Aug 16, 2018

June 9, 1968: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Police argued for three hours Sunday in Golden Gate Park with the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.
In the end, the Cub Scouts won out.
As more than 3,000 people waited for sounds that never came, police stood firm on their demand that the rock musical groups have a concert permit.
"This is not a concert," said Bill Thompson, the Airplane's manager. "It is a wake for the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, and the Cub Scouts would like the music."
Finally the people left and turned Speedway Meadow over to the Cub Scouts, who had a permit.

(from the Hayward Daily Review, 10 June 1968)


Lack of a permit prevented two famed rock bands from holding a wake for the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Golden Gate Park yesterday.
The Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane announced over two radio stations that they would have a memorial service in the park’s Speedway Meadow.
Police estimated that more than 2000 young persons had gathered in the meadows for the service.
But during three hours of arguing with representatives of the bands, police pointed out that the meadows had been reserved by a Cub Scout pack, and more important, the bands did not have a city permit to play in the park.
So the crowds drifted away, disappointed.

(from the San Francisco Examiner, 10 June 1968)


Three hundred Cub Scouts who didn't exist stopped a memorial wake for Robert Kennedy last Sunday in Golden Gate Park.
The Ghost Scouts had some help from the fuzz.
At about noon Sunday free people began to gather in Speedway Meadows to help celebrate a wake for the late Senator. The Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane were in attendance and the event had been announced on KMPX and KSAN.
As the band trucks arrived a cop Sergeant, badge #269 announced that the wake could not be held, since a group of Cub Scouts had prior permission to use the area. A tail-chasing argument with the Dead's manager ensued, and the cop eventually refused to tell the manager who to see about getting permission.
Three to four thousand people waited as this went on, and about 40 SF Tactical Squad superfuzz also waited in several cop cars. They had helmets and three-foot clubs ready.
The cops gave the Dead's manager 45 minutes to make a phone call. He did and came back without reaching anyone. The bands departed and about half of the crowd left as well.
Some of the remaining persons stayed to investigate. Motorcyclists fanned out over the area and could find no trace of a group of scouts. No scouts ever showed up at the meadow.
Later in the week the manager of the Airplane checked and found that no permit had ever been issued to any scouts for the meadow's use that day.
Of course minor matters like that could not obstruct the mind of Mayor Alioto. As reported in the mass press he loyally upheld the version of his cops. Fortunately, no Ghost Scouts had applied to use the meadow for the upcoming Sunday (June 16) and the wake may be held on that date. At BARB press time no firm plans had been made.

(from the Berkeley Barb, 14 June 1968)

1 comment:

  1. No music, but quite a discrepancy between the AP report and the Barb's account. This is a good example of how differently an event could be reported in the mainstream press and a local underground paper.

    Jefferson Airplane were interviewed in Kaleidoscope Chicago (another underground rag) later that year, and brought up Rock Scully and this event, when talking about dealing with cops:

    SPENCE: You ask Rock Scully, man. Now here's a cat who participated in the first Free Speech Sit-Ins at San Francisco, was in those movies, man, you've seen them, where they turned those fire hoses on and dragged those kids down the steps of democracy. He spent nine months in the joint, got out, got his teeth busted and had to have two front teeth put in.
    Now when the heat comes around Rock is a beautiful diplomat. When we went out to play Bobby Kennedy's wake, out there it was Rock who handled the cops and realized we can't fight, there was a tactical squad out there. And he didn't want to see people's heads busted. He was thinking about those kids, man. And we could always play for those kids if we got a permit.
    Now the law was right, because you're supposed to have a permit, it had been rented to somebody else for that day. You've got to do things right.
    PAUL: It hadn't been rented to somebody else that day.
    SPENCE: It had, because the cops got it. The cops had it that day. But the thing is that he learned from his bad experience.
    GRACE: No, that's good, I agree with that.
    KAL: But he hasn't forgotten it.
    SPENCE: No, Rock hasn't. Rock's working the same way we are, man. He's trying to make music, and trying to like take care of business just the way he can. I think that he's doing it the right way.

    (from "Jefferson Airplane Raps," Kaleidoscope Chicago 11/22/68, p.9 - also in this interview, the Airplane agree that the Dead are "the real origin of acid rock," Spence commenting, "The Grateful Dead play 'acid rock' and it sounds like acid, if you can say something sounds like acid.")