Nov 8, 2017

February 7, 1969: Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh


In the long stream of human flesh and flashy fashion that wound around corners, across alleys, past parking ramps and police vans, billboards, brick walls and banks, the consciousness of community was a remarkable event. Another remarkable event, reason enough for the religious procession, was the arrival - all on the single glorious eve of the most recent Good Friday - of the Fugs, the Velvet Underground, and the Grateful Dead. Under the streetlights, the evening, like the audience, was quiet and cool and a bit solemn.
While the audience contained a few uninitiated teeny-boppers and an occasional dollar delver (with yellowing wife), for the most part the congregation was composed of very "in" and very "with" believers. They knew Paul Krassner and his Realist, they had heard of Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts, they were with the movement in Chicago, the march on the Pentagon, the "I have a dream" prayer, they were around, on top and inside when the Jefferson Airplane was barely taxiing and long before the Orient routes were opened to tourists. They were turned on and tuned in. Mayor Barr's establishment had sent a battalion of police to protect the sidewalks.
Paul Krassner, a hero of the Solar System Light and Power Company (producers of the tour through wonderland), was predictably more filled with words than wisdom. The audience was channeled for full frequency sound and prayed for an end to the benediction. In the memorable words of a sensible young lady, "Hey, you're fucking my head up - play some music." St. Paul went on and on about politics and rock and police and how everything was part of the existential power-puff-keg, he name-dropped Hugh Hefner's Acid-Dropping Playboy Mansion (all the bunnies you can eat) and told the TRUTH about Playboy itself (all the hair is left out). After admonitions against narcos, cops, tourists, and other atheists, the stutter of a strobe light zapped Krassner to silence and began the journey to infinity.


The Velvet Underground was more velvet than underground - smooth, soft, and sensuous. The juxtaposition of "What Goes on in Your Mind" to a "Merry Melodies" cartoon (starring Bugs, would you believe, Bunny) rearranged our brain waves in nostalgic patterns. The conservative-repetitive film-and-slide stained-glass backlighting popped the Sylvania blue-dot flashcubes of memory and we were off, conceived of Elvis Presley, suffering under Dwight Eisenhower, crucified with Buddy Holly, raised from the dead and propelled into the heaven of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
The Velvet and the audience vibrated in perfect harmony, soothed by music loud enough to reach the inner core of being without shattering the transcendence of community. We remembered, after long neglect, the faith of our fathers - John Lennon, Tom Wolfe. Everything was gentle.


The Fugs, a conglomeration of music, the Living Theater, and Lenny Bruce, began the sacred profanity to the sound of country-and-western-hill-billy-gospel-soul-salvation rock. They warned the sinners of suburban middle age they would hear such things that would "make you puke your guts out." The guilty, cracked-voice titters of the cautious crocodiles lapsed into embarrassed silence at the sound of "Johnny Piss-Off," the tale of a right-thinking-mother-loving-Christian-pinko-hating-clean-cut-patriotic-red-blooded American Boy who beat up fags on Saturday night and fulfilled all the duties of his society. They sang, too, of Tricky Dick Nixon: ("Four Minutes to Midnight and There's a Madman at the Wheel"); they told it as it should be told.
But even as television has its signing-off time, and decadent religion its parable, the Fugs offered the rock-sock version of Sermonette, complete with hands-on-both-sides-of-the-Zenith healing, instant salvation (or double your money back), and a lifetime supply of canasta decks with the picture of Jesus Christ on each and every card (including jokers). They told, too, a parable of three men wishing to gain entrance to the heavenly city, each by a different route (alcohol, hashish, speed). Ask and it shall be given unto you.
They perused with us our high school yearbooks, with special notice for the oh-don't-you-remember poetry:
Roses are red,
Eat me.
They reminded us of our secret dreams of high school homecoming queens with the tender ballad "Sweet Dreams, Wet Dreams of You." They strummed our souls to oblivion. To the Fugs we salute with the lyrics of their closing number: in the bowling alley of our minds, they were the pinboys.

For the closing hymns of any service, particularly after a slingers-in-the-land-of-the-obscene-word sermon, anti-climax is the fear, summation the hope, neglect the inevitability. To the Grateful Dead, whose instrumental ecstasy surpassed the unsurpassable, we pay gratitude for our own final transportation beyond the bounds of sounds.
In time to come, we may all look back on this rebirth of wonder. Now we are returned, like the Magi, to our places in the old, unchanged Kingdom where we are less at ease with the old dispensation, with an alien people clutching their gods. For a moment, however brief, we felt damned fine and infinitely near to living.

(by F.D. Williams, from the Pittsburgh Point, 13 February 1969)

* * *


I am usually not one to marvel at the Solar System's suborbital light shows, but the Friday evening, Stanley Theater scene was the best musical flash I've had since falling into Pittsburgh. For once someone in our great Rock wasteland has had enough reverence for both the musicians and the audience to put together a concert with an almost perfect sound system and a collection of first-rate acts. To lay out a really good Rock concert is an almost Sisyphean task. There are so many variables to be considered in structuring that perfect musical environment. But the Friday show came close to satisfying even the most fastidious of Rock enthusiasts.
Of course the making of the concert was the tight performance of three great Rock groups - the Velvet Underground, the Fugs, and the Grateful Dead. Such a collection of freaks could hardly lead anywhere but up. The Velvet Underground (preceded by Paul Krassner, who got a lot of snickers but really wasn't necessary) opened up the festivities with "Heroin," one of their religious songs. The power of the Velvet Underground has its source in the train-like rhythms of Maureen Tucker, their curly red-haired drummer. Hunched over her drums, flailing the skins like some madwoman, she was quite an impressive sight. Tucker is not a very good drummer by any means, but her primitive, nerve-throb style and her seemingly endless fount of energy make her ideal for the Underground.
I was so fascinated by Tucker's movements as she tortured her drums that I only got around to noticing Lou Reed towards the middle of the lengthy "Sister Ray." The whole time Maureen Tucker was smashing away at the skins, Reed just floated aloof through everything. He only seemed to come around to what was happening when he got into "Sister Ray" with all its sexual narcotic imagery ("She's just suckin' on my ding dong / I'm searchin' for my mainline"). If it's necessary to pick the best group of the evening, then my choice is the Velvet Underground.


The Fugs followed the Underground with their by now notorious sexual theatrics. The nefarious Ken Weaver, dressed as some demented Canadian trapper, had his solo performance as a horny rabbi. Ed Sanders in his collegiate drag told us of his high school memories and his amorous adventures with the vicious Lesbian dwarfs. And of course the body-beautiful Tuli Kupferberg showed his collection of "numies" in various insane disguises. The whole Fugs act is more visual than musical; they are showmen before they are musicians. I was afraid that in coming to Pittsburgh, the Fugs would think it necessary to tone down a bit, but once caught up in their own crotch Rock fantasies their act reached its usual depth of perversion. The highlight of their performance was "Johnny Pissoff Meets the Red Angel," a song about a young rightist radical who gets his rocks off by beating up peace queers and pulling legs off frogs. Such is the height of the Fugs humor and with all their visual shock treatments they put on a creepy show.

Appearing last on the agenda were the Grateful Dead who were supposed to be the stars of the evening. The Dead are into a really strange musical style to which it is difficult to relate and which for the most part is prone to audience fatigue. Their act is built up on one theme which they expand by slipping in and out of various songs throughout the piece. To do something like this and not lose the audience demands perfect timing and a wide variety of style, both of which the Dead seemed to lack that night. There were many parts of their act where I found myself wishing they would go on to something else. To prevent my becoming a victim of musical exhaustion, I began to pick out individual artists and dissect everything they were doing. One thing for certain - the Grateful Dead are incredible musicians. I must have spent 20 minutes alone just following guitarist Phil Lesh as he cradled and stroked his instrument. But someday the Dead should be made to listen to themselves as an audience has to, for in the end I found their act too taxing and much too loud.
The Solar System's light show was adequate, but too often it had nothing to do with the music. A light show must accent the music to be really effective. This usually means that at some rehearsal both the technicians and the musicians have to get together and decide what fits and what doesn't. On Friday it seemed that the equipment operators were not familiar with the acts. The visual effects selected for the Velvet Underground were just not in tune with the music. When that happens you have two shows going on at once, and which one is the audience supposed to follow? Briefly toward the end of the concert, the technicians got hip and backed up the Dead with some oil shots which fit nicely with what the act was doing. But the groups more than made up for any defects in the light show and so the Solar System should be thanked for providing a good time for all.

