Dec 25, 2015

January 1971: Jerry Garcia Update


Jerry Garcia is the principal power plant and instrumental, as well as inspirational, leader of San Francisco's oldest continuing rock band, the Grateful Dead.
Garcia is also the hardest working and most musically catholic of the Bay Area's electric-rock musicians.
He represents in every way the very best of our contemporary music image - too bad more people couldn't have seen and heard him via TV from Winterland on New Year's Eve.
That KQED presentation was, I think, an unrecognized classic in portraying the remarkable musical abilities of such as Garcia as well as capturing the camaraderie of the Grateful Dead's loyal fans.
Garcia is best known for his electric guitar work, his band leadership, his lyric composition and his singing. And also, probably, for his image - the shaggy patriarch of all that's San Franciscan in hard rock.
He is also deeply into acoustic guitar playing, and is becoming a bright and inventive master of the pedal-steel guitar which he plays with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a Dead subsidiary group.
Lately Garcia has been jamming at The Matrix (on Fillmore) with organist Merl Saunders, drummer Bill Vit, and John Kahn on bass.
What they have going in these sessions is experiments in sound. In the intimacy of a living-room full of good friends the audience and musicians alike have a chance to get to know each other through music.
The music is a revelation - free-form, pops, rock, blues, jazz, complex and basic. David Crosby, Dead and Jefferson Airplane members, blues and jazzmen also drop in for a jam.
The excitement comes from the appeal that any artistic experiments-of-combination represent. Confrontations in style and personality and musical approach.
Saunders, for instance, is out of the world of small combo night-club jazz, rich in blues and "soul" and variations on pop-tunes. He plays organ with emphasis on sound, not volume or flashy runs or ridiculously weird effects.
A performance by the Garcia-Saunders ensemble may last 20 minutes to an hour a crack and range from an initial blues statement to a combination of "Something" and "A Good Man Is Hard To Find."
"Where's today's music going?" Garcia repeated back to me during a break. "Hmmm - right now it's going in all directions at once, and I think that's where we're at right now.
"There isn't going to be any big trend toward some new thing or single style. There's too much happening, too much being discovered, too many great new sounds getting laid down.
"No, I don't think any of us are going to get trapped in any bag.
"Right now I'm doing more exciting things in music than I've done in my whole life. Recording with old friends like the Airplane, learning new things from people like Merl..."

(by Philip Elwood, from the San Francisco Examiner, 11 January 1971)

Thanks to

January 31 - February 1, 1970: The Warehouse, New Orleans


Saturday nightwind cold down dark of Tchoupitoulas. Saturday blue cold nightwind blue cold. Welcome to the warehouse, Tchoupitoulas.
I am the warehouse. Goo goo goo joob! Tripping flipping, red brick ripping, crescent city slipping down the delta.
Sometimes this city is a dung heap. You know it. The Jefferson Airplane know it. The Grateful Dead know it. But why get into that? Understanding and action are one. A unitary process. When you dig it, in other words, it's done. Things will either get better here or the city that care forgot will find itself flushed "straight down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico."
So anyway, the Warehouse is an attempt on the part of some person or persons calling themselves Beaver Productions Inc. ("We're local people.") to make a dung heap bearable to the bugs that call it home. That's you and me, brother roach.
So anyway, the Beavers have procured a beautiful old red brick warehouse at 1820 Tchoupitoulas Street with room for five thousand insects, more or less, under its hundred year old beamed ceiling. Now they are trying to fill it, with people and sound. Friday night's bust won't help. (Members of the Grateful Dead and Owsley Stanley were arrested at their hotel in a drug raid after Friday night's show. - Editor's Note.)
Nor will reports that some members of the audience were stopped and searched by New Orleans Police while many others received parking citations or had their cars towed away by our super-efficient friends in blue tow trucks. All of which is not irrelevant to music.
Last weekend's inaugural Beaver production included the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, and the Flock, uh, Flock. All three groups appeared on both Friday and Saturday nights, with Fleetwood and the Dead returning Sunday afternoon for a legal defense fund benefit performance made necessary by Friday night's display of creole charm and hospitality. This turned out to be the high point of a generally successful weekend. OK.
Fleetwood Mac are one of the best rock groups around. Too few people know it, however, and in spite of three pretty good albums and a hit single ("Albatross") they are still largely unknown outside of Merrie Olde. Perhaps it is because they, like the Dead, are better heard live than on plastic. At any rate, they are good. Really good. Drummer Mick Fleetwood is capable of almost anything. His art is flawless as he pounds life into the group, driving them beyond what you think they are capable of.
His relentless rhythms set the pace for lead guitarist Pete Green, whose skill, versatility and originality border on brilliant. These two, Fleetwood and Green, usually carry the group, but when Jeremy Spencer (organ, guitar) uncorks his teen-age dream voice on oldtimers like "Great Balls of Fire," look out. Fleetwood's music is a combination (yes, another damn synthesis) of basic black and British rock and roll. Their lyrics are unspectacular but their instrumental power is tremendous. After a rather slow start, they build and build, getting tighter and harder as they go, until the crowd is on its collective and individual feet and heads are bobbing all over the place. They are nothing but fun.
Flock, on the other hand, are loud, derivative, and boring. Their violinist seems to remember just enough of his classical training to be pretentious. Their horn section proves once again that blacks know better than whites what to do with horns. Between songs they give you the ol' bullshit about what a bringdown the south is and how they sure can't wait to get home to Chicago and don't forget the REVOLUTION guys n gals. Whee! Saturday night at the groovies! I heard they were better on Friday. Perhaps.
Now to the Dead. There are a few magical bands and the Dead are one of them. Unfortunately, they couldn't get together with the sound system Saturday night and so a promising set was shortened somewhat by the treachery of certain electronic devices. And so Jerry Garcia, who emanates peace and light (each member of the Dead is a star) played acoustic guitar and sang to us. He was joined by bass player Phil Lesh and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, and together they created some beautifully poignant moments while the cops towed our cars away. The Dead represent the best of what happened in San Francisco several years ago. They also represent the best of what's happening in music right now. The best.
Sunday afternoon, the Dead completed the set they had been unable to finish the night before and this time even Pigpen was fantastic. Their old "psychedelic" songs, like "Cold Rain and Snow," sounded better than ever and their new "country" songs, like "Don't murder me" are perfect. As it is impossible to explain magic, it is impossible to explain the Grateful Dead. Garcia's guitar screams, then gently weeps and all is love. His voice, soft and assured renews your faith in living things. Lesh's bass is innovative, intricate and always provides a firm foundation for Garcia's and Weir's lyrical fantasies. Bob Weir is the kind of person you trust instinctively and his singing and playing justify your confidence fully. Drummers Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart are adequate and occasionally more so. Pigpen is Pigpen and the group wouldn't be the same without him. The music of the Grateful Dead is pure light.
When the Dead got into "Love Light" they were joined by Fleetwood Mac in a jam of incredible power that lasted well over an hour non-stop and flew through so many changes that the stunned crowd was almost as exhausted as the musicians at the finish of it. Anyone who taped that session has a collector's item. Garcia and Green traded some beautiful licks and Fleetwood's drumming was, again, flawless. The bands obviously respected each other and I wouldn't say that the Dead were better, for although their influence was obviously dominant, there was only one band playing, the Grateful Mac. Let your love light shine. Theirs did. Like a diamond in a dung heap.
Next weekend, the Beavers are presenting Jack Bruce, Sly, the Rascals, PG&E and several lesser lights. Watch Bruce. He may be the surprise of the weekend.

(by Tom Voelker, from the NOLA Express, February 6, 1970)

For a review of the 1/30/70 show, see:

Dec 23, 2015

1971: Live Album Review


Those of you who have seen the Dead recently know that they are into a straight hard rock thing. This is a reversion to their early sound, and up until now the best representation of the group has been on a live album made in 1966 (Vintage Dead, Sunflower records). The Dead's current style has alienated a lot of their old fans from the period when they were into long improvisationals filtered through a lot of acid and general flower punk mysticism.
It seems that sometime between the release of Live Dead and Workingman's Dead, Garcia and his boys got turned onto beer and steel guitars; it was a great gimmick for Workingman's Dead, and the image of the group as post psychedelic era rednecks served as a decent vehicle for Jerry Garcia's steel guitar and Bob Weir's background tomes...unfortunately the boys took it to heart and recorded an album full of bucolic whimsy called American Beauty. American Beauty did and still does sound like out takes from Workingman's Dead.
These days Jerry Garcia has his spin-off group, New Riders of the Purple Sage, as an outlet for his pickin' and grinnin', and Bob Weir has been listening to old R&B 45's. The result is on the group's new album, Grateful Dead, which is such a reminiscence trip it's enough to scare you off. (The title and personnel are the same as their first disc, and the cover is a reproduction [of a] 1966 Avalon Ballroom poster.)
Instead of just a memory exercise, the new Dead album is a logical extension of everything they have done, see, there's a few long improvisations, and there's easy to take folksy stuff for all the new fans...and then by the time the second album in the double set comes on and things start to drag, Jerry Garcia hits a damn familiar riff and jesus christ if the whole band doesn't play the hardest sounding Johnny B Goode since the Steve Miller Band backed up Chuck Berry in 67...things go uphill from then on, and it sounds better the second time.
The album should be titled The Grateful Dead Play Hard Rock...and they play it as good as anyone else. The new Dead album and the Allman Brothers' live album are the only two indispensable sets I've heard yet this year, no doubt about it, everyone has to hear them once.

(by Charles Eschweiler, from the Behrend Collegian, 7 October 1971)

* * *


GRATEFUL DEAD (Warner Bros. 2WS 1935) - This double record set has been out two months now, but it's so good I couldn't let it pass without comment.
The Dead, a San Francisco group, used to be one of the noisiest, [most] outrageous groups around. That was in the mid-sixties. However, two years ago they took up the country flavor in their Workingman's Dead album and continued it in American Beauty.
Both albums made the Dead a commercial success. This new album, recorded live in several halls, is also making money. Lots of it.
The Dead deserve it. Their playing is as free and musical as any group around. It is also intelligent, disciplined, and controlled.
Is it contradictory to say they are free and disciplined? Listen to the medley "Not Fade Away" and "Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad."
Jerry Garcia, lead guitar, Bob Weir, rhythm guitar, and Phil Lesh, electric bass, have a ball weaving melodies around the other, and doing it so subtly that most people will miss it.
The best thing about the medley is that it doesn't stop. And you can listen to [it] again and again, still captured by the rhythm, and be intrigued by the melodic lines.
"Bertha," "Me and My Uncle," "Playing in the Band"--  the same for all these songs too.
What keeps the Dead from being phenomenal is their voices. They're not bad, but they're not strong or particularly sensitive either. "Me and Bobby McGee" is instrumentally fine, but in no way does it compare to Janis Joplin's version.
Onlv one song was too long -- "The Other One" which runs the length of one side. Drummer Bill Kreutzmann keeps the group moving, but when he solos, he can't keep himself moving.
The Dead get an A minus.

