Feb 21, 2012

December 20-21, 1968: Shrine Hall, Los Angeles


In a Shrine Exposition Hall almost cold enough to form icicles on the amps, Country Joe and the Fish, Spirit, and the Grateful Dead headlined Scenic Sound's pre-Christmas week-end pair of rock concerts.
Scheduled as an "extra added attraction," the flu-ridden Sir Douglas Quintet was inadequately replaced by both the Comfortable Chair and the Mint Tattoo.
Produced by Doors duo Krieger and Densmore, the six men in the Comfortable Chair displayed no particular individual brilliance nor any cohesive group identity.

The Mint Tattoo unwisely offered lengthy over-ambitious improvisations, and this quasi-blues trio seemed bland and diffuse in the Shrine's vast chilly reaches.
On Friday, the Grateful Dead was plagued by sound system deficiencies on the main stage that particularly weakened vocal contributions. Nevertheless, the Dead's "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and "Turn On Your Lovelight" - the latter a particularly effective example of tightly-organized ensemble playing - produced the evening's first real excitement.

Back on the better-sounding sidestage, Spirit earned the concert's most enthusiastic response with their instrumental variety, creative use of feedback, and sheer performance power.
Less an actual unit than a showcase for individual members, Spirit's only weakness is its rather flat vocals.
Rather remote in his one-man center-stage set, percussionist "Pulse" showed the impressive ability to operate his own blacklight and sound effects equipment while executing a complex series of sonic maneuvers on the congas and bongos. With more careful pacing, his act should really develop into something astounding.
The evening ended with a long set by Country Joe and the Fish, not the most reliable of performers, but here in exceptional good form.

With a negligible amount of their frequently emphasized protest material and a concentration on instrumentals (given the present sound system, a good idea) Country Joe provided extended variations on such material as "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine," "Here I Go Again," and "So Nice to Have Love," the last a surprisingly commercial-sounding pop ditty handled with evident sensitivity.

(by Lewis Segal, from the Los Angeles Times, Dec 24 1968)

Thanks to snow & rain at the Transitive Axis forum. 




SHRINE, LOS ANGELES - It was like World War III last Saturday evening at the Shrine with three rock groups, The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, and The Spirit. The Spirit, a jazz-influenced rock band, simulated the sounds of marching soldiers, gun battle, and an air-raid siren during their numbers.
Ed Cassidy (he used to be Cass Strangedrum with the Rising Sons) is hip beneath glowing baldness and an unbelievably good drummer. Heavy on the tin, his foot creates crashes and banging solid beats. Each musician plays around the talent of Cassidy, and he sits, like the Mr. Clean of Musicland.
The Grateful Dead, whose live performances used to be disappointing, were excellent. The double drummers create an unusual, interesting sound, which distinguishes the San Francisco based group. The lead singer, a small Buffalo Bill wailer, somehow manages to sing above the throbbing beats of the seven members group. Oblivious to the audience (sadistic indifference), they seem to be performing for themselves. But their self-satisfaction brings great delight to the young crowd, decked out in rented costumes, grooving on the chairless floor of the huge auditorium.
Country Joe and the Fish are neither unusual nor individual. Country Joe and Banana, the only stars of the group, liven what would otherwise be a dull performance. But when left alone, the rest of the group functions as a lifeless automatic unit, free from singular identity. Billed as the starring group, Joe and the Fish were the last performers. By this time, the crowd, which wasn't large to begin with, dwindled rapidly and seemed just as bored by the Fish as the group was about their performance.

(from Cash Box, 4 January 1969) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.


July 31, 1967: O'Keefe Centre, Toronto


Marty Balin smiled with delight as he looked over the 300 people dancing on the O'Keefe Centre stage last night, and just for fun he acted out the fear on Hugh Walker's face when the whole thing started.
Balin's group, the Jefferson Airplane, rock 'n' roll exponents of the San Francisco hippie-freedom, got the kids dancing in the aisles in a joyous freewheeling happening.
Ushers frantically tried to return them to their seats because, after all, other paying customers might want to see, and besides that sort of thing just isn't done at the O'Keefe. "Disregard the ushers," the leader of one of the three rock groups on the bill shouted. Hundreds of them did and that's what bothered Walker, the Centre's managing director.
Over at the side, he had a hasty discussion with Bill Graham, the San Francisco dance hall baron and producer of the show. Graham pointed out that the crowd was peaceful and happy and wouldn't think of tearing up those soft seats or anything else. "Let's just say it turned out all right," he said afterward, a few minutes before disappearing into a back room for more discussions with five gray-suited O'Keefe managers.
Most of the near sellout crowd last night just watched. Dozens more sat out in the lobbies discussing the whole thing over a few more cigarettes. But maybe 300 others danced to a pounding, driving, throbbing and oozing trip of sound and color supplied by three bands and two light shows.
Here's how it happened.

Before the opening dim of the lights, the three screens on stage were already giving an appetizer. Centre screen carried the encircled, upside-down Y peace symbol, its colors slowly changing; green on blue, blue on two greens, tan on green and yellow. This screen was filled by Headlights, a group that adds the visual impact to the rock 'n' roll shows at Graham's Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. They work with liquid projections - colored oils swirled on a dish and projected - and rotating color wheels and loops of live-action film.
At stage right and left were two extra screens carrying color projection by a New York group called Sensefex Inc. Their work involves the projection of paint-splotch slides, electric motors that twirl the whole thing around. A movie projector showed its contents through a chute of angled mirrors that was also rotated by a motor. On the screens the multi-hued splotches revolved slowly forming a kaleidoscope resembling some protoplasm. Its colors were hard and deeply defined; white Headlights projected soft, gentle colors like early morning.
The audience was liberally sprinkled with hippies - in army shirts and commando hats, in beads and capes, and even in ties and jackets.

First Band: Toronto's Luke & the Apostles started off with their hard blues-rock sound. Lead singer Luke Gibson hugged the microphone crooner-style as he belted out "My Soul."
The peace symbol started dripping colors and eventually melting away shapelessly under the liquid colors that were applied above it. Bizarre globes turned green, red and back to green and ended like a red sky with stars.
The Apostles did two standard blues, "You Can't Judge a Book By Looking At the Cover" and "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," both in a tough, heavy lumbering tone, filled with science-fiction and monster noises that were interesting to hear but out of place.

"Schoolgirl" was also done by the next group, the Grateful Dead, but in a looser, freer version, and in the Chicago blues form it came from. It was symbolic of the free music the group plays. They take it easy and put in their improvisations naturally. That characterizes both the Jefferson Airplane and the Dead, the latter lesser known and less inventive.
But the Dead are the true spokesmen for the San Francisco hippie scene and former resident musicians with the LSD Trips Festivals run by novelist Ken Kesey. (They also have an album that its Canadian distributor can't keep in stock, though the Dead have had no radio hits).
Leader Jerry Garcia's group doesn't have as much substance as the Airplane, but they work together as precisely as parts of a machine. Two-hundred-pound Pig Pen (Ronald McKernan) gives a happy undertone to the music, while Phil Lesh plays complex bass.

It took the Jefferson Airplane after intermission to get the dancing started. The taped sounds of a jet heralded their arrival. The group fills to stage front with Grace Slick's torchy vocal, "Somebody to Love." The Airplane captured that crowd without effort. The quality of their music, its intelligence and imagination superimposed on the necessary beat, drew them out to experience total involvement with sound and color. This music appeals to the older rock 'n' roll lovers. The young kids can't dance with the tempo transitions. The older ones do a free-form, improvised dance.
Leader Balin sings in a clear voice. Grace booms and lashes out with hers. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen puts substance into the group's improvisations, while Jack Casady puts down a solid bass line. Spencer Dryden adds excitement with his drums, and Paul Kantner plays guitar, and sings. They project the spontaneity & freshness of youth. Their music is alive, and communicates clearly despite its complex arrangements and structure.
After the concert-dance, another dance occurs right on stage. This one planned as all three bands jam for a straight 50 minutes.

(by Volkmar Richter, from the Toronto Star, August 1 1967 - reproduced in the 7/31/67 entry of deadlists.com)

The front page leader for the story:

"The normally staid O'Keefe Centre - a hotbed of Toronto culture - took on a mod look last night as young hippies danced in the aisles to the music of the Jefferson Airplane, a rock group in the San Francisco style. Later 300 youths danced on the stage as three groups jammed for 50 minutes."

See also:

November 23, 1966: Thanksgiving at the Fillmore

Something went on last week at the Fillmore Auditorium which dramatizes the difference between the avant garde of the New Generation (the "Love" generation, if you will) and its elders.
The Fillmore Auditorium gave a party for its patrons.
Thanksgiving Eve, over a thousand regular patrons and friends and rock bands and their friends gathered at the Fillmore to enjoy an elegantly catered dinner, soft drinks and music. Free.
Bill Graham had sent out the invitations previously with a request that no publicity be given. Couples who had been coming to the hall regularly ("I know almost all their faces," Graham says) were given tickets, and the bands were asked to invite their friends.
The result was something absolutely unique in my experience in the world of entertainment.
The bands - Wildflower, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead - all played beautifully, and the light show was the best I've seen at the Fillmore.
Midway in the evening, Graham went on stage and asked for a few minutes' indulgence and then introduced all the Fillmore employees, from the hat check girls to the cops. ....
The lines going past the tables of free food lasted until midnight and, like all the other evenings I've spent at the Fillmore, there was no tension, no trouble, and not even the arguments you get at a football game.
The reasons are many and complicated but they rest in the fact that a different set of assumptions is the basis for attitudes.
"It's such a beautiful thing I can't believe it," a long-haired girl said, and her bearded, suede-shirted escort added "It's just too much." ....

(excerpt from a Ralph Gleason column in the SF Chronicle, December 1966 - reprinted in Crawdaddy, issue 8, March 1967)

June 1969: Radio Documentary

A radio documentary of the Dead was produced in 1968/69 by Michael Wanger and Vance Frost, and broadcast on KSAN-FM San Francisco in June 1969.
The band was interviewed in December 1968, as well as Ralph Gleason and members of Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Excerpts of the 1964 Mother McCree's show and 7/3/66 were used.
The transcript, with the producers' notes, is available on their site:


For its historical value, I am reproducing their transcript here.

(Brackets [ ] indicate producer's notes.)

JOHN CIPOLLINA: The Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead, by John Cippolina. The Grateful Dead go to my head, even though I've been sick in bed.

PHIL LESH: Well, if you want coherence, gentlemen, you've come to the wrong place.

PAUL KANTNER: Well, Mrs. Freiberg, what do you think of the Grateful Dead?

MRS. FREIBERG: I think they're fantastic.

RALPH J. GLEASON: I'm certainly grateful they're not dead!

MRS. FREIBERG: They always make everybody feel good.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: It's sin, it's sin, it's sin, I know it's sin!

RALPH J. GLEASON: Because it's so groovy.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Chuckle, chuckle, giggle.

MRS. FREIBERG: I don't know. They're groovy.

RALPH J. GLEASON: The whole world of music owes a great debt to the Grateful Dead it seems to me because…

(*Music - "Born Cross-Eyed")

MICHAEL WANGER: Grateful Dead is a rock band. They've been playing around together in one form or another since 1964. In the 5 years that they've been playing together, they've released 2 albums and 2 singles. They were one of the first bands that played in what was later to be known as the San Francisco rock ballroom scene.

RALPH J. GLEASON: They're everybody's favorite band. It's the most consistent musical turn-on out of the whole rock scene.

VANCE FROST: If any one person in the band could be called leader, it would be Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist and big cheese.

JERRY GARCIA: When I was a kid, I wanted an electric guitar really badly, for some reason. Not sure exactly why. I think I liked the way they looked. It's like my earliest trip, ya know, wow!

VANCE FROST: He got his first guitar when he was fifteen. For the next two years he played rock and roll, and then got involved in folk music during the early '60s.

JERRY GARCIA: …just because rock and roll was getting to be pretty limp. Ya know, for about five years there it was really lame.