(by Joe Anderson, from the Pittsburgh Point, 13 February 1969)

Nov 5, 2017

October 18, 1970: Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis


Rock music, as distinct from its ancestor rock and roll, is now old enough to have its agreed-upon founding fathers. The Grateful Dead, who appeared in an eagerly-awaited concert at the Guthrie Sunday, is definitely one of those groups.
Along with bands like Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and others, the Dead built the San Francisco Sound of the mid-1960's. They have travelled far since then, and their styles have changed, but they have usually managed to keep some of the free spirit of that time in their music. They had it to give here, too, but in a fairly mellow and relaxed version. Unfortunately, the audience seemed to want something more.
The Dead spent plenty of time setting up, but they kept talking to the folks in the house, so things were cool.
Their first number, "Casey Jones," promised a good concert, and for the most part, we got one.
Their distinctive use of two drummers (Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart), combined with the strong but eloquent electric bass of Phil Lesh gives them power in reserve and allows guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir the freedom to improvise, a privilege which they rarely carry to excess. In spite of being just a little too loud for the theater, the concert was soothing in its warm self-assurance.
They did a balanced show of original Dead songs, old folk songs like "Me and My Uncle" and "Walk Me Out in the Mornin' Dew," country tunes like "Mama Tried" and "Cumberland Blues," and even some older hard-rock hits like "Good Love." All of them were performed with the usual strength and aplomb of the Dead, but for some reason I did not quite apprehend, their keyboard man, Pigpen, was playing an organ (it appeared, though the program identified it as a piano) which could not be heard. This seemed to be a more serious sound problem than the other minor hassles such as occasional feedback; his playing was really missed. His vocal mike was also dead at one point, but he seemed to take the whole thing with good grace, even tipping his hat to the sound-mixer when the mike went on again.
The audience was not quite so well-mannered, for after a full two hours of music, they nearly refused to leave the auditorium to the second-show audience without an encore. They did not get it, and they sludged out with many childish and rude words flung at the stage.
I suppose they thought that giving a standing ovation to "Good Love," the last piece, brought the Dead under obligation to play again. It should not have, as they were probably wise to quit at that point; it was the only time they really got it on with everything cookin', and it tired them out. They looked a little tired when they first came on stage, and they probably were played out for the moment.
Perhaps they should not accept (and Walker should not offer) bookings for shows so long and yet close together that the performers must conserve energy to make it through. But that seems to be the only way we can all get a chance to see them - both shows were sold out well in advance. If our gluttony for entertainment necessitates water in the stew, we shouldn't complain when the cook says "No more left."

(by Scott Bartell, from the Minneapolis Tribune, 19 October 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead, the original psychedelic madmen, played at the Guthrie Theater Sunday night and practically tore the place apart with their patented mixture of rhythm and blues, screaming hard rock and modern country and western.
The Dead was one of the original groups in what was commonly known as the "San Francisco Sound" back in 1966-67. They have matured tremendously since then and the interplay between the six musicians is a joy to see and hear.
The group consists of two guitarists, two drummers, a bassist, and occasional vocalist-organist, Pigpen. They opened the concert with "Casey Jones," a song from their latest and best album. Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia sang the lead in his high sweet voice and received fine vocal support from second guitarist Bob Weir.
Garcia is the person who always comes to mind when the Dead is mentioned, but that is somewhat of a misconception. Both Weir and bassist Phil Lesh seem to shape the direction of the music as much as Garcia does, and when Pigpen takes over the singing for one of his R&B specials like "Good Lovin'" he makes them sound like an entirely different band.
Weir seems to handle the more country-oriented material and his clear, full-bodied baritone more than did justice to Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," and John Phillip's "Me and My Uncle." He is also an excellent rhythm guitarist, but playing in the shadow of Garcia he tends to be overlooked.
The Dead are famous for their ability to play extended improvisations and they lived up to their fame last night with beautiful jams on "Morning Dew" and "Good Lovin'."
Lesh is one of the finest bassists in rock. He is so fast that at times he seems to be playing lead guitar and yet he never lets his virtuosity obscure the music of the others.
Garcia, of course, is one of the best lead players in the world. He can do almost anything with guitar, from blazing blues runs to slick country picking.
The group's two drummers, Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart, are first-rate musicians. I am usually bored stiff by drum solos, but they played an entertaining and inventive duet that was by far the best I've ever heard.
Most of the material they played was familiar from past albums, but they did do one new song and it was an absolute knockout country number, with some beautifully tight three-part harmony singing by Garcia, Weir and Lesh.
The only disappointment of the evening was the fact that they didn't do any acoustic numbers with Garcia playing his pedal steel guitar.
But why quibble? It was still one of the finest nights of music Minneapolis has heard in quite awhile. Good ol' Grateful Dead: they never let you down.

(by Jim Gillespie, from the Minneapolis Star, 19 October 1970) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!

Nov 3, 2017

December 31, 1969: Boston Tea Party


In a sort of premature fourth anniversary celebration, the Grateful Dead recreated some of the atmosphere of the San Francisco Trips Festival of January 21-23, 1966 at the Boston Tea Party last week.
The Trips Festival was the begetter of all the "mixed media" dance halls which dot the country today. Without the Trips Festival, there might never have been a Boston Tea Party.
What happened at the historic Trips Festival? Well, such previously "underground" phenomena as lights shows, acid heads and the Grateful Dead came above board for the whole world to see.
The best-attended and most important event of the Trips Festival was the climactic "Acid Test" - an entertainment which, it was advertised, would simulate the LSD experience without LSD. Hundreds of youth cult members showed up for the Acid Test. The Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company supplied the rock. The inside of San Francisco's Longshoreman's Hall erupted with sweeping, dazzling lights. The model for the Tea Party was born.
(Everything to be seen at the Tea Party on New Year's Eve was a direct descendant of the Acid Test. The wall behind the band was bursting with gaseous, exploding galaxies, vibrant suns, flickering dots and spastic paramecia; every facet of the curving walls was covered with projections of comic strips, nudes, old etchings, portraits of the marijuana weed and photos of Boston; two movie projectors showed sporadic clips of Looney Toons, Spencer Tracy's "Boy's Town," and Olivier's "Othello."  And, of course, the Dead were there.)
But the Acid Test differed from the Tea Party show in a couple of important ways. First of all, most of the Acid Test customers showed up stoned out of their minds on acid. Secondly, the Acid Test was one of the first great surges of youthful togetherness; it was the opening of a frontier and it seemed to have infinite possibilities.
Jerry Garcia, the Dead's beatifically cheerful leader, once described the Acid Test experience: "Thousands of people, man, all helplessly stoned, all finding themselves in a roomful of other thousands of people, none of whom any of them were afraid of. It was magic, far out, beautiful magic."
But the Acid Tests, which fostered the group consciousness of the Haight-Ashbury, soon became an institution and began to lose their ecstatic energy.
Garcia once summed up the whole process of atrophy: "The Acid Tests have come down to playing in a hall and having a light show. You sit down and watch and of course the lights are behind the band so you can see the band AND the lights. It's watching television, loud, large television. That form, so rigid, started as a misapprehension anyway. Like Bill Graham, he was at the Trips Festival, and all he saw was a light show and a band. Take the two and you got a formula. It is stuck, man, hasn't blown a mind in years. It was a sensitive trip and it's been lost."
Within two weeks after the Trips Festival, rock impresario Bill Graham had turned the Acid Test formula into Fillmore West. The Haight-Ashbury flourished for a while as an open neighborhood of love and cooperation. But then the tourist hippies, who wore the clothes and took the drugs but didn't appreciate the spirit of the community, began to crowd out the true believers like the Grateful Dead.
Naturally the Dead share a deep nostalgia for those halcyon days back at the Haight.
In fact, the seven Dead, the oldest of whom is 29, sometimes reminisce like octogenarians.
"It was really a good life," said Bill Kreutzmann, one of the group's two drummers, as he spread out on a bench after the Dead's first set on New Year's Eve. "Hangin' out with boss people, going around seeing different light shows, different arts that people were creating, different musicians, all kinds of stuff. We worked and rehearsed as frequently as possible - at the Straight Theatre in the Haight and at the Fillmore. Those were great days for me, although they seem as though they were a long way away."
On the other side of the room, Phil Lesh (bassist) and Bob Weir (rhythm guitarist) were recalling their New Year's Eve four years ago. The Dead had been driving up to Oregon in Ken Kesey's magic bus. (Half golden boy, half guru, Kesey had formed a group called the Merry Pranksters who made a famous consciousness expanding tour of the U.S. in a garishly painted bus.) The bus had broken down halfway up to Oregon and the whole group had been forced to pile into a U-haul. Neal Cassady, the legendary beat raconteur, had talked a blue streak.
"Was he great?" asked an awed Easterner.
"Are you kidding?" answered Lesh. "He was the greatest."
Despite the look of Paradise Lost that the group carries about with them, their music provides a link to past social glories. And their music is, if anything, better than ever. Their songs average twenty minutes and sometimes go on for up to forty. Despite the wall of feedback and volume which their music throws up, it can be hypnotic; it draws the audience in with constantly repeated phrases. Garcia, bobbing from the waist like a joke-store duck perpetually dipping its beak in a glass of water, spins out lovely melodic fragments over and over. The rest of the band take the path he points to.
The Dead's sound is a kaleidoscope of its members' styles. At one end of the spectrum is Tom Constanten, former student of Stockhausen and Boulez, who used to specialize in Debussy and now plays organ for the Dead. He maintains that in some ways rock is more taxing than classical. "There's no room for fooling around in rock," he said. "I've heard Sviatoslav Richter run all over the place in the course of a concerto. In a rock band you can't take those freedoms. The rhythms have to be incredibly close."
On the other end of the spectrum is Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, veteran of Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. In the midst of the Dead's complexity, he still plays jugband-like tambourine and congas.
It was the Dead's music that gave much panache to the New Year's Eve celebration at the Tea Party, and gave us Easterners a little taste of what the Trips Festival must have been like.
And the Grateful Dead, with a bit of swagger, seem to see themselves as guardians of the good old days. In 1968, they tried to bring back some of the original excitement of the Acid Tests by leasing the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco and running it according to their own psychedelic lights. The Airplane were in on the operation too. It proved a disaster.
With the exception of Constanten, the Dead have now abandoned the city and live scattered about Marin Country. They often get together in each other's country homes and jam with other groups. Which other groups? "Man, we jam with EVERYBODY," said Garcia, declining to get specific.
A Hollywood director wants to make a commedia dell'arte Western with them. On New Year's Eve, the group stood in a circle and formally debated the offer. Finally, Garcia the leader said "Forget that. I wanna go home and make a record next month."
You can expect a new Grateful Dead album soon.

