Oct 10, 2017

January 23-24, 1970: Civic Auditorium, Honolulu


The Grateful Dead will present a light show and concert Jan. 23 and 24 at the Civic Auditorium.
The program is designed to take the audience back to San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, circa 1965, when San Francisco Rock had its beginning.
Even the price ($3 for advance sales, $4 at the door) is a reminder of the "good old days."
What has happened since is history, with the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead being the only San Francisco bands to retain their original members.
In the beginning, the Grateful Dead was nothing spectacular - just another rock 'n' roll band made up of suburban ex-folk players who were finding out that the sit-and-pluck sound had run its course.
Lead guitar [player] Jerry Garcia had gone the whole route: digging rocks [sic] in the mid-'50s, dropping into folk by 1959, getting deep into traditional country music and emerging as a brilliant banjo player.
In 1964, Garcia started Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, with the now famous "Pigpen" and Bob Weis. Since the time was ripe for rock, they changed the name to the "Warlocks."
"The only scene then was the Hollywood hype scene," said Garcia, "booking agents in flashy suits, gigs in booze clubs, six nights a week, five sets a night, doing all the R&B rock standards. We did it all."
Soon it was time to move again, away from "straight" music into something else.
"Back in the late days of the Acid Tests, we were looking for a name. We abandoned the 'Warlocks.' It didn't fit anymore.
"One day we were all over at Phil's house. He had a big Oxford dictionary, opened it, and there was 'grateful dead' - those words, juxtaposed.
"It was one of those moments, you know, like everything else on the page went blank, and there was 'Grateful Dead.' So I said, 'How about Grateful Dead?' and that was it."
Advance tickets for the concert, presented by KPOI-FM, are on sale at Records Hawaii.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 11 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead, Warner Bros. Records stars, will "get it on" when they make their Island show premiere Jan. 23 and 24 in a dance concert-light show at the Civic Auditorium.
The San Francisco combo - big favorites in the hip and underground circles - previously were booked to appear in Hawaii, but show plans fell through.
But the original band now is coming. It consists of Jerry Garcia, guitarist-vocalist; Mickey Hart, percussionist; Phil Lesh, bass guitarist-vocalist; Bob Weir, guitarist-vocalist; Tom Constanten, keyboard artist; Ron "Pigpen" McKernan and Bill Kretuzmann, percussionists.
Advance tickets, available at Records Hawaii, are $3. Tickets at the door will be $4.
K-POI FM is coordinating the concert, which also will feature a light show presentation.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 16 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead - Warner Bros. recording stars - arrive at 4:20 p.m. today on a Pan American flight. They'll be giving two dance concerts from 8 p.m. to midnight tomorrow and Saturday at the Civic Auditorium.
The combo will be arriving with 5,000 pounds of Alendic sound equipment.
Tickets for the show are on sale at the Civic box office. The Sun and Moon and Pilfredge Sump will also perform, along with a light show by Noah's Arc.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 22 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead - Jerry Garcia, Pigpen, all the rest, two drummers, 5,000 pounds of excess baggage consisting of instruments and their own sound system, and a colorful, historical contingent including Augustus Owsley Stanley III - have finally made it to Honolulu.
After two past concerts that never came down, they are here for Civic Auditorium concerts tonight and tomorrow night.

But the biggest attention-getter may turn out to be a musician who has never played a concert before - Michael J. Brody Jr., the cat who's supposedly giving away $25 million. He hasn't shown up yet, if he's going to, to play with the Dead.
Waiting for the jet from San Francisco to pull into Gate 1 at the airport, Hector H. Venegas, Hawaii manager of the record division of RCA, showed a telegram from Ernie Alischuler, RCA's national artists and repertory vice president.
"RCA'S NEW ARTIST MICHAEL J. BRODY JR. IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE GRATEFUL DEAD CONCERTS IN HONOLULU..." it began, asking Venegas to see that he got taken good care of.