MICHAEL WANGER: During this time he learned folk style guitar and fingerpicking, which led to 5 string banjo. He became fairly famous in the Bay Area as a red hot banjo picker.

(*Music, from the album "Wheatstraw Suite," Elektra Records, EKS-74035 by the Dillards. Herb Pedersen, banjo; Dean Webb, mandolin - "Bending the Strings")

JERRY GARCIA: Like, that's what really turned me on and that's what I devoted all my time to and all that, but then at no time was it ever possible for me to make any bread playing music, ya know, or make a living, even, playing music or anything. And I didn't want to work either. So I just hung out and played.

VANCE FROST: He hung out in Palo Alto, mostly at Dana Morgan's Music Store where he taught guitar and banjo. He also hung out at a local folk house known as the Tangent where he performed occasionally, often on the same bill with Jorma Kaukonen.

[Kaukonen became lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.]

MICHAEL WANGER: It seems that he was always in one bluegrass band or another, the most successful of which was made up of David Nelson, Eric Thompson and Jerry. But everyone knew them as the Black Mountain Boys.

VANCE FROST: Dave Freiberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service remembers that…

DAVID FREIBERG: During that time I was helping to run this place called the Offstage in San Jose. I remember Garcia from that and the Black Hill Boys… Black Mountain Boys, he used to play banjo with them. Good ol' Jerry.

(*Music - "Bending the Strings" continues.)

MICHAEL WANGER: Late in 1963, when everyone else was first turning on to the Beatles, another local folky, Bob Weir, discovered the ultimate aesthetic satisfaction found in a good ten cent jug band.

VANCE FROST: After he met Jerry Garcia, he decided to found his own ten cent jug band.

BOB WEIR: It was in the back of Dana Morgan's music shop and Jerry had come to teach guitar lessons and it was New Year's Eve and nobody was interested in going getting guitar lessons. Myself and a friend of mine dropped by and we just sat and rapped and decided that we had enough talent amongst us, or questionable talent amongst us, to start a jug band. And the jug band got rolling very shortly thereafter. And I, of course, played hyperventilated jug and wash tub bass.

VANCE FROST: They called themselves Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Stompers and played at the Tangent throughout the summer of 1964.

[The jug band was called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. A self-titled CD, compiled from some of their July of 1964 Tangent performances, is available through Grateful Dead Records. The recordings, made by Peter Wanger and Wayne Ott, are some of the jug band's last performances.]

JERRY GARCIA (live at the Tangent, July, 1964): I got an idea. I know everybody comes to these places and I don't know what everybody expects or... Yeah, they come and they listen… Everybody listens and says, "My, my." And says, "My, my." And, ya know, and scratch their head, ya know and kind of wonder. And, ya know, half the times a lot of people don't enjoy, you know, you come here over a certain amount of years, you build up a lot of sort of unenjoyment. You wind up unenjoying a lot of things. So, as long as you're here, and as long as some of you may be unenjoying this all, and have unenjoyed things in the past, you can all have a little Boo Break. And if you want to, you can just boo us. Everybody can boo us. Go ahead. BOO!

(*Music (live at the Tangent) - "Yes She Do, No She Don't" (aka "I'm Satisfied with My Gal").

MICHAEL WANGER: As you could probably tell, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Stompers borrowed heavily in style and content from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band.

VANCE FROST: Borrowed!? You mean "stole."

MICHAEL WANGER: There was, however, other material which later influenced their change from acoustic to electric styles of music.

JERRY GARCIA: Back when we were doing the jug band, we were doing a few, like, rhythm and blues numbers. We did some, like, Jimmy Reed tunes.

VANCE FROST: One reason for this blues influence in the Jug Band was another member, Ron McKernan, better known as Pigpen.


BOB WEIR: And the nucleus of the jug band really was sort of me and Jerry and Pigpen. Pigpen has a really rich and varied background particularly in blues. I think he started out playing blues piano. His father was a rhythm and blues disc jockey for a while, and I think that's what got him into it. And so, anyway, he was just perfect for the jug band. He was the inspiration behind our rhythm and blues singing, which catapulted us into the rock and roll phenomenon.

JERRY GARCIA (live at the Tangent): We'd like to have Mr. Pigpen McKernan here, known in the more esoteric circles... Mr. Pigpen McKernan would like to sing a Lightnin' Hopkins song…

PIGPEN: I wouldn't like to, but I will anyway.

JERRY GARCIA: He's gonna sing a song called "the Rub" and we're not going to be responsible for it's contents. Or his.

[Pigpen was fairly nervous about getting on stage and performing, and would often consume a bit of alcohol before singing in front of a live audience.]

(*Music (live at the Tangent) - "The Rub")

VANCE FROST: After being a jug band for over a year, and not tasting the sweet wine of success…

[The jug band lasted no more than seven months. As mentioned earlier, this July, 1964, performance at the Tangent is one of their last.]

MICHAEL WANGER: They didn't even sniff the cork.

VANCE FROST: …they longed for a new medium of expression.

JERRY GARCIA: Ya know, it was getting to be time to start playing electric music, that's all.

BOB WEIR: Louder, you mean.

JERRY GARCIA: Right, to play louder.

MICHAEL WANGER: Time to play louder!

JERRY GARCIA: Right, time to play a little louder.

BOB WEIR: And we decided to become a rock and roll band.

(*Music - "Don't Ease Me In")

JERRY GARCIA: The step was really a lot like what, the way the changes really happened in the blues, like when they went from acoustical instruments to electric instruments. Ya know, and then blue records like, long about the forties, all those blues records started having electric instruments, ya know. And, you know, it's just like we went through that same change, from a jug band, which is like a really early trip, into, like, the next step, which is like a sort of early, a sort of primitive blues 'cause that's all we could play, right?

VANCE FROST: To be a real rock and roll band, they needed more than Jerry and Bob on guitars and Pigpen on organ. They picked up two more local musicians from Dana Morgan's music shop. First was Dana Morgan Jr. who, aside from helping to run the store, played bass.

MICHAEL WANGER: The other member was Bill Sommers who taught drums there. They called themselves the Warlocks.

["Bill Sommers" is the name Bill Kreutzmann used at the time he joined the band.]

JERRY GARCIA: Warlocks is just a word that means male witches.

VANCE FROST: So, I guess it was just a male witch band.

MICHAEL WANGER: Chocolate Witch Band?

[Chocolate Watchband was a San Jose, California band.]

JERRY GARCIA: No, not really. It was mostly a rock and roll band. It was pretty elementary. It wasn't very far out, really. It was just that we really enjoyed doing it. We didn't start really getting pretty weird until we started working in bars.

(*Music - "Don't Ease Me In" continues.)

VANCE FROST: Two of the bars they played in were the In Room and the Fireside, both in Belmont.

MICHAEL WANGER: During their barroom days, Dana Morgan left the group and was replaced by bass player by Phil Lesh, who had never played bass before.


(*Music - "Stealin'")

BOB WEIR: It'd be Saturday night and be real crowded and the whole scene would get into sort of a pressure cooker system with all these drunk people on the floor and we were just really, we were merciless, like I say.

JERRY GARCIA: Yeah, we had quite a shoot 'em up show for that time, ya know.

BOB WEIR: The bartenders, they were good and crazy, they were potheads. And, like, for instance, we'd be playing and they'd line the bar up with ashtrays and fill the ashtrays with lighter fluid and light 'em. The whole bar would go up in flames, seemingly, and the place would get pretty crazy for a minute. And we'd just pick louder and more intense.

JERRY GARCIA: There was two factions. The was the bartenders who were crazy, and they wanted us to turn up, and the customers wanted us to turn down.

BOB WEIR: I was 17 and looked 12, and I had a phony ID that said I was 21.

JERRY GARCIA: We worked there for like, oh, I dunno, two months, three months, something like that. Ya know, like, the people that came, the attendance gradually got tinier and tinier until there was, like, nobody there, man. There was just no fuckin' body there but they would never fire us for some reason.

BOB WEIR: The owner of the place always told us, "You guys gotta turn down, man, you gotta turn down. The people are leaving." And we turned up and up and up.

JERRY GARCIA: That was our chance to get crazy, playing in bars.

(*Music - "Stealin'" continues.)

JERRY GARCIA: Our playing in the In Room was about contemporary with the first Family Dog shows at the Longshoreman's Hall.

VANCE FROST: It was immediately after those first Family Dog days that the Grateful Dead began climbing the ladder of success.

MICHAEL WANGER: They moved from Belmont bars to places like the Matrix in San Francisco.

BOB WEIR: It was also our barroom days that taught us the, more or less, science of, or art of playing to dancers. And so, we were pretty into playing for dancing crowds. That was pretty much what the scene in San Francisco was and so we grew with that.

DAVID FREIBERG: I ran into them at the Matrix a few times and noticed that there they were, by God, almost the entire Mother McCree's Uptight… Uptown, whatever it was, except, by God, they were electric, man. And there was…

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Electric and fuzzy.

DAVID FREIBERG: …Garcia playing a guitar, playing blues, and fast and everything. They really impressed me. And then came the Acid Tests. I heard 'em play at one or two of those.

JERRY GARCIA: Oh yeah, well, there was the Acid Tests, which, like, took us a lot of new places, and that's when we adopted the name the Grateful Dead and people started calling us that. Like, the name didn't take for a while. We offered it as a suggestion, ya know, I mean, it was like, and some of the guys in the band didn't like it, ya know, and, it was kind of creepy, ya know, and everybody, ya know, "Wow, the Grateful Dead is sure weird." And even Bill Graham, he'd hired us a couple of times as the Warlocks for the Mime Troupe things, ya know, and we told him that we changed our name and we were now the Grateful Dead and he wouldn't bill us as the Grateful Dead 'cause he thought it was too weird.

VANCE FROST: In the Land of the Dark, the Ship of the Sun is led by the Grateful Dead.

MICHAEL WANGER: That verse from the Egyptian Book of the Dead is thought by many to be the source of the group's name. Others feel the source was a large, meaty prune.

JERRY GARCIA: No, no. It might be incidentally, but that's not the source. The source was a dictionary, great big dictionary. It was either an Oxford or the Webster's, the Oxford New World…

BOB WEIR: Yeah, it was the Oxford New World.

JERRY GARCIA: Great big dictionary. We went through millions of incredibly funny variations.


JERRY GARCIA: Oh, like Mythical Ethical Icicle Tricycle… was one of the more conservative ones.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Whatever happened to the good ol' Grateful Dead?

(*Music (live at the Fillmore, 1966) - "Sittin' On Top of the World")

BOB WEIR: The good old Grateful Dead was trips.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: It started out with the Acid Tests, and the Acid Tests really made a lot of people think differently. I think it set the trend, anyway, for the rock state as it is now. The Grateful Dead were right there. They were together, they were the Grateful Dead. And for the most cases, the Acid Tests went off just super smoothly. This is when Bill Graham came in.

JERRY GARCIA: If it all happens right, there gets to be a point where there gets to be so much stuff happening that you can't ignore it anymore. You know, it's like bringing some alternative to sitting in front of the TV. And among the alternatives are, not only can you go to the circus, but you can be the circus yourself. You can make your own circus, you can do your own thing. And that's like a, ya know, doin' the thing of dancing or just standing up in front of a bunch of people and hollering and screaming, ya know, like the freaks that testify, ya know. They get stoned and get up on stage, man, and they, ya know, and it's like, that's something, man, that's a groove, it's, like, a place to star, ya know, it's like you do that and you've done it. They get to stand up and deliver, ya know, like anybody. They can be the star and, man, I would dig…

BOB WEIR: It was really stupendous. I mean everybody uh, everybody… it turned into a party.

JERRY GARCIA: Right, a big party.

BOB WEIR: And we just kept going and going and it was… we did about a two and a half hour set, and uh, when we were over, it was over. Everybody got some.

RALPH J. GLEASON: The whole rock thing is a group-ish experience.

JERRY GARCIA: Right, it's just so much bosser when everybody dances, man. It's just so much more joyous. I would rather accompany the place than be the star of the show, ya know.

