ESCAPING THROUGH THE LILYFIELDS

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rock Archives 1972, 1973, 1974, 1981, 1990, 1991, 1970, 1971, 1967



Here's more more fun homework to read while you like to Dead & Company from the Garden tonight.

Grateful Dead: Vintage DeadHistoric Dead
Simon FrithCream, June 1972
I THINK I liked it better when rock didn’t have a history. These days record companies seem to be the victims of some Tutankhamen-like curse, obsessively searching for buried treasures, long forgotten tapes that they can buy cheap and sell dear. I can see what’s in it for them but it makes life hard on a reviewer.
Take these Grateful Dead albums. What could be more exciting than a tape of the Dead playing San Francisco’s mythical Avalon ballroom in the acid year of 1966? And what could be more shoddy than the package that Polydor actually give us? Here are two full priced albums, with the minimum of information and, in the case of Historic Dead, the minimum of music (total playing time 29 minutes). There is excessive surface noise throughout and the mix is eccentric, often reducing the band to guitar and bass, and putting the vocals so far back that they’re only semi-audible.
Worst of all, the music doesn’t even sound live. There’s applause at the end of each track but there’s no trace of that hum of excitement that gives live albums their edge. No, if you still don’t k
now what the Dead are about listen to the Live Dead album. If you want to know about San Francisco ballrooms, stick to Big Brother’s Cheap Thrills.
Unfortunately these Dead albums are also history. Can I dismiss them so easily? I’m supposed to be searching for origins and portents, for explanations. Like what did San Francisco mean? Why were the Dead so special? How did just another blues band with a fine guitarist become legendary? Are these records filled with answers?
Well, they reveal that the Dead could be very ordinary. The version of ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ on Historic Dead lacks Pig Pen’s lecherous presence and is only saved from complete monotony by Jerry Garcia’s virtuosity. It sounds like Paul Butterfield’s 1966 Blues Band on a very bad day. ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (on Vintage Dead) is nicer but still sounds like a thousand other sub B.B. King white blues groups. Meanwhile, the long tracks on the same album, eighteen minutes of ‘The Midnight Hour’ and eight of ‘Dancing in the Street, are actually embarrassing. The Dead weren’t aggressive enough to do this sort of material; they weren’t into the necessary clipped discipline. They would have been cut by any satin-suited English disco group.
The source of the Dead’s magic lay elsewhere, in their relaxation, their complete lack of self-consciousness. There’s a lovely, affectionate, version of ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’ on Vintage Dead, complete with mock Dylan sneer and Al Kooper organ. No one except Manfred Mann has covered Dylan with such a driving ease. An even sunnier track is ‘Lindy’, vibrato vocal on rebel-rousing guitar. It’s odd to think that the Dead are rated a ‘heavy’ group. Even in these early days they were doing their ‘country’ rock, with jerky melodies and harmony singing, though it’s difficult to judge the two examples here (‘Stealin’ and ‘I Know You Rider’) as they’ve been mixed into a state of muffled inarticulacy.
But the Dead’s real glory lay in their combination of the blues framework and their own looseness to create the San Francisco version of acid rock. Good trip music has to be a mixture of security and anarchy. It has to lead you on without ever threatening to get you lost. This was the form the Dead mastered. On the most fascinating track here (Willie Dixon’s ‘The Same Thing’) you can hear this form being developed from its very raw beginnings. What starts out as a straight white blues rhythm section underpinning Garcia’s lyricism, ends up as a Dead special, everyone roaring down their own individual paths without ever shaking the basic pulse. At the end of such a track all I can do is open my eyes and smile. It does bring back memories: stoned in a dark hall, enveloped in the rhythm of a thousand other people, alone in my own mood. Once upon a time acid rock was fun.
The Dead weren’t just the source of good trips. They symbolized the original hippie ideals, the naïve attempts to combine total individual freedom with a loving community Their music achieved the dream. It allowed each musician an individual freedom based on a complete instrumental trust. These albums were recorded at a time when the trust was still being established. Only on ‘The Same Thing’ is there any individual creative expression.
The Dead are still strangers to the suspicious English tradition of super-stars plus backing (if Jerry Garcia had been in a different sort of group he would have been boss white guitarist for the last five years), of excitement built on the tension and conflicts between musicians. But, not very long after this music was made, it was Cream and their successors who captured the rock audience. San Franscisco’s search for community found psychedelic fascism, the individual trip became a downer. The Dead are an old group now, not a new one.
I hate historical records. They bring back too many faded expectations. ‘School days are the happiest days of your life,' they used to say, lying. Now they say, ‘They don’t make records like that any more’. I don’t believe that either. It’s too depressing.

© Simon Frith, 1972
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Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage: Lyceum, London

Keith AlthamNew Musical Express, 3 June 1972
I SAW the first night of the Dead's four concerts at the London Lyceum last Thursday. where they were ever so good for ever so long. What we got and wot a lot we got (almost four hours of nonstop performance) was virtually a musical history of the group's progress from Garcia's humble jug band origins to his band's more countrified approach today.
It has been becoming increasingly obvious that the old format whereby a band played a fifty-minute spot of their best-known numbers, was becoming tiresome and uninspired but the Dead have taken things to the other extreme.
Somehow it seems that there is no beginning or end to their programme and their approach is relaxed to the point of becoming languid.
What they do is often impeccable and their musicians – like bass player Phil Lesh and Garcia himself play with a refinement in which there is more discretion than valour.
It is a good band which has knit together with the kind of intuitive playing which one would expect from six years on the road but on Thursday they seldom smacked me between the ears even with their more ebullient Chuck Berry-inspired rock and rollers.
It seems pointless to refer to any particular song because they played almost everything which has ever been associated with them and they played it well. Bob Weir is a far better vocalist live than I had expected.
Their reception was excellent from an audience who appreciated every move and cheered all the better-known songs. I can imagine that there are occasions and atmosphere which really 'charge' the Dead with some kind of special magic but it was not conjured on Thursday – perhaps one other night – perhaps you can have too much of a good thing?
The New Riders of the Purple Sage were the support band and they did their job well – easy listening, good time and right down the middle country band in which Buddy Cage excels on pedal guitar and John Dawson handles his own songs with care. Their new album title Powerglide sums them up well.
© Keith Altham, 1972
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The Grateful Dead: Europe '72

Mick GoldLet It Rock, February 1973
THE DEAD have never ceased to feed off their origins as a performing band in order to avoid the danger of becoming marooned in a studio-based search for recording perfection. From their earliest appearances amidst the chaos of Ken Kesey's acid tests, the band have always used their concerts as a compliment to their recordings, extending their range of material and experimenting with the relationships between the band, the audience and the music.
The Dead have already released two live double albums: Live Dead and The Grateful Dead. The earlier album was the best record of the Dead as a magical/experimental band. Track lengths averaged fifteen minutes and the album seemed like one long musical mutation: sci-fi instrumental improvisations became stoned Motown memories became spiritual urban blues became a gospel hymn became a wall of feedback. It was so eclectic and insubstantial it was almost frightening. The Grateful Dead offered us a record of the band as a hard working road show. There were almost too many tracks and ace Dead classics were mixed with forgotten Rolling Stones singles.

Europe '72 is a neat synthesis of these two faces of the band. The tracks average seven or eight minutes and are almost all straightforward songs, but with enough instrumental room to fly around in. 'Truckin'', the best song the Dead have written, is given a whole side of a record: the lyrics come in a thick wedge at the beginning, and then the band play on for a full fifteen minutes more, leaving the images of bad trips and city paranoia far behind as they explore a world of pure sound. The album also shows that in spite of boasting five singers, the Dead don't have one distinctive vocalist, and yet they carry the material off, simply by their instrumental skill and energy. Bob Weir doesn't have as good a shouting voice as McCartney, let alone Little Richard, yet his 'One More Saturday Night' rips along as good as any AM anthem you'll hear to the holiest night of the week. Pigpen doesn't have the power or the depth of a good blues band singer, yet their treatment of Elmore James' 'It Hurts Me Too' is one of the album's high points: they create a really soul-seared momentum through the interplay of Garcia's guitar, Pigpen's mouth harp and Keith Goodchaux's piano triplets.
The recording quality is excellent and it's a welcome relief that the applause has been edited out, so that you can listen to the music instead of the occasion. One gripe: I heard a vague rumour that the album was originally titled Europe On $5,000 A Day – now that really would have put it in a league of its own.
© Mick Gold, 1973
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Grateful Dead: Europe '72 (Warner Bros.)

Robot A. HullCreem, February 1973
I'VE BEEN TO THREE Grateful Dead concerts in my life, and at each one I fell asleep. Oh, everybody else was pretending to be shimmying to the good vibes, but I know better. They were really just moving around like centipedes so they, too, wouldn't fall asleep. Certainly nothing would be more embarrassing than being caught by your counter-culture buddies sleeping at a Dead concert.
It's a shame, too, that the Dead are such symbols. Already their new triple-decker has outsold itself in record stores all across America. It's as if nobody had the guts, the death-defying nerve, to pronounce this album the dullest thing since the invention of Herbie Mann. You don't attack such sacred symbols, you know – you just let them fade away.
But I ain't about to: THIS ALBUM IS THE BIGGEST BORE... IT'S WORSE THAN NOVOCAINE!! The Grateful Dead have held monopoly for too long, and for no reason. They're much too mellow to get it on, and when they're truckin' it's like Wes Montgomery free jazz castrated. They're total muzak, and hip people just like em because they can float around with the music without having to put any oomph into it. The Grateful Dead are just a bunch of lazy motherfuckers.
I gotta be fair, tho. I mean, Garcia just begs to be assassinated. He stands up there, chugging around like a loose sloth, whipping out a few wrinkly riffs wherever he can fit 'em in, and then posing for several photos in the same breath. Pigpen is usually rammed up his ass, too, and so sometimes Garcia has to dig around in his crack to find the fat turd in time so he can do his favorite stomping soul tune. Yeah, I've seen Pigpen do 'Knock on Wood' with shit on his nose.
It's not that I hate em, tho. I'm just so goddamn tired of them. Hell, I used to own all their fucking albums up until this summer (I got rid of em by trying to hurl em across the mighty Mississippi). I even liked American Beauty for awhile and that first "underground" LP, too, that was such a hit for all those foggy old Downbeat subscribers. But then I heard the Soul Survivors and learned what slamming into the wall was really all about.
So I'm warning you. Stop dead in your tracks. DON'T BUY THIS ALBUM. Chances are everybody and his blue-baby sister already has it anyway, so why join the banana bunch?
You don't need it, besides, cause everything else is on other albums, except maybe 'You Win Again' which features squeaky vocalizing. You can't even drink to it. You can't even smoke dope to it. You can't even shit thru it.
But if somehow you do, if somehow you're so terribly bored you don't even get itchy britches (like maybe your girlfriend is sick with the flu or something), then I guarantee it, schmuck... you won't be able to get it up for three weeks. Yessiree, it's that pacifying.

© Robot A. Hull, 1973





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The Grateful Dead on Long Island

Lenny KayeRolling Stone, 26 April 1973
IT HAD TO HAPPEN: even the Dead have gone glitter. Resplendently suave in Nudie-type sequined suits, the group appeared on the stage of this comfortably-sized Long Island arena as formal gentlemen, playing before a sold out and devoutly clamoring Monday crowd who nonetheless held true to their flannel shirt and dungaree colors. The music was consistently superb and was delivered with a professionalism and class that might even be taken for granted were it not so historically precarious, caught as it is in the double bind of massive anticipations and internal complexities, good nights mixing inevitably over the bad.
Still, instead of wrestling with the hyper-reactions of their audience – as was once the case – the Dead have resigned themselves to that unquenchable factor, even to the point of enjoying it, learning ways in which it might be manipulated and controlled. Their technique here involved pacing – stretching out the four hours of their pair of sets so that the crowd moved with, rather than against them. The long breaks between songs served the dual purpose of relaxing the audience as well as the band.
The audience had been warmed early in the evening by the pedal steel dominated sound of the New Riders (replacing the Sons of Champlin who opened the first two nights of the stand), high-pointing with 'Willie and the Hand-Jive' and a lovely country version of Billy Joe Royal's 'Down in the Boondocks'."Producer Bill Graham also was on hand, nostalgically tussling with the crowd. "I know this is Long Island," he said at one point, attempting to gain breathing room for those unlucky souls piled up in front of the stage, "but let's try it anyway." No one budged and, of course, Graham threw up his arms and stalked out.
The Dead came on to the usual mass eruptions, played a quick western shuffle and closed it off before Garcia took even the glimmerings of an extended lead. They moved deliberately into 'He's Gone', Jerry leaning to the microphone in the evening's only apparent reference to the recent death of Ron (Pigpen) McKernan, reeling out the final chorus: "Ooooh, nothin's gonna bring him back . . ."
The improvement and strength of the group's vocal harmonies was readily apparent; no more do their voices quaver up and down the scale trying to find the right series of notes. Joined by Donna Godchaux, the blend registered chorally near-perfect, if a shade eccentric.
The group then opened into their repertoire, which has become so large as to be in the main unrecognizable. Alternating between Bob Weir and Garcia, the band offered such things as a sharp clicking rendition of 'Mexicali Blues', matched by 'Looks like Rain' (perhaps Weir's finest composition), 'The Race Is On', Marty Robbins' 'El Paso', and finally, the first semi-oldie of the night 'Box Of Rain'. Instrumentally, they were in high form, Phil Lesh bottoming well, Bill Kreutzmann hale and hearty, Keith Godchaux wrapping piano fills around Weir's and Garcia's tone-perfect guitars.
It was the longer songs that got them into trouble, but not by much. 'China Cat Sunflower' began the launch into what has become the Dead's extended trademark, and as they took it in a roundabout way to 'I Know You Rider', it seemed as if the night was sure to be tinged golden. But later, over the hump of 'Around And Around' and 'Tennessee Jed''s sing-a-long chorus, it proved to be a false start. The big song of the set, 'Playin' in the Band', never quite caught the handle they were searching for, gears touching but never completely in mesh.
The rest of the night belonged to Garcia. Returning from a short intermission and several filial descendants of 'Cumberland Blues', he forcibly led the band through a combination of old and new material, capped by a beauteous ode to a woman named Stella Green. A long jam around 'Truckin'' was successful in parts, as was a follow-up slice from 'The Other One', and with the band now beginning to group around Kreutzmann in a semicircle, concentrating on making contact, they finally got what they wanted in a long, jazz-oriented piece I'd never heard before, the sound very free, gunning and spooking each other in a continuous upchurned spiral.
They left the stage after 'Johnny B. Goode', all those hours of playing not diminishing its strength. To call them back, the audience set off a few matches in the orchestra, a few more responding along the balconies, expanding outward until the whole inside of the arena was lit by matchpower. The Dead returned with 'Casey Jones', responsive puffs of smoke rising from the banks of amplifiers, the band chugging along as a revolving mirror-ball refracted minispots around the audience.

© Lenny Kaye, 1973





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A Conversation with Phil Lesh

Andy ChildsZigZag, September 1974
Some of you out there probably think that ZigZag has just about OD'd on the Grateful Dead recently, which is a fair criticism considering that in the last ten issues we've had them on the cover twice, and carried a 21-page three-part history plus a feature on the technical aspects of their equipment. But with the advent of their visit last September I just couldn't, on any account, let the occasion slip by without talking to at least one member of the band, and for reasons which you no doubt know if you read ZZ35, I was especially pleased that it was Phil Lesh who I finally got to interview formally.
It was on the Saturday morning before the Dead were due to play Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night at Alexandra Palace that the 'phone rang and the band's copyright/publishing manager and co-ordinator for their visit, Alan Trist, spoke amidst a riotous cacophony of noise from the other end. Before I had time to even imagine the purpose of his call, he asked me... in the sort of voice you'd expect if say a mate rang up and said come down to the pub for a pint... he asked me if I'd like to come over later in the day to the 'tour headquarters' just off the Fulham Road to chat with Phil Lesh. Unf ***ingbelievable!! Just try and stop me.
Well, naturally, the rest of that day was spent in feverish anticipation preparing a load of questions and wondering whether he'd turn out to be the 'genius' I'd reckoned him to be. When I arrived at the house (appropriately enough, a huge four-storey building of the sort you'd expect to find in Ashbury, San Francisco), I was greeted by a variety of friendly Americans, all having the appearance of being... er, shall we say 'slightly out of the game', when, from the depths of the basement appeared a stocky livewire of a figure sporting a full-grown beard and looking more like a cross between a studious university professor and Santa Claus than the bass player in a rock band. After all the introductions, we found our way to the quietest room in the house and there we talked for well over an hour, mainly about the different types of music from Lesh's experience that manifest themselves in the Grateful Dead at different times, and also about his own personal history and influences. Inquisitive as to why a proper interview with him had never appeared in print before, and why I had been given the opportunity to put that straight, I was well chuffed, as you can imagine, to find out that he'd read my articles in ZigZags 35, 36 and 37 and had been impressed enough to want to talk.
"I don't like to do interviews very much because everybody always wants to talk to Jerry, and I just sort of got off the trip. Besides, nobody ever asks me anything interesting. I used to get the same old questions, you know, how did you find the name? — that sort of thing. Did you guys really take all that acid? It just turned out to be boring. But after reading your articles it seemed that you might have another kind of slant. I'm sure you might want to talk to Jerry too, because you could say that Jerry has the big picture. Or he'll give you what he thinks is the big picture. Also Jerry's the guy who will always answer questions and always talk. He's always got something to say. Me, I've not always got something to say, I don't always want to talk, I'm not always interested."
Well, on that afternoon he had a hell of a lot to say, and fortunately for me he was very enthusiastic, going to great lengths explaining the more complicated areas of his musical interest. By the time we'd finished talking I'd learnt more about music in general than I probably have in the last three years, and my estimation of him as a person as well as musician remains unparalleled.
Okay, here it is, edited and arranged for consumption by Dead-heads and ZigZaggers, starting with... .
Early Days
"Well, I picked up the violin at about age 8 because one year at Christmas, the last school day before Christmas we had this big party in the third or fourth grade, this kid came and played the violin all by himself... that was his trip for Christmas... He played 'We Three Kings Of Orient Are', or something, and I thought "Wow, that's far out!" But even before that my grandmother had introduced me to music. When the Philharmonic would broadcast on Sundays over the radio she would invite me into her room to sit down and listen to the music, and the reason she did it was because one day when the music was on she happened to walk out of the room and she saw me sitting on the floor with my ear against the wall. My mother told me this, I don't remember at all. And so, she said, "Well, listen kid, come on in and dig the pretty music." And I remember it very well — the first time. It was Brahms' First Symphony, played by the New York Philharmonic. What a flash! I think that's probably the biggest single flash I've ever had in my life, except for the first time I took LSD. Which might give you an idea of how heavy it was for me.
"After that, whether it was subconscious or not I knew what I had to do. I had to have something to do with that. It was just the heaviest thing I have ever imagined. And so I started taking violin lessons which wasn't very good at all, and I got to the point where I could play second violin parts in orchestra pieces. However, I'd always wanted to play the trumpet but my teeth were f***ed up, so after my teeth got straightened I started taking trumpet lessons which by then I was age 14. That lasted for about 6 years.
"I went all the way through Junior College playing in the jazz band and writing. That's where I started doing some real writing for the jazz band. And after that I came up to Berkeley, the University of California, Berkeley, and went into their music department, but it was so jive. I suppose it was like colleges everywhere. You have to take all of the stuff that doesn't really mean anything... they want to make you into a music teacher. If you get to talk to Ned Lagin he'll you about this, even in graduate school, that's what they wanted to do to him. They wanted to make him conform so that he could go out and teach other aspiring musicians how to be music teachers. It was a circle of mediocrity which fortunately he wasn't into.
"I never even got that far, I dropped out of Berkerley in the middle of the first semester because it was incredibly lame. Even so I did learn, just being around a large university like that it is impossible not to learn something. So I was able to learn enough and keep my hand in enough so that when the time came I was ready, thanks to the intervention of my room-mate who was also a composer, who had gone to see Berio at Mills. He said, "Hey, Berio's gonna be at Mills," and even then I knew who he was. He said to Berio, "My room-mate is interested too, can I bring him along?" and the guy said, "Yeah". So I went along.
"The guy is so amazing [Berio], he doesn't teach you a f***ing thing, he just does his thing, and you have to do your thing. But he'll play tapes for you and we went through the Rite of Spring and that kind of thing. He doesn't teach you anything about composition because he knows it can't be taught. So after that it was like completely open and I kept composing and staying in that area of music for a couple of years, but it was like getting to be a dead-end both philosophically and practically, because in order to get anywhere in that area you just have to know somebody, and also you have to have the right credentials. And you have to have gone to school somewhere, you have to have graduated somewhere, and you have to have gone to graduate school.
"There are no short cuts. You can't be like Ives, although Ives is the wrong example because he actually went to school for four years and studied music and then he went into the insurance business because he knew music wasn't where it was at. While he was at school he played piano at the movies or in the bars. But you just can't come out of nowhere and get your music performed and so I just gave up and thought 'f**k it!' At that point I was out of music entirely. I had nothing to do with it except I was a great listener.
"Then I figured, well man, if I can't be a musician I'll be a great listener, and great listeners are very important. Without them some music might not survive. And then it turned out that a year later one of my old friends had this rock'n'roll band, so we all took some acid and went down to hear his rock'n'roll band at this pizza parlour in Menlo Park, California. Good God, it sure was a great scene!
"At some party, I guess a month before that... we'd just been to see the Rolling Stones, and The Byrds had been in town, this was in '65, their first gigs ever... and I just happened to mention in passing to Garcia... he was at the party too, we were both stoned out of our minds, he had the band even then, Weir came along with some grass and we went along to the car and got high... and I happened to mention sometime during that evening to Garcia, "I think I'll take up the electric bass and join a band." The next month, or the next whatever it was, we go down to hear the band, and Garcia takes me aside and puts a beer in my hand and says, "Listen man, you're gonna play bass in my band." "But I... er... who me? Well Jesus, that might be possible." Actually, it excited the shit out of me because it was something to do. And the flash was, "Oh shit, you mean I can get paid for having fun!" Of course, it was so ironic because before I'd gotten to the point where I just wanted to quit music entirely, I hated rock'n'roll music, I didn't think it was anything, I hated it, I thought it was so lame. I said, "What can you do with three chords?"'
ZZ: So that story about you learning to play in two weeks, is that true?
"Two weeks before the first gig, yeah I didn't play too good man, it was a real wooden sound, real stiff. But we actually did play a gig two weeks afterwards. And for three or four years after that when I would tell people how long I had been playing bass they would say, 'amazing!'. Now it's been almost ten years so I don't have an excuse anymore."
Tunes and Musical Structure
ZZ: It seems to me and perhaps a lot of other people, that rather than Jerry, you are the musical centre of the group.
"That's kind of hard to really pin down in my opinion, since Jerry writes most of the tunes, along with Hunter, although I have been getting back into writing tunes lately. I didn't do it for a long time, but we all sort of contribute to the evolution of a so-called tune. Before we were into doing tunes like with a whole bunch of lyrics and very little instrumental and a beginning and an end, that sort of thing, I always felt that I was able to bring into the rock'n'roll medium a little kind of highly structured symphonic kind of flow to the music which has been sadly lacking in rock'n'roll music for one thing and especially in our music since we started trying to focus it all down into tunes — or narrow it down to tunes.
"I personally think that tunes, that is songs with lyrics... you can only go so far with them, you can't take them into a new realm, and you can hardly ever develop them. In other words, all it is the melody and the lyrics and a chord change, and if you're gonna have a tune that's comprehensible you have to more or less be musically repetitive. I personally have never been into that kind of music, although I love to play, and the part of playing when we get off the best is the part that’s not structured like that, that is repetitive, over and over.
"I mean, structure is necessary, some kind of structure, is necessary in music if it's gonna be communicative at all. It just seems that tunes don't go past a certain level. That's just a personal opinion. There are some people who do tunes very well. As far as I'm concerned, I don't think that our tunes are that great. I think what we do best is improvise, with some kind of spontaneous structure occurring at the time of the improvisation going on. There are a lot of people who write really good tunes but that's all they are, they're tunes. And I suppose that's a criterion of value judgement at this point in time, especially since the Beatles and all that, who managed to put a lot of development in their tunes, as far as I can tell.
"I may have missed something between then and now, but there's nobody yet who has equaled what they did with a tune. I have always been kind of wary of us trying to do that ourselves because that's not what we do best. Eventually, there might be some musicians who come along, or a single musician, who can do all of those things, who can improvise and stretch out, in a meaningful manner, and at the same time condense everything down to a tune where every note is meaningful, and so on. I don't think it's happened yet. 'Cause when the Beatles first came along they weren't doing that, they learned to do it with a little help from their friends, I think. I don't know how they did their recording sessions, but George Martin must have had a hell of a lot to do with it. A hell of a lot. 'Cause after they broke up and they weren't using George Martin, even their last records when they were using Phil Spector it wasn't the same. It just wasn't the same. But anyway, enough about them."
Classical Influences
ZZ: Who else besides the people you've mentioned do you listen to, or admire?
"I come from classical music myself, so my roots run back to Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Chopin and Ives, and that's the kind of thinking that I would like to bring to any kind of music that I am involved in. It's a kind of larger scale kind of thinking. Since about 1970 the Grateful Dead hasn't been into that too much. It's been like I say more or less small-scale tunes that repeat themselves. As far as rock'n'roll music, or contemporary music, or whatever you want to call it, there are very few people I listen to. My collection consists of people like the Allman Brothers, The Band, Bob Dylan. I have a few Rolling Stones records and I have a lot of Beatles records. I have more jazz actually than I do rock'n'roll."
Jazz
"John Coltrane. When Coltrane was alive I would catch him every chance I had. Back in the late '50s when he was with Miles Davis I had the opportunity to catch that sextet with Miles Davis, Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley 'live' in San Francisco in one of the old jazz clubs. That sort of thing, and in a more expansive vein Gill Evans Big Band recordings and Cecil Taylor in some of his more comprehensible moments.
"I don't know, the modern, or so-called avantgarde jazz doesn't sound too much to me — I don’t have too much of that. Weather Report is a really good band, but as far as Mahavishnu or say, even Corea... . Anyway, all those guys seem to me to be like boogaloo, or a superhyperphonetic boogaloo. I don't know, I might be old fashioned but I really love to hear people swing, and it seems to me that it would be possible to combine that with the kind of frenetic, super-fast rhythmic trips going on in Mahavishnu and all those guys.
"Like in Mahavishnu there are two elements to it — there's the rhythm, and then there's the melodic line and that's all there is to it. It's super-primitive music, almost like Indian music. I don't know why people call it sophisticated because it isn't. It's just melody and rhythm which, in a way, is a highly evolved kind of music when the Indians do it, but it's certainly not as jazz musicians do it, it's not systematic in the slightest. Like Weather Report — they're into a more kind of polyphonic kind of music which makes a lot of sense to me. ‘Cause then there's electronic music."
Electronic Music
"In my late college years which lasted until about '62, I was fortunate enough to get into a class in Mills College in Oakland, California, which was right across the bay from San Francisco, with Berio, and at that point he wasn't into electronic music too heavily, in fact he's done very little since then, he's more into the voice and instruments. And of all the people who are composing that music today — the three major forces, Boulez, Stockhausen and Berio — conveniently enough they're from each one of the major musical European countries — Stockhausen and Berio are the only ones who are still producing meaningful music. Actually, that last Berio are work I heard in, I guess it was '68 or '69, was magnificent — 'Laborintus 2' it was called. Since then he's brought out a recording of that which doesn't capture the power of this work which had tape — stereophonic tape, two drummers — jazz drummers, essentially, playing tape drum-sets instead of the regular percussion outfit, chorus, a speaker and some instruments like a fourteen-piece instrument ensemble.
"Stockhausen, of course, is getting more and more into this intuitive music, which is, amazingly enough, a lot similar to what we are trying to do. As far as improvisation is concerned, his style is a lot farther out than ours is, but the principles are the same, with the exception of the fact that he notates a lot of the stuff in intuitive ways like, 'Play the longest sound that you can possibly play,' or 'Play a flurry of the shortest sounds as fast as you possibly can, on a given cue. Tune your shortwave radio to something that turns you on and work against it,' that sort of thing. Which is a lot like concept art, and I haven't really heard too much of that music so I couldn't tell how successful it would be. But everything he's done up to 1970 has been extremely impressive to my mind.
"My partner Ned Lagin, Mickey Hart and myself were involved in experimenting with electronic music, but Mickey's since dropped out so there's just the two of us. We perform it in the intermission at concerts. We do it as a break. Ned has a very evolved instrument which consists of a synthesiser, a modular synthesiser with keyboard, and electric piano, and a computer. The computer is like a score in a way, he lays out certain functions, let's say changes, that'll go down in the course of the music, and he programmes it into the computer and then when he starts the computer, the changes all occur automatically within a certain time period. This is the way he's planning to use it. It's the most primitive way because we just got the computer in July or July, something like that.
"The system that I was going to have built is not happening because the guy who was going to build it completely crapped out in the middle of the job. I have the bass with all the switching on it and I've got the frets for the console with all the tone modulation modules, and the foot pedals with all the switching on it and stuff, but that's it, and right now I'm using a ring modulator. So the contrast is pretty great 'cause he has under his control, I should say, virtually an infinite range of sounds and music that he can play, and I've got a very limited range, so it's really over-balanced. He'll tell you different, he'll say, 'Well Phil, you just haven't worked with that enough, you can do more than you have been doing' and so forth, and he's probably right up to a certain point, but I know enough about it to know that there's no possible way that one guy with two pedals and a ring modulator can possibly compete with an entire computer/synthesiser system. That's even the wrong word, it's question of polyphonic music.
"So, I essentially have to be the drone, relating back to Indian music, I have to be the drone, the ground, the pre-conscious state out of which the synthesiser, which he's playing, rings thoughts, let's say. So that's sort of the stage we're at now. I personally don't think that the middle of a Grateful Dead show is the best place for this music, although in some places the response has been amazing. Hollywood, for instance, people were all pretty crazy cause there were some security people who were getting pretty violent, and so we went out and did our thing — everybody was pretty high in Hollywood, they just sort of relaxed, they just got into the zone, in the space of long slow changes which, if you're pretty high and feeling like killing, it might just change your thinking. I really don't know exactly what it will do to a person but the vibe was totally different after we'd finished. Tom could tell you something about it — he was there, he was amazed by it all — all those people, he said, 'You really got them into a good vibe situation, and that was the last thing I would have expected from electronic music.
"I suppose eventually we'll get something out on record. Ned has already one composition that's almost finished, it's 45 minutes in all, so that could come out on a record. Ned has a composition that was complete about two years ago but now he wants to revise it. It's got David Freiberg, Grace Slick, Garcia, Spencer Dryden, Mickey Hart, myself and Ned, like an all-star cast you know, doing this electronic music which nobody except Ned and myself had any experience with before, and it was amazing how intuitively all these people were able to absolutely get into it.
"I mean, the way he [Ned] had us do it was he played white noise, or actually pink noise (pink noise is white noise that has been filtered), and he just had us improvise, more or less, upon this white noise. It was amazing how synchronised the whole thing turned out to be. It just totally blew me away. I would lay down a part, and then Ned would lay down a part and then I would lay down another part, but none of us would ever hear what any of the other had done. We only had this one level, this one layer of stuff to work with, which was the white noise in the cans, and there was also a synthesiser track which was like bleeps and swoops and that sort of thing. Ned would not dig me saying it like that, but that's what it sounded like.
"Those two were the only things that everybody had in common to work with, and it all came out sounding incredible, especially the vocal parts. But now he wants to revise it and add the chorus parts, so he plans to do that probably by the end of the year, and so I don't know whether the record will ever get out over here. Of course, it's not going to be a big seller or anything like that. Although I really shouldn't say that, it could be. It could be crazy enough and 'heads' might decide that they really want this so that they can completely zone out.
"But anyway, some of it is going to be coming out on records in one form or another. As a matter of fact, the first step that we made towards that was using the synthesiser, using Ned playing synthesiser on 'Unbroken Chain' on the new album, which I thought was extremely successful. Not so much necessarily the tune itself as a whole, but the tune itself as a sketch of what happened when we finally laid it down. It blew me over I must say. Even though I had thought of using synthesiser in the beginning, what happened in the middle part when he started playing it like it was drums — that really made it."
ZZ: How much of the 'Feedback' track on Live/Dead was you idea?
PL: "Most of that stuff originally was my idea. Because there we were with all those electronic instruments and it was starting to be obvious to me that it could be used for that, for those functions, in that kind of manner. Even though you can't control them too well, they more or less end up being pretty tonal, tonal in a sense that the sounds that usually come out tend to have the harmonic structure of tonal notes. When that got started, we only did that for a little while, it was for only about two years that we did that and now when we do it just doesn't sound right because people are on the wahwah pedals.
"Weir actually was one of the masters of that stuff but he doesn't do it any more at all. I can't imagine why, 'cause he would just come out with this incredible stuff and it was absolutely off the top of his head, totally. That's why it amazes me that he doesn't explore that. Maybe he just thinks that it's too complicated or whatever, which it isn't I mean, if you've got an ear, the whole range of any kind of music is open to you, you don't have to know what the rules are. This is my theory, anyway. Being a college drop-out."
Bass Playing & Improvisation
ZZ: You don't really play the bass like any other bass guitarist do you?
"No I don't. I don't like that kind of playing 'cause it's too repetitive, most of it. I rarely, rarely hear bass players play stuff that's not a pattern, and in fact, that's the way people think of it. They say, 'OK you lay down the bass pattern for this one,' or the 'bass line' they sometimes call it, but it's still very repetitive. So I like to play it more in the sense of like the continuo bass of the baroque period, or the real bass line in classical music — Beethoven or Mahler, in a way that, like, makes the music move to different places even though in rock’n’roll music it just seems to be more convenient to play the root of the chord all the time. Unless you've got a specific kind of harmonic change that's happening like where you can play the fifth of the chord which becomes the root of another chord, being the same note."
ZZ: Do you think of what you play as melodies, because in that sense it's counter point?
"Yes I do, because the bass line always has to be like that. Although it's a little slower than the main melodic line which is up on top, or even some of the voices. Yes, I can see them like that — polyphonic counterpoint or as much as I can which, when you've got four musicians playing pitched instruments, that excludes the drums, it's real easy to step on someone else's lines or notes. In recent years I've slacked off a little bit in that concept, just because first of all we've narrowed it down to tunes, and Keith came along and he's very accomplished and can do all that stuff. Sometimes I like to just play on the high register of the bass and let Keith play the bass line. Which doesn't fit as well with the drums, but it's a different texture. I never have liked having the same texture in a band, or any kind of musical entity because where's it at if it's the same all the time?"
ZZ: Can you throw some light on this business of improvisation? There are times in your performances where one instrument changes the basic pattern and everyone follows one by one over a certain number of bars until you are doing something else completely. But there always seems to be somebody in charge.
"That's just the way our group does it. There are some people who can do it faster than that. Some bands, like jazz bands, can do it faster than that, although they don't very often, they've gotten to be more same-sounding. If we were more aligned in the jazz area it would be just like jazz music, that is solos, the head, the first melodic statement, then everybody takes a solo, and maybe there's a drum solo, and then the head comes back again and it's out. Which to me is a pretty lame structure, surely.
"Even in so-called modern jazz, guys do the same kind of thing. They play the head, although it's more complex, then they do a bunch of solos, then they do the head again and then it's out. I don't know, that's more simple than any kind of structure that was ever used in pre-classical music even a baroque suite or anything like that. So we're not into that level, I think that my group improvisation is more interesting, that's what I've been trying to inject into the way the Grateful Dead thinks about things. Everybody in the band is more or less inclined towards that. It's just real difficult to do because some people just want to get into a rut, as it were.
"So group improvisation is real difficult to do because you just have to be super-intuitive about it. Although, like you were saying, it's true there's always someone that leads it into that direction and then the rest of the band will pick it up. Sometimes it's all at once, but mostly though it's one at a time as you say. I think it's pretty interesting the way it works out. The first idea comes out and then somebody else picks up the other end of that to a point where everybody's doing something completely individual, and then were do we stop? I don't know what will carry on from that. I hope a higher level of togetherness. Because there was one point when we were thinking as one person. None of that was ever recorded of course. The only good it ever did was that we knew we could do it.
"It's very fragile, it depends on people's state of mind, how many drugs they've had, what kind of drugs they've had in their system that day, how they're getting along with their ladies, how many stops you had to make on the flight, how many drinks you had, it's so gradual. On our last U.S. tour we played Ohio, Chicago, Virginia, Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia and out of those six gigs there were three that were good. Unlike four years ago when our average was higher. The thing about the kind of music we play is that you can't do it that well every night. I seem to recall when I was playing in orchestras and stuff like that, when I was at classical school, I thought I'd become a conductor or something like that, I always thought that if I had been born a hundred years ago that's what I'd be. Anyway, our averages where just so much higher then, it was easier."
ZZ: How far have the possibilities of your instrument been extended? You've got probably the most sophisticated bass guitar anywhere, if you can call it a bass guitar.
"The instrument, as it was originally conceived, would have been at one end of the spectrum and electric bass with which you could play rock 'n' roll music but in entirely different tone colours, new tone colours. Like every note would have a change in it rather than just being a note that was a attacked, sustained and then died away. During that period it would change internally, that was what I was after on one end of the spectrum.
"On the other end of the spectrum it would have been a synthesiser which would have been controlled by the strings of an electric bass, so that I could still use my hands to play the electric bass, which I've learned to do fairly well in ten years, and still have a synthesiser to modify the sounds and make a new kind of music with this relatively simple instrument. Unfortunately, that didn't happen so what I have now is a super electric bass which is real easy to play, and has all kinds of great tone colours just for the electric bass, but it doesn't have that synthesiser capability of being able to change or, like, play around and say every note have a different tone colour and that kind of thing. That's what I was really after and it just hasn't happened.
"It's possible that something like that could happen in the future, but with the present synthesiser technology it's just real difficult because everything is voltage controlled and you get voltage out of an electric bass but it's voltage according to amplitude — how loud you play, not what you play, and the hang up of the system that I was going to have built was that we couldn't get a frequency to voltage converter. That is something that will pick out what note you are playing in the audio spectrum and convert it to voltage, a certain amount of voltage, which would then cause your filters, or whatever else you wanted to use, to track along with what you were playing. So it's like still in the future but I do have a great electric bass, it's just a flash, it's just a trip to play. The people from Alembic built it essentially. Rick Turner built the wood, built the instrument itself and the pick-ups, and George Mundy who is an electronic technician, you might call him, he used to work for Alembic but now he's on his own, he's freelance."
Drugs
"I can't say for sure that the music would have been the same without the drugs, in fact, I'm not qualified to say. The thing about the audiences was that they were exactly where we were, we didn't even have to play good. It was like we were them, they were us, and when you're just standing there on the stage boogying away and you can see 5,000 people going up and down in a wave like an ocean, it tends to give a feeling like you're doing something right. I guess that was where we got the idea that we could play what ever we wanted and it would still work.
"But the drug influence sort of diminished, and at a certain point there was none of us that we would take any of those drugs, none of us. Like at the Monterey Pop Festival in '67, everybody was as stoned as they could possibly be except us ; because we'd been there before, and nobody wanted to go on that trip at that time. I for instance, I do it all the time, acid I mean. All the time, I love it. I think that it's one of the greatest tools for learning about yourself. It's my quality knob. I take a few drops of acid and I turn up my quality knob.
"Listening back to what I've played later on a tape, because the drugs can't have any influence on a tape, I find that generally speaking the quality is just what I thought it was. Especially about what I, myself was playing. The relationship between what I was playing and the whole band is not always that good because not everybody is always on the same plane. Or on the same trip. I've seen some people take acid and just get bombed out horribly, and I'm sure you have too. It all depends on your state of mind, but as for now, the drug influence now, I would say it's a lot lighter that it was at the peak. It's like we're coming down off the other side of the mountain, and besides the quality of acid has gone down to such an alarming degree that you just can't get good shit, and apart from that there's all these other new drugs available that have come around, whose names I don't need to mention I'm sure. Most of which I don't care to use. Cocaine, for instance, makes me evil and makes me hate music. I hate music when I'm under influence, so I can't use it, it's just impossible."
The Rock Press
"In the United States we've got a million of them and they're just so jive. What I do, I usually pick up the classical magazines like The GramophoneRecords and Recordings, and stuff like that, and I've been noticing that our latest records have been getting a lot of flack over here. One guy in Records and Recordings, said something like 'Well, this here band has been getting a lot of flack for the last couple of years and everybody seems to have forgotten how great they were when they came over here and played, and at that time everybody was getting on the bandwagon for superlatives. So why don't we just look at it as a sort of ongoing process. Just because it's not like it was, or not like you expect it to be, is that bad? That doesn't make it bad.' However, I would say that it's really difficult to perceive, just through the recordings, some kind of continuity rather than, like, we're just churning them out."
© Andy Childs, 1974
Citation (Harvard format)
Grateful Dead/1974/Andy Childs/ZigZag/A Conversation with Phil Lesh/08/03/2017 22:13:16/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/a-conversation-with-phil-lesh

Grateful Dead - How the hell do ya play them five-hour sets without slinkin' off for a leak?

