Jul 24, 2019

July 13, 1967: PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, BC

In my previous bulletins keeping you up with the names of singing groups, I mentioned The Grateful Dead. It seems now that a local entrepreneur wants to book them (it?) into Capilano Stadium. The group plays psychedelic music for hippies, and we certainly have enough of them to fill Cap Stadium.
Another group in the same class is the Family Dogs who, together with the Fast Flying Vestibule (really) will play (?) at a dance at the Kits Theatre Saturday. [ . . . ]
When asked, "If this music like this appeals to the hippies and the flower children, and none of them have more than the pot to dream in, where do they get the money to go to these dances?" the answer was, "Buddy, you gotta dime?"
(from Lorne Parton's "See Hear" column, the Vancouver Province, 22 June 1967)

... A band playing at Phase Four Wednesday night was billed as "The Family Dog," while a sign in the window of the Psychedelic Shop across the street announced: "Musicians Wanted for The New Awakening Fun and Funeral Band."... And Jim Wisbey, the Torch bearer, is dickering for Cap Stadium July 16 for a concert by the Grateful Dead.
(from Jack Wasserman's column, the Vancouver Sun, 22 June 1967)

THURSDAY - The Grateful Dead, The Daily Flash, The Collectors, and The Painted Ship. 7 p.m. Agrodome.
(from the Vancouver Sun, 7 July 1967)



Ten live British newspapermen on a centennial tour of Canada came face to face at Vancouver airport Wednesday with the Grateful Dead.
The five dead - Pig Pen, Captain Trip, Kid Decibel, Reddy Kilowatt, and Captain Credit - arrived from San Francisco and will perform tonight at the Pacific National Exhibition Agrodome.
The newspapermen - from some of Britain's leading newspapers - were enroute to Whitehorse and were amused bystanders as about 60 Kitsilano hippies welcomed the Grateful Dead.
Pig Pen, leader of the Dead, escorted his group through the crowd of local hippies and foreign newsmen assembled at the airport's north terminal.
The 200-pound hippy musician, with shoulder-length hair, beard and moustache, wore a black buffalo skin coat, a blue and green striped sweatshirt, and a black naval cocked hat.

The British newsmen seemed slightly baffled by the commotion but were favorably impressed by the hippies.
"This sort of thing doesn't happen at British airports," said Willis Pickard of The Scotsman, Edinburgh.
"The hippies aren't offensive and they liven the show up a bit. They're a stimulating influence on Canadian society which tends to be stuffy and conformist."
"They're well behaved, a pleasant group of kids," said George Perry of the London Sunday Times.
"I find nothing sad about them at all."

The welcoming committee of local hippies was provided by Jim Wisbey, a local club operator who is promoting the Agrodome show.
Wisbey chartered a bus at a cost of $30 to provide 60 hippies transportation from the Village Bistro on Fourth Avenue to the airport and back.
Following their arrival, the Grateful Dead signed autographs on posters, bare arms, and cigarette packs for the local hippies who then boarded their bus for Kitsilano.
The five dead plus $20,000 worth of musical equipment and two managers made the trip to downtown Vancouver by automobile.
Promoters of the Agrodome show say the Grateful Dead entertainment will be supplemented by a large-scale hippy "love-in."

(from the Vancouver Sun, 13 July 1967)

* * *


Is the rock 'n roll riot going the way of bathtub gin and the early Elvis Presley?
Is it, gratefully, dead?
Perhaps an obituary is premature, judging from Thursday night's concert by The Grateful Dead.
But the traditional mob frenzy surrounding the old rock 'n roll concerts appears to be on a dying note.
If so, give some credit to the hirsute hippies and the psychedelic revolution which is toppling "straight" rock 'n roll from its musical throne.
Love rock, or acid rock, is taking over in the psychedelic sixties.
And the scene is peaceful, man, following the hippies' scripture of total non-violence.
Such was the scene Thursday night as about 1,300 hippies, ersatz hippies, teeny-boppers, and straight (ordinary) people attended a noise-wracked concert featuring San Francisco's Grateful Dead in the Agrodome.
There wasn't a single incident amid the wafts of incense. When the flower children blossom out, the only assault is on the ears.
Said police crowd control expert Insp. F.C. (Bud) Errington following the four-hour show: "It was one of the most orderly crowds we have ever had."
Only a year ago, 36 screaming, hysterical teen-agers were carried bodily from the PNE Forum by the Rolling Stones, a straight rock 'n roll British group.
The mayhem during the concert also included assaults on a police officer and an usher, plus two arrests for drunkenness.
At Thursday night's psychedelic "love-in," the teeny-boppers did not scream, screech, swoon, or tear their clothes.
Despite the music's wild, soaring crescendos, they sat silently, as rapt as meditative monks.
A few activists among them let their hair down by engaging in isolated "love dances." 
Explained one 15-year-old teeny-bopper and would-be hippy: "We don't have to scream out loud anymore.
"We don't believe in screaming, because then you can't hear the song. We still get emotionally aroused, but now we scream inside."
And according to a Fourth Avenue hippy, the teeny-boppers are among their young disciples.
"The teeny-boppers are following the lead of the older hippies. We are a non-violent people and we just came here to listen and enjoy the music."
Insp. Errington and his 25-man force spent the evening suffering nothing worse than sore eardrums.
"It's perhaps the most grueling four hours I ever spent," said Errington. "I didn't think anything could be more amplified than (straight) rock 'n roll."
Added a ticket taker: "These people (the hippies) don't cause any trouble. They're not on this earth. They're away up somewhere."