DAVID FREIBERG: …about the time when the Grateful Dead raided us out at our farm, dressed up in war paint and wearing feathers and bows and arrows. And we all came in and got stoned, after they raided, circled our house. We surrendered…

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Very begrudgingly.

(*Music (live at the Fillmore, 1966) - Changes to "Big Boss Man")

DAVID FREIBERG: But we were caught, ya know, with our proverbial pants down.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Oh, they couldn't have picked a better time to get us…

DAVID FREIBERG: The pants down and the pot out, right?

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Yeah, we were lying around on our floor. I remember we were listening to "Music of the Planets." It was after dinner.

DAVID FREIBERG: We were listening to the Planets, man.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Right after dinner we used to always listen…

DAVID FREIBERG: And never got to "Neptune, the Mystic."

JOHN CIPOLLINA: And then, plow plow!!

DAVID FREIBERG: Woo hoo!! Whah hah!!

JOHN CIPOLLINA: You know how it started, they were sitting around their camp. They went on this big Indian trip, naturally, 'cause they had camp crafts, they had an archery range, and, uh, they were the Grateful Dead. And one night they were sitting around with, uh, make-up. Jerry Garcia was beautiful. He had "Tippy Canoe and Tyler, Too" written across his nose. And they got themselves all done up, ya know, had…

["Tippy Canoe and Tyler, Too" aka "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," an 1840 presidential campaign slogan of William Henry Harrison.]

DAVID FREIBERG: Worked themselves into a frenzy doing a war dance.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: …the psychedelic processes. And they said, "Let's go get the Quicksilver." And they really got us. We were just, we were loose.

PHIL LESH: I feel that we did a horrible job of raiding the Quicksilver because if we had been really Indians and we had really been raiding 'em, they would have killed us all. 'Cause they had guns and we didn't!

JOHN CIPOLLINA: They're really good sports, man. You shoot a Grateful Dead and he'll die!

(*Music (live at the Fillmore) - "Big Boss Man" continues.)

SPENCER DRYDEN: It was at the Avalon Ballroom about, oh, two and a half, three years ago, and they played the fastest tune in the world that I wouldn't believe. And Owsley had this speaker system that looked like a giant set of monoliths or something. I mean, it looked like a big sculpture. And here were these weird cats, man, just pumping it out faster than the speed of light. They've always been a good band.

RALPH J. GLEASON: See, there's nothing like the excitement of the first times in any of these things, and there's nothing like, there has never been anything like the experience of that whole thing exploding, when it exploded and everybody realizing, "Oh, my God, there are others!"

JERRY GARCIA (live at the Fillmore, 1966): It's called "Viola Lee Blues"

(*Music (live at the Fillmore) - "Viola Lee Blues")

RALPH J. GLEASON: I remember the Dead playing at the Fillmore, one of the first times I heard them at the Filmore, playing "Viola Lee Blues" and it was a tribal stomp. I mean, it really was, and the audience was stomping and the band was stomping and in the breaks the sound of the feet went stomping right on. It was really unbelievable.

VANCE FROST: In March, 1967, the Grateful Dead went to the RCA studios in Hollywood to record their first album for Warner Brothers. Essentially what they did in their first album was to document what they'd been doing in the San Francisco ballrooms for the past year.

JERRY GARCIA: Well, yeah, that stuff is kinda like folk rock and roll. I mean it was dance music, ya know, 'cause like all the places that we played all along were dance scenes and that was our whole trip.

MICHAEL WANGER: Although the material went down easily enough, the spontaneity of live performance was lost in the sterile environment of the studio.

JERRY GARCIA: Ya know, we didn't know anything about it, ya know, so we went down and ground out the first record in four nights. We were inexperienced about recording and about where to record and who to record with. But, when we went into the studio, it was like, there we were for the first time in the studio world, ya know, and there was the whole thing, "OK, what's next?" ya know, and engineers…

BOB WEIR: It was dry.

JERRY GARCIA: …and guys looking at their watches, ya know. And that's that whole scene, that's the business world again, ya know, doing its business and definitely not concerned with music. And so, ya know, we just did it, ya know, we didn't know what the fuck, ya know.

(*Music - "Cold Rain and Snow")

BILL KREUTZMANN: Yeah, it was a good first record, but nothing new in the drumming world, just rock drumming with a back beat. Nothing special.

SPENCER DRYDEN: I always loved Bill Sommers' playing, ya know, when he was the one drummer with the band. And I was always amazed at what he could do, technically-wise.

BOB WEIR: He really excels, by the way, in a sort of a Motown thing. He has a sort of a swing to him that's uh, he can get, like, different rhythms going that sort of ride over each other. And they all have a sort of a different little, just a different little feel to them, a different little swing. And, uh, Bill's, like, the best rock drummer I've heard at that.

SPENCER DRYDEN: I always thought he was like Philly Joe Jones of rock, 'cause it never looked like he put any real effort into playing, and yet his sound came out, ya know, just very booming and piercing and cutting and just used to kick the band along.

(*Music - "Cold Rain and Snow" continues.)

(*Music - "Good Mornin' Little School Girl")

RALPH J. GLEASON: Well, I dig Pigpen singing the blues, I mean, I enjoy that.

DAVID FREIBERG: Pigpen's vocals are perfect Pigpen's vocals, which means he sounds like Pigpen, not like anybody else. You can say some funny things about critics who think they have to criticize because he doesn't sound like something else that they've heard.

RALPH J. GLEASON: Yeah, I dig him. I would like to hear him more when I hear the band. The last two times I heard the band, he didn't really sing very much.

DAVID FREIBERG: I like Pigpen's singing, see. And I like his harmonica playing. Good harp player.

(*Music - "Good Mornin' Little School Girl" continues.)

(*Music - "New, New Minglewood Blues")

JOHN CIPOLLINA: And then Bob Weir, who plays, uh, God knows what.

BOB WEIR: I'm more or less trying to develop a style of guitar-playing that incorporates the use of maybe several lines at once.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Bobby Weir's considered a rhythm guitarist, whether he is or he isn't. He has a certain area that he covers musically.

BOB WEIR: Jerry plays lead guitar and he plays really good, ya know. And it would be redundant, and perhaps superfluous to have, in my opinion, to have two screaming lead guitarists in the group. And anyway, my mind doesn't think like Jimi Hendrix.

[Short excerpt of Jimi Hendrix' guitar break from Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"]

PAUL KANTNER: His function is sort of the same thing as the drum essentially is. It's to set up a support for Garcia to play. He's not supposed to be out there playing Eric Clapton to Jerry Garcia. It's not what his gig is. He could no more do that than I could step up to Jorma on an equal footing.

(*Music - "New, New Minglewood Blues" continues.)

(*Music - "Beat it on Down the Line")

JOHN CIPOLLINA: I would describe Jerry Garcia by saying "taste."

RALPH J. GLEASON: See, I can listen to Jerry Garcia play the guitar and get my mind hung up the same way that I can with jazz guitar players who are developing a theme as opposed to just making sounds and patterns.

JERRY GARCIA: You know, like, I got a lot of my guitar ideas from country fiddlers, too. Scott Stoneman particularly.

(*Music - "Beat it on Down the Line" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: One of the things that's good about both Jerry and Jorma, as guitarists, is that when you hear them, you can tell it's them. They have an individual voice on the instrument.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: …because it is fresh and it's original and he's really just being himself.

JERRY GARCIA: Country guitar players I listen to a lot. 'Cause they're the ones with the most chops.

MICHAEL WANGER: They're fast.

JERRY GARCIA: Yeah, right, right, right. I originally heard the tune off a Carl Perkins record and he was, like, a good country guy, country guitar player, and he played finger style, and he did a kind of a rockabilly version of "Sittin' on Top of the World."

(*Music - "Sittin' on Top of the World")

JOHN CIPOLLINA: He's got a very unique style for electric guitar.

RALPH J. GLEASON: See, he's a one man band because, in the first place, he knows where he's at and he's got absolutely perfect time. Now you'll notice every once in a while when they'll get into something that sort of diffuses in a way, it's Jerry's time that brings them back. He holds it together. Remove Jerry from the band and it disintegrates.

(*Music - "Sittin' on Top of the World" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: I also have come to really dig Jerry's singing. I didn't really dig it in the beginning. I thought he wasn't a strong singer. And I suppose by some standards he may not be a strong singer. I find what he does, vocally, in the band, to be very enjoyable.

(*Music - "Sittin' on Top of the World" continues.)

VANCE FROST: Of all the songs on the first album, it's "Morning Dew" which sounds the most together. Each member of the band, on his own, develops a line which contributes to the overall musical figure.

(*Music - "Morning Dew")

(*Music - "Viola Lee Blues")

MICHAEL WANGER: A lot of people wonder what the words to "Viola Lee" are.

VANCE FROST: Yeah, I wonder.

MICHAEL WANGER: Bob Weir tells it as it should be.

BOB WEIR: That was
'Read it and eat it, turkey crowed it
Down de levee, candy coated
Read it and eat it, candy coated down
If you miss jail sentence, it's your own damn fault'

(*Music - "Viola Lee Blues" continues.)

JERRY GARCIA: When I got the idea for that arrangement, for that whole way of doing "Viola Lee Blues," it was, uh, it was about the same time that… The thing that inspired the ideas for it, the riffs in it, was, um, uh, that, what the hell, what's that guy's name…?


(*Music - "Viola Lee Blues" continues.)

MICHAEL WANGER: In lettering the cover for the Dead's first album, Stanley Mouse designed some hieroglyphs in the form of a sentence across the top.

VANCE FROST: Many thought this was the quote Egyptian Book of the Dead.

WILSON BURROWS: That's what I thought. (door slams)

JERRY GARCIA: Well, that's what it originally was, see, but we didn't like it because we thought it was a taste pretentious. So we talked to Stanley who did the lettering and said, "Could you do something that, like, almost says something but doesn't quite?" And so, that's what it is. And like, and the result of that has been that all the places we've been where people have had that album, they've been able to… we've been able to hear the translations, you know. Fantastic ones, incredible ones.

(*Music - "Viola Lee Blues" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: The first Dead album is one of the most effective collections of nostalgia that I know of for the whole scene. It's absolutely beautiful. I still love it and I can play it and I've worn out a couple of copies and enjoy it because it has a sound that you just don't get anymore. They're kind of…they're very special songs of the realm of a very special time.

JERRY GARCIA: We felt very bad about it. We thought it was unfortunate.


JERRY GARCIA: Yeah. And we did it, and that was it, ya know. And then we had all the time afterwards, and after it was released, and listening to it hundreds of times to really regret it, ya know, because it was mediocre performances of material that we were able to do much better. It was uninspired completely. Never again, ya know, we'll never go about it that way again.

(*Music - "Viola Lee Blues" continues.)

JERRY GARCIA: After we recorded the album they said, "Well, we still haven't got anything here that'd be a strong single." So we said, "Ah, a strong single, sure!" So we went home and wrote a song, ya' know. "Wow, this'll be a good single." We just did it and that was it.

(*Music - "The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)")

MICHAEL WANGER: Their first single, "the Golden Road," wasn't exactly a jukebox monster. The album, however, was gratefully received by you and I.

VANCE FROST: The following June, they played at the Monterey International Pops Festival and continued to play throughout the summer in the San Francisco Ballrooms. They also played many free concerts in the Park.

[Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.]

MICHAEL WANGER: In September, 1967, Mickey Hart, a drummer, saw the Dead for the first time.

MICKEY HART: How it happened was, we were down at the Fillmore. I was with a friend down there at the Fillmore, I'd never heard the Grateful Dead, and um…

BILL KREUTZMANN: Tell it like it really was…

JERRY GARCIA: Tell it like it was!

MICKEY HART: …and someone said, "There's the drummer for the Grateful Dead." And being so impressed, I walked over to him and I said, "Oh my, your record was so wonderful. I love your record, it was just great."

ALL: Whew…

VANCE FROST: Do you sleep at night?

MICKEY HART: And I really liked the record… I must have been very stoned when I heard it.

BOB WEIR: The next day I heard that Mickey and Bill had moved their drums together into Bill's basement, and had been working together. Or something like that.

