Jan 31, 2024

November 23, 1966: Thanksgiving Party, Fillmore Auditorium


It's every few months you read here about the "best rock and roll concert ever," pardon my enthusiasm. Either I'm without critical discrimination, or else the shows keep getting better. We'll all hope it's the latter. 
The latest greatest was a Thanksgiving Eve "Thank You" thrown at the Fillmore Auditorium by Bill Graham for the bands, the managers, the writers, the freaks, the friends and lovers of the rock and roll scene in San Francisco. It is fair in judgment to include everything I've ever seen, from the Rolling Stones and Mamas and Papas concerts to fraternity dances and including all the other shows at the Fillmore. Jerry Garcia put it simply: "This is the bossest." 
Everyone was stoned out of their minds. No drugs were around, and I couldn't see anyone who was chemically altered, but it was one of the most turned-on evenings ever. Buddha from Muir Beach, a sort of cosmic fund-raiser, got everyone holding hands and dancing daisy chains around the hall. The Wildflower played, and they have gotten good all of a sudden; no more birds, but real rock and roll. Whatever that is.
Bill Graham got his secret ambition in life: he's one of the best cowbell players on the West Coast. For about 20 minutes, he introduced all the people who work at the Fillmore, from Peaches and Helen (the ladies who check the coats) to Bonnie, his girl friend. I've seen promoters from the "hip" to the sharpies involved in a constant arm motion, patting themselves on their backs, one even from his own stage, but I've never seen Bill do that. From the moment he saw and dug a rock band's concert a year ago, he threw his life and being, both spiritual and financial, into putting on good shows. If anyone should have been thanked, it should have been Bill. Yet there he was providing a free evening of bands, good people, banquet tables of food, Coke, and wine. 
Pigpen and somebody were fencing over the food table with green onions. Quicksilver played, swinging two beautiful Dino Valenti songs: "Stand by Me" and the really groovy "I Don't Ever Want to Spoil Your Party." All the uninvited guests from the teenyboppers to the lonesome stragglers were taken in with pleasure. They danced and ate and stared at the fluorescent mandala painted on the floor.
Pal John was there with Golden Nancy. She loved it. Bridget kept grabbing radishes and giving them to Jeanie and Ralph, Angelica and Angelica's John. Country Joe and Ed Denson brought that band along; Moby Grape came too. Even the undercover narcotics agent standing next to my little sister was clapping his hands. 
The Grateful Dead played one of their best sets ever. Bob Weir, the rhythm guitarist, rocked out "Down the Line," and did anyone ever mention "Midnight Hour" to you? In Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" there's a line about "The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang"; that's Bill Sommers. 
The evening ended with some wild, superscreaming jamming with Skip Spence, Jerry, Bob, and Barry Bastian, lead guitarist of a new group, Lee Michaels. It was a cosmic affair "presented in San Francisco by Bill Graham." Someone said as the evening neared its 3 a.m. end that the only people missing were the Beatles. 
I didn't see them myself, but I'm sure they were there.

An LSD Rescue Service (for your bummers) has been started in San Francisco. The number to call is 626-5770. The cat who runs it was on a radio show and he sounds pretty understanding. . . . The Daily Flash and Buffalo Springfield are at the Avalon this weekend, a very friendly place to be. . . . Love, Moby Grape, and Lee Michaels are at the Fillmore. Otis Redding will be at the Fillmore in the middle of the month. . . . Lou Rawls at the Masonic Auditorium Friday night. . . . The Grateful Dead during the week at the Matrix. . . . The Jabberwock has reinstated their folk music policy. . . . The Grateful Dead and Country Joe in Pauley Ballroom Friday night. 

(by Jann Wenner, from the Daily Cal (UC Berkeley), November 30, 1966) 

See also Ralph Gleason's account: 


Thanks to Dave Davis

1 comment:

  1. And, Barry Bastian and Skip Spence earn their live Spudfactor 1 values, with this information! Created new event: https://jerrybase.com/events/19661123-02. Thanks!