(by Timothy Crouse, from the Boston Herald Traveler, 11 January 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:

December 29, 1969: Boston Tea Party


A week ago last Thursday, the Grateful Dead, who last night opened a three-night stand at the Tea Party, sat down to a normal day's work at their digs in San Francisco.
They had just received a screenplay that demanded immediate theme music. Bob Hunter, the group's lyricist, flipped through the script and jotted down some lyrics. Jerry Garcia, the Dead's leader, glanced down at the lines and began to improvise a few chords on his guitar. The five other Dead joined in.
By the time they stopped playing, the group had composed a powerful number, based on a beefy chord progression, called "The Mason Song." The movie company decided the song didn't suit them, but last night The Dead used it to bring their first set to a crashing finish.
Which goes to show that things move fast and loose in the rock world, a world in which the Grateful Dead have been prime movers. Riding the crest of the San Francisco love wave in 1966, they inaugurated the custom of giving free concerts and provided the music for Ken Keysey's first Acid Test. They became legendary for their flair at combining rock professionalism with exemplary communal living.
They play unfrilly, straightforward body music. If their vocals are feeble and fuzzy, their arrangements are hefty and inventive - particularly when the three guitars work together. Bob Weir plays one of the most prominent and satisfying rhythm guitars in rock.
Last night they opened with an old Everly Brothers song, "Mama Tried," and proceeded through a number of Garcia's new songs, including a full-chested blues and a wonderful, bouncy instrumental. For the first time in weeks, people danced at the Tea Party.
One blessing about this bill at the Tea Party: no warm up acts. No wear and tear straining to pick a few nice riffs out of somebody's half-baked repertoire.
On New Year's Eve, the Dead will join forces with Cambridge's Proposition to bring in the New Year. They promise to kick off the decade in a properly jubilant style.

(by Timothy Crouse, from the Boston Herald Traveler, 30 December 1969) 

* * * 
The first of a three-night engagement for the Grateful Dead at the Boston Tea Party last night proved highly entertaining for the enthusiastic audience. 
The concert began at 9:10 with a fairly moving tune only to be halted by an equipment failure, which caused a delay in the performance. After that, however, everything then went well. The San Francisco-based sextet did some country and Western tunes with solid, well executed bass patterns and swift guitar work by Jerry Garcia. 
Simultaneous leads between rhythm and lead guitarists were frequent, all the while complemented by Hammond organ backup and steady beats by the two drummers. 
Two and three-part harmonies were polished, especially in "The Mason Song" as Garcia, lead vocalist, led the group through many tunes from past LP's. 
The New Year's Eve show, starting at 7, will include The Proposition and old films along with the Dead.
(by Charles Martin, from the Boston Globe, 30 December 1969)  

Thanks to Dave Davis.
See also: 

Oct 24, 2017

July 8, 1970: Mississippi River Festival, Edwardsville IL


At a time when rock and pop performers are going through the motions of entertaining and departing 20 minutes later, the Grateful Dead's concert at the Mississippi River Festival last night was extraordinary.
They worked - not for a few songs - but for an evening of entertainment that lasted three hours.
Despite technical problems, the concert was a model of what an outdoor rock concert should be. The performers and the audience controlled the evening, and made it grow from a six-man performance into a cast-of-thousands orgy.
The Grateful Dead was the star at the beginning of the evening, when the group quietly played the countrified rock it does so well.
Rock and roll as a genre, a sound, a life force finished the program. The Grateful Dead was on stage, but its delivery of the frenzy the crowd demanded changed the audience from spectators to participants.

The Dead's reputation for integrity was upheld at Edwardsville last night.
The myths that surround the group led a number of ticketless young persons to believe that the Dead supported their plan to storm the gates at the start of the concert, and then donate their dollars to the Legal Defense Fund rather than to the Mississippi River Festival. They were confusing politics with music, something the Dead never does.
"We're not political at all," guitarist Bob Weir said. "We don't give free concerts for any reason or for anybody. We give them because we feel like it. It's just music for music's sake."
The Dead opposes the excessive commercialism in its industry. The group wants the audience to hear its music, whenever and wherever it can. So when the audience filled the $4.50 reserved seats area, after they had paid only for lawn seating, and blocked the tent aisles, despite frequent invocations by the fire marshals, and crowded the apron of the stage, the Dead brought on the music.

Each of the Dead takes a turn singing lead except the drummers. Each lead does a different style best.
When Jerry Garcia sings the blues, as he did with the acoustic guitars, he works his voice into a mood that is not black or white soul, but is pure blue. "Black Peter" and "High Time," from the "Workingman's Dead" album, were two long bluesy numbers that Garcia's easy vocal and sensitive guitar carried over.
Bobby Weir, in a high, simple voice, leads the country numbers. Both Bobby and Jerry handle the folk rock, and it becomes precisely what it should be - traditional tunes given vitality from complex guitar work and guts from a rock beat.
"Silver Threads and Golden Needles" suffered from the early technical problems. But "Cumberland Blues" and "Casey Jones" - "Drivin' that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better watch your speed" - with a blues and folk subject, given the drive of rock and the easy humor of country music, was perfect.
The Dead's three guitars kept numbers like the bluesy "Deep Elem" moving. The rhythm guitar kept the repetitiousness of that and "Candy Man" from dragging while Garcia's inventive lead guitar broadened the songs. "Candy Man" had just the right dopey singsong from the instruments and bitter humor from the singers that it needed.
Ron McKernan sang lead on the hard rock, rhythm and blues, and San Francisco-sounding numbers. His "Good Lovin'," first of the electric numbers that the group did, made it clear that more had changed than instruments. His harmonica made pure rhythm and blues out of the old Junior Parker song that Weir did the vocal on.

One reason why the Dead's concert was so long was that it didn't stop for applause or breaks or a breath of air once it got going.
Each number flowed into the next. Garcia improvised, constructing his solos like a good jazz musician.
Occasional musical cues would lead the group into a line or two of a song, but that was only a brief landing. Most of the time it would take a song and fly.
The power of the clever improvisation grabbed the crowd and the crowd could not be held down. Ron took over the lead and the Dead gave what the kids who were dancing all over the tent and the grass wanted.
The spontaneity of the fever pitch finale was fine. It gave the crowd the freedom that the good sounds and the outdoors demanded. The Dead knew it and that's why the group finished the Concert that way.
But many groups can sing "shake it up Baby." In the wilderness of the last half hour there was the feeling that the crowd was not loving the Dead for itself. It is good that the Dead can do big, bad, raw rock. But the subtleties of its other work is what makes it superior.

(by Mimi Teichman, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:

Alas, no tape!

April 17, 1969: Quadrangle, Washington University, St. Louis


The Grateful Dead gave a rock concert on the Washington University Quadrangle last night, but some county residents were not grateful.
The sound, they said, was enough to wake the dead.
Police in St. Louis County got several calls about midnight complaining that the amplified beat of the acid-rock group from San Francisco was audible a mile away.
About 300 young persons, many in hippie attire, were found grouped around a band shell on the quadrangle, listening to music played to the flashing of psychedelic lights. Police suggested the Grateful Dead stop living it up, and the concert ended.

(from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 April 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis. 

Released on Download Series vol. 12.