BILL KREUTZMANN: So we thought at that point we'd try two drummers and get something new.

MICKEY HART: Yeah, we set up one day at the Straight Theater. Actually, it was playing for the dance classes, remember?

[The Straight Theater was the old Haight Movie Theater on Haight Street. The name was changed in the late sixties.]


BOB WEIR: And so, that night Mickey sat in with us and it was a gas.

MICHAEL WANGER: After Mickey Hart joined the band, they began work on their second album ["Anthem of the Sun"], which took, in all, eight months to finish. It was during this work that they released their second single, "Dark Star."

VANCE FROST: It was a departure from their past recorded performances, but quite indicative of what the Dead were doing at that particular time, both in the studio and live. Although "Dark Star" was not included in their second album, it was more or less a sample of the things to come.

(*Music (studio) - "Dark Star")

VANCE FROST: In the tradition established by their first single, "Dark Star" didn't exactly jump up the charts.

MICHAEL WANGER: Yeah, what happened?

JERRY GARCIA: I don't know. We put it out thinking that maybe someone would play it, you know.

VANCE FROST: Tony Bigg played it.

[Tony Bigg was a local radio DJ, one of the few who would consider the Dead for "Top 40" airplay. He later joined KSAN and changed his name to Tony Pigg.]

MICHAEL WANGER: What a strange idea.

JERRY GARCIA: Right, but nobody would and that's been our whole story all along behind the record company and it's relative apathy about us in terms of promotion and all that. And it's, like, partly our fault 'cause we don't really go out and hustle.

(*Music - "That's it for the Other One")

MICHAEL WANGER: While recording their second album, they devised the concept of blending studio recordings with live performances in order to create a new form of continuity. This had an effect on their live performances in that instead of playing separate songs, they combined them together in a type of musical collage.

JERRY GARCIA: On the second album, ah, we were… we wanted to make a record. We didn't want to record songs, we wanted to make a record. You know, something that was in the medium of being a long playing record, that you put it on and it played out it's length of time and that's how long it lasted and that's what it did to you. And uh, we began to see that as being a form and it's akin to drama, ya know, to being able to start a thing and just going with it rather than having interruptions and breaks and so forth and so on. And we wanted to learn how to do that, so we learned the whole process of recording. We learned all about it, and we spent… and we had ideas that we wanted to do and we didn't know of any way to do them. We had to invent most of the technique that was used on that record just in the studio. You know, like, how can we make it sound as though the world's coming to an end. Or how can we make it sound like purple, you know, shit like that, stuff that's that far out. And we had to extract the shit from our head and figure out some way to implement it, if you know what I mean. It's mostly a matter of logistics, like three dimensional chess.

(*Music (studio) - "Cryptical Envelopment")

JERRY GARCIA: When we recorded some of those things, we recorded some of them using an 8 track machine for the band, and then using a 4 track machine for the room, so that we had 4 tracks of the room, various parts of the perspective of the room, you know like one corner of it over here, one corner over here, one in the middle, done lots of different places, some at the Carousel, some on tours that we were on. And then we'd do things, like, in mastering we had the 8 track and the 4 track playing simultaneously. We'd be mixing them together, and cross fading them, you know, so as to get partly the sound of the band, partly the sound of the hall, reverberating you know. And it's just, like, extremely subtle and the only thing it does is give you a sense of enfolding space.

(*Music (studio) - "Cryptical Envelopment" continues.)

VANCE FROST: In producing the second album, "Anthem of the Sun," the group augmented their sound with the help of a classically trained musician, Tom Constaten (sic).


[All this misguided emphasis on the pronunciation of Tom's last name is due to a misprint in the liner notes of the vinyl version of "Anthem of the Sun."]

VANCE FROST: After finishing his tour of duty with the Air Force, in November 1968, Tom became a full time member of the Grateful Dead. He plays keyboards, which lets Pigpen devote more of his talent and time to singing and harp playing. ConSTATen.

TOM CONSTANTEN: I knew Phil seven years ago when I was going to Berkeley. And we both got into a class with Luciano Berio. I was looking around for something to do and this the most interesting thing for me to get into. Mainly because I knew Phil, I knew Jerry. I knew what they were into musically and there was kind of a musical rapport.

(*Music - "That's it for the Other One" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: Yeah, the way to listen to Phil Lesh on the album is to listen with stereo earphones.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: He's bridging the gap between the rhythm and the instrumentation.

BOB WEIR: He plays over a great deal of equipment, and pretty loud and very complex, very intricate and fast. About the most complex, intricate, and fastest of the bass players…

RALPH J. GLEASON: What they do is to play a continual solo.

BOB WEIR: (ahem) …goin' these days.

RALPH J. GLEASON: He's like a lot of the young jazz bass players of the last 7 or 8 years, in that he has no interest in playing 4/4 time. He plays a whole line which, of course, is in rhythm, but it's a whole line which is sort of contrapuntal to the theme of whatever is being done by the band at any given time.

BOB WEIR: And, uh, anyway, so, you can gather from that that Phil, at, at least one point, was a student of classical music.

PHIL LESH: I learned music theory in high school and college. I played instruments since I was 8 years old.

RALPH J. GLEASON: He's a fascinating musician to hear.

(*Music - "New Potato Caboose")

JERRY GARCIA: Like in a lot of those places, we have some things like two or three different performances, live performances, all happening at the same time and we're cross fading. That's why some of that stuff is like a dream, you know. Like, you listen to a guitar run and it's, like, it goes somewhere and all of a sudden it ..like there's another part of it that's almost a continuation but not quite, you know, comin' from another place. We did that a lot in "The Other One," particularly.

(*Music - "New Potato Caboose" continues.)

(*Music - "Born Cross-Eyed")

BOB WEIR: My song-writing career has been slowed up because I can't think of any decent words to sing. That's kind of gotten to me after the last album. You come to that particular point where you've written a song, and you hear it on the album and the words are so "nada." They don't really say anything, they're just, like I say, they're just a, they're something with which, a handle with which to carry a tune. And they could be ever so much more.

(*Music - "Born Cross-Eyed" continues.)

(*Music - "Alligator")

JERRY GARCIA: Well, "Alligator" starts out studio. The whole first part of "Alligator" is studio. And as soon as… right at the end, as soon as the drums come in, that goes into live.

(*Music - "Alligator" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: The drums have been a prisoner in rock bands. The drums have been a prisoner of 4/4 time with a back beat. And the Grateful Dead have solved this by adding another drummer. Now these two drummers take off and engage in incredible rhythmic interchanges and variations, not only with the other members of the band, but with each other and on the basic tune itself. It's a very free thing.

SPENCER DRYDEN: Each one of them are in their own bag. They're playing their own thing, and it's somehow related to what the original was, but they're not directly related to each other. Once you make the original statement, and you've got that nucleus going, then you can, like, start branching out of that and you can get very, very free. You don't have to play the time all the time to have the time moving.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Their two drummers are really… spend all their time complimenting each other, becoming a unit.

DAVID FREIBERG: There aren't many groups that can play music that lift people off the floor. Whether they're sitting down or standing up, they're still about three inches off the floor.

(*Music - "Alligator" continues.)

SPENCER DRYDEN: And they're beautiful. And they're not afraid to look at each other. A lot of musicians today, they get on the stage and they're afraid to look at the next cat playing because they're uptight or they don't want to communicate with the other cat. They think it's all in their fingers. They're not using their head at all.

RALPH J. GLEASON: But rock music is a kind of music that you can get to play in the context of a group and get to play at an extraordinary level of communication.

SPENCER DRYDEN: And I see Mickey and Bill, or when I play with Mickey, we dig each other. You listen to what you're doing and you're smiling at each other, and it's like a good rapport, a good feeling between people. You're not afraid to play what you feel.

(*Music - "Alligator" continues.)

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Bill and Mickey really work together.

DAVID FREIBERG: They hang out together even.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: Yeah, they hang out together. There's a basic fundamental, right there. Those two.

BOB WEIR: And they get in phase together and they become like one drummer with eight arms, so to speak.

BILL KREUTZMANN: See, we're not trying to be two drummers.


BILL KREUTZMANN: We're trying to be one drummer with how many limbs there are amongst us.

JERRY GARCIA: Eight limbs.

RALPH J. GLEASON: And what they do with them is, as far as I'm concerned, add another dimension to the rhythmic possibilities.

(*Music - "Alligator" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: The second album is a testimony of how the Grateful Dead progressed from a group of guys who were having a ball doing something, just really having a ball doing it, into a bunch of very serious musicians who are doing something musically very heavy. It may not please everyone to the same degree, and it may also be that everyone isn't interested in hearing heavy music. But that's a heavy album.

JERRY GARCIA: It's a stereo record.

VANCE FROST: Yeah, we know!

JERRY GARCIA: We worked on it to get you high, ya know, and that's what it's supposed to do, really. And that's what that record was about.

RALPH J. GLEASON: And whether or not, from their own standpoint, they successfully executed everything they thought to do in that album, the concept of that album is magnificent. Just like the concept of the [Jefferson] Airplane album, "Bathing at Baxter's" is a magnificent concept. Those things are very heavy albums. All of that music is serious music, but some of it is not taken as seriously in the doing as others. I thinks these albums are very serious albums. These people were down to serious business. Just as serious as Stockhausen.

(*Music - "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)")

JERRY GARCIA: And this next album ["Aoxomoxoa"] is going to have lots of songs on it 'cause we've been into lots of songs lately. It's going to be mostly a vocal trip, really, just 'cause we've gotten into lyrics this time. And, at this point it's pretty amorphous. Like, we have lots of material, and we have much of it recorded, but we haven't decided exactly how to put it together, or exactly how we're going to present it, or whether it's gonna be a double album or a triple album or… 'Cause we've got, like, lots of different kinds of material. We have jam session stuff, we have all kinds of live scenes. Our material, at this point, is getting to be so interchangeable, that we can… it's getting to where we can do almost anything inside of anything else. What would be nicest would be able take one complete show with no editing and just say here it is, man.

MICHAEL WANGER: The perfect night.

JERRY GARCIA: Right, right. And it could happen and on the chance that it might happen sometime, we record.

BOB WEIR: And invariably, the really, the really good, perfect performances are never on tape which is, of course, the way it should be.

JERRY GARCIA: Like the latest trips that we're on is to do a thing that's like, uh, ya know, get some large unspecific sort of room and say, we're gonna do four hours, man, we're gonna do four or five hours of whatever we do, ya know, of everything that we can pull out of our hats. Like, really do a huge number that just goes on and on, man. It has millions of changes and goes millions of places.

(*Music - "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" continues.)


MICHAEL WANGER: For their voices, we thank Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Tom Constanten, Phil Lesh, Bill, the Drummer, and Ralph J. Gleason.

VANCE FROST: Mickey Hart, Mr. and Mrs. David Freiberg, John Cipollina, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner and Ralph J. Gleason.

MICHAEL WANGER: Special thanks to Baron Leo De Gar Kulka, Golden State Recorders, and Mike Larner.

VANCE FROST: This thing was written, produced and lovingly pieced together by Vance Frost and Michael Wanger.

(*Music - "Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)" continues.)

RALPH J. GLEASON: I mean, they're not going to go on playing the same tunes the rest of their life, ya know. No musician can. It's built into music that you want to play different things and you want to have new experiences in the playing of music. Now, I think it's useful, in thinking of this kind of music, to consider the fact that these are musicians who are entering a new sphere in music. These are the real electronic composers. These are the people who are learning how to function in a combination of live performances, live recording in studios, and electronic application and electronic extensions of these things. And the Grateful Dead are experimenters.

DAVID FREIBERG: I love 'em! And that's far out.

SPENCER DRYDEN: Oh, I don't know. What about the Dead? It's a good band…

RALPH J. GLEASON: And that's because when you go to hear the Grateful Dead, it's almost guaranteed that you're gonna have a good time.

JOHN CIPOLLINA: And that's why, uh, I think a lot of people really go and see the Grateful Dead, time after time after time, is because they're really having fun.

SPENCER DRYDEN: Grateful Dead is like an attitude.