Charles Shaar MurrayNew Musical Express, 21 September 1974
Yes, it's an interesting one isn't it? I mean, five hours...that's a long time, and well...camels are different of course, so really it must be a problem. However, Smilin' Jerry Garcia doesn't let The Grateful Dead's music get bogged down with details like that. Read his answers in NME – the one that dares ask the big questions.
IT'S DA Dead, mayun!

Everybody's bloody grinning.
The roadies who're running around Alexandra Palace launching frisbees into the stratosphere, the ones who're plugging things in and carrying things about, the Old Ladies'n Wives trucking around with their kids...
Everybody is grinning.
Jerry Garcia is grinning as well, wandering around in circles on the stage with his guitar tuned right in on the intergalactic noodle wavelength and a seraphic grin plastered over his mug.
His fingers trucking along busily like the game little troupers they are, he listens with his head on one side to the almost imperceptible sound of his beard growing.
A week ago he only had stubble.
Now he's sporting a Full Fledged Growth. They don't call him the Fastest Beard In The West for nothing.
What's da story, Jerry?
Welllllll, the story is that Jerry Garcia is standing in front of a scale model of the Great Wall of China playing his geetar. There's a bit of Kozmic Ragtime, some patented repeat-echo doodlerama...and what a lovely smile. The Osmonds should be so lucky as to be able to smile with the warm, friendly sincerity of the Grateful Dead and their crew. Why they weren't signed up for a Coke commercial hasta be one of the best-kept secrets of all time.
I mean, here's just one example – just one – of how thoroughly, overwhelmingly wonderful the Dead are. Are you ready for this?
It seems that at the Watkins Glen Festival (which out-statisticked Woodstock by 150,000 folks) the Dead set up speaker towers geometrically proceeding into the audience, complete with a delay system to keep it all in phase, so that even if you were one helluva way back you could still get good sound.
And – here's the killer part – they wired a goddam radio, transmitter into the sound system so that all the people stuck out in the traffic jams could hear Thuh Day – ud on their itty-bitty car radios.
Now, ain't that sump'n? Would you get ELP doing that? Would you get The Faces doing that? Wouldja? Wouldja, huh?
So Uncle Jerry stashes his axe and, still grinning through his chin-warmer, saunters back-stage to a room full of impressive-looking electronic devices. On the previous night, some extremely agile thieves had descended through an airvent and ripped off a tape deck. "It's basically what we get for starting late", beams Garcia. "That's the karma – the starting-late karma."
A philosopher, yet!
Okay, Jerry, let's do the interview. There's one real insiders' Grateful Dead question, the real heavy secret that we've all wanted to know for the last seven years, which is – how the hell do ya manage to play them long sets without needing to slink off and take a leak?
Is it some form of esoteric Yoga bladder control that you learned from Ken Kesey? Do you have tubes strapped under your jeans. What's the deal?
"Hahaaa. There isn't any real secret, I don't think ... and I'm also not a beer-drinker, which probably makes a big difference. I haven't really thought about that before" – something goes click, Garcia's brain revolves 180 degrees and he feeds in another punch card – "There are times when somebody will leave the stage for some reason or other...it just doesn't seem like it.
"We don't really do five hours directly. Like we'll play an hour and a half or so, and then come back. Makes the whole thing more reasonable. Hahaaa."
"When you went off last night, I walked out into the crowd," volunteers a member of the road crew, "an' a lotta people thought you were putting them on a hype trip".
Garcia nods a couple of times, inserts an untipped Camel into his smile. "I can't understand why they would think that. They might think that that was where the band was at. I'm on a self-destruction programme," he says, alluding to the untipped cigarette. No filter tip's gonna come between you and that ol' debbil cancer, right, Jerry?
"Maybe. Hahaaa. Death has a better than fair chance anyway. Like tooth decay."
Ye-e-ah...mighty fine lookin' PA system you got there, Jerry.
"The reason that we have it and the reason that we developed it'n all that is that we weren't really anticipating an amazing growth in our audience, which has happened, and so in terms of – uh – respecting the situation and trying to deal with it righteously, our point of view has been, well, since we're playing to larger audiences in larger places, the thing to do should be to divert the energy into improving the quality of the performance.
"Obviously, the bigger the place, the worse the sound."
Yeah, but Jerry, that problem exists for lotsa bands ...
"Yeah, but not that many acts are concerned about it."
Oh.
"It's a problem of individual responsibility. If the musicians feel very strongly about it, then it's up to them to do something about it.
"The economics of rock and roll don't allow for trying to get a better and better sound, since the idea is to cut down on expenses. Our motive is simply a sense of responsibility about what it is. When you're playing in a big room, there's no way to – uh – de-escalate."
So that's why you play all those club gigs in your spare time, huh, Jerry?
"Oh, I do those 'cuz I'm a musician. I'm a player. The thing I want to do most is to play. I wanna learn how to play better, and the only way you can do that is to play."
Hey, Jerry...didja hear about Windsor? Bummer, man. Bad vibes, y'know?
"We've seen it happen in the United States...time and time again. It's almost at the point now where you can describe music as an illegal activity in terms of the free equation. Woodstock and Altamont and all the other large-scale things that were characterised by a certain amount of confusion or violence have all produced a new level of paranoia. We still get busted a lot.
"Basically we're outlaws. We're viewed as outlaws, and we've developed outlaw-style protective colouration. We're not immune, by any means. We haven't gained any degree of respectability."
Well, you could play it like the Allmans and get a dude from the diplomatic corps to waltz you through customs...
"Yeah. Hahaaaa. Screw it, I'd rather take my chances. I don't like to feel that I'm existing on that level. That's not who I am at all. I don't like any of the trappings of success at all. They're all poison. It's hard enough just playin', and that's all I wanna do."
In that case, does it hang ya up to be a guru'n a "signpost to new space" and all the rest of that Charles Reich aardvaark waste?
"It could, but...I don't deal with my public image. I regret having ever spoken to anyone...haHaAAAh...but I feel that as long al I have...I have a kinda responsibility to follow it up and clarify it as much as I can.
"The difficulty is that my viewpoint is not static. My mind is dynamic and my thoughts are changing and my ideas are changing. I'm embarrassed by that book (Garcia: A Signpost To New Space by Charles Reich and Jann Wenner), I'm embarrassed by seeing my name in print, I'm embarrassed by having to be out on stage, I'm embarrassed...on many levels."
Whoooo-ee. It's amazing that Garcia can even bring himself to walk out of his house in the morning.
"I really just love to play, y'know? I love to play without having to be – uh – fulfilling this human drama aspect of – uh – whatever it is."
Jerry Garcia is really such a nice old hippie that I felt kind bad about talking to him under false pretences. I mean, I saw the Dead two years ago at Wembley and they were great, but I've never been able to get off at all on their records. So I said just that.
"Ye-e-ahh – our records are awful."
Huh??????
"We've never bothered too much, y'know? HaHAAAA-haah! I don't think that recording is a suitable form for us. The live thing is what we do."
Well, if we're all agreed that the Dead's records just don't cut it, doesn't that make them a bit of a rip-off, something of a burn?
"That's exactly it. HaaHaaa-ha!! It's a burn for us and for the public, too. We've never really made money from records. Our records have always like sold to a small, closed audience. We've never scored big from records. We've always spent more making them than we've made back...or some other permutation of unsuccessful possibility.
"A lot of people come to see us, but don't but our records. There's a whole big scene of people who do nothing but swap live tapes of us – for free! That's a heavier trip than records, y'know?"
Has having your own label made any difference on that level?
"Yes, it's made it possible for us to get into a – uhhh – a scheming bag, y'know? Haa – HAAAA! We've got our own record company, which means that we can make any kind of crazy plans we want to.
"We can spend time...plotting, y'know. It gives us something to play with. And it also means that we can make records 'n stuff without feeling 'we're gonna turn out another record for The Man'."
The Dead not only tape every single show that they perform, but hey even tape their sound-checks as well, even if the sound-check is just Garcia doodling for three hours. It all goes down on tape. Why d'ya tape everything, Jerry?
"We-e-e-e-lll...you can't always trust your memory...can you?"
But what do you do with all these miles of tape?
"We take 'em all back to California and burn 'em. Hey – take a look at this." He ambles over to a corner of the room and pulls this huge mound of celluloid tagliatelle out from behind a chair. "This here is last night's show." He lets it cascade back on to the floor, wipes his boot on it and drifts back out on to the stage to play a little more.
*
When you glance over the sleeve credits on West Coast albums of the last few years, you get a distinct "old pals act" vibe off the whole schmear. Maybe these guys are getting a little insular in their old age. Hey, Jerry, have you ever been to see Alice Cooper?
"I never have; never seen him perform. Never been curious enough. It's not my trip. I'm not that much of an entertainment freak. If I go out, I go out to hear some music, and I usually know what I'm going to hear.
"If I'm goin' out, I'm goin' out because I know that so-and-so is playing bass. I hardly ever go to see rock and roll bands, because I'm not into the space of being able to get off on a rock and roll band. Whatever I would be digging would be whatever the band's limitations were, and I'm less interested in my own music than in the music I'm going out to see.
"So if I'm gonna go out, it automatically has to be better than me, which means that it has to be better than anything I'm better than. And I'm better than a lot of rock and roll bands.
"I have a small percentage of get-off space. There's not many things that get me off. It has to be pretty deep."
Hmmmmmm...it does seem as if Jerry Garcia is getting a trifle hidebound these days. I mean, it's one thing to rap about striving for new forms 'n all that garf, but if you don't bother to check out where other people are at then there's a very real danger of getting a trifle out of touch.
*
Jerry Garcia is a genuinely charming old hippie. If he wasn't in the Dead and wasn't a star and lived down the street from me, I'd probably try and hang out with him a lot and maybe cop the odd guitar lesson from him. But listening to the Dead these days is like visiting your relatives.
It's pleasant and relaxing and really quite enjoyable, but it's also more than a little soporific. They've lost most of their punch and power, and their music now is rich and full, but sluggish and old and fat and slow.
They open up their set with Chuck Berry's 'Around And Around' played about as inappropriately as is possible. It would be foolish to sing: "Well, the joint was flowin', flowin' round and round/just ebbin' and a-flowin', what a laid-back sound," but that's really the way it is.
Even when the Dead play Berry, it just doesn't rock.
Not that I'd want them to come on with strobe lights, power chords and green eye make-up, but...hey, wake up in there, you guys! It is only on 'Peggy-O' and 'I Know You Rider' that their laid-backery coalesces with their material and produces music of genuine, tranquil beauty.
The blue lights highlight the grey in Garcia's hair and beard, turning it almost silvery. He looks very old against the clean-cut All-American Boy collegiate look currently spotted by Bob Weir. Even that phoenix-like guitar sparkle seems a trifle dimmed, and the same licks just seem too be coming around again.
And – horror or horrors – at one point he even leaves the stage between numbers to take a leak.
Another illusion shattered.
© Charles Shaar Murray, 1974

Grateful Dead: Alexandra Palace, London

Robin KatzSounds, 21 September 1974
DEAD? No, just snoozing
ACCORDING TO my flatmate, the Iowa refuge, Alexandra Palace resembles an empty gymnasium, but the Grateful Dead are closer to heaven than the Post Office Tower. The pleasant male species crushed next to me had but one regret in his twenty odd year life span; that is that he missed the Dead's last U.K. date, two years ago. For these two Grateful Dead fanatics, Wednesday night with the Dead was the let down of the year.
Actually, the three days of concerts ran more like an Olympic marathon. A marathon to see how many of the enthusiasts would pay for three nights of the Dead. A marathon as to how long the Dead would play, and unofficially a race to see how many people would fall asleep.
Grateful Dead freaks, like roadies, are a human species on their own. Packed in the thousands along the floor with the atmosphere of a festival. On one hand they listened to the group while a good many simultaneously carried on other activities as if it were a support band up there.
During the first set, the Dead went very slowly though songs like 'Row Jimmy Row', 'Mexicali Blues', 'Ramblin' Rose', 'Me and Bobby McGee', 'Tennessee Jed' and 'Playing in the Band', plus a few unidentified, presumably new songs. Despite the presence of numerous parachutes hung from the cathedral ceiling to try to help the sound system, it kept blowing the music back into the band's face. This, along with the fact that a ritual group of ten insisted on standing up in the front of the hall lethargically swaying and blocking most everyone's view, didn't make things any better.
By the second set all the smart journalists had adjourned to the Oasis (the press bar) and made hourly checks into the main hall to count bodies. But the Iowa kid and I stuck it out. The second set started out sounding like a bad sound check. Or a poor Stockhausen imitation. The electronic music had the overall sound of one of those "Monster arising from the Swamp" movies. After an hour of watching the Dead's sound equipment (as the stage was blacked out so that one could not see the group) and listening to the hundredth variation on the Goola monster theme, we headed for the door along with dozens of others migraine-struck humans. At the Oasis we heard something a lot more musical: Atlantic press officer Rod Lynton and his Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong-Ram-Jam Jazz Band. They were warming up for the press festivities ahead. As my disillusioned flatmate threatened to weep over his sacred copy of Workingman's Dead, he murmured something to the extent that what was good was not done; and what was done wasn't good. His brevity at such a moment was more than well appreciated, and very much to the point.
© Robin Katz, 1974
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The Exhumation of The Dead

Mick FarrenNew Musical Express, 3 August 1974
They've been slagged, slated, abused, and misused – most often in these very pages. But Hell hath no Fury like a Dead fan scorned, and so MICK FARREN comes, not to bury the Dead but to praise them.
WAY BACK in 1970 I lived with a certain David Goodman. Every morning, round about noon, I'd be lying in bed and "St. Stephen" by the Grateful Dead would come pumping through the wall and I'd know the day had started. I'd stagger out into the living room, and he'd be sitting, with a blue polka dot dressing gown wrapped round his not inconsiderable bulk, rolling the breakfast joint. By the time we'd turned over the album and run through "Turn On Your Love Light", we were both mellowed out sufficiently to face the wicked world outside.
Those morning interludes kind of summed up the Grateful Dead for me. They were solid, stoned, freewheeling and a little untogether.
In some ways it also spotlights their current problem. At the height of their popularity, when Garcia's name was being bandied about as the world's greatest guitar player, they were very close to us all. They were the very antithesis of rock and roll glamour. They weren't conspicuous consumers of anything except drugs. They got busted the same as everybody else, and they screwed up the same as everybody else.
They were a bunch of regular stoned freaks; the only thing that separated them from the rest of the herd was their ability to weave long meandering boogies that sounded good if you were straight, and even better if your were stoned. Occasionally they even came out with small gems of vocal philosophy that were among the most accurate that ever came out of rock and roll. Among all the thousands of words that came out of the Altamont fiasco, the Dead's 'New Speedway Boogie' was one of the most constructive pieces of observation.
Even back in 1970 the clouds had been forming on the horizon for quite a long time. It seemed that as things became progressively more confused, the Grateful Dead went their way, and a good many of us went ours. We all reacted to the tightening grip of urban desperation in different ways. The Dead retreated, with their wives, old ladies, children and retainers, into the hills of San Raphael, in California's rock and roll suburb of Marin County. Those of us who were less lucky, and still had to live with the city's pressure forsook their blue jean cowboy boot funk and clutched at the dangerously esoteric thrills of Bowie, Cooper and the whole procession of terminal mutants.
Not, of course, that the Dead always enjoyed such protected isolation. In many ways, they were one of the most genuine of the West Coast's street bands. In the early' sixties they were at the hub of the San Francisco break-out. It wasn't just the human be-in and flower power summer of 1967. They were very much a part of the creative explosion of a few years before. Culturally they bridged the gap between the hipsters, beats and Bay area poets of the 'fifties and the hippies. They were the link between Lenny Bruce, Neal Cassidy and Gary Snyder, and the Woodstock gang of the next generation.
Those early years, sporadically documented in The Dead Book by Hank Harrison*, must have been some of the most exciting times of the last couple of decades. The mind wrenching revelation of lysergic acid had just hit the California intellectual community with the force of a limited nuclear strike. Ken Kesey was propagating it and Owsley Stanley III was manufacturing it. The Acid Test was on the road and the Grateful Dead were the spearhead sonic shock troops.
Coupled with the San Francisco Mime Troupe (then managed by a certain Bill Graham), the Diggers, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and even the notorious Hell's Angels, they instigated the concept of rock and roll street parties, Golden Gate Park concerts and the whole gamut of the rolling psychedelic circus.
This small tight community didn't last very long. The great trek to San Francisco began in 1966 and grew to flood proportions by the summer of 1967. Alienated kids from all over the US flocked to the Bay area looking for a paisley Utopia. The majority found mainly poverty and methedrine. As the dream faded, a lot of the bands who had so blithely propagated the floral myth retreated behind a barrier of obscurantism and dedicated themselves to making a buck. The Dead remained in their chaotic home on Ashbury Street, put out their energy, and dealt with the situation as best they could.
But of course, not all their efforts were purely altruistic. They toured; they signed a deal with Warner Brothers; played San Francisco rock halls, the Avalon and the original Fillmore; and recorded their first, rather flawed, album. The Dead survived in a totally haphazard manner. At any given time, their operation supported up to fifty people. Their original managers, Rock Scully and Danny Rifkin, operated in an environment of mammoth fantasy and astronomical debts.
In 1968 they even turned their attention towards Europe. They dispatched an advance party to check out the viability of a UK tour. Where most bands would have just sent a manager, the Dead sent out a collection of a dozen or more assorted freaks; Scully, Rifkin, artists, astrologers, cooks, concubines and the ever-present Hell's Angels. They were initially offered hospitality and a base at the Apple offices. Unfortunately George Harrison freaked at their California ways and ordered them out. The Dead's advance guard were distributed round households all over London. Needless to say, the tour didn't materialise.

*

BACK HOME, however, things were beginning to happen. The Dead, in their early recordings, suffered from the curse of all independently minded bands. They had to learn recording techniques as they went, and their first three albums, despite a good deal of progress, all exhibit their trial and error mistakes. Their first live album, the double Live Dead, exhibited them as they really were and, for the first time, they achieved the kind of international sales that compared with the magnitude of their legend. At last they transcended the label of the great hippy band, and began to be recognised as musicians. It was the start of the Garcia cult.
It was also the start of a massive reorganisation. They had a new manager, John McIntyre, who was determined to put the Dead on a secure financial footing and clear up the mess that had been created by erratic hippie business efficiency.
Not that McIntyre is a crewcut Allen Klein. He is a determined, long-haired Nordic' blond, who could easily play Moorcock's Elric, if Hollywood ever decided to film the Stormbringer saga. He took over management of the Dead in 1969 and by 1971 they were out of debt. It was the era of ‘Uncle John's Band’. Not only did McIntyre solve their fiscal problems, but his arrival also seemed to cure the Dead's notorious lousy-one-day-inspired-the-next attitude to playing.
It was an intense period of creativity and hard work. It produced their finest studio album, Workingman's Dead, possibly one of the greatest musical studies of working class America since the days of Woody Guthrie and Jimmy Rodgers.
They also made a fleeting British trial run to the Hollywood festival, and a year later a full-scale tour of Europe that took the Continent and the UK by storm. They were the darlings of the underground establishment, American Beauty and the second live album were the hippies' fave rave, and everyone seemed to be trying to sell them coke. At the cold, damp Bickershaw festival they played for six solid hours, and Garcia was elevated to the pedestal that had so recently been vacated by Eric Clapton.
After the tour, Garcia produced his rather patchy solo album that fluctuated between flashes of brilliance and long hauls of cosmic tedium, and Bobby Weir came out with the more even and workmanlike Ace. Then they made the major miscalculation of a triple live album of the European tour. The public was surfeited, and got bored. Lurex and mascara raised its ugly head, and the Grateful Dead were suddenly last year's thing.
Up in the hills of San Raphael nobody seemed too worried. For the first time in their lives the Dead were materially secure. Garcia played with everyone from Commander Cody to David Crosby, and the rest of the band relaxed in the bosoms of their families and worked on In the Wake of the Flood. The album was badly received, and the Dead seemed solidly out of favour. They had obviously changed direction and their erstwhile supporters neither understood the change nor welcomed it.
Rumours abounded. One of the favourites was that they had joined up with the guru. Garcia's subsequent drug bust, with a glove compartment stash of a quantity and variety that equalled anything from their vintage years as lords of multiple drug abuse, seemed to put the lie to that.
It seems a little insensitive to pry too deeply into the effect of Pigpen finally drinking himself to death on the work of the band. In a family as tight as the Dead it couldn't have failed to be painful and far-reaching. There seemed to be a virtual halt to their work. Little came out of San Raphael apart from a series of vintage live tapes. For almost a year they seemed to hang in a kind of creative limbo.

*

NOW WITH almost no warning we have a Dead album, Mars Hotel, a Garcia album, and one on the way from Robert Hunter. Something is obviously stirring in the hills of old Marin. The question is what? There's no mistaking that it isn't the old raunchy, risk-taking Grateful Dead we were once so hot for.
The Dead have never been leaders. Their songs were observations rather than battle hymns. Even at their funkiest they still managed to retain a trace of contemplative reserve.
On Mars Hotel the reserve has fanned out into a kind of front porch relaxation. It's a cord of a bunch of good old boys playing in the shade. Each one has written some tunes and they play them. It's that simple, only this is 1974 and these are electric rock and roll musicians who have been in each other's hands for ten years.
And then you have Garcia who takes it a stage further. He sits on his porch and plays his favourite tunes, everyone from the Stones to Ed Thigpen. Nothing is urgent any more. They're off the train. There's British weirdoes and New York faggots playing pharmaceutical Russian roulette. The Dead don't have to try any more.
The problem they are solving is how to relax into maturity and still keep your rock and roll. It's a similar problem to the one Dylan tackles on Planet Waves. The mind wrenching adventures are, for the most part, behind both Dylan and the Dead. He's found his way out of Mobile, and they know their back's that strong. It's not the struggle of youth, it's the adaptation to maturity after running through a world that believed only the young were beautiful.
It's like Lennon said, "I don't want to be jumping round on a stage singing 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' when I'm thirty." Neither, it would seem, do Dylan or the Dead. Maybe now and again, just to get away from the old lady and the kids, but certainly not all the time. Lennon experiments with being an L.A. nightclub rowdy drunk. Dylan and the Dead sit on the metaphorical front porch and play rock and roll that don't make them sweat too much.
From the perspective of warp factor seven teenage jive bombing, these experiments may not be of the ultimate priority but some of us are coming up to it, and if we stay lucky a few of us might get there. When that happens both Mars Hotel and Planet Waves could be comfortingly relevant.
* The Dead Book – Hank Harrison – published by Links. (import) £2.50.
© Mick Farren, 1974
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Grateful Dead: What A Long Predictable Trip It's Become

Paul MorleyNew Musical Express, 28 March 1981
This Week The Grateful Dead trucked back into Britain. In America they're more successful than ever – and even Jerry Garcia can't work out why. He'd rather see Gary Numan...
"SIT DOWN in that corner," says the photographer. "Are you asking me or telling me?" murmurs the musician, innocuously. "Which corner?" He looks around the room, eyes twinkling with amusement. "That corner! On the floor! Jesus, do you think I'll be able to get up again?"
He sighs good naturedly and plonks onto the floor underneath a lamp, spreading his legs out. "Hiyeee," he gestures, mildly embarrassed. "This is for what? New Musical Express...Yeah, I remember. That's pretty amazing. I don't remember much. Memory is the first thing to go."
He chuckles to himself, and then steels himself as the photographer snaps. A lump of cigarette ash has found a good home on his profoundly shapeless greasy green cord trousers: When he stands up the ash will drift to the floor and the bottom of his trousers will sadly fail to reach his ankles.
"Do you listen to much new music?" asks the writer as the camera clicks again.
"I haven't heard anything really new," the musician admits.
Within the last ten years?
"Well, within the last year. I'm a big Elvis Costello fan. I like Dire Straits, but that's to be expected – it's easy to see why I like them. And I like Gary Numan a lot."
You like Gary Numan!!
"Sure do," he earnestly announces.
Have you seen him in concert?
"No, but I would like to. I think his stuff is really interesting. I think he's got a real thing. I like people who have a real conviction about what they do. Convinced that they have something to say and a real way to say it."
You should meet up with Numan and do some work with him.
"Oh no! I'd be intimidated by him. Shit yeah...these guys all seem so much more together than I feel. I feel like someone who is constantly on the verge of losing it, of blowing it. I feel tremendously insecure. When I see people perform with such panache...I don't see how they do it. It takes tremendous nerve, tremendous balls.
"I admire those guys. I admire Elvis Costello for his amazing output. Goddamn, the guy is so fucking prolific. For me a good year is like writing three songs. Songs don't come easy to me."
To the musician's bafflement, he's led by the photographer to a well lit mirrored bathroom for more photos. He poses uncomfortably in front of a mirror. Does he know what a mirror is? It looks like maybe he doesn't. He doesn't look too secure.
"We celebrities are used to this shit," he mock-boasts when he catches the writer's eye. "The typical bathroom shot."
More than any other psychedelic era band, The Grateful Dead epitomised the hippie in rock'n'roll.
– The Rolling Stone Record Guide.
THIS IS a good Tuesday. The sun is shining. The rain is falling. The traffic is moving. The tape is whirring.
The day after Joe Jackson calls me arrogant and superior at Cabaret Futura, an hour and a half after fighting my way out of bed, I'm keeping a 4.30 date in a posh hotel room with Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.
We mix something like Grundy and the Pistols, or sugar and whisky. He looks like a busker drowning in a puddle of bad luck; I still have traces of make-up from the night before not quite rubbed away.
Garcia, cheery features awash in a stiff black-silver brush of hair that doesn't have shape or beginning is a collection of curves straight out of one of those quaint Robert Crumb cartoons. "Yeah, well, I'm certainly part of that Crumb world," he admits.
We find things to talk about. I ask him whether he could stop existing now and not mind too much.
"Yeah, I think so. I'm not crazy about life. I wouldn't want to live here for hundreds of years. There isn't that much I'm interested in. There isn't much that I think I'm going to see that I haven't already seen."
So what sort of things concern you?
"Music. Music and drugs."
Does that limited concern manifest itself as the gross indulgence I see in Grateful Dead music?
"Weeaaall, I don't know what you see..."
I see gross indulgence: perhaps because you're only concerned with music and drugs. He laughs.
"No, actually I am concerned with a few other things. But in terms of what is actually compelling me to stay on this earth, there's not really a whole lot there. I'm interested to see what it's all about. It seems as though an awful lot has happened in a very short while. More has happened in the past 150 years than happened in all the time before that...trillions of years. It seems we're zipping up towards a moment. I don't know what's coming. But having come this far I'm determined to be around for the turn of the millenium. If nothing else. Just cos it's so close. Shit, it's only twenty years away."
He raises his eyebrows a little cheekily. So I would presume, with that sort of attitude, that political force and the like is abstract for you?
"Oh, I think all that shit is bullshit. I think the doings of people is actually really small potato. Really! It's like playground!"
What about the individual stress that pressures people?
"Even that."
What about murder?
"Well, murder may have some kharmic implications. I think the idea of death...I mean, everybody dies." Except The Grateful Dead I dryly interrupt. Garcia is not thrown. "Well there it is! But death is something that everybody has to confront. Murder...I'm not interested in murdering anybody. If there's a crime, that might be it. I feel like this because I have a lot of respect for the biological effort that has gone into putting humans here.
"If I was going to take a life I would start with my own. I flashed once that maybe a nice way for the world to govern itself would be that everyone would be issued at about five years old with a weapon. It would be like a two-way weapon. If you wanted to murder someone they would vanish instantly – but you would too! It would give everyone the power to make once in their life a life or death decision involving some other person, and they would instantly pay for it. All the hotheads would be gone immediately. I can imagine things working that way. It's a little radical...I haven't been able to sell the idea yet."
It'd be very clean.
"Something that's undramatic and unglamorous."
Thinking of the bits and snatches of drippy Dead music I've run into during the year, I tell him that, incidentally, undramatic and unglamorous pretty well sums up Grateful Dead. If you're being kind. Would he agree?
"Oh, very much," he smiles. "Very much, yes."
Impressed by his lack of anger at my lack of awe, I gain in confidence. Are you into making money, Jerry?
"Fuck no! Money! What is it? That's not to say I'm not greedy, but for me having something to do is better than having something. Having things has never been much of a turn-on for me. Having something to do is much more interesting."
Would you ever cut your hair?
"Would I! I did it once...I do it every couple of years. I do it once in a while, but only because it gets in my way, not because of style or fashion. I don't grow it because I have something to say. It just grows!" He laughs affectionately.
What kind of things embarrass you?
"Performing embarrasses the hell out of me! Getting on stage in front of people, shit, that's embarrassing!" He squirms. "Terribly fucking embarrassing."
But you stay on a stage for up to FIVE bleeding hours.
"Yeah! It takes me that long to get used to it. No, maybe after twenty minutes I'm used to it. I've been embarrassed by other things, like naked girls jumping out of the audience and grabbing me...But it can't compete with the embarrassment of just being visible."
I stare intensely at Garcia. He looks like one of those Muppets they get doing rollicking C&W music on rickety porches with Crystal Gayle. I should have asked him if he would like to be a muppet, but I ask him if he would like to appear on the show.
"Huhuhuh...No. I'm not an actor."
You're a branch of showbiz.
"I prefer The Muppet Show to almost any other show. We've thought of it, actually. It's maybe the one show we'd be comfortable on."
He leans forward in his chair and laughs. I lean back in mine and join in.
"But it's constrictive as a format. I don't think I could fit in there. I don't think of myself as a professional performer. I just can't imagine what an audience would find interesting about my interacting with the Muppets."
But there is comedy in the music of The Grateful Dead, surely.
"Yeah! Sometimes it's funny."
Do people laugh? Or do they still hold you in awe?
"I don't know whether they laugh or not. I know that I laugh! Openly. It's very funny, sometimes. But I really don't know whether the audience laughs. I certainly don't hear great gales of laughter roaring back at me."
What kind of things do you find funny about life?
"All of it is kind of funny."
Humour seems to form the wrapping of your worldview.
"Sort of...but not superficially. My inner me is sort of characterised by like hollow mocking laugher. It's kind of like, well, everyone is the butt of the cosmic joke. The cosmic joke is – you're it! Oh! To me that is always very funny. The 'why me' situation. That's funny!"
There's been over a score of Grateful Dead LPs, none of them in any way essential. Do you have a quite laugh at all those people who buy all those LPs?