* * *

An announcement for the 4/18/69 Purdue University show: 

Original 'Acid Rock' Reaches Purdue

"The GRATEFUL DEAD? At Purdue? I don't believe it!" was the first reaction. The second, from another student, was "The GRATEFUL DEAD? Who are they?" Alas, the GRATEFUL DEAD. After all these years one might think that just about everyone knew who they were, if not by hearing them, then at least by reputation. They were the first of the big San Francisco bands, that's right, even before the Jefferson Airplane moved up from Los Angeles. And they probably invented the term "acid rock," for it was they who played at Ken Kesey's notorious "acid tests," wherein a punch bowl containing that nefarious substance would be served up with the music.
But that was years ago. Today, after two records on Warner's, and innumerable live appearances, coast to coast, they are considered by many to be the finest hard rock group in existence. Reviewer after reviewer has been captured by the power of their live performances; performances which, sadly, will probably never be really captured on record.
The reason for this is simple: a GRATEFUL DEAD performance, when they are going, may last for several hours, with absolutely no let-up, as songs merge completely into one another. They played continuously for four hours a few weeks ago in San Francisco, in a show which left everyone agape for weeks, and for which nobody could find the words to describe. And that is in San Francisco, where nothing surprises anybody anymore.
The GRATEFUL DEAD consist of Ronald McKernan ("Pigpen"), vocal; Jerry Garcia, lead guitar; Bill Kreutzmann, drums; Micky Hart, drums; Phil Lesh, bass; Bob Weir, rhythm guitar; and Tom Constanten, keyboards. "Pigpen" used to play the keyboards in the original group, but now has gone over strictly to vocals and snatches of harmonica. And now there are two drummers in the group, instead of one. Very powerful. Very powerful.
Jerry Garcia is one of the hardest and fastest lead guitarists in the business, with a technique comparable to masters such as Clapton and Bloomfield; he is also rumored to be a brilliant bluegrass banjo picker. The rest of the band members are all superb background singers and supporting musicians, and each will have his say before the night is over, if it ever gets to an end at all.
That's it. The GRATEFUL DEAD. At Purdue, FOR REAL. The dance-concerts will be held in the Union Ballrooms, from about 8 to 12 p.m., Friday. Tickets are $3 at the door and $2.50 in advance; they may be purchased under the mural in the center. The proceeds will go to the support of the boycott, and there may be some discussion of the boycott before the concert starts.
Also appearing will be Purdue's gadfly, George Stavis, who claims that his Vanguard record will be available "imminently." He sings and plays funny things on guitars and banjos which are sometimes compared, by people who should know better, to Indian music. A pleasant time is guaranteed for all.

(by George Stavis, from the Purdue Exponent, 17 April 1969)

April 11, 1969: University of Arizona, Tucson


TUCSON (AP) - The University of Arizona administration was accused yesterday by a member of the Student Peace Association of preventing the campus appearance of a California rock group.
Bruce Marshall, association president, charged that the administration had blocked his efforts to rent the school auditorium for a performance of the Grateful Dead since February.
Marshall said he filed a complaint with Steve Malkin, Associated Students president.

(from the Arizona Republic, 19 March 1969)

* * *


The Grateful Dead, one of the earliest "San Francisco sound" rock bands, will appear in concert at the University of Arizona auditorium at 8 p.m. Friday.
Sponsored by the UA Student Peace Assocation... Tickets are priced at $2 and $3. They are available at Student Union Room 106 on the UA Campus.

(from the Arizona Daily Star, 10 April 1969)

* * *


"We're gonna be here for a long time and just play any old thing," said Jerry Garcia. And the Grateful Dead proceeded to unleash some of the heaviest sounds and probably the most decibels the University of Arizona auditorium has ever held.
The San Francisco rock band moved a capacity audience of at least 2,600 to cheers and dancing in the aisles, assaulting them with a tidal wave of sound from a complex of 35 amplifiers and speakers.

The concert was sponsored by the UA Student Peace Assn. and was dedicated to draft resister Bradley Littlefield, now serving a sentence in the federal prison camp at Stafford.
The seven members of the Dead include Garcia on lead guitar, Tom Constanten on keyboards, Ronald McKernan (Pigpen) doing vocals, Phillip Lesh on bass, Robert Weir, rhythm guitar, and William Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart on drums.
Not to be overlooked is their sound engineer, who sat at a console adjusting each musician's volume so that any of them, including the vocalist, could be heard over the rest of the band.

It was as much a social occasion in its own way as a night at the opera; a large majority of the youthful audience showed up in bellbottoms, headbands, capes, beads, boots and other finery, and once intermission was over people drifted in and out continuously, stopping briefly to dance or talk.
The Dead were as tight musically as they were loose in between numbers; and even though there were four or five separate musical lines going on at once the result was cohesive. Especially outstanding were Garcia's fearsome guitar solos and Lesh's solo-like bass playing, although they, like much of the music, suffered from repetitiveness.
The bulk of their numbers were blues-based tunes extended with lengthy instrumental breaks, amazingly complex in spite of the speed and volume at which they were usually played. Occasionally they worked in a folk or country influence, as in "Walk Me Out in the Morning" or "Sitting on top of the World."
The climax of the almost three-hour concert was [a] visceral driving number that ended with the audience standing up screaming and crowding into the orchestra pit as the Dead called it a night.

(by Richard Saltus, from the Arizona Daily Star, 12 April 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Oct 23, 2017

July 4, 1969: Kinetic Playground, Chicago


WOW. What a terrible day! It was a hot humid Fourth of July, with too much traffic. I was tired and my hair was dirty. Worst of all, I was just beginning to realize that my boyfriend wouldn't be back in town for another month and a half.
Why did it have to be the day when both The Buddy Miles Express and The Grateful Dead were at the Kinetic Playground? I didn't want to go sit on the Playground's sticky floor, I wanted to go home and take a shower. I was in a pretty bad mood when I got there.
More trouble. I had a hard time getting in. The Coke I had was too sweet. I was sick of seeing the same slides and movies on the walls.
But I really like Buddy Miles, and he almost canceled out the resentment I was feeling - almost. He does the best things alone, singing and playing with his drums, with just a little accompaniment from the rest of the group. However, more than half of the set was spent with the five-man brass section overwhelming Buddy's voice. I'm not sure if this was the fault of the Playground's P.A. system or the group itself. Probably some of both. 
Robb Baker, who wrote about Buddy's very poor reception at the Fillmore in New York two weeks ago, would have been happy about the response he got at the Playground. By the end of his set, the whole audience was on its feet, shouting and clapping, as Buddy cried, "Is it good for one more time?"
Several of the songs were from his recent album Electric Church, such as Otis Redding's "Cigarettes and Coffee" and "Wrap It Up." Live performance is always better, but at least on the album the brass section doesn't drown Buddy's voice out.
I was expecting a lot from The Grateful Dead, so naturally I was disappointed. Aside from liking their music, I was fond of them for being one of the few rock groups to make a habit of giving free concerts. They also have the reputation of having an excellent stage presence.
But the performance was nothing out of the ordinary. And while the music itself was excellent - somehow they have found a way to bring more country into their music without losing any of the old blues - it would have taken something more to get me out of myself that night.

(by Sally Simpson, from the Chicago Tribune, 8 July 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Oct 19, 2017

September 27, 1969: Fillmore East


NEW YORK - Two pillars of the underground scene, the Grateful Dead and Country Joe & the Fish, gave strong solid sets at Fillmore East at the first show on Sept. 27.
Country Joe McDonald, with only lead guitarist Barry Melton left from his original group, stuck to music for the most part instead of the shock value obscenities that so often marked his unit's work in the past. There was still some clowning around, especially well into the set, as Melton played and sang while writhing on the stage. Later, McDonald did the same.
There still was some off-color material too, but this was more effective because the audience wasn't constantly beaten over the head with it. Vanguard recorded the weekend proceedings and the label should have much good material to choose from.
The three new members of the Fish all were excellent with Mark Kapner a standout on keyboards. Kapner also sang a camp number with ukulele, which he eventually burned. Kapner also joined McDonald, who sang the title song of a forthcoming Danish film, which will never hit radio. On this, and another selection from the film, McDonald accompanied himself only on acoustic guitar. Both McDonald and Melton will be featured on Vanguard albums as solo performers.
Rock of a vintage variety was offered by Buddah's Sha Na Na, a 12-man group composed mainly of Columbia University students, including three in gold lame. The unit's gentle satires of such numbers as "Teen Angel," "Silhouettes," "At the Hop," etc. are fun to watch as every gesture and pose in the book are used. But, as with really good satire, the numbers are sung and played so well, Sha Na Na may prove a disk surprise.
The Grateful Dead, a pioneer of the San Francisco sound, have added country to their blues and psychedelic elements and the blend worked well. The Warner Bros.-Seven Arts septet has not developed a visual act, but, when things are working well, as they did during the set, the Dead has a euphoric effect that has drawn the unit a legion of devoted fans.
The set ranged from straight country as in "Mama Tried" to the blues encore "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," the former with bass guitarist Phil Lesch producing a good country vocal sound, and the latter with Ron (Pig Pen) McKernan at his vocal best. Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia also had [a] good set as did organist Tom Constanten and rhythm guitarist Robert Weir. The dependable work of drummers William Kreutzman and Mickey Hart was ideal in the country tunes.