PAUL KANTNER: Well, that's what I… my general feelings are that you should go and listen to them and not talk about them.

JERRY GARCIA: Too weird.

Feb 20, 2012

1969: Live/Dead Review


Live Dead explains why the Dead are one of the best performing bands in America, why their music touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists.

A list of song titles would mean very little in terms of what actually goes on inside the album. Like the early Cream, the Dead in concert tend to use their regular material as a jumping-off point, as little frameworks that exist only for what can be built on top of them. In "Dark Star," for example, they give a token reading of the song itself, waiting patiently until the vocal drops and Garcia's guitar comes out front to begin the action. About ten minutes later, if you can manage to look up by then, you might realize that what is happening bears as little resemblance to "Dark Star" as all that rollin' and tumblin' stuff did to "Spoonful." But of course, by that time, it just doesn't matter, and when the Dead slowing bring the song back around to "Dark Star," each change made with care and a strange kind of tact, you can only marvel at the distance you've traveled in such a short period of time.

Live Dead also exhibits the group's quite considerable ability in tying together differing song-threads, letting them pass naturally into one another, almost if they had been especially designed for such a move. A jamming band (and the Dead are that, if nothing else) has to rely on its sense of Flow, on its talent in taking that small series of steps which will ultimately bring it to some entirely different place from where it started. On side two, they begin with "St. Stephen," working at that until they magically appear in "The Eleven," and then, just before the final tape cut-off, you can hear them changing again with "Turn On Your Lovelight." It's beautifully conceived and done, each piece clicking together perfectly.

One of the finer things about the record is that the cuts seem to have been chosen with a great deal of care. Even on the best of nights, the group as a whole has a tendency to be spotty, with the many good moments intermingled with the bad. This is not necessarily a minus factor; when you work on such tenuous ground as the Dead, where each note means holding a balance between seven very different people and a less concrete mass out front, it's only logical to expect a large number of misses. If you've ever seen them live, you know that there are times when they simply can't do it, when the thread that has been so carefully nursed is suddenly snapped apart, when they amble around, trying to find the key that will unlock the door again.

Live Dead contains none of this searching. It's all there, up moment after moment, everything snugly tucked in place, "Turn On Your Lovelight," the usual Pigpen show-stopper, is right to the point here, all the different sections coming together in a nice ripe whole, moving quickly with nary a jerk or piece left hanging. Even a long eight-minute section of feedback on side four is handled well, each individual howl pinpointed with unerring accuracy. And as in concert, a piece from the Incredible String Band's "A Very Cellular Song" is a perfect way to close out the show.

I'm not going to end this by using some overworn phrase about how this is possibly the best live album ever a must for your record collection something no fan should be without etc. etc. But if you'd like to visit a place where rock is likely to be in about five years, you might think of giving Live Dead a listen or two.

(by Lenny Kaye, from Rolling Stone, February 7 1970)

* * *


"Live Dead explains why the Dead are one of the best performing bands in America, why their music touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exist," [states] The Rolling Stone, with whom all hearers agree, understanding the truth in this statement. Picture San Francisco in the summer of 1968 at the peak of the psychedelic-love revolution, with the Airplane, Country Joe, and the Dead, the hippies, and all of the beautiful people that sent their message directly to every person under thirty, whether they care to admit it or not. Go and see the Dead and for a couple of hours you are there, with the music they are playing you feel every note until every muscle in your body is just itching to get up and dance, clap, just make any sound to try and move with the Dead. Ask anyone who saw them at Kleinhans last month and they'll tell you that what has just been said is not enough.

The titles of the songs are just a point from which they roam in the most incredibly together, flowing jam of which they are in perfect control at every moment - this is the miracle of the Dead. With seven excellent musicians, including two drummers, an organist, Pig Pen, who plays congas and organ, and also sings, three guitarists, and gong-like huge cymbals that give a curiously surrealistic effect. The guitarists are led by Jerry Garcia who is an underrated musician of rock, [who] holds them together with his floating, soaring leads that guide the direction they take. He also plays a great steel guitar. Being aware of the musical popularity of the seven, it is hard to comprehend their co-ordination when they jam (which is all they do as each cut runs from 6-25 minutes, reminiscent of the Cream).

The album opens with the 23-minute "Dark Star" in which all seven get together, and feel where the others are at that night. The beautiful "St. Stephen" sort of starts The Dead and the crowd taking off. Pig Pen's great vocal show on "Turn on Your Love Light" has everyone moving, with The Dead getting louder, faster, and harder. It reminds me of what sociologists try to learn from the communal, physical aspect of rock concerts. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" completes the trip with the circular, winding rhythm of The Dead. Without trite banalities of "how much you'd like it," or "why you should buy it," I refer again to The Rolling Stone, "if you want to know where rock music is going to be in five years, listen to this album."

(by Kevin Lovett, from the Griffin, Buffalo NY, 17 April 1970) 

Thanks to Dave Davis

November 1969: Show Announcements

Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8, at 9 pm at the Old Fillmore Auditorium, corner of Fillmore and Geary Streets, you will have a chance to hear the band that put San Francisco on the map -- the N.Y. Times says, "They may make the greatest rock of all."
Thrill to the electrifying guitar wizardry of Jerry Garcia.
Gasp at the audacity of the legendary Pig Pen, to whom shame is but a word in the dictionary.
Grope to the exotic jungle rhythms of Mickey Hart and his sidekick, Bill ---
in one of their final Bay Area appearances of the decade
Bop on down to the old Fillmore, Friday night where anything can happen and usually does.
Fun for kids from 2 to 82...
Only $2.50

From a GD press release.
A similar release was used for the November 15 Moratorium Day show in Crockett:

You will have a chance to celebrate the hope of peace with the band that makes unity seem like music--
The N.Y. Times says, "They may make the greatest rock of all."
Thrill to the electrifying guitar wizardry of Jerry Garcia.
Breathe with the booming bass of Phil Lesh, the fastest bass player of them all.
Gasp at the audacity of the legendary Pig Pen, to whom shame is but a word in the dictionary.
Grope to the exotic jungle rhythms of Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.
and appearing with them,

September 27, 1969: Fillmore East


FILLMORE EAST, N.Y. - It was Avalon Ballroom revisited time last weekend as Country Joe And The Fish appeared along with Grateful Dead at the Fillmore. But what should have been a joyous occasion and a musical treat wound up being only a fairly good evening, with moments of brilliance and genuine excitement coming far too infrequently.
Country Joe brought three new Fish to the Fillmore stage. They are Greg Dewey on drums, formerly of Mad River; Doug Metzner (bass) from Group Image, and Mark Kapner on the keyboard from the Peace Corps, a Washington based group which has been around for about eight years.
With Joe and guitarist Barry Melton leading the charge, they soon were into a rocking set and it wasn't long before Barry had launched into "The Love Machine," a number which was accompanied by his frenzied thrashing about on the edge of the stage - activity which, while not always wholly convincing, was consistently pretty funny. More mirth was provided by Mark Kapner's bit wherein a Tiny Tim type ukulele received the full Jimi Hendrix treatment. This has to be some sort of first - going down on a uke!
But such moments of madness and first rate satire were scattered and one couldn't help but wonder whether Country Joe And The Fish were, in general, departing from this type of entertainment in favor of just playing good rock music. Let's hope not. They do both so well.
As for Joe McDonald himself, he completely charmed and cracked up the audience with his hilarious and outrageous "Quiet Days" song, delivered deadpan, with only his own guitar accompaniment, and from the score which he did for a Danish movie which, he confided, "will never be released in the States." In this number, as in no other (and certainly not in his James Brown imitation, which came later) Joe displayed what a really marvelous head he has and how he can reach an audience in a straightforward, good humored way - something which was always a hallmark of the Fish and one of the chief reasons for their impact on the music scene.

Now a word about Grateful Dead. It seems kind of ridiculous at this point to say that Jerry Garcia plays a very fine lead guitar and has a unique ability to capture the essence of a song and render it with remarkable vocal quality. We know this. Suffice to say then that Jerry did not disappoint anyone, particularly with his version of "Don't Murder Me," surely one of the finer blues renditions to be heard around these parts in some time.
We wish we could give equal praise to the amplifiers at the first show Saturday night; however, unless you are really into humming as a necessary part of a good group, then the less said on this subject, the better. Nonetheless, the Dead played their usual brand of uncompromising rock and did it well enough to make it look easy, which of course is far from easy.

Rounding out the bill was Sha Na Na, which recently received an extensive review in these pages. Upon witnessing their act, we weren't sure where they were coming from. We're still not, but someone says it was El Morocco. Okay.

(from Cash Box, October 11 1969)

http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-09-27.aud.hanno.14857.sbeok.shnf (the Saturday early show)

See also the Billboard review:

June 1967: Album Review & News Clips


(Part of an article on the SF music scene, written in June 1967 in NYC. "Rock Scully, a Dead manager, just walked by; the Grateful Dead are at the Cafe Au Go Go, two blocks from here.")

The Grateful Dead's first try is pure energy flow. West Coast kineticism has developed into a fine art; the first side of this album rolls with a motion so natural that one suspects the musicians have never listened to the Who or the Kinks or even the Four Tops - they have developed their own kinetic techniques without reference to the masters in the field. With one exception: this album has so much in common with The Rolling Stones, Now! as to be almost a sequel.
Of course, I'm not complaining. Now! will always stand as one of the great rock albums, and by giving us the New World, sun-rising-over-the-Pacific-Ocean version of that album, the Dead have unquestionably added to the quantity of joy around. And the Dead's LP is much more firsthand: where the Stones glorified the mythical American South rock joint in "Down the Road Apiece," the Dead give you the feeling that that kind of wonderful abandon is a part of their daily scene ("Golden Road"). The Stones assume the persona of Chuck Berry driving down the New Jersey Turnpike (which they've probably never been on!) to convey their personal energies in "You Can't Catch Me"; the Dead do a song with almost identical impact ("Good Morning Little Schoolgirl") but they don't need to think of themselves as Sonny Boy Williamson - the song goes out direct to every teenybopper in the audience, and by the time they start into the fourth minute or so, every member of the band really feels every word that Pigpen says. Musically, the Stones' performance is as good (in fact, better) than the Dead's; but where the Stones confront a mythical highway cop, the Dead confront the actual members of their audience. Hence the Grateful Dead LP, though not quite as good as Now!, is at times even more effective.
(The Stones do, of course, confront their audience in "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love," but it's not emotional confrontation, it's great showmanship, posturing - similar to the Dead's terrific posturing when they "do" the whole Kingston Trio era and its approach, in "Cold Rain and Snow." I'm comparing the Dead to the Stones not to show a preference to either, but to point out the fascinating similarities in the impact of their music and in the music itself - play "Schoolgirl" after listening to "You Can't Catch Me" to appreciate the extent to which the Dead resemble the Stones in their concept of what music is and how a rock band should perform.)

The first side of the Dead album is one song, unrolling its varied but equivalent delights at top speed. "Beat It On Down the Line" ("That's where I'm going to make my happy home") moves into the certainty of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" with the ease and impact of Jean-Luc Godard. Garcia smiles, Pigpen squints, and you're on your way. And you can't turn back. "See that girl?... Well, she's coming down the stair... and I don't worry, I'm sitting on top of the world." (Appropriate J. Garcia guitar run here.) Breathless.
The flip is something else: introspective, more like a journey than a joyride. "Morning Dew" conjures loneliness, pain, uncertainty, courage; pleads, asks, questions, denies; and finally, "I guess it doesn't matter anyway." Apocalyptic. Or just resigned. "I thought I heard..."? And whatever it was, you'll find it in the song. Beautiful, with a kind of intense detachment. San Francisco isn't known for its vocalists, but this song could change all that.

"New, New Minglewood Blues" serves as a sort of bridge in the context of the album, which is not at all the nature of the song in live performance...and no doubt this is one of the many things about this LP that disappoints fans of the live Dead. The more you've grown to love Grateful Dead live performances over the years, the more difficult it must be to accept an album which is - though very beautiful - something completely different. Only "Viola Lee Blues" has any of the fantastic "this is happening now!" quality of a good Dead performance; only "Viola Lee Blues" takes you away as far as the longtime Dead fan has grown accustomed to being taken. It's an escape song - a prisoner for life dreams his way to the dim edges of space and time - and if you don't think you're a prisoner, surrender to "Viola Lee" and see what happens.

