Jun 6, 2013

October 2, 1967: The Bust

THE DEAD DID GET IT: REPORTERS AND COPS

"That's what ya get for dealing the killer weed," laughed state narcotics agent Jerry Van Raam at the 11 members of the Grateful Dead household he and his agents had rounded up into the Dead's kitchen.
The Good Ole Grateful Dead had gotten it. Eight narcotics agents, followed by a dozen reporters and television crews, raided the Dead's house at 710 Ashbury Street on October 2nd. A little after 3:30 in the afternoon, two members of the band, Pigpen and Bob Weir; their two managers, Rock Scully and Danny Rifkin; their equipment manager, Bob Matthews; and six friends had been busted on dope charges.
The cops carried no warrant and broke in the front door even after being denied entry. Danny and Rock weren't in the house, but were yanked from the porch when they came strolling by after the reporters had arrived. As well as members of the band, the police confiscated the files, money and phone books of the band and of the Haight Ashbury Legal Organization, whose offices are in the Dead's house.
While the narcs did their work, a rooting section gathered across the street from the house and, like a Greek chorus, filled the air with a running commentary on the proceedings.
Jerry Garcia and Mountain Girl weren't home at the time of the bust. Drummer Bill Kreutzmann and bassist Phil Lesh live elsewhere, but Phil's old lady, Florence, was at 710 and was handcuffed to Weir on the way to the Hall of Justice.
After six hours in jail, the dastardly 11 were released on bail. On October 23rd, they return to the Hall of Justice for a preliminary hearing. Their chances look good. In the meantime, they showed up at their bail bondsman's office the cold morning after the arrest, were arraigned in Court (where Rock was arrested again on the additional charge of maintaining a house where narcotics were used), and had a press conference.
The press conference was held in the Dead's living room, filled to capacity with a tangle of microphones, television cameras, lights, wires, notepads, soundmen, reporters and photographers. Danny opened it with a statement:
"The arrests were made under a law that classifies smoking marijuana with murder, rape and armed robbery as a felony. Yet almost anyone who has ever studied marijuana seriously and objectively has agreed that marijuana is the least harmful chemical used for pleasure and life-enhancement.
"The law contains an even greater evil. It encourages the most outrageously discriminatory type of law enforcement. If the lawyers, doctors, advertising men, teachers and political officeholders who use marijuana were arrested today, the law might well be off the books before Thanksgiving. The law creates a mythical danger and calls it a felony. The people who enforce the law use it almost exclusively against individuals who threaten their ideas of the way people should look and act.
"Behind all the myths is the reality. The Grateful Dead are people engaged in constructive, creative effort in the musical field, and this house is where we work as well as our residence. Because the police fear and misinterpret us, our effort is now interrupted as we deal with the consequences of a harassing arrest."
Questions and answers followed, much like a Beatle press conference. In response to "How long did it take you to grow your hair that long, Danny?" Rifkin said, "We've always figured that if we ever held a press conference, the first reporter who asked a stupid question would get a cream pie in his face, and you're him."
A huge bowl of whipped cream was ceremoniously produced, to everyone's obvious delight including all the reporters except the one. He cringed and Danny, taking pity, spared him. After the conference was finished, cookies, coffee and cake were served and the predictable jokes made.
Rolling Stone didn't leave. We adjourned to the porch to take a few pictures of one of the most beautiful bands in the world.
Notice all the rifles. Pigpen has a big collection. If he had been thinking quick, he would have been prepared for all eventualities.
Dig Jerry: he's Big Man on Campus. Who else has a T-shirt like that? Jerry said that if they put out a warrant for his arrest — which so far they haven't — he would beat them to it and go down to the Hall of Justice voluntarily to surrender, carrying a white flag.
Oh, yeah. Ever see a picture of Phil wearing those dark glasses before?