(by Jay Shore, from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, 2 January 1972)

See also other reviews of the album: 

October 17, 1970: Cleveland Music Hall


Last Saturday we caught the Dead's Cleveland concert and it was something. The vibes were good, while strange clouds attacked the ceiling. This has to have been one of the most dynamic bands I've ever seen. It's easy to see why they've survived with virtually the same personnel as they hit the parks of San Francisco with some years back. They were so tight and so attuned to each other, that I'm beginning to wonder if it is the acid that's got them to a unified consciousness point.
Contrasting the calm flow between the Dead and us out front, was the frenzied electrical charge running through the air. While members of the group calmly sipped beer between songs, joints passed freely from hand to hand in the aisles. Why I was just sittin' there and lo and behold a "J" was in my hand, so rather than chance a bust, I took a hit and passed it on. "Don't Bogart that Joint?" Things were really cool, a kid was just lightin' up when a uniformed man walked up and asked him to please smoke in the lobby. Yes, things were beautiful.
From the Dead's tie-died polka-dotted electric amps flowed the sweetest country pickin', and solidest bass lines I've yet to hear. Jerry Garcia really got into things with an at-easeness that made him look like he was out in the hills, back of someone's barn; he was right at home. His vocals were smooth and flowed right-on with that pretty-smellin' smoke.
Phil Lesh had that smile, and well I just know that he was. Four Sunn bottoms put depth into the songs and you could feel it in your....well you could really feel it. His harmonies were fine as ever. Jack Cassidy and Phil Lesh are the two finest bass players ever. They both are into things other bass players won't ever get into.
Bob Weir played a rhythm guitar that wasn't all chords. His riffs intermingled with chords sounded real fine. His vocals, lead as well as harmonies, weren't as smooth as Garcia's but they weren't meant to be. Blues chording is not monotonous with Bob Weir. He's "far-out."
Two drummers not involved in a hype thing are Bill Kruetzman and Mickey Hart. The Dead are the first to use the twin drummer concept fully and well. The rapport between the two was flawless. Their togetherness left no gaps. With Phil Lesh they really make for a solid bottom. Percussion was their thing and they did it well. Some gongs were used as well as other percussion instruments throughout the night. The gong song was so strange; it sounded like Owsley was behind it all. In the, it couldn't have been.
Anyways, the only member left to rap about is Pigpen and he was, to quote Esch, "grunting, howling, and spitting out the lyrics." Pigpen's vocals were unique to say the least. He really got into "Love Lights" and an old Rascals tune. Between his vocal efforts, the tambourine and sitting at the organ sipping beer was his thing.
This was a Chicago -(censored). When the Dead jammed, it wasn't a garbled mass of nothingness. The Dead knew what they were doing. Their years of playing together, living together, and tripping together show in the music they play. "The family that trips together stays together?"
For an encore they did "Uncle John's Band".
"Goddamn well I declare have you seen the like,
Their walls are built of cannonballs:
Their motto is don't tread on me.
Come, hear Uncle John's Band playing to the tide
Come with me or go alone, he's come to take his children home."
The concert was everything anyone could have asked for. My only complaint is that they only played four hours and that we came late and missed "Casey Jones."
"Trouble ahead
Oh lady in red
Take my advice
You're better off dead."
Workingman's Dead is their most recent album. Previous releases have always been good and at times fantastic cuts have appeared (St. Stephens), but this is the first time the Dead have really got their stuff together in a studio attempt. Every cut on this album merits listening to. "Casey Jones" alone is worth the price.
The album is super tight: Guitar riffs are smooth, with Garcia and Weir engaging in instrumental intercourse. Phil Lesh's bass lines wander on and on always changing like the sand in the sea. Also as evasive, but always there: soft, but supporting the rest. More instrumental play takes place between the drummer twins, who are again flawless. Pigpen saved his beer this time and lends himself to the organ, which he plays real fine.
The good cuts on the album include: Uncle John's Band, High Time, Dire Wolf, New Speedway Boogie, Cumberland Blues, Black Peter, Easy Wind, and Casey Jones.
"Trouble ahead
Trouble behind
And you know that notion
Just crossed my mind."

(by Gary Thornbloom, from the Nittany Cub, 22 October 1970) 

Thanks to

Thornbloom also reviewed American Beauty three months later, the sixth & last review here: 

Dec 13, 2015

April 24, 1970: Mammoth Gardens, Denver CO


Last weekend, we had the chance to see two of the finer American rock bands live, both from San Francisco, both dating from the original musical upheaval there of three or four years ago. Friday and Saturday, the Grateful Dead, along with John Hammond, played at Mammoth Gardens here; Saturday, Quicksilver Messenger Service, with Judy Roderick and the Righteous Bluegrass Band were in the fieldhouse at CU in Boulder.
At Mammoth, the atmosphere seemed a lot easier than on the opening last weekend; this was due, at least in part to the comparative smallness of the crowd; everyone there seemed a little more at ease, spread out a little further, both physically and spiritually, and the crowd reacted as an entity to the music of the Dead, which is to the credit of the Dead and to the audience as well.
John Hammond came before, though accompanied only by himself, on regular and old steel guitars; the rumors of a big electric blues-rockout did not come to pass. Hammond, however, was quite solid by himself, sounding much as he did on his first two records, which were sort of landmarks of the old folkie revival. He is a blues singer, traditional southern country-type blues, where the roots of people like Muddy Waters and all the others began long ago to grow.
Hammond sang rich and natural, hard but never forced; he did a lot of bottlenecking on his steel guitar, and a lot of pretty intricate rhythm stuff (pounding on the body, maintaining two separate lines of progression), and it all came out earthy and authentic. While Johnny Winter pours lots of his energy outside of his songs (extended fast runs on his guitar, flailing around in general), Hammond pushed all his energy right into his songs, maintaining just below the placid, regular surface of them an immense intensity of gut raw emotion. And that, as far as I know, is what the blues is all about.
And while the crowd got into Hammond (his excellence caught most of them quite by surprise) to the extent of a rousing standing clapping cheering ovation, and hence an equally rousing bottleneck encore, most everyone there was out to see the Dead. Even Hammond announced that he was splitting so that the big boys could come on. As the Grateful Dead set up and tuned up, the crowd drew together to its feet, historical kaleidoscope shift from sprawl on floor folk groove to rock body anticipation.
It is hard to get at length into any of the band as individuals; they have two drummers, both of them competent and skillful, yet subdued to the overall impact of the band's collective sounds; that phrase pretty well describes each of the musicians.
A couple of brief exceptions: Jerry Garcia, lead, was quite the master in his playing of all the situation, so subtle, smiling and winding in his playing all the ends of the band together; that is about as specific as recall allows. Also, during their first set, there were a couple of breaks for a drum duo, which for all practical purposes were four-handed solos. I stood in amazement watching the two drummers carefully sorting out their rhythms, keeping half an eye on each other - you could have seen the vibrations darting back and forth. But that probably just stood out there with the two of them only playing, and hence with all the attention on them; that inter-band communication undoubtedly cascades among them all as they play: all that acid you know...
The Spontinuity light show was small and limited to one screen, but was very good, clever and filled with gentle visual puns.
Anyway, the first set: joyous, all encompassing, a distillation of the deepest primeval energy. All the brightest colors of the rainbow flowing one over the other so fast as to form at surface glance/listen a shimmering gold projection that wound then all around and round the room and all the people...many many smiles exchanged all round.
After a short break, the Dead moved into an acoustic set, couple of guitars, bass (amplified), drums: country-folkish. They drifted through a few numbers, informal relaxed, the sound there being an almost polar opposite to the driving rock of only minutes before. I was beginning to think how much they sounded like the Everly Brothers moved to a higher plane, when, lo and behold, they broke into Wake Up Little Suzie, bouncy and congenial, sorta countrified, very loose, and the crowd got back into the sprawl/talk/listen folk scene.
Right on top of that came through the ultimate rush of rock, nonstop ride back into body ecstasy think/dance music. The Dead got moving on Not Fade Away (old heavy R. Stones number) with a heavy bass pulsing through an exuberant countrified vocal, so sincere. And just as they ended that song (maybe 10 minutes worth), with all the folks just relaxing from it, they held back a bit, then plowed into Turn On Your Lovelight, which is the all-time classic mover.
Pigpen subdued a little on the vocal, gettin' into just tellin' his baby to, well, turn on her lovelight, and the band revved up behind him, came to an abrupt (but logical - not jarring) downshift of tempo, fade out a minute as Pigpen, a little more urgent, on the vocal again, and back to the compelling color merge interweaving of sound; as the music paused it would pick more momentum, on and on; it became impossible for anyone not totally incapacitated to refrain from moving. On and on, layer of music drawing you from your feet up like a magnet.
And as the crowd was getting all into it and getting a little worn out, gauging reststops here and there, the band got really into pouring it on, heavy loud tunnel of sound through the cavern of your mind loud heavy, like as if into a grand finale, and everybody applauding and cheering and ready at last to sit down and catch a well-earned breath, and when you're lonely, in the middle of the night, right, then they get right back into it, turn on your light! and the band turned it on heavier and deeper sound tunnel colors of sound driving over and around and through them...this happened about 8 or 9 times!, climax over heavy climax. When they closed out, the whole audience was stomping the floor, up and down, clapping, calling exuberant sweaty for more...indefinably incredible.
A little while later John Hammond came back and sang, backed by Pigpen on harp and second guitar, a mellow denouement, and we all after a while filed out.