(by Paul Williams, Crawdaddy July/Aug 1967)
The full article is rather long, discusses the San Francisco community, and also covers Jefferson Airplane's first two albums, and the first albums from Country Joe and Moby Grape; it includes some pictures of live GD. It was reprinted in the Crawdaddy Book, 2002.


Here are some news clips from the "What Goes On" section of Crawdaddy. (Since the publication date was a couple months behind the "news" it reported, the actual date follows the clips.)

Issue 8, March 1967: The GRATEFUL DEAD, one of the Bay Area's two most popular live rock acts, have signed a very strong contract with Warner Brothers Records; they will be choosing their own producer and will have complete artistic control of how they are recorded. [December 1966]

Issue 9, May 1967: PHIL SPECTOR described the total assault of seeing/hearing the GRATEFUL DEAD at SF's Winterland as "unbelievable," and suggested that all visitors to America be driven directly from the airport to the nearest total environment rock ballroom. Jerry Garcia feels the same way about "River Deep Mountain High."

Issue 10, July/Aug 1967: There's still no real rock scene in New York, but things are happening very fast. (Rock Scully: "When I was here a month ago, New York was three years behind the Haight. Now it's two years behind.") The Grateful Dead came to town, and played so many free concerts that the SF tradition of music in the parks seems firmly established here.
The Group Image has been a particularly important influence on the scene. (The Image are an amorphous bunch who produce music, posters, confusion, and other useful items. As yet, their music is nothing very good, but their performance is very enjoyable - the audience makes as much noise as the Image, and it's all very tribal and very real.)
Monday nights at the Cheetah are now devoted to the community, following a marvelous Grateful Dead-Group Image concert there early in June. For the first time, the Cheetah had good people onstage and good people in the audience, and it made all the difference in the world. [June 12, 1967]

Issue 11, October 1967: One of the greatest problems facing rock music is finding suitable environments outside San Francisco for presenting good rock to large audiences. A frontal attack was made on this problem in early August when Bill Graham presented Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead at Toronto's enormous, posh O'Keefe Centre. The Dead and the Airplane performed onstage surrounded by several hundred members of the audience, dancing and smiling, with sound equipment imported from San Francisco and light shows by Head Lights (S.F.) and Sensefex (New York). The press was enthusiastic, and the audience more so - more than 20,000 saw the show at O'Keefe during the week of performances, and another 50,000 attended free concerts given by the two groups in Toronto and Montreal. The message was crystal clear: it can happen here. [July 31-August 5, 1967]

Issue 17, August 1968: The GRATEFUL DEAD were in town and did all the right things: played a fine gig outdoors at Columbia University after being snuck onto the closed campus by somebody, and climaxed an afternoon in Central Park that also included Butterfield and the Airplane (excellent set), to an audience of about 10,000 very happy, very together people. [May 3-5, 1968]

October 1966: Crawdaddy Review


(From an article on the top underground bands in San Francisco, "particularly the Grateful Dead, who can be considered nothing short of fantastic.")

The Grateful Dead are rapidly gaining prominence and ascending from their underground status to a position close to the Airplane. Most local dance-concert attendees, when confronted with a question about the Dead, will mention "Midnight Hour." The Dead's closing number is usually Wilson Pickett's blockbuster, and it is transformed into a type of half-hour (sometimes longer) "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," performed by the Dead's organist Pig Pen. (A recent concert featured "Midnight Hour" performed by a joint "Grateful-Airplane" with the assistance of Joan Baez and Mimi Farina.)
"Midnight Hour" is not the Dead at their best. They are a hard blues-rock band, a powerhouse unit of organ, drums, and three guitars. Their best accomplishments are Pig Pen's gutsy version of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" (with fantastic controlled harp work), "The Creeper," "Empty Heart," and "Smokestack Lightning" (both now performed only by special request), and an unbelievable grooving piece about "Born in Jackson" (supposedly written by rhythm player Bob Weir). "Sitting on Top of the World" jumps, and "Dancing in the Streets" is a railroad trip.
Jerry Garcia's lead work is exciting, sustained genius. Bill Sommers is the Bay Area's best drummer. Their repertoire is chiefly city blues, some old folk and early rock, with some strong originals. A single is to be issued shortly. A Grateful Dead album is being re-prepared (a first effort was discarded). The group has a $10,000 sound system. The Grateful Dead figure to be important movers in imparting San Francisco's message to the world.

(by Gene Sculatti, from Crawdaddy, October 1966)
At some point it may be worth transcribing the full article, which also covers Jefferson Airplane (of course), the Great Society, and the Charlatans, with briefer mentions of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Sopwith Camel, Country Joe & the Fish, and others. It was reprinted in the Crawdaddy Book, 2002.

June 18, 1967: Monterey Pop Festival


Most important part of the Festival was the style of instrumental work used by the blues-rock groups. Individualists are emerging with imaginative creations. Their music is just as much for listening as dancing, and under many circumstances would be called jazz, not rock. For instance, when Al Kooper’s band got into the blues, and the Grateful Dead (Pigpen McKernan on Hammond) went off into 20-minute blues medley-variations, there was nothing aurally to indicate that this was part of a rock & roll or pop concert at all. It was experimental music based on the blues, and that’s jazz...
Another recent big-label San Francisco recording group, the Grateful Dead, had ideal program billing (midway Sunday night) but partially blew it by playing too long. The Dead are among the most musically intriguing of any rock groups, but they seem to be straying from the typical dance format more quickly than any of the others....

(by Phillip Elwood, from Billboard, July 8 1967, page 26)

Accessible on Googlebooks: http://books.google.com/books?id=wycEAAAAMBAJ
(in full below)



. . . . The trouble with San Francisco is that it isn't quite urbane enough. When it has to deal with uptight New York or plastic Los Angeles it loses its vaunted cool. There is a story that takes place at a jam session in Sausalito. Dewey Martin of The Buffalo Springfield, one of the least commercial L.A. groups, gets up to sing, and a guy in the back can't resist yelling, "Los Angeles pseudo-hippie, Los Angeles pseudo hippie." L.A. musicians have mixed feelings about San Francisco; most of them admire the music but distrust the mystique. San Franciscans respond with brickbats. "What Brian Wilson is doing is fine but it has no balls," one Jefferson Airplane told Richard Goldstein of The Village Voice. "Everything is prefabricated like the rest of that town. Bring them into the Fillmore and it just wouldn't work."

So, as June 16 approached, Chet Helms, chief of The Family Dog, which runs the Avalon Ballroom, and Dan Rifkin, wild-haired manager of The Grateful Dead, the band that developed such an underground reputation (and was so obviously indifferent to potential wealth) it could afford to dicker with three or four companies until Warner Brothers finally guaranteed absolute product control in a recording contract, were feuding with Adler. 'Are you gonna let the people on the Fairgrounds, Lou? What do you mean, for a buck? Music should be for everyone, Lou, those prices are ridiculous. These bands are all rich, why do you have to pay expenses? And everything first class, Lou. Is that movie Pennebaker's shooting for ABC gonna be distributed in theaters? The Dead have a booking Friday night in San Francisco, Lou, we can't make it Friday. Where are all those kids gonna crash, Lou?'

Despite their tendency to overrate their own importance, the San Franciscans were right this time--the Angelenos needed them badly. "Be happy, be free; wear flowers, bring bells," the brochure read. In other words, act like hippies--and mingle with hippies. With the exception of Canned Heat, a blues band, and The Group With No Name, a throw-in, the L.A. groups were all hit-makers-- The Seeds, Love were not invited. The Doors were in New York. But some of the San Francisco groups had never even recorded. The whole setup was an implied bow to the "rock underground," which apparently only existed only up north. If you don't make it in L.A., you're just a flop.

But San Francisco did not appreciate the compliment. Dan Rifkin envisioned an enormous, secluded campground at Fort Ord--yes, Fort Ord, so the M.P.'s could protect them from the Highway Patrol--where all of the real groups would hold an anti-Festival, everyone streaming to the anti-Festival, where the real music was at. The Grateful Dead perform free much of the time, and so do many of the other groups in the Bay Area. Rifkin saw no reason why other good bands shouldn't do the same. . . .

[On Sunday night] the task of following The Who fell to The Grateful Dead. Originally scheduled for Friday, seen lurking in the wings until Buddy Miles broke things up Saturday afternoon, The Dead finally made their appearance in a sunburst of San Francisco warm. "You know what foldin' chairs are for, don't you?" asked Bob Weir, his dirty blond hair hanging down past his shoulder blades and over his face. "They're for foldin' up and dancin' on." As the group drifted into "Viola Lee Blues," the hangers-on in the wings started to dance, slowly gravitating toward the center of the stage, and some of the audience got up as well. Adler's compulsive streak was really beginning to show. He was mad. Before too long he helped the stagehands hustle the dancers off, and the ushers did the same in the aisles. There was no resistance per se, but everyone was annoyed. The Dead looked as if they might leave the stage themselves. Then Peter Tork came on.

Tork, the ineffectual Monkee, had surprised everyone by emceeing part of Friday night and drawing a good many teeny shrieks. . . . The Monkees have inferiority problems. Ever since their first album appeared with someone else playing the instruments, most of the people in rock have snickered at everything about them except their music. In San Francisco they are regarded as the height of L.A. plastic. "I was rapping with that guy backstage before," a member of one San Francisco entourage said, handing me a joint as Tork waited for the audience to quiet. "His head is really nowhere."

Tork's mission was to quash a small riot. All weekend there had been Beatle rumors--their equipment was backstage, they were holed up in a motel, they were mingling incognito ("disguised as hippies," Derek Taylor said). The Beatles are kings of the love crowd, and everyone wanted desperately to catch a glimpse of them. Now some kids were trying to get in backstage and hunt. Who better than a second-hand Beatle to stop them?

"People," Tork said, "this is me again. I hate to cut things down like this, but, uh, there's a crowd of kids--and this is to whom I'm talking mostly, to whom, are you ready for that?--and, um, these kids are like crowding around over the walls and trying to break down doors and everything thinking The Beatles are here..."

Phil Lesh could no longer resist. Lesh, The Dead's bass player, is twenty-nine, classically trained, a Bay Area native, and there, right there, stood Los Angeles, this square, manufactured teen idol, the mouthpiece of safe and sane Adlerism, everything Lesh had hated all his life.

"This is the last concert, why not let them in anyway?"

"...and, um, last concert, all right, except that they're trying to break things down, crawling over ceilings and walls and like, they think The Beatles are here and they're not, you, those of you, they can come in if they want."

"The Beatles aren't here, come in anyway," Lesh said.

There were cheers. Tork laughed nervously, mumbled, "Uh, yeah, there's great things happening anyway. "

"If The Beatles were here they'd probably want you to come."

"Yeah, except that, uh, just don't, you know, bring down ceilings and walls and everything, and, uh, carry on."

The cheering was for Lesh, and Tork knew it. As he limped off, crowds of non-ticket holders pressed through the rear gates and filled the empty field behind the stadium. The "Seat Power, We Love You" college kids did not try to stop them, and The Dead did the carrying on, much enlivened. By the end of the set Weir and Jerry Garcia were riffing back and forth in the best guitar-playing of the Festival.

It becomes clearer and clearer that the so-called psychedelic sound is moving toward jazz. San Francisco rock is basically Chicago and Texas blues plus electronic music, and Chicago blues is primitive jazz. Also, the structure of jazz meshes with the whole bias of the San Francisco scene toward "freedom." The problem is that rock is much easier to play than blues and blues is much easier to play than jazz. Anyone can pick up an electric guitar and sound a few chords, but it takes real musicianship, not to mention a special kind of creative talent, to improvise melody. There was some good blues guitar at the Festival--Bloomfield and his replacement in Butterfield's band, Elvin Bishop, were excellent. Dennis Gerrard of The Paupers and Jim Gurley of Big Brother played some good electronic stuff. John Weider of The Animals contributed a fine violin solo with "Paint it Black." And that was it. Garcia and Weir were arresting, no more, but that was enough to make them the standout improvisers of the Festival.