Off the plane trooped Garcia, and Bob Weir, guitarists and vocalists, organist P.C. Constanten, looking like John Lennon before he got his crew cut, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Bill Kretuzmann, and Mickey Hart, percussionists, Phil Lesh, bass and vocalist - the granddaddies of American rock and the San Francisco music scene.
But no Brody. And no $25 million to give away.
Tom Moffatt, KPOI general manager, said he had been contacted by a Mainland promoter who said Brody digs the Dead and should be booked for the concert. (Brody sang on the Ed Sullivan Show taped last week, which will be shown here next Sunday.) "So I told him to go," Moffatt said.

"We don't even know the cat," said Dead leader Garcia with a grin, sniffing his lei. Meanwhile, the others were getting kissed by a few chicks who were tipped off on their arrival and brought leis, and kissing them back.
"We're just like everyone else," Garcia said. "We've heard Brody rave. There's a rumor he's going to be putting out a Charley Manson album." The whole thing had every earmark of a merry prank.
Garcia said he just did the sound track for Michelangelo Antonioni's "Zabriski Point," to be released Feb. 9.

"What happened at Altamont?"
"Well, everything went wrong," Garcia said. (The Dead and friends were reported by Rolling Stone magazine to have been in on hiring the Hell's Angels for security at the concert in California that drew 300,000 and left one person murdered and two run over by hit-and-run drivers.)
A local girl ran up to Garcia. "I want to know your name!" she said.
"Jerry," he said. She squeezed his arm and left, content.
"Altamont was a costly lesson," Garcia said. "There isn't any way that we know to control Hell's Angels.
"We were there, but we didn't play. It was really a riot. It was scary.
"We've played free hundreds of times and there was never trouble," Garcia said, "but we're not the Rolling Stones. When you're the second most popular group in the world, that brings people."

(by John Bilby, from the Honolulu Advertiser, 23 January 1970)

* * *


HONOLULU (UPI) - Michael J. Brody Jr., the mod millionaire who figures he has given away "about 5 mil," has been throwing to the audience his payments as a rock and roll singer at the Honolulu Civic Center.
Brody thus may leave Hawaii after two appearances in connection with concerts by the Grateful Dead singing group with less cash than the $10 he had when he arrived Friday.
"A lot of people are taking advantage of me," said the long-haired 21-year-old oleomargarine heir. "But I don't care."
He gave the $10 away to an old man Friday a few minutes after he and his pretty wife Renee arrived at the Honolulu Airport.
Friday night, after playing his guitar and singing for 16 minutes, he called for his $300 concert fee onstage and showered it on the startled audience.
Brody came into an undetermined amount of money last month and vowed to give it all away. But said the $5 million he has disposed of so far was "other people's money that they gave me to give away."

(UPI story from the Daily Herald, Provo UT, 26 January 1970) 


HONOLULU (AP) - Michael J. Brody Jr., a 21-year-old oleomargarine heir who wants to give away his fortune, failed to "turn on" a rock music concert audience with his singing, but did get some polite applause.
Brody appeared before 3,000 persons at a concert by the Grateful Dead Friday night, singing four or five short songs and accompanying himself on his 12-string guitar.
Before singing, he spoke to the crowd about helping the poor and making the world a better place to live. He admitted to the crowd that he was nervous.
After his 15-minute appearance, he said he would like to give the people in the audience thousands of dollars but felt ending the war in Vietnam was more important "than the people of the Fiji Islands."
Brody arrived in Hawaii Friday afternoon with his wife, both clad in buckskins, aboard a Pan American World Airways flight from the mainland, and told newsmen at the Honolulu airport, "I only have $5 with me."
Immediately after the concert, the concert's promoter handed Brody $300 in $1 bills. Brody threw the stack of money into the crowd.
Talking with newsmen, Brody fired out answers to questions often never asked.
"Every cent I make goes to improving tenements. I'm just a little kid, I'm spoiled. And I'm going to keep on kissing the world. I've given away $500,000 and I still have $24,500,000.
"I've been offered a $10 million movie contract. I may become a movie star. Right now I don't have any bread, so don't ask."