Two days later, we hitched up to Boulder to catch Quicksilver, and, as karmic luck would have it, got a ride straight there (to the concert) with some dope-smoking folks; the fieldhouse, a huge building, had a stage at one end, lotsa folks on the floor, lotsa good will in the air.
The Righteous Bluegrass Band opened, and while they were not outstanding, they were very good and fun. I am not a lot into bluegrass so I did not recognise most of their stuff, save for something from Flatt and Scruggs and their finale, the Stones' Country Honk, really countried up and honked up, fiddle and all, and it was really a gas (what?) to listen to. Judy Roderick, who has been said to be very good, was next, but she and her backup had a lot of trouble and could not get going.
The major hassle was with the sound system: the bass came through too heavy, drowning out Judy's vocal and most of the guitar work. They only did a few songs, spent more time tuning up than playing, and split. I was sorry to see things work out so badly; I would like a chance to see Judy working well. Between Judy and Quicksilver, a dude worked out on congas, very fast and driving, and got many of the crowd (about three or four thou, altogether) up and moving about. I think it was the same dude who played at the Moon Bell, named Couga John or something...
Quicksilver had some hassles getting set up; pianist Nicky Hopkins and his piano got mixed up or something...they continually commended the audience for its patience. But once they got going, they got into it good: three guitars, bass, drums, piano, interplaying well, splashes of ringing color flowing vibrant, unabashed, splashes of piano adding tinkling depth to the texture. Dino Valente did most of the singing, urgent plea to the emotions, stirring and straining to put all his voice into it; the guitars rang on...
One of the highlights was one of their self-proclaimed golden oldies; Hamilton Camp's Pride of Man; that came through an overwhelming swell of those guitars, a collusion of sound color burst on the strident broken in the dust again moral: grandiose as rock can ever be. But the major focus was on the two Bo Diddley tunes they did, Mona and Who Do You Love.
Both with pounding piano began not unlike the recorded Shady Grove, and brought out the bass only later, then left it all open, a forum for the guitarists and Hopkins on piano to work out on and into. Things came through well and strong with Mona, a quarter of an hour or so of one guitar moving on another, then the other, nothing fast or jumping out, but all integrating, constructing brightly flowing surfaces of sound about each other, forming a well-faceted jewel of a whole.
Who Do You Love was about the same as it began and progressed through a similar opening structure; the band moved deftly and well, fast building up almost the momentum of the Dead at Mammoth; layer upon moving layer, etc. However, after about half and hour, they either got all too far and entangled in the web they had woven, or ran out of invention, a web to pull out on; they were just all of a sudden at a loss. Hopkins tossed a few bits of piano in, and they tried to work themselves out of their jam from there, striving and striving...they finally just rared back and broke out and finally made it to a tired end.
But you see that is not a thing to put them down for; Quicksilver just got going all so stoned fast that they lost track of that delicate muse's thread by which they had pulled themselves there; on the whole the Messenger Service delivered, delivered a well-cut, moving music. We got a ride back home, and thought about the enjoyable evening, the enjoyable week just ended.

(by Milt T., from Chinook, 30 April 1970)

Thanks to

Alas, no tape!

See also the review of 4/25/70:

Dec 10, 2015

January 1971: Touring & Recording Plans

From the Music Capitals of the World
San Francisco

The New Riders of the Purple Sage, country offspring of the Grateful Dead, are mixing their first album, "New Riders of the Purple Sage," to be released March 15. The New Riders and the Dead travel to the University of California, Eugene, Ore., Vancouver, and Seattle later this month. Then they'll take three weeks off and come back to San Francisco to develop new material. February 18-21 the two groups will be in Port Chester, N.Y. The first three weeks in March will be spent on a Midwestern tour being set up now by Bill Graham and Warner Bros. During the first week in April the group will tour the East Coast with dates in New York, Boston, and possibly Washington. In June, the entire Dead Family (some 50 people) goes to Europe for a one month tour. They have rented six barges, each capable of carrying 15 people, and will travel where they can by water. One of the barges is a sound stage and the bands will play as they travel down the canals of England and Holland. Tour also includes dates in France, Sweden and Germany, and the entire trip will be filmed for release as a full-length feature.

Jerry Garcia is starting to think about doing his own album, and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann (the group's two drummers) are recording an album in the new studio in Mickey's barn. Pigpen is also working on his own album. All will be on Warner Bros.

Jefferson Airplane is finishing up their final album for RCA under the terms of their existing contract. Album should be out in February. Hot Tuna has one more album to do for RCA and will start work on that soon.

(from Billboard, 23 January 1971)

November 1970: Alan Douglas & the Dead


SAN FRANCISCO - Douglas Records will record two albums with individual members of the Grateful Dead, a Warner Bros. group. In the arrangement, Alan Douglas, head of Douglas Records, will produce and release one LP featuring Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia and organist Howard Wales, who was with MGM Records' A.B. Dick Band. [sic] The second album will be based on a percussion concept developed by the Grateful Dead's two drummers, Bill Kreitzman and Micky Hart.
Recording of the Garcia-Wales LP was completed last week in San Francisco at Wally Heider Studios. It will be released by Douglas through its distributor, Pickwick International. The Kreitzman-Hart LP will be recorded at a fully equipped 16-track studio Douglas has installed in Hart's barn in Navato, Calif. The studio, designed by Kreitzman, Hart, and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead under the supervision of engineer Dan Healey, will be completed within the month.
Joe Smith, Warner Bros. executive, said that the Douglas recordings will be beneficial to Warners in terms of artist exposure as well as enhancing the climate of artistic freedom which is so necessary among serious musicians who want to work with artists from other labels.

(from Billboard, 7 November 1970)

Thanks to

Dec 8, 2015

October 4, 1969: Boston Tea Party


Saturday night the Tea Party was filled to capacity. I didn't expect the turnout, since the Dead aren't played up as much as blues and English groups in Boston. It seems, though, that their few concerts, along with their reputation as one of the original Frisco groups, have been powerful enough to draw a crowd larger than the sellout at the Who concert last spring.
The Dead weren't the sort of group at which one fires questions - few groups are. After hassling them for a few details, I left it open to them to tell me something that they would like people to know. Something they can't say in their music. Jerry Garcia suggested that people save their pennies in protest against the Vietnam [war] which, if done effectively, would indicate mass distaste with the government, and its war policies. To quote Garcia, "tell your friends to tell all their friends to tell all their friends."
According to Garcia, they foresee the eventual union of all blues, rock, and folk performers, whom they hope to record all under one label, without the profiteering influences of executives. Under this plan, each individual musician would be free to produce his record the way he wants to. The Commons, as they call the growing association, already includes the Airplane, It's A Beautiful Day, and Head Lightshow. Whether such a setup as the Dead envision is merely wishful thinking or, in fact, could become a reality remains to be seen.
They themselves have very few of the production problems of other groups, since they engineer their own records completely. Their new album "Live Dead" will be released soon on Warner Brothers, but the Dead hope to record for Atlantic in the near future, as their contract with WB is about to expire.
On stage, the Dead went smoothly, wildly appreciated by the overflow crowd present. With two drummers, two guitars, a bass, an organ, and Pigpen (Ron McKurnett) "lurking," as they put it, the variety of rhythmic overlays, folk, and jazz riffs was amazing. Their ability to assimilate several traditional styles of music, all completely unrelated, was unique among all groups I've seen. They pretty well recreated the acid-rock scene of a couple of years ago, with the help of the Tea Party lighting.
Before their set, they joked about what they call, "Music Store Monsters," musicians who "show off on every guitar in sight," getting feedback and "crappy" sounding fuzz-tone effects on everything. Although they did use some feedback guitar at the end of the night, they were limited and tasteful about it.
Like just about everyone else, the Dead really enjoyed Woodstock. From what I was told, they got just as much sunburn, and just as soaked as everyone else, although Pigpen admitted he really didn't mind the mud at all.
In addition to their musical talent, the Dead are actually highly sophisticated backstage comedians. A soccer game with a roll (unused) of toilet tissue for a ball followed the interview. I only wish I could reveal everything that happened up there...
Backing up the Dead were the Bonza Dog Band, to my mind, the wrong group for three nights at the Tea Party behind the Dead. Bonza would have nothing to do with them offstage, preferring to sit in a room and consume gargantuan quantities of beer. Bonza Dog Band were primarily a put-down of "ancient greasy rock" groups, admittedly influenced by, and owing a lot to the Mothers.
As you can see, the Dead are very much alive, and doing great things in the studio, on stage, and for the music world. Dig what they are doing on their new album, and don't miss these people the next time they are in town.
FLASH!! Watch this paper next week for an exclusive interview with you know WHO.

(by Brian Pecy, from Mass Media, 15 October 1969)

Thanks to

* * *


Comedy, absurdity and satire were mixed with seriousness and slick musicianship when the Bonzo Dog Band shared the bill with The Grateful Dead at The Boston Tea Party.
After a delay because of faulty equipment, The Grateful Dead appeared only to play background music for pantomime artist Joe McCord.
"The Dead" came back in full force later in the evening and played from midnight until about 3 a.m.

Opening and carrying the show were left to the British-based Bonzo Dog Band, that came through forcefully. This six-member troupe communicated and established warmth with the audience by its heavy reliance on the elements of surprise and ad lib.
"Blue Suede Shoes" was the opening number with the lead singer vividly mocking old "Swivel Hips." The act was purposely halted numerous times by loud bangs, at which time the band went into pre-planned frolics.
The strangest instrument the group employed was a theremin inside a plaster foot which produced siren-sounds caused by the distance of an object from it.
Bonzo Dog entertained by relying on the absurdity in music as all members are obsessed with anti-art. It's almost easy to say that they're so bad, they're good. Neil Innes (lead guitarist) said: "We're set up to entertain" -- and that they did. 

(by Charles Martin, from the Boston Globe, 9 October 1969)

Alas, no tape!  

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also another review of the Boston Tea Party run:  