"I have a lot of respect for them! I'm thankful...I'm thankful that anyone comes through the door to see us! Shit, hey, listen man it's been surprising to me that people haven't been walking out in droves ever since we started. Who knows why people like us..."
In their first beginning they were nothing spectacular, just another rock'n'roll band made up of suburban ex-folkies who, in '64 and '65, with Kennedy dead, the civil rights movement split into black and white, Vietnam taking over from Ban The Bomb, with The Beatles, Stones and Dylan, were finding out that the sit and pluck number had out run its course.
– Rolling Stone, August 1969.
The Grateful Dead acid mythology has always been, for us, a joke. 
– Jerry Garcia, March 1981.
THE GRATEFUL Dead have been meandering along for 16 years. My opinion is that it is absurd and disastrous that they still exist as a recording company. They're a kind of intricately patterned, mystical American supergroup equivalent of Status Quo, with a sliding reputation that's caught up in the outer limits of various 20th Century
American myths, and they're renowned for 15-minute 'songs' and five-hour sets. They streak the face of rock'n'roll like blood sometimes streaks sick.
They co-sponsored Altamont; hired the Hells Angels. They've wandered the world generously scattering their music, like seed. They were one of the first groups to introduce the huge sound systems and complicated light shows into rock. They were one of those groups that switched the emphasis of rock away from 'style' towards 'experience'. They were "true explorers into the infinite recession that acid opened up", stars in tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. They didn't do 'gigs' – they did Acid Tests. "Thousands of people, man," Garcia said in 1969, "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."
In the '60s the group were a family: a flowing freedom psychedelic musical experience. Sounds mediaeval. Maybe there was a weird transcendentalist drive that fitted into the formlessness and restlessness of the times, but the innocent adventure transformed easily into rock production, big business, a slimy perpetual motion. The Dead sifted into the '70s, splintered, came together and just grew and grew as if they couldn't help it. "The Dead, we all know, is bigger than all of us," said a group member 12 years ago.
They've emerged out of the '70s wastelands as '80s superstars: it's a familiar nightmare.
"We're not big big," Garcia points out with a little chuckle, "but we have our platinum and gold discs."
Instead of just disappearing into small clubs of lost America, the Dead became pop stars for the new American age. Their audience is teenage and indiscriminately enthusiastic.
What this stands for is depressing. That they are successful, celebrated, adored; that they've inevitably failed to fundamentally alter their synthesis of musical idioms; that they are unglamorous and undramatic; all this encapsulates the steady status quo of rock and roll music.
In 1980 Grateful Dead were one of the biggest live acts in America. I'm told this by a Dead helper who sits discreetly in the background as Garcia and I chat. Perhaps he wants me to realise the immensity of what I'm confronting: the super-ness of this limp tramp sat opposite me. "For the last five years the Dead have been one of the top five drawing acts in America," he intones. "Last year they were in the top three with Wings and The Who."
"So that's what we are!" smirks Garcia.
What does this mean, I scoff. My heated irrationality bumps into Garcia's sheer reasonableness.
"It means that a substantial amount of people, at least in America, are willing to come to our shows – when anything might happen. They're not expecting to see hits, they're expecting to see what's going to happen, and they realise that the show is attached to the moment. It's not a repeatable experience. It's not going to be the same show from night to night."
I think the Grateful Dead mood, relaxed, reasonable, contained, is wrong for the times: it doesn't seem to be the type of music the youth of America should be getting involved with.
"Well, who's to say? Are you qualified to say what they should be getting into?"
Less than most people, I lie. But American youth, teenagers consuming pop music for the first time, don't seem to get or even want youth music. They seem listlessly satisfied with what's offered and channelled to them. Grateful Dead music is not young music.
"No. We're not."
I don't think the Dead mood, the acceptance, is a good stimulation for American teenagers. I think it anaesthetises their energy. It's a typical self-perpetuating American rock music.
"Well...I don't think so. Maybe! You'd have to ask them all! I know that our audiences get off and they come back. Our audience is a contemporary audience. That is to say they are the kids of today. How could they be anything else but?"
I still think it's sad they're throwing themselves at something that's nailed to the '60s.
"I'll admit that it's pretty remarkable for people as old as us to look out at an audience that are 16, 17-year-old kids. But their experiences are attached to today, and so are we. We're no more nailed to the '60s than anybody else. We're not celebrating an era that no longer exists. We're here and now partaking in what's going on.
"Part of our whole ship has been to open up some kind of sensitivity towards what it is that the audience are there for. Somehow it works. I don't know why it works – but the audience does. The Deadheads know. They know why we work! I'm the wrong person to ask on that level of experience.
"I do think it's strange we've got such a young audience, but on the other hand I think anyone can appreciate a certain amount of expertise. There's something you gain from doing something for 16 years with a great deal of determination without having to define it in any hard-edged way. We never say this is exactly what we're going to do, we've never enclosed ourselves, musically or any other way. It's an open-ended experience for us. So as far as the idea of change, time and fashion, everything changing, we're part of the flow for sure.
"Music at its finest addresses something that I think is universal. Whatever is great about all the music that has ever existed remains great. The music of Beethoven and Bach...anything that is great and uplifting and speaks the Universal. That is ideally what we would be trying to go for."
At the moment American youth seem astonishingly passive. When you emerged there was the spirit of participation and adventure. People were rummaging around. There's little of that now. Despite your popularity, the universal music you speak of aspiring to, essentially you're just a part of perpetuation of bland, blanketing myths. Does that disappoint you?
"Well, it's a certain kind of disappointment. The world changes very slowly."
But surely it's turned against you.
"Not really."
Why not? Aren't you disappointed the way America has turned out?
"Naah! I didn't have any expectations. I started out without expectations. It's a trick. That's all. If you start out expecting to fail and expecting the worst then anything that happens is an improvement over that. So that's the kind of head I go into it with. In the '60s I wasn't imagining the world was going to be a beautiful and better place, y'know..."
But is Dead music a celebration of life?
"At its best moments it can be something like that. It's kind of hard to put into words. I don't really know exactly what it is. I just know that subjectively speaking there are special moments that make it feel that after being in Grateful Dead all of this time...we're just starting."
I gasp. Garcia concentrates.
"We're just starting to get ourselves together in a lot of ways, to start to do what we hope to do."
Does it disappoint you that after those 16 years and what you've struggled and soared through, people like me can be disrespectful of you: think you are rusty, crusty, dusty and fusty?
I just get the last -usty out and Garcia exclaims: "No! I don't give a damn. I would be afraid if everybody in the world liked us. The responsibility. I don't want to be responsible for leading the march to wherever. Fuck that. It's already been done and the world hates it. Humans hate it."
Wasn't that leading the march thing your '60s attitude?
"Fuck, no! Hell! For me the whole combination of music and the psychedelic experience taught me to fear power. I mean fear it and hate it. In those times there were lunatics that were constantly trying to nail The Grateful Dead up as being the vanguard of some power trip. It was always the same thing. It was basically Hitler, y'know?"
As a creative body of sorts, can you feel comfortable within the present political and cultural context in America?
"Oh yeah. There's a lot of space for me. A lot of room. I enjoy America when America is involved in tension, y'know, I prefer a tense America. I prefer conflict. When there are difficulties going on, I like that vitality, that kind of energy. Like in the '70s it was dull, there was nothing to get mad about, nothing to get excited about, nothing to celebrate. I can live in that environment pretty successfully as well. But I prefer a little tension in the air."
You talk of tension and vitality, but I feel none of this in your music. It's dull; there's no celebration. To me it's a stream of nothing.
"Well...in a way that is what it is. I don't know what your exposure to our music has been but our music is not what our records are. If you see us play live you'll see that what we do is a different sort of thing. I think it'll be evident...it's tough to talk about...our music is attached to the moment in which it happens. The moment. It's very much that. It's more jazz in that sense. It's not art music. It's not form music. Things like records are a little artificial for us."
Have you ever made a decent record?
"I don't think so."
I think your music is dead dull – how would you sell it to me? Where's the turn-on?
"I wouldn't try to sell it to you. If you think it's dull maybe it is. Yeah, I could find things to agree with. For me our records are a series of failures. I see them in terms of what they might have been, or what I'd wished they'd been and what they weren't."
So why make records?
"Well, because it's one of the things you can do when you're a musician. What is there? When you're a musician you perform and what? Make records. It's a way to conserve music. But records are not really appropriate to what The Grateful Dead does. Time alone is a big enemy of ours. On an album a short Grateful Dead song is seven or eight minutes."
Why?
"I don't know! I suppose at the beginning we were playing for a dance audience, not a listening audience, and when you play for a dancing audience you don't want them to stop, and they don't want to stop either. In those days people got real high and they danced all night. So three minutes of dancing is not enough. Fifteen minutes is really a bit more like it, for people to stretch out."
Have you heard of The Fire Engines, I say, a little ambitiously. Well, they play 15-minute sets.
"Fifteen! Phew!"
It's an injection of sheer tonic.
"Yup," grins Garcia, tight-lipped. They're violent, tense, joyous, changeable, it's an uplifting celebration – all the things you're saying to me are there in your music and which I can't get out.
Garcia pours carefully articulated reason onto my glorious fury. "For me music is a full range of experience. In music there is room for space, there's room for quietness, for sorrow, violence."
I do agree. We still seem to be talking about different things though.
"It's not my desire to say there is only this or that. For me it's a full range of experiences, and within that it includes things like boredom. Sometimes boredom is what is happening in life, that's what it's about sometimes. Sometimes the tension between boredom and discovery is like an interesting thing. The idea of noodling around aimlessly for 15 minutes, and we are notorious for that, but then hitting on some rich vein of something that we may never have got to any other way, and that's the reward. I want there to be a complete vertical experience. I want it to be the full range."
I've been into music so long that I'm dripping with it: it's all I ever expect to do. 
– Jerry Garcia, August 1969
I'm surprised at our success. I can easily relate to the days when we outnumbered the audience. In my mind that isn't long ago. And it wasn't that different. I'd enjoy it whether we were obscure or hugely successful. Shit, I would pay to play music.
– Jerry Garcia, March 1981.
GARCIA is cheery; mordant and ironic at times. His intelligence is quick and precise. He and The Grateful Dead seem to wash along in the mysterious tide of change without changing too much. It all changes and nothing much seems to change.
In 1979 a Rolling Stone reporter noted that Garcia looked you right in the eye and smiled encouragement. In 1981 Garcia looks you right in the eye and smiles encouragement. He noted that Garcia, however complex, was entirely open and unenigmatic. I could say the same today. In 1979 though, Rolling Stone was convinced Jerry Garcia had clear and inspired ideas. In 1981 I'm convinced that Garcia is a man in love with his instrument who's pretty lucky how his mind's turned out. Despite the resonance in Garcia's conversation, Grateful Dead seem to stand for the essential dowdiness of life.
Would you want to grow up like The Grateful Dead? As a force of change the Dead seem...dead. As a 'love draw' they're so alive if I think about it too much it aches.
Come on, Jerry, youth, rebellion, I don't want to be like the past, like you...pop is quick, a confrontation, flash...you're being consumed by millions of Americans and you're tastelessss!
Garcia chuckles, shoves a leg underneath his body and looks me in the eye with genial firmness. "First of all I don't think of myself as an adult. An adult is someone who's made up their mind. When I go through airports the people who have their thing together, who are clean, well-groomed, who have tailored clothes, who have their whole material thing together, these people are adults. They've made their decision to follow those routines. Brush their teeth regularly and all that.
"If you get to that stage all you get is rock solid boredom. With no surprises, when you're pretty sure that your best years are behind you. I run into people who are 24, 25, who are into that bag and I feel tremendously intimidated by them. I feel they're adults."
American youth seems to be adult at 15.
"It's just a phase. It'll phase. The next group of people will dislike that so intensely and so thoroughly that they'll fight through."
That will include the resentment and antipathy towards Grateful Dead that I think should exist now.
"If it does, it does."
So if you're not an adult, what are you?
"I would say that I was part of a prolonged adolescence. I think our whole scene is that."
Moving towards what?
"Middling adolescence!" He laughs. I switch the tape off.
"Yeah, that's far enough!"
THE WRITER puts his tape recorder away. The photographer gets his equipment ready.
The musician shakes his head as he recalls bits of the interview. "Fifteen-minute sets!" he marvels. "If I had to pay £8 for a 15-minutes set I'd trip out...The economics of it I would feel so guilty. Even if I did a 45-minute show so packed with emotion and intensity and everything it needed to have I would still feel like, God it ain't fucking worth it. I don't want to burn anybody. People have to work to get their little money...The best experiences I've had as a audience member is when I've seen a performer get excited and inspired and go over their time. Forget about time...forget about time and then you can think hey! An hour and a half has gone by and it seems like ten minutes! That's the stuff!"
The photographer scans the room looking for likely places the musicians can pose. The musician stand looking a little lost near the window. The writer say to him that 45 minutes of his music seems to go on for two years.
"Well, have a nice rest!"
The whisky musician and sugar writer laugh, loudly. They'll never see each other again.
© Paul Morley, 1981
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Grateful Dead: Rainbow Theatre, London

Richard CookNew Musical Express, 10 October 1981
IT MUST be a resurrection year if the San Franciscan pensioners come over twice to play. No danger of saturation for the faithful, though. Saturday night saw the Rainbow sold out and bursting with the dogged followers of Uncle John's Band.
I have a passing fondness for some of the driftwood in the vast Dead catalogue, and it's no especial pleasure to confirm the stock standing of the Gratefuls (why doesn't anyone call them the Gratefuls?) in 1981; outplayed; outmoded. Not on the way out. They're probably limbering up for the millennium already. The reasons for their general valuelessness instead involve a touch of irony.
I would say the Dead haven't been so sprightly in years. On their countrified numbers like 'Tennessee Jed' and an almost swinging 'Big River' they motor along pretty sturdily; on traddish rockers like 'Promised Land' and 'Alabama Getaway' they at least muster a cohesion normally absent from collapsing revivalist excursions.
Yes, a rather efficient rock'n'roll unit – and that's what slowly bleeds them of interest. The recovery of the Dead as a major live force Stateside has lent the old groaners an air of professionalism that might become a collective of clowns like Styx or REO Speedwagon but is hardly fitting for the would-be brawny backwoodsmen in the Gratefuls. Sloppy and indulgent they may have been, but the waywardness in the company was such that it could sometimes produce something arresting – the strange, brooding (and forgotten) Wake Of The Flood was perhaps the last genuine example. This seems a very different group.
Bob Weir is the single major casualty. Instead of the urbanised country accents he helped to father he now twists most every line into a sub-Seger snarl, cheap AOR aggression. Instrumentally, the weakness in the rhythm section still rankles. Phil Lesh's bass is weirdly random and the worst offenders are Kreutzmann and Hart, both slothfully lacking in enterprise. I started wondering what it would be like having a drummer like Billy Ficca behind the traps but that can be put down to having to breathe in an atmosphere stifling with ganja smoke, man.
And they stretch things, out too long, of course. Weir's affectionate 'Looks Like Rain' was pointlessly overrun, while 'Estimated Prophet' (probably their last worthwhile song) drivelled and disintegrated into the interminable 'Terrapin Station'. So is there still anything special about the Gratefuls?
Easy. It's Jerry Garcia. Static, porky old' trouper he may be, yet it's Garcia's inconsistency and fallibility that make him interesting. There's no pretence about the limitations of his voice – a joke compared to, say, Springsteen – it's just that on the right sort of tune it can sound movingly vulnerable. This is no era for a guitar hero either, but Garcia's style, always breaking up lines with those stunted half-notes and oblique switches of emphasis, is something all his own. Choose the right moment and you can hear a sequence that most crab-fingered rock players couldn't dream about playing.
Some things about the Gratefuls will never change – the length of their sets, for one. I expect there was lots more to come when I called it a night after some three hours. You'll know what they played; if you don't you won't care anyway.
© Richard Cook, 1981
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Reporting Live from Deadland

David GansKPFA Folio, July 1990
I'M DANCING with my notebook in my hand at the Shoreline Amphitheater on Friday, June 15, 1990. I've been avoiding this Folio article for two months, but now, awash in this music and collective consciousness, I know what I want to say. I get a lot of good thinking done at Grateful Dead shows.
Of the three dozen people in my row, I know about 12 by name and another 12 are nodding acquaintances from my eighteen years of attending these concerts. The number of people I know is unremarkable, given my job, but the number of my acquaintances who know each other is phenomenal. This is a reserved-seat show, so the number of strangers is a little higher than normal; last week at Cal Expo in Sacramento I probably could have told you the names of three quarters of the people within a hundred feet of me.
Following an excellent one-hour opening set and a 45-minute interval full of visiting and shopping and eating, the second set opened with 'Scarlet Begonias', a brisk song with a powerhouse rhythm track, provocative lyrics and jazzy tonality. It's a great dancing song and a great jamming song. I was at the Cow Palace in 1974 when they played it for the first time, and I was at Winterland in March 1977 when they plunked 'Fire on the Mountain' full-grown into the middle of the 'Scarlet Begonias' jam; the two songs have been inseparable for the most part ever since. I wasn't in Portland when 'Fire on the Mountain' and Mt. St. Helens erupted simultaneously, but the story is often told by those who were.
Not far from me I see a feature writer from the Examiner, probably not here on assignment but rather, as always, for the sheer boogie magic of the Dead's music. He has written eloquently and accurately about the Dead many times – like me, and other professionals in the crowd, he likes to put his day job together with his fun wherever possible.
In the spot where drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are usually left alone onstage with their huge array of world percussion instruments and digital sampling devices, guitarist Jerry Garcia stays out there with them for a while. This is unusual and exciting! I am one of the Deadheads who really loves it when they do something entirely new. Others of my acquaintance experience the music more viscerally, less concerned with the intellectual nuances; this music appeals to people who dance, people who play (I'd wager that a quarter of the men in attendance are guitar players or otherwise involved in hands-on musicianship; I'm not sure about the women), people who listen intently to the lyrics and to the sequence of songs, etc. Right around now I'd say I'm a listener who is learning to be a dancer.
Now the drummers have left the stage and Garcia, Bob Weir (guitar) and Phil Lesh (bass) are involved in an unstructured improvisation. It's a mordant concoction of mutated samples, recordings of real instruments which are manipulated using ultra-modern digital technology and triggered by the "real" instruments. Jerry's "flute" becomes a sort of trumpet that twangs like a sitar. Some Transylvanian pipe organ moods are interposed, and then the drummers and keyboardist Brent Mydland return to the stage and the beat begins to sift itself into the breathless 12/8 of 'The Other One'. This is the Dead's most durable vehicle, in the repertoire since 1967, and it has never once failed to satisfy. This is scary/joyful music, with heart-pounding urgency in every beat: "Escaping through the lily field, I came across an empty space," Weir sings. "It trembled and exploded, left a bus stop in its place/The bus come by and I got on, that's when it all began..." – the Dead at their most thrilling, pumping out energy and emotion and conviction.
Now they're easing out of the jam, winding down into one of Garcia's rueful ballads. Tonight it's 'Wharf Rat', a story within a story, with two narrators – one a little deeper in the Slough of Despond than the other, probably, but little is said of the first speaker's circumstances. That is the source of much of lyricist Robert Hunter's power: his songs are rich in detail and characterization but also sketchy, leaving large unpainted spaces for the beholder to interpolate ideas from his own mental landscape. In 'Wharf Rat', we are given to ponder the similarities and differences between these two narrators in the face of the bleakness and redemption at the song's climax.
We ride out on a grand, arching Jerry Garcia guitar solo – no mutant instruments here – and then the band shifts smartly into a moderate-tempo reading of Chuck Berry's 'Around and Around'. This song fell out of the rotation for a few years and recently returned with a nicely indeterminate set of ending possibilities. The last time I heard them do this song they tacked on a crisp instrumental coda; tonight Weir brings the chord progression back with a smoky, intimate beat, but before long they've brought it all the way back up, rocking the fullness. It's a great way to end the set, a novel musical extension brilliantly played. To top it off, they add a James Brown-style false ending and take it through one more time.
The encore is 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door', the second Bob Dylan song of the evening (the first was 'Desolation Row', one of those bitter, big-screen ballads with a little something for every occasion). The Dead's repertoire includes many Dylan songs; 'When I Paint My Masterpiece' has been a favorite lately, like last week when it was the perfect accompaniment to a gorgeous sunset over Sacramento. The story of the sunset will accompany the tapes of the show from Deadhead to Deadhead across the country and around the world.
A couple in their seventies, one of several such pairs I know who attend most of the Dead shows in the bay area, are in the row in front of me. Behind me is Sharon, who I rarely see at shows but with whom I work every year at the Bammies. She is visiting with Michael, a friend of an old friend of mine. I didn't know they knew each other, but nothing surprises me about the friendships and connections in this community.
The Grateful Dead scene – at concerts and between tours – teems with energy, intrigue, commitment, crime, obituaries, recipes, literature, childbirth and – most of all – music. It is music that binds the lives of these thousands to the fortunes of some hundreds of workers and entrepreneurs and to the inspiration of half a dozen musicians and their respective collaborators. My friends took me to my first Grateful Dead concert in March 1972, and it was the music that brought me back again and again. I have been attending – in the company of many of those same friends – more than half of my life. I long ago lost track of how many Grateful Dead concerts I've attended, but it's well over 300 by now. Along the way I have wandered from the upper reaches of Winterland to a comfortable spot by the onstage monitor mixer, with many stops in between. The relationship between the band and crew and the Deadheads is sometimes pretty strange, and since I prefer to identify myself as a member of the audience that's usually where I hang out. I'm happiest these days in that audio sweet spot between the stage and the sound board, but I usually don't pay the dues to get there so I often watch from reasonable seats in the "Phil Zone" (stage right). I used to sit stock still, listening with my musician's head, but not any more. Now I try to keep moving through the fiery bubble of it, solving riddles and posing thoughts as I wander among the various elements: the music, the lyrics, the onstage interactions, the audience, my companions, and my internal dialogs on a variety of subjects. I've gotten some of my best ideas at Dead shows, cried some of my best tears, solved some of my knottiest problems, received some of my most productive inspirations.
It is a privilege to serve the Deadhead community across America and a strong hit of genuine freedom to do so on KPFA every week (after an unsettling year in commercial syndication, I brought the program to public/community radio where diversity is acceptable and ratings are not the primary measure of success). I respectfully submit that the Deadheads are a mindful lot and a worthwhile addition to the cultural mix of the station.
I take the freedom of KPFA very seriously, I must add. I am required by political necessity to bleep the word "fucker" from 'Wharf Rat'; in a world that is capable of punching such random holes in the fabric of liberty, we all have a lot of defending and celebrating to do. The Deadheads are for the most part a white, well-educated and well-heeled lot, but that does not exempt us from the shadow of oppression that creeps across the landscape. I sincerely hope that we are able to spend the lion's share of our time here celebrating rather than defending the truth and fun of American life.
I know there are more significant things I could be doing in this world, but I have the privilege of working closely with the music of the Grateful Dead. I have been speaking this musical language nearly as long as I have been hearing it, and my hands-on knowledge of its workings informs my appreciation of the music as listening matter. I put the Dead's best foot forward on the radio every week; with apologies to the late Joseph Campbell and Madge the manicurist, I'm not just following my bliss, I'm soaking in it!
© David Gans, 1990

The Grateful Dead: Dead But Unburied Dreams of the Sixties

Mark CooperIndependent on Sunday, 14 October 1990
After 18 years of making magic music, the Grateful Dead – who return to Britain this week – still remain true to their legendary spontaneity. Mark Cooper provides a brief history of their career.
BY THE time the Grateful Dead finally shuffled on stage, the site of the 1972 Bickershaw rock festival had turned into a litter-strewn mudbath. After two days of heavy showers, even the most faithful of British "deadheads" had begun to acknowledge that 1967 was indeed a distant memory and that a sodden field near Wigan bore little resemblance to Golden Gate Park in the Summer of Love.
The Grateful Dead's credentials as emissaries of San Francisco's counter-culture were impeccable, but as disconsolate fans huddled together under strips of polythene, the notion that the band still had access to the psychedelic mysteries of the Sixties seemed increasingly ludicrous.
Yet when the Dead appeared, the rain suddenly stopped and the stage was framed by a brilliant sunset that transformed the sky into what the band's longsuffering fans greeted as some kind of celestial light show. As darkness gathered and the musicians began to explore a tense combination of feedback and skittering guitar lines, the audience allowed themselves to be led into this troubled space and then out again via exuberant rock 'n' roll. True to their legend, the Dead had offered safe passage through weird terrain.
Eighteen years and several generations of rock fans later, the Grateful Dead are returning to Britain with their reputation for creating such moments of magic still intact, and their earning-power at an all-time high. They scored their fast American hit single, the self-mythologising 'A Touch of Grey', in 1987: last year, they were the fourth-highest earning group of touring artists in the US, thanks to a gross take of $28.6m over 73 nights in 33 cities. Dismissed by many as a hopelessly antiquarian joke, the band continues to evoke the dreams of acid liberation which fuelled the cosmic adventurers of the Sixties.
Yet unlike most of the rock veterans who have made successful post-Live Aid comebacks, the group is not a greatest-hits machine trafficking in instant nostalgia. Instead the musicians remain true to the spontaneity of their younger days. No pre-recorded tapes or ranks of proficient young supporting mercenaries are required to prop them up. On the contrary: it is a matter of pride that they still never know what they're going to play before taking the stage.
Improvisation has always been the essence of a Grateful Dead concert, and while the overall structure became standardised many years ago, the specific content and tone of each performance remains refreshingly unpredictable. They are able to draw on a repertoire of around 400 songs (a mixture of covers and their own variations on blues, country and rock 'n' roll styles), but the heart of each concert remains the extended improvisation that occupies the middle section of each three-hour show. Those improvisations encompass extended passages of apparently random doodling, sudden explosions of noise and moments in which the group somehow locks into a triumphant theme and raises huge crowds to their feet as if by strings.
The Grateful Dead have turned grey and acquired paunches. and the band has emerged as an American cultural institution while remaining outside most of the rituals and business practices of the modem rock industry. They treat recording as a necessary evil and support themselves and their permanent staff of 36 by constant touring. They have no manager and no acknowledged leader. though Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist, remains the dominant figure.
Their secret is an unusually close rapport with their fans. The Dead have always enjoyed an intimate bond with their audience, nowadays cemented by their own computerised information network and their positive encouragement of home-taping – a heresy in today's profit-conscious atmosphere, but one through which they hold on to a link with the "alternative society".
Indeed, the Grateful Dead make very little sense at all without the "deadheads", the swaying mass of fans who hang on their every note, following the band from city to city. The band's longevity is due not only to its members' capacity for regeneration but also to the support of this body of fans, whose ranks have been constantly replenished by fresh young converts. Most members of the Grateful Dead's audience are in their teens, and enjoy a sense of community which recalls the love-ins and be-ins of the late Sixties.
There's even an appropriate sense of confrontation. As city authorities have grown increasingly hostile to the travelling bands of tie-dyed fans taking over their stadium parking lots in a sea of camper vans. Garcia has argued that following the Dead has come to represent vanishing American freedoms. "Some of them are discovering something you can be involved with, be a part of, in an America which is getting more and more repressive in a kind of subtle way," he observed recently.
From the first, the Grateful Dead developed their music as a means of pursuing the inevitable. Formed in the Bay area in 1965, the band grew from two previous outfits, Mother Macree's Uptown Jug Champions and a blues band called the Warlocks. The Dead started off working bars and their ability to switch between blues, rock 'n' roll and country style continues to make what Garcia has described as "a regular shoot-em-up saloon band". Yet they have never reconciled themselves to the constrictions of the three-minute song, and still tend to merge all rhythms into a characteristic loping shuffle. When they teamed up with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters for the "acid tests" that preceded the Summer of Love, they would allow a standard song like 'In the Midnight Hour' to swell into a long improvisation dominated by Garcia's questing guitar. The music evolved with the new acid consciousness, the peaks and troughs of the long jams echoing the highs and lows of a trip.
"Were chasing something that's really invisible," Mickey Hart, one of their two drummers, has said recently of the benign, trance-like music they have produced. "Either we're mad, or there's really something out there." As archetypal American transcendentalists, the Dead's American dream celebrates the new freedoms of inner consciousness and the limitless possibilities of space.
The ideas that loosely underpin the Dead's aesthetic were commonplace in the Sixies. These days they have come to symbolise the last redoubt of hippy culture. Their commitment to improvisation has grown over the years, and so has their audience. Despite the deaths of no fewer than three keyboard players within the last 18 years (the latest, Brent Mydland of a heroin overdose this summer), and Garcia's descent into drug addiction in the mid-Eighties, the Dead have survived the Sixties without ever quite leaving them. Their spooky name and death's-head logo may have lost their initial chill, but the rock stars remain defiantly outside the American mainstream, flourishing as a law unto themselves.
Since Garcia shrugged off his drug problems a few years ago, the Grateful Dead have publicly distanced themselves from substance abuse without ever quite denouncing the drug culture which spawned them. These days they advocate environmental conservation rather than LSD.
The band's playing is now more lucid and more consistent than it has been in years, even if it only rarely attains its earlier magical heights. Back at Bickershaw in 1972, the Grateful Dead were already surrounded by a nostalgic glow. That nostalgia has increased as the band's initial faith in the possibilities of music has settled down to attainable goals.
Yet its young following and its gift for collective improvisation has given the band the sort of career that was probably beyond even the most vivid acid-fuelled dreams of the Sixties. That was a time for sweepingly optimistic statements about the spiritual power of rock and roll, and in this respect, too, it stays true to itself. "Following the Grateful Dead around on tour during the summer is like running away and joining the circus," says Jerry Garcia. "It's one of the last adventures."
© Mark Cooper, 1990





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Grateful Dead

Tom HibbertQ, January 1991
OUTSIDE THE Grugahalle, a monstrous concert erection in Essen, Germany, a bearded fellow bearing more than a passing resemblance to the young Charles Manson is drifting dreamily about with outstretched palm.
"Lick my hand, man," he says in Californian drawl to equally dreamy passers-by, many of whom comply with the somewhat unhygienic request. "Lick my hand, man, there's too much on it." Apparently, said hand has become covered mysteriously with a liquid form of some hallucenogenic drug. He just can't cope. These things happen.
Elsewhere on the ground of the Grugahalle car park young people in dotty clothes have their wares laid out for inspection: badly printed T-shirts that say "Old Kids On The Block" and feature ill-drawn caricatures of a certain rock band from California; distressed bongos; thin but savoury vegetarian broths ("Lick my spoon, man"). Etcetera. Trade is conducted not in Deutschmarks but in US dollars. "Where are you from?" "California." "Oh, right, I saw you in Long Beach, right?" "How many times you seen the Dead, man?" I am asked. Um, about seven, I think. "Oh, I've seen 'em 736 times. Had to miss a show last year 'cos my old lady had a baby." They called the child Jack Straw – as in Jack Straw From Wichita. Turned out to be a girl child. These things happen.
There must be four or five thousand Americans here in Essen tonight, some the children of servicemen, many more who have made the trip over to follow The Grateful Dead on the group's first European jaunt since 1981. A severe case here of California uber Alles. Some of these "Deadheads", driven by their strange obsession to be near the band wherever it might be, are rich kids, travelling Club Class or even First and staying in the nicest hotels; others are poor, had to sell the pick-up truck to get here, have to sell stew concocted from dubious local ingredients to get by, sleep in youth hostels or the park or don't sleep at all. Rich or poor, they all look the same in their tie-dyes and skull bandanas...
The only Germans here at the Grugahalle tonight seem to be the police, who survey the scene with some bemusement. They've seen nothing like this since, ooh, since The Grateful Dead were here nine years ago, probably. Things will be back to normal next week when the concert hall boasts its "Oldie Night" featuring Percy Sledge, Herman's Hermits, Dave Dee, The Equals, The Lords and Moderation Uschi Nerke... The Grateful Dead are, of course, much older than The Equals. The Equals, despite the undoubted qualities of 'Baby Come Back', 'Michael And The Slipper Tree', 'Viva Bobby Joe' and other fine tunes, have never become a religion...
"Get out our face! Get outta here!!"
Two days after Essen – where the Dead played a "damn fine" set which included 'He's Gone', during which several thousand voices from California could be heard singing, nay baying, along with the line that goes "Steal your face right off your head", a line that seems to hold some mystic moment for the committed Deadhead (something of a tautology this: if you are a Deadhead you are committed – and probably should be committed, too, haha) The Grateful Dead are in Berlin, ensconced in the top-of-the-range Intercontinental Hotel, and a tour manager is losing his rag. The American Deadhead, the proper Deadhead, would never do anything as uncool as to walk into GD premises to request autographs. No. The American Deadhead, the proper Deadhead, will go to all the concerts, tape all the shows, time all the guitar solos, make a check of whenever Bob Weir forgets the words to 'The Other One', print out set lists for Deadhead friends who couldn't make it that night, compare notes, relate, interface, mellow out. Etcetera. The Deadheads are a roving community who live for the band but not with the band. They don't seek contact That's not done. They don't want to crowd Jerry's space, do they?
But the German fans do not understand these rules. Four or five German fans have trespassed upon the sacred foyer of the Intercontinental and, seeing Dead bassist Phil Lesh with child in pushchair coming towards them, have surrounded him with polite requests for autographs. They bring out their much-loved copies of Live Dead and American Beauty and Workingmans Dead for Lesh to sign but he's not having it. "What is the problem?" asks the leader of this improper Deadhead group, Berlin branch. "We buy all these records. We make you rich. You haven't been to Germany for nine years. All we ask is you sign some records. What is the problem?"
"The problem," says Lesh, "is I don't want to." Jerry Garcia comes out of a lift, small child in hand. He witnesses the commotion. Deftly, given his portly stature, he spins round, tugs child back in lift and disappears. "Get out our face!" roars the tour manager, and the German fans are rudely ushered from the portals of the Intercontinental. These things happen...
The Grateful Dead, unusually for a top American rock act (they are always amongst the top-grossing concert acts for a year, never have to work again, really, but – unusually for a top American rock act – adore playing music) have never been comfortable with the thing they call "fame". From 1965/'66 and the so-called Acid Tests organised by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters (LSD-drenched events at which the Dead would perform and at which, according to this 1990 European tour concert programme, "people got stoned, discovered that it was OK, and that there were lots more freaks out there than they might have thought", until 1987 there was not much of a problem. The Grateful Dead belonged to the Deadheads and the Deadheads left them alone. To the rest of the world The Grateful Dead were an anachronism, '60s throwback deadbeats. It was not cool to like The Grateful Dead. But then they made their In The Dark LP and got on to MTV with 'Touch Of Grey', a charming track featuring the muted rallying cry of "We will get by/We will survive." In 1987 Jerry Garcia talked to Q. He said he was "just appalled" that this single had been a hit...Unsurprising, really, as The Grateful Dead have never been at their most comfortable in a studio "environment" (their latest commercial release, Without A Net, is yet another "live" effort to follow Live/DeadEurope '72 and all the many others. "I don't know what it is about the studio for us," says Weir. "We prefer playing live; the studio is a bore. I guess it's the other way round for most bands. We get bored if we have to repeat anything. We'll do maybe two takes and then get sick of the damn tune and have to move on. Bands that have a lot of success in the studio I guess don't get bored that easily. Either that or they're so good that they can get the perfect take very quickly. We are not that good."
In 1990 Bob Weir is sitting in his Intercontinental Hotel room in a sensible shirt (he always wears a sensible shirt), toying with an American-styled football (he likes his sports and, now in his forties – when, if the myth of the Dead as eternal drug-sozzled dopers could be believed, he should be raddled beyond belief – is the picture of vitality and health) agrees that embracing Top 40 "culture" was something of a strategic mishap.
"It's horrible," he says. "It was a major change for us being on MTV. We'd been doing it, playing The Grateful Dead, for 20 years completely anonymous and then suddenly we're all 'stars'. Garcia's been very easily recognisable for a long time – you can see him for miles – and he's been pretty much hassled by his fame. I never understood what he was complaining about until we were on MTV and the rest of us became recognisable, too. It was so sudden, it was a real shock. I had thought that the nature of our fame was different, that we were heroes of the people or something like that and people would just leave us alone. But that all changed. If they've seen you on TV, they seem to feel like they own you. Being famous is kind of a drag. It's messy work..."
Bill Kreutzmann, stalwart Dead drummer who looks like your average middle-aged friendly good-time American rancher (which is exactly what he is when he's not banging the drums) and who has not done any interviews in some 15 years (scoop!) does not entirely agree with his colleague. Fame? So what?
"Jesus, man, I don't know. I think it's kind of funny. We've been on MTV but so what? This is where people go wrong. They see us on MTV and they lump us in with all the other bands and think that we're famous but we're not. I don't compare us with other bands. That would be a trap. I don't ever do that. I'll tell you a story from a while ago. We played at this festival called the Monterey Pop Festival..." He is recalling it as if it were a "while ago" or yesterday; this was 1967. "...and we got squeezed between Jimi Hendrix and The Who. And I was so scared that I got sick before the set. I threw up. That was nerves, nothing else. And right then I realised that if I could just stop comparing and play the music, things would be fine. Monterey was really scary, man; it was like the biggest show we'd ever done and we're following The Who and they had those tremendous theatrics going on and we felt so small and inconsequential that we didn't play that well. Bad mistake. We had to realise The Grateful Dead were unique..."
The Grateful Dead played so badly at Monterey, it seems, that they insisted on being cut out of the famous film. "Yeah," says Kreutzmann, "We wouldn't be in that film. We just looked like rabbits before they go to be slaughtered..."
The Acid Tests, Monterey, Woodstock, Altamont...The Grateful Dead were there at all of them.
"The Acid Tests," recalls Weir, "are I think, by and large, misunderstood. They were a lot like a party but it wasn't a party, it was much more than that. People would take LSD but that was back when LSD was really an adventure rather than a diversion. Back then, LSD wasn't a drug, it was something else. People would call it a sacrament. What happened at the Acid Tests with regard to synchronicity, telepathy, stuff like that, I mean the discoveries we made were profound."
When did he last take LSD?
"I stopped taking LSD in 1966. After a year of it, I came to the realisation that I was going back to the same place, the bloom was off the rose, the adventure wasn't there. If I knew where I was going before I popped the tab, what was the point in popping it?"
Bill Kreutzmann tries to explain the Acid Tests to me. He makes a touch more sense than his colleague.
"Oh, man, the Acid Tests were wonderful. They were amazing. They were really fun. There was a place you could go, get high on acid, which I did, and not have a care in the world that you were high because everybody was high and nobody was judging you and you couldn't make a wrong move. It was all on the plus side, it was all moving in vanilla. Vanilla and noise and you'd play your music and get into incredible weird conversations and see weird things. It was a far out trip, man." He really does say this: "It was a far out trip, man." It's sweet.
When did he last take LSD?
"Oh, quite a few years ago. Probably about four or five years. But I never said I stopped taking it. I might do it again. But not when I'm drumming because there are certain things with drumming that you have to do with your arms and the acid maybe doesn't want you to do those things. The acid might say, Hey! Let's flip out here! Let's try this! Ha ha." Kreutzmann flails his arms around as if auditioning for The Equals...
The Dead were at Woodstock. "Woodstock was a pretty interesting deal," says Bill. "It was raining wet and we were getting all these electric shocks off the stage and nearly getting killed every minute. But it was quite an event. More than anything else, that showed me that there was really a change in society going down. There was really something happening, man. I'd never seen that many people and I was scared of all those people..."
The Dead were at Altamont, where, according to boring rock historians, the naively optimistic spirit of the '60s died amid the violence and the stabbing. "Altamont was definitely horrible," says Bill. "It was so bad. I was sitting on a big flat bed truck off the stage and I saw it happen, that horrible knifing, and we had a show elsewhere to play that night for Bill Graham and I was just so blown away that I said, I can't possibly play after that. How can you get up on stage and play after such an awful event? I refused to play. And Bill Graham charged the band for not appearing!"
And in 1976 the Dead did something rather rock cosmic all of their own: they played at the Pyramids in Egypt. Far out or what?
"Far out," confirms Kreutzmann. "Hairy. I had just busted my left wrist because I got kicked off a horse, badly screwing up, so I was playing one-handed. That was a real trip. Being at the Pyramids was just so overwhelming with The Sphinx just sitting right on your shoulder. It was an amazing time and they did a really cool thing for us: they closed off the Great Pyramid to everybody but our group, so we got carted around like Pharaohs for an hour or two. There was Ken Kesey inside the Great Pyramid singing 'Oh, Susannah'! Weird shit! It was delightful..."
From the Acid Tests through the Pyramids to the reunified Germany with their peculiar followers in tow, The Grateful Dead go on forever. Kreutzmann, Weir, Garcia, Phil Lesh have been there from the start; other drummer Mickey Hart (who Bill brought into the band in 1967: "It was really good when Mickey got in the band because I hadn't studied rudiments in drumming, I just played any which way. He's studied the 26 rudiments plus ones he's written himself and that really got my chops up") has usually been there, give or take a few enforced "vacations". But in the keyboard department things have not been so constant and fluid. In 1971 Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, rasping blues person of rusty voice and mad mouth organ, died of drink and the heart went out of the band...
"Pigpen was the heart and soul of the band," says Weir. "He was a beloved brother. But his passing was long in coming so we all were pretty much prepared for it. It happened so slowly that he was long gone before he was officially dead. We knew he was dying and I think he knew too. His doctors told our management and our management told us. So when he finally did die, it was almost a relief..."
Then there was Tom Constanten – TC – who went funny over Scientology, and Keith Godcheaux (whose wife, Donna, almost ruined the band with her unlovely onstage caterwaulings) who was fired in 1978 and died in a car crash shortly after. And then came Brent Mydland. This summer Mydland succumbed to an over-potent speedball concoction.
"That was kind of a relief, too," says Weir. "Brent died of a terminal illness. A disease of addiction, of alcoholism. He wasn't happy in this world and we all saw it coming. It was a bit of a shock but not much, really; we all reacted with exasperation because we had tried to reach him but he just wouldn't hear us: He just wasn't in control of himself. I surely miss him but I don't know what more I could have done to reach him. He was on his own railroad and that was that..."
The Grateful Dead now have two keyboard players – brave men, undoubtedly free of superstition – Bruce Hornsby (a temporary fixture) and Vince Welnick (former employers: Todd Rundgren and The Tubes) who has had to learn over 200 songs in as many hours, poor chap. Wish him well...
We're in the Guiness Book Of World Records, man," says Bill Kreutzmann with glee. "Watkins Glen!" Watkins Glen was the biggest single rock gig ever. 600,000 people to see The Band and The Allman Brothers and a lot of other people who no longer exist or are has-beens. And The Grateful Dead. One wonders why Kreutzmann is so impressed with this particular record. For it is a fact that of all the rock groups that have ever existed on God's earth, The Grateful Dead have played to more people than any other. Well over 2,000 shows, Gawd knows how many spectators.
"You know what this means?" asks Weir, contemplating the enormity of it all. "This means that we have probably seen more faces than anybody else in history ever has. Er, I don't know much what to think of that. There is, I guess, a certain wealth to that. If there's anything The Grateful Dead amounts to, it's that: we have touched more people, directly, personally, one-to-one, than anyone who ever lived. Various movie stars and world figures have reached more people, but not personally, not directly in real time, not face to face, like us. We've seen millions and millions of faces..."
There is a certain flaw, however, in this argument. Tot up the figures and The Grateful Dead have played live to more people than any singer, any actor, any group, any Dictator in history, we accept that. But these are not all different people; Deadheads are fiercely loyal and have baffling free-to-travel powers: The Grateful Dead are performing before the same faces over and over again. Here come some outside Bob Weir's Berlin hotel window; they are shuffling along with painted faces and rucksacks (containing, no doubt, scented candles and sparklers and nourishing broth ingredients and who knows what) singing the refrain from 'Truckin'' ("like the doo-dah man"). What does Bob Weir make of Deadhead commitment/fanaticism? When Jerry Garcia, skulking somewhere in a lift with child, spoke to me in 1987, he described Deadheads following the group around as "one of the remaining American adventures you can have". Bob?
"Well, The Grateful Dead is a great American institution so I suppose...er..." This is a lengthy pause. "Actually, I don't know much what to make of it all. It bothers me a little. Those people are obsessive. But they'd be obsessive about something else if it were not for us, and we are harmless, we don't use off-colour lyrics or have backwards messages or anything like that. But the fact that we've been made into a religion bothers me. They assume that we are offering them a lifestyle but really they invented it themselves. It's nothing to do with us. It's really nothing to do with us and I'm really unclear as to how we are associated with it. I try to keep my brain active, I try to remain healthy, I don't do drugs, I never said anything to these people that indicated that they should wear tie-dyes and be footloose and have that kind of society. Around The Grateful Dead has grown up this weird religion and I haven't the foggiest notion what to make of it. It bothers me. It bothers me..."
It doesn't bother Bill Kreutzmann. In fact, he seems to find the whole deal rather a hoot.
"Deadheads? Jesus, man, sometimes it gets a little wiggy, some people live their whole lives for the band and that's a little too far out for me, but I can't criticise what I don't understand and I sure love them for it. Maybe they just follow us around hoping maybe we'll actually play good some night. 85 per cent of the time we play like awful, horrible. I used to die over that, get drunk and do something really stupid. These days I just wake up and think, Oh, I'm going to leave The Grateful Dead today because we stink, but then when I wake up a little more, leaving The Grateful Dead seems like a silly concept because The Grateful Dead is unique. What does it matter if we stink? Fifteen per cent of the time we play OK. That's enough. Maybe that's how The Grateful Deadheads wake up...If people find their fun and happiness hanging around as Grateful Deadheads, that's cool. The world needs The Grateful Dead, you know. All these stoners, they need something to do and a place to go. And we keep them out of Janet Jackson concerts, hahaha!"
Deadheads, eh? Here comes one now. A long-haired, long-skirted earth mother type wheeling around inside Berlin's airport-lounge-styled ICC at intermission time. And, oh dear, she is approaching me.
"Mickey," she says, "I don't want to cramp you but could you sign my hand, I'm sooooorry?" She gives me a beatific, dreamy smile. Apparently, I look, to the dazed eye, not unlike Mickey Hart in disguise.
Actually, I reply, I'm not Mickey.
"Oh, thaaat's cool," she goes. "Sign my hand anyway...!"
© Tom Hibbert, 1991