(AP story from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 25 January 1970)


HONOLULU (UPI) - Folk-singing millionaire Michael J. Brody Jr. flew home abruptly yesterday after a wild weekend in Hawaii, declaring he would arrange a Vietnam ceasefire by buying off the North Vietnamese with $20 billion in aid.
The 21 year old oleomargarine heir left unfilled a second singing appearance scheduled for last night.
Friday, he had thrown his $300 concert fee from the stage to the startled audience, assured a group of service men he was "bringing you home," and estimated he had given away "about 5 million," most of it other people's money.
Brody and his wife, Renee, left for Los Angeles after asking a reporter to drive them to the airport.
Brody said they would fly "student standby," then go on to New York.
Brody's scheduled appearances in Honolulu were in connection with concerts by the Grateful Dead.
Brody said he was going back for meetings with unnamed associates "to bring about a cease-fire in Vietnam by Jan. 30" and to plan a later "peace and poverty meeting."
He said the ceasefire plan involved giving North Vietnam $20 billion in aid after its withdrawal from the South.
A passerby recognized Brody at the airport and asked if he had given away all his money.

(from the San Francisco Examiner, 25 January 1970) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

No Dead show review, alas, but the shows were released on Dave's Picks 19.


  1. After all the buildup, it doesn't look like the Dead's show was actually reviewed, but there are a few things of interest here:

    - The Dead's arrival is treated as a big event (the Dead are coming! they're finally here!), with a reporter even waiting for them at the airport. They'd been scheduled to play in Honolulu back in July '69 but had canceled.
    - Michael Lydon's 1969 Rolling Stone article on the Dead is quoted as background; prior to Garcia's big 1972 interview, Lydon's piece was the main source of info on the Dead for readers around the country.
    - To us it seems natural that Garcia is the focus, the one answering interview questions (rather than, say, manager Lenny Hart who was also at the airport), but that was one result of Lydon's article - reporters would seek out Garcia as the leader, the guy with the answers. (Or possibly, the rest of the Dead just avoided reporters.)
    - Garcia is asked about Altamont, as he usually would be in interviews for the rest of the year. It was instantly notorious, and the Dead were constantly asked for explanations.
    - The "5,000 pounds of Alendic sound equipment" is noted. Alembic was a name that no one knew yet, but reporters were already frequently mentioning the size & weight of the Dead's equipment, though it would be dwarfed in the years to come.
    - One thing I've seen in various 1970 pieces is that the 1965-66 era is already nostalgically referred to as "the good old days," a bygone era at the dawn of rock - the Dead, as one of the remaining bands of that scene, are already called "granddaddies of rock!" To some extent, the Dead are already being presented as kind of a nostalgia act, emerging from the depths of history - "trip back to 1965" and experience how it was at the famous Fillmore...

    1. On the Dead's previous cancellations: The 8/10/68 issue of Billboard had reported, "The Grateful Dead, Warner Bros-Seven Arts artists, bowed out of a late July stint at the HIC. An early 1969 date now looms."
      The HIC was the Honolulu International Center. The Dead booked a weekend at the Exhibit Hall there a year later, July 25-27 '69 with It's A Beautiful Day (and Rick Griffin did a nice Aoxomoxoa poster for it), but then that was cancelled too.
      After four shows in 1970, the Dead never played another show in Hawaii - I suppose the logistics were against it.

  2. Michael Brody was a well-known kook at the time, who made news stories about giving away his fortune, but turned out to be insane.
    Much more detail about his life story is here:
    Or in brief, here:

    Garcia alludes to the "Michael Brody sings Charlie Manson" joke that was going around then.
    On 2/8/70 at the Fillmore West, Bill Graham introduced the Dead with a gag, giving Garcia a framed photo of Brody.