(by Fred Kirby, from Billboard, 11 October 1969) 

See also this review and the extensive comments:

* * *


NEW YORK - Bob Dylan is alive and well and living in (would you believe?) Greenwich Village. Or so last week-end's best rumor has it - that he's bought two adjacent houses in the same neighborhood where he got his start back in the beatnik-folk-singer days.
Dylan as a New Yorker comes as quite a surprise, but he's been showing up everywhere around there lately, from the Fillmore to Washington Square (where they have the outdoor folk jams).
One keeps wondering what change Dylan will put his followers thru next. There aren't many folksingers turned protester turned rock poet turned recluse turned country balladeer turned pop-schlock jukebox fodder around, you know.
But he told reporters after his appearance at the Isle of Wight festival that he planned to get back into the personal appearance circuit. And New York's as good a place as any to get started again.

A couple of other performers who had dropped from the scene in recent months also showed themselves very much alive and well in appearances here last week.
Country Joe MacDonald reappeared at the Fillmore with a new set of Fish, retaining only guitarist Barry Melton from the old group. Joe is, thank heavens, making music again instead of his protest gibberish, which had gotten just too smug to be believed.
But there's no group around capable of laying down such driving, melodic lines as the Fish when they're really together. And they were Friday night.
But being "together" and being relaxed aren't always the same thing, as evidenced by former Lovin' Spoonful member John Sebastian's solo gig at the Bitter End. Sebastian put on a low-key, folksy show, dressed in bleached-out psychedelic-splattered denims, but it wasn't exactly the kind of performance (as a visiting friend from Chicago put it) that would make you want to go out and buy John Sebastian records.
He said things like "I feel about as local as a fish in a tree," and the audience laughed a lot. But musically the show just wasn't there.

Equally as jagged and sloppy was the new country sound of The Grateful Dead, also on the bill with the Fish at the Fillmore. After about an hour they finally got things together, returning to their old driving, hard rock bag. But that first hour.
There's no excuse for a group as talented as The Dead are to dish out such an amateurish start to a show - and this is the third time I've seen them do it. If it takes them an hour to warm up, they'd better find a loft someplace down the block in which to do so.
Unfortunately a lot of garbage is being sanctioned under the label of "country-rock." At least we have a few first rate groups like the Flying Burrito Bros. (also in town last week-end, for concert with the not-so-good Byrds in Carnegie Hall) and Crosby-Stills-Nash-Young (who had a brilliant New York debut the week-end before at the Fillmore) to prove that it doesn't have to be disconnected slop.

(by Robb Baker, from the Chicago Tribune, 30 September 1969) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

July 11, 1969: New York State Pavilion, Flushing Meadow Park, Queens


NEW YORK - The Pavilion, an outdoor rock ballroom that is really a remnant of the 1964 World's Fair, opened July 11 with a large crowd cheering through several hours of heavy rock played by Tribe, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, and the Grateful Dead.
The former New York State Pavilion is a unique place to listen to music, with the multi-million-dollar unisphere in plain view and a huge map of New York State painted on the floor of the "ballroom" creating a surrealistic atmosphere. Despite acoustics which made hearing a problem in some parts, the Pavilion offers a relaxed atmosphere which facilitates moving around, dancing, or hanging out, making it a kind of East Coast, outdoor Fillmore West.
The musical highlight of the evening was Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Cocker is one of the top rock personalities around today. With a presence that dominates and a voice that can really wail, he goes through the most well-known material, leaving the listener stunned with the freshness and excitement that he returns to it. The A&M artist takes Dylan songs, Beatles songs, and Ray Charles songs and makes them all sound like they were written just for him. Writhing his arms, twisting around the stage, and making every note that he sings come alive, he exudes a quality that could only be described as soul, while creating the sexual excitement that is what good rock is all about.
Cocker is a hard act to follow, but the Grateful Dead were up to the task. Bringing the crowd to its feet, the underground favorites were at their best when playing their recent country-flavored numbers like "Dupree's Diamond Blues," which is from their current Warner Bros. LP, "Aoxomoxoa." They also did quite a bit of their old blues-influenced material like "Hard to Handle" and, of course, "Sittin' on Top of the World," but it sounded stale compared with their newer work.
Also on the bill was Tribe, a jazz-blues group from the Bronx. With Tom Miller on sax, Craig Justin on drums, Dion Grody on guitar, and Lanny Brooks on bass, they produce a polished sound which will undoubtedly attract a record company.

(by Dan Goldberg, from Billboard, August 2, 1969)

See also other reviews:

April 15, 1969: Music Box, Omaha


We skipped the light fandango 
And turned cartwheels across the floor 
I was feeling kind of seasick 
But the crowd called out for more 
The room was humming harder 
As the ceiling flew away 
    - Procol Harum

Another great night at the Music Box in Omaha thanks to RFO and the Grateful Dead, Liberation Blues Band, and a very receptive audience.
Lincoln's one and own genuine original blues band turned on Tuesday and turned in their best performance to date. The entire group clicked harmoniously without squelching the opportunity for the individuals to do their own thing. The crowd was receptive as they listened to a program which ranged from the well-worn "Spoonful" to the more recently favored "Mule."
Following this primer by the Liberation Blues Band and a brief intermission, the Grateful Dead, all seven performers, complete with at least a half dozen sound and equipment men, plugged in the culturally deprived Nebraskans to three hours of solid sound.
Two sets of drums, three guitars, an organist, a congo drummer, and various and sundry percussion instruments comprise the Grateful Dead. But, there is more to it than this. A reverb man and a bevy of other knob twisters are responsible for the sound which this group puts forth.
Audience participation is an integral part of the Dead's presentation. When they broke into "Turn on Your Love Light" the audience stood, danced, jumped, clapped, and sang along for almost thirty minutes. The extra twenty-seven minutes of this song can never be done the same way twice, and the crowd enthusiasm was unequalled.
An hour-long version of "Anthem" combined with "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" closed the program. The group's newest drummer played an assortment of percussion instruments ranging from tambourine to xylophone. A giant firecracker even exploded on the stage, in perfect rhythm with the rest of the song.
All in all, those of us who care are extremely grateful to the Dead, for their talent, colorful personalities, and a great show.

(by J.L. Schmidt, from the Daily Nebraskan, Lincoln, 17 April 1969)

See also his review of the previous Music Box show: 

Oct 12, 2017

July 9, 1970: Fillmore East


The Grateful Dead blew everyone's minds at the Fillmore East, where they appeared four consecutive nights, beginning at midnight and playing until 6 in the morning.
The Dead, composed of Jerry Garcia on lead guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on rhythm guitar and vocals, Pigpen McKernan on organ and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass and vocals, and both Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman on drums, were one of the first components of the San Francisco sound. However, unlike many of the groups who quickly became successful then, they've lasted.
The Dead is perhaps the best rock band in the country. They can play everything from country to acoustic love songs to rock 'n' roll to ear-shattering psychedelic rock - and all of it well. Highly accomplished musicians, they've won themselves a devoted following unequalled in rock music.
They may be the most revolutionary band as well, for without any political rapping or harangue, they create such good vibes that their fans feel truly liberated. The Fillmore crowd was no exception. The entire audience was almost constantly on its feet each night, dancing till dawn.
The Dead build up their set very carefully, first playing a lot of soft, acoustic numbers, many from their current album, "Workingman's Dead." Then the New Riders came on stage, with some members from the Dead. Jerry Garcia was on steel guitar and Marmaduke, who also sat in on several songs with the Dead, on vocals and guitar.
They played some country and two spectacular versions of Rolling Stones songs, "Connection" and "Honky-Tonk Women." Garcia's steel guitar on Honky-Tonk was spectacular.
After another brief intermission, the Grateful Dead, with both drummers this time, returned, accompanied by on-stage flares and a huge neon sign that spelled the group's name. They played "Casey Jones" from their new album, and songs they've performed before from other recordings, including "Dark Star" and "St. Stephen." They wrapped up at 5:30 a.m. with "Uncle John's Band," the audience still wanting to hear more.

(from the Journal News, White Plains NY, 1 August 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!

See also: 

Oct 11, 2017

June 19, 1970: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis

This article was written in 1995, but I'm posting it because it includes excerpts from 1970 newspaper accounts and eyewitness quotes on this lost show.


A lot of people - including the band members themselves - don't realize it, but the Grateful Dead has been to the Bluff City before.
Many people will tell you that it never happened - that it's not on The List, that they don't remember it, that such a thing could not have happened in the first place - but the Grateful Dead did play in Memphis once before, on June 19, 1970, at the Mid-South Coliseum.
More than likely, the show is so largely forgotten because it wasn't a big deal in the first place - it drew only 2,054 people, according to The Commercial Appeal - and by most standards the evening wasn't exactly a smash success. Plus, since we're talking about 1970, you can safely say everyone's memory is a victim of both time and the times.
But there it is, in the newspapers of the day and in the memories of the few who saw it. Back then the Grateful Dead was a 5-year-old band that would take about any gig it could get; now it's a 30-year-old institution, probably the biggest touring act in rock-and-roll history...
So let's find out why rock-and-roll's most prolific touring act waited a quarter of a century to return to the birthplace of rock-and-roll.
[ . . . ]
At the time, there was a thriving hippie community along the Highland Strip and in Midtown, and some big-name musical acts came through in and around 1970: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jethro Tull, and a "Cosmic Carnival" that included Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago, Mountain, and Rare Earth.
But when the Grateful Dead, that "hippie band from San Francisco," signed for a date at the Coliseum that summer, the announcement ran under a picture of Country Joe McDonald, who shared the bill, and a later story showed a photo of the third band on the card, The Illusion. (The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock has no mention of The Illusion, but they did have a hit song, "Did You See Her Eyes?")
Though most of the dozen or so attendees whom the Flyer tracked down said they had fun that night (some said that's exactly why they can't remember much), the night was in many ways forgettable.

