Jan 9, 2024

November 15, 1968: Gill Coliseum, OSU, Corvallis OR

Most articles from the Oregon State Daily Barometer.


Tickets for the Nov 15 concert featuring The Grateful Dead will go on sale today at 9 a.m. at the Student Activity Center ticket booth. 
The Grateful Dead, one of the leading rock groups of the nation, are being brought to the OSU campus for a Gill Coliseum appearance by the Oregon State University Students For A Democratic Society. 
Two top-selling albums have been released by The Grateful Dead - "Anthem of the Sun" and "The Grateful Dean." [sic] The best selling selections have been "Alligator" and "Morning Dew." 
Tickets for the evening concert are priced at $2.50 and $3. Tickets will be available daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the ticket booth. 
Two other groups will appear with The Grateful Dead. They are Mint Tattoo and Big City Blue. The Mint Tattoo is a trio from the San Francisco Bay area. 
Dress for the concert is entirely optional, although SDS hopes to have many of the students wear costumes.


excerpt from The Little Man's Views column 

"I guess the Grateful Dead really are coming on November 15. This is a treat for those that just aren't thrilled to death by musical fare such as the Marine Band, or the Philharmonic. How about the Moby Grape next term?"


GRATEFUL DEAD DANCE (Campus Scene column)

SDS will be giving away a poster today to everyone who buys two tickets to the Grateful Dead, Mint Tattoo and Big City Blue dance. All will be appearing at Gill Coliseum, Friday, Nov. 15. Tickets are $2.50 each and are available in the MU ticket booth from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The posters will be given away with tickets only today. Students are reminded that this is not a concert but a sock-hop dance.

[also: Dionne Warwick performing tonight in Gill Coliseum as part of the 1968 Homecoming celebration.]


excerpt from The Little Man's Views column 

"The Grateful Dead are coming this Friday, and with them The Mint Tattoo, and The Big City Blues. Exponents of the San Francisco sound, these bands are well worth the two and a half bucks that it costs to get in. Besides, if we get this concert to work and make money, maybe we can get the Moby Grape next term, and I like them."



The Grateful Dead will appear in Gill Coliseum Friday, Nov. 15, from 8 to 12 p.m. Also appearing will be the Mint Tattoo and the Big City Blue. 
Tickets to the sock-hop dance are $2.50 and are available in the MU ticket booth and the Coachman downtown. Admission is $3 at the door. 
The light show for all three groups will be done by Gretz and Co. Dress for the dance is costume or grubby. 
The dance is sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the newly formed Black Student Union. 



Mint Tattoo, a trio from Los Angeles, will be one of the three bands appearing in Gill Coliseum tonight from 8 to midnight. Headlining the four-hour soc-hop will be the Grateful Dead from San Francisco and the Big City Blue. Gretz and Co. will produce a light show for all three groups which will envelop the entire coliseum. 
This panorama of psychedelic sounds is co-sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society and Black Student Union. Admission is $3 at the door; dress is costume or grubby.


excerpt from The Little Man's Views column 

"Was OSU ready for The Grateful Dead? I'm not sure, but at any rate, they came, saw, conquered, and ambled on down to Eugene for a Saturday concert. It was a pretty orderly evening; not exactly quiet, but orderly. No fights, no riots or great destruction. Hopefully it can be done again next term, only bigger and better. How about Country Joe and the Fish, or Moby Grape, Chambers Brothers or Big Brother?"



On Friday, Nov. 15 there was a happening in Corvallis. The Grateful Dead, a rock group from San Francisco, were at Gill Coliseum. The concert-dance, co-sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society and Black Student Union, attracted seemingly every "hippie" that Corvallis and out-lying areas have to offer. 
The audience, most of whom were seated on the floor, gave the impression of boredom and could be seen occasionally watching the light show which were on the walls of the coliseum and above the stage. 
Before we got a look at the Grateful Dead, we were confronted with two other bands and a speaker. A representative of SDS gave a speech about the state of affairs in the English department. Then they came on. 
Out walked the six members of the Grateful Dead, along with several others who helped them get their equipment in playing order. 
The member who seemed generally the first one to be noticed is a guitarist named "Pig-Pen." He had a head full of bushy, black hair and a beard which can only be described as full. The others had their outstanding characteristics, too. 
The organist resembled Wild Bill Hickock. Of the two drummers, one had on a magenta shirt and a leather band around his forehead. One of the guitarists had his long, blond locks pulled back in a queue. The other guitarist simply fit in with the rest of the group. 
For approximately two hours the Grateful Dead were on stage. They opened with their rendition of "Turn On Your Love Light" which was followed by "Morning Dew" and several others. 
When you got tired of watching them, there were a number of other things you could do. You could be adorned in fluorescent oranges, pinks and greens by wandering artists and then stand under a black light and watch yourself glow, you could buy various kinds of buttons, walk around the halls or talk. You could also dance if you didn't mind being run into by a long-haired dancer (male) who looked like he had ants in his pants. 
At midnight the house lights came on which told us the dance was over. All in all, it was an interesting way to spend a Friday night.