But their performance was quickly obscured by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. . . .

(by Robert Christgau, from Esquire, January 1968)

Transcript taken from Christgau's site:
It is a long article reviewing the whole Festival and well worth reading in full.



Saturday night, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead commented, "There's a lot of heavy stuff going on." Whether he meant music or acid or emotion or everything, he was right. . . .

The Grateful Dead were beautiful. They did at top volume what Shankar had done softly. They played pure music, some of the best music of the concert. I have never heard anything in music that could be said to be qualitatively better than the performance of the Dead Sunday night. The strangest of the San Francisco groups, the Dead live together in a big house on Ashbury Street, and living together seems to have made them totally together musically. Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist, and owner of the bushiest head at the festival, was the best guitarist of the whole show. The Dead's songs lasted twenty minutes and more, each a masterpiece of five-man improvisation. Beside Garcia there is Phil Lesh on bass, Bob Weir on rhythm guitar, Bill Kreutzmann on drums, and Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan (who seldom talks) on organ. Each man's part was isolated, yet the sound was solid as a rock. It is impossible to remember what it was like. I wrote down at the time: "accumulated sound like wild honey on a moving plate in gobs...three guitars together, music, music, pure, high and fancy...in it all a meditation by Jerry on a melancholy theme...the total in all parts...loud quiets as they go on and on and on...sounds get there then hold while new ones float up, Jerry to Pig Pen, then to drums, then to Lesh, talking, playing, laughing, exulting."
That sounds crazy now, but that's how it seemed. The Dead built a driving, unshakable rhythm that acted not just as rhythm, but as a wall of noise on which the solos were etched. The solos were barely perceptible in the din, yet they were there like fine scrolls on granite. At moments Garcia and Weir played like one instrument, rocking toward each other. Garcia could do anything: one moment he hunched over, totally intent on his strings, and then he would pull away and prance with his fat ungainly body, then play directly to some face he picked out in the crowd straining up to the stage. Phil Lesh called to the audience as they began, "Anybody who wants to dance, dance. You're sitting on folding chairs, and folding chairs are for folding up and dancing on." But the crowds were restrained by ushers, and those who danced on stage were stopped by nervous stagehands. It was one of the few times that the loose reins of the festival were tightened. Was it necessary? Who knows? But without dancing, the Dead didn't know how well they had done. Lesh was dripping with sweat and nervous as he came off, but each word of praise from onlookers opened him up: "Man, it was impossible to know how we were doing without seeing people moving. We feed on that, we need it, but, oh, man, we did our thing, we did our thing."
They certainly did. The Dead on Sunday night were the definition of virtuoso performance. Could anybody come on after the Dead? Could anyone or anything top them? Yes, one man: Jimi Hendrix, introduced by Brian Jones as "the most exciting guitar player I've ever heard." . . .

(by Michael Lydon, written June 1967 & unpublished; excerpted from the 2003 book Flashbacks)
It's worth seeking out the book for his full description of the Monterey festival.


Since Philip Elwood's Billboard article is only available in a google scan, I'll also transcribe the full article here. It's an interesting contrast with Christgau's more cynical take (though neither of them liked Hendrix!) -

MONTEREY, Calif. - Last act on the Monterey International Pop Festival (June 16-18) was the Mamas and the Papas, and in Mama Cass' introduction of "California Dreamin'" she probably captured the spirit of the whole event: "the weekend is like a dream come true," she said. And the whistles and cheers of 7,500 fans emphasized their concurrence.
It was 12:30 a.m. Monday; the fading minutes of nearly 22 hours of stage performance spread over an exhausting three-night, two-afternoon schedule. Over 30,000 seats had been sold for the Monterey weekend and another 30,000 young people (by police estimates) had taken advantage of the Festival's extra-arena events and strolled under the oaks, through the booths and displays and gotten out to the Monterey Peninsula College athletic field where, most of the nights until dawn, various rock bands performed for the fog-chilled kids in their bed rolls and sleeping bags.
Significantly, it was not the performances on stage which made the greatest impression on most of the veteran observers of the concert and pop music scene: it was the festival concept itself, and the total capturing of the very best in today's younger generation and those willing to accept its philosophies as an alternative to extinction.
It was this spirit which made the Monterey Pop Festival a success and because of this feeling of gentleness, restraint and love, the audience behavior inside the crowded arena (and their enthusiasm) were strikingly significant.
When standing ovations occurred they had been earned; none of the automatic huzzahs from beered-up and demonstrative egocentrics.

More than 30 acts performed on stage, including an exquisite three-hour presentation by Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, who had all Sunday afternoon to himself.
It matters not what many people think about Indian palace music as part of a pop music program: what does matter is that over 5,000 young people sat in awe and spent those three hours contemplating the artistic contribution of Shankar.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, from Britain, making its American debut (altho Hendrix is from Seattle) proved to be more experience than music, pop or otherwise. Accompanied by overmodulated electronic feedback squeals and bombastic drumming, the Hendrix performance is quite a crowd rouser but its sensationalism is not music, and unlike Chuck Berry (who was doing some of this stuff 15 years ago), when Hendrix sings he has trouble with phrasing, and his modal-turned-chicken choke handling of the guitar doesn't indicate a strong talent, either.
The only other sensational performance at Monterey came from the Who, an excellent quartet with an out-of-sight drummer in Keith Moon. Their lyrics are fascinating, and clear; they ran through a noisy set (including a roaring "Summertime Blues") and ended with a guitar-smashing sequence of their own, quite similar to the Yardbirds' bit in "Blow Up."
The strongest performance by any of the relatively unheralded groups was that of singer Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company, a San Francisco hard-rock blues group. She squeals, and groans, rocks and moans...and utterly tore Monterey apart. She was the queen of the Festival.

Saturday afternoon was devoted to various blues and hard-rock bands. Other than Big Brother, et al., Mike Bloomfield's new Electric Flag, Paul Butterfield's band and the Steve Miller Blues Band were the strongest, with Country Joe and the Fish (one of the few local groups to have kept an informal sense of humor in their presentations) and the Quicksilver Messenger Service also (at least occasionally) driving their stuff home.
Eric Burdon and the new Animals played on the opening Friday night show.
Most important part of the Festival was the style of instrumental work used by the blues-rock groups. Individualists are emerging with imaginative creations. Their music is just as much for listening as dancing, and under many circumstances would be called jazz, not rock. For instance, when Al Kooper’s band got into the blues, and the Grateful Dead (Pigpen McKernan on Hammond) went off into 20-minute blues medley-variations, there was nothing aurally to indicate that this was part of a rock & roll or pop concert at all. It was experimental music based on the blues, and that’s jazz.
The Blues Project has long worked in that area, using amplified flute and a jazz line on many tunes, and they were interesting in their short Monterey appearance.
On the other hand, when the Jefferson Airplane brought down the house on Saturday night, it was because of their creative work within the field of rock. The Airplane were the most finished and consistent group that played during the whole Festival.

Simon and Garfunkel ended the first evening's show with a delicate and immaculate set: "At the Zoo," a beautiful "Emily" (by Art Garfunkel), "Sounds of Silence," a few others, and then a 16th century Benedictus, done a cappella, and finally a sensitive "Punky's Dilemma."
For absolute contrast, Otis Redding ended the next night's show, well after 1 a.m. with a few minutes of his classic stuff. His appearance had been delayed by the long show, in which the least effective group of the whole Festival (Hugh Masekela) played the weekend's longest set (55 minutes).
But when Redding came on, it took him exactly four beats in two seconds to get 7,500 voices screaming and chanting with him. Booker T and the MG's supplied strong accompaniment.
Unfortunately Redding was the only representative of the Negro blues tradition and the only R&B entertainer in the Festival.
True, Lou Rawls put on a superb demonstration of his road show technique during the first evening's concert, but Rawls isn't R&B. Significantly, however, Rawls was the only performer to include what many Americans would call "popular music"; i.e., "Shadow of Your Smile," "Autumn Leaves," and his now dully stylized medley based on "It Was a Very Good Year."
Balancing the slick Rawls performance was that of Johnny Rivers, who presented virtually a vocal history of the earlier days of rock, from rockabilly through plain folk. Rivers did a fine job, but the Festival and crowd were too immediately hip, too sophisticated, to give him much response.

Because of this predominantly hard-blues-rock feeling in the crowd, some performers which would normally do quite well didn't seem in the right place.
The Association, Moby Grape, Buffalo Springfield, and even the Mamas and Papas were, if anything, too popular in style for this Festival. And the Byrds, though they played well, felt it necessary for David Crosby to deliver a sophomoric political commentary prior to their playing of "He Was a Friend of Mine."
The Byrds were not nearly as close-knit as the Buffalo Springfield, who roamed along through a fine tight set, including "Pretty Baby Why" and "Bluebird."
The Grape was unstrung, it seemed: big smiles, lots of stage-hip, but nothing in the way of powerful and imaginative performance to compare with many of their San Francisco colleagues.
Another recent big-label San Francisco recording group, the Grateful Dead, had ideal program billing (midway Sunday night) but partially blew it by playing too long. The Dead are among the most musically intriguing of any rock groups, but they seem to be straying from the typical dance format more quickly than any of the others.
The performances of the Paupers, Canned Heat, the British singer Beverly, and Laura Nyro, didn't measure up, for one reason or another, and Hugh Masekela was a disappointment.

The Festival could have been better handled, but in retrospect, it seems irrelevant. The important thing is that a "warm, groovy and beautiful festival" (as Ralph Gleason had it in The San Francisco Chronicle) was held with all kinds of exciting stage incidents and no kinds of problems elsewhere. The San Francisco Examiner said of the Festival, "An unqualified success, speaking well not only of the musicians but of the beautifully behaved and attentive audience."
Co-directors John Phillips and Lou Adler and their fleet of aides and assistants somehow got it all done.

* * * *

Elwood had written a shorter review for the San Francisco Examiner the day after the festival, here transcribed in full:


Big Mama Cass summed up the Monterey International Pop Festival as she introduced the Mamas and Papas hit "California Dreamin'" at 12:30 this morning: "This whole weekend is like a dream come true," she said.
Monterey Police Chief Frank Marinello was even more ecstatic. "I'm beginning to like these hippies; when I go up to that Haight and Ashbury I'm going to see a lot of friends," he commented.
Marinello had sent 40 special officers home early on Saturday, and another 40 yesterday afternoon. There was no need for them, although the county fairgrounds often held 40,000 people, far more than on any previous event in history.
Because the festival feeling took hold of everyone, activities on stage and off passed quickly and eventfully. There were few weak performances, and no bad scenes off stage.
Emotional electronic explosions were plentiful after the relatively traditional presentations on Friday night. Most of the bands Saturday afternoon and evening were hard driving blues-rock groups...in fact, the festival became rock, not pop.
The kindest and most gentle, yet highly personal and emotional expressions were those of Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar. A nearly full arena was lost in thought while a music which pre-dates Columbus floated through the foggy air. Shankar asked that there be no smoking and there was none; no shutters clicking during his long solo, and there were none.
Shankar is a master teacher. His music itself is phonetic and his explanations are pertinent and respectfully presented.
There was no need, however, for most of the other performers to explain their work or request silence. The hard driving blues beat and monumental electronic sounds speak for themselves and, we must admit, also represent the culture from which they sprang.
For instance, Jimi Hendrix, decked out in a gold pleated shirt, fuchsia colored feather-ruff, flame red pants, and a quilted white tailcoat writhed and screamed through a few numbers and wound up by setting fire to his guitar after a sexually sensational sequence of dubious dancing.
Hendrix is an exciting performer (as Rolling Stone Brian Jones said in [his] introduction) but otherwise is only a poorly updated Chuck Berry, a guitar-burner from 'way back.
The Who, a most impressive British group, has an out-of-sight drummer in Keith Moon. Their lyrics are quite imaginary [sic] and they have a hard Beatles-Stones instrumental sound. They also ended by breaking up a guitar: by smashing it to bits on mikes, drums, and amplifiers (like the scene in "Blowup").
Although all the jazz-blues-rock bands (like Miller, Quicksilver, etc.) have something to say and are working things out, the two most impressive and solid groups I heard all weekend were the Jefferson Airplane and Buffalo Springfield.
The Saturday demonstration by the Airplane was musically and visually remarkable; in the nine months since they played the Monterey Jazz Festival they have developed the Balin-Slick vocal blend, instrumental ingenuity, and stage movements which are immediately captivating.
And the Head Lights visual show behind them at Monterey was even superior to the otherwise consistently brilliant display on all three nights.
The Buffalo Springfield has a classy variety of arrangements, outstanding vocal balance and depth, and play in a notably musical manner.
Other outstanding performances came from Mike Bloomfield (Saturday afternoon), old reliable Otis Redding (after 1 a.m. Sunday), and the real queen of the Festival, Janice Joplin, with Big Brother and the Holding Company. In an encore performance last night, Miss Joplin repeated her triumph of Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately the long Saturday show included 50 minutes of Hugh Masakela's nothing music by a jazz group (including trombonist Wayne Henderson and conga drummer Big Black) whom Masakela uses to support his awful vocal and tasteless trumpet.
The time wasted on Masakela could have given us more than a few minutes of Redding. As it was, though, Otis came out swinging and had the crowd cheering within five seconds. We, not he, were exhausted as the lights came on ending the five hour show.
The Byrds, after sophomoric political comments were out of the way, went into a good set which improved as it progressed.
The Grateful Dead had some of their fine experimental sounds going, and wonderfully rolling blues beat, but they went too long last night. Jerry Garcia seemed to me the best guitarist on stage all weekend.