(by Jann Wenner, from Rolling Stone, November 9 1967)

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-grateful-dead-did-get-it-reporters-and-cops-19671109

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NARCOS BAG GRATEFUL DEAD


The Haight-Ashbury pad of The Grateful Dead — San Francisco's reigning "acid-rock" band — was raided yesterday by State narcotics agents and two members of the group were booked on marijuana charges.
They will appear in court this morning.
The raid on the Dead's 13-room Victorian house at 710 Ashbury Street also led to the arrest of the group's equipment manager, two business managers and six girls — ranging in age from 13 to 22. The two recording stars bagged were Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan, the Dead's lead singer, and Robert Weir, a rhythm guitarist.
It was uncertain yesterday afternoon if charges would be filed against the three other members of the group not actually present at the house at the time of the raid — Jerry "Captain Trips" Garcia, the lead guitarist, Phil Lesh, the bass player and song writer, and Bill Sommers, the drummer.
Of the eleven taken down to the station, all were free on $500 bail a few hours after their arrests.
The bust was pulled by State agents and San Francisco police at three in the afternoon, and was described by State Narcotics Bureau Chief Matthew O'Connor as the start of a stepped-up attack on Haight-Ashbury marijuana traffic.
O'Connor said the Grateful Dead raid was made because other investigation "kept turning up the address 710 Ashbury as a supply source."
He said the five state agents and two city inspectors confiscated over a pound of marijuana and hashish.
The chief described the scene as follows: "They were processing some marijuana in the kitchen by running it through a colander — to get rid of the stems and seeds."
Some hippie acquaintances who were in the house when the raid came but who were released, walked across the street and sat on the sidewalk to watch the proceedings. When the first person came out of the house in handcuffs, one girl yelled a familiar 12-letter epithet at the officers.
But it had little effect, and the eleven hippies were put in a paddy wagon, taken to city prison and booked on one charge each of possession of marijuana.
Most recently the Grateful Dead have been playing at the Straight Theater in the hippie district. The managers of the theater have lately delighted Hashbury by side-tracking a city ban on further dance halls in the area. They call themselves a dancing school.

(from the Stanford Daily, 4 October 1967)

* * *

The Stanford Daily is a slightly-rewritten copy of the SF Chronicle article from the day before:

ROCK BAND BUSTED
POT ARRESTS
HAIGHT ROUNDUP
COPS RAID PAD OF GRATEFUL DEAD

Two members of the Grateful Dead - the lively San Francisco group responsible for such rock hits as "Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl" - were busted on marijuana charges yesterday.
The raid - on the Dead's way-out 13-room pad at 710 Ashbury Street - also led to the arrest of the group's equipment manager, two business managers, and six girls, variously described as "friends," "visitors," and "just girls."
The 3 p.m. foray by State agents and San Francisco police was described by State narcotics bureau head Matthew O'Connor as the start of a stepped-up attack on Haight-Ashbury marijuana traffic.
Within three hours there were two more raids. At about 5 p.m., nine other persons were busted at 360 Haight Street for possession of some five kilograms of marijuana. Then, an hour later, agents swooped down on eight hippies at 234 Divisadero Street and also charged them with possession.
Arrested in the first raid were Ron (Pig Pen) McKernan, 22, The Dead's flamboyant, long-haired singer; rhythm guitarist Robert Weir, 19; Robert C. Matthews, 19, the equipment manager; and the business managers, Rock Scully, 26, and Daniel Rifkin, 23. All - including the six girls - were later released on $500 bail.
O’Connor, the State narcotics chief, said he was not sure whether charges would be filed against the three other members of The Dead not present at the pad — lead guitarist, Jerry (Captain Trips) Garcia, 24; Phil Lesh, 27, bassist and song writer; and Bill Sommers, 21, the drummer.
Scully was arrested as he walked up the steps of the two-story pad and told observers he knew of no pot arrest. 
A San Francisco inspector then took him by the shoulder and led him inside. 
Five other persons - a 13-year-old girl, a young man and three other girls - were inside the house at the time but were released. 
O'Connor said the Grateful Dead raid was made because other investigations "kept turning up the address of 710 Ashbury as a supply source."
He said the five state agents and two city inspectors confiscated over a pound of marijuana and its big brother, hashish.
"They were processing some marijuana in the kitchen," he said, "by running it through a colander to get rid of the seeds and stems."
The hippies who were released walked across the street and sat on the sidewalk watching the proceedings. When the first person came out of the house in handcuffs, one long-haired girl yelled a familiar 12-letter epithet at the officers.
But it had little effect and the ten hippies were put in a paddy wagon, taken to city prison, and booked on one charge each of possession of marijuana. 
The girl friends were identified as Susan Swanson, 19; Rosalyn Stevenson, 19; Veronica Grant, 23; Christine Bennett, 23; Florence Nathan, 21; and Antoinette Kaufman, 22. 
All except Miss Kaufman told officers they lived at the Dead's house. She gave her address as 1333 Lincoln Boulevard. 
The band's attorney, Michael Stepanian, arrived at City Prison at 4:30 p.m. and said he would have everybody out as soon as bail was set. 
The Dead, who have bent the minds of high society as well as hippies at the psychedelic dance halls, came on the scene last year as the group playing for a Capital Records documentary called "LSD." The record was produced by Owsley Stanley, a 31-year-old who reportedly retired a millionaire by selling acid before it became illegal. 
Then the group teamed up with Ken Kesey for his "Acid Test" happenings. 
Critics have said that as exponents of the "San Francisco Sound" The Dead can be equaled - if at all - only by Jefferson Airplane. One critic wrote that "together, they sound like live thunder." 
Most recently, the band has been playing at the Straight Theater School of Dance - a unique combination of entertainment and instruction which began last Friday under the watchful eyes of city police and fire inspectors. 
The name of the group, informed sources commented ironically, comes from an Egyptian prayer: 
"We grateful dead praise you, Osiris..."        

(from the SF Chronicle, 3 October 1967)

http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/2013/07/25/grateful-dead-and-the-710-ashbury-st-drug-bust-of-1967

See also: http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2015/03/june-1968-dead-in-court.html




7 comments:

  1. I'm curious about the camera crews mentioned in Blair's and McNally's accounts of the bust. Does anyone know what crews were there on the day of the bust, October 2nd?

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    1. Jackson mentions that the police were "accompanied by reporters and television crews they'd tipped off;" McNally says that the "reporters and TV crews watched from the street."
      I've seen photos of the busted Dead being marched out of the house, but don't recall seeing any TV footage of it, and I don't know which stations covered it. In any case, I wish the TV crews had spent their time better by covering a Dead show!

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  2. McNally recounts the events of the day in his book, p.225-27.
    The San Francisco Chronicle also ran a series of articles on the bust (which I don't have), the first one prominently featuring Pigpen's photo under the "Pot Arrests" headline.

    Notice the term "the Good Ole Grateful Dead" - it had been used even earlier. Per McNally, in the fall of '66 "there was an apartment at the corner of Stanyan and Alma in the Haight whose tenants sold buttons that read "Good Ol' Grateful Dead." (p.175) Which is pretty remarkable for a band that had only been in San Francisco about a year.

    This article was in the first issue of Rolling Stone. It was reprinted in Rolling Stone's 1995 Garcia tribute book, and they've also reposted this article online.

    (I deleted my earlier comments due to some misinformation.)

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  3. I added part of the front-page article from the SF Chronicle the following day covering the bust.
    Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the whole article, or the followups.

