|Palo Alto High School, at 50 Embarcadero Road, as it looks today, where Jerry Garcia saw Joan Baez in concert in 1961 in the auditorium. The old auditorium has long since been replaced.|
Like any great musician, Garcia had giant ears, and he learned from numerous musicians and recording artists throughout his career. Yet most of the live music he heard was played by musicians on the same bill with him. Early in his career, Garcia had very little money, and as he attained a level of success, he worked so much that he rarely had the time to go out. When the Grateful Dead achieved a certain level of economic success, Garcia responded by forming other groups--the New Riders, Garcia/Saunders, Old And In The Way, and so on--so he still had little time to see other artists.
Because Jerry Garcia's live appearances have been so carefully studied, just about all the times that Garcia has sat in with a band as a guest artist have been documented. However, Garcia was so forthcoming about his interests, and his performing history has been so well known, that we are generally aware when seeing another performer has influenced Garcia's music. At different times, for example, Garcia had mentioned how seeing a Pentangle or a Miles Davis when they shared a bill with the Dead had influenced his music.
Yet there is a short but important list of concerts and performers that Garcia was known to have seen that appears not to have been written out. Garcia liked to perform, and didn't like to hang out, so the number of times Garcia saw a show without playing is surprisingly few. Particularly in later years, I think Garcia attracted an extraordinary amount of attention, and going backstage or sitting in regular seats was probably not a relaxing experience for him. Nonetheless, Garcia did get out once in a while. This post attempts to document every known performance where Jerry Garcia attended the show, but did not perform, nor was scheduled. The emphasis is on different performers, rather than specific dates, although of course I am tremendously interested in actual dates where they are known. Anyone with additions, corrections, insights or entertaining speculation on this subject is encouraged to Comment or email me.
[update] Numerous readers have Commented or emailed me, and the entire Comment thread is at least as interesting as the post itself, and well worth a read. I have updated the post accordingly. Thanks to Light Into Ashes, Jesse, JGMF, ChicoArchivist, Nick, Legs Lambert and the ever-present Anonymous
[update] For a fascinating companion piece to this list, see this amazing post on Jerry Garcia's Record Collection.
ca. 1959, Fillmore, San Francisco and Roseland, Oakland, CA: Rhythm & Blues shows
[update] Tireless scholar and fellow blogger Light Into Ashes seems to have uncovered the earliest concerts that Garcia attended:
In the late 50s, round the time Garcia was going to the School of Fine Arts in SF, he was also going to see R&B shows: "Me and a couple of friends used to go out to black shows, not only at the Fillmore, but also at Roseland over in Oakland. I'd usually hear about the shows on the radio." (Troy, Captain Trips p.14) No bands named.
|Joan Baez, circa 1961|
Jerry Garcia was a struggling musician and former GI in 1961. However, he saw Joan Baez at the Palo Alto High School Auditorium and was instantly struck--this was something he could do. Joan Baez had gone to Palo Alto High School, but she hadn't graduated, as her academic father had moved the family to Boston for her senior year. However, she was still a local girl made good, and that had to give some inspiration to Garcia as well.
Both Pigpen and Bill Kreutzmann went to Paly High. Pigpen was probably a student at the time, although he was expelled and did not graduate. Kreutzmann did graduate from Paly (as did I, somewhat later). Paly High (as we all called it) was Palo Alto's first high school, opened in 1898. The old auditorium was replaced in the early 70s (and has probably been replaced again). Paly was not impossibly far from either downtown Palo Alto or Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, so for a mostly-carless bohemian like the model 1961 Garcia, the fact that he could have walked there if he had to must have made it a relatively attractive event.
