rescued by police after being chased by a howling mob of several hundred youths.
    It was the second wild, fist-flying, beercan-bouncing climax to a hippie happening at the park in three days. The first took place on Memorial Day when police tried to get 200 bongo-banging hippies off the grass when they were in the middle of a Buddhist love chant.
    Bearded, belled, and wearing garlands in their hair, the hippie horde began their exotic spring rites in the park Thursday with blaring rock 'n' roll band music at 2 p.m.
    By 1 p.m. [sic], with hippies thinned down to about 500, the new riot had begun when the youths attacked the 29-year-old girl. A woman tavern owner across the street from the park who witnessed the attack told a reporter:
    "It was just awful. The poor thing was just standing there when she was surrounded. They lifted her off the ground and started tearing her clothes off. She didn't scream and seemed in a daze."
    During the girl's rescue fistfights broke out between the hippies and the anti-hippies. Police reinforcements were summoned to control the situation.
    A few minutes later two women got in a fistfight and the crowd went haywire again. Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary brought in two more busloads of officers. One motorcycle patrolman was knocked to the ground by a flying beer bottle and was taken to a hospital for treatment...
    A 20-year-old was pulled from his motorcycle as he tried to make his way through the melee. He abandoned the cycle and ran when a knife-wielding anti-hippy threatened him.
    Earlier in the day as the hippies gyrated in the warm sun to the ear-thumping music of a rock 'n' roll group called the Grateful Dead, a minister compared them to the early Christians.
    "There you see what may be the only hope that mankind may have to keep from blowing itself up," the Rev. Michael Francis Itkin shouted above the din.
    "They have the same values the great mystics talked about for so long. The only group you could identify them with are the first century Christians," said the Rev. Itkins of the Church of the Brotherhood of the Love of Christ.

    1. The same UPI story ran in the 6/2/67 Windsor Star (an Ontario paper) with the headline "Anti-hippie mob cools New York happening, man."
      It added an extra final paragraph:
      "Allan Katzman, an editor of an east village newspaper, said Thursday night's friction would be nothing compared to what happens when an estimated 50,000 hippies migrate to the village from all over the country this summer."

  11. The New York Daily News (June 2, 1967) had a critical perspective of the Tompkins Square Park show:

    "Police were nowhere to be found as some 500 weirdly dressed patrons of love-ins clapped their hands in rhythm as they marched behind 'The Grateful Dead,' a guitar playing group of mangy hippies from the West Coast.
    Older residents sat trying to enjoy the park but it was impossible as the hippies all sang and danced along with the group."

    1. I added some Daily News articles about the Tompkins Square Park scene. Despite the so-called "hippie riot" and mass arrests of May 30, and the disapproval of elderly neighbors, concerts continued in the park more or less peacefully (by New York standards).
      The annoyance of local residents, and the fear of a massive hippie influx, are striking.

      The Daily News chronology differs a bit from what was reported in the Village Voice - the News has some unnamed group playing in the park the night of May 31, the Group Image scheduled to play the evening of June 1 (after the Dead), and the Fugs scheduled to play the day after.
      It's possible the Village Voice was mistaken in placing the Group Image show on Wednesday the 31st. The Daily News' description of the band playing that night is very vague, so perhaps it was them; but the memory of a riot and assaults ending the show better fits the evening of June 1, as reported in a few places. (For instance, the UPI article in the comment above, which describes the violence on the night of June 1 and states that it was the "second" such incident, following the fight of May 30. The Daily News on June 1 also fails to report any violence in the park on May 31, which would certainly have been reported if it had happened then.)
      So my theory is that the Village Voice was in error, and the Group Image played the night of June 1, not the night before.

    2. Oh, and the Daily News also ran a very brief article on the June 8 Central Park show:

      An Indian-in staged in Central Park yesterday by the Tompkins Square Park hippies developed into a dunk-in when about 35 wildly costumed dancers, overheated by their gyrations, plunged into the park lake with their clothes on.
      The plungers swam around and between startled boaters, some of them clambering aboard the boats to dive back into the water amid wild whoops.
      Before the swimming party, 500 hippies and other young people danced to the music of The Grateful Dead and The Group Image.
      (Daily News, 9 June 1967)

  12. An announcement for the 6/12/67 Cheetah show, in the 6/15/67 East Village Other, p.7:

    "On Monday, June 12, from 8 P.M. to 3 A.M., the religious art of the new tribal society will be revealed at Cheetah, 53rd & Broadway.
    Music will be provided by the Grateful Dead of San Francisco, and by the Group Image. Environmental lighting will be provided by the Third World and Pablo.
    This performance will inaugurate a series of Monday nights at the Cheetah. Proceeds will go to various tribal community service funds, such as the Jade Companions bail fund and the Communications Company.
    Tickets are available at Cheetah at three dollars per person. Two-for-the-price-of-one tickets will be made available for Indians... For further information, contact Communications Company."