    The "just girls" arrested were: Sue Swanson (head of the Dead fan club), Florence Nathan (Phil's girlfriend), Veronica Grant (Pigpen's girlfriend), Christine Bennett (Dan Healy's girlfriend), and Toni Kaufman (who worked at HALO, the Haight Ashbury Legal Organization, which was also based at 710).
    Phil and "Bill Summers" didn't live at 710, so they were clear. Garcia & Mountain Girl just missed getting arrested, since a neighbor warned them off.
    The Chronicle seemed amused by the bust at the Dead's "way-out pad," called them "hippies," and also called Good Morning Little Schoolgirl one of their "hits" - somehow I doubt this paper had its finger on the pulse of the young generation...

    The Chronicle ran an article on October 6 on the Dead's press conference headlined, "Grateful Dead Hold Lively Wake." It included an edit of Rifkin's two-page speech to the press which has some different lines from Rolling Stone's edit:

    “Almost anyone who has ever studied marijuana seriously and objectively has agreed that, physically and psychologically, marijuana is the least harmful chemical used for pleasure and life enhancement. … The president of a company that makes defective automobiles which leads to thousands of deaths and injuries can face a maximum penalty or a minor fine.
    A person convicted for possession of marijuana can be sentenced to up to 30 years in jail. … The law is so seriously out of touch with reality. If the lawyers, doctors, advertising men, teachers and political officeholders who use marijuana were arrested today, the law might well be off the books before Thanksgiving.
    Police prefer to concentrate on individuals who have been manufactured by the mass media into a group that typifies the now-popular image of the drug-oriented hippie. The mass media created the so-called hippie scene. This way, the American people are protected, by the police and the media, from the fact that the law is a lie.
    But the ‘hippie’ as created by the media is a lie as well. … The law creates a mythical danger and calls it a felony. The result is a series of lies and myths that prop each other up. Behind all the myths is the reality. The Grateful Dead are people engaged in constructive, creative effort in the musical field and this house is where we work as well as our residence. Because the police fear and misinterpret us, our effort is now being interrupted as we deal with the consequences of an harassing arrest.”

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  4. I added an article from the Stanford Daily on the bust.
    It ran on October 4 - what's interesting is that it was taken almost verbatim from the Chronicle article, but slightly rephrased in spots. Since the editor was a young student and not a stodgy Chronicle reporter, the wording is improved and less condescending:
    - instead of being "a lively San Francisco group responsible for rock hits," the Dead are "San Francisco's reigning 'acid-rock' band"
    - they live in a "Victorian house," not a "way-out pad"
    - Pigpen is no longer "flamboyant & long-haired"
    - the police-report-style listing of names & ages is omitted, as well as the winking descriptions of the girls arrested - and only the band members are named.
    Jerry is still "Captain Trips," of course, and Phil is still oddly named as the songwriter.

    (I don't have a copy of the full Chronicle article, but the Stanford Daily article probably copied most of it.)

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  5. SF Chronicle front page 10/3/67 http://auction.rockposters.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=4531409

     

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  6. I found the full SF Chronicle article, and the whole thing's now included.

    A couple things to note:
    - the info on the band at the end of the article has some errors. The Dead had nothing to do with Capitol Records' "LSD" album, nor did Owsley. Nor did their name come from the Egyptian prayer, though in '67 this was widely believed (and used in ads), and the Dead found it a neat connection. And Owsley, of course, was far from "retired" (he would be busted in December). The anonymous "critic" quoted on the Dead was Ralph Gleason, also a Chronicle writer.
    - the Stanford Daily has a notably more accurate perspective of the band; though it directly copies much of the Chronicle article, it also makes some improvements. In the Chronicle, the Dead are playing at the Straight Theater "School of Dance...under the watchful eyes of city police." But the Daily more accurately reports, "The managers of the theater have lately delighted Hashbury by side-tracking a city ban on further dance halls in the area. They call themselves a dancing school."

    Though San Francisco wasn't a particularly oppressive city by '67 standards (it was probably one of the most open cities in the country then), the Chronicle article portrays an almost gloating atmosphere of oppression, with agents "swooping down on hippies" as part of a "stepped-up attack on marijuana," and police lurking at concerts to make sure nobody danced.

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