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Grateful Dead: One From The Vaults

Edwin PounceyNew Musical Express, June 1991
FOR DEVOTED Dead Heads, this release is a dream come true as (not to be outdone by Dylan) the Grateful Dead open up their tape vaults and let selected items from their vast performing history loose on the masses.
The Dead are at their best when they are playing in front of an audience, where a mercurial energy uncoils from the very heart of the band to transplant your mind, body and soul to some other dimension.
This recording was made by the band on August 13, 1975, to celebrate both the completion of their Blues For Allah LP and the forming of their own Grateful Dead Records label. Performed before an invited audience at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, the Dead previewed Blues For Allah played a little rock 'n' roll and stepped back into their past to revive a few of their early tunes.
One From The Vaults starts off shakily with Jerry Garcia's trembling vocal intro for 'Help On The Way', but once the band warm up then there is no stopping them. Garcia's guitar is soon overflowing with acid attack, majestically backed up by Bob Weir's equally spiked guitar, Phil Lesh's beast of a bass and the double drum roll of Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. The Dead's keyboard player at this time was the late Keith Godchaux who (with wife Donna on additional vocals) added extra musical rush to the band's performance.
Godchaux may have lacked the blues bite of Pigpen (the legendary Dead keyboard player whom he replaced), but his spacier style of playing charted the Dead on a new voyage of inner discovery.
One From The Vaults smacks of history in the making and should be snapped up by both hardcore Dead Head and the 'Deadicated' newcomer.

© Edwin Pouncey, 1991
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An Interview with Jerry Garcia

Richard GehrNewsday, 9 September 1991
IT WAS THE first thing that happened to the Grateful Dead when they arrived in New York City on June 1, 1967, and Jerry Garcia remembers it as though it were, well, the Summer of Love.
"Somebody picked us up at the airport in VW buses," recalled the guitarist by telephone recently. "We hit town and there was a little parade. The hippies from the East Village came, and we took our gear to Tompkins Square Park and played with the Fugs. It was fun." It was also free.
The Tompkins Square Bandshell was demolished a couple of weeks ago, but the jollies continue at Madison Square Garden, where the Dead conclude a sold-out nine-performance run this Wednesday. Back then, the Dead (whose longtime core includes guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, and drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart) were intensely playful alchemists who took audiences along on bluesy psychedelic star flights that played fast and loose with musical parameters.
Today it's a somewhat different entity, a heavily mythified and economically prosperous beast with nearly 30 years collective experience behind it. As other groups gang up to offer cost-efficient concert packages, the Dead easily sell out scores of arena shows each year on their own with minimal hype. Sometimes quality and consistency become their own reward.
For Garcia, the Dead are in a transitional period, having replaced Brent Mydland (who died of a drug overdose last year) with keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick. "I would say that within the next couple of years the band will go through some interesting changes," he says. "I think we're going to end up with something more powerful than what we've had in the past. When you add more guys, you've got to have a greater agreement about precisely what the tempos are and how the time is divided. Especially since one of the guys is Hornsby, who has great chops and is into dividing up the time into little teeny pieces."
Despite its inherent looseness, and occasional jams with the Neville Brothers and Branford Marsalis, the Grateful Dead event-experience has become more codified over the years - much like its eternally tie-dyed, mainly college-aged audience. Does Garcia ever get a notion to shake the whole thing up?
"Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I'm doing that right now in a mild sort of way. Because it suddenly occurred to me this last year that, hey, I'm starting to get a little tired." Is there anything specific Garcia would like to see the Dead do more of? "I'd like to see us take more vacations!" he says with a laugh. "But if we're going to keep on doing this, we have to focus on making it more fun for us. If that means making it more challenging, or whatever it takes, that's what we've got to do."
Don't fret about Garcia retiring anytime soon; he won't hit 50 until next year. Meanwhile, the excellent Jerry Garcia Band (Arista), a recently released double-CD, documents the live adventures of his primary sideline, a rhythmically taut groove machine specializing in Bob Dylan and r&b cover versions. The versatile band's namesake characterizes the group as "relaxed," "comfortable," and "low-maintenance," in contrast to the Dead, which is "kind of a big deal." Why so much Dylan? "His songs have real intelligent lyrics. They're very resonant for me."
Another facet of Garcia's versatile musical persona, which ranges from old-timey styles to free jazz, receives exposure on Jerry Garcia/David Grisman (Acoustic Disc), a deceptively casual-sounding non-electric project pairing the former Captain Trips with modern bluegrass music's most formidable mandolin player.
"We complement each other," the guitarist says. "He's kind of a tightly organized, well-rehearsed player and I'm a loose, undisciplined kind of player." Working a similar vein, Garcia has also been recording with Red Allen, "one of the fine old voices of bluegrass."
Garcia and the Dead have always operated as an alternative to the music industry. Many of their recordings are available only on the band's own label, while approximately half their concert tickets are sold through Grateful Dead Ticket Service, which Ticketmaster and Ticketron have pressured the group to discontinue. Although the band records for a major label, Arista, its records often seem like afterthoughts to the concert experience. By giving old songs fresh twists, like a repertory jazz group, the roadwork fuels their legend while paradoxically making them less appealing to an industry that relies on the appearance of constant novelty to generate profit.
According to Garcia, the main problem with the music industry is that it isn't doing anything to support its future. "Where are musicians going come from? The music business makes enough money so there could be a music college or something, but it doesn't give anything back. It's not very conscientious."
While drugs still tend to play a certain part in much of the audience's enjoyment of the band (every religion needs its sacrament), Garcia himself shies away from the sort of chemical stimulation that inspired the band's improvisatory adventures. Garcia claims not to remember the last time he intentionally played live on LSD.
"Acid today comes in such small doses that if they dosed me, I don't think I'd notice it, to tell you the truth. Sometimes I feel like I've been hit with something, so I'm sure it occasionally happens. But I get a serious buzz just playing. My responsibility is to deliver a competent show and I have enough trouble going out there normal. The days you could get high and the audience wouldn't mind are over."
© Richard Gehr, 1991
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Bill Graham: Tribute Concert, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Michael GoldbergRolling Stone, 12 December 1991
ON SUNDAY, November 3rd, more than 300,000 people showed up at the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park for the biggest rock concert ever held in San Francisco; they were there to memorialize Bill Graham.
The free show was billed as a day of "Laughter, Love and Musk: To Celebrate the Lives of Bill, Steve and Melissa," and it felt like a one-day Woodstock. Every hippie and former hippie in the Bay Area was there. Performing for free were most of the Bay Area's biggest stars, along with a few out-of-towners: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Grateful Dead, John Fogerty, Tracy Chapman, Journey, Santana, Los Lobos, Aaron Neville, Jackson Browne, Bobby McFerrin, Kris Kristofferson, Robin Williams, Joe Satriani and Joan Baez.
The Rebirth Brass Band kicked things off, playing on the back of a flatbed truck and leading a stream of people around the outer edge of the Polo Field in a New Orleans-style funeral procession. Browne then took the stage and, sitting at a grand piano, played one of his most moving songs, 'For a Dancer'. Carlos Santana led his band through Latin-flavored jazz-rock; Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos then joined the group for a rousing version of the Dead's 'Bertha'.
As the musicians played, the people just kept coming. They filled the Polo Field itself, then found observation spots among the surrounding trees and in areas . adjacent to the field. Ousters of multicolored balloons hung in the sky overhead; a plane flew by, dropping flowers onto the crowd.
The show just seemed to build and build. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, accompanied only by their guitars, gave moving readings of 'Teach Your Children', 'Love the One You're With', 'Long May You Run', 'Long Time Gone', 'Southern Cross', 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' and 'Wooden Ships'. Then brought back for an encore, Neil Young said: "Bill Graham made us all look good. He gave us a chance to show you that we could do something good beyond our own careers. He kept pushing us to do things for other people and making a place available for us to do it, so there was no way out. Well, thank you, Bill. I'm going to do this song. I don't mean it to be a downer, but it's one of my songs. What can I tell you?" With that, CSNY went into 'Ohio'.
The Grateful Dead played with a spirit that recalled their many nights at the various ballrooms in San Francisco in the late Sixties. They recaptured much of the blues-rock sound of their earliest records in performances of 'I Know You Rider' and 'Wang Dang Doodle'.
The Dead then brought Fogerty out and blasted through 'Born on the Bayou', 'Green River', 'Bad Moon Rising' and 'Proud Mary', giving all of Fogerty's Creedence Clearwater Revival classics a slightly strange spin. They then launched into an extended medley that moved through 'Truclrin'', 'The Other One', 'Wharf Rat' and the "sunshine daydream" section of 'Sugar Magnolia'.
Young joined them to sing a touching version of Bob Dylan's 'Forever Young', and the Dead ended their set with 'Touch of Grey', leading the crowd in the repeated chorus of "We will survive."
Finally, Joan Baez, joined by Kris Kristofferson and Graham Nash on harmony
 vocals, brought the day to a close with
 'Amazing Grace'
© Michael Goldberg, 1991
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Grateful Dead: Live Dead (Warner Bros.)

Richard WilliamsMelody Maker, 14 March 1970
I WASN'T expecting too much from this, having been bored silly by the Dead on their previous three albums. But all the fuss is clarified on this double-album, recorded in person, which allows them to stretch out and take their time layin' the licks down.
'Dark Star' is almost worth the price of the album, as Phil Lesh brings his bass guitar up to join the guitars of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir in the front line for some surprisingly delicate and inventive interplay.
Pigpen gets off some nice backup organ behind the stunning Garcia on 'Death Don't Have No Mercy', while the unusual choice of 'Turn On Your Lovelight' works well. Listening to this, you can glimpse what all the fuss has been about. 
© Richard Williams, 1970





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Grateful Dead, Allman Bros. Band, Hampton Grease Band: Sports Arena, Atlanta

Miller Francis Jr.Great Speckled Bird, The, 16 May 1970
IF YOU WERE one of the few people who wasn't at the Sports Arena Sunday afternoon for the Grateful Dead concert, you've probably heard by now just what went down. Frankly, this was one of the greatest musical/sensual experiences the Atlanta hip community has ever had, rivalled only by another Dead offering in Piedmont Park after last year's Atlanta pop festival. Except that this year's big blow-out had more to do with where we are at now.
Imagine it: THE HAMPTON GREASE BAND, forever associated with Atlanta/Piedmont Park/Twelfth Gate/Sports Arena/everywhere we have needed their weird, hilarious brand of heavy Rock: THE GRATEFUL DEAD, the West Coast Rock band most closely associated with the spirit of community, a band that has most consistently served the needs of the people and helped to raise their political and sensual consciousness, evoker of high-powered acid and swirling colors and hair, good times and free music in the streets and parks from the old days of the Haight (before HARD DRUGS and media-induced EGO TRIPPING), come like Pied Pipers to our own Piedmont Park to spread the word of what community can mean, back again but this time with another Rock group to tie together the experiences of West and South — THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, the folks who took a lot of the hype and bullshit out of "white blues" and put a lot of their own grace and dignity and soul into the music, more in love with Atlanta than ever after successful excursions into Fillmore territory, East and West, after a beautiful album of some of their best of last year (a new one waits around the corner and it'll be better, just you watch), back in Atlanta for an unannounced jam with the Dead... And who here in Atlanta will ever be the same? What we felt (and what other sense could you invoke to turn people on to the event?), inside and out, head and body, was the power and beauty of the many strains of our own community coming together, after another year of paying dues and fucking up, coming together in a few precious, explosive hours of what, for want of a better term, we will call Ecstasy!
SOME OF THE NICEST THINGS OF ALL:
• a big crowd — most of us back together again after a series of bummers.
• No chairs on the dance floor.
• No reserved seats.
• Pigs that you could count on the fingers of one hand and still have some fingers left.
• Total absence of uptightness and Atlanta paranoia.
• Down home, sweaty, funky, sleazy, good ole Atlanta Sports Arena where nobody gets busted.
• Announcement by Ed Shane that the Allman Brothers were present and would jam with the Grateful Dead.
• Outasight stage built by community people for the Community Benefit.
• Community staffed stage crew.
• New material by the Hampton Grease Band, including more trumpet than usual, and probably the strangest setting for 'Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey' we can imagine.
• 'Evans', as usual, bringing down the house — Jerry and Holbrook (drums and bass guitar) leading the group in a building Spanish progression while Hampton shouts "Evans! Evans! Evans!"
• Jerry Fields doing some fine singing.
• 
The Allman Brothers lending their equipment to replace the Dead equipment left behind in Boston by the airline.
 Dope and more dope and very good dope, too.
 Sam Cutler, former stage manager for the Rolling Stones (he is one of the individuals that the Stones and everybody else involved in the Altamont disaster, including you and me, are singling out to put the blame on instead of recognizing what Capitalism and Ego-tripping can do to crush the world we are trying to build), serving as stage manager for the Dead.
 Murray Silver, turned on to Kent State, and hinting that this "may be my last concert", shouting "Power to the People!"
• 
ACLU lawyers and freaks playing pickupsticks on the floor during breaks.
• 
Instant replay of the Atlanta International Frisbee Contest.
• 
Red fists on strike T-shirts worn by Sam Cutler and Dead stage crew.
• 
The music of the Grateful Dead.
• 
Vibrations that kept building and building until we moved on up to a whole other level.
• 
Jerry Garcia's twanging, singing guitar, and the look on his face, and on the faces of the rest of the Dead as total communication between music and people was established.
• 
'Mama Tried' by Merle Haggard, one of the first straight C&W songs to be picked up on by Rock lovers.
• 
The first appearances on stage of Duane, Greg, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks.
• 
The first soaring blue notes played by Duane Allman — and what it did to the crowd; the duo riffs he played with Garcia and how the jam turned on the musicians participating in it.
• 
Murray Silver in the crowd, wearing on his head a wreath of green, looking like a Bacchus figure from the Satyricon.
• 
An incredible, unbelievable, destroying Southern hymn played by The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band: 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken?' Most accurate theme of what was happening.
• 
Brief burst of terror at the very end of the music as a firecracker exploded with an incredibly loud BAM!, a bright flash, and a cloud of smoke — a perfect audile exclamation mark for this most profound musical/community statement at the Sports Arena.
© Miller Francis Jr., 1970





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An Evening with the Grateful Dead

Michael LydonRolling Stone, 17 September 1970
WE CHANGE and our changings change, a friend said once. It sounded true, but it seems too that through it all we stay the same. That obscure rumination takes us to, of all places, backstage at the Fillmore West, a spot that has mutely witnessed its share of changes and gone through a few of its own. Backstage used to be literally that, a few murky closets with just a few inches separating them from the amps. Now the car dealer on the corner has gone through his changes, and Bill Graham got extra floor space for a dressing room as big a the lobby of a grand hotel.
No palms but a lot of sofa, on one of which sat Jerry Garcia as if he owned the place. Which he once had, sort of: when it was the Carousel, changed from an Irish dance hall to a mad den of psychedelic thieves who for a few months put on a series of dances the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the early days of the Fillmore.
Jerry Garcia had played over there too–he had been a founding member, so to speak–but he had never owned it. Bill Graham had owned that Fillmore and now he owned this one, and Jerry was working for him one more night. There was a time when Bill Graham was always on hand when the Dead were playing, but on this night he was in New Yok on business (the next night in LA), and a second or third generation underling, a soft-faced young man named Jerry Pompili, was watching the clock and counting the heads on behalf of Fillmore Inc.
It was just past eight-thirty, showtime, and Jerry P. approached Jerry G. and asked if they were ready to go on.
Jerry was deep in one of his eyeball-to-glittering-eyeball monologues, but he paused long enough for a glance around that indicated he was the only musician present and accounted for. "The other guys will be here in a minute, man," he said. "Phil’s the only one who might be late."
"Well, said Pompili, "what happens if Phil is late?" allowing into his voice a hint of his hope that the Dead would find a way to start without Phil, to be nice for once. A hopeless hope.
"Nothing happens," said Jerry, grinning deep within his hairy tangle, "We’ll start whenever Phil arrives."
"Okay," said Pompili, shrinking like a tired balloon, and Jerry geared back up to rapping speed, instantly oblivious of the interruption.
Everything had changed and nothing had changed. After over five years of extra inning play, the celebrated Fillmore (and all of rock ‘n’ roll show biz) versus the Grateful Dead game was still a nothing-nothing tie. For five of those years the Dead took their lumps, always scraping through but never out of trouble. In the past half year, their tenacity has finally begun to pay off (perseverance furthers, says the Book of Changes). The years of weathering cosmic crises have given them an unshakeable musical and group foundation (and even an odd sort of financial stability) and on that they are building afresh.
Typically, their luck waited until the last possible moment to change. 1969 ended with the near disaster of Altamont. The Dead had been crucial in its organisation, and they were as responsible as anyone for the sanctioned presence of the Hells Angels. That day–the Dead did not even get to play–was, says Jerry, "a hard, hard lesson," and while they were absorbing it in early 1970, they had an epic management crisis. Their manager, whom they had chosen because of his honesty and earnestness, was irritating some Dead family members who did not trust his ingratiating manner. Weeks of tense encounters led to a showdown and the manager was let go. Only then did the band discover that he had been bilking them all along; by that time he had disappeared and no one had the time or the heart for a suit.
Then they got busted en masse in New Orleans (their second big bust, the first was in the fall of ‘67 in San Francisco). That has now turned into just an inconvenience of time and money, but in March they didn’t know that. In the middle of all this, they had to make a record. Something complex was out of the question; Jerry and his writing partner Robert Hunter had some tunes, so they walked into Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco and banged it out in nine days.
The result is Workingman’s Dead, one of the best of the few good records released this yer, the Dead’s simplest production since their first LP, and their most popular release so far. "It was something," said Jerry. "All this heavy bullshit flying around us, so we just retreated in there and made some music. Only the studio was calm. The record was the only concrete thing happening, the rest was part of that insane legal and financial figment of everybody’s imagination, so I guess it came out of a place that was real to all of us. It was good old solid work. TC (pianist Tom Constanten) had just left to go his own way, and with his classicsal influence gone, we got back to being a rock ‘n’ roll band, not an experimental music group. Man, we had been wanting to boogie for a long time."
Workingman’s Dead is just about as a good a record as a record can be. Easy on the ears from the first listening, it gets mellower as it grows on you; a lot of different rhythms but one sure pulse. In it the Dead tap the same rich American vein that The Band has reached, and like The Band, they have made from it story songs whose down-home feel hiding sophisticated structures. The Dead’s moulding of the material, however, is a lot more raw and driving. The Dead look at the world from the outside edge, and their song heroes are losers and hardworking men. "A friend of the devil is a friend of mine," they sing at one point, and the closest they come to ‘I Shall Be Released’ is:
One way or another,
One way or another,
One way or another,
This darkness got to end.
That’s a long way from the messianic enthusiasm of ‘Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion’, but its won them more friends. Sales haven’t been of hit proportions, but enough to make Warner Bros. friendly for the first time since they were trying to sign the band up.
"Of course we still owe Warners money," said Jerry, "but we’re getting the debt down to the size where it’s more like a continual advance." A Dead family member, John McIntire, is now the manager, some old friends are watching the books, and the days when organs got repossessed five minutes before showtime have receded, at least for the present.
"We’re feeling good," Jerry went on, "really laid back, a little older and groovier, not travelling so much, staying at home and quieting down. We used to push ourselves and get crazy behind it, but now we’re getting more done but not having to work at it so hard."
No one could say when the turn from the old Grateful Dead to the new began, but they key was opening up the band’s structure. The Dead’s complex personal changes are as legendary as their public ones, and they ended only when they decided that they didn’t have to be just the Grateful Dead. They could also be Bobby Ace and the Cards from the Bottom, a country group led by Bob Weir, or Micky Hart and the Hartbeats which did a lot of golden oldie rockers. At the same time (spring 1969) Jerry got a pedal steel to fool around with and ended up commuting down to Palo Alto twice a week to play Nashville style in a little club. That group became the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and other Dead members sat in from time to time.
All that country music got them singing, something for which they had not been noteworthy in the past, and hours of three-part harmony rehearsal got them back to acoustic instruments. Less noise made them less wired. The small quiet groups could and did do club work around the Bay Area which meant gigs without touring or equipment hassles. All that ended up with the groove that made Workingman’s Dead possible, and has created a unique musical experience which they call, rather formally, "An Evening with the Grateful Dead".
Phil arrived, sweeping in with mad-man long strides, a few minutes before nine, and the latest evening began before a happy crowd of old-time heads. They opened with the acoustic part (there’s no other name), Jerry and Bob Weir on guitars, Pigpen on piano, Phil on electric bass, and Bill Kreutzmann (who alternates with Mikey Hart) on drums. The first tune was ‘Truckin’’, an easy-going autobiography of a band’s life on the road, dotted with busts and bad times and long gone friends like Annie who they’ve heard is "living on reds, Vitamin C, and cocaine, and all you can say is, ain’t it a shame."
It went on like that for an hour, music soothing to weary hearts and hard-driven minds because it understands that state of mind only too well. Jerry and Bob shared lead guitar and vocal, Pigpen doodled around when he wanted and just sat there when he didn’t, and Phil and Bill kept the beat. David Nelson of the New Riders came in about halfway on mandolin, and Jerry switched to his Fender, and it was all very sweet and funky. They ended with ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ and believe it or not, the Grateful Dead looked angelic at last.
The New Riders came on after the break–Jerry on pedal steel, Mickey on drums, David Nelson on electric guitar, Marmaduke on lead vocal and acoustic guitar, and Dave Torbert on bass. They opened with ‘Six Days on the Road’ and that set the pace for a rolling set of country rock that probably sounded a lot like the Perkins Brothers when Carl was working honkytonks around Jackson, Tennessee. Except that Carl Perkins never had a drummer as intense and Mickey Hart, and while Jerry was most often tastefully traditional on the pedal steel, he allowed himself some freakouts banshee-style seldom heard below the Mason-Dixon line. They ended with ‘Honky Tonk Women’, which was a gas; Keith Richard, from a film clip in the light show, watched them without cracking a smile.
Then it was time for the Grateful Dead, and everyone was on their feet moving as they began with ‘Dancing in the Street’. After that came a lovely ‘Mama Tried’, and then Pigpen took it away with an all-out dramatic rendition of ‘It’s a Man’s, Man’s World’. Out of that into ‘Not Fade Away’ and it was getting past one thirty; Jerry was still going strong after four hours on three instruments, but the Fillmore floor had gotten to us, and we wandered out with the Bo-Diddley-by-way-of-Buddy-Holly beat pounding on and on. It wasn’t one of those weird nights when, acid-blitzed, they gushed out music as hypnotic energy; it was more legible and, if not as spellbinding, more open music.
Those weird nights are surely not gone forever, but the Dead are a bit more careful these days. "Altamont showed us that we don’t want to keep people up that road anymore," Jerry said before the show. "Altamont taught us to be more cautious, to realise and respect the boundaries of our power and our space." The Dead never called themselves leaders, but they were high-energy promoters of the psychedelic revolution. On one hand, they now know that it’s not going to come as quickly as they thought; on the other, they know it is already too big for them to direct. They are now ready to be just helpers, like the rest of us. "At last the pressure’s off," said Jerry.
He was disturbed, however, about what he calls the "political pseudo-reality that we find when we go out on tour. Dig: there’s a music festival, but because there are people there, the radicals say, it’s a political festival now, not a music festival. I don’t want to take over anybody’s mind, but I don’t want anybody else to take over anybody’s mind. If a musical experience is forcibly transferred to a political plane, it no longer has the thing that made it attractive. There is something uniquely groovy about the musical experience; it is its own beginning and end. It threatens no one.
"The San Francisco energy of a few years back has become air and spread everywhere. It was the energy of becoming free and so it became free. But the political energy, the Berkeley energy, has assumed a serpentine form, become an armed, burrowing, survival thing. It’s still on the firebrand ‘To the barricades!’ trip that I thought we had been through in this century and wouldn’t have to will on ourselves again.
"‘Accentuate the positive’, though, that’s my motto," Jerry said with a gleam in his eye. "There are more heads very day. Heads are the only people who have ever come to see us, and it used to be that if we played some places, no one would come see us because there weren’t any heads in the town. Today there is no place without its hippies. No place."
With that Phil had come, and the band had to start juggin’, playing for the people and hoping to get them high. "We realised when we started," Jerry had said a few minutes before, "that as a group we were an invention, as new as the first chapter of a novel. We started with nothing to lose. Then suddenly there was something, but always with the agreement that we could go back to nothing if we wanted. So nothing that has ever gone down for the group has ever been real except to the fiction which could be made unreal at any time. A lot of times when we were at that point, we consulted the I Ching, and the change we’ve gotten has always said push on. So we have; there’s not much else we can do until the next change."

© Michael Lydon, 1970





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West Coast Rock: Get Your Wooden Noses 'Ere

Nick KentNew Musical Express, 3 November 1973
Grateful Dead: In the Wake of the Flood (Grateful Dead records, Import)
New Riders Of The Purple Sage: The Adventures of Panama Red (CBS, Import)
America: Hat Trick (Warner Bros.)
Steve Miller Band: The Joker (Capital, Import)
WHATEVER HAPPENED to West Coast rock?
It seems only yesterday that I could be found, my youthful visage untainted by the jaded pout of the rock writer, staring wide-eyed into "Musicland" or "One-Stop Records" at the latest selection of imported albums by California bands.
Surely you can remember when it was the main squeeze to be seen carrying the latest Steve Miller album on import or, when confronted at hippy gatherings and asked who your favourite combo was, to reply, with that perceptible glint of cosmic knowingness in your eye, "The Grateful Dead, man, Who else?"
Anyway, after no less than 6,567 boring live albums, The Grateful Dead have decided to release their first studio effort since the moderately excellent American Beauty, and it's absolutely dire.
The details? Why, certainly. To start with, the first side is quite unlistenable. 'Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo' appears to be an aimless attempt at rag-time blues which finds Jerry Garcia choosing the most boring chord progressions at his disposal to match Robert Hunter's lyrics (which always seem to sound authentic and profound without saying or meaning anything). The piano-player and the horn section sound like they're drunk, which may or may not be a good thing.
'Let Me Sing Your Blues Away' is just half-way decent but still far from acceptable – while both 'Row Jimmy' and 'Stella Blue' are so turgid and laid-back you keep expecting vocalist Garcia to expire at any moment.
Give him credit, Garcia does pull out some new chords on the latter tune, but the pace is so harrowingly funereal that it literally defies description.
Side Two fares a little better. Just a little.
'Here Comes Sunshine' sounds like a cross between 'Playin' in the Band', without the latter's sparkle, and a slowed down version of 'Baby, You're a Rich Man', without the Dead really knowing any of the song's chords. Draw your own conclusions.
'Eyes of the World' has a Latin cocktail-lounge sound coupled with "heavy cosmic awareness" lyrics and, finally, there's Bob Weir's 'Weather Report Suite' which starts off nicely with classical guitar intro and intriguing chords before slowly degenerating into a morass of earnest poeticism completed by a manic saxphone solo.
Dead heads will doubtless find this album beautiful and compelling. I find it turgid, flat and pretentious. Next, please.
Ah, The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Now these boys are into something quite different.
Cowshit and cocaine. In that order.
You know these boys are a barrel of laffs just by reading the lyric sheet. Take 'Lonesome L.A. Cowboy' for example: "I'm just a lonesome L. A. Cowboy/Hangin' out and hangin' or...I been smokin' dope – snortin' coke/Tryin' to write a song".
But let's mosey on down these pearly lines a mite to get to this hot chestnut of a verse – "I know Kris and Rita and Marty Mull/Are meetin' at the Troubadour/Get in on with the Joy of Cooking/While the crowd cries out for more." Yeee-haah.
The real killer about it is that these boys are actually serious! Just look at the picture of 'em on the inner sleeve – prime rejects from a screen-play for a Sam Peckinpah guts n' sheep-dip epic.
The band display their doper-cool on two other cuts – 'Panama Red' and 'Important Exportin' Man' – while showing that, just like their country cousin, The Dead, they too can get spun out on turgid, affected country ballads like 'One Too Many Stories' or 'You Should Have Seen Me Runnin''.
Come to think of it, this whole album is as crass as hell. I'm just wondering which member of the band will be first to get his wooden nose.
Compared to the aforementioned releases, America's album is positively innocuous. America are pretty innocuous anyway but that's beside the point.
A whole album of these three young bucks' earnest croonings is pretty unpalatable, but give 'em their due, they make great singles. 'Ventura Highway' was a menthol crusher of a 45 and 'Muskrat Love' is just as good.
For a start, it's a samba and second it's about the coital habits of the muskrat species. I love it.
The rest of the album is pretty bland, but I find it hard to dislike these guys. They're certainly no worse than The Bee Gees!
Finally there's Steve Miller – who always was an outsider of sorts. The Joker is the pick of the litter where this pile is concerned, but it still has very little going for it.
'Sugar Babe', 'Shu ba da du Ma Ma Ma Ma', and 'Mary Lou' are pleasant second-rate rock n' roll numbers that are rendered instantly forgettable when something of more substance is placed on the turntable. Miller performs a strong live version of 'Come on in my Kitchen' while another live track called 'Evil' is also quite potent, but his main trick these days, as on 'Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash' and 'The Joker', is to hark back to his old 'Gangster of Love'-'Space Cowboy' bragga-doccio stance, which is ultimately just as annoying as Marc Bolan's prissy peacock strutting on 'The Groover'.
On The Joker album, Steve Miller and his band have absolutely nothing to say, but are at least courteous enough to perform their stuff with a pleasing professionalism.
So there you have it. Four albums that came too late and stayed too long. Whatever did happen to the West Coast Sound?
© Nick Kent, 1973
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Rock Magazine Archives

Big Brother & the Holding Company

Greg ShawMojo Navigator, September 1966
GS: Can you tell us about your recent visit to Chicago?
Peter: Alright; after arriving at the airport, we drove down this immense freeway, which seemed to be just smokestacks and smog...