(by Kathy Faes, from the High-O-Scope, Corvallis High School, 22 November 1968)

Alas, no tape! 

Thanks to Dave Davis.


  1. The Daily Barometer is the student paper at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and in November '68 they made sure people knew the Dead were coming to town. It's funny how the first piece touts the Dead as a "top-selling" group (no doubt Anthem of the Sun was flying off the shelves, with lots of radio requests for "Alligator"). Some small points of interest:
    - it's emphasized that the show is not a concert, but "a sock-hop dance"
    - attendees are informed that "dress is optional" - while costumes are preferable, "grubby" is okay too
    - there will be a light show by Gretz & Co. "which will envelop the entire coliseum"
    - Mario, who wrote the "Little Man's Views" column, seems way more excited about getting Moby Grape to play OSU than he is by the Dead's visit. (His hopes were in vain, as Moby Grape would split up within a few months.)
    Gill Coliseum was the OSU sporting arena, capacity 10,000 - no way the Dead filled that many seats in '68.

    The Barometer didn't run a review of the show, but here an unexpected paper comes to the rescue - the High-O-Scope, the student paper at the local high school. Kathy doesn't seem all that enthralled by the Dead (and thinks Garcia is Pigpen) - according to her the audience looks bored, and she loses interest in watching the show herself. Fortunately, she knows a couple of songs, and she gives a nice description of the hippie crowd and audience activities. It sounds like there were more people sitting on the floor than dancing (you can imagine what Pigpen told them). A two-hour Dead show is pretty respectable for '68, though the authorities made sure it didn't go past midnight!

    Mint Tattoo was a Bay Area trio with members who would join Blue Cheer. Big City Blue was a local Corvallis band - one member recalled: "Big City Blue came together for the Grateful Dead Concert at OSU Gill Coliseum in Fall Term 1968. We were to open and Mint Tattoo was to also be featured. We had one set of material... Well, we opened and it went quite well...35 minutes later we went back on and did our set again. Seems that Mint Tattoo was busy out in the parking lot doing whatever bands would do in a parking lot."

  2. I haven't seen any review of the Dead's return to Gill Coliseum in January 1970, so I may as well post the Daily Barometer's announcements of that show here:

    The Grateful Dead, one of San Francisco's top rock groups, is scheduled to make their second appearance at Oregon State University, Saturday, Jan. 17, at 8:30 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. Admission to the dance is $3 per person.
    Once described as the "living thunder," the Grateful Dead incorporate electronic music of all sorts, accidental music, classical music, Indian music, jazz, folk, country and western, blues and rock itself - one or all of the Dead have worked in all those forms. In mixing them they make Grateful Dead music which, being their own creation, is their greatest influence.

    The "Grateful Dead" will appear with "Sunshine, Peace and Freedom" this Saturday night in Gill Coliseum at 8:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $3 each... Tickets at the door will be $3.50. The dance will be a sock-hop.

    (I don't know who "Sunshine, Peace and Freedom" were.)

    The sock-hop tradition continues... The Barometer uses the term literally to distinguish these from more formal dances: dancers were supposed to take their shoes off on the arena floor. One 1968 OSU student handbook said that "Gill Coliseum may be reserved for 'sock hop' dances only." At 1967 events at Gill, "Because of a ruling by the Dean of Administration, the dance will have to be a sock hop. This is to save the cost of repairing the coliseum floor... Shoes will be checked and tags distributed." Sock-hop dances were periodically announced at the coliseum - for instance in Oct/Nov '68, the Gentlemen Wild and Morning Reign also played sock hops there.

    It's an interesting contrast with McArthur Court in Eugene, where (in 1968 at least) checking shoes was thought to be too much hassle & dancing on the court was just forbidden for part of the school year. I also noticed that hardly any of the bands who played at Gill could have been big draws - these were typically school events, and it didn't matter that much who the band was or how many seats sold.

    1. Another announcement for the 1/17/70 Corvallis show, from Eugene - the Weekend Preview in the 1/16/70 Daily Emerald said: "Saturday night's Grateful Dead performance in Corvallis deserv[es] priority above all. Those wishing to tune in on some of the heaviest music of the rock movement - be they Super Straight, Well Wired, or Reasonably Ripped - shouldn't mind riding their thumbs up to Gill Coliseum for the 8 p.m gig, and if you have access to a more conventional means of transportation, so much the better. Tickets for the performance may be purchased for $3 at the Chrystalship [a record store in Eugene]. Although some may also be available at the door Saturday, the supply is limited, so the utmost expedience is warranted, right?"

      The recording of 1/17/70 confirms that it was indeed a "sock hop" at the Gill. After Good Lovin' the announcer says, "I hope everybody has their shoes off. Put your feet up in the air and check your neighbor and make sure everybody has their shoes off! ...Because if you have any shoes on you're going to wreck the floor, and we'll have to pay for it." Bob Weir gets into the act: "Okay, everybody on your back and stick your feet straight up in the air..."