(by Alf Strand, from the Vancouver Sun, 14 July 1967) 

Alas, no tape! 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Some images -- 

Pigpen at the airport.

Show poster.
Newspaper ad for July 14-15.


  1. The Dead hit Vancouver. They had already visited a couple times in 1966, but by now they were becoming well-known...among the kids if not the newspaper reporters.
    It's funny that one of the British visitors calls Canada "stuffy and conformist," which sums up the journalistic attitude towards the hippies. Newspapers tended to treat the new movement with contempt, condescension, or derision; rarely with much understanding. Large gatherings were often written about like fashion shows - the show review here was illustrated with pictures of "flower children," young women wearing "psychedelic styles" (which look quite normal today).

    Hats off to Jim Wisbey for his promotional skills. He initially aimed for the larger outdoor Capilano Stadium, but settled on the Agrodome, and used a variety of techniques to drum up interest: he announced that the show would be a "love-in" (it was no such thing), he arranged for a large group of local hippies to greet the Dead at the airport, and he even got a newspaper story on the Dead's arrival.
    By this time Vancouver had turned its eyes to San Francisco (as evidenced by one band calling itself the Family Dog!), so there was clearly some local interest in the Dead, despite the rather low concert turnout of 1,300 (the Agrodome holds from 3-5,000). The hippy committee welcoming the Dead may have been a publicity stunt, but it reminds me of the street parade that greeted the Dead when they arrived in New York City the previous month... The Dead's reputation was spreading.

    Nonetheless, there weren't enough Dead fans in Vancouver to fill any stadiums at that point, and Wisbey's marketing wasn't enough to keep him in business. An article from the 8/5/67 Vancouver Sun tells the sequel:
    "Controversial club operator Jim (Torch) Wisbey started booking in rock groups to his Dante's Inferno. He lost $1,300 on the Canned Heat, $4,000 on the Grateful Dead, and $1,500 on The Doors. As of this week, the Inferno has been taken over by the Magic Circle, headed by Roger Schiffer, and renamed the Retinal Circus. The new operators will rely on local bands with occasional imports and aim at "the hidden hippies who would like to smile at others without being drunk or doped." In past promotions by the group the posters usually read, "No Hop - No Weed - Just Flowers." And that's the way things are swinging these days..."

    These stories have little to say about the Dead, since the reporters didn't know the band and didn't care to. (Though the Sun was game enough to print their nicknames upon arrival.) It's observed that Pigpen is their leader, and that they have "$20,000 worth of musical equipment and two managers."
    Just like the Montreal report, the paper is shocked that local youths didn't greet the Dead with Stones-like screams and mayhem, and remarks on their peaceful behavior. The reporter is astonished that during the show "they sat silently, as rapt as meditative monks," without even dancing much. (This was not the kind of crowd the Dead liked!) The 25 policemen sent to keep order had nothing to do but endure the music.
    Nothing is said of the music, of course, except that it features "wild, soaring crescendos" and is noisy enough to "assault the ears" and hurt eardrums. One "crowd control" cop present, despite not having to control anyone in the crowd, laments that "it's perhaps the most grueling four hours I ever spent."

    1. Oh, and Kitsilano (where the greeting committee came from) was a Vancouver neighborhood known as a "hippy hangout" in those days - much like in Haight-Ashbury, the cheap rents and housing attracted a young crowd who were very much influenced by San Francisco's counterculture.
      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/that-time-vancouver-s-hippies-took-over-stanley-park-50-years-ago-1.4038794 (on the 3/26/67 Be-In with Country Joe)
      https://www.vancourier.com/news/positively-4th-avenue-the-rise-and-fall-of-canada-s-hippie-mecca-1.2368955 (a longer article on "the hippie capitol of Canada")
      See also Lawrence Aronson's book City of Love & Revolution: Vancouver in the Sixties, which emphasizes the links between San Francisco & Vancouver, making the point that "Vancouver followed trends from the United States."

    2. I did a search for the Daily Flash and found an original handbill for this concert/love-in.

    3. Just saw this online. I have the original newspaper copy as the chick was me lol Great fun

  2. That’s my Mom in the picture with Bon Weir & Pigpen. Not her hand, though.