Oct 2, 2015

March 22-23, 1969: Thee Experience, Los Angeles


I once spent time in a nightclub kitchen with the man who saturated the West Coast with purple, owl-embossed LSD in the late 1960's, Augustus Stanley Owsley (that's why the owl) III, a man known for such flamboyances as parachuting into Golden Gate Park to distribute tabs of his acid to the loved-in hippies there. Neither Owsley nor I chose to be there, in the kitchen of Thee Experience, 7551 Sunset Strip, Los Angeles; he was following the Grateful Dead and I was following some faded Kerouac adventure dream that took me to California and back to Kansas four times in the weird year of '69.
I was washing dishes in a three-chambered sink while he was standing with his back rested against the freezer door, shooting the gas from cans of whipped cream into his lungs by holding the whipped cream cans upright and bending the nozzle into his mouth, bouncing against the freezer door as the nitrous oxide went to his head. He stood there and emptied a dozen cans that night, always asking me to find more for him in the freezer after he finished a couple and wanted a couple more.
I was just a scrub boy, a dishwasher and organizer of the kitchen, at Thee Experience in the early months of 1969. I was in and out, for the fifteenth time, of a relationship with a woman I loved but could not settle down with. It got screaming awful in those months, so I moved away from her and started sleeping in the back of the nightclub. I'd go to sleep at 3 and wake at 10:30 to the sound of musicians auditioning. I slept on a board propped up on two cinderblocks. For standing in front of a three-chambered sink and washing glasses in record number, for building shelves and calming waitresses whose legs were grabbed by Los Angeles style jerks in the dark, for tolerating an impudent wimp of a 19-year old chef and peeling potatoes stoned over a garbage can, I made more than anyone else working in the club, 70 a week.
My board under the bleachers, my home, was no pleasure. Late night parties of English Rock groups that hung out in L.A. guaranteed there would be plenty of action in, on and under the bleachers. Others less talented also used my bleachers. One morning 3 or 4 of us, around 5 in the morning, turned the light show on the assistant manager and the ticket booth girl fornicating on those bleachers. A shout and a curse rose from the spot, a hoisting of pants, but nothing came of it except that I finally got to sleep on my board that night.
This whole mess was held together by the personality of Marshall Brevetz, an ex-marine, 29 but looked 59, hair in steel wool curls bonked out like Bozo's hair on both sides of his head, His intensity and calm, always high, never varied in crisis. I saw him crawl under busted sinks while panicking bartenders pressed him to hurry (hurried themselves by the crush of Saturday night orders) and Marshall would just say, "It's cool," and mean it -- not like the million hippies who lied their way through hot spots with that expression in those years.
Marshall held the place together with flattery. He'd come up to me and compliment me for my speed in plunging the glasses through their washes and tell me he needed me because I kept the waitresses happy by listening to them when they were upset by grabby customers.
Marshall held the place together with his personality, which attracted musicians. The Grateful Dead played for Marshall -- for next to nothing. Jimi Hendrix came down to jam, free, with Buddy Miles. So you got to soak in the hype ambiance of rock stars and work for peanuts. And you got to meet Owsley. 
Owsley travelled with the Dead. Managed their sound equipment. Had a fondness for initiating new nightclubs by skulking around and dosing the ice cream, coffee or lemonade with LSD. A sharp featured man with a hawk's face and streaks of grey running through his black hair, his bouncing off the walls of the freezer resembled the bouncing, uncertain walk of the downer freaks that infested the club, stumble bum transvestites spilling over tables thru seconal haze, their stupidity pills littering the john floor in the morning when I cleaned it. In this atmosphere, Owsley looked evil in his black leathers, and his LSD became a sinister Halloween trick at the bottom of your next spoonful of orange slush.
Separated from the girl I'd come to Los Angeles to live with and whom I'd failed with from want of will, I found the sexual overtones of the club, the "let's ball" ethic that surrounded me without including me, unbearable. I shook my head in those days, wondering why the assistant manager would fornicate with that pudgy ticket booth girl when his own wife was a beauty. Just as I peaked in my pain and longing for a waitress named Wendy, a new girl from the East, full of information about scientology, took me home with her, in the midst of all this ugliness of carrying drag queens who had knocked over tables out to the back alley to dump them their wigs fallen in beer and off their heads. She forgave me for failing as a lover and tried, endlessly, to explain scientology to me.
And so for two days I continued fetching Owsley cans of whipped cream from the freezer. He even stayed on after the Grateful Dead left. And I, the waitresses, the light show man, the wimpy chef -- all of us kept waiting for the scream from the floor of the nightclub as someone rolled in the 3-D hysteria of LSD. It never happened. After Owsley had gone, one of the waitresses reported that she had felt a little strange after eating a few mushrooms from the salad bar the night before, but there were no confirmed LSD experiences among staff members. All Owsley ever said to me (other than request cans of whipped cream) as he paused one day from shooting gas and stumbled over to where I stood peeling potatoes by the garbage can was this: "You know, I used to do that too," he said, watching me peel potatoes. "It was in the Air Force. But I had one of those automatic ones, an automatic peeler."

(by Jacob Flake, from Public Notice - a Kansas City underground paper - unknown date 1973)

Courtesy of Lost Live Dead

* * *

A couple memories of Thee Experience from waitresses who worked there:

Peggy Green (head waitress):
"It was 1969 . . . We served a traditional English breakfast at Thee Experience after hours. This particular night the Dead had been playing and w/ them was their pal Stanley Augustus Owsley, (yes, that Owsley). As I recall he was not much bigger than I, and I am a small person then and now. It seemed that everytime I’d go in the kitchen to pick up orders from Chrissy the kitchen martyr (as he was lovingly known) Owsley would pop a piece of ice cream into my mouth. I thought, how cute, and kept taking bites. Turns out he was doing the same to almost everyone in the club. Suddenly I found myself sitting on the steps that acted as bleachers in the back of the room w/ some customer's burger which I was finding mesmerizing. I kept throwing it up and down and it was turning into the most beautiful colors I’d ever seen. At some point, don`t recollect when I became horribly afraid of that killer burger and began to cry and cry and cry. The next thing I remember I was shooting pool at the little bar by the Chinese restaurant. I’d been saved either by Doug Lubahn or Dallas Taylor. I only wish I knew which one. . . ."

Sally Stevens:
"I began work as a cocktail waitress at Thee Experience on Sunset and Gardner, a little bit east of the Strip, a job arranged for me by my friend Joanne Carroll, another Brit, who was then living with Art Tripp of the Mothers of Invention.
Run by the jovial Marshall Brevetz, the club opened in March of 1969 and closed in December of that year.  Marshall was a Florida transplant, and the club quickly became a haven for fellow Floridian Jim Morrison, as well as many other rock musicians.  During its short life, there were legendary shows and jam sessions at Thee Experience, but the word was out from Elmer Valentine and Mario Maglieri of the Whisky that if you played at Thee Experience, don't expect to ever play the Whisky again.  However, because Marshall was unable to pay any of his bills, including fees to bands and so on, the place went belly-up and that was that.  But it was a fun spring and summer. . . . 
I was an indifferent waitress, and the patrons really didn't tip, but I hoped to make connections so I could get back to work in the music business.  Fortunately, Thee Experience only served beer and wine, so that wasn't difficult, but there was food, banana splits, hamburgers and so on.  To say the room was difficult to work is an understatement - near darkness, constant loud music, customers who were several sheets to the wind on not only booze but whatever other substance they might have encountered.  
Over the Labor Day weekend, Delaney and Bonnie & Friends came in for a couple of days, plus every guest they could load on stage, including Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Stills, Dave Mason, Frank Zappa, you name it. . . ."

Sep 22, 2015

April 14-16, 1967: Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles


As the shaggy-haired boy in a checkered mod suit and his equally hirsute miniskirted companion approached the entrance to the Ambassador last weekend, you could almost imagine the doorman saying, "Excuse me, I think you're in the wrong place." But he didn't.
The couple continued into the hotel lobby, mixing with expensively attired guests from the Cocoanut Grove, strolled under the elegant chandeliers and turned in at the ornate doorway of the Embassy Room. There, amidst a swirl of colored spots, strobe-lights, far-out films and floor-shaking rock bands, 1,300 other teeny-hippies gyrated joyously in celebration of International Kaleidoscope's opening.
More than just a strippies' victory in social integration, the Kaleidoscope's presence in the Embassy Room foiled an injunction against the club's intended residence at 1228 Vine St. by the building owner, National General Corp. A subpoena served last Thursday, one day before the announced opening, prevented all persons from entering Los Angeles' second psychedelic ballroom.
By setting up psychedelia in the Ambassador, Kaleidoscope managers Skip Taylor, John Hartmann, Gary Essert and Walter Williams were able to provide a sample of the latest in the art of the freak-out dancehall.
The Ambassador's new Banana Grove, as some dubbed the room, featured the electronic vibrations of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Canned Heat Blues Band. All three rock groups were happily received.
Particularly effective was Airplane leader Marty Balin's version of "This Is My Life," which seemed to voice a popular existential stance in the audience. Pigpen, of the Grateful Dead, who looks like Jerry Colonna in drag, was a vocal success with his modern interpretation of screamin' blues.
Inventive use of the baroque Embassy Room's crystal lighting fixtures and mirrored walls was made by lighting director Bill Kerby. In back of the bandstand, a series of multi-color pattern backgrounds flashed in and out of focus while the silhouette of a girl dancing was superimposed over the projection.
On the sides of the room, film clips of love-ins, psychedelic body paintings, Gov. Reagan's speeches, bananas and sundry other materials were bounced off mirrors and mixed in bizarre juxtaposition with pattern slides. Phosphorescent and stroboscopic lights played over the bobbing heads on the dance floor.
Representatives of the Ambassador claimed to be satisfied with the behavior of the clientele. Kaleidoscope owners are considering continued use of the Embassy Room as a "total environment" until the use of the Vine St. location is resolved.

(by Digby Diehl, from the Los Angeles Times, 18 April 1967)

Thanks to

Aug 21, 2015

March 20, 1971: Fieldhouse, University of Iowa, Iowa City


Reverberations from the Grateful Dead concert are likely to be felt around Iowa City for a long time to come. Whether the threat of no more concerts holds or not, what happened Saturday night in the Field House will not be soon forgotten.
The arguments over whether the concert was a good one or not must have begun mid-way through the set done by "The New Riders of the Purple Sage." And the discussions are likely to continue unabated for some time; some liked the performance, some didn't. And so it goes.
But there are reasons for thinking the Dead's concert may have been one of the more important happenings in Iowa City in a good many months; reasons which transcend any question about the quality of the performance.
What happened is that several thousand people found out that they can have things like they want them if they act collectively, if they act in a very together way.
C.U.E. had been asked for a sit-on-the-floor concert. They refused with a lot of hokum about fire regulations, etc. And so the people took things in their own hands. They simply folded up their chairs and passed them off to the sides.
For the people who were there, this should be a good lesson in collective behavior. Individuals are virtually powerless; it is only by working together that change can be accomplished. But change brought about in this manner requires a high degree of responsibility. And Saturday night's action left quite a lot to be desired in this respect.
Unaccustomed to freedom, people didn't seem to understand that it takes more room to sit down than to stand up and, as a consequence, only a few were able to sit at any one time; many had to stand throughout the concert in spite of the fact that it was long and a chance to sit down would have been welcome.
The shouting between numbers was a drag.
And, of course, fire regulations aren't really a joke. It is perfectly reasonable to suggest that it is fairly important that there be fire lanes; the ad hoc action of the crowd successfully thwarted any attempts to establish and maintain such lanes.
But, all things considered, the crowd handled their new-found freedom fairly well. Shoving was kept to an absolute minimum, people who didn't want to give up their chairs weren't hassled, and for all inconvenience most people remained good-natured. There were no reports of vandalism before or after the concert.
For the future, provided more concerts are scheduled despite threats to the contrary, C.U.E. should permit sitting on the floor. Fire lanes could be handled by student ushers (we have little need of the "professionals" that C.U.E. brought in). One-price tickets should be sold.
We could all have a good time. And the bands would no doubt benefit from a little more order.

(by Leona Durham, from the Daily Iowan, 23 March 1971)

Thanks to 

The Daily Iowan also had a couple later mentions of this show. In July 1971, they ran an interview with Don Pugsley, a member of CUE (the Committee for University Entertainment).

Helland: What was the administration’s reaction to the Dead concert with the Ripple bottles and the roaches and the chairs being moved out?
Pugsley: They were disturbed by that whole thing. They were worried about flying bottles. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been to a concert where someone was hurt in a Ripple bottle fight. I don’t think that it is legitimate to call off a concert for 8,000 when a couple of people, if anyone, is tossing bottles. The administration has been officially quiet; they feel that ... CUE can handle problems. 
Helland: How safe are concerts, safer than driving a car?
Pugsley: A lot safer than talking to a county sheriff on a spring night.  . . .  