For the performers involved, the trouble started upon arrival at the venue. Country Joe's band almost didn't make it in time, and when they got there, according to the next day's Commercial Appeal, the police thought they were just some more freaks trying to get in without tickets. The paper said Coliseum officials and six cops entered the band's station wagon through the back door - not what you'd call a warm welcome.
For the Grateful Dead, the whole scene must have looked unpleasantly familiar. Less than five months before, they had been busted by the New Orleans narcotics bureau (an event which inspired a verse in their song "Truckin"), and now here they were again, surrounded by cops in an uptight Southern city. To make matters worse, a thunderstorm was raging outside, and there were tornado warnings all over town. (Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir announced at one point that if a tornado developed he would quit playing and go watch it, but the next day's Press-Scimitar tells us that "the tornado spirits hovering over the city never took bodily form.")
Consider this exchange from an interview that lead guitarist Jerry Garcia and a revolving host of others did with the underground paper Tennessee Roc that night: Roc: "What do you think of our town?" Garcia: (laughter) "I'm scared to death. I can't wait to get out." Roc: "Are you serious?" Garcia: "Have you dug the cops here? The cops here act like the cops do in other parts of the world when there's something horrible happening. When we first came here, we thought somebody was getting beaten up or something and then we suddenly realized that's just the way they are."
Later in the interview, Country Joe wandered in, sporting a new haircut which earned him some abuse from the others sitting around, and announced that the cops had just said that if the fans approached the front of the stage, the power would be cut (something which the interviewer said had happened to Sly and the Family Stone in Memphis). Country Joe later said, "I'm gonna play horrible tonight so the crowd won't get excited."
That much he apparently accomplished. Country Joe and the Fish played two tunes, lasting all of 20 minutes: "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" and another which the Press-Scimitar's next-day review referred to as "just a long jam."
Sally Graflund says she and her sister Betsy, who had gone to the show just to see Country Joe and the Fish, even confronted McDonald about it after the show, only to be told the problem was a "contract dispute."
"I was so bummed out," she says. "I remember some great concerts from back then, but that was not one of them."
There were problems out in the crowd, too. The police turned on the house lights so they could see people they thought needed busting. One of the folks removed from the premises that night (along with most of her section, she says) was Pam McGaha, now a waitress at the Half Shell and a staffer at the Crossroads Music Festival.
McGaha, whom you may recognize around town because of her 1970 VW bus covered with Dead stickers, said that during Country Joe's set, "There was this guy up front acting real, well, you could tell he was high. The cops turned on the lights and dragged the guy out. Somebody jerked him away, and then the cops started just pulling people out of the crowd. They told us we were arrested for 'inciting a riot,' and they made us leave. We spent the rest of the night riding the Pippin [local rollercoaster]."

By the time the Dead hit the stage, much of the crowd had apparently left. John Leland Braddock, who was only 15 at the time and has the clearest memory among people interviewed by the Flyer, says with varying degrees of certainty that they played "Casey Jones," "China Cat Sunflower," "Hard to Handle," "Me and My Uncle," "Attics of My Life," "Candyman," "Uncle John's Band," and "Good Lovin'." Unless somebody out there taped the show, we will probably never know exactly what they played that night, but each of those tunes was a standard of the day.
Harry Nicholas, who now runs Harry's On Teur on Madison, says that even though the crowd wasn't into it, "The Dead was on. Country Joe and the Fish just did the least that they had to do, but the Dead were warmer."
When it was over, musician Randy Haspel, who had seen the Dead a few times before in much more comfortable environments, sought out the band backstage because he felt the need to apologize to them for Memphis' "unresponsive crowd."
"[Dead bassist Phil] Lesh said Memphis was the most soul-less place they had played," Haspel says. "There were more people there that were curious than were Grateful Dead fans, and I don't think the audience knew how to take their extended jams. They sat on their hands, and the band seemed real frustrated. The cops were pretty bad, too."
In a Tennessee Roc review headlined "Memphis Flunks the Acid Test," Pat Rainer wrote, "the majority of Memphis still isn't ready for anything like real freaks who were 'hippies' before the word was coined. Memphis once again cheated itself out of a truly psychedelic experience. It seems like it just can't happen here."
All in all, 6-19-70 is not a red-letter date in Grateful Dead history - in fact, up until now it wasn't recognized at all. It's listed as a cancelled show in Deadbase, a quasi-official but amazingly complete record of the band's 2,500 or so concerts. When the Dead's publicist, Dennis McNally, was asked last week in Charlotte if any of the original band members could be queried about the 1970 trip to Memphis, he said, "No, because they won't remember it. They're the last people who would, in fact."
But even though Garcia told Tennessee Roc in 1970 that "there isn't gonna be a next time in Memphis," in fact [the Dead are returning] this weekend at The Pyramid...

(by Paul Gerald, from the Memphis Flyer, 29 March 1995)

Alas, no tape!

July 1970: Warner Brothers Promotion


BURBANK, CALIF. - Three weeks after release, sales of "Workingman's Dead" by The Grateful Dead on the Warner Bros. label have reached 200,000 albums. With the re-soliciting of Warner's distributors throughout the country lately, the total was raised to 400,000 records shipped.
Backing up this album, Warner Bros. Records Inc. is directly involved in the most wide-spread advertising campaign in its history. The bulk of the emphasis is in radio time buys on the top 40 level throughout the country, with $50,000 being spent directly from Burbank headquarters of the company, and another $50,000 coming from Warner's distributors. The distributors are also matching funds with major retailers for a co-op ad campaign, which is set to break during the final week in July for maximum impact across the country.
Warner Bros. Records also bought a billboard on the Sunset Strip, and the largest outdoor advertising space in San Francisco, home of the Dead, a billboard above the Fillmore West. This is the first time a record company has used the latter space to advertise.
Additionally, Warner Bros. has set an extensive space advertising program. National ads are being placed in trade magazines, underground news media, and mid-road consumer publications. The company is merchandising the album with Grateful Dead posters, stickers, and buttons.

(from Cashbox, 25 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Billboard 7/25/70 ad - see

Fillmore West, early August 1970
"Tour blank concert poster for a proposed Warner Brothers-sponsored series of (canceled) free concerts to be held over the summer of 1970, featuring the Grateful Dead, along with Crazy Horse (without Neil Young) and Sal Valentino... Since the tour was canceled (it actually sort-of morphed into the 1970 "Medicine Ball Caravan" tour, with different participants), most of the posters were remaindered and never made it out of the print shop."

Oct 10, 2017

January 23-24, 1970: Civic Auditorium, Honolulu


The Grateful Dead will present a light show and concert Jan. 23 and 24 at the Civic Auditorium.
The program is designed to take the audience back to San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, circa 1965, when San Francisco Rock had its beginning.
Even the price ($3 for advance sales, $4 at the door) is a reminder of the "good old days."
What has happened since is history, with the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead being the only San Francisco bands to retain their original members.
In the beginning, the Grateful Dead was nothing spectacular - just another rock 'n' roll band made up of suburban ex-folk players who were finding out that the sit-and-pluck sound had run its course.
Lead guitar [player] Jerry Garcia had gone the whole route: digging rocks [sic] in the mid-'50s, dropping into folk by 1959, getting deep into traditional country music and emerging as a brilliant banjo player.
In 1964, Garcia started Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, with the now famous "Pigpen" and Bob Weis. Since the time was ripe for rock, they changed the name to the "Warlocks."
"The only scene then was the Hollywood hype scene," said Garcia, "booking agents in flashy suits, gigs in booze clubs, six nights a week, five sets a night, doing all the R&B rock standards. We did it all."
Soon it was time to move again, away from "straight" music into something else.
"Back in the late days of the Acid Tests, we were looking for a name. We abandoned the 'Warlocks.' It didn't fit anymore.
"One day we were all over at Phil's house. He had a big Oxford dictionary, opened it, and there was 'grateful dead' - those words, juxtaposed.
"It was one of those moments, you know, like everything else on the page went blank, and there was 'Grateful Dead.' So I said, 'How about Grateful Dead?' and that was it."
Advance tickets for the concert, presented by KPOI-FM, are on sale at Records Hawaii.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 11 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead, Warner Bros. Records stars, will "get it on" when they make their Island show premiere Jan. 23 and 24 in a dance concert-light show at the Civic Auditorium.
The San Francisco combo - big favorites in the hip and underground circles - previously were booked to appear in Hawaii, but show plans fell through.
But the original band now is coming. It consists of Jerry Garcia, guitarist-vocalist; Mickey Hart, percussionist; Phil Lesh, bass guitarist-vocalist; Bob Weir, guitarist-vocalist; Tom Constanten, keyboard artist; Ron "Pigpen" McKernan and Bill Kretuzmann, percussionists.
Advance tickets, available at Records Hawaii, are $3. Tickets at the door will be $4.
K-POI FM is coordinating the concert, which also will feature a light show presentation.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 16 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead - Warner Bros. recording stars - arrive at 4:20 p.m. today on a Pan American flight. They'll be giving two dance concerts from 8 p.m. to midnight tomorrow and Saturday at the Civic Auditorium.
The combo will be arriving with 5,000 pounds of Alendic sound equipment.
Tickets for the show are on sale at the Civic box office. The Sun and Moon and Pilfredge Sump will also perform, along with a light show by Noah's Arc.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 22 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead - Jerry Garcia, Pigpen, all the rest, two drummers, 5,000 pounds of excess baggage consisting of instruments and their own sound system, and a colorful, historical contingent including Augustus Owsley Stanley III - have finally made it to Honolulu.
After two past concerts that never came down, they are here for Civic Auditorium concerts tonight and tomorrow night.