Charlotte Daigle also remembered the Joan Baez show at Palo Alto High School in summer 1961:September 1961, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA: Monterey Jazz Festival, with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane with Wes Montgomery, and many others
"Jerry wanted to go to the Joan Baez concert and sit in the front row so he could watch her. He watched her intently, commenting, 'This is great, I can out-guitar her.' Jerry wanted to see what kind of musician she was...he was terribly excited that she was well-known and he was as good on guitar or better." (Troy p.30)
In September 1961, Garcia went to the Monterey Jazz Festival. Charlotte Daigle recalled: "It was Jerry's idea to go to the festival. He bought the tickets for us, and we went two days. We had reserved seats, and Jerry took it very seriously. Jazz fans were very formal at the time, and other people were dressed up. Our crowd from Palo Alto was very beatnik-looking, and we stood out from the rest of the audience. It created something of a stir." (Troy p.34)1962, Fox And Hounds, San Francisco, CA: Peter Stampfel
[update] In a recent and yet-to-be published interview, original Holy Modal Rounder Peter Stampfel says that Garcia told Stampfel he saw him play at the Fox And Hounds, a San Francisco folk coffee house. LIA also found a Garcia quote about that time
"'61 or '62, I started playing coffeehouses, and the guys who were playing around then up in San Francisco at the Fox and Hounds, Nick Gravenites was around then - Nick the Greek they called him - Pete Stampfel from the Holy Modal Rounders, he was playing around there then. A real nice San Francisco guitar player named Tom Hobson that nobody knows about...I am not aware of any other performers that Garcia saw between 1961 and '64, other than nights he was performing. The Top Of The Tangent opened in early 1963, and a fair number of folk performers must have passed through. I would be very interested to know how many of them Garcia actually saw, outside of the nights he was performing. Garcia was married and living hand-to-mouth in 1963-64, and would not have been able to afford to go out much. [update: there are some interesting points in the Comments about this subject].
[update]: As ever, LIA was able to shed some light
David Nelson recalled Garcia taking him to see Jorma Kaukonen at the Tangent around the summer of 1962 [sic--it actually had to be 1963, The Tangent did not open until January '63]
"Garcia grabbed me and said, 'You gotta hear this guy.' I said, 'Who is he?' Garcia said, 'Jerry Kaukonen, he plays that Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller stuff, he does it right.' I remember going to the Tangent and peering out from the back room, which is where we put our instruments, and hearing him play and looking at Garcia who is looking at me, and we're just going 'Wow!'" (Troy p.39)
1963 or '64, unknown venue, San Jose, CA: New Lost City Ramblers
One of Garcia's guitar students at Dana Morgan's in 1963/64, Dexter Johnson, recalled, "He turned me on to Mike Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers. I remember once coming to a lesson and he wasn't there, and on the music stand was a note: 'Gone to New Lost City Ramblers concert in San Jose. See you next week.'" (Greenfield p.41)
Hard to say when Garcia would have first seen the Ramblers - he was already enough of a fan to do songs from their albums in his shows in 1962, so he wouldn't hesitate to go see them if they were anywhere in driving distance. As his folkie friend Marshall Leicester said, "In those days we all wanted to be Mike Seeger."
|The first Jim Kweskin Jug Band album, released on Vanguard in 1963, which in its own way spawned a tiny revolution.|
The Cabale, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue, was not Berkeley's first folk club (that was The Blind Lemon), but it was the first important one. Although a tiny little cavern of a place, all the important early 60s folk acts played there. The city of Berkeley was very suspicious, and to this day it is illegal to have a business in Berkeley named "Cabale."
The Jim Kweskin Jug Band had released an album on Vanguard in late 1963, and their unexpected popularity all but single-handedly made jug band music popular. Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Band Champions followed shortly afterwards. Jerry and Sara Garcia and others made a pilgrimage to Berkeley to see them, and it triggered a lot of excitement about the possibilities of making music your own way.
Kweskin Jug Band singer Geoff Muldaur, later a good friend of John Kahn's and an occasional guest with Garcia/Saunders, reflected in a recent interview with Jake Feinberg about the importance of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band for folk musician in general and Garcia in particular. Up until then, even folk performers had "acts:" they dressed a certain way, they had onstage "patter" and a somewhat fixed set. The Jim Kweskin Jug Band was none of those things. The Jug Band wore whatever they happened to be wearing that day, bantered with the audience and generally did the music they felt like playing at that moment. In so doing, Garcia saw the nascent possibility of the existence of the Grateful Dead, even if it wasn't clear to him at the time.
|Bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse McReynolds|
Sandy Rothman and Jerry Garcia took a trip across America in Garcia's white 1961 Corvair, and it was perhaps the only time in his life that Garcia was more music fan than musician. The principal purpose of the trip was to tape bluegrass musicians. After a stop in Bloomington, IN, to see old friend Neil Rosenberg and visit the "Mr. Tapes" of Bloomington (TV repairman Marvin Wollensak), Jerry and Sandy drove to visit old friend Scott Hambly at an Air Force base in Panama City, FL. Garcia in fact played his first out-of-California gig at an Officer's Club at Tyndall Air Force Base.