(by Philip Elwood, from the San Francisco Examiner, 19 June 1967)

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Here is another article from the San Francisco paper Mojo Navigator R&R News, August 1967:


It’s too bad this article couldn’t have come out, for that matter, been written, about three weeks ago – because if you don’t put it down right away and read about it right away, you lose a lot of the feeling and spontaneity of the thing. Anyway, by now I’m sure you’ve all heard about it and how great it was, which is really true. It was like for two days you were in this surrounding of music and color and being happy and people in your own scene. . . . And like nothing else in the world existed for awhile. It was really nice to forget everything and just hear all this music, look at all these things, and just dig it – a new world to live in for a couple of days. You could walk around the fairgrounds and see people like Paul Simon, looking so conservative and little, like a graduate student at some eastern college – and I can just imagine all these beautiful thoughts curlycuing out of his head – he looked happy. And Brian Jones, who looked just exquisite with a long, flowing, flowered cloak topped with a huge ermine collar – like Mae West in drag, he too looked happy. Oh, and Skip Spence of the Moby Grape looked happiest of all, in fact he was so happy that he was able to talk to me with his eyes closed and somehow still know who he was talking to.
Okay, and now to the music: I missed Friday night’s show in favor of seeing The Who at Fillmore, so I can’t say much about the opening program except that from what I heard, it wasn’t really that tough. When I got there Saturday afternoon, Frank Cook of Canned Heat was down on his knees on stage, rolling over, sloshing about, and yelling out, in his best pseudo-spade preaching technique, Bobby Marchan’s “There Is Something On Your Mind”; it seemed pretty shitty but the longer they were on the more I began to think that maybe they were into it to a degree that was much deeper than the average White Blues Group – I don’t know – but when their other singer did Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights”, it really came off.
Big Brother came on and Janis Joplin came off – very well in fact. The group itself really isn’t that good, as many people think – they still don’t know much at all about arranging a number – as their records show, nor do they seem to know much about changes other than variations on basic blues riffs – repetition seems to be one of their mainstays. And Jim Gurley seems to be almost wasting his great lead ability in favor of functioning as a competent rhythm guitarist.
Of the other San Francisco groups who played that afternoon, I think Steve Miller fared the best, although I still don’t think that much of them – there is more to music than being able to play the blues at three times their normal speed. Country Joe and the Fish were kind of a disappointment, although I liked their LP quite a bit, they just didn’t seem to come off here – I don’t know, maybe it was a bad day for them or something. And the Quicksilver – I really, and I’m sure everybody else does too, wish they would come up with some new material – I mean, they try but there just doesn’t seem to be much there, and the same songs over and over and over. At Monterey they really seemed kind of second-rate, just a cut below everybody else.
Both Butterfield and Bloomfield have now added two horns to their groups, trumpet and sax, and the added fullness worked pretty well for both, although I don’t think their parts (the horns) were worked in smoothly enough or to their full advantage in the context of the groups’ sound – in other words they seemed tacked on just for a bigger sound. Butterfield did a beautiful slow blues, that he prefaced by saying “This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard”, a Lowell Fulsom number called “Tollin’ Bells” that was really a gas: a death march-like thing that Elvin Bishop, who is now playing lead, would accentuate by striking a note to indicate the “tollin’ bells”, very moving. And it was really a gas when Butterfield introduced his new bass player: “Buggsey…(Something) from Omaha, Nebraska” (and that really sounded funny), and this little guy comes out, and in a high, falsetto blues voice starts wailing Chuck Berry’s “Wee, Wee Hours”, it broke everybody up – really great.
Bloomfield’s new group, the Electric Flag (at least at the time of the festival that was their name), as everybody knows by now, was one of the great successes of the festival. Fronting some of the best musicians in the business – Harvey Brooks on bass (he played in Dylan’s road band, I think); Barry Goldberg on organ; Nick Gravenitis on congas and vocals; the incredible Buddy Miles on drums and lead vocals; somebody (I think) whose name escapes me, on rhythm; and Bloomfield himself on lead, they just swung like hell – incredibly hard, heavy and full. And it was beautiful to see Mike Bloomfield’s face after they finished their set (their debut) – so happy and excited at the tremendous reception they received, a standing ovation and an encore.
Moby Grape opened up Saturday night’s show, and although looking like they come on very tight and professional, I think their music, basically and actually, is very thin – there’s just not that much there at all; and Skip Spence’s bit of jumping around a lot and looking really excited and turned on and trying to get this over to the audience, wears thin about the second or third time you’ve seen it.
The worst and only real drag of the festival (although Laura Nyro was too but hers was a shorter set) was Hugh Masakela, and man, he was really bad. But even worse than his music, which was a kind of second-rate pseudo-jazz (Ramsey Lewis with more instruments) was the fact that he was allowed to play for an incredible fifty-five minutes – horrible! I’ve no desire to draw a line between rock and jazz, but what was he doing up there anyway? Was it because he’s a friend of the Byrds or something? Whatever it was, it was terrible; and his singing – “Society’s Child” and “Here, There and Everywhere” – was atrocious.
The Byrds I have heard much better before, and Dave Crosby’s comments and little sermons about acid, and the fact that Paul McCartney now takes it, and the Kennedy assassination, came off sounding very sophomoric; and the STP sticker on his guitar didn’t make it either.
Laura Nyro came on with all the drama and flair that I suppose is well known to audiences at the Las Vegas supper club French extravaganza productions, the only trouble being that Monterey is not the Sands Hotel, and a pop festival isn’t the “Lido de Paris”, fortunately. With two spade chicks flanking her and singing some kind of fake spiritual: “Eli’s Comin’, woe, woe…” she looked, as Richard Goldstein in the Village Voice put it, “…like the third act of Medea”, a real bomb. . . .
Because I’ve been kind of down on their music for such a long time, I’ve just never really liked it that much, I don’t feel I could give much of a review to the Airplane, although I did like Jack Cassady’s bass work and Grace’s singing; overall I guess they came off pretty well.
Booker T. and the MG’s were really a gas, just playing their funky R&B instrumentals – drums, organ, lead and bass – very tight and down-home swinging. Otis Redding closed Saturday night’s show (Booker T. and the boys stayed to back him, plus the Mar-keys – two horn men), and Otis, bouncing out on stage, in about five seconds had the whole audience completely with him – he’s got some kind of incredible, dynamic magnetism that just reaches out and grabs you: dipping down, screaming, bouncing and trotting all over the stage, he socks it right to ya! So happy and turned on to what he’s doing – it’s really a gas to watch him.
The whole of Saturday afternoon was devoted to Ravi Shankar: incense, very soft, very gentle, explaining what he was doing, how his instrument worked, clapping and turning his hands in time to Alla Rakha on tabla, smiling serenely, nodding his head, concentrating, the soloing, the brilliant interwoven exchanges in a duet between the two, the mild and then very heavy and complex ragas, his exchanges of love and friendship with the audience – a brilliant, demanding, fascinating exhibition of virtuosity, marred only by the noise of jets overhead and the insistent clicking of the photographers’ cameras. Although I wonder if he would have been invited if George Harrison was not his pupil.
Sunday night’s show opened with the Blues Project, who didn’t impress me much with their jazz-rock orientation or their new organist, who seemed very affected, like he was trying to tell the audience that at last the group had a real soul brother.
The Buffalo Springfield came off very well – this was the first time I had seen them and they did some very nice, melodic ballads and also swung pretty well on their up-tempo numbers.
The Dead were really a gas – doing about four or five long numbers, the major part of each being a fantastically tight instrumental excursion with each guy just using his axe to cut in and out of and around and through what the other guys were doing – like watching the insides of a watch working.
With Pete Townshend looking like a twisted Merlin the Magician armed with a rubber guitar, the Who proceeded to attack a repertoire which included their current hit, “Happy Jack”; their album’s mini-opera, “A Quick One While He’s Away”; their new record, “Pictures of Lily”; and that old favorite, Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”; which they completely demolished – like wringing out a wet towel, they extracted everything possible from the song and it lay there, wasted, when they had done with it. They closed, literally, as well as figuratively, with “My Generation” – Roger Daltrey stammering out the words, Keith Moon kicking away his double drum set, Pete setting off smoke bombs and smashing his guitar, while off to the side, John Entwhistle managed to keep some semblance of a beat going with his bass. Although they didn’t seem quite as turned on as they were at Fillmore and the audience didn’t seem to appreciate them as much, they were brilliant, which seems to be the rule for them. Somebody should have told the stage crew what to expect, though, because one of the technicians almost lost his head while trying to rescue a microphone in the vicinity of Pete Townshend, who was busy raising his guitar and hammering it into the stage.
Heard to remark backstage during the Who’s devastating finale: “What can I do for an encore to that?” Jimi Hendrix showed everybody that he could come up with something. In between playing some great guitar and some really heavy numbers, he also screwed his guitar, coming on it with lighter fluid, and set it afire, offering it, as he put it, as “a sacrifice of love…” for the audience of his first appearance back home in America. Oh, come on Jimi, that’s a big shuck, and you know it as well as I do – if there was any sacrifice it was offered for the sake of showmanship. It was kind of ironic and puzzling to see how excited the audience got over the violence and destruction of Hendrix and the Who - with the Who I can see it, because their music develops into this somewhat naturally, but with Hendrix the whole things comes off as just a jive he's putting on the audience, and a lot of people seemed to get really turned on by the routine. 
In spite of all their slick professionalism, the Mamas and Papas still managed to come off pretty well, closing the festival Sunday night. They gave you that kind of feeling: gee, wasn't it a groovy thing... They are one of the few groups that could get away with that bullshit showbiz routine - you know: the little intros to each number, the rapping about each other between songs, and the obvious jokes about Cass' weight and her baby (is that was 'professionalism' is?). But like I've said before, with them it wasn't that offensive. 
So...it was a huge success all around, including a great light show by Head Lights - the first one I've really dug - and a more than adequate sound system. And the people in charge of the whole thing. . . . [praise for the organizers
At Sunday night's final press conference when Derek Taylor asked for one final question, an 'upper,' some chick really came through, just saying it all: "Why do we have to wait a whole year for another Festival?" Clap, clap.

(by Mike Daly, from the Mojo Navigator R&R News, vol.2 no.2, August 1967)