Janis: It’s a dirty town.
Peter:...and all that kind of crap.
Janis: A very dirty town.
Peter: OK, yeah, it was filthy.
Janis: There’s no air there.
Peter: You know, you walk down the street and you can hardly see the sides of the buildings. Anyway, we drove to this place called Mother Blues, where we were going to play; it’s a kind of high class folk place...they used to have people like Judy Henske and Chad Mitchell...
Janis:...and Bob Gibson – you know, it used to have a real adult folk music type audience, but they were losing money, so they decided to go folk-rock.
Were you the first group they had?
Peter: No, they had the Jefferson Airplane before us, and they got a good response, so they booked us – for four weeks. For about the first two weeks it was fairly good...some of the audience didn’t know who we were; they were just regulars who always used to go there. After ten o’clock, all the teenagers had to leave, because from eight until ten was for teenagers, and they didn’t serve drinks. At ten o’clock they started to serve drinks and the older crowd would come in, and like they’re white-collar drunks and all...a bad scene.
Janis: Yeah, but we finally unearthed some hippies in Chicago, and they started coming...they were there for about the last week and a half.
Peter: When they first heard us they didn’t understand the music, couldn’t dig it at all....hated it, in fact. Then, after a couple of times, they started to dig it. You see, what’s happening in Chicago is this; they have all the teenage nightclubs, the ones that open from about 7 til 11, in the suburbs. In the city itself, there’s a curfew, so teenage nightclubs aren’t too profitable...there are only about three on Wells Street, which is like a Broadway scene, and the rest of the places are like jazz, Dixieland, rock and roll, and a couple of semi-topless things. The rock’n’roll bands that were playing in these places were just like mimic bands – didn’t do any original material, though we heard about some groups, like The Shadows of Knight, the Little Boy Blues, and Saturday’s Children, who did play their own stuff.
Janis: They’re really blues oriented in Chicago, you know–even the young bands don’t do any folk rock..none at all.
So the white kids go to hear groups like the Shadows of Knight, and then move towards the blues....they start going to see the bluesmen?
Peter: They’re too young....and there isn’t anywhere for them to go now. The place to go to used to be Big John’s on North Wells Street, where they used to have Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Jimmy Cotton, Howlin' Wolf, and so on, but they closed it down. You had to be over 21 to get in, but it was about the only blues club in the Old Town area. The only other blues clubs are in the South Side, and like you just don’t go down there unless you have a spade friend with you. So the teenies stick mostly to the clubs in the suburbs – I didn’t get to any, but my cousin was in a Chicago group and he used to play at some of them....like the Pit and the Cellar, and they have good music for a low price.
Has anyone tried to take Howl in Wolf and Otis Rush and put them into the teenage clubs yet?
Janis: Not that I know of.
How were you promoted?
Janis: Ugh.
Peter: We weren’t....they just had one notice in the window. There were some reviews in the papers, but the reporters mainly talked about the night life of the place. The only review of the music wasn’t the most beautiful that I’ve seen...
Janis: They said we were ugly.
Peter: They said we were an ugly group; exciting but very ugly, and that the drummer had corny legs.
David: Can’t argue with that.
Janis: They said we weren’t as ugly as the Grateful Dead, but that we were still pretty ugly.
Have the Dead been out there yet?
Peter: No, they’ve only heard about them – but they’re going there soon. We were trying to discourage them....Pigpen was horrified – he doesn’t want to go.
Janis: I don’t think they’ll go.
Peter: Oh, they’re going – they’ve got the contracts.
Janis: No shit? They are? I can’t see it coming off.
Didn’t anybody there really listen to your music?
Peter: Well, like I said, it was mostly white collar people who came because they always used to go there....we got lots of the "is it a boy or a girl?" sort of crap.
Janis: Some people were pretty appreciative and kept coming back, and the last week was really surprising. One guy, called Darnell, came in every single night.
Peter: Yeah, and at the end, he told us he’d come in to steal our material....
Janis: Yeah, a lot of people from local rock bands came in because we were doing original stuff and no-one in the area had heard material like it before.
Peter: There was a dancefloor there, but the teenagers wouldn’t dance or hoot or holler or cheer or anything....they just sat back and clapped.
James: Nobody gets stoned – it was like they were watching television or something thing.
Janis: Yeah – they don’t get stoned. Nobody was having any fun, man, they were all just drunk. Strange town....it’s really the Mid West.
What about the recording you did for Mainstream?
Peter: Yes, we recorded four tracks at this session, two of which are going to come out as a single on October 10th. We don’t know which’ll be the A side, but the songs are ‘All is Loneliness’, a Moondog song, and ‘Blind Man’, which is folk-rock.
How did Big Brother start? What’s the history behind the group?
Peter: Well, let’s see; we started at 1090 Page Street (a club in San Francisco) during one of their jam-session kind of evenings. We started out with a guy called Paul Beck, who’s now in Chicago, who got the group together with Sam, a guy called Dave, Chuck Jones, and me. Paul played harmonica and he was ok, but his songs weren’t very good. Anyway, he went when we got our new manager, Chet Helms, and we got rid of Dave what-d'ya-ma-callim – I can’t even remember his last name – on lead guitar because he was too young, and the drummer, Chuck Jones.
David: Jim started in November (1965), I started in March, and Janis came in June.
Janis: I was a blues singer before that, a folk-singer, folk blues singer.... and Jim hadn’t played an electric guitar until last December.
What do you think of the local scene? Do you prefer the Avalon or Fillmore, or the clubs?
Janis: I like the Avalon for its acoustics.
Peter: Yeah, I like the acoustics there, and the audiences too. We played the Fillmore about two months ago and the audience was pretty poor – there were a lot of people, but they weren’t very receptive....
Janis: They weren’t really into the music too much – they just walked around trying to pick each other up.
I saw you at the Avalon on Friday, and that was good.
Janis: Yeah, I enjoyed it a lot....it was really good to play there again. No shit, it was fun.
What if the single doesn’t click, and the scene more or less stays static in San Francisco? Will you just continue playing and see what happens or what?
Janis: Something’s gonna happen....it isn’t just going to carry on like this. Something’s gonna happen....either we are all going to go broke and split up, or else we’ll get rich and famous.
Peter: If the record makes it, then the people’ll start digging what we’re doing, and then we’ll lay it on them thick, with some freak rock things. I dunno, it’s always good to drop new things on people.
David: Thee are a lot of rock bands coming up all over the country, and they’re really good – and at the same time, the audience is getting bigger and bigger. If it keeps going at this rate, there’s no limit to how big it could become in this country.
I read somewhere that there are about 2000 bands in the Bay area.....which of the bands round here do you find interesting?
David: Let me think for a second...the Dead are good; they’re really very good. And Quicksilver too, for certain reasons – they turn me on really heavy sometimes...their songs are so nice.
Sam, what’s your comment for the interview – you haven’t spoken yet? In last month’s with the Dead, Pigpen only made one remark throughout.
Sam: What was that?
He said "fuck it".
Janis: He’s a good blues singer, but he has a terrible taste in wine.
© Greg Shaw, 1966







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San Francisco Bay Rock

Gene SculattiCrawdaddy!, October 1966
THE SAN FRANCISCO rock scene is a complex one. It is a plentiful jumble of hard rock, folk-rock, blues-rock, bubble-gum, and adult bands that have given the city its title as "the Liverpool of the West" (aptly provided by jazz critic Ralph Gleason).
San Francisco has contributed its fair share of pop stars to the teen market. The ill-fated Beau Brummels, and the We Five, started in the Bay Area; but the city's current claim to fame rests in the strength of its performing underground bands. At present, the local rock scene revolves around weekend dance-concerts presented in renovated ballrooms and auditoriums. Few of the groups perform at clubs (the Matrix, a nightclub in San Francisco's Fillmore district, was the pioneer hip club when it began presenting Jefferson Airplane, and it continues spotlighting local rock acts today). Most activity is connected with the dance-concert performances which were started almost a year ago.
Last November, a group of "concerned" people in San Francisco banded together to form the Family Dog, an organization for the promotion of local hip groups in assorted halls throughout the city. The first Family Dog dances at Longshoreman's Hall featured The Lovin' Spoonful (just after they'd come from New York, and just before they'd hit with 'Magic'), Jefferson Airplane, the Great Society, and a number of since disbanded aggregations (the Mystery Trend, the Family Tree, the Hedds, etc.). These initial productions were quite successful in creating a forum for the expression of the new music, grown-up rock 'n' roll.
The Family Dog continued to present their dances and moved to the more accomodating Fillmore Auditorium, where local groups shared the bill with Love, the Sons of Adam, the Grass Roots (all from Los Angeles), and the Butterfield Blues Band. In January of this year, the new dance-happening scene was advanced even further by Ken Kesey in his first "Trips Festivals" (gatherings attempting to duplicate the psychedelic experience without the use of drugs). Kesey's first three-day festival utilized liquid light projections, old movies, strobe lights, etc., to the thunderous accompaniment of top underground bands (particularly the Grateful Dead, who can be considered nothing short of fantastic). From here the dance-concert-happening idea was parlayed into an obvious commercial venture, and now covers the entire Bay Area. It is from these early experiments, however, that San Francisco's current adult rock scene evolved, encompassing most of the following groups.
Jefferson Airplane was the first of San Francisco's underground bands to attract national attention (even if Koppelman-Rubin had nothing to do with them). The Airplane still remains the area's most popular group. Their bag is folk-rock, mostly original material handled superbly by leader and male solo Marty Balin, female singer Signe Anderson, lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, rhythm Paul Kantner, bass Jack Casady, and drummer Spencer Dryden. The Airplane's sound is folk-based, with the creative contributions of six truly talented contemporary musicians. Their first single, 'It's No Secret'/'Runnin' Round This World', was a flop. It was too good. The bubble-gummers wouldn't buy it. Their second attempt, 'Come Up the Years'/'Blues from an Airplane', though not as original or stimulating as their first, hit big enough locally to signal an album, which should be available nationwide soon, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (RCA-Victor LPM-3584). This is perhaps the best rock album ever produced; 'Blues from an Airplane' is lightning and thunder, 'Let Me In' (an original) rocks relentlessly. 'Run Around' and 'Don't Slip Away' (originals) shine, particularly the guitar-vocal blends and Jorma's soloes. 'Chauffeur Blues' shouts as it awakens. 'Tobacco Road' is a good song made into a masterpiece by the group. Its sway and vocal backing in the end make it the power machine of the album. There are eleven cuts, each one a great testimony, and collectively a pop prophecy: Jefferson Airplane is a beautiful accomplishment.
The Grateful Dead are rapidly gaining prominence and ascending from their underground status to a position close to the Airplane. Most local dance-concert attendees, when confronted with a question about the Dead, will mention 'Midnight Hour'. The Dead's closing number is usually Wilson Pickett's blockbuster, and it is transformed into a type of half-hour (sometimes longer) 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' performed by the Dead's organist, Pig Pen. (A recent concert featured 'Midnight Hour' performed by a joint "Grateful Airplane" with the assistance of Joan Baez and Mimi Farina.) 'Midnight Hour' is not the Dead at their best. They are a hard blues-rock band, a powerhouse unit of organ, drums, and three guitars. Their best accomplishments are Pig Pen's gutsy version of 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' (with fantastic controlled harp work), 'The Creeper', 'Empty Heart', and 'Smokestack Lightning' (both now performed only by special request), and an unbelievable grooving piece about "Born in Jackson" (supposedly written by rhythm player Bob Weir). 'Sittin' on Top of the World' jumps, and 'Dancing in the Streets' is a railroad trip. Jerry Garcia's lead working is exciting, sustained genius. Bill Sommers is the Bay Area's best drummer. Their repertoire is chiefly city blues, some old folk and early rock, with some strong originals. A single is to be issued shortly. A Grateful Dead album is being re-prepared (a first effort was discarded). The group has a $10,000 sound system. The Grateful Dead figure to be important movers in imparting San Francisco's message to the world.
The Great Society is one of the city's strongest, most original groups, but has remained underground for some time, and recording company recognition has been much too slow. The Great Society is carried by Grace Slick, the single most talented woman in San Francisco's performing rock scene. She sings lead, plays electric organ, flute, alternates on bass at times. Darby Slick plays an effective lead guitar, Gerry Slick is a strong drummer, and Peter Van Gelder is a heavy bassist. Van Gelder also uses an alto sax on a few jazz numbers whose effect can be described as nothing less than spectacular. The group shows a strong Indian influence and has for some time (re their North Beach single, no longer available, 'Someone to Love'/'Free Advice'). Their material is penned by Grace and Darby. Particularly impressive are 'Someone to Love', 'Sally Go Round the Roses', and the few Dylan numbers ('Black Crow Blues' is great). The Great Society was reportedly planning a new single and an album, probably on Warner Brothers.
Koppelman-Rubin's big find in San Francisco was the Charlatans. The Charlatans are hard rock, specializing in John Hammond blues and original country & western numbers. They also utilize some real traditional frontier tunes as well. They have great strength in their ragtime piano with pickups, and their rhythm section is adequate. Lead is handled well too. George Hunter is leader and sings (occasionally) and plays percussion and autoharp. Drummer Dan Hicks pens the original stuff; his big claim, 'How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?'. The group's best numbers are 'Backdoor Man', 'Sweet Lorraine', 'Wabash Cannonball' and 'Codeine' (which the group was dismayed at Kama Sutra for refusing to release as a single). While the disenchantment with Kama-Sutra lingers, an album is in the works.
Other local groups deserve mention for their contributions as well as the aforementioned pop heroes. These people are all adults, and seriously intent on perfecting good rock as an art. Another of the more established units is Quicksilver Messenger Service. They are a good dance band. No recorded efforts have appeared yet, perhaps as the group has until recently been void of any substantial number of original compositions. Their best numbers are 'Codeine', Hamilton Camp's 'Pride of Man', 'Mona', and 'Smokestack Lightning'.
The Sopwith Camel are another Koppelman-Rubin development, a strictly goodtime band patterned after John and Zal and the boys. Their blues numbers are ineffective, but on ragtime and happy stuff they excel. 'Little Orphan Annie' is great. A single is to be released soon on Kama Sutra; they recently embarked for New York.
Country Joe & the Fish gained underground prominence with their version of psychedelic, new-mown grass music. Delicate interweaving of harp and organ over a solid rhythm line give them the correct emphasis...their music is lulling. A Rag Baby e.p. is availbale in Berkeley for $1.00 (Country Joe & the Fish, Box 2233, Berkeley, California).
Big Brother and the Holding Company do good hard blues and revised country music. They were supposed to have been signed with Mercury, but no records have appeared yet. The Wildflower are a powerful band when they are on. They have bad nights. Their lyrics are from poet Michael McClure and their music is Byrds. They are loud. A Mainstream single is being readied. The Blue Light Basement has appeared a few times, they rock fairly well, but all their harp rings of "Mojo." A female vocalist is quite good. P.H. Phactor and the Jug Band are as they sound, an electric country band which has interesting moments. Current underground attention is being given Freedom Highway, a supposedly unique group with fancy lead work. They have not appeared extensively as yet.
The San Francisco rock scene continues, churning out new sounds, capturing experiences and setting up new expression. The audiences have plenty of room to delight at the marvels at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore, Straight Theatre, F.W. Kuh, the Matrix. Most of the bigger bands are now at the point where they have found their bags and it is just a matter of time before they will be given exposure and a chance at national recognition. In the meantime, countless new units are forming, analyzing, experimenting, perfecting their own sounds. "The City" continues to provide an open, receptive and progressive testing ground to assimilate and perpetuate the good new thing, Rock.
© Gene Sculatti, 1966
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San Francisco: The Flourishing Underground

Richard GoldsteinVillage Voice, The, 2 March 1967
SAN FRANCISCO — Forget the cable cars; skip Chinatown and the Golden Gate; don't bother about the topless mother of eight.
The Bay Shore area is the Liverpool of the West. Newsweek says so. Ramparts says so. Crawdaddy says so. And thousands of scenieboppers all over the nation are craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the newest pop acropolis.
The most fragile thing to maintain in our culture is an underground. No sooner does a new tribe of rebels skip out, flip out, trip out, and take its stand, than photographers from Life magazine are on the scene doing cover layout No sooner is a low-rent low-harassment quarter discovered than it appears in eight-color spreads on America's breakfast table. The need for the farther-out permeates our artistic involvement. American culture is a store window which must be periodically spruced and re-dressed. The new bohemians needn't worry about opposition these days; just exploitation. The handwriting on the wall says: preserve your thing.
The new music from San Francisco, most of it unrecorded at this writing, is the most potentially vital in the pop world. It shoots a cleansing wave over the rigid studiousness of folk-rock. It brings driving spontaneity to a music that is becoming increasingly classical, conscious of form and influence rather than effect. It is a resurgence which could smother the Monkees, drown the casual castrati who make easy listening, and devour all those one-shot wonders that float above stagnant water.
Most Important, if the sound succeeds, it will establish a new brand of culture hero with a new message: pop mysticism.
Talent scouts from a dozen major record companies are now perusing the scene, and grooving with the gathered tribes at the Fillmore and the Avalon. Hip San Francisco is being carved into bits of business territory. The Jefferson Airplane belong to RCA. The Sopwith Camel did so well for Kama Sutra the label has invested in a second local group, the Charlatans. The Grateful Dead have signed with Warner Brothers in an extraordinary deal which gives them complete control over material and production. Moby Grape is tinkering with Columbia and Elektra. And a bulging fistful of local talent is being wined and dined like the last available shikse in the promised land.
All because San Francisco is the Liverpool of the West. Not many bread-men understand the electronic rumblings from beneath the Golden Gate, but they are aware of two crucial factors: the demise of Merseybeat created a doldrums which resulted in the rise of rhythm-and blues and milquetoast music, but left the white teenage audience swooning over an acknowledged fraud: the Monkees. Youth power still makes the pop industry move, and record executives know a fad sometimes needs no justification for success except its presence in a sympathetic time. There is the feeling now, as pop shepherds watch the stars over their grazing flock, that if the San Francisco sound isn't the next Messiah, it will at least give the profits a run for their money.
"The Important thing about San Francisco rock 'n' roll," says Ralph Gleason, "is that the bands here all sing and play live, and not for recordings. You get a different sound at a dance, it's harder and more direct."
Gleason, influential Jazz and pop music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, writes with all the excitement of a participant. But he maintains the detachment of 20 years' experience. It is as though Bosley Crowther had set up headquarters at The Factory. Gleason's thorough comprehension of the new sound is no small factor in its growth and acceptance by the city at large. He is a virtual tastemaker in the Haight and even when the hippies put him down they talk to him, and he listens.
That Ralph Gleason writes from San Francisco is no coincidence. This city's rapport with the source of its ferment is unique. Traveling up the coast from the ruins of the Sunset Strip to the Haight is a Dantesque ascent. It is no accident that 400 miles makes the difference between a neon wasteland and the most important underground in the nation. San Francisco has the vanguard because it works hard to keep it. Native culture is cherished as though the city's consuming passion were to produce a statement that could not possibly be duplicated in New York. Chauvinism in Southern California runs to rhetoric about the grandeur of nature, but up north it is all have-you-seen-the-Mime-Troupe? and Haight-Street-makes-the-Village-look-like-a-city-dump.
Ten years ago, San Franciscans frowned on North Beach, but let it happen. Now, the city is prepared to support the rock underground by ignoring it. The theory of tacit neglect means a de-facto tolerance of psychedelic drugs. San Francisco is far and away the most turned-on city in the Western world. "The cops are aware of the number of heads here," says Bill Graham who owns the Fillmore and manages the Jefferson Airplane. "The law thinks it will fade out like North Beach. What can they do? To see a cop in the Haight... it's like the English invading China. Once they own it, how are they going to police it?"
With safety in numbers, the drug and rock undergrounds swim up the same stream. The psychedelic ethic — still germinating and still unspoken — runs through the musical mainstream like a current. When Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist of the Grateful Dead, says "the whole scene is like a contact high," he is not speaking in fanciful metaphor. Musical ideas are passed from group to group like a joint. There is an almost visible cohesion about San Francisco rock. With a scene that is small enough to navigate and big enough to make waves, with an establishment that all but provides the electric current, no wonder San Francisco is Athens. This acropolis has been carefully, sturdily built, and it is not going to crumble because nobody wants to see ruins messing up the skyline.
* * *
"I didn't have any musical revelation when I took acid. I'm a musician first. My drug experiences are separate." The speaker is a member of the Jefferson Airplane, the oldest and most established group in the Bay Area. With a cohesive, vibrant sound, they are the hip community's first product. Their initial album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was weak enough to make you wonder about all the noise, but the new release, Surrealistic Pillow, is a fine collection of original songs with a tight and powerful delivery. The hit single, 'My Best Friend', is a pleasant enough ballad, but much better to 'White Rabbit', which is Alice in Wonderland with a twist of psychedelic lemon. Grace Slick's vocal wobbles deliciously and the lyrics are concise and funny. Especially worth repeating is the song's advice: "Remember what the dormouse said: feed your head."
The mouse la sometimes employed to symbolize psychedelic "enlightenment". In Los Angeles, the same realization is expressed by the Flower. A concern with and an expression of turning on is an aspect of Bay Area rock, but it is by no means central to the music. The secretive reserve that characterizes every other hip community is unnecessary baggage here. There is open talk of drug experience. When references appear in the music they are direct and specific. While some groups seem impaled on a psychedelic spear ("How do we talk about drugs without getting banned from the radio?" is a key question of every Byrds album), San Francisco music says "pot" and goes on to other things. Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead insists: "We're not singing psychedelic drugs, we're singing music. We're musicians, not dope fiends."
He sits in the dining room of the three-story house he shares with the group, their women, and their community. The house is one of those masterpieces of creaking, curving spaciousness the Haight is filled with. Partially because of limited funds, but mostly because of the common consciousness which almost every group here adapts as its ethos, the Grateful Dead live and work together. They are acknowledged as the best group in the Bay Area. Leader Jerry Garcia is a patron saint of the scene. Ken Kesey calls him "Captain Trips." There is also Pigpen, the organist, and Reddy Kilowatt on bass.
Together, the Grateful Dead sound like live thunder. There are no recordings of their music, which is probably just as well because no album could produce the feeling they generate in a dance hall. I have never seen them live, but I spent an evening at the Fillmore listening to tapes. The music hits hard and stays hard, like early Rolling Stones, but distilled and concentrated. When their new album comes out, I will whip it onto my meagre record player and if they have left that boulder sound at some palatial LA studio and come out with a polished pebble. I will know they don't live together in the Haight anymore.
But, right now a group called the Grateful Dead are playing live and living for an audience of anybody's kids in San Francisco. Theirs is the Bay Area sound. Nothing convoluted in the lyrics, just rock 'n' roll lingua-franca. Not a trace of preciousness in the music; just raunchy, funky chords. The big surprise about the San Francisco sound has nothing to do with electronics or some zany new camp. Musicians in this city have knocked all that civility away. They are back in dark, grainy sounds that are roots.
"San Francisco is live," says Janis Joplin, singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company. "Recording in a studio is a completely different trip. No one makes a record like they sound live. Hard rock is the real nitty-gritty."
Ask an aspiring musician from New York who his idols are and he'll begin a long list with the Beatles or Bob Dylan, then branch off into Paul Simon literacy or the Butterfield Blues bag (which means sounding like you've got a Ph.D in spade music) or a dozen variations in harmonics and composition.
Not so in San Francisco. Bob Dylan is like Christianity here: they worship but they don't touch. The sound of the Grateful Dead, or Moby Grape, or Country Joe and the Fish, is jug band music scraping against jazz. This evolution excludes most of the names in modern pop music. A good band is a "heavy" band, a "hard" band.
Marty Balin, who writes for the Jefferson Airplane, declares: "The Beatles are too complex to influence anyone around here. They're a studio sound." Which is as close as a San Francisco musician comes to hissing. Their music, they insist, is a virgin forest, unchanneled and filled with wildlife. There is a fear, a dread, of the A&R man's ax. This refusal to add technological effect is close to the spirit of folk music before Dylan electrified it. "A rock song still has to have drive and soul," Balin maintains. "Jazz started out as dance music, and ended up dead as something to listen to. If you can't get your effects live, the music's not alive."
Gary Duncan, lead guitarist for the Quicksilver Messenger Service, adds: "Playing something in a studio means playing for two months. Playing live, a song changes in performance. In a studio, you attack things intellectually; onstage it's all emotion."
San Francisco musicians associate Los Angeles with the evils of studio music. This is probably because almost every group has made the trek south to record. And the music available on record is anything but hard rock (the Sopwith Camel, for instance, earned everyone's disfavor with a lilting good-timey rendition of 'Hello, Hello'. "They give us a bad name," says one musician. "They're a diversion," says another. "They smile nice.")
But resentment of Los Angeles goes much deeper than the recording studio. The rivalry between Northern and Southern California makes a cold war in pop inevitable. While musicians in Los Angeles deride the sound from up north as ''pretentious and self-conscious" and shudder at the way "people live like animals up there," the Northern attitude is best summed up by a member of the Quicksilver Messenger Service who quipped: "L.A. hurts our eyes."
Part of the Holding Company puts down the Byrds because: "they had to learn to perform after they recorded. Here, the aim is to get the crowd moving."
A Jefferson Airplane says of the Beach Boys: "What Brian Wilson is doing is fine but in person there's no balls. Everything is prefabricated like the rest of that town. Bring them into the Fillmore, and it just wouldn't work."
The technology involved in putting on a lightshow doesn't seem to bother San Franciscans, however, because what they're really uptight about is not artificiality but Southern California. There is a sneaking suspicion in this city that the South rules and The Bay is determined to keep at least its cultural supremacy untarnished. Even Ralph Gleason has little sympathy for Los Angeles music. "The freaks are fostered and nurtured by L. A. music hype," he says. "The hippies are different. What's going on here is natural and real."
The question of who is commercial and who is authentic is rhetorical. What really matters about San Francisco is what mattered about Liverpool three years ago. The underground occupies a pivotal place in the city's life. The Fillmore and the Avalon are jammed every weekend with beaded, painted faces and flowered shirts. The kids don't come from any mere bohemian quarter. Hip has passed the point where it signifies a commitment to rebellion, it has become the style of youth in the Bay Area, just as long hair and beat music were the Liverpool Look.
San Francisco is a lot like that grimy English seaport these days, in 1964. Liverpool rang with a sound that was authentically expressive and the city never tried to bury it. This is what is happening in San Francisco today. The establishment has achieved a much greater victory here than on the Strip: integration. The underground is open, unencumbered, and radiating. The rest of the country will get the vibrations, and they will probably pay for them.
Which everyone thinks is groovy. The Grateful Dead are willing to sing their 20-minute extravaganza, 'Midnight Hour', for anyone who will listen, and if people pay, so much the better. But Bob Weir insists: "If the industry is gonna want us, they're gonna take us the way we are. If the money comes in, it'll be a stone gas."
It will be interesting to visit the bay area when the breadmen have glutted every artery. It will be fascinating to watch the Fillmore become the Radio City Music Hall of pop music It will be a stone gas to take a greyhound sightseeing tour through the Haight.
But that's another story about another San Francisco. Right now, give or take a little corruption, it is new ideas, new faces, and new music.
Which is what undergrounds are all about.
© Richard Goldstein, 1967
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Frisco's Sopwith Camel — Watch That 'Big Toe'

Loraine AltermanDetroit Free Press, 10 March 1967
OUT OF SAN Francisco — where weirdly named groups like Lothar and the Hand People and The Grateful Dead are happening — comes a delightfully named group. The Sopwith Camel, who first sang 'Hello, Hello' to the world.
Now the Camel, which stopped by Detroit recently, have another groovy new single out, 'Postcard from Jamaica'. They describe their sound as pop-jazz, swing, and corny — depending on which Camel you talk to.
Like other groups who have come on the scene lately, the Sopwith Camel impresses you with its intelligence and unwillingness to accept the status quo. They're part of the hipper and more intellectual type taking over part of the pop scene. In the '50s they might have been part of the Greenwich Village poetry and coffeehouse scene, but now they reach people through popular music. Adults probably will be disgusted with some of the things they say, but they represent the noncomformity of youth.
The group got together in San Francisco about a year ago. The guy doing those groovy vocals on the records is Peter Kraemer, who plays tambourine, kazoo and ticker tape ("I'm going to play for the stock exchange"). Peter originally is from Virginia City, Nev.
On guitar is William Sievers, born in Dallas, who also digs playing the pushbutton pay telephones in Chicago.
Then — hold your breath — there's Martin Christian Pierce St. Bartholomew Beard on bass and "my big toe." With a name like that, you know Martin is from London. His father was a professional musician aboard a ship and the family selected San Francisco as a good place to live a few years back.
After high school, Martin took a job in an insurance company but didn't fit in. So he grew long hair and a beard and answered an ad looking for musicians to form a group.
That ad is how he first met Norman L. Mayell II, who is the Camel's drummer. Norman, originally from Chicago, also doubles on Egyptian nose flute. Norman met William In Honolulu.
Playing lead guitar is Terry MacNeil, a New Mexican immigrant to the West Coast. Terry and Peter write much of the group's material. Although some of the group have been in and out of colleges, they don't feel that colleges are preparing young people for life. Peter says: "College education doesn't make it... What does educate is getting involved in what's going on."
According to Terry, "Liberal arts is a drag because they're trying to teach you how to feel. They're trying to teach you, out of books, how to feel."
They're all for the young people they meet. "They're generally just nice people," Peter said. "It makes you feel good to know them."
© Loraine Alterman, 1967
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The Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead (Warner Bros.)

Richard GoldsteinVillage Voice, The, 13 April 1967
A GOOD ALBUM, like those long lasting cold remedies, is filled with tiny time capsules which burst open at their own speed. Cuts that astound at first fade as subtle ballads emerge. Great blasts of noise vanish as haunting melodies appear. A line suddenly hits home... a phrase... a shade of meaning, and the whole album becomes something else again.
The shape of a good album changes constantly. A review can never be anything more than a synthesis of moments. When technical trickery wears thin, and novelty loses its appeal is the time to evaluate a piece of work. The test of time doesn't mean very much; repetition is all. The good albums stick; the great ones transmigrate.
The Grateful Dead, San Francisco's most highly touted rock band, have released an album which is a perfect illustration of this time-gap principle. It is straight, decent rhythm and blues — some of it so civil it passes for dull. Certainly, this is no "psychedelic" music. It doesn't fuzz, except in spots. It doesn't squeal inside your head like a dentist's drill. It isn't even in a minor key.
In fact, on first hearing the Grateful Dead is the Butterfield Blues Band in Merry Prankster drag. 'The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion' turns out to be plain old rock with vocal harmonies that remind you of the Mamas and the Papas, of all things. 'Beat It on Down the Line' is the kind of putty R and B Barry Goldberg stretches into a 20-minute magnum opus. 'Good Morning Little School Girl' has a raunchy, funky sound. Lines like "I wanna put a tiger, baby, in your sweet little tank" fulfill all criteria for blue eyed soul, a la Eric Burden. Further on, there is 'Sitting on Top of the World', a snazzy touch of bluegrass, 'Cream Puff War', with a modified Young Rascals vocal, 'Morning Dew', with instrumental lines right off the Jefferson Airplane album (listen to 'Today' alongside this cut) and a 10-minute blues excursion which breaks no rules, stretches no boundaries, and won't even rankle your middle ear. Ten minutes that don't deafen is just not psychedelic, man. And a lust-song with implications — baby, what ever happened to acid passivity?
I don't think this album has much of a future with the underground. It dispels utterly the treasured myth that the psychedelic experience automatically turns & musician to specific forms of expression — like atonality, baroque harmonics, or raga. The Grateful Dead give the lie to most technical embellishments which have become psychedelic symbols in our music. The people who first decided that any musician worth his head has to wreak electronic havoc were businessmen. Straight or stone, a rock band is a rock band.
The Grateful Dead play music with an optimistic simplicity that is the San Francisco sound. All the prototechnics of the recording studio are forsaken for a straight, "live" effect. It feels spontaneous; it sounds honest. The Dead are in utter interaction on this album. Theirs is the kind of leaderless co-operation you seldom find in rock 'n' roll, and the tightness in their music shows it. The Grateful Dead are a musical community.
Listen to this album a third and fourth time. You will begin to sense some of the subtle restraint with which this group approaches a song. In 'The Golden Road' for instance, a single note of dissonance at the end provides a brilliant cap to the song. 'Good Morning' contains a barely notable change in rhythm on the final word of the refrain "Can't yuh hear me crying?" But it is poignant in its sparcity. 'Cold Rain' has a fine contrapuntal bridge thoroughly integrated in the body of the song. 'Cream Puff War' juxtaposes the discontinuity of two distinct rhythms, and is therefore hard too take. Finally, there is 'Viola Lee Blues', the extended popsong. It opens with a dissonant chord — short and disciplined — but then it settles into the basic blues pattern. There are some dull stretches in this cut. The musical bridge is so long it becomes a separate composition. But the intensity builds up very gradually to an impressive peak. This is no rave-up, where the decibels start high and end in a barrage of white noise.
There is concise improvisation here, which stops before it bores (it takes an artist to know where to stop a bridge these days). 'Viola Lee Blues' never really ends; it just fades away in an irrelevant drumroll.
The Grateful Dead will let you down if you're expecting some of the unbearable auditory torture that goes by the name of revelation these days. But, at the first sign of hi-fi headache, cabaret intestinal distress, or malaise-of-the-scene, I intend to slip this disc on my meagre photograph and relax while the time capsules flower.
© Richard Goldstein, 1967
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Jefferson Airplane: Open Up, Tune In, Turn On

uncredited writerTime, 23 May 1967
THE SNARL of an engine splits the stillness. Out of the half-light, the projected silhouette of a Piper Cub glides ghostlike across a side wall. Suddenly, sound track and silhouette become a screaming, whooshing jet that dives at the stage and disintegrates with a shattering roar in the midst of six musicians. The drummer roars back with a thumping beat. The guitarists twang away lustily. And, momentum building, voices wailing and all systems go-go, the Jefferson Airplane blasts off.
The launching pad is San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, where for the past year and a half the combo with the singular name has fashioned a freewheeling style of music that has made it the hottest new rock group in the country. The Airplane is the anointed purveyor of the San Francisco Sound, a heady mixture of blues, folk and jazz that began as the private expression of the hippie underground and only recently bubbled to the surface. Now, in such cavernous San Francisco halls as the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom, as well as in rollerskating rinks, movie theaters, veterans' halls, park bandstands, college gyms and roped-off streets from Pacific Heights to Butchertown, about 300 bands are inviting the faithful to "blow your mind" with the new sound. Hairy hippies all, they go by such fanciful names as the Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead, the Allnight Apothecary, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe and the Fish, the Loading Zone, and the Yellow Brick Road.
Frock Coats & Turbans
In its permutations, the San Francisco Sound encompasses everything from bluegrass to Indian ragas, from Bach to jug-band music – often within the framework of a single song. It is a raw, raucous, roughhewn sound that has the spark and spontaneity of a free-for-all jam session. Most of the groups write their own songs and, unlike most rock'n'rollers, improvise freely, building climax upon climax in songs that run on for 20 minutes or more. It is a compelling entreaty to open up, tune in and turn on Says one regular Fillmore irregular: "Fight it, stay aloof and critical, and you'll suffer one of the most painful headaches imaginable."
The sound is also a scene. With its roots in the LSDisneyland of the Haight Ashbury district, the music is a reflection of the defiant new bohemians, their art nouveau and madly mod fashions. Performances at the Fillmore attempt to induce psychedelic experiences without drugs. The hippies and teenyboppers, wearing everything from Arab caftans and top hats to frock coats and turbans, huddle over sticks of burning incense, casually daub the floors and each other with fluorescent paint.
Free Love, Free Sex.
As the pile-driving beat thunders out of six speakers with deafening insistence, blinding strobe lights flash in rhythm with the music; the walls swim with projections of amoeba-like patterns slithering through puddles of quivering color. Just as in other psychedelic-lit joints, such as Andy Warhol's Gymnasium in Manhattan, the aim is to immerse everybody in sound and sight. When the spell takes hold, young mothers with sleeping infants in their arms waltz dreamily around the floor: other dancers drift into a private reverie, devising new ways to contort their bodies. Some of the crowd sit in a yoga-like trance or, if that fails to satisfy, roll on the floor.
Says Airplane Paul Kantner: "There's a significantly greater communication between the music itself, the people who make it, and the people who listen to it than there was in Elvis Presley's day." One difference is that Elvis never had "acid rock" going for him. The Airplane's 'Runnin' 'Round This World', for example, is a number that, says lead singer Marty Balin, celebrates the "fantastic joy of making love while under LSD." Their latest single, 'White Rabbit', is a fantasy about a kind of Alice in Wonder-drugland that is "aimed at the twelve-year-old junkie". Explains Grace Slick, a striking former model who gives the Airplane go-power with her big, belting blues voice: "It doesn't matter what the lyrics say, or who sings them. They're all the same. They say, 'Be free – free in love, free in sex'."
Pop Potpourri
The crew aboard the Airplane is in their middle and late 20s. Musically, they represent a kind of pop potpourri: Balin and Kantner are refugees from folk music, Drummer Spencer Dryden and Guitarist Jack Casady from jazz, Singers Jorma Kaukonen from blues and Grade Slick from pop. Together they produce a lilting, carefree music that crosses so many stylistic lines that they are the only rock group to be invited to both the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Berkeley Folk Festival, not to mention gigs with the San Francisco Symphony and TV's highbrow Bell Telephone Hour.
Preaching the rock 'n' roll is "the Sermon on the Mount, the greatest church in the last century," they like to call their music "love rock." Is that any way to run an Airplane? Yes. Formed just 21 months ago, the high-flying group now has both a single and an album in the top ten bestsellers, commands $5,000 for a performance. "The stage is our bed," exults Balin, "and the audience is our broad. We're not entertaining, we're making love."
© uncredited writer, 1967
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The Golden Road: A Report on San Francisco