Helland: Do most Dead audiences react the way we did?
Pugsley: I saw the Dead at Madison. You have to realize that you just don’t have chairs at a Dead concert. You’ll have a better concert without them and you’ll please the type of crowd that is attracted by the Dead. There were no chairs at Madison on the ground floor. The Madison ground crowd was the same as the crowd here and it didn’t seem to get out of hand. I heard that the best Dead concert was held in a posh opera house in St. Louis and there wasn’t any dancing there. It depends on the group, the hall and the crowd.  . . .
Helland: [The Regents] don't dig no carrying on at their University... Do you believe in the Outside Agitator Theory or the Domino Theory with regard to carryings on at the Dead Concert? 
Pugsley: Well, this thing at a concert in Omaha was due to outside agitators, there was a disturbance last month in Tucson due to outside agitators, the disturbances this spring in Iowa City were due to outside agitators. I'd like to know where these people live, that they migrate to Tucson, Omaha, and Iowa City to carry out their misdeeds. I'm sure where they live is a nice town. Now I've been in on some of these things and have been erroneously labeled as an outside agitator. I don't believe in the Outside Agitator Theory. I believe in the Inside Agitator Theory.

(from Dave Helland, “Pugsley: Groups Cost Heavy Bread,” the Daily Iowan 7/22/71, and “CUE: Audience Troubles,” the Daily Iowan 7/23/71)

... During the next CUE concert featuring the Grateful Dead, the crowd removed chairs from the floor and passed them to the back of the Fieldhouse. This raised the ire of a representative from the state fire marshall’s office who was present at the concert. The damage that resulted to the Fieldhouse from this concert led eventually to the rock concert ban in the fall of 1971. ... 

(from Chuck Hawkins/George Shirk, “CUE fights earlier debts,” the Daily Iowan 10/29/73) 

For more complete coverage of the show, see:

Aug 19, 2015

November 27, 1970: The Syndrome, Chicago, IL


It seems like only yesterday that a San Francisco rock group with the then-unusual name of the Grateful Dead began making music that was so hypnotic and innovative that it eventually recharged the batteries of the lifeless and tinsel-coated world of rock and roll music.
Only yesterday - remember? The Avalon Ballroom, the original Fillmore Auditorium, Janis Joplin, Gracie Slick, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe, and the earliest acid rock pioneers, Jerry Garcia and the Dead.
If you went to the Syndrome Friday night and expected the same kind of excitement the Grateful Dead used to produce in a live concert four or five years ago, you were disappointed. What was creative and tradition-breaking then is commonplace now, and the Dead really haven't changed their style much in that four or five years' time.
Let's face it: four or five years in the rock music world is a whole generation grown from high school kids to college graduates with jobs and even families.
Still, the Dead managed to pull in enough fans to fill up the rickety old Coliseum at 15th Street and Wabash Avenue, and everybody seemed to be having a great time. The Dead's clear, heavy beat is great for a live audience because it always inspires people to shake, vibrate, stamp their feet, or jump up and down, particularly during Garcia's electrifying flights of fancy during lead guitar sequences. He has few equals when it comes to flashy, polished guitar playing.
But his vocals and those of Bob Weir never did amount to much (it would be nice if you could comprehend at least an occasional word of the lyrics), and the bass, organ and drum accompaniment all sounds the same after a few sets.
Of course, they're caught with a built-in critical disadvantage. They were the pioneers of much of today's rock, and everybody that has followed has improved on it a little bit, each taking away a little bit of the Dead's original excitement. It was a good show, but it didn't chart any new musical territories, not like the Avalon Ballroom in 1966. Maybe that's why it seems so long ago.
The warmup act was a group called the New Riders of the Purple Sage; as the name implies, they rode the range between rock music and country and western. The closer they got to pure country music, the better it was, to the point of sounding a little like Buck Owens and the Buckaroos.
The best set, surprisingly, was an impromptu instrumental ballad struck up while the lead singer restrung his guitar. It gave the Hawaiian guitar player a chance to show off his really excellent country style. They could use that style to their advantage - it would also help if they would please turn the volume down a bit.

(by Roy Petty, from the Chicago Tribune, 30 November 1970)

Thanks to

For more positive reviews, see:  

Aug 14, 2015

November 11-14, 1970: 46th Street Rock Palace, Brooklyn, NY

(46th St. Theatre, B'klyn.)

The Grateful Dead brought their musical magic and excitement to New York's newest rock showcase, the 46th St. Theatre in Brooklyn, for four shows last week. However, the Dead were the only bright star in an otherwise dull evening, caused by the theatre's poor organization, management, and a faulty public address system.
Opening with a set by the Dead's country cousins, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, the evening was another example of the band's eclectic inventiveness. With Jerry Garcia now playing the pedal steel guitar as cosmically as he plays electric guitar, the New Riders are one of the best country rock combos around.
Preparing the over capacity audience for the Dead's electric set, the Riders scored with "Henry," "Dirty Business," and a rollicking version of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman." The latter tune showed Marmaduke's deep country voice off to best advantage.
Building upon existing themes, the Grateful Dead, led by Garcia, improvise as well as any group in rock. Constantly rising to intense musical peaks, the sextet's new emphasis on complex vocal harmonies adds to their established instrumental talents.
Performing lotsa new material, including the first distinct interpretation of Khris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee," the Dead also ignited the audience with "Shine On Your Love Light."

(by Jeff, from Variety, 25 November 1970)

Thanks to

Aug 11, 2015

Winter 1970: Grateful Dead News & Interview


There’s much to be said for the Grateful Dead. And it’s all good.
The best word is the group is still on the scene, setting a pace in rock, and in a sense, liberating the music so that it can go in new and different directions, changing with the changing times.
The other words are more concrete – news about the group’s latest album, a tentative movie, a country-western sub-group, “New Riders of the Purple Sage,” and Grateful Dead statements on the world in general and rock music in particular.
The new album is a two-record Warner-Reprise production called Live Dead. It’s the group's fourth and the best so far – best, because the recording quality is superb and it was recorded “live.” “They said you couldn’t record the essence of the Dead,” Jon MacIntire, the group’s road manager, explained. “But this album does it.
“The other albums got a lot of musical things across, particularly Anthem of the Sun. Aoxomoxoa did a different thing, but Live Dead really shows the group as it is. It’s as close as you can come to the Dead without actually being on stage with them.”
Listeners seem to agree. MacIntire noted the album sold better than the others, 30,000 one recent week (a sizable figure for an avant-garde rock group like the Dead). Songs for a fifth album are being taped this month. Its release date will depend on the markets, yet to be submitted art work, and other factors – perhaps coming out by early or mid-summer.
“Recording is different,” MacIntire added. “There’s a lot more work involved in making an album than in getting down there and just recording it – a lot more chores to be done But we enjoy it. The people who follow the Grateful Dead know they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t enjoy it – or consider it worth doing.”
The lack of an audience somewhat hinders a group like the Dead in recording, but not much. Bob Weir, guitarist-vocalist, pointed out even when there is no actual audience, there is the feeling there must be one somewhere. “There’s no music that’s ever played that’s not for people – even if you can’t see them there,” Weir said. “So when we’re playing and there’s nobody around us, we’re either playing for ourselves or some future audience.”
Their upcoming movie is Zechariah, described as a kind of fantasy cowboy flick with a plot line closely resembling Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. Costuming has been completed for the Dead; filming may begin in April, either in Mexico or in the old back lots of MGM.
Zechariah was written by screen veteran Joe Massot (“a good flowing script,” former actor MacIntire reported), and will be produced by George England, known for his productions of Shoes of the Fisherman and The Ugly American among others.
“If it’s done as we originally heard about it,” MacIntire said, “the movie really won’t be a western, but will be an interesting piece of surrealism. For example, when the Dead ride in on their horses they’re wearing holsters with electric guitars shoved in them and electric amplifiers strapped on the backs of the horses.
“The movie’s star (Ginger Baker) is Zechariah – the Dead have their segment of the picture when Zechariah interacts with them, lusts after the kind of lives they live and wants to be a part of them. We’re really looking forward to filming it.”
The recently released album was recorded approximately a year ago. There is an emerging country-western flavor to the Dead’s music however, which isn’t that clear in the album, primarily because the country-western aspect is a fairly recent development.
For the Dead, it started about the time leader Jerry Garcia got one of the finest pedal steel guitars (“a tailor-made, beautiful instrument”) and began playing it with the Dead, doing a few originals and old standards having country-western connotations.
But the new development is Garcia, old friends John Dawson and David Nelson, and fellow Grateful Dead musicians Phil Lesh, bassist, and Mickey Hart on drums. They’re known as the “New Riders of the Purple Sage.”
The New Riders recently cut a demonstration tape for Warner-Reprise and the present schedule often finds the Dead playing on weekends, the “New Riders” on weekdays.
“They’re going all around to various beer houses and country and western, folk oriented, collegiate type places,” MacIntire said. “But the ideal is to book them into hard-core country redneck places where they can get the feed-back they need from the people who really know country-western music and know it intuitively.”
Although Garcia no longer plays the pedal steel guitar with the Dead (saving it for the “New Riders” material), the presence of the country-western influence is notable in new Grateful Dead music. The fine, really tremendous hard-driving rock sounds are still present, but some melodies, words and harmonies seem simpler, purer, reflecting the new influence.
Audiences have heard the Grateful Dead for about five years now. The group’s followers can trace them from beginning days with “Mother Macready’s” through the times they were known as the “Warlocks” into the first acid tests and up to the present. They have been successful, but in some ways they wonder if it’s been success with a capital “S.”
“We’re not all that successful,” Garcia said, “yet we are very successful. Our records are not tremendously big sellers, but we’ve got a reputation for being musically good – and we’ve influenced a lot of groups.
“And we’ve also got a following – an enlightened minority that speak the same language we do. They hear our music and we can specifically communicate with them.”
Lesh lovingly referred to them as the “Grateful Dead freaks.”
Whoever they are, they’re special – and usually a little older, at least not teenyboppers. They primarily are in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Chicago, and they do more than listen to the Dead. They also watch what the Dead are doing. They watch how the Dead’s “family” (which now has grown to approximately 50 persons) moves along, where everyone is living.
The Grateful Dead enjoy their music – and they find the freedom they need as individuals within the confines of the group.
Constanten (“T.C.”) explained: “It’s that way because we have agreed to cooperate. That was the idea we started with – that we had a band, not just a bunch of soloists, but a band playing music together.
“There have been kind of agreements as to who plays which role musically in relation to the others. The agreements have been defined not only by what instrument one plays, but how he plays it and what he does with it…the agreements are tacit and verbal.
“Of course, it isn’t that rigid. What we’ll do is get together – everybody will start to add to a piece whatever it is they hear in it. That will be going on for a dozen or so performances and then it will settle into something that is sort of like a mood…
“We can get bored with it. Then we’ll resurrect it much later and it will have undergone a transformation just because we’ve undergone a transformation.”
And the role of the individual musician?
“I personally feel the musician has a role of a fiddler, a jester, an entertainer,” Weir said – starting off a conversation that found the musician as prophet, reporter, free agent and on and on and on…
“He’s also a communicator,” Garcia added.
“Sometimes you can look into the audience and see a particular face and it’s saying something to you… Sometimes you see someone’s soul there. Not long ago, some cat jumped up on the stage and picked up the microphone and threw it into the crowd. It was part of the running play of violence that is close to us all the time – it’s like that play of violence got up on the stage with us.”
“Rock music should be spreading the news – having fun,” McKiernan added.
And Constanten noted: “Rock music comments on what’s happening right then with a striking applicability to what it has to see. A really good song says the truth to you in any of a billion circumstances… It’s sort of the voice of a square dance caller not saying, ‘do-si-do and dance around the table,’ but saying all the changes people go through…”
And protest songs?
“Protest songs are awfully dated,” Constanten answered. “As I listen back to them, they seem almost irrelevant. Protest music, white music, black music – this color thing is like an irrelevant trip. We are for earth music – expressing a larger concern for the whole world.”
“Protest means dissent,” Garcia noted. “Dissent means disharmony. Disharmony means nothing gets done. You don’t have to go protesting in music. Be the best you can with your music – the best rubs off.
“The big thing now is ‘Danger, danger, poison earth’ – and things are getting out of control. That’s the only thing important happening.”
Lesh added: “We’re really interested in an Earth People’s Park Plan to get land where people can live in an ecological sane manner – and free. Five years ago it was a social problem, but this ecological problem is way more important because if it isn’t solved, there won’t be any tomorrows…
“We’re lending ourselves to create a reality out of this idea. The people in our community – people who are planet minded, earth minded – got to us. We’re giving our energies, our comments, playing benefits for it – although sometimes it’s more fun to get in the skull sessions about it.
“Yes, we’re helping. It’s got to be that way. Today, California; tomorrow…?”