But the biggest attention-getter may turn out to be a musician who has never played a concert before - Michael J. Brody Jr., the cat who's supposedly giving away $25 million. He hasn't shown up yet, if he's going to, to play with the Dead.
Waiting for the jet from San Francisco to pull into Gate 1 at the airport, Hector H. Venegas, Hawaii manager of the record division of RCA, showed a telegram from Ernie Alischuler, RCA's national artists and repertory vice president.
"RCA'S NEW ARTIST MICHAEL J. BRODY JR. IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE GRATEFUL DEAD CONCERTS IN HONOLULU..." it began, asking Venegas to see that he got taken good care of.

Off the plane trooped Garcia, and Bob Weir, guitarists and vocalists, organist P.C. Constanten, looking like John Lennon before he got his crew cut, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Bill Kretuzmann, and Mickey Hart, percussionists, Phil Lesh, bass and vocalist - the granddaddies of American rock and the San Francisco music scene.
But no Brody. And no $25 million to give away.
Tom Moffatt, KPOI general manager, said he had been contacted by a Mainland promoter who said Brody digs the Dead and should be booked for the concert. (Brody sang on the Ed Sullivan Show taped last week, which will be shown here next Sunday.) "So I told him to go," Moffatt said.

"We don't even know the cat," said Dead leader Garcia with a grin, sniffing his lei. Meanwhile, the others were getting kissed by a few chicks who were tipped off on their arrival and brought leis, and kissing them back.
"We're just like everyone else," Garcia said. "We've heard Brody rave. There's a rumor he's going to be putting out a Charley Manson album." The whole thing had every earmark of a merry prank.
Garcia said he just did the sound track for Michelangelo Antonioni's "Zabriski Point," to be released Feb. 9.

"What happened at Altamont?"
"Well, everything went wrong," Garcia said. (The Dead and friends were reported by Rolling Stone magazine to have been in on hiring the Hell's Angels for security at the concert in California that drew 300,000 and left one person murdered and two run over by hit-and-run drivers.)
A local girl ran up to Garcia. "I want to know your name!" she said.
"Jerry," he said. She squeezed his arm and left, content.
"Altamont was a costly lesson," Garcia said. "There isn't any way that we know to control Hell's Angels.
"We were there, but we didn't play. It was really a riot. It was scary.
"We've played free hundreds of times and there was never trouble," Garcia said, "but we're not the Rolling Stones. When you're the second most popular group in the world, that brings people."

(by John Bilby, from the Honolulu Advertiser, 23 January 1970)

* * *


HONOLULU (UPI) - Michael J. Brody Jr., the mod millionaire who figures he has given away "about 5 mil," has been throwing to the audience his payments as a rock and roll singer at the Honolulu Civic Center.
Brody thus may leave Hawaii after two appearances in connection with concerts by the Grateful Dead singing group with less cash than the $10 he had when he arrived Friday.
"A lot of people are taking advantage of me," said the long-haired 21-year-old oleomargarine heir. "But I don't care."
He gave the $10 away to an old man Friday a few minutes after he and his pretty wife Renee arrived at the Honolulu Airport.
Friday night, after playing his guitar and singing for 16 minutes, he called for his $300 concert fee onstage and showered it on the startled audience.
Brody came into an undetermined amount of money last month and vowed to give it all away. But said the $5 million he has disposed of so far was "other people's money that they gave me to give away."

(UPI story from the Daily Herald, Provo UT, 26 January 1970) 


HONOLULU (AP) - Michael J. Brody Jr., a 21-year-old oleomargarine heir who wants to give away his fortune, failed to "turn on" a rock music concert audience with his singing, but did get some polite applause.
Brody appeared before 3,000 persons at a concert by the Grateful Dead Friday night, singing four or five short songs and accompanying himself on his 12-string guitar.
Before singing, he spoke to the crowd about helping the poor and making the world a better place to live. He admitted to the crowd that he was nervous.
After his 15-minute appearance, he said he would like to give the people in the audience thousands of dollars but felt ending the war in Vietnam was more important "than the people of the Fiji Islands."
Brody arrived in Hawaii Friday afternoon with his wife, both clad in buckskins, aboard a Pan American World Airways flight from the mainland, and told newsmen at the Honolulu airport, "I only have $5 with me."
Immediately after the concert, the concert's promoter handed Brody $300 in $1 bills. Brody threw the stack of money into the crowd.
Talking with newsmen, Brody fired out answers to questions often never asked.
"Every cent I make goes to improving tenements. I'm just a little kid, I'm spoiled. And I'm going to keep on kissing the world. I've given away $500,000 and I still have $24,500,000.
"I've been offered a $10 million movie contract. I may become a movie star. Right now I don't have any bread, so don't ask."

(AP story from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 25 January 1970)


HONOLULU (UPI) - Folk-singing millionaire Michael J. Brody Jr. flew home abruptly yesterday after a wild weekend in Hawaii, declaring he would arrange a Vietnam ceasefire by buying off the North Vietnamese with $20 billion in aid.
The 21 year old oleomargarine heir left unfilled a second singing appearance scheduled for last night.
Friday, he had thrown his $300 concert fee from the stage to the startled audience, assured a group of service men he was "bringing you home," and estimated he had given away "about 5 million," most of it other people's money.
Brody and his wife, Renee, left for Los Angeles after asking a reporter to drive them to the airport.
Brody said they would fly "student standby," then go on to New York.
Brody's scheduled appearances in Honolulu were in connection with concerts by the Grateful Dead.
Brody said he was going back for meetings with unnamed associates "to bring about a cease-fire in Vietnam by Jan. 30" and to plan a later "peace and poverty meeting."
He said the ceasefire plan involved giving North Vietnam $20 billion in aid after its withdrawal from the South.
A passerby recognized Brody at the airport and asked if he had given away all his money.

(from the San Francisco Examiner, 25 January 1970) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

No Dead show review, alas, but the shows were released on Dave's Picks 19.

Oct 7, 2017

February 23, 1970: Municipal Auditorium, Austin


Country Joe and his Fish walked off with a sparse but fairly responsive audience Monday night at Municipal Auditorium. A less-than-capacity crowd braved the wet weather to see Country Joe and his crew save a near-disaster effort by JAM Productions.
Grateful Dead, supposedly half of the program, opened the show with a weak version of "Good Morning, Schoolgirl" and followed through with a set that neither impressed nor depressed the seemingly apathetic crowd.
Overcoming such annoying obstacles as wavering public address system levels and several broken strings, the Dead performed selections from their albums in a manner which established little if any communication with their listeners.
In keeping with the current pop trend, the Dead took a try at doing a portion of their set with acoustic guitars and a pair of voices. Unfortunately, the songs were not very strong and the members of the group played barely adequate acoustic styles.
After intermission, Country Joe and his people walked out from the flowers and flags included on and about their equipment and touched the audience with professionalism and sincerity, something obviously missing in the previous set.
Starting out with blues numbers which are standard in progression but delightfully unpredictable in timing, the Fish came on as considerate musicians and individual people.
Country Joe and the Fish sang Woody Guthrie's "Roll On, Columbia," a poem by Robert Service, and brought the suddenly-alert crowd to their feet with a driving number called "Rocking, All Around the World," old rock rhythm behind non-mathematical lead guitar work and lyrics for today.
Simply stated, the Grateful Dead did nothing wrong, and Country Joe and the Fish did a lot of things right.