Paul WilliamsCrawdaddy!, June 1967
SITTING IN THE window. Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Village, flirting with the girls going by, the Grateful Dead very loud on 4X speakers somewhere in the room behind me; 92 degrees, a week short of summer, a week back from the Coast, San Francisco. Now, three thousand miles away, what do those words mean? Was I ever anywhere but here?
The geography of rock. There are a half-dozen LPs sitting by my New York City phonograph, at least two from San Francisco: Moby Grape and Grateful Dead. Rock Scully, a Dead manager, just walked by; the Grateful Dead are at the Cafe Au Go Go, two blocks from here. The Moby Grape are midtown, playing at the Scene.
We speak of a San Francisco Sound because these groups developed there. They may not come from there (Skip Spence is a Canadian, the Steve Miller Blues Band got together in Chicago); they may not even live there (Moby Grape is technically a Marin County group; Country Joe are #l in Berkeley, but half a dozen local bands get better billing in San Francisco). But San Francisco – the Fillmore, the Avalon, the Trips Festivals, the Diggers, Owsley's acid, Haight Street and Ashbury and Masonic and Golden Gate Park, the Straight Theatre, Herb Caen, the Barb, the communication company – these have been and are and will be the environment and influences that have shaped the music of many of the best bands in America.
More specifically, the several aspects and influences of the San Francisco area have created a community; out of this community has come a feeling, an attitude; and it is this attitude that has imparted a unity to the music coming out of the Bay Area. It is this attitude that is most commonly reflected in the San Francisco Sound.
There is a geography of rock; San Francisco is different from New York musically, different because the music made by the Grateful Dead would be different if they had developed in New York, playing the Night Owl or Action City, trying to get a master sold, living on East 7th Street and maybe dealing meth for rent money, padlocking their front door and freezing in the winter and worrying about the air and not having children till they can afford the suburbs, reading the New York Times and having maybe two dozen friends that they see once every two months or so, never considering that they might find a manager who wasn't just an adversary, never thinking that there was much more to it than making the charts, never wondering about the empty girls with too much make-up and an unshakable confidence in this best of all possible nothings... probably hating each other after a while and wondering why people shat on them for doing just what everyone else does.
New York is New York, and it's very good for some things. The energy it generates is second to none; nowhere in the world is there as much activity to dive into every time you turn around. Some people thrive on that. I do, much of the time, and that's why I stay here; but I don't think it's a place to make music. San Francisco is.
The trolleys run along Haight Street pretty often; the tourists snarl up the traffic a bit, but still you can get from the Oracle office to Fillmore Street, change, and arrive at the Fillmore or Winterland in less than twenty minutes. At fifteen cents for the entire journey, that's not bad at all. The Avalon is a little further away, but just as accessible, and nowadays often more worthwhile.
But the ballrooms have lost their importance. They were vital once; without Bill Graham, and the hard work and business knowhow he threw into the Fillmore when the scene was starting, there might never have been an SF Sound to talk about. Give him credit, and give Ralph Gleason credit, without whose enthusiastic columns in the SF Chronicle the city would have no doubt shut down those psychedelic superstructures before you could say "building inspector." And Ken Kesey, the man whose Trips Festivals irrevocably tied together rock and roll and light shows and the head community. The Family Dog, illuminator Bill Ham, the Charlatans, the Matrix, and Jefferson Airplane, all those originators who now cling to their place in history with alarming awareness that after two years the past is buried in the dust of centuries.
The ballrooms have given way to environments even more closely knit into the community. The great outdoors, for one; the Panhandle is only two blocks down from Haight Street, and on an average weekend you'll hear everything from Big Brother & the Holding Company down to the local teen group playing top 40 hits off-key. And it's all free, free not just from admission charges but from walls and stuffy air and hassles about coming and going; free so that the music is as much a part of your life as a tree in blossom. You can stop and embrace it, or pass on by.
The Panhandle is the San Francisco Sound today: the music of the street, the music of the people who live there. The ballrooms, obsolete in terms of the community, have been turned into induction centers – the teenyboppers, the college students, the curious adults come down to the Fillmore to see what's going on, and they do see, and pretty soon they're part of it. They may not go directly to Haight Street with flowers in their hair (though many of them do), but they change, they shift their points of view, their minds drop out of Roger Williams and into the Grateful Dead.
Back on the Street something is happening that may be even more important than the music in the park. The Straight Theatre, long a cherished vision, has burst into reality. The Straight is an ancient movie house, an imposing structure capable of taking some 1700 people out of the center of Haight Street and into whatever it feels like presenting. The property includes a theater, which will be used for concerts, gatherings, poetry readings, etc., a dance workshop, another smaller theater for experimental drama, a photographic studio and darkroom, various storefronts, a backyard mall, and more, all of which is being lovingly shaped by devoted hippie artisans into what should be the model for future art centers all over the country.
And in the air, another major change: KMPX-FM, not just radio for heads but rock radio for rock heads, a station that totally ignores the top 20 (because you can hear that stuff any time you want on seven other frequencies) and just plays what it feels like playing. KMPX is run something like a college radio station; the people in charge know much more about rock and roll than they do about radio programming, how to talk jock, how to sell an audience, or any of that other crap. They make mistakes – records go on the turntable at the wrong speed, careless comments go out over the air – and everyone loves them. There are no mistakes, because they can do no wrong. They're human, and they love the music – and that's what's been missing in radio till now.
If you examine San Francisco closely, you'll find major changes taking place in almost every aspect of city life. New attitudes towards jobs, towards education, towards entertainment and the arts. Basic shifts in the relationships between man and his environment, shifts that have affected every facet of that environment, changes that best can be communicated not in words but in music: Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Steve Miller Blues Band, Country Joe & the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grateful Dead.
Consider the albums. The Airplane was first – and second, too, for that matter. The San Francisco Sound on records begins with those first two notes of 'Blues from an Airplane', and a more noble beginning would not have been possible. Regardless of how many better albums have been recorded since Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, that album still glows with the beauty of the first trip, the birth cry of a new era in music. Between the Buttons was the definitive last statement of an earlier age; JA Takes Off is the first of a new generation of rock albums, of which Sergeant Pepper is only the latest and best.
Tim Jurgens, Ralph Gleason and Marty Balin all used the word "love" in their attempts to pin down what made that first Airplane album different. It is much easier now to understand what they were getting at. Jefferson Airplane Loves You with what has been disdainfully referred to as "potato love" – the indiscriminate love for all people simply because they are people. This attitude enriches their music. Compare Revolver with Sergeant Pepper, do you really think the Beatles loved you when they recorded the earlier album?
Surrealistic Pillow, the Airplane's second, is a definite bringdown; certainly the worst LP to come out of the current Bay Area scene (not considering such piffle as the Sopwith Camel, who ceased to be an SF group when they met Erik Jacobsen). The problem with Pillow is mostly that it's not an album; it's a collection of tracks that neither feel good nor sound comfortable together. The Airplane, of course, were the first SF group to record a second album, and it is likely that at least one other good Bay Area group will flounder on their second try. And Pillow, despite its disunity, has half a dozen fine tracks which prove that the group is better, even if their LP is worse. Sometimes progress is not reflected in quality – and this is often the fault of fate and the A&R man more than the group.
At any rate, the Airplane's first LP is easily as good, in context, as that of any other Bay Area group so far; and how well other groups do on their second albums remains to be seen. It's always kind of lonely to be first in line.
The Grateful Dead's first try is pure energy flow. West Coast kineticism has developed into a fine art; the first side of this album rolls with a motion so natural that one suspects the musicians have never listened to the Who or the Kinks or even the Four Tops – they have developed their own kinetic techniques without reference to the masters in the field. With one exception: this album has so much in common with The Rolling Stones, Now! as to be almost a sequel.
Of course, I'm not complaining. Now! will always stand as one of the great rock albums, and by giving us the New World, sun-rising-over-the-Pacific-Ocean version of that album the Dead have unquestionably added to the quantity of joy around. And the Dead's LP is much more first-hand: where the Stones glorified the mythical American South rock joint in 'Down the Road Apiece', the Dead give you the feeling that that kind of wonderfull abandon is a part of their daily scene ('Golden Road'). The Stones assume the persona of Chuck Berry driving down the New Jersey Turnpike (which they've probably never been on!) to convey their personal energies in 'You Can't Catch Me'; the Dead do a song with almost identical impact ('Good Morning Little Schoolgirl') but they don't need to think of themselves as Sonny Boy Williamson – the song goes out direct to every teenybopper in the audience, and by the time they start into the fourth minute or so, every member of the band really feels every word that Pigpen says. Musically, the Stones' performance is as good (in fact, better) than the Dead's; but where the Stones confront a mythical highway cop, the Dead confront the actual members of their audience. Hence the Grateful Dead LP, though not quite as good as Now!, is at times even more effective.
(The Stones do, of course, confront their audience in 'Everybody Needs Somebody to Love', but it's not emotional confrontation. It's great showmanship, posturing – similar to the Dead's terrific posturing when they "do" the whole Kingston Trio era and its approach, in 'Cold Rain and Snow'. I'm comparing the Dead to the Stones not to show a preference for either, but to point out the fascinating similarities in the impact of their music and in the music itself – play 'Schoolgirl' after listening to 'You Can't Catch Me' to appreciate the extent to which the Dead resemble the Stones in their concept of what music is and how a rock band should perform.)
The first side of the Dead album is one song, unrolling its varied but equivalent delights at top speed. 'Beat It On Down the Line' ("That's where I'm going to make my happy home") moves into the certainty of 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' with the ease and impact of Jean-Luc Godard. Garcia smiles, Pigpen squints, and you're on your way. And you can't turn back. "See that girl?... Well, she's coming down the stair – and I don't worry, I'm sitting on top of the world." (Appropriate J. Garcia guitar run here.) Breathless.
The flip is something else: introspective, more like a journey than a joyride. 'Morning Dew' conjures loneliness, pain, uncertainty, courage; pleads, asks, questions, denies; and finally, "I guess it doesn't matter anyway." Apocalyptic. Or just resigned. "I thought I heard... " ? And whatever it was, you'll find it in the song. Beautiful, with a kind of intense detachment. San Francisco isn't known for its vocalists, but this song could change all that.
'New, New Minglewood Blues' serves as a sort of bridge in the context of the album, which is not at all the nature of the song in live performance... and no doubt this is one of the many things about this LP that disappoints fans of the live Dead. The more you've grown to love Grateful Dead live performances over the years the more difficult it must be to accept an album which is – though very beautiful – something completely different. Only 'Viola Lee Blues' has any of the fantastic "this is happening now!" quality of, a good Dead performance; only 'Viola Lee Blues' takes you away as far as the longtime Dead fan has grown accustomed to being taken. It's an escape song – a prisoner for life dreams his way to the dim edges of space and time – and if you don't think you're a prisoner, surrender to 'Viola Lee' and see what happens.
When the Country Joe album arrived at the Crawdaddy! office, it was immediately inscribed "This record is to be played on special occasions only," and certain factions suggested that it would be in poor taste to even review such a sacred work. Sacred or not, this album does seem distantly removed from anything that has been previously associated with rock and roll. Indeed, the staunchest hard rock supporter on our staff can find no redeeming musical value in it at all. He's wrong, of course; or, to be more accurate, he's somewhere else. For many people, this album is so exactly where we are, it's frightening. To be played on special occasions only.
Words should be applied to this album with extreme caution. Like a kaleidoscope, it's easy not to appreciate – all you have to do is stare at the toy instead of into it – but if you do dig it, you may suddenly find it very hard to decide which of the sliding multicolorous worlds all around you is your own. It's perfectly fair of me to especially dig 'Flying High' because I'm a long-time hitchhiker; but when I decide that 'Section 43' is without question a midsummer thundershower, and then realize that the storm is outside the window and not in my head, perhaps I'm too involved in the music.
Background music is an old concept; this album, at last, is in the foreground. It is Joe MacDonald's world, and you are invited in. Does it seem strange that the introduction to 'Flying High' has nothing to do with the song, or that Lorraine's first name is really Martha? Not at all – remember, we are guests here. This is Berkeley 1967, Fish Street, residence of Country Joe – we are invited to see, hear, feel, smell, but not participate. 'Grace' – that's not a singalong. This is music at its most sensuous and least analyzable – sounds, unidentifiable, flash at you, words evoke pictures but no meaning, you never hear the same thing twice. But you always feel the state of grace.
'Death Sound' ("I see the minutes chasin' the hours"), that homicidal tambourine, schizophrenic lead guitars. It's all in the impact; if it doesn't scare you, I can't talk you into fright. 'Section 43' – simply the most satisfying, evocative piece of music I know; I could wander its paths forever. It's a concert performance – no individual virtuosity can be found and praised; each person did his job precisely and flawlessly, up to (and especially) the feedback and few tinkling notes at the end. The brilliance is in the composition; and in a subtle way we should consider this whole LP a composed rather than a performed work, because every note seems to have been firmly in place in every song long before the actual recording of the album. On 'Love', a mistake is met with "Aw, come on," as if nothing could be more ridiculous at this point than doing something wrong. Indeed, a perfect Fish album: it had to be this way.
'Masked Marauder' is utterly delightful; instant movie soundtrack for whatever is going on around you. (Theme music, not background stuff.) 'Superbird' would be instant #l if radio stations weren't so sensitive. It's the only rock and roll song on the album, and of course it's perfect. "Drop your guns, baby..." Wow!
Everything on the album is one-of-a-kind, as a matter of fact; like Sergeant Pepper, the only thing linking these songs is that they like to be heard together. 'Sad & Lonely Times' is a ballad, very simple, very warm – pretty. 'Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine' is a totally different type of ballad: Berkeley Gothick, cynical, respectful, overpowering. Even affectionate; few people who've heard this album could really describe this song, but every one of them could describe Lorraine. And though every description would be different, each would be thoroughly respectful, thoroughly correct. David Cohen (organist) is magnificent.
And 'Bass Strings' is the invocation of the Muse. "Hey, partner, won't you pass that reefer 'round?... I think I'll go to the desert... Just one more trip now, and I know I'll stay high all the time." If you want to understand the Bay Area, 'Bass Strings' will give you a fair start.
Well, it took me a long time, but I finally figured out who Moby Grape remind me of: the Everly Brothers. Also Buddy Holly, Buffalo Springfield, middle-Beatles, Byrds, New Lost City Ramblers, the Weavers, Youngbloods, Daily Flash and everybody else. Above all, the Grape give off this very pleasant sense of déjà vu. Rock has become so eclectic you can't even pick out influences – you just sense their presence. I don't really know why the Grape remind me of the Everly Brothers. But it's a nice feeling.
Moby Grape is one of those beautifully inextricable groups with four guitarists (including bass), five vocalists, five songwriters, and about twelve distinct personalities (Skip Spence alone accounts for five of them). The Grape is unusual for an SF group in that it does not have an overall, easily-identifiable personality. It is without question schizophrenic – which is nothing bad, because the group is extremely tight and they simply shift personality from song to song. Their music is always unified; it's their album as a whole that's schizoid. In fact, much as I like it, I enjoy the songs even more one at a time (for your convenience, Columbia has issued almost the entire album on singles – which is particularly nice because the mono mix is far better than the stereo, which must have been done too fast).
Skip Spence's two songs make it clear that he's the most talented – though not the most prolific – songwriter in the group. 'Omaha', to my tastes the toughest cut on the album, is one of the finest recorded examples of the wall-of-sound approach in rock. It surges and roars like a tidal wave restrained by a sea-wall. Moby Grape is a particularly violent group – not in the sense that they want to do harm to anyone (it is a huge misunderstanding to think violence is inherently evil, or that it necessarily causes harm – there is violent joy, and this album is proof of that), but in the sense that almost every song is attacked with great force and abandon. Moby Grape assault their audience, bathing them in almost unavoidable joy. Jamming it down their throats, in fact. The other Skip Spence song on the LP, 'Indifference', is another screamer, a well-constructed, brilliantly-executed shuffle number, to be sung on the street, loud, early in the morning, or listened to in the afternoon with your fist pounding the table.
Peter Lewis is second in the hierarchy of Grape writers, and probably the most sensitive. He shares with the other Grape members the ability to create extremely appealing melody phrases, chorus lines, and rhythm riffs; this ability, combined with the resultant concentration on structure, tightness and brevity, is what makes all the Moby Grape songs sound like good singles. Lewis, in 'Fall on You', puts together a number of catchy little themes into a very nice, very fluid song, vaguely reminiscent of 'One More Try'. In 'Sitting by the Window', he waxes almost eloquent, with just enough restraint to make the song both illuminating and unpresuming. The guitar-work is really excellent; the three Grape guitarists work together with exceptional taste throughout the lp.
But describing each song is not really the way to write about Moby Grape. They are elusive; you detect a thousand moods and changes, but you never quite hear the words, never know who's singing, never are certain who's playing lead. You can't pin them down, can't get too close; you learn to forget, learn to absorb their music, learn to stop trying, submit to it – and sooner or later it all comes clear. Country Joe, the Dead, are very clean; this group never lacks for tightness, but they get fuzzy 'round the edges. They aren't involving, but you dig the changes; they aren't involving, but you listen for the words; they aren't involving, but there's something going on here – and slowly but surely the depth in this music (which at first attacked you but seemed so uninvolving) swallows you up, and you feel the complexities it invokes.
Moby Grape is an almost ideal example of a "rock and roll" group, and their emergence now, as the historical concept of rock and roll seems on the verge of disappearing into a music too complexly-based to fit a general description, is both surprising and quite pleasing. The Grape play short, melodic songs, complex but straightforward, tightly structured with careful drumming and rhythm, experimental (but not "far out") bass, exciting, well-thought-out lead guitar (no fooling around) and early Beatles- or Everlys- style group vocals. A given song ('Mr. Blues') might draw on C&W and blues traditions, Otis Redding phrasing, Keith Richard restrained lead guitar, 'Captain Soul' rhythm progressions, etc. And every note is proper, polite. It's enough to make you nostalgic; nothing is more refreshing than the unexpectedly familiar.
These are the major rock albums to come out of the Bay Area thus far. However, there is a very important, very good album recorded by a San Francisco group in the new vein prior to the Airplane's first LP. I haven't mentioned it because the group is not generally thought of as a rock group. They are classified under jazz, which is fine; but I think at this time we can also add John Handy's Live at Monterey album to the list of great SF rock LPs. Listen to it, study its structure and its changes, and I think you'll understand why.
Rock is not a term that can be or that wants to be defined. San Francisco rock is an even more elusive concept, particularly when one removes the obvious geographical limitation and includes the Who's Happy Jack and Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. One specifically San Francisco, or New World, trait is the inclusion of open acts of kindness toward the listener within the body of the album. Throughout Sergeant Pepper you feel that the Beatles are with you and understand where you're at ("we'd love to take you home with us"). The Who in their comic operetta 'A Quick One' bathe the listener in the repeated assurance that "you're forgiven." For everything. And the gentle applause at the end of each side of the John Handy album is a subtler application of the same effect.
Geographically, the San Francisco groups have the common heritage of the Bay Area '65-'67, and all the influences present there; most specifically, they have all been reared by the same audience, the Fillmore/Avalon crowd, the first good rock audience in America. This audience is responsible for, in addition to the Airplane, Handy, the Grape, Country Joe, and the Dead, at least three other fine groups as-yet-unrecorded: Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Steve Miller Blues Band. Big Brother is in many ways the most exciting group in the Bay Area; and though they are all white, Sandy Pearlman has correctly called them "the best spade band in the country." Their arrangements, their control of what they're doing, their material all indicate that under the right conditions they could produce the best SF rock album yet. Steve Miller is the most creative of American white blues bands at present, which says a lot for the San Francisco influence. Quicksilver is a fine example of a group that would have gone nowhere were it not for the SF audience egging them on; they're still in the growing stage, and not yet ready to record, but there's good reason to believe that the moments of brilliance they now enjoy will soon become hours of brilliance. Outside of San Francisco they wouldn't have bothered getting better because they wouldn't have needed to.
Above all, the San Francisco Sound is the musical expression of what's going down, a new attitude toward the world which is commonly attributed to "hippies," but which could more accurately be laid at the feet of a non-subculture called People, earth people, all persons who have managed to transcend the superstructures they live in. People who have responded to the reality of the industrial revolution by requiring that they run the system and benefit from it rather than be made part of it. In very small print between the lines of 'Naked If I Want To', 'Grace', and 'Cream Puff War' is written the following message: There is a man, me, and there are Men. These two forces will and must interact as smoothly as possible. Everything else – concepts, objects, systems, machines – must only be tools for me and mankind to employ. If I or Man respect a system or a pattern more than ourselves, we are in the wrong and must be set free. "Nothing to say but it's okay..."
© Paul Williams, 1967






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Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane/1967/Paul Williams/Crawdaddy!/The Golden Road: A Report on San Francisco/02/03/2017 21:26:58/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/the-golden-road-a-report-on-san-francisco

Monterey Pops! An International Pop Festival

Michael Lydonunpublished, for Newsweek, 20 June 1967
Reporting for Newsweek took me to Monterey. I'd gone to work for Newsweek right out of college in 1965 – I was a reporter in the London bureau when Rubber Soul came out, Carnaby Street was jumping, and the Who were at the Marquee. In January '67, just as the '60s musical-social ball was bouncing westward, Newsweek moved me to San Francisco. I arrived in time for the Human Be-In and soon was hanging out at the Avalon and Fillmore, interviewing Jerry and Janis, and covering student demonstrations in Berkeley. In May I began to hear rumours of a huge hippie festival: all the best new bands were coming, this was going to be far-fucking out!!
Monterey was far-fucking out. I drove back to San Francisco Monday morning, slept like a log, got up Tuesday and wrote the piece in one four-hour burst and sent it to New York, where the editors boiled it down to ten paragraphs. The full piece's splattered prose, I think, does capture some of the magic and the music of those three days, but just like I couldn't get Tiny Tim in, I couldn't get in a lot that happened at Monterey. Who could? Times like that weekend are so intense that we can only measure their impact as they echo in our lives down through the years.
Monterey still echoes for me as one of those signal events that set me on my adult path. Pennebaker's superb film Monterey Pop has kept the festival's sound and images from fading in memory. This festival gave birth to generations of music festivals that blossom to this day. Many of Monterey's offspring much outgrew their mother, but none had her tentative innocence, her blushing first-time exuberance.

*

Part One
THE MONTEREY International Pop Festival is over, all over. And what was it? Was it one festival, many festivals, a festival at all? Does anything sum it up, did it mean anything, are there any themes? Was it just a collection of rock groups of varying levels of proficiency who did their bit for a crowd of thousand who got their fill of whatever pleasure or sensation they sought? Was it a real-life living of Privilege, the most significant meeting of an avant-garde since the Armoury show or some Dadaist happening in the '20s?
Was it, as the stage banner said, "Love, flowers, and music", or was it Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar like an enormous penis and then burning it, smashing it, and flicking its pieces like holy water into a baffled, berserk audience? Was it a hundred screaming freak kids with warranted faces howling and bashing turnover oil drums trash cans like North African trance dancers, or was it the thousands of sweet hippies who wandered, sat, and slept on the grass with flutes and bongos, beads and bubbles, laughing and loving softly?
Was its spirit Simon and Garfunkel, singing like little-lost-lamb castrati, or was it Ravi Shankar rocking over his sitar and beating a bare foot while opening up a musical world to 7,000 listeners who, at his request, did not smoke for his three-hour concert? Rolling Stone Brian Jones was part of it, wandering for three days silent inside his blond hair and gossamer pink cape; so was a girl writhing on a bummer at the entrance to the press section. While no one helped, cameramen exhausted themselves recording her agony. Was it a nightmare and something beautiful existing together or a nightmare and many beautiful things existing side by side?
One is left only with questions that a mind besodden with sound and sound and sound and sound can not answer. On Saturday night, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead commented: "There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on." Whether he meant music or acid or emotion or everything, he was right. Something very heavy happened at Monterey last weekend.
Those very odd three days began in Friday’s coldest grey air as the first of the crowd began to circle through the booths of the fairground. The only word for it then was groove. A giant Buddha stood in one corner, banners decorated with astrology signs waved, and everything the hippie needs to make his life beautiful was on sale: paper dresses, pins, earrings, buttons, amulets, crosses, posters, balloons, sandals, macrobiotic food, and flowers. There was a soul food stand, the Monterey Kiwanis had fresh corn on the cob, the Congregation Beth El had pastrami sandwiches, and hippies with the munchies snapped their fingers to the popping of the popcorn stand. In the festival offices Mama Michelle of the Mamas and Papas was hard at work doing everything from typing to answering the phone. Papa John was keeping his cool in his grey fur hat which he never once took off in the frantic chaos.
Nothing but chaos could have been expected. The whole festival had been nothing more than an idea two months before in the head of publicist Derek Taylor, and in the rush of preparation had changed itself many times.
At first it was to be a commercial proposition; then Taylor, unable to raise the money needed to pay advances to the invited groups, had gone to Phillips and Dunhill producer Lou Adler for bankrolling. Why not make it a charity and get everyone to come for free, they suggested, and suddenly it became not a money-spinning operation but a happening generated by the groups themselves which hopefully would make some composite statement of pop music in June 1967.
The festival was incorporated with a board of governers that included Donovan, Mick Jagger, Andrew Oldham, Paul Simon, Phillips, Smokey Robinson, Jim McGuinn, Brian Wilson, and Paul McCartney. "The Festival hopes to create an atmosphere wherein persons in the popular music field from all parts of the world will congregate, perform, and exchange ideas concerning popular music with each other and with the public at large," said a release. The profits from ticket sales (seats ranged from $6.50 to $3.50; admission to the grounds without a seat was $1) after paying the entertainers’ expenses was to go to charities and to fund fellowships in the pop field. Despite rumours that part of the money would go to the Diggers in both Los Angeles and San Francisco to help them cope with the "hippie invasions," so far, no decision has been made on where the money will go.
This vagueness and the high prices engendered charges of commercialism – "Does anybody really know where these LA types are at?" asked one San Francisco rock musician. And when the list of performers was released there was more confusion. Where were the Negro stars, the people who began it all, asked some. Where were the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Stones, the Motown groups; does a pop festival mean anything without Dylan, the Stones, and Beatles?
"Here they are trying to do something new," said the Fillmore's Bill Graham, "and they end up with group after group just like the jazz festivals. Will anybody have the chance to spread out if they feel like it?"
But as the festival unfolded it was clear that if not perfect the festival was as good as it could have been. The Spoonful could not come because of possible charges on a pot bust they had helped to engineer to avoid a possession charge against themselves; it was rumored, moreover, that John Sebastian wants to spend all his time writing and that they are breaking up as a group. Two of the Stones are facing pot charges of their own in England. Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy were enthusiastic about the festival at first, John Phillips said, but "then they never answered the phone. Smokey was completely inactive as a director. I think it might be a Crow Jim thing. A lot of people put Lou Rawls down for appearing. 'You’re going to a Whitey festival, man,' was the line. There is tension between the white groups who are getting their own ideas and the Negroes who are just repeating theirs. The tension is lessening all the time, but it did crop up here, I am sure."
Phillips also reported that Chuck Berry was invited. "I told him on the phone, ‘Chuck, it’s for charity,’ and he said to me, ‘Chuck Berry has only one charity and that's Chuck Berry. $2000.’ We couldn’t make an exception." Dylan is still keeping his isolation after the accident which broke his neck last summer, and, though rumours persisted up to the last minute Sunday night that the Beatles would appear – or at least were in Monterey – they decided to keep their "no more appearances" vow. Dionne Warwick made a last minute bow-out with a bad throat, and the Beach Boys, whose Carl Wilson faced a draft evasion charge, decided to lay low.
Yet, as the sound poured out incessantly – the concerts, with nary an intermission, averaged five hours in length (can you imagine going to four uncut top volume Hamlets in three days, or sitting in the Indianapolis pits while they re-ran the race eight times over a weekend?) – gaps were not noticed. One dealt with what was at hand, and what was there was very, very good indeed. There were a few disasters who can be written off from the start. Laura Nyro, a melodramatic singer accompanied by two dancing girls who pranced absurdly; Hugh Masekela, whose trumpet-playing is only slightly better than his voice (he did, however, do some nice backing for the Byrds on 'So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star'), and Johnny Rivers, dressed like an LA hippie, who had the gall to sing the Beatles’ 'Help!' not once but twice.
Others, like the Association with their slick high-schooly humor, didn’t fit in; still others like Canned Heat, an LA-based blues band, had bad days. But the majority rose to new heights for the concert. There was the feeling that this was the place, that the vibrations were right, that one was performing for one’s peers and superiors. "I saw a community form and live together for three days," said Brian Jones Sunday night. "It is so sad that it has to break up."
That community was formed not only on the stage between the performers and the audience but backstage, at the artists’ retreat behind the arena called the Hunt Club, and in the motel rooms where parties went on till dawn. There was little off-stage jamming (no motels had the space, proper wall thickness, or power) except for a four-hour blast between the Dead, the Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix that carried the members to breakfast Monday morning after everyone else had gone home, yet everyone talked, listened and grooved with everyone else. The variety of music was tremendous, blues to folk to rock to freak. There were big stars, old stars, comers, and groups who avoid the whole star bag. If one was good, in whatever bag, one was accepted. Music styles were not barriers; however disparate the criteria, there seemed to be some consensus on what was real music and what was not.
The festival had a sort of rhythm to it which was undoubtedly coincidental – the organisers swore that there was no implicit ranking in the order of the acts – but which worked. Friday night was a mixed bag to get things moving, Saturday afternoon was blues, old and gutty, new and wild. Saturday night opened some of the new directions, then a return to peace with Shankar Sunday afternoon; and a final orgiastic freakout Sunday night.
The Association began it all in the cool grey of Friday night with a professional style and entertaining manner, doing a fine job on their sweetly raucous hit single 'Windy'. Then the Paupers, a four-man group from Toronto, provided the first surprise. The almost unknown group, managed by Albert Grossman, Dylan's grandmotherly and shrewd mentor, was able to get a screaming volume and a racy quality unmatched by some of the bigger groups. "I found them at the Cafe au Go Go in New York," Grossman said. "They are cutting the Jefferson Airplane to pieces so I signed them up." Only together seven months they are sure to get better. "We are trying to create a total environment with sound alone," said lead guitarist Chuck Beale. "Sound is enough. We don't use lights or any gimmicks. When we record we never double-track or use any other instruments. What the four of us can do is the sound we make. That’s all."
Lou Rawls, the blues singer whose 'Dead End Street' is currently in the charts, came next and pulled the audience back to what he called "rock ‘n’ soul". Backed by a big band, he looked as if he'd have been more at home in a night club, but his fine funky voice and from-the-heart monologues about the nitty-gritty of Negro life were soulful indeed, To watch him was to be back at the Apollo where rock is flashy, stylish, and flamboyant, but still communicating with the kids high in the balcony. "The blues," he said as he came off exhilarated, "is the way of the future. The fads come and go, but the blues remain. The blues is the music that makes a universal language." Other music at the festival seemed also to speak to all, but Rawls, a solid member of the professional black school of music, hit one major thread: the new music is still close to the blues, and most of the far-out sounds in the three days were but new blues ideas. He also had his finger on another key truth: "I’m trying to portray the facts as they stand. A few years ago rock was all facade, all doo-wah-diddy-diddy, all prettied up. I get the feeling that people now are trying their best to be where it’s at."
After Johnny Rivers stayed on too long, Eric Burdon, one of the best white blues singers around, romped through a half dozen numbers with his new Animals, the high point coming with 'Paint It, Black', the Jagger-Richards masterpiece on which he, unbelievably, improved, particularly with the zany screechings of an electric violin. Brian Jones, sitting in the dirt of an aisle, applauded wildly.
Simon and Garfunkel finished off the night, and what can one say about them? 'Homeward Bound' brought back memories of the time when a sweet folk-rock seemed to be the new direction, but though the song sounded nice enough, they seemed sadly left behind. 'Benedictus' had them harmonizing like choirboys, and they did an encore, a funny new nonsense song, 'I Wish I Was a Kellogg Corn Flake'. When the last note floated out about 1:30 am, the first night was over and the peace was extraordinary, While the lucky (or unlucky?) few drove to their motels, the mass of the crowd drifted to the huge camping area near the arena and to the football field af Monterey Peninsula College nearby. There, with the sweet smell of pot drifting over sleeping bags, music continued in singing and talking and in just being.
In the bright hot sun of Saturday afternoon the serious blues shouting began. Canned Heat led off with an uninspired set, and then came one of the most fantastic events of the whole shebang: the voice of Janis Joplin, singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, a SF group almost entirely unknown outside of the Bay Area. A former folk singer from Port Arthur, Texas, Janis was turned on a year ago by Otis Redding, and now she sings with equal energy and soul. In a gold knit pants suit with no bra underneath, Janis leapt, bent double, and screwed up her plain face as she sang like a demonic angel. It was the blues big mama style, tough, raw, and gutsy, and with an aching that few black singers reach. The group behind her drove her and fed from her, building the total volume sound that has become an SF trademark. The final number, '(Love is like a) Ball and Chain', which had Janis singing (singing? – talking, crying, moaning, howling) long solo sections, had the audience on their feet for the first time. "She is the best white blues singer I have ever heard," commented SF Examiner jazz critic Phil Elwood.
Country Joe and the Fish, the acid-political group from Berkeley, came next, and while they did not reach their accustomed heights, their funny, satirical words and oddly dissonant music went over well. They did two of their political songs. 'Please Don't Drop that H-Bomb on Me, You Can Drop It On Yourself', whose title is the complete lyric, and 'Whoopie, We’re All Going to Die', which contains the memorable line, "Be the first on your block to have your boy come home in a box". These were among the very few explicit protest songs at the Festival; nowadays rock musicians are musicians first and protestors a slow second. "There are two parts to music," said lead guitar and music writer for Country Joe, Barry Melton, "the music and the lyrics. Music we have with everybody, but some say the lyrics shouldn’t be political. Everybody agrees with us on the war, but we feel that in this society you have to make your stands clear. Others don't want to speak up in songs, be right up front. That's why we put politics in."
Melton's songs, particularly 'Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine', a nightmarish song about a mysterious lady who "hides on a shelf filled with volumes of literature based on herself" and who gets high with death, have been called "pure acid," but Melton says all music is psychedelic. "One part of LSD is liberation, to do what you want to do. I feel I do that, do what I want to do. When I hear a sound that is groovy I use it. I try to find music all over the place. Listening to anything can give you musical ideas. That's freedom, and maybe that's psychedelic." He spoke for most of the groups. It would be hard to find any of the musicians who has not taken LSD or at least smoked pot, but by now it has become so accepted that it’s nothing to be remarked on by itself. Acid opened minds to new images, new sounds, and made them embrace a wild eclecticism, but rather than being "acid" as such, it has become music.
Al Kooper, an organist who has often played with Dylan, took a half-hour with some funky blues organ and vocal, but the action began again with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, a newly-constituted version of the group which, more than any other, led the revival of white interest in blues bands. Led by Butterfield's fine voice and better harmonica, and with the strange melancholic whimsy of Elvin Bishop's guitar, the backup band of bass guitar, trumpet, sax, and drums rocketed through some very impressive work. They also returned for the Saturday night show, with Bishop showing off his odd voice on a gloomy blues, 'Have Mercy This Morning'.
The Butterfield group, which began years ago gigging with Muddy Waters in Chicago, knew, unlike the Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Steve Miller Blues Band who followed, precisely what it was doing. Without being uptight, Butterfield was precise. They swung deftly on a broad emotional range, but the strongest memory is the haunting, looping sound of Butterfield’s harmonica as it broke a small solo of just a few notes into tiny bits and experimented with their regrouping.
The blues afternoon ended with a group that had no idea (apparently) what it was doing but did it with such a crazy yelping verve that it looked like in time it could do anything it wanted. Billed as the Electric Flag, it was the first time it had ever played together, and under that name it never will play again. Mike Bloomfield, its leader and lead guitarist, has been gradually building the band after leaving Butterfield's group a few months ago. Its name in the future will be 'Thee, Sound'. "As in ‘dedicated to thee, sound’," says Bloomfield, "the whole world of sound, not just music." Its set was an astounding masterpiece of chaos with rapport. Drummer Buddy Miles, a big Negro with a wild "do" who looks like a tough soul brother from Detroit and who is actually a prep-school-educated son of a well-to-do Omaha family, sings and plays with TNT energy, knocking over cymbals as he plays. Barry Goldberg controls the organ, and Nick "the Greek" Gravenites writes the songs and does a lot of the singing. The group was, for the acts present as well as the audience, a smash success. The Byrds' David Crosby announced from the stage Saturday night that "Man, if you didn't hear Mike Bloomfield's group, man, you are out of it, so far out of it."
The afternoon concert rode out with the Electric Flag on a wave of excitement that faltered in the evening concert. There was a curious feeling around late Saturday; everything was still very groovy, but the sweetness was going. The excitement of the music was getting too high. That stalled Saturday night but the level did not diminish. San Francisco’s Moby Grape led off the concert overshadowed by the rumor, fed by the ambiguous statements of the festival management, that the Beatles would appear for the record arena audience of 8,500. The Grape had a driving excitement and some very nice playing with the four guitars, but no particular impression stands out, Masekela was terrible but his conga player Big Black was brilliant, holding up his reputation as the best conga player in the business. The Byrds were disappointing. Considered by many to be America’s Beatles, they were good, doing several new songs, but they lacked the excitement to get things moving. Butterfield was not as good as he had been in the afternoon and went on too long, and the evening hit bottom with Laura Nyro.
From there on out, things got better. The Jefferson Airplane were fantastically good. Backed with the light show put on by Headlights, who do the lights at the Fillmore, they created a special magic. Before they came on the question hung: are the Airplane as good as their reputation? They thoroughly proved themselves. As they played hundreds of artists, stagehands and hangers-on swarmed on to the stage dancing. Grace Slick, in a long light blue robe, sang as if possessed, her harshly fine voice filling the night. In a new song, 'Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil', they surpassed themselves. Playing largely in the dark, the light show loomed above them, its multicolored blobs shaping and reshaping, primeval molecules eating up tiny bubbles like food then splitting into shimmering atoms. The guitar sounds came from outer space and inner mind, and while everything was going – drums, guitar, and the feedback sounds of the amplifiers, Marty Balin shouted over and over the closing line, "Will the moon still hang in the sky, when I die, when I die, when I die," They were showered with orchids as they left the stage.
In no time Booker T and the MGs were on, rocking through some very dynamic blues, and suddenly Otis Redding was there, singing the way Jimmy Brown charged in football. "Shake," he shouted, "Shake, everybody, shake," shaking himself like a madman in his electric green suit. What was it like? I wrote at the time, "ecstasy, madness, loss, total, screaming, fantastic." It started to rain and Redding sang two songs that started slow, "to bring the pace down a bit", he said, but in no time the energy was back up again. 'Try a Little Tenderness' he closed with, and by the end it reached a new orgiastic pitch, He finished and a standing screaming crowd brought him back and back and back.
© Michael Lydon, 1967
Citation (Harvard format)
/1967/Michael Lydon/unpublished, for Newsweek/Monterey Pops! An International Pop Festival/02/03/2017 21:27:22/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/monterey-pops-an-international-pop-festival