In any case, Jerry and Sandy's next stop was Dothan, AL, where they saw and recorded Jim And Jesse. Jim and Jesse McReynolds were one of the great brother duos of bluegrass, and for this week, anyway, Jerry was like the rest of us, hitting the road for the next gig so that he could come back with a good tape.
Garcia and Rothman returned to Bloomington for Bill Monroe's annual bluegrass festival, the Gathering Of The Vibes for that crowd. Apparently their tape was ruined, per McNally, and of course Garcia was too shy to approach Bill Monroe for an audition, but it was a great day of bluegrass, and Garcia was just a fan like everyone else that day.
late May 1964, White Sands Bar, Dayton, OH Osborne Brothers
Garcia and Rothman's next stop was Dayton, where McNally says they got a great tape of the Osborne Brothers. I wonder if copies of these tapes have survived?
early June 1964, Bluegrass Festival, Union Grove, PA
Near the end of their little trip, Garcia and Rothman went to another famous bluegrass festival, in Union Grove, Pennsylvania (near Lancaster). This was where Garcia met David Grisman, so the event would have been historic in any case, but after struggling to hear real bluegrass on the West Coast, Garcia must have enjoyed hearing the real thing in prodigious quantities.
|The posthumous 1975 live album of the Kentucky Colonels, Livin' In The Past, recorded November 15, 1964 at the Comedia Theater in Palo Alto, CA|
We know for a fact that Jerry Garcia saw the Kentucky Colonels at the Comedia Theater in Palo Alto. We know that because an excellent album was released featuring recordings from that show, and on that album we hear the band introduced by Jerry. It's not impossible one of Garcia's bands opened the show, but for now we will treat it as belonging on this list.
The Comedia was a tiny theater on Emerson Street. I think it may have become the Aquarius Movie Theater later in the 60s (for any of you old Palo Altans). Garcia had done the lights there at one point in 1961 (apparently for "Damn Yankees"), and that was where he first met Robert Hunter.
|Buck Owens and The Buckaroos, outside of Carnegie Hall, presumably when they performed there on March 25, 1966. The Buck Owens album Carnegie Hall Concert was released on Capitol in July 1966|
According to writer John Einarson, Garcia went with Herb Pedersen and David Nelson, among others, to see Buck Owens and The Buckaroos at the Foresters Hall in Redwood City. The Foresters Hall is at 1204 Middlefield (at Main), and it is still there.The concert was around 1964-65, but I don't know an exact date.
Buck Owens and The Buckaroos were hugely popular, particularly in the West. They were proponents of "The Bakersfield Sound," a more swinging, rock-oriented approach to country music. Although some of the early 60s corniness of their music grates to modern ears, the Buckaroos are as good as a band ever got. Lead guitarist Don Rich and pedal steel guitarist Tom Brumley were hugely influential for rock and country music. Indeed, the Eagles and most of modern (Garth Brooks era) country music owes more to Buck Owens and The Buckaroos than they do to any other band. Even the Beatles had a hit with the Buck Owens song "Act Naturally."
1965, The Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA: The Kentucky Colonels
[update] Intrepid scholar and Commenter Light Into Ashes reports that Blair Jackson writes, "On a couple of occasions in 1965 he traveled down to the Ash Grove in Los Angeles to see his friends the Kentucky Colonels." (Garcia p.75). The Ash Grove was the legendary folk club at 8162 Melrose Avenue (now The Improv, a comedy club), which was the hub for serious Southern California folk musicians. Garcia also probably saw the Colonels at the Cabale in Berkeley in 1964.
|The hugely popular first album on Kama Sutra by The Lovin' Spoonful, called Do You Believe In Magic after the hit single of the same nam|
Mother's was Tom Donahue's night club in North Beach, at 430 Broadway, near the future site of The Stone (at 412 Broadway, then called The Galaxie). It was the first avowedly psychedelic night club, although its version of psychedelia was somewhat different than what would follow. The Lovin' Spoonful had a big hit with "Do You Believe In Magic," and the Spoonful played a week or two at Mother's. the Warlocks scrounged up enough money to go.The Warlocks were so impressed that they started playing "Do You Believe In Magic" (McNally p.86).
|A poster for the second Family Dog dance, " A Tribute To Sparkle Plenty," held at San Francisco's Longshoreman's Hall on October 24, 1965|
According to McNally (p.96), Lesh, Garcia and other members of The Warlocks went to Marin in the afternoon and then San Francisco. After a meal at Clown Alley, they went to Longshoreman's for the second Family Dog show. Midway through, Phil Lesh grabbed promoter Luria Castell and said "Lady, what this little seance needs is us!" He was right.