(by David Harris, from Circus, March 1970)

Thanks to

Aug 8, 2015

November 25, 1968: Memorial Auditorium, Ohio University, Athens OH


In the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the cryptic words "the Grateful Dead praise thee" are inscribed for eternity.
Last night the great Greatful Dead from San Francisco praised the campus with its first truly professional psychedelic blues act in history. And all for free.
"Don't call it a profession, man," drummer Mickey Hart said backstage, pulling his long brunette hair back into a ponytail. "Like, it's mostly a religion to me. I play religious music. When I play, it's more like testifying."
The Dead give free concerts quite often, Mickey explained, as a means of delivering their music to the public without the artificial sound of recordings. To this end, the nationally famous group has recorded only two albums but played innumerable concerts.
"We record what we think we should record," he said. "Where it's at is the playing. More people can hear us through recordings, but we want to turn people on directly with the music. We just want to have fun, man."
Mickey settled back and smoked in the dressing room and rapped with the collection of fans who had gathered around after sneaking backstage. He talked of the Grateful Dead's "family" back in the Dead's famous house in the Haight-Ashbury.
"We don't all live in the house anymore, man, because, like, we've got 50 people in the family now, and we just couldn't all fit into one house," he said. "We have about a dozen places, including farms. We'd like to just get 300 acres of land and really live it up."
Down the hall lead guitarist Jerry "Captain Trips" Garcia tuned up his Gibson, his hair hanging in a black mop as he studied his fingerwork through his yellow-tinted wire-rimmed spectacles. As he spoke, his New York voice emerged with crystal clarity from an impossible tangle of beard.
"I would much prefer it if you call me Jerry," he said, still strumming. "I was named 'Captain Trips' by this girl called 'Mary Microgram' and she was the only one to call me that until Time magazine picked it up. And you know how Time can never be wrong."
Garcia recalled Chuck Berry as being the leading influence on his early musical pursuits at age 15, and he has stayed with music ever since. In fact, he said, a musical commitment is one of the few things that all of the Dead have in common.
"We don't want to get involved in politics or movements," he pointed out. "The problems are real enough, but, like fighting won't do it, and neither will legislation or cops. The only way to do it is for everybody to just dig each other."
Other members of the Dead were filing into the room to warm up with Garcia and without electricity. Then, the great Pig Pen finally shows - looking for all the world like the Baddest Cowboy in the West - and it was good, very good.

(by Clarence Page, from the Ohio University Post, 26 November 1968) 