Monterey Pops! An International Pop Festival (2)

Michael Lydonunpublished, for Newsweek, 20 June 1967
Part Two
DAY TWO was over and Sunday came grey and cold, but the excitement was still there and growing. Could anyone believe what had happened, what might happen? Hours of noise had both deafened and opened thousands of minds. One had lived in sound for hours: the ears had come to dominate the senses. Ears rung as one slept; dreams were audible as well as visual.
Sunday afternoon was Shankar, and one felt a return to peace. And yet there was an excitement in his purity, as well as in his face and body, and that of the tabla player whose face matched Chaplin’s in its expressive range. For three hours they played music, and after the first strangeness, it was not Indian music, but music, a particular realisation of what music could be. It was all brilliant, but – in a long solo from the 16th century – Shankar had the whole audience, including all the musicians at the festival, rapt. Before he played, he spoke briefly. The work, he said, was a very spiritual one and he asked that no pictures be taken (the paparazzi lay down like lambs). He thanked everyone for not smoking, and said with feeling, "I love all of you, and how grateful I am for your love of me. What am I doing at a pop festival when my music is classical? I knew I'd be meeting you all at one place, you to whom music means so much. This is not pop, but I am glad it is popular." With that he began the long melancholic piece. To all appearances he had 7,000 people with him, and when he finished, he stood, bowed with his hands clasped to his forehead, and then, smiling, threw back to the crowd the flowers that had been showered on him.
Sunday night the festival reached its only logical conclusion. The passion, anticipation and adventure into sound had taken one as far as any could have thought possible, and yet it had to go further. Flowers and a groovy kind of love may be elements in the hippie world, but they have little place in hippie rock. The hippie liberation is there, so is a personal kindness, openness, and pleasantness that make new rock musicians easy to talk to, but in their music there is a feeling of a stringent demand on the senses, an experimenting with the techniques of assault, a toying with the idea of beautiful ugliness, the creativeness of destruction, and the loss of self into whatever may come,
One of the major elements in this open-mindedness is feedback. Feedback is nothing new: anyone who has played an electric guitar has experienced it. Simply, feedback happens when a note from a vibrating string comes out of the amplifier louder than it went in and re-reverberates the string. The new vibration adds to the old, and thus the note comes out of the amp louder still. Theoretically, the process could go on, the note getting louder and louder, until the amp blew out. In practice it can be controlled so that the continuing note is held as with a piano’s pedal. That means that behind their strumming and picking, the musicians can build up a level of pure electronic noise, which they can vary by turning to face the amp of face away, moving toward it or moving away. Feedback can tremendously increase a group’s volume, produce yelps, squeals, screams, pitches that rise and rise, that squeak, blare, or yodel wildly. If nothing else, this festival established feedback. One major test of each group was their ability in using feedback, and though it has many uses and effects, overall it creates a musical equivalent of madness. Every night featured feedback, but Sunday night was feedback night and a complete exploration of a new direction in pop music.
The night was foreshadowed by the first group, The Blues Project, the New York band which shares the new blues limelight with Paul Butterfield. Their first song featured electric flute in the hands of Andy Kolburg. It was part blues, part Scottish air, part weird phrases that became images of ambiguity. Big Brother and the Holding Company came back and were weaker than they had been, but one short number, 'Hairy', was a minute composed of short bursts of utter electronic blare, chopped up into John Cage-like silences. A group too new to have a name – The Group with No Name was their billing – were terrible and may well not last long enough to get a name. Buffalo Springfield were totally professional but largely undistinguished, except for a closing song, 'Bluebird', which alternated from the sweet sound to the total sound.
And then came The Who. Long popular in England, where they've achieved a notoriety for their wild acts at London’s Marquee Club, they had never been seen in America. They were dressed in a wild magnificence, like dandies from the 17th, 19th, and 21st centuries. They opened with one of their English hits, 'Substitute' ("I'm just a substitute for another guy, I look pretty tall but my heels are high") with singer Roger Daltrey swirling around the stage in gothic shawl decorated with pink flowers, and Keith Moon defining the berserk at the drums – he broke three drum sticks in the first song and overturned one of his snares. They had a good, very close sound, excellent lyrics ("Lets have a kiss for an old engine driver" went one song), and the flashiest guitar presence of any group to appear.
Then John Entwhistle, bass guitar, stepped to the mike and said, "This is where it all ends". Then they began 'My Generation', the song that made them famous. A violently arrogant demand for the supremacy of youth – "things they say look awful cold/ Hope I die before I get old" – the song has Daltrey stammering on "my g-g-g-generation" as if overcome by hatred or by drugs. After about four minutes of the song, Daltrey began to swing his handheld mic over his head, while Pete Townshend smashed his guitar strings against the pole of the mic before him, building up the feedback. Then he ran and played the guitar directly into his amp. The feedback went wild, and then he lit a smoke bomb before the amp so it looked like it had blown up, and smoke billowed on the stage. He lifted his guitar from his neck and smashed it on the stage again, again, again, and it broke, one piece sailing into the crowd. Moon went psychopathic at the drums, kicking them through with his feet, knocking them down, trampling on the mics. The noise continued from the guitar as everything fell and crashed in the smoke. Then they stopped playing and walked off unconcerned, leaving only the hum of an amp turned on at full volume.
It was known to be a planned act, but like the similar scene in the film Blow Up (inspired by the Who) had a fantastic dramatic intensity. And no meaning. No meaning whatever. There was no passion, no anger, just destruction. And it was over as it began. Stagehands came out and set up for the next act.
That was the Grateful Dead and they were beautiful. They did at top volume what Shankar had done softly. They played pure music, some of the best music of the concert. I have never heard anything in music which could be said to be qualitatively better than the performance of the Dead on Sunday night. The strangest of the San Francisco groups, the Dead live together in a big house on Ashbury Street, and living together seems to have made them totally together musically. Jerry Garcia, lead guitar, and owner of the bushiest head at the Festival, was the best guitarist of the whole show. The Dead’s songs lasted twenty minutes and more, each a masterpiece of five-man improvisation. Beside Garcia, there is Phil Lesh on bass, Bob Weir on rhythm guitar, Bill Sommers on drums, and Pig Pen (who seldom talks) on organ. Each man’s part was isolated, yet the sound was solid as a rock. It is impossible to remember what it was like. I wrote down at the time: "Accumulated sound like wild honey on a moving plate in gobs...three guitars together, music, music, pure, high and fancy...in it all a meditation by Jerry Garcia on a melancholic theme...the total in all parts...loud quiets as they go on and on and on...sounds get there then hold while new ones float up, Jerry to Pig Pen, then to drums, then to Lesh, talking, playing, laughing, exulting."
That sounds crazy now, but that’s how it seemed. The Dead built a driving, unshakeable rhythm that acted not just as rhythm but as a wall of noise on which the solos were etched. The solos were barely perceptible in the din, yet they were there like fine scrolls on granite. At moments Garcia and Weir played like one instrument, rocking toward each other. Garcia could do anything. One moment he hunched over, totally intent on his strings, then he would pull away and prance with his fat ungainly body, then play directly to some face he picked out in the crowd straining up to the stage. Phil Lesh called to the audience as they began, "Anybody who wants to dance, dance, You’re sitting on folding chairs, and folding chairs are for folding up and dancing on," but the crowds were restrained by ushers, and those who danced on stage were stopped by nervous stagehands. It was one of the few times that the loose reins of the festival were tightened. Was it necessary? Who know? But without dancing the Dead didn’t know how well they had done. Lesh was dripping with sweat and nervous as he came off, but each word of praise from onlookers opened him up. "Man, it was impossible to know how we were doing without seeing people moving. We feed on that, we need it, but, oh, man, we did our thing, we did our thing."
They certainly did. The Dead on Sunday night were the definition of virtuoso performance. Could anybody come on after the Dead? Could anyone or anything top them? Yes, one man: Jimi Hendrix, introduced by Brian Jones as "the most exciting guitar player I’ve ever heard". Hendrix is a strange-looking fellow. Very thin, with a big head and a protuberant jaw, Hendrix has a tremendous bush of hair held in place carelessly by an Apache headband. He is both curiously beautiful and as wildly grotesque as the proverbial Wild Man of Borneo. He wore scarlet pants and a scarlet boa, a pink jacket over a yellow and black vest over a white ruffled shirt. He played his guitar left-handed, if in Hendrix’s hands it was still a guitar. It was, in symbolic fact, a weapon which he brandished, his own penis which he paraded before the crowd and masturbated; it was a woman whom he made love to by straddling and by eating it while playing the strings with his teeth, and in the end it was a torch that he destroyed. In a way, the heavily erotic feeling of his act was absurd. A guitarist of long experience with Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, and the like, Hendrix had learned most of his tricks from the masters in endless series of club gigs on the southern chitlin’ circuit.
But, dressed as he was and playing with a savage wildness, how to describe it? I wrote at the time: "total scream...I suppose there are people who enjoy bum trips...end of everything...decay...nothing louder exists, 2000 instruments (in fact there were three: guitar, bass, and drums)...five tons of glass falling over a cliff and landing on dynamite." The act became more than an extension of Elvis’ gyrations, it became an extension of that to infinity, an orgy of noise so wound up that I felt that the dynamo that powered it would fail and fission into its primordial atomic state. Hendrix not only picked the strings, he bashed them with the flat of his hand, he ripped at them, rubbed them against the mic and pushed them with his groin into his amplifier. And when he knelt before the guitar as if it were a victim to be sacrificed, sprayed it with lighter fluid, and ignited it, it was exactly a sacrifice: the offering of the perfect, most beloved thing, so its destruction could ennoble him further.
But what do you play when your instrument is burnt? Where can you go next? "I don’t know, man," said Hendrix with a laugh after the show. "I think this has gone about as far as it can go." "In England they’ve reached a dead end in destruction," said Brian Jones. "Groups like the Move and the Creation are destroying whole cars on stage." Asked what it all meant, Andrew Loog Oldham, whose Rolling Stones have pushed far into their own violence kick, said, "If you enjoy it, it’s okay," and the screaming, frightened but aroused audience apparently enjoyed it very much.
After a short and only mildly recuperative silence, on came the Mamas and the Papas, backed by vibes, drums, tympani, piano, and John Phillips’ guitar. They were great, everything the Mamas and Papas should be. Mama Cass was in fine form, joking, laughing, and hamming it up like a camp Queen Victoria. Introducing 'California Dreamin'', she said, "We’re gonna to this song because we like it and because it is responsible for our great wealth." When they finished a wave of applause swept from the furthermost reaches of the crowd up to the stage and the hundred of more musicians, stagehands, and hangers-on dancing and shouting in the wings. "We’re gonna have this Festival every year," said Mama Cass, "so you can stay if you want." The roar of renewed applause almost convinced me that the crowd would patiently wait through the summer, fall and winter, never stirring until next June.

*

NOW THAT the Monterey Pop Festival is a day in the past, what did it prove about pop music? In a way, it proved little. Pop has few of the formal identifying qualities of jazz or folk, and so it did not prove that pop music is now here or there or anyplace. It did show that pop is still in a continuum with the blues, still loves and gets inspiration from the blues. It also showed that LSD and the psychedelics have tremendously broadened the minds of the young people making the new music.
It also demonstrated the continuing influence of the Beatles. Dozens of the other Monterey performers owe their being there to the Beatles. John Phillips was a folk singer until he heard the Beatles. "They were not so much a musical influence as an influence because they showed that intelligent people could work in rock and make their intelligence show." Moreover, Monterey Pop ratified the shift away from folk music that has been going on for over two years. The Festival was, among other things, the largest collection of former folk singers and guitarists ever gathered in one place. Musicians trained in folk make up the bulk of the new rockers. This means that they came to rock ‘n’ roll, not as the only form, not the one they were trained in, but as an experiment, as a form they looked at first from the outside, and whose possibilities they rather distantly considered.
That sense of experiment makes rock so lively today. The years of folk training, in which the two marks of status were knowledge of esoterica and the quality of performance, mean that the new rockers feel a need to push further and further ahead, and also that they are excellent players. The general level of musical competence was extremely high, and the heights hit by Mike Bloomfield and Jerry Garcia were as high as those reached by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Doc Watson and other immortal folk and rock guitarists.
In some ways it was surprising that there was little experimentation in some directions. No group went far afield from the basic instrumental line-up, staging, song lengths, and musical form. This indicates that rock is still rather traditional, that it is still a commercial art, that the public will not take leaps forward that are too wild, that the performers are still young and unsure of themselves, and that the rock revolution is still new.
This may all change, and if it does, the Festival will have played an important role. Brian Jones was right: for three days a community formed. Rock musicians, whatever their bag, came together, heard each other, praised each other, and saw that the scene was open enough for them to play as they liked and still get an audience. They will return to their own scenes refreshed and confident.
The whole rock-hippie scene was vindicated. Even the police thought it was groovy. Monterey police chief Frank Marinello was so ecstatic that Saturday afternoon he sent half his force home. "I’m beginning to like these hippies," he told reporters. "When I go up to that Haight-Ashbury, I’m going to see a lot of friends. The fairgrounds, which at times held 40,000 people, far more than any other time in its history, were utterly peaceful. The tacit arrangement that there would be no busts for anything less than a blatant pot orgy was respected by both sides. When Mama Cass introduced 'California Dreamin’' at 12:30 Monday morning, she said, "This whole weekend was a dream come true."
The Monterey International Pop Festival was a dream come true. An odd, baffling, and at times threatening dream, but one whose main theme was the creation and further growth of rock ‘n’ roll music, a music as young, vital, and beautiful as any being made today.
© Michael Lydon, 1967






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Miles' Trip: New York

MilesInternational Times, 30 June 1967
"Two persons were shot dead and several others injured in a gun battle between shoplifters and store detectives in a Bronx supermarket today."
THE REVOLUTION is near the surface in the UNITED STATES. As Con-Ed pours filthy smoke and pollution into the air.
Tompkins Square Park is the focal point for hippie-power in the Lower East Side of New York. In the surrounding blocks are the Tompkins Square Bookshop, 10th Street Books, The Peace Eye Bookshop, the old E.V.O. Office, The Leather Shop, The Psychedehcatessen, Psychedelic Community Centre and many cafes, bars and boutiques all serving the hippie community. Two weeks ago the first major encounter between police and hippies occured in the park where the hippies got their heads smashed and the city apologised – Mayor Lindsey's second in command saying that the hippies should remember that the police are essentially a fascist organisation. One photo on the E.V.O. files shows one policeman holding a hippy's head while another pushed down on his jaw and twists his thumb back. A third cop stands by laughing. Three police stand on each corner of the park now and more are available from an emergency van parked on E8th Street just off the Square. The Ukranians and Puerto Ricans of the area have not made any arrangements with the hip community and the "melting pot" just doesn't melt. Con-Ed pours shit into the air, the humidity and heat are both very high and in as much as physical conditions play a part in riots, the time is right. As several members of the community say "When the shit hits the fan, the hippy gets it in the head."
Ed Sanders magazine, Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts was declared not obscene though Captain Fink of the 9th Precinct has not returned the seized copies yet nor has he returned Sanders' film Mongolian Cluster Fuck which was seized during the same raid. Ed has two now publications out: Fuck God in the Ass and an underground newspaper called The Dick.
The Mothers of Invention expect to be here in late September. Their stage act in New York is, like their new album Absolutely Free, structured like an opera. Zappa stands amid dozens of people who appear in a state of total anarchy. At the raise of his army they move from one number to another or stop or start. Groupies leap about the stage with tambourines or sweep up the mashed fruit that another Mother eats and spits out again into the audience – all a bit messy. The act requires a fairly complete knowledge of American classic pop music for a good appreciation of its musical content – they will blow people's minds here.
The Fugs are still playing in the Village – the words making up for a certain lack of music continuity. Ken Weaver's brilliant humour and Sanders' direct approach (?) hold the audience in a way that no other group could – what am I trying to say? – The pornographic interlude in the middle of the show would probably be unintelligible here but is very funny. Tuli Kupferberg visualises many of the songs in a way of his own, particularly in 'Kill For Peace'.
The Grateful Dead and the Group Image were at the Cheetah with an expensive light show. The Dead play like a more electronic version of Tomorrow, the Group Image are a mixture of the Soft Machine and A.M.M. – heavily experimental, heavily amplified. The light show is overdone and becomes tame. It seems to be preselected or programmed in some way though there seemed to be operators on the projectors.
Tim Leary and most of the occupants of the Castalia Foundation at Millbrook are presently living in the woods of their 3,000 acre estate. They have meadows and streams and woods. The house has had most of the shrines taken from it to their summer "camp" and was only open when I got there for laundry day. They have a great deal of trouble both from local residents in Millbrook, a square, rich, anti-semitic town, and from the 20 people a day who arrive hoping to stay. The house is big 64 rooms and the Ashram attached is almost as big but the very cost of feeding and bedding so many people is prohibitive. Leary is writing a bible. A bible being a history of a movement or religion, his is divided into four volumes with each chapter on a hexagram from the I-Ching. The first volume High Priest is being published by the New American Library in a few weeks. This title and some of the aspects of the place, i.e. the vegetable garden planted in mandala circles of carrots, onions etc., is characteristic of the slight self-admitted corniness of Leary. The number of autographs he is asked for in the East Village would indicate that though he has "dropped-out" he is still the victim of the American "Star-system" which is the most powerful destructive force the establishment can use. He seems to weather it very well, though the complexity of his legal situation can really only be understood by a computer and the full weight of the communications-systems enquiries and questions are on him all the time. A small wedding was conducted (legally) at the Foundation the other week with a simple beautiful ceremony. Leary has ceased to perform his light shows and readings which attracted the huge critical comment from all branches of society (hip and square) and has decided to return to India for a spell. His dropping out may have some interesting effects on the American scene – if the "tribal" societies really develop this may well be the beginning of the most exciting era of American history. Some confirmation of this is provided by Rolling Thunder, chief of the Shoshonians who attended the San Francisco U.P.S. conference in April and spoke of a prophecy. In the late 19th century an Indian Shaman left a cave painting saying that in the future, after a time of great trial, the Shoshone were to be reincarnated as white men. Rolling Thunder says that as far as the Shoshone and the Hopi nations are concerned the turned-on youth of America are the fulfillment of that prophecy. For fuller details see the latest issue of Phychedelic Review (number 9) and the American Indian issue of Innerspace.
The tribal situation is of course a false heritage for most Americans as well as the guilt many Americans have about the Indians. It is interesting to see Ali Katzman speaking of his guilt towards the Comanches (American Indians) when his ancestors were still in Europe at the time of the massacres. (In I-KON Magazine). In Britain where a tribal situation is even more distant it would seem that this is the point of departure in the development of the two "underground" communities, except for the fact that here there has always been a fondness for Utopian and idealistic communities in the country. Whether this can be extended to city communities or not remains to be seen, in any event there is nothing wrong with gaining safety in numbers and the various plans for the development of Coven Garden as a sort of London Lower East Side can do no harm. Notting Hill Gate is too expensive and too residential for such a community – there are few shops available and it is already occupied by a West Indian and student community. Covent Garden is being closed down as a fruit market, already many huge buildings are to let or for sale, it has the one thing Notting Hill Gate and London generally lacks: space! If you are planning a boutique, bookshop, communal flat, head shop or whatever – that is the place for it. Obviously at first trade will be flat but in the long run everything will be all right.
© Miles, 1967






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Mamas & The Papas, The Who, Jimi Hendrix et al: Monterey Pop Festival, Monterey CA

Tracy ThomasNew Musical Express, 1 July 1967
Who, Jimi win high praise
HATS OFF to two English acts — the Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience! They really stole the Monterey show. By the time the Sunday evening concert, in which they were featured, rolled around, the audience (which was virtually the same for each performance) had seen the cream of America's young musicians and were expecting a nice round-up of acts to wrap the series up. Were they surprised!
The Mamas and Papas, dressed in long dresses or coats, performed last on Sunday night, but after the one-two-three punch of the Who, after the San Francisco's top blues group, the Grateful Dead, and after Jimi Hendrix, their "medley of hits" was, to me, anti-climatic.
Musically they were sound, though slightly out of touch with their backing band. Cass suffered no ill effects from her confinement. Michelle, in red and yellow Indian pants and coat, was none the worse from typing and answering phones in the Festival office. Denny, in an Indian coat, and John, in a suit covered with a gold-trimmed, full-length black velvet cape, looked real sharp.
Preceding them the Who — resplendent in Indian shirt (Keith), fringed cape (Roger), yellow-and-red British lion jacket (John) and ruffles (Pete) — roared through 'Happy Jack', 'Pictures Of Lily', and finished up with an ear-splitting, guitar-and drum-crashing 'My Generation', which caught the spirit of the audience exactly.
Local favourites, the Grateful Dead, kept up the stomping and clapping until Jimi Hendrix, in red velvet pants and an orange-yellow ruffled shirt, turned the amplifiers up (and the crowd on) with 'Like A Roiling Stone'. A splendid, gutsy 'Wild Thing' (apologetically Jimi asked the audience not to be offended as he played the "American and British national anthems together") left the crowd panting, as he ended by squirting a can of lighter fluid on his flower-bedecked guitar, lit it, bashed it up and threw the pieces to eager fans!
Victory
In addition to the musical achievement of the weekend, the entire event was a clear-cut victory for the "hippies" and pop music lovers in general. Though city officials anticipated the worst, their only complaint afterward was that the music was so loud that it could be heard over twenty miles away!
Police were useful only in traffic control, although over 45,000 teenagers showed up for the Festival, many with only bedrolls to be housed on the grounds, fed by the San Francisco Diggers.
There was an understandable and inevitable amount of confusion in the minds of both officials and audience, simply because no one had ever done (or been to) a Festival like this before.
But the spirit of "Music, Love and Flowers," the official slogan, and feeling of equality (imagine Brian Jones, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz going unmobbed by the crowd of 10,000 young people!) prevailed and made it an event of which the music business and the younger generation can be proud.
© Tracy Thomas, 1967






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Monterey Pop Festival: Eric Burdon — 'It Was A Good Beginning'

uncredited writerKRLA Beat, 15 July 1967
"I THINK THE Monterey Festival was agood beginning for what may follow in the next few years. But I think there were a lot of mistakes made on the organization side of it.
"I'm not putting anybody down in particular. It's just the fact that there was so many restrictions, too many people wearing different tickets of different colors and told that they couldn't go in certain areas and do certain things. Everybody was very paranoic and being on their best behavior and afraid that the cops were going to say something. They just weren't being themselves and I think festivals are for people to be themselves.
"I think people should be themselves all the time – not just at festivals. Everybody seemed afraid of being themselves.
"I don't think there was enough time given to the musicians to play. There was lots of people who felt the same as I did – that when we just got a band started to get through to the audience, we had to stop.
No Laws
"I think there should have been no restrictions – no laws at all. I think everybody should have been able to relax and enjoy things 24 hours a day.
"There was a small fairground on the campus (one of the college campuses) and anybody could go there and play all night long if they wanted to. It was organized by one of the guys from the Family Dog in San Francisco. This seemed to me to be more like the real festival should have been, with people just jamming together and having a ball. The actual Monterey Fairgrounds was sort of stifled with comments of 'no you can't go in there', 'yes. you can go in there' and 'oh, yeah, you can go in there, you have a pink ticket', etc. I'd just like to see a festival that's more open and free because the music is trying to teach people to be free. The music is teaching freedom and it should be a freedom festival more than anything else, I think.
"We have a festival in England which isn't as big as the Monterey festival. It's the Richmond Jazz Festival. It's jazz and all kinds of music, really. It's just a music festival and it's much freer. I think the main reason is that the police there are much more relaxed in their attitude.
"We don't have the same kind of police force in England as you do in the United States. They're much more easy going. We don't have the same kind of problems with the kids either – sort of liable to riot as much as the American kids are. Everything there is more relaxed.
Bit of the Two
"I'd like to see a bit of the two mixed together. Maybe if the festival's held in England next year that would be really good. I'd like to see that happen, really. That would be really good.
"The best points of being at the festival for me was just sitting around talking and communicating with the artists that I have wanted to meet.
"I was particularly bowled over by the attitude that the Grateful Dead have got towards music and towards life. They are completely free. They live free and there was good incidents and it got through to me and the audience appreciated it. I was sitting in the audience when they were on and the audience really appreciated them, too.
"There was one point when the kids got out of the audience and tried to dance and the organization, which I have been complaining about, tried to stop them and the Dead wanted the kids to dance there. Good.
"If the musicians wanted the kids to dance there, and the kids wanted to dance there, and it's a music festival well who's going to stop them. Who needs to stop them? They don't need to be stopped. This is what causes riots and this is what causes trouble – stopping kids from what they want to do. They are not going to do any harm. All they want to do is dance, that's all.
"I'm kind of proud of Brian Epstein in a way 'cause Brian opened a theatre in London called the Saville Theatre which is strictly for popular music and they had Chuck Berry there. When Chuck Berry appeared there, there was a riot started because the kids wanted to get up on the stage and dance on stage with Chuck – and in the audience. They did not want to touch him or mob him, they just wanted to dance with him.
Manager Sacked
"The management took the strong arm and threw the kids out and Brian sacked the management. This was the first time anybody has done anything like that. It was because the management was to blame. He was the guy who incited the riot. The kids didn't. Neither did Chuck Berry. It's just free expression and to stop free expression at a jazz festival or a music festival is the most hypocritical think you can do because that's what it's there for. It's a festival of expression.
"At the Richmond Jazz Festival in England, I sat around and watched other people jam and joined in with a few people. Jimi Hendrix and The Who among others.
"We intended to have a 'sit-in' with Pig Pen from the Dead. We went up to his house but we could not find any guitars, unfortunately. Still, we tried. But I learned a lot by just talking to the other acts there and by listening, talking and saying. That was enough.
Religion and Love
"To me, Monterey wasn't a pop music festival. It wasn't a music festival at all, really. It was a religious festival. It was a love festival. It was a demonstration of what we can do if we put our minds to it and how we can impress the people who think that we are incapable of doing things like behaving ourselves and listening to music and acting like human beings instead of acting like savages.
"I think it was all summed up in what the police chief said – that he was really impressed and that he was going to Haight Ashbury and tour it. Also that he really wanted to thank the Hippies for what they did.
"When you can impress a guy like a police chief and leave a mark on his memory, it just won't stop. If you can impress a guy like that, you can impress anybody."
© uncredited writer, 1967
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Interview with the Doors

Greg ShawMojo Navigator, August 1967
MOJO NAVIGATOR: You just played in New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco. What are the differences you've found in the audiences in the different cities and the scenes going on in the different cities?
ROBBY: Well, in New York we played mostly for older people, although I'd say that the audience was more dance-prone there, they like to dance a lot more; they don't listen as much. L.A. audiences and San Francisco audiences are different, too. I think the San Francisco audience listens a lot more.
MN: Do you think the difference is because of the places you play, like, when you were in New York did you play clubs mostly?
ROBBY: Well, we played clubs, that's probably it. But they still danced, you know. Of course it might just have been the particular club that we were playing. We really didn't get a very good idea of what the New York audience is like, although when we go back this time I think we will. We're going to play some concerts as well as clubs.
RAY: We played uptown in New York and the downtown people, the people who live in the Village and the East Village, don't come uptown. I was surprised, you know, we were down there and we told some people that we knew and had run into in the Village and said, "Come up and see us we're playing at.. ." it was up on the upper East Side. But they didn't come up. They don't come up to the place It' s an uptown club Downtown people stay in, whatever's down there; the Night Owl, the Café Au Go Go. They go to those places. And the people who go to the place where we played, Ondine's, I guess they don't go down to the Village It's kind of strange, it's real segregation there.
MN: Did you find any significant difference in how the material was received by the audiences in the different cities?
RAY: The whole thing went over very well in the club we played. They seemed to understand it. I don't know whether they understood it or they felt it because the rhythm was there, you know. I guess we're very jazz-oriented, and I think those people understand that, better than people who play do. It's funny, L.A. hasn't been our best audience. It's a good audience in L.A., but up here it's a much better audience.
MN: What groups in particular, if any, do you draw your inspirat-ion from; who, do you particularly admire on the music scene in general?
ROBBY: Well, really we try... we don't have any favorites. The peop-le we respect most are the best musicians. And the people who are reaching the furthest out. Albert Ayler, and... different people.
MN: In cities that we don't have very much communication with, for example in like say L.A.. or New York, is there much interchange between the jazz and the rock aud-ience? Not just the musicians, but do the people dig the whole thing?
RAY: I don't think so.
JOHN: Not at all.
JIM: No.

ROBBY: No, not at all.
MN: 'Cause around here you find generally avant-garde jazz groups will be playing, like at the Fillmore. Mostly in benefits, like you'll have Elvin Jones playing, then the Grateful Dead will play.
ROBBY: But you'll find that when Bill Graham puts a jazz group in there, or even John Lee Hooker, that he'll always have a big drawing group with them, 'cause he knows they aren't gonna draw. He puts the jazz group in there for prestige among the hippies, mainly.
RAY: It's a sophisticated audience up here. I, think they understand jazz a little bit, so they... there's some appreciation of the music. But, the jazz people don't... gee, I don't know any of them that are digging rock, really. Not really. And besides I think the whole jazz thing is on the verge of being assimilated into, it' s going to become classical music. Where classical music is going now, and where jazz is going, they're both going towards the same point. Because jazz used to be, it's originally Negro art music. There was a Negro, and the Negro is being more and more assimilated. As he gets more intelligent, he gets up to the same level of intelligence... they're all college educated now, you know, they're going to school, and they're like us, they're the same people, you know, the ethnic background is getting away from them slowly, very slowly, but it's getting away, and they're becoming Americans. You know, they're thoroughly Americanized people. They've got the TV, the whole thing. It's doing the same thing to them that it does to everyone else. So jazz is going to, in 20 years, there won't be any jazz, jazz and the electronic thing, they're all gon-na be the same thing. Rock is going to become the popular music, for everybody. Everybody's popular music.
MN: Do you see perhaps a fusing of the electronic sound of, say Stock-hausen and Cage, with...
RAY: Yeah, Sun Ra is trying to do the very same thing. We saw him after the session in New York, just before we left. And he's trying to do the same thing that Stockhausen is doing. Except Sun Ra is doing it with his instruments. He doesn't have any electronic thing going. But they're both trying to do the same thing. I'm looking forward to the day when the Negros start play-ing electronic instruments, you know, that could be interesting.
MN: You played for all three of the major scenes in San Francisco: the Matrix, the Avalon, and the Fillmore. Did you find any differences in the audiences at each and would you like to talk about it? Just in general what it's like to play all
three. Is it particularly different for you?
JIM: Yeah, there was a difference. I'm not sure what it was.
MN: Which place was more en-joyable to play?
JOHN: Each had its thing. The Avalon is more older hippies, let's say. And the Fillmore is a little more teeny-bopper like. A little louder in their applause and clapping, you know, but at Avalon they appreciat-ed it same amount, they just yell and scream, right, there's just a warm feeling. I mean, we know they're digging it, they're just...
MN: Yeah. How well is your album selling?
ROBBIE: It's doing very well con-sidering we don't have a real hit single, you know, but I'd say the next album will be much better. Our first album was just the skeleton of our material. There was no real production involved. We'll take more time with the next album and it will be more, produced. It should be quite a bit better. It'll be, I think, all original material.
MN: It's selling really well around here. Just about everybody's got it. I noticed at the Avalon, the kids seemed to, they knew what the, songs were, they all had their favorites... That blew my mind; you seemed to have a fan club. You don't see that at the Avalon too much. Another thing you said about the danc-ing thing, that's really funny, be-cause people around here used to really wig out, you know, they used to jump up and down and dance, but not so much anymore. Like you go to the Avalon now and you'll see... it used to be like just a small group of people in front that were listening and then like 90% of the audien-ce was running around and dancing...and now like almost the whole auditorium is covered with sitting people, and it's, I think, considered uncool to freak out.
ROBBY: The Avalon seemed a little, if I can say this, a little more inhibited actually, than the Fillmore even.
MN: Yeah, a lot more. I think because the people who go there, to the Fillmore, are more people that you know, like the first time they go anywhere they go to the Fillmore because that's the name, and they don't discover the Avalon until later. What about the dances down in L.A.? How successful have those been? Along what lines are they structured?
ROBBY: They're always harrassed by police...
JOHN: What dances?
RAY: Therefore they don't have dances down there. There's really no Fillmore down there. It's all still clubs in L.A. There aren't any, no ballrooms and such.
MN: What about the Freak-Outs? You know, the KRLA Freak-Out things?
ROBBY: Yeah, some of those are pretty good, but...they had a nice light show, and the kids really freaked out, more than I've seen here, for some reason. I guess 'cause they don't get a chance to down there. Yeah, it was a good thing, although it was stopped a few weeks later because of the police.
MN: Yeah. They've tried to do that around here too, but unsuccessfully. There is no way they can do it. You know, you've got 5,000 people outside some place, you just can't, you know, stop it. But they do little things. Like, they have the Fire Marshal at the Avalon. I don't know if you dug that cat. He stands right by the door and he's got this double-breasted uniform on and this big badge... he looks like he should be in a case or something. But like when more people show up than the 910 that the regulations allow, he stops them at the door and nobody else will get in.
RAY: Yeah, we saw him.
MN: Who writes most of your songs?
ROBBY: Jim writes most of the lyrics.
MN: I noticed that some of your songs are very strange, like 'The End' and 'Moonlight Drive' and a few others. A strong mood of death running through a lot of them. I mean, it almost seems as if you had lost your mind once, sometime in your past, with these songs as the result. I get the impression from like, 'End of the Night' particularly a real feeling of Celine, Journey To the End of the Night, and from 'The End' and many of the other songs, of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Really strong moods.
JIM: I don't know. Compared to some of the stuff I've heard in San Francisco, I don't think it's too strange. It's pretty straight stuff.
MN: Which groups around here have you heard, and what's your judgment of them?
RAY: I like Country Joe and the Fish. I like some of their stuff.
ROBBY: And we really liked Big Brother.
MN: What'd you think of the Grateful Dead?
JOHN: They weren't too good, the night we saw them. Like, they're really good musicians, and they're tight, but so's Wilson Pickett, you know?
MN: Do you think there's any one direction that rock music is headed, in particular? Is it headed toward a fusion of all sounds, or do you think it will remain a distinct element, with a variety of different sounds around?
RAY: Well, it will all become more sophisticated, as the musicians mature, as the audience matures, you know, naturally the music must at the same time, so there's going to be just a general increase in knowledgeability. People are going to be able to understand music much better, so the music's going to improve. I think even the old folks are going to start picking up on it, more and more and more. It's happening very gradually but it's happening, be-cause the musicianship is getting be-tter. They've thoroughly accepted the Beatles, you know, so who's next? You know, they'll start accepting a lot more people too.
[Enter COUGAR]
MN: Cougar!
COUGAR: I'm so far gone it isn't funny.
MN: Cougar is our... our experimenter. They've got this new stuff called NDDN, One quarter microgram of it....
JIM: What's it like?
COUGAR: It's heavy. It's one of Hoffman's drugs, the third step up from LSD 26. And it's heavy.
JIM: Hey, have they synthesized Yage yet?
COUGAR: No.
MN: No. LSD is supposedly...the guy that first did it, Hoffman, the same guy, said it was Telepathine, was the name he gave it. And he tried to synthesize it and he came up with LSD. LSD 6 I think it was. It was the first one he could consume. Or he could consume safely, that is.
COUGAR: I think Hoffman has discovered 25 drugs since LSD, each one one step closer to purity. And the third one above LSD was this, And it's potent. Unfortunately I took twice what's considered the normal dosage. I blew my mind here Tuesday night. I blew my mind here and I haven't done that with any other drug. I lost it. It was really sad. (laughs all around).
JIM: Interviews are good, but....
MN: Oh, they're a drag.
JIM: Critical essays are really where it's at. Another person's impressions....
MN: For one thing, interviews are a big drag because to me, rock is becoming a total environment thing, and you go and you listen to somebody, or even hear a record, and you say, "yes" "no" or "maybe". And what can you say, you know? Nothing. Nothing.
JOHN: Yeah, right. It's out there, on the stage.
MN: It used to be a real blast, to go and interview somebody, but you know, now I find myself doing the same thing every time, and coming up with relatively the same answers, But it is groovy to meet different groups because you really get a feeling, just from talking to them, of what's behind their music. You understand their music better, too.
ROBBY: Yeah.
MN: You talked about not realizing everything you wanted on your album, how do you think you could have improved it?
RAY: Well, that's not true. We really realized everything we set out to do.
ROBBY: Well the album was made six months ago, and by making a record, we learned about what you do in a studio, you know.
RAY: Yeah, studio is another thing entirely. There are things that you can do, you know, various devices to manipulate, in a studio, and we didn't know anything about that sort of thing. We just went in and played and got a very pure sound. For the most part, it's exactly the way we sound.
ROBBY: There's hardly any overdubbing. You don't hear anything in there that we can't do. We do everything.
MN: How much improvisation do you do in your live performances?
ROBBY: Well, it depends on each song. Some songs are more structur-ed, and in some there's a whole middle section where we can all fool around.
MN: Do you have a last message for teenyboppers across the nation? That is our traditional last question. We ask everybody that.
ROBBY: Buy more Doors records.
MN: OK. Thanks.
© Greg Shaw, 1967
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Birth of the San Francisco Scene