LIA (of course), found some great quotes from Garcia about the Family Dog show:
We ended up going into that rock and roll dance and it was just really fine to see that whole scene - where there was just nobody there but heads and this strange rock & roll music playing in this weird building. It was just what we wanted to see... We began to see that vision of a truly fantastic thing. It became clear to us that working in bars was not going to be right for us to be able to expand into this new idea." (Signpost p.20-21)
And, talking to Ralph Gleason in March '67, he looked at the show from a technical perspective:
"We went to the very first Family Dog show stoned on acid, or maybe it was the second one, the one where the Lovin' Spoonful were... We'd been playing out in these clubs - and we went in there and we heard the thing. And from the back of the hall you couldn't hear anything. You could hear maybe the harmonica. As you moved around you could hear a little of something, a little of something else, but you could never hear the whole band, unless you were right in front of it, and in that case you couldn't hear the vocal. So in our expanding consciousness we thought, the thing to do obviously, when you play in a big hall, is to make it so that you can hear everything everywhere. How do we go about this, we thought? And the most obvious thing was, we just turn up real loud. But that's not exactly where it is... It's more important that it be clear than loud." (GD Reader p.28-29)
July 4, 1966 Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Greenbriar Boys/others
[update] The UC Berkeley Folk Festival was an annual weekend extravaganza from 1958-70. In later years many rock bands played. On the final afternoon concert of the 1966 Festival, the headliners were the Jefferson Airplane, who at the time considered themselves "Folk-Rock." Also on the bill were the Greenbriar Boys, probably featuring Frank Wakefield, which likely explains why there is a photo of Jerry Garcia hanging out backstage with Jorma Kaukonen and Marty Balin (yes I have seen it). Jerry saw the Airplane all the time, but the Greenbriar Boys would have been special.
July 26, 1966, Cow Palace, Daly City, CA: Rolling Stones/Standells/McCoys/Trade Winds/Jefferson Airplane/Sopwith Camel
Jerry Garcia attended the Rolling Stones Cow Palace show as a roadie for the Jefferson Airplane, apparently the only way he could afford to see the Stones.
October 6, 1966, Basketball Pavilion, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA: Butterfield Blues Band/Jefferson Airplane
The Airplane and Butterfield played at Stanford on October 6, 1966, the day acid became illegal in California. They split a $2,500 fee. Garcia sat right behind me.The Butterfield Blues Band and the Jefferson Airplane headlined three memorable weekends at the Fillmore and Winterland in October of 1966. They had different opening acts on the bill, and on the middle weekend the Dead were booked. On Thursday, October 6, however, Butter and the 'Plane were at the Stanford basketball pavilion. This was the old gym at Serra and Galvez, now called Burnham Pavilion. The facility is currently used for other sports, as the Men's Basketball team plays at nearby Roscoe Maples Pavilion, which opened in 1969.
October 6, 1966, was quite a day. As the Commenter says, LSD was declared illegal in California. The Grateful Dead played a free concert in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle for thousands of people, and the entire hip, long-haired community in the Bay Area found out that there were a lot more of themselves than they had thought. Since October 6 was a Thursday, Butter and the Airplane could play Stanford, but Garcia would have been done by the afternoon, and would have been available to see the show. Legend has it that Mike Bloomfield borrowed Jorma's guitar that night.
Garcia's presence at the Stanford show may have been no coincidence. I know that Ken Kesey was at the Panhandle show. I have heard reliably that there was a free midnight concert scheduled for the San Francisco State campus, with the Dead, Airplane and Butterfield, effectively an Acid Test, if now an illegal one. Supposedly the police were very concerned with security, and Kesey and the bands agreed to cancel the event. Strange as this may sound, on the previous weekend the police had killed a young black man, and there had been riots in the Fillmore district, so the atmosphere in San Francisco that week was hardly peaceful.