(by F. Catherwood, from the Daily Texan, Austin, 24 February 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

February 22, 1970: Coliseum, Houston


Let me preface this article by saying that reviews of concerts, which this is, are a drag. Reviews always come afterward; after the energy has been spent, the last notes have vanished, the magic already performed. John Sebastian said it a long time ago, "It's like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll." Still, we try.
Sunday, Houston's Coliseum/Barn. It's A Beautiful Day, John Mayall, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grateful Dead. A house full of people waiting to get it on. It's not often that San Francisco's finest come to town to cast their spell.
Beautiful Day breezed onto stage like a gust of fresh air. Led by electric violinist Dave LaFlame, and creating music which he calls "light shows for the blind," their sound is open and flowing. In their own way, they are pushing rock to higher levels of expression. Beautiful Day just played some good music and spread the happy feelings.
Unfortunately, John Mayall didn't come across as well. Maybe feeling out of place because of being the only English group on the show or maybe just tired of trying to play his new, subtle music for large audiences, he seemed content to let his sidemen carry the weight. His sax, Johnny Almond, showed soulful brilliance in taking Mayall's recent change in musical direction closer yet to jazz. Joined by Duster Bennett for the closing numbers, John Mayall was all thanks in leaving the audience. Sorry John, but I felt like the old days with Clapton, Green and Taylor had more guts. Maybe you are just ahead of your time.
Quicksilver Messenger Service, a long time staple of San Francisco rock, know about feelings, and their music shows it. After sitting through Mayall's ramblings, the audience wanted to have a good time, and Quicksilver whipped into a stone rocker that had everyone moving. The show was all theirs from then on. A mass rush towards the stage sent the good vibes up to the band, and they immediately shot them back. One musical level after another was surpassed. Their extended "Who Do You Love" was too much. This is what rock is all about. It is why the music of the youth is one of the moving forces of the revolution, and this is why the police cannot stand to see kids get together and have their high times. Looking at shows like this, the line between the law enforcers and the youth is clearly evident. On one side is a person with a gun and a uniform who says no, you can't dance and sing and be happy - it breaks all the rules. On the other hand are those outrageous kids, saying yes, we can and will have a good time. For this particular time, the crowd was going too fast to stop, and even with all the police hurrying around attempting to enforce unenforceable rules, the kids won out. Score one victory.
All good things must end, and when Quicksilver finished and the lights were up, the police imposed their order on the thousands of people who sensed the lameness of that order. With a little pushing and shoving, everyone was put back "in their proper place". When it looked like all was calm and quiet, out came the Dead, those pioneers who just won't quit pushing for something new, something bigger than life. And to try and deliver their fantasy in a barn with twenty policemen in every aisle and any semblance of freedom completely lacking is impossible. Like all good outlaws, they tried to get it on but just couldn't find the spark. Compared to earlier days when they did unleash their awesome thunder, the Dead just went through the motions Sunday. Still, when you are the most powerful band in the world those motions can be exciting. At times a phrase or rhythm would jump out and grab you, but those were only very few moments Sunday. The Dead came and went in their little caravan, moving on to the next gig where maybe their magic would shine. They are merely mortals and as such cannot come across like gods every time.
Seen as a whole, the day's music was good, the ride back to Georgetown fun, and the spirit sustaining. And if that is not enough, I could tell you about Country Joe and the Fish the next night in Austin, but that is another time and place. Anyway, reviews are a drag. Go hear the real thing. Maybe you can dig it.

(by Bill Bentley & Andy Dean, from the Megaphone, 27 February 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!

July 8, 1969: Rock Pile, Toronto, Ontario


Swift obsolescence is the hangup that haunts most rock bands - burnt out in a year, old-fashioned overnight. But the Grateful Dead, the San Francisco group that played two concerts at the Rock Pile last night, have licked that problem in a simple, logical, straightforward way - they've turned musical.
Three years ago, the Dead were the pre-eminent acid rock band from the west, played frantic, freak-out music, loud, assaulting, scrambled stuff. Exciting? Yeah, right, great, but only the first time around, and after that initial hearing, after the thrill wore off, it was easy to pick out the holes, the dullness in the style.
But last night, as they've been indicating on their records, the Dead revealed a transition into more melodic, more interesting, more lasting music.
They solo with more attention to form, building neatly to climaxes; their rhythms are not so heavy-footed; and their group sound seems less a threatening confrontation, more an involving dialogue.
True enough, they launched the first show last night with a couple of sappy country tunes, poorly conceived and played with all the dripping sincerity of the Sons of the Pioneers. But they began to take care of business on the third number, playing tough, slightly acid, always musical things. The lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia, came on with especially grand solos; he picked incredibly clean lines and he radiated a kind of funky joy.
The rest of their program was nicely varied - a little blues, more country but taken this time with some finesse and wit, and a couple of numbers reminiscent of San Francisco's early rock days. There were a few things to object to - the vocals were almost all lame and badly projected, and their feeling for the blues seemed barely more than surface deep.
But, over the night, they established themselves as one of the heavy rock bands around these days, and they proved that, at least for them, there's an answer to rock obsolescence.

(by Jack Batten, from the Toronto Daily Star, 9 July 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!

Oct 5, 2017

February 4, 1969: Music Box, Omaha


In tones sometimes strident and often satiric, and nearly always driven with fantastic force, The Grateful Dead entertained an estimated eight hundred persons Tuesday night at the Music Box.
The "acid rock" performance was sponsored by KOWH-FM which hopes to bring in other groups, said Tom Rambler, program and music director.
The Tuesday night performance by the seven-member Grateful Dead from San Francisco was "theater" rather than "concert" - with the audience giving as much as it took, adding to the evening's drama.
Some youths sat on the ballroom floor.
Others ringed the balcony, their feet - sometimes bare but more often wrapped in boots - dangling over the edge.
Men in the audience wore everything from Edwardian jackets to Army surplus field jackets. Many had hats - mostly black and frequently western. The women came in everything from capes to lounging pajamas to the simplest of skirts and blouses with thigh-high boots.
A haze of smoke from cigarettes and sticks of incense hung over the performers and audience.
About the only lighting came from a few dim bulbs around the floor's edge and brightly lighted, multi-colored panels behind the stage.
The Grateful Dead was preceded on stage by a group from St. Louis called the Unknown. 
The Unknown completed its session with a long farewell number begun by having the audience chant "peace, love and freedom."
Then came the highly amplified Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia, lead guitar; Phil Lesh, bass guitar; Bob Weir, rhythm guitar; "Pigpen" McKernan, vocals; Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzman, drums; and Tom  Constanten, organ.
After one or two numbers broken by brief pauses and appeals for water or soft drinks to quench their thirst, The Grateful Dead lunged forward into an "unending" series of complex renditions that went from the blues to even a brief flirtation with Latin rhythms and lasted at least 30 minutes without pause.

(by Gerald Wade, from the Omaha World-Herald, 5 February 1969)

* * *


After a year of being out of the picture, the rock group that started it all, the Grateful Dead, is back on concert tour. Three weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing them in Omaha in an evening concert which was unlike anything ever witnessed in Lincoln.
The concert was held at the Music Box, the one time posh dance hall of Omaha's elite. The audience spaced out on the floor in an atmosphere of subdued lights and the fragrance of incense...and they waited, and waited.
Five musicians from St. Louis, the Unknown, started the music at 8:15 and layed a variety of old and new hard rock. They brought the house down with a song called "Don't trust your woman with your grass," a highly country and western-flavored number.
After a brief intermission, the nine musicians came on stage and began sorting out the mass of equipment, each choosing his favorite instrument, and began to tune. To the beat of two complete sets of drums as well as an organ, three guitars and assorted percussion effects, they began their first epic piece of music.
Approximately three songs and some 30 minutes later they broke into a rendition of "Turn on your love light," and invited everyone in the group to "get up on your feet." It didn't take long for a large circle of dancers to form and start expanding through the crowd, absorbing new members as it grew. This wild group then began to snake through itself in a backbreaking routine that kept everyone jumping, all to the strains of music.
Nothing more welcome than an intermission which allowed everyone to relax before the band played on well into the night.
Since that night the air has been filled with rumors about the next concert, when and where. The where is easy, it will be at the Music Box again. When? Next month...and who? The official word now has it that it will be the Vanilla Fudge, or most likely, The Rotary Connection.
The Rotary Connection broke it up at Christmas with an album of Christmas carols which told it like it was, rock and all. Their second album, Aladdin, has been billed as the first space operetta ever recorded. Their record sales are jumping and, accordingly, they are in great demand.
Watch this column for the exact time and place, and how much bread you should set aside in preparation and anticipation of a big night of rock in Omaha.

(by J.L. Schmidt, from the Daily Nebraskan, Lincoln, 27 February 1969)

* * * 

The World-Herald also ran a short review of Live-Dead at the end of the year:


Many performers seem to freeze when they get near a recording microphone and aren't able to create the quality music for which they are known.
The records of the Grateful Dead, one of the best known of San Francisco's rock groups, are a case in point. Seldom do the group's albums convey force and purpose.
Most of the combo's best recorded moments have come in live performances, so the Dead's new, two-record album "Live-Dead" (Warner Bros. - Seven Arts 1830) is among its best. However, the music still lacks the immediacy one comes to expect.

Thanks to Dave Davis.