Jim DelehantHit Parader, August 1967
by Martin Balin, leader of the Jefferson Airplane
THERE'S ONE street in San Francisco called Haight. It's about ten blocks long; off that there's a park, the weather's fine and everything is beautiful. Haight Street is full of love.
There's nothing there but young people who own their own shops. They have restaurants and bands. They parade in their finery. You wouldn't believe the clothes. They have long hair. They have picnics and be-ins.
Every social movement and all the famous writing poets are there. Everybody drops in. It's very wild. It's the only place in the country where all the arts have come together all of a sudden and something new and original has happened.
Young people from all over the world are flocking there. I'm afraid to sell my apartment. I've lived there since 1958.
When I started singing rock and roll, there were no other rock and roll bands around. There was one up in Virginia City called the Charlatans. (Ed. note: see Hit Parader, April 1966.) But they had never played Frisco. There was no place to play.
I got three guys to back me and we built a nightclub, the Matrix. They were college engineers or something, and they each gave me three thousand dollars. I formed a group to play in the club and things started. People just came because there was no place else to go at the time.
Then somebody decided to have a dance. By that time four other groups had started. People flocked to the dance.
All of a sudden someone realized that people — not just teenagers but people eighteen and older — were craving for a place they could go to and dance and have a good time. Business started happening.
Places had to advertise, so they picked a few beat artists and they had them make posters. The poster idea took off. People who went to the dances started collecting them because they were so beautiful. That spread.
All the guys in the bands started taking home posters. There were only about a hundred copies of each poster printed each week. I have the only poster that was made the first time. There's only one copy of it. I have a complete collection of every one from the beginning.
Then the light shows began. Ken Kesey started that idea with his Trips Festival. (Ed. note: The Trips Festival was the first of many attempts to simulate the effects of a trip with flashing lights and loud music.) People on grants developed it with electronic stuff, films and painting with light. Bill Graham presented light shows at the Fillmore Auditorium. Then the Family Dog started using Bill Hahn.
Andy Warhol brought his light show to San Francisco and he looked so amateurish compared to what was happening there. Nobody dug him. He didn't make it.
When we play at the Fillmore, it's like being in the middle of the whole world. Everything is happening. The walls are alive. It's one gigantic trip. It's total involvement. Every bit of your senses is alive. You feel love, you see, you feel, you smell — everything is happening to you at once. It's overpowering.
People walk into these places straight and BANG! they're hit by everything in the world.
More and more people came to the Haight district to be entertained and to dig the music, lights, life and excitement. Now high society goes there. The rock music is accepted. We've played at the San Francisco Opera House and at high society parties. It's really something.
I don't know what the San Francisco sound is. They asked the Beatles that kind of question when they started the Liverpool thing. They didn't know. They were doing Buddy Holly stuff in the beginning. The Stones were doing blues.
In San Francisco the Grateful Dead are doing blues; we're doing folk and commercial music. Everyone is doing their own thing. It's an honest scene.
There's a lot of playing together and friendly competition. Like, "I wiped you out — ha ha." It's like the old musketeer days.
Like, we did a concert with the Dead and we finished our second set with our version of 'Wait Till The Midnight Hour'. Then the Dead came out and opened their set with a long, extended blues version of 'Midnight Hour'. As soon as they finished, we came back on and joined them, and both of us did a completely improvisational wailing taking-off of 'Midnight Hour' together. Joan Baez got up and sang with us. Mimi Farina danced. It was wild. Things like that happen.
There's lots of musical excitement. The people go crazy, the musicians get wilder, things happen, places stay open till four or five in the morning.
When it first started, we had a lot of trouble from the police, naturally. But we had politicians and everybody coming to see what it was all about. We got their support. Newspaper columnists gave us support. Now the city supports it. It's beautiful.
It's like being in a different time. People wear their beautiful clothes and everything is very free. It's full of love. There are places that give food away. Young guys with guitars and poets are coming in. It's very far-out how people flock together for something good.
There's a thin strip of park about twenty blocks long running between two main streets. Everybody lives around it. In the summertime we have picnics. Sometimes the word goes around or sometimes it doesn't, but thousands of people show up in the park and have lunch. They bring their families and they're all dressed in their far-out clothes. The bands play for nothing.
The bands make a lot of money now, but they play for the people. People give food away. It's far-out.
I was amazed by the Human Be In. There were twenty thousand people there in a gigantic polo grounds in response to little signs saying, "Everybody's going to be there. Why don't you show up and be a human being."
At that time everybody who had helped create that scene, all the groups and poets and people, suddenly realized they really had a scene. Then the world realized it. The news magazines jumped on it and spread the word. This summer I'm sure there's going to be havoc.
Now the Greyhound sight-seeing bus goes down Haight Street. All the publicity that's gone out is beginning to hurt the scene.
© Jim Delehant, 1967
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The Week's New Singles: Beach Boys, 5th Dimension, Vanilla Fudge, Moby Grape, Aretha Franklin

Nick JonesMelody Maker, 12 August 1967
Fresh Beach Boys for the summer months
BEACH BOYS: 'Heroes And Villians' (Capitol):
The hot, clear sound of the Beach Boys, especially in these summer months, is always to be reckoned with. This complex but exciting new mindchild of Brian Wilson's is going to have a battle for that number one spot, though.
Wilson mainly features the amazingly flexible voices of the Beach Boys — as instruments — sighing, and crying, glowing and growing in this intricate but propelling sound. Basically Wilson has succeeded because I think a lot of people expected him to eventually overload his material with unnecessary sounds that would turn your neck to stone after the first bar.
However, 'Heroes And Villains' has an honest, jazzy, bell-clear dimension and an enlightening, exhilarating feel to be explored when you have been conditioned to the interweaving vocals and numerous movements. Certainly another masterpiece of production from Wilson and another move in his flowery progression.

VANILLA FUDGE: 'You Keep Me Hanging On' (Atlantic):
This sensationally powerful US outfit have carefully dissected the Supremes hit and pieced it back together again, slowly and soulfully. The result is a Cream-Hendrix-type dynamite sound with wailing organ, a Rascals vocal edge and a big boosting bass player. A gripping record. A number one? Heads will roll and consciousnesses will kindle kind light all over England when we can hear this one blowing in the wind. American fudge has speed. Reports say they do incredible things with 'Strawberry Fields' as well.

5TH DIMENSION: 'Up-Up And Away' (Liberty):
Of course creativity, apparently, has very little value in this fluctuating world of pop. 'Up-Up And Away' isn't a vitally important number (creativity-wise that is) but the principles surrounding its delayed release are immoral. This is the original version cut by the 5th Dimension, an American top-tenner, and the group's original creation. However it is issued over here at least one month after Johnny Mann's cover version — which has subsequently become a hit. I hope 5th Dimension know they were denied the success in Britain which was, truthfully, theirs. Needless to say, this is the best version of 'Up-Up And Away' on the market. It should have been the only one.

MOBY GRAPE: 'Hey Grandma'/Omaha' (CBS):
Nice, new, now sound. Moby Grape — the group launched in America with five singles and an album simultaneously. We get one single from CBS — a double-sider, of which 'Omaha' is probably the most distinctive and commercial.
This is Stateside flower power and like Grateful Dead, it's blues-based. In England our "psychedelic" groups seem to draw on a wider range of influences and rhythmically the roots range from the East onwards. This Grape sound though is more slapping, energetic off-beats, typically hard, forceful music. Despite the lack of subtlety they're no slouches and the guitarist is a powerful nucleus to that driving sound.
Either side is a hit record and listening and digging this kind of music will widen the British groupster's scope and help him realise that we can give back to the States as much lovely music as they have given us. With that bit extra, of course, gentlemen.

ARETHA FRANKLIN: 'Baby I Love You' (Atlantic):
Her 'Respect' gained her just that chart-wise, and scored Aretha a resounding British and American hit. That was a combination of good timing, and a groovy song.
No doubt choosing a follow-up was some task for Aretha and producer Jerry Wexler but they have moved wisely. Another lowdown, soulful sound made — like 'Respect' — so much more listenable by Aretha's sensitive and melodic handling of the vocal.
Most soul records rely on groovy rhythms and riffs but Aretha is injecting a prettier more lyrical quality into the soul scene. The days of "hup, hey, whoa, hup" have had a long run but Aretha Franklin has got an original approach and her own format. Be nice to see her back in the chart.
© Nick Jones, 1967
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Hippies: How? Why? What Does It Mean?

Jacoba AtlasKRLA Beat, 26 August 1967
SAN FRANCISCO – Five o'clock in the afternoon. The going home traffic already crowding the freeway to a frustrating halt.
The sounds of the busy day still echoing through the ears of the people in their cars. People looking forward to home, a cool drink, some television, any departure from the aggravating competition of the day.
A young girl, fresh from the road, walks into a section of the city ready to put all the city's noises behind her, ready to commit herself to herself and not to the city.
She is 17, a runaway, one of the hundreds of young people who pour into San Francisco's Haight-Asbury district every day of this summer. They have come in search of a life that will give them more meaning and satisfaction than the one they left. Like some, she may find it for a while at least. Or like others who expected a Utopia, she may find only disillusionment and heartache.
The Hash-berry, as it is called by the papers, is already crowded with people. Hippies stand on street corners, lie down on sidewalks, stroll along the street. They are dressed in strange costumes that immediately give them an identity with the street.
Critics say they are uniforms. Indian head-dresses are worn, hand-loomed materials are made into dresses, flowers are everywhere.
By nightfall, she will find a home, or more likely a small space on a crowded floor, in a "commune." She will become a part of the district, a statistic for Time magazine, another dilemma for the city fathers, and a constant source of aggravation for her parents. But for the moment she feels like a pilgrim who has found Mecca.
American Dream
She has left the American Dream far behind, and entered into a world which preaches no negative doctrines, makes no demands, gives no edicts. The people on the street speak only about love, "trip," other people.
Why young people are flocking to the Haight and streets like it across the world is a question every major publication has sought to answer.
The world's preoccupation with the Hippie is amazing, but not surprising. The love generation scares the Establishment because it cannot understand what is happening, and this lack of understanding creates new fears.
In retaliation the mass media coins phrases to explain away the strangeness of this new culture.
Almost as if to say the Hippies will be less of a threat to middle-class America if one can read about them in the Sunday supplement, the papers relate the love-ins, the pleasure-fairs, and the rock concerts with incredible regularity.
The Hippie movement is a world-wide happening. There are Hippie colonies in London, in Paris, in Amsterdam, in Madrid. Each country brings its own particular culture to the movement, but there is the common theme of love and peace.
There is hardly a section of the country that is not affected in some way by the Hippie culture. Psychedelic stores have opened everywhere. Psychedelic posters advertising everything from movies to restaurants have sprung up.
'Trips Festival'
The first "Trips Festival" organized in San Francisco by novelist Ken Kesey in early 1966 have since developed into the love-ins, be-ins, pleasure fairs throughout the country that have attracted everyone from movie-stars to high school teachers.
The middle-classes have eagerly embraced the light shows, and even Jacqueline Kennedy has purchased psychedelic colored boxes for her children.
Music is the communication for the Hippies, and the pop world has seen the influx of what is now called the "San Francisco Sound" or "psychedelic music."
Groups such as the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company are bringing the Haight to the world. Strobe lights create the illusion of "trips," and this combined with music has even been presented on Establishment television.
They have given themselves new names, flamboyant, tender, gentle. A good Hippie name combines both the absurdity and the gentleness in life. An example of this would be the rock group called Iron Butterfly, a name which combines delicacy with strength.
New concepts of masculinity and femininity have also been developed. Gentleness and tenderness are the two most valued human assets. The idea of the super-strong James Bond/John Wayne type man has no place among the Hippie world.
Elvish Language
The poster writing which has become so popular with its curving letters and bright colors originates from a series of books by J.R.R. Tolkein, collectively called The Ring Trilogy.
These books which are widely read by Hippies tell of little furry people who live in the "Middle Earth" and speak a language called Elvish.
This Elvish is written in large curving letters, the same curving letters that now inform the world that "Jefferson Airplane Loves You."
The Hippies are an extension of our society, a product of our times. They are perhaps the reaction to a dehumanized culture which puts little value on human life, or human feelings.
Love Cosmology
For the sincere, the love cosmology is a way of life, a solution to the continuing search for something better. They say they have found the alternative to the nine-to-five jobs, to the cold war, to hatred.
They have followed Dr. Timothy l.eary's advice and "Turned on. tuned in and dropped out."
Non-Political
The Hippie is essentially non-political, a fact which bothers the left as much as the mere existence of the Hippie bothers the right.
"Political orientation is a waste of energy." one bearded young man declared. Just two years ago this young man was walking a picket line in his home town two thousand miles away from the Haight-Asbury district.
The Hippies also ignore race issues and to a great extent the Negro is excluded from hippie society. This is not due to any hippie prejudice, but because the Negro does not see his place among the Hippies.
This is totally unlike the "Beats" of the 1950's who idealized the Negro to an amazing decree. But the Hippie is a white middle class happening.
Anti-Intellectualism
Surprisingly, there is a creeping anti-intellectualism among Hippies. Education under the system is scorned, and only spontaneous knowledge is deemed worthwhile.
The written word has been replaced by the driving beat of the rock groups. The new poets are musicians; the new novels are the songs they sing and play.
The Hippie identifies with the American Indian in much the same way that the Beats identified with the American Negro. He wears the clothes of the Indian, preaches the joys of peyote (a hallucinogenic drug used by California and Southwest Indians) and organizes his friends into tribes.
New Religion
Some Hippies have formed their own religious order called the Neo-American Church. This church bases its tenets on the Native American Church which uses peyote as a part of its rituals. So far the courts have not recognized the Neo-American Church as being a legitimate part of the religious community and have refused to exempt its members from legal restriction on the use of peyote.
The Hippie has also discovered the Orient and the Near-Eastern Indian. Incense, oriental diets based on the ying and yang principles of masculine/feminine foods and yoga are studied and put into practice.
Indian chants and Egyptian prayers are also used to obtain mental "highs." One prayer is the Hindu chant "Hare Krishma, Hare Krishma, Krishma Krishma, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Hare, Hare." This is repeated for over 20 minutes. The continuous repetition of the proper words is said to produce a "high."
The Hippies' most disturbing trait is his passion for drugs. He seems unable to recognize the danger or else believes it to be a necessary risk to obtain what he wants.
"I know there is an enormous possibility of a bad trip, especially the more I take acid, but it's my mind, and my body. I consider it unimportant in relation to the mind-expanding experience of a good trip." said one in a typically fervent defense of LSD.
Doctors disagree. Recently UCLA Neuro-Psychiatric Institute published results of genetics and chromosome break-up (a process that happens when a person takes LSD). The results included horrifying cases of schizophrenia and malformed offspring.
There have been other casualties among the drug-taking hippies. Many have believed themselves to possess super-human powers and have taken leaps from high windows in the drug-induced belief that they could fly. Still others, reacting to acid with paranoia have committed suicide.
The Diggers
Sharing is the by-word of the Hippies, not charity. The Diggers, patterned after a group of 17th century English farmers who lived collectively, are a form of Hippie social workers.
They have houses where newly arrived flower children can spend the night free of charge, and they also serve hot meals in parks. Outside San Francisco they operate two farms and run a store in the Haight where clothing is given away.
But many have declared the movement a transient one. And certainly this summer has seen the influx of many pseudo-hippie people into Haight-Ashbury. People who are looking for an easy road to freedom, a superficial escape from pressure, real and imagined.
Many old-time Hippies – people who believed in the love cosmology before it was immortalized by Scott McKenzie – are leaving the cities.
One old-time Hippie put it this way, "These young kids leave their parents' $50,000 homes and come to the city with no knowledge of how to lake care of themselves. They're under-age, their patents are frantic, they have no idea of what life is about. They're even panhandling. Begging was something that was never done in the Haight before this summer."
Many of the older Hippies are moving out to the countryside. Divided into self-proclaimed tribes, they leave the city and its restrictions to find a more comfortable way of life outside the glare of publicity.
Trying To Live
The sincere Hippie is only trying to live, he is not trying to make the cover of Newsweek magazine. In the countryside he is escaping from the watchful eye of the news media, the restrictions of the police, and an influx of the teen-age summer hippie.
The Hippie has been called everything from a degenerate to a saint. One sociologist says the Hippies are an important contribution to the betterment of society as a whole.
"The hippies are a barometer of our sick society. They are dropouts who are turned off by wars, poverty, political phoniness and the 'game' they see around them."
But San Francisco columnist Dick Nolan sees them differently.
"The hip world is the slob world, comprising society's sad sack, traipsing around in Halloween costumes, reciting slogans as meaningless as their barren lives. They are pitiful," Nolan writes.
Pitiful or admirable, the hippies may have provided, in their own unorthodox way, a service to mankind.
They have awakened some of the complacent to a growing need within our culture to re-define our values. To re-define what is meant by success, what is meant by failure.
© Jacoba Atlas, 1967

Moby Grape Emerges

Jim DelehantHit Parader, September 1967
WHAT'S BIG, purple and swims in the ocean with harpoons stuck in its back? What has ten legs, long hair, some guitars and drums and is one of San Francisco's leading groups? The answer to both questions is Moby Grape.
Ahab's whale hasn't cut a record yet, so we'll concern ourselves with the musicians.
Seriously, of all the groups on the San Francisco scene today (one oft-quoted estimate claims there are 1,500) Moby Grape should make the biggest nationwide impact. Any group that makes its recording debut by releasing five singles simultaneously should attract some attention.
But the Grape is more than just a publicity gimmick group. Those five singles comprise some great music: a joyful combination of hard rock, folk, r&b, country blues, with maybe a pinch of the Orient. The Grape hastens to add, "We're not psychedelic."
The five singles, on Columbia, are 'Omaha' b/w 'Hey, Grandma', 'Indifference' b/w 'Sitting By The Window', '8:05' b/w 'Mister Blues', 'Fall On You' b/w 'Changes' and 'Someday' b/w 'Come In The Morning'. Disc jockeys and, hopefully, the public will choose their favorite song or songs from the ten. As we went to press we still had no conclusive winners.
Moby Grape are: Peter Lewis, rhythm guitar and lead guitar on the songs he writes; Bob Mosley, bass, from San Diego, California; Jerry Miller, lead guitarist, from Seattle; Don Stevenson, drummer, also from Seattle; and Skip Spence, second rhythm guitar, born in Canada. All the boys are 21 years old, except Jerry, who's 23; they all write — Jerry and Don being the most prolific — they all sing and they're nice people.
The group got together last year. Peter, who was born in Beverly Hills and has lived in New York and the Virgin Islands got things started. He once was a commercial pilot, but after he crash-landed a faulty Lear jet he decided to be a single folk singer. Later, he led a group, Peter and the Wolves, for a few months, disbanded it, wrote some songs, heard about Bob and called him.
Bob had recently left a lounge group, the Frantics (the name tells you where they were at), so he got together with Peter in Los Angeles. They had compatible ideas, so they went up to San Francisco to find a group.
Jerry and Don, also ex-Frantics, were in the Marsh Gas, but they weren't too happy with that group either, so they joined Peter and Bob. They jammed together one day and that was it. A group was born....almost.
They needed another guitarist and Skip fit perfectly. He was one of the founding members of the Jefferson Airplane but they made him their drummer. Skip would rather play guitar. He has no hard feelings toward the Airplane though. He even helped them on their second album.
Moby Grape was formed, the guys all moved into Bob's apartment, they rehearsed a lot and finally they made their debut at the Ark in Sausalito, California.
Afterwards they appeared at all the hip places like the Fillmore, the Avalon, the Matrix and Winterland. Record companies made offers, the boys played hard-to-get for a long time, they negotiated with eight companies and finally they signed with Columbia.
In April Moby Grape went to Los Angeles where they recorded twelve sides in eight days. Their first album will have thirteen cuts and a large poster of the group. It might even be on sale in your neighborhood right now. Buy it.
Some people will inevitably compare Moby Grape with those other two famous San Francisco groups, the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, but you shouldn't concern yourself with things like that because, like most top S.F. groups, Moby Grape has their own bag and it's good.
© Jim Delehant, 1967
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Where’s the Money from Monterey Pop?

Michael LydonRolling Stone, 9 November 1967
For the first issue of Rolling Stone in November, 1967, editor Jann Wenner asked me to do an investigative piece on what had happened to the money from the previous June’s Monterey Pop Festival, money that had been designated to go to various unspecified charities.

The first story that follows is my first report; the second is the tragi-comic conclusion published the next May.
The Festival’s net income at the end of August, the last date of accounting, was $211,451. The costs of the weekend were $290,233. Had it not been for the sale of television rights to ABC-TV for $288,843, the whole operation would have ended up a neat $77, 392 in the red.
The Festival planned to have all the artists, while in Monterey, submit ideas for the use of the proceeds. In the confusion the plan miscarried, and the decision on what to do with the profits has still not been finally made.
So far only $50,000 has been allocated to anyone: to a unit of the New York City Youth Board which will set up classes for poor children to learn music on guitars donated by Fender. Paul Simon, a Festival governor, will personally oversee the program.
Plans to give more money to the Negro College Fund for college scholarships is now being discussed; another idea is a sum between ten and twenty thousand for the Monterey Symphony. However worthy these plans, they are considerably less daring and innovative than the projects mentioned in the spring: the Diggers, pop conferences, and any project which would "Tend to further national interest and knowledge and enjoyment of popular music." The present plans suggest that the Board of Governors, unable or unwilling to make their grandiose schemes reality, fell back on traditional charity.
The Board of Governors did decide that the money would be given out in a small number of large sums. This has meant, for example, that the John Edwards Memorial Foundation, a folk music archive at the University of California at Los Angeles, had its small request overlooked.
In ironic fact, what happened at the Festival and its its financial affairs looks like the traditional Charity Ball in hippie drag.
The overhead was high and the net as low. "For every dollar spent there was a reason," says Derek Taylor, the Festival’s PR man and one of its original officers. Yet many of the expenses, however reasonable to Taylor, seem out of keeping with its announced spirit. The Festival management, with amateurish goodwill, lavished generosity on their friends.
• Producer Lou Adler was able to find a spot in the show for his property. Johnny Rivers; Paul Simon for his friend, English folk singer Beverly; John Phillips for the Group Without a Name and for Scott McKenzie. None of them had the musical status for an international pop music festival. It is ironic that Rivers and the rest appeared "free," but the money it cost to get them to Monterey and back, feed them, put them up (Beverly charged no expenses), and pay their back-up musicians, would have equalled the several thousand dollars that Chuck Berry, one of the fathers of rock ‘n’ roll, demanded to appear. Rivers’ hotel alone was $345; his transportation $123. The Festival refused to make (and probably could not have made) an exception and pay Berry, but the audience paid not for Berry, but for the governor’s protégés. The one artist paid was Ravi Shankar. He had been signed before the Festival became non-profit. When direction went from Ben Shapiro to Adler and Phillips, his contract was honoured.
• Albert Grossman, the powerful manager of Bob Dylan and many other artists, told the directors that if they wanted his property, Mike Bloomfield’s new band, the Electric Flag, they would have to make room for another Grossman property, the relatively unknown Paupers. The directors made the deal.
• The extravagant program book, part Hollywood showbiz and part San Francisco hip, symbolised the Festival’s uneasy wedding of the two cultures. Moreover, it failed at both functions: to make money and to be a souvenir. With four full-time employees, it cost $43,862. The advertising revenue (at $1500 a page) from record companies, their only contribution to the event, was $300 short of covering its cost. The Festival had to set its sale price at $2 and could only get rid of 1800 of them, netting a bare $3300. There are still 16,000 program books sitting in Festival headquarters in Los Angeles.
• The costs for artist transportation were $50,273, not in itself an exorbitant figure for the amount of people and equipment involved. For most performers, the transportation was a simple trip to Monterey and back.
• The law firm of Mitchell, Silverberg, and Knupp, one of whose partners, Abe Somer, was an "unpaid" director of the Festival, received $8269 for their services.
• Under "administrative and general costs" on the balance sheet is the staggering sum of $45,529. That figure covers rent, business travel, telephones, and office costs. But it also includes salaries paid to every member of the Festival staff except Phillips, Adler and business manager Phil Turetsky who served without fee.
These figures seem particularly high in comparison with the price of some services rendered. Harry McCune Sound Service of San Francisco slashed their normal fees and provided all the Festival sound equipment, plus the men to run it, for $3118. The entire stage crew cost the Festival $2749.
Costs were also increased by the confusion in which the Festival was mounted. Part of that was because, due to lack of experience and time, elemental precautions were not taken. It as not until the three days were over that there was any real financial management of the Festival at all.
"Lou and John made deals and told me about them afterwards," business manager Turetsky said last week. "I had no control over expenditures." Only Adler and Phillips had the right to sign checks; Turetsky did not.
"We did have to pay a premium to get everything done," Turetsky added. "Without organisation it was more expensive than it should have been. I felt expenses could reasonably have been kept down."
The Festival had no bookkeeper until June 28, ten days after the event was over. Sandra Beebe, a bookkeeper of twenty-one years experience, fond chaos when she began her work.
"I had to set up the books completely," she said. "Some bills had been paid and some hadn’t. I was just given drawers and drawers of paper, and I just had to sort them out. Everyone was gone and I was left holding the bag. Money could definitely have been saved if a bookkeeper had been hired earlier." Mrs. Beebe is now finishing her work, and there will soon be a complete audit.
Yet with business still to be done, the Festival’s organisation has virtually disappeared. Mail to the Festival is picked up by Adler’s secretary, but Adler, Phillips, and lawyer Somer are all out of the country.
Beside the still pending decision on what to do with the profits, the only way in which the Festival continues is in the negotiations over the use of the Festival film made primarily for ABC-TV. No screening date has yet been set for the ABC special. It was originally going to be an hour; the plan now is for 90 minutes. Unofficially it is reported that ABC will pay an additional $100,000 for the extra half hour.
Before appearing, all groups were asked to sign a release contract allowing the Festival control of all funds of the film for the TV special. In a rider to that contract, they were also asked to sign away all right to the film if resold or if re-edited for movie house screening. Big Brother and the Holding Company did not sign at first and their performance was not filmed; they then signed and appeared on stage a second time to get in the movie. The Grateful Dead did not sign and are still trying to find out what will happen to the film.
"They wanted us to sign away all rights to it," said Danny Rifkin, a Dead manager. "The attitude was, ‘You’re signing between friends.’ But were we? We wanted to be able to make sure the sound was good, to have some say on editing, on television sponsorship, and where the money would go. We were offered nothing."
The unfinished controversy over the film only hints at the degree of resentment felt by the San Francisco groups over the expense and expensive tone of the Festival, plus its effective control by Adler, Phillips, and their friends. It was the vitality of the San Francisco scene and the free park concerts which inspired the Festival’s spirit and its "music, love, and flowers" motif, argue the San Franciscans. The city and the Bay Area also supplied a great part of the audience, as well as a large number of the musicians.
The Festivals answer to all criticism is that it did the best it could under difficult circumstances, and that the best was very good. Time was short: the Festival was only an idea in April. In its brief life, control was taken from Ben Shapiro and Alan Pariser, who conceived it as a money maker, and moved to Adler and Phillips, who made it non-profit; that switch inevitably damaged its organisation.
High expenses were due in part to admitted inexperience, but also to a basic premise of its directors: the festival should be an extravaganza. No cost would be too high to ensure that everyone would have a good time. "If it was a question of buying 1000 flowers or 10,000 flowers," said one official, "we bought 10,000."
Finally, questions of selecting artists and detailed control of Festival affairs were in many cases arbitrary maters of taste, argues the management. The only ones who could decide were those who were running the show.
Yet months after the Mamas and the Papas closed the show early Monday morning, a slightly bad taste remains. What was a festival for some was a free ride for others. Most artists got there with talent, some with pull. A festival that should have been all upfront still leaves questions asked and unanswered.
© Michael Lydon, 1967
Citation (Harvard format)
/1967/Michael Lydon/Rolling Stone/Where’s the Money from Monterey Pop?/02/03/2017 21:31:27/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/wheres-the-money-from-monterey-pop

Jefferson Airplane: After Bathing At Baxter’s

Michael LydonRolling Stone, 23 November 1967
Jefferson Airplane finally finished their third LP Halloween week after two months of off-and-on recording in Los Angeles. It’s called After Bathing at Baxter’s, has a fold-out cover designed by cartoonist Ron Cobb, and says lead singer Marty Balin, is "a whole new and different thing for the group."
Recorded while the San Franscisco band lived in luxury at a Beverly Hills mansion that the Beatles rented on one American tour, the album’s very tentative release date is November 15.
As of November 1st, seven tracks, besides ‘Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil’ and ‘Two Heads’ previously released as a single, were finished.
Three are Paul Kantner compositions: ‘Watch Her Ride,’ ‘Martha,’ and ‘Wild Time.’ The other members, except for Jack Casady, have contributed one track each.
Grace Slick’s song is ‘Rejoyce,’ originally called ‘Ulysses,’ whose lyric is snatches of James Joyce’s novel. An oboe plays behind her voice. "It’s too powerful for Top 40," says Balin, "it has the line, ‘I’d rather my country died for me,’ and there’s a character in it named ‘Blazes Crotch’."
Spence Dryden did his cut, ‘A Package of Value,’ all by himself, putting three drum tracks, a marimba track, and one on harpsichord into a ‘song sandwich’ that is the joke of the album.
Jorma Kaukonen’s number, ‘Last Wall of the Castle,’ is ‘a mind-blower,’ according to the Airplane’s personal manager, Bill Thompson. ‘Young Girl Sunday Blues,’ Balin’s contribution, is over five minutes long, the album’s longest cut.
Answering criticism that the album is way behind schedule, Balin said the group had never set a date for the album’s completion. "We’ve just done it when we could."
As the Airplane left the Fillmore a week ago Sunday for their last planned session in RCA’s Los Angeles studios (the same ones used by the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead), they had no idea of what songs would complete After Bathing.
"We have a few more done," Balin said, "but we don’t like them. There’ll probably be two more and they’ll be things we come up with right at the last minute. We always do that.
"Man, we’re the worst people ever in a recording studio. We create our music in the ballrooms. Compared to them a recording studio is so sterile, like a hospital, that it takes us three weeks just to get used to walking through the door."
This time, with complete artistic control and without the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia as ‘spiritual and musical advisor,’ the Airplane has been on its own.
"No one helps us," said Balin, "I think everyone there is afraid of us. We try crazy things and no one tells us they can’t be done. Our producer is like a school teacher with a real creative class, letting the kids do what they want and just making sure they don’t smash all the erasers."
Bill Thompson says the album cover is as strange as the sounds inside. Cobb’s cartoon is a monster airplane which carries, in tiny detail, symbols of plastic American culture; beer cans, billboards, ticky-tack houses and buildings, some of which are recognizable San Francisco landmarks. The plane trails a banner inscribed with the album’s title, a name suggested by an "underground-underground group called the Night Owls," says Balin. It refers to no known place or event.
Inside the fold are six pictures of the Airplane taken by photographer Allan Frappe. Thompson says they are indescribably far out, with strange color and form distortions. Balin is so impressed that he would like to do a whole book with Frappe’s photographs.
If hard times in the studio have held up the works, la dolce vita back at the mansion hasn’t helped any either.
The mansion, with a giant pool, sauna bath, rifle range, electronically-controlled gate, and a Japanese houseboy (all for $5,000 a month), has been "a giant toy," says Balin for the group who haven’t always had it so good.
"Every night something was happening," Balin said with a fond smile. "There were parties, strange parties, and then weird parties. We just sat there and watched the world go by right inside that house."
© Michael Lydon, 1967






Citation (Harvard format)
Jefferson Airplane/1967/Michael Lydon/Rolling Stone/Jefferson Airplane: <i>After Bathing At Baxter’s</i>/02/03/2017 21:31:47/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/jefferson-airplane-after-bathing-at-baxters

New Wave USA

Nick JonesMelody Maker, 25 November 1967
NICK JONES SORTS OUT THE NEW U.S. SOUNDS
FOR MANY many years America and Britain have kept up a harmonious song — flinging new sounds, new groups, backwards and forwards across the Atlantic like soft rag dolls.
Recently the West Coast of America provided fertile soil for a new musical revolution which was called flower power.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of flower power was that a multitude of groups were inclined to be lumped under this one banner. Outwardly there seemed to be an air of sameyness about these groups, but musically they all have something original and different to offer.
This reservoir of San Franciscan talent is still overflowing. No sooner has a successful path been opened to the Doors when we see they are being followed by, say a Clear Light, a Big Brother, or an H.P. Lovecraft.
Of course, in America, they are still watching the gradual emergence of exciting new British stars — with the same fervour that we watch them. Traffic is a new name being beaded and bandied about in California. Eric Burdon and the Animals are good friends, as are the Cream, the Who, and now Procol Harum.
In England a lot of people are observing in turn, what the Americans are up to. On the crest of the new wave from the West Coast were groups like Love, the Jefferson Airplane or the more respectable Association. Despite the sheer beauty and talent of these groups the pop system in England has managed in the main to ignore them.
Of late, however, there has been a renewed surge from America — and in the centre of the London scene the aware ones are leaping around clutching a clutch of shiny new LP's, smiling and saying breathlessly: "Have you heard..."
The Doors hail from Los Angeles. Jim Morrison sings, Robert Krieger plays guitar, Ray Manzarek, organ and John Densmore drums. Their music is instantly recognisable — it's the Doors. Hard, merciless, philosopho-blues run through and through with electronics — it all ends up to a very freaky scene.
The Doors are musical anarchy: Says John: "You always have to search and enquire if you want to find something out... or you have to open a door. Everything you knew is one thing; everything you don't know is another... in between is a door." The Doors may help you find a key.
Captain Beefheart has a Magic Band and they hail from California too. One day Bob Krasnow, who produces the group was wheeling the Captain down a Los Angeles street at four am in the morning, in a wheelchair. Bob was a little worried about some of the weird people about at that time of the night, and the Captain looked up and just said: "Don't worry, man, everything's as safe as milk." That's the title of the album on the Buddah label, a subsidiary of Kama Sutra label.
The Buffalo Springfield were also formed in California in the Spring of 1966. They're spearheaded by Steve Stills, a brilliant young songwriter who scored heavily with a record by the group called 'For What It's Worth (Stop! Hey What's That Sound)', an excellently constructed, gentle song about the whole youth movement in the States. The group record with Atco Records, Atlantic over here.
From San Francisco there are two groups worth mentioning. Firstly Country Joe and the Fish, led by the Joe McDonald (rumoured now to have left the group) raised on the West Coast scene, pretty, blues-based but very expanded music which can be sampled on Fontana over here. The Philips group, we hope, are also going to treat us to a second Frisco group, Big Brother and the Holding Company, which includes a belting, soulful girl singer and nice songwriter called Janis Joplin.
Moby Grape were one of the first "psychedelic" groups to really be snapped up by the major American record companies. Columbia Records who showed enough faith in the Grape to release five singles, and the group's album simultaneously. You can see why. They have a tremendously quick lead guitarist and a ragged but free sound.
The Electric Flag; the Clear Light who have a forthcoming Elektra album; Thorinshield; the Sopwith Camel, another subtle Kama Sutra sound; the Tradewinds; Andy Warhol's underground hard, electronic group, Nico and the Velvet Underground, who have a current LP on Verve; the Paupers have sounds coming out here through Verve; H.P. Lovecraft have a good sound on a single we heard this week, 'Wayfarin' Stranger', again it's hoped the Philips group will release them here soon. The Grateful Dead are the pride and beauty of Frisco with their big bad blues.
© Nick Jones, 1967
Citation (Harvard format)
Big Brother & The Holding Company, Buffalo Springfield, Captain Beefheart, Country Joe & The Fish, The Doors, Grateful Dead, Moby Grape/1967/Nick Jones/Melody Maker/New Wave USA/02/03/2017 21:32:03/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/new-wave-usa