June 1967, Garrick Theater, New York, NY: The Mothers Of Invention
Lesh wrote in his book that he took Garcia, Weir & Kreutzmann to see Frank Zappa & the Mothers at the Garrick, upstairs from the Cafe au Go Go in June '67. He says it was the day before they started their Cafe au Go Go run - but that would make it the evening of May 31, the day the Dead arrived in NY?The Grateful Dead's first beachhead in Manhattan was a two-week run at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village. At the very same time, Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention had a summer long residency at the tiny Garrick Theater, above the Au Go Go. The marquee said "Absolutely Free." The lineup in June of 1967 would have been the classic early Mothers, with Ray Collins on vocals, Bunk and Buzz Gardner on horns, along with Motorhead Sherwood, Don Preston on keyboards, Roy Estrada on bass, and Billy Mundi and Jimmy Carl Black (the Indian of the group) on drums. I doubt Ian Underwood or Artie Tripp had joined yet.
My cousin actually attended a Garrick show on July 18, his 13th birthday (his notoriously cheap father thought the show would be free). To open the show, the quite unattractive Mothers came out in dresses and did a Supremes medley. Then it got progressively weirder. So whichever night he went, Garcia probably saw a pretty way-out show. A reasonable facsimile (albeit with Underwood on board) would be the album Tis The Season To Be Jelly, recorded on September 20, 1967 in Stockholm.
Ramrod and some other crew members would apparently participate in some of the madness with the Mothers when the Dead were not playing. According to the memory of Dead manager Rock Scully (in his book Living With The Dead), Frank Zappa’s enmity for the Dead partially stems from these two weeks when The Mothers were playing upstairs at The Garrick while the Dead played in the basement at the Au Go Go. The perpetually anti-drug Zappa resented that the Mothers would sneak downstairs to get high with the Dead. The Mothers were deathly afraid of being caught by Zappa, knowing that the punishment was more rehearsal.
August 22, 23, 24 or 25, 1967, Fillmore, San Francisco, CA: Butterfield Blues Band/Cream/Southside Sound System
August 29,30, 31 or September 1, 1967, Fillmore, San Francisco, CA: Cream/Electric Flag/Gary Burton Quartet
[update] LIA reports
Garcia definitely saw Cream at the Fillmore in September 1967, apparently more than once; he lavished praise on Cream's shows in an interview later that month. Cream played at the Fillmore from August 22-September 3, 1967 - the Dead were out of town for a couple weekends, but Garcia would have had ample opportunities to see Cream during the week.The Dead played Lake Tahoe on August 19 and August 25-26, and, somewhat amazingly, the hotel was so tacky that Garcia and Mountain Girl camped for a day or two. However, LIA has found a strong suggestion that Garcia saw Cream both weeks, suggesting that he zipped back to San Francisco for a few days.
"I would say the Cream are damn near the best group there is... Their music is really strong. I mean, really strong... They're much better musicians than Jimi Hendrix... You should have seen them at the Fillmore...cause they played with a lot of very heavy bands. They played with Gary Burton's band. They played with the Electric Flag. They played with Paul Butterfield's band and with Charlie Musselwhite's band. And they made them all sound pretty old-fashioned..."
So he lists all of the bands who played with Cream in the two-week run, and they all came up short... That's what makes me think he saw Cream in both those weeks.Cream's incredible two-week stand at the Fillmore made them. Already popular from the first free-form FM rock station, KMPX-fm, the format of two hour-long sets induced Cream to jam out their songs, since they had so few. The results were sensational, for the band, the audience and the music industry as a whole. The Gary Burton Quartet, with Larry Coryell on guitar, was also a brilliant, groundbreaking group. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band were still powerful, featuring Elvin Bishop on guitar and David Sanborn on alto sax, and Harvey Mandel and Charlie Musselwhite led the Southside Sound System, so it was a truly impressive weekend at the Fillmore. The Electric Flag, with Mike Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites, were very talented, but notoriously erratic live.