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Aug 7, 2015

February 1970: Jerry Garcia Interview


Garcia: …[San Francisco] is like situated right in the fog belt, you know. You go a mile south or a mile north, and there’s no fog.
Smith: Yeah, I couldn’t believe that. Everybody kept telling me that.
Garcia: Right.
Smith: [to engineer] Going? OK. I saw Zabriskie Point the other day. Have you seen it yet?
Garcia: No. Only the part that I did.
Smith: Yeah, the part that you did – you saw that part.
Garcia: Oh, sure, I played to it.
Smith: That’s how you did it.
Garcia: Of course, right.
Smith: What did you think of that part?
Garcia: You mean my part of it or the way it was on screen?
Smith: …gotta describe what it is.
Garcia: Well, it’s a whole lot of people balling in Death Valley.
Smith: Yeah. Really a whole lot...
Garcia: Quite a few, yeah.
Smith: …up on the hillside.
Garcia: Right. Yeah. A friend of mine, in fact, is in that scene somewhere. The guy that painted the album cover for our second album. Nice tie-in, you know – that thing of we’re all doing the same thing, and it turns out to be making Antonioni movies.
Smith: How did that come about? Did he approach you?
Garcia: Yeah; right, right. Apparently he heard some – Well, what happened was that apparently he’d heard ‘Dark Star,’ and used a little piece of it somewhere, and was interested in having somebody – he wanted some sort of music behind that particular scene and hadn’t had anything successful after repeated tries with other bands, and other musicians and conventional scores and that sort of thing, and he just wasn’t successful. So they got in touch with me eventually. I went to LA, to the MGM place, you know, and spoke to him and he showed me the, you know, rough cut, and you know, immediately went down to the studio, brought my guitar and amplifier, and in about two hours, you know, it was like what he wanted. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was what he wanted.
Smith: What do you mean, it wasn’t what you wanted?
Garcia: Well, I would have preferred to have taken a week or so to really study it and really determine the time of events and certain, like, key cuts and that sort of thing, so as to comp to something a lot more specifically, but like, he liked the sort of randomness, you know. I mean, I would have gone about it in a more methodical way, had I more time.
Smith: It was just you playing, right?
Garcia: Yeah; right.
Smith: That’s what he wanted, rather than all the band.
Garcia: Yeah; right.
Smith: Have you been doing other solo work?
Garcia: No, I’ve been doing a lot of session work, but I haven’t been doing any solo work.
Smith: What do you mean, playing on other people’s albums?
Garcia: Yeah; right.
Smith: Like what?
Garcia: Well, the Airplane’s new album, the Volunteers album. Crosby Stills & Nash’s new album. Beautiful Day’s new album, which’ll be out pretty soon; all that stuff. I’ve been doing like mostly pedal steel guitar, not guitar, I haven’t been doing any guitar sessions. But this is all in San Francisco, which is what makes it unique. I mean, like in Nashville and in New York and LA, there’s a huge studio trip going on, you know, a lot of musicians, that’s their whole scene is just doing studio work; and San Francisco’s never even had a recording scene. But now, you know, like lots of groups are recording there, cause there’s suddenly like about four or five good studios run by heads who understand what it is that young musicians are trying to do. But it requires, you know, slightly different attitudes, you know, than the fixed unionized shop trip, you know.
Smith: Hmm. That whole Altamont thing, the Stones concert –
Garcia: Yeah.
Smith: - seems like a lot of people are trying to dump on the Grateful Dead for that.
Garcia: Oh, I don’t think so, man. Well, what lot of people? I mean, if that’s happening, I’m not aware of it, you know.
Smith: They’re saying that the Grateful Dead are responsible for the Hell’s Angels –
Garcia: Well, in a sense we are, man, we’re responsible in that we’re the ones who started playing for free. You know, when we started playing for free in Golden Gate Parkways, walked down to the panhandle, you know like a block away, and play, just for the heck of it, not for a reason, not advertised, we just play, and whoever’s there like would pick up on it; and like, starting to play free eventually leads to Altamont, if you go about it a certain way, or you know, if there are errors involved. But like Altamont is like the other side of the coin, the other side of the Woodstock coin, you know; it’s another way for that whole thing to happen. And it’s like unfortunate but true, you know. I mean it really happened, it really happened just like they told you it did. And so it’s like, there’s a fact there, there’s a great big lesson for us all, you know, every head, every revolutionary, everybody who’s considering what social changes are about and considering the way it’s gonna be, you know; it’s like there’s something to be learned from all that.
Smith: Which is what?
Garcia: Well, I don’t know. Everybody has to look at it and find out. You know, I mean, I’m still – the results aren’t in, I’m still learning, you know. I’m still finding things out, I’m still talking to people, and getting various viewpoints, but, you know, it was a heavy thing, it was some kind of heavy thing, and nothing heavy goes down without it being some kind of lesson, you know, or some kind of instruction, or something like that. And like, it’s a big price to pay.
Smith: You played at both, Altamont and –
Garcia: No, we didn’t play at Altamont.
Smith: Oh, I thought you played there?
Garcia: No.
Smith: Involved in it in any way?
Garcia: Oh yeah, well, it was all – the planning was all going on at our place, and most of our friends, like the whole San Francisco scene, everybody who’s in San Francisco and does anything, was like there trying to put it together, you know. So we’re responsible on a couple of different levels, you know, in a certain way.
Smith: But the main thing that I’ve heard that’s been pinned on the Dead is the hiring of Hell’s Angels.
Garcia: No, no, man, we didn’t hire – nobody hires the Hell’s Angels for anything! The Hell’s Angels aren’t for hire, you know.
Smith: Well, they have hired themselves out for movies.
Garcia: Uhh… They’ve been taken for a ride about movies a lot of times, and they’ve been used for movies a lot of times, and in at least one or two situations they’ve finally been able to like make some bread from movies, you know, exploitation trips. But they’re not for hire; see like, there’s nothing like the Hell’s Angels on the east coast, you know. The Hell’s Angels are something that’s a west coast trip, and it has to do with the whole social structure of the west coast, it’s like much freer than it is out here, you know, it’s not so organized. And so there are Hell’s Angels out there. [The thing about] Hell’s Angels, man, is that at Altamont, it’s not a question of hiring or not hiring, it’s like a question of, who is it that’s gonna say to the Hell’s Angels, go away? You know, nobody’s gonna say that to the Hell’s Angels.
Smith: At Woodstock, at one point, a whole lot of Hell’s Angels showed up.
Garcia: Not California Hell’s Angels.
Smith: No?
Garcia: No.
Smith: And everybody got very uptight and somehow, somebody did go and talk to them and they went away – 
Garcia: Well, you know, that’s not – they’re not California Hell’s Angels there. And also, Woodstock wasn’t the Rolling Stones. You know, see those are a couple of big things that make a difference. For one thing, the Rolling Stones, man, are like one of the world’s two most famous groups. And what famous means, famous doesn’t mean good, famous means lots of people know about it. And when you take that thing there, and put it in the headlights and say ‘Rolling Stones are gonna play free somewhere in the bay area,’ you know, like around San Francisco, that means that everybody, everybody who listens to AM radio and who’s heard of the Rolling Stones, which is nearly everybody, is going to go that thing, man, not just heads; Woodstock was heads, largely. You know, there weren’t any top 40 commercial, you know, huge groups there, in that sense. You know, there were underground groups, I mean, by definition their audience is largely heads; all the bands that played at Woodstock, their audience were mostly heads. But the Rolling Stones, man, their audience is everybody, you know. So when you have "free," a commodity that everybody knows about, man, everybody goes, and the Hell’s Angels and the Rolling Stones, like, you know, I mean, they’re talking about the same thing, ‘Street Fighting Man’ and all that. So the Hell’s Angels like the Rolling Stones, man, they’re gonna go see the Rolling Stones no matter where they are, you know. When they played at Oakland, the first, you know, 15 rows were nothing but Hell’s Angels. And so it’s like there’s a thing going on there between the Stones and the Angels, which is like nothing that I know about, because I didn’t – I don’t really know who the Stones are; I do know some Angels, you know. But the whole thing, the whole point of it is, man, that you don’t tell Hell’s Angels to go away, you know. And not only that, but like, there’s a relationship that goes on between the head scene and the Hell’s Angels in San Francisco and around that area. It’s like we know each other because we’ve kind of been like outlaws, you know, for the past five years, we’ve all been on the other side, you know. Now, the people that went to see the Rolling Stones, man, they’re mostly not outlaws, they’re mostly just people, you know, so they don’t know who the hell the Hell’s Angels are, man, they don’t know that if you stand around in the middle of a bunch of Hell’s Angels, eventually you might get hit, you know. Heads know that, because of that experience.
Smith: Hmm. Can you see another rock festival in that area, for a long time?
Garcia: Uhh… Yeah, sure – if that’s what somebody – if somebody still needs to go through rock festivals, yeah, they’re gonna keep happening, you know. But it’s like, it’s not particularly what I wanna do.
Smith: You’ve played at a lot of them?
Garcia: Oh yeah, man, you know, we played at the first one, the Monterey Pops Festival, and all the major ones, pretty much. And you know, it’s really an old form already. But it’s like one of those things, it’s an institution that should be happening, there should be like some kind of huge festival going on with that kind of, like, more people than the ecology can stand density, happening like 24 hours a day all year long somewhere, you know, so that everybody who feels that that’s where it is can go there and do it, and split when they feel like it, and it would be like a perpetual trip, you know. I can see a need for that, because everybody’s talking about million-people festivals and stuff like that, you know.
Smith: Did you like playing a festival?
Garcia: Uh - When they’re out of hand, it’s more scary than it is enjoyable, you know, it’s not really – you don’t really have any sense of communication when you’re looking out on a sea of people, you know, on sort of an anonymous sea of just, you know, people. And also, like you can’t really, you know, you can’t really do a thing, the sound is never very good when it’s huge, you can’t really be heard well. It’s just, you know, it’s not what I’m interested in doing. I don’t think that that kind of thing gets high on the level of, like, where music is, you know what I mean? It gets high on a different level, it gets high on the people level there, the energy, social dynamics level, you know.
Smith: Hmm. A lot of people who are very into your kind of music and everything feel that it works best when it’s free. [bumps the mic] Ouch! Feel that it works best when you’re free and when you can dance.
Garcia: Yeah.
Smith: Do you feel that way also?
Garcia: Um, sure – I would add outdoors, sunshine, and a few other things, like you know, if you want it to be really best, but also I would say not a huge crowd, you know. If you’re talking about like my best, I like to be able to relate to everybody as much as I possibly can. You know, like when you get a huge crowd, man, it’s just, you can’t do it, you can’t cover it, you can’t tell what’s going on. The feedback is like – it’s weird, it’s freaky for me, you know.
Smith: And is it definitely a difference in the audience, as to when somebody has paid or that they’re all in for free?
Garcia: Uhh, no. I don’t think that’s true. I have never found it to be true, let me put it that way.
Smith: Do you find the response is about the same?
Garcia: Pretty much, pretty much. Well – there’s free and free, you know. Um – the kind of free that I like is the kind of free where everybody’s there to get high, not to go to a rock & roll show, you know, or not to go to an outdoor free dance, you know, but to get high. You know, like, every kind of scene that I’ve ever been into that was like expressly set up for people to get high, that is on any level you choose to experience that, whatever it means to you, you know, like dope or spiritually, whatever it is that gets you high, if that’s the orientation rather than free, you know, it’s a better thing, it’s a bossier thing, regardless of whether there’s an exchange of money or not. That stuff doesn’t really matter. You know, like the old Trips Festival – long time ago, ’66 or something like that. It cost you a buck or so to get in, but everybody paid that buck or so to get in and be high, you know, so like that was extremely high, and it didn’t matter that everybody paid a buck; it was cool, that was all right, that was the right thing to do. I don’t think that any of that shit matters unless you’ve got it in your head that it does, you know what I mean?
Smith: Where is that whole Ken Kesey thing now?
Garcia: Um, all over, just like it always was, you know. I mean, first of all, there never was that scene to speak of, you know, there was only the book, you know. Well, you know how it is when you go through your life, how nothing quite does like a movie, it doesn’t come to a conclusion, you don’t find yourself at the end of an episode and stuff like that, there’s like a flow, you know, and as you’re bumping into other people and things are happening, there’s all these exchanges happening, and that’s still happening of course, cause nobody’s, except for – you know, we’re not all vanished somewhere, see like the book ended, and the book is like a retelling, you know. The book is fiction, man. It’s just – I mean, you can’t take a big experience out of somebody’s life and say this was it, you know. And that’s the way that it’s been looked at, because of being put into a book form, you know: Kesey, this and that, historical, whatever, blah blah. It just isn’t that way, all that stuff is still going on, it’s all still going on, only now you’re in it, you know, and they’re in it, you know, and everybody who’s listening to this tape is, you know, is in it.
Smith: Just I’ve heard that some of the people involved in those Acid Trip festival things all felt that that was like the golden point of their life, like the highpoint, and everything was anticlimactic after that.
Garcia: Oh, I don’t feel – that’s not true with me, certainly. I mean, I don’t feel that’s the case. You know, but I could see where some people would.
Smith: Do you people rehearse a lot, or do you go in pretty cold?
Garcia: Well, we rehearse a lot.
Smith: Like what’s a lot?
Garcia: Ohh, when we have uninterrupted periods of time, that is to say weeks, we go in every day to a rehearsal studio we have and put in about six hours a day. Six, seven hours a day. And like, I practice with my instrument about three hours a day, no matter what.
Smith: You mean, aside from the six hours that you –
Garcia: Yeah; right. Just me and my chops. That’s like one range of the whole musical experience, and then there’s the thing of playing together with the people that you’re playing with, which is like so we get into each other’s time sense and that sort of thing, able to anticipate the movement and that, you know. It’s mostly a matter of keeping the communications open, musically, like if we lay off for a week, we play badly. We just play badly.
Smith: You can tell it that fast?
Garcia: Oh, sure, sure.
Smith: Hmm. How about the difference between recording and playing live?
Garcia: Well, we’ve never been able to record, man, we’ve never recorded successfully yet.
Smith: Yeah, why is that? I mean that’s true, you just sound so different –