    As for Brody's appearance at the Dead show, I can only quote his biography:
    "Radio station KPOI in Honolulu was promoting the concerts, and its general manager, Tom Moffatt, had the idea of bringing Brody to the island as another opening act... Moffatt made a few calls to contacts in New York... No contracts were signed, and no details hashed out.. On January 23, Moffatt still did not know what he would pay Brody.
    Moffatt and Lenny Hart, manager of the Dead, met Brody at the airport... Hart asked Brody what he planned to play. “I don’t know,” Brody said. “I haven’t written it yet.” The concert was six hours away...
    “What did you do for the Ed Sullivan show?” Hart asked.
    “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” Brody replied. He explained that RCA was releasing the record that day. “It’s going to sell over 100 million copies in a month. It should be the biggest record RCA ever had.”
    Hart laughed. “You’re talking about a lot of records...” Hart suggested that they head to the Civic Auditorium for rehearsal. Brody protested...
    After rehearsal, it was decided that Brody would sing “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and one or two of his own compositions, assuming he finished them by the concert, which was about three hours away. Moffatt said he would pay Brody $300 to appear, and Brody accepted without haggling... He insisted that he be paid in single dollar bills on stage..."

    1. "With about three hours to kill and a couple of songs to write, Brody...got high. He smoked some pot with a couple of the roadies... One of the roadies slipped some acid into Brody’s bottle of Coke. By the time the show opened, Brody was having a bad trip. The Civic Auditorium was filled to capacity — about 3,000 Dead Heads. Brody walked onto the stage. He felt dizzy. He struggled to stay standing...
      “The war will be over on Wednesday,” he announced. He explained his peace plan...[but] he was having trouble remembering his plan. The crowd was uneasy and somewhat hostile, but it was as high as Brody.
      “If you think I’m a phony, then I’m a phony. You are all phonies. You should give your money to end the war and fight poverty instead of wasting it on this concert.” There were a smattering of boos and whistles in the audience. Others cheered.
      “I know you don’t want to hear me. You want the Grateful Dead.” He strummed a chord on his guitar. He then sang “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.” He then sang anywhere from two to four other songs, all original compositions, all improvised. They lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. They made no sense, and no one noticed. It was a Dead concert, after all. After he finished, the audience applauded, politely. Brody told the audience that he was too stoned to continue. “I’d like to give you thousands of dollars,” he yelled, “but ending the war in Vietnam is more important than giving money to the people of the Fiji Islands.” He then called for his salary. A representative walked on stage and handed Brody 300 one-dollar bills. Brody took the stack and threw it to the audience... Brody swayed back and forth, then tried to walk off the stage. He staggered [and was helped off]..
      Backstage, Brody was disoriented but also agitated. “I’ve only been playing the guitar for five months. What do they expect? I couldn’t get into it,” he told a magazine reporter. “Somebody gave me acid. I’ve taken 300 trips. I don’t want it anymore but they keep shoving it down my throat.” As he spoke, his anger grew. “All you need is love.” He pointed to the audience “Those people don’t love. They don’t have any love. I want to give and all they want to do is take... They’ve done everything but nail me to a cross. I’m not going to go on stage tomorrow night. Not for them,” Brody said. He complained about the music business, and RCA. “The record business is a downer. They put out my record and I don’t get a cent. I’m gonna buy RCA. I’ll rent Madison Square Garden and give my own concert... Those people back there,” he said referring again to the audience. “It wasn’t that they were stoned. There was no love in them. They don’t listen to my advice. They don’t respect me. Nixon doesn’t respect me.”
      ...Brody refused to do the second show in Honolulu and instead caught a flight back to New York."

    2. The Honolulu Advertiser had an article on Garcia in its 5/12/90 issue ("Captain Trips Prefers Watery Trips These Days"), announcing upcoming JGB shows and briefly mentioning this show:
      "It's Garcia's first Hawaii performances since 1970, when the Dead last played Honolulu. He says all he can remember from that concert is the opening act, an heir to a margarine company fortune who played a set of 'terrible' acoustic guitar."