December 1967, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY: American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski perform Charles Ives' 4th Symphony
[update] LIA has another remarkable addition
It's not rock, but Phil mentions that he & the rest of the band went to see a performance of Charles Ives' 4th Symphony when they were in New York in December 1967 (at Carnegie Hall, the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski) - this was a key influence on the Anthem album.
|Cream's immortal Wheels Of Fire album, released on Atco Records in August 1968. The live half of this double album was recorded March 7, 8 and 10 at the Fillmore and Winterland in San Francisco|
March 1 or 2, 1968; Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Cream/Big Black/Loading Zone or
March 10, 1968: Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Cream/James Cotton/Blood, Sweat & Tears
Cream was the biggest and most exciting touring live act in 1968, and the band that really cemented the synergy between FM airplay and live performance as a pathway to huge record sales, all without benefit of a conventional hit. We know for a fact that Garcia saw Cream during the historic run in 1968 when they recorded the live parts of Wheels Of Fire over two weekends at the Fillmore and Winterland. We know that because Mickey Hart talked about it. The indispensable Deadessays blog has a complete account, but the key quote is this one, from Mickey Hart in a 1981 interview in the great English fanzine Comstock Lode:
"Ginger Baker did it for me once at the Winterland with Cream, we'd just finished mixing Aoxomoxoa or one of those [sic-it was actually Anthem Of The Sun], and we walked in just as he was getting into his solo. It was amazing. I turned to Jerry and said, 'They have to be the best band in the world,' and he said, 'Tonight they are the best band in the world.' They were that night.It's hard to be certain of the exact date that Garcia saw Cream, and it's not impossible he saw them more than once. Cream played two weekends at Winterland, with some shows at the Fillmore as well. Cream played Friday and Saturday March 1-2 and then again on March 8-9-10 (they played Fillmore on Sunday March 3 and Thursday March 7). Since the Grateful Dead played the Melodyland Theater at Disneyland on March 8 and 9, we know that Garcia and Hart couldn't have seen those shows. There's also a photo of Garcia and Eric Clapton hanging out in Sausalito on the afternoon of March 10 (Cream was staying in Sausalito), so that seems to add to the likelihood of Garcia going to Winterland on Sunday, March 10, and maybe he did.
However, I would like to submit the possibility that Garcia and Hart saw Cream at Winterland on Friday March 1 or Saturday March 2. Most analysts routinely assume that the Grateful Dead were playing that weekend, since Deadlists shows them performing at the mysterious Looking Glass in Walnut Creek. In fact, JGMF has looked into this, and there is no sign that those shows ever took place, whatever The Looking Glass may have been, if it even existed. Whatever may have been scheduled and canceled in Walnut Creek, I think the Dead preferred to work on Anthem Of The Sun that weekend, rather than scramble to find another gig. Thus, when the night's work was over, Garcia and Hart would have been free to check out Cream. Anthem was being remixed at Columbus Recorders, at 906 Kearny Street (at Jackson), just 2 miles from Winterland (at Post and Steiner), so dropping by after work was done would have been easy.
|A poster for the Bill Graham-produced Ornette Colenan show at Fillmore West on August 5, 1968|
In the recent book Owsley And Me: My LSD Family (by Rhoney Gissen Stanley and Tom Davis, Monkfish Press, 2013), Rhoney Gissen says that Garcia and other members of the Grateful Dead "family" attended the Ornette Coleman show at Fillmore West.
This Monday night jazz show at Fillmore West does not usually appear on Fillmore West lists (excepting the best one, of course), because those lists are mostly lists of posters, not concerts. However, Graham promoted this show, and even printed a poster, but it was not part of the collectible rock series, so the event has been obscured. I have no idea how many people attended the show.
|Ralph Gleason's column in the SF Chronicle from Sunday, November 9, 1969|
The Rolling Stones played two shows at the Oakland Coliseum, an event described in detail by Sam Cutler in his book You Can't Always Get What You Want (2010: ECW Press). Keith Richards blew his amp during the first show, so the second show was delayed while the Grateful Dead's crew raced back to Novato to get Garcia's rig as a replacement. The late show was immortalized on a legendary bootleg called Liver Than You'll Ever Be.
|The Byrds Untitled album was released in September 1970|
I read in a Wolfgang's Vault comment thread that I can't recover that Garcia dropped in to see The Byrds when they played The Ash Grove. I'd love to get confirmation of this. Freddie King had an extended booking there that week, and The Byrds were added at the last minute. The Byrds were too big to "need" to play an LA club date, but sometimes they did such things, to work on new