Garcia: Right, well we just don’t know how to do it, you know. I mean – first of all, we approach recording as though it were a performance, so we put everything on the tape that we think needs to go on, everything that might go on, you know like 16 tracks of stuff, and then we perform the mix. You know that is to say, usually it’s me and Phil are like hovering over the board, mixing with 16 tracks with four hands, crossing over each other and turning one thing up a little and one thing down a little, and you know. I mean, it’s just a different medium, you know; we’re not playing music, we’re playing a tape of ourselves, we’re performing a mix like you’d perform electronic music. And so like the mixes that we choose usually don’t have any bearing either to the material or to us, in terms of the way we sound, you know. It’s just a different form, man, it’s like the difference –
Smith: What are you gonna do? [indecipherable comment]
Garcia: No, cause the reason we play live is to be able to play live, you know. I mean, live playing, you know, that’s what we do. Recording is something we goof around at. And that’s only because there’s somebody who thinks they can sell our records. You know, I mean, like – it’d be foolish of us to go into a studio and try to sound live, you know what I mean? Because the technical problems to overcome in order to sound live are enormous. If we wanted to sound live, the thing we would do is record live all the time. But we do that anyway.
Smith: A lot of the groups I’ve interviewed, they talk about the terrific pressures of getting along with each other. Is that true of the Grateful Dead also?
Garcia: No, not with us, we’ve already been through all that shit. We’ve been together for five years and most of us were friends before that. And you know, after a while, all that – I mean, you get so everybody knows everything that everybody else is into so intimately, man, and that we’ve all been having more or less identical input, we’re in a unique position to be this high energy trip, week in and week out, man, all these years; it’s like put our heads in a very specific place. And so we relate to each other better than to anybody else, in fact, you know, cause there’s kind of like a group consciousness; there’s each of us as individuals, and then there’s a group consciousness, which is us all, you know. And that’s like, that’s our baby, you know. Cause none of us are really doing anything, we’re only doing something that’s kind of like an experiment we got into some years ago. We said, ‘Wow wouldn’t it be weird to play music together?’ ‘Sure, why not,’ you know, and bam, we started doing it, and it’s like, it’s a huge experiment, and it doesn’t really matter whether we make it or not, I mean it doesn’t matter – there’s nothing to gain or lose, you see what I mean, it’s not a gain situation. We’ve agreed to do this trip, and so that’s all that has to happen, you know.
Smith: So even when you’re on the road traveling and everything, you don’t get into big hassles –
Garcia: Oh, we’re always tighter on the road, even.
Smith: Even tighter?
Garcia: Oh, sure.
Smith: Lots of the groups complain the most about that, they just say they’re in each other’s hair constantly.
Garcia: Really? Well that’s, you know, I don’t know where that is, you know.
Smith: Well how about money? There’s always this rumor that the Dead have never made any money and they’re always broke and poor –
Garcia: Oh, we’ve made lots of money, we’ve made all kinds of money, but – I mean, you know, but like we’ve got a whole big scene that we support, as well as all that equipment, and –
Smith: How big a scene?
Garcia: Oh, I don’t know, at the outside getting up to about 50 people, 60 people probably.
Smith: Consisting of who?
Garcia: Everybody, man, everybody; all our friends.
Smith: And you support all of that with the money that you make?
Garcia: Uhh – indirectly, you know; I mean we don’t give everybody a certain amount of dollars every week, but everybody eats, you know, everybody has places to stay and stuff like that.
Smith: [baffled silence]
Garcia: What else is there to do with money, man?
Smith: Well, some people buy cars and boats and planes – 
Garcia: Aw well, that’s cool too, you know.
Smith: Or put it away. You guys haven’t managed to save much –
Garcia: Oh man, what’s to save for, you know? I mean, who said there was gonna be a tomorrow, you know? I mean, like I say, this is all an experiment, man; like we started out with nothing, you know, and nothing to lose therefore, so everything has been gained since that point, and it’s like, you know, below ground zero where they take everything away from you and leave you standing naked somewhere, you still have your mind, man, and you’re still you, you know, whatever that is, you know; and it’s like, there’s nothing to lose. It’s just, that’s what this all is, man, it’s like some weird adventure, you know; and like we get to play as much as we want, and not only that, but they give us bread so that all our friends can eat, you know, so that they can all be loose for a good long time.
Smith: But what happens to the money, literally, I’m curious? It’s like it just comes to who – 
Garcia: You know, what happens to your money, man? [laughs]
Smith: Well I personally am in control of it, but I’m saying that with a group and a big thing like that, what do you do?
Garcia: Well we got a guy that does money, you know. That’s his thing.
Smith: That’s his thing.
Garcia: Yeah. He does money, and this last year – it’s Lenny, Mickey’s father, man, and in this last year, like we finally got out of debt, man, or kind of, you know, like up to where we’re kind of moving along pretty evenly, and like he tells us when we haven’t got enough money, he tells us when, you know, things like that. That’s what you do with money. You know, who wants to bother with it, man? It’s no good, you can’t eat it, you know, can’t get high from it.
Smith: Did you always feel that way about money?
Garcia: Sure.
Smith: Even before you guys started making it?
Garcia: Oh sure, listen, we were all on the street for years, man; you know, we were musicians, we were going around from one dumpy – you know, like the whole San Francisco scene, man, is a whole bunch of people who’ve known each other for almost ten years now, been playing in weird places, been unsuccessful for most of those years, right? You know, starving and one thing or another, staying at each other’s houses, dealing back and forth, getting high and all that – it’s been going on for a long time, man, and all of a sudden like in the past four or five years here’s this whole big trip going down, you know. And it’s just – somebody must be taking it really seriously somewhere, you know. But you know, it’s all so patently crazy.
Smith: Hmm. I’ve noticed that the audiences at Dead concerts are not really kind of a typical rock audience; they tend to be a little older, for one thing –
Garcia: Yeah.
Smith: The audience seems to look more like beatniks than hip kids.
Garcia: Right, oh yeah.
Smith: Why is that? Is that anything conscious that you do?
Garcia: Uh, well, we’re grownups, man, we play grownup music, you know; whatever that is, man, that’s just what we do, and so our audience is like other versions of us, you know. I mean if there was another – if there was a band called the Grateful Dead and I was one of the other side, you know, like, the audience is us, you know, it’s us, it’s the same people, you know. There isn’t any difference. Our audience is really groovy, it’s really super, it’s like brilliant, you know, it’s sharp, it’s smart, you know. It is, and it’s groovy to have a smart audience, it’s groovy to have an audience that knows when you’re getting on and when you’re not. It like keeps you on your toes, and it gives you that impetus in continuing to travel sort of an upward arc, you know, musically speaking. So like if we had a stupid audience, we’d be able to get by playing bad [tests] for a long time.
Smith: How about in different parts of the country, does it vary? They’re not smarter in any –
Garcia: It’s the same all over. The Grateful Dead audience is the Grateful Dead audience, everywhere in the country, no matter where you go, it all kind of looks about the same, it does about the same things, it gets high about the same.
Smith: Wow. Maybe the guy who does your money is paying all those people to follow you from concert to concert?
Garcia: Sure, whatever, you know. Lot of people do that, man, like do a whole big traveling thing.
Smith: Hmm. How about outside of this country, you been to perform in Europe?
Garcia: No, we haven’t been to Europe yet; we’re supposed to go pretty soon, but –
Smith: I wonder if the audience is gonna be the same there too? 
Garcia: Probably. Because of the information that goes out about us, it’s always carried on a certain level; it’s not banner headlines, you know, it’s not AM radio stations, it’s not fan magazines, it’s none of that kind of bullshit, it’s not a showbiz trip. You know, like the people that know about us are the people that know about dope, generally, you know. Like, that’s the world that we’re in. And so our audience is almost always heads, and it’s almost always people who’ve dropped out in one thing or another, and it’s usually people who are making it in whatever scene they’re doing, man, it’s working for them, they got it working for ‘em. That’s pretty general, I must say, you know, because I mean, it’s not quite that typical –
Smith: The drug scene itself has changed quite a lot in the last five years, hasn’t it?
Garcia: It’s everywhere now, that’s what’s different. You know, everybody gets high now.
Smith: Do the Dead get as high as they used to?
Garcia: Oh, how do you mean? [laughs]
Smith: Like how often is what I mean.
Garcia: Oh, as often? Oh, sure, yeah. 
Smith: Do you generally perform high?
Garcia: Um, well, yeah, sure man, that’s what playing is about, that’s what performing is about for us, that’s what music is, that’s what music should do; it should be high; you should get high, in any way you have to get high; and like some of the guys in the band are like, you know, like Weir is like on a diet, man, a whole special diet to get high, you know, and Pigpen’s got his way of getting high. You know, it’s not my way, it’s his way, man. We’ve all got our own ways of getting high, and we do what we do to get high because that’s what we’re doing, is getting high.
Smith: Hmm.
Garcia: See, music should be that sort of thing, music here should be the way it is in India, it should be holy; it shouldn’t be business. And here it’s business; and because music is business here, it’s awful, it’s mostly awful, most the music here is awful, it’s just plain bad. It’s shitty, you know. Cause it’s designed to make money, it’s not designed to do what music’s supposed to do.
Smith: Hmm. The thing of getting high, what I was driving at is I started to kind of notice on the music scene, people who make the music, sell the music, promote the music, whatever, all those people seem to be – more and more of them that I meet keep saying, ‘Oh, I don’t turn on hardly as much as I used to.’ It’s the audience out there that’s grown and the amount of heads.
Garcia: Yeah.
Smith: But the people who started it seem to be turning on less.
Garcia: Well it all depends on which people you’re talking about. You know, I don’t know about the east coast, man; I only come here once in a while –
Smith: As far as you know on the west coast, it’s pretty much the same?
Garcia: On the west coast, sure man, yeah.
Smith: People still get high –
Garcia: It’s a stoned place there, it’s a way of life there, it’s been going on for a long time; it’s working there, it’s working; the revolution’s over on the west coast; it’s all working.
Smith: It’s over?
Garcia: Yeah, it’s all working. It’s after the revolution, this is post-revolutionary time.
Smith: Yeah, and yet you have an Altamont.
Garcia: Man, that’s a whole other problem.
Smith: Charles Manson.
Garcia: That’s after the revolution, those are after-the-revolution trips.
Smith: After the revolution?
Garcia: Sure, man. Because those guys are us too, all that stuff is us, you know. I mean, we only deal with it when it becomes manifest, when we suddenly realize it’s there. It becomes a reality, then we have to deal with it. So like Altamont comes up, OK, that may mean now we have a year before we decide to set up a situation in which that kind of thing can occur again, you know what I mean? It’s like there’s a responsibility involved in all these things, man, and when you turn somebody on, if you don’t turn ‘em on right, eventually they kill somebody. If you look at the most extreme direct sort of, you know – from this event to that event.
Smith: That’s sort of what Altamont was, you think – 
Garcia: Yeah.
Smith: - sort of like, there was a lot of people who weren’t turned on right.
Garcia: Right, right. Well, and to the wrong things, like Altamont, man, the drugs there were mostly reds and juice. You know, and those things aren’t conducive to getting high, really; they’re conducive to shutting things off. And shutting things off is the problem that the world is experiencing right now; see, Altamont was a microcosm of the world, which is us all, man; and it’s like one little scene, one little bit of violence which is really the minority, man, maybe 200 people were hassling out of those 300,000, but everybody in that whole crowd by the end of the day knew that there was violence going on, and they knew – it was like the deepest kind of, most basic psychic fear going through the whole crowd. That’s something really heavy, you know, and like, that model is the model that this world is operating on right now, man, there’s like little bits and pieces of things going on here and there, and it’s like bringing us all down a certain amount, and the only way it’s going to be dealt with is by each of us individually realizing what part they took in the murder, you know, or what part they have to do with the war, or you know, it’s like, ‘when did I do that?’ And like that’s the only way those things are going to work out, is by seeing –
Smith: I don’t know, somehow I feel that you’re being maybe too forgiving.
Garcia: I’m not – I mean, you know, what’s to forgive? There isn’t any blame.
Smith: There is no blame?
Garcia: No, man, there isn’t any blame, you can’t operate with blame. Because who are you going to blame? You have to blame everybody, and blaming everybody –
Smith: The guy who maybe is visible on that piece of film that did the stabbing.
Garcia: On the film, he looks like a hero, man! Here’s this guy running toward the stage with a big fucking gun? You know, and here comes this brave Hell’s Angel out of the crowd and drops him. You know, that’s a heroic act, man. You know, at any other time in history, that’s a heroic act. You know, that’s a samurai trip.
Smith: [long pause] So how come that Hell’s Angel guy is being depicted pretty much in the underground press and you know, by almost everybody as being not a hero?
Garcia: Because most of those people are lame, man, most of the people in the underground press are lame; that’s why they’re in the underground press. You know, I mean, let’s face it man, the underground thing, it’s like a hype too, you know. There isn’t any ‘us’ and ‘them,’ there isn’t any underground and overground, you know. We’re all human beings, we’re all on this planet together, and all the problems are all of ours, you know, not ‘some are mine and some are theirs.’ You know, if there’s a war going on, I’m as responsible as anybody is. If somebody’s murdered, I’m responsible for that too, you know. The question is, how to work it out, man? How can you have freedom and still work it out? How can the world be free so that Hell’s Angels can happen, see – Hell’s Angels have happened because of freedom. They’re free to happen, you know, and they’re a manifestation of what freedom is, in essence; and so at some point or another, somebody has to say, ‘There can be no Hell’s Angels,’ you know. And who’s gonna say that, man?
Smith: Mm. [to engineer] OK. Well, I think I got it. Peter. Yeah, good interview. It’s one of the shorter ones I’ve done, but it was very good.
Garcia: Well, I ain’t interested in selling records, you hip to it? You know, like none of that shit.
Smith: OK, I’ll say that on the [interview] – ‘Don’t buy the Grateful Dead’s records!’
Garcia: I mean, if there’s any like little part of the truth that I can help uncover, man, that’s what I’m supposed to do, not sell records – selling records is just bullshit.
Smith: OK.
Garcia: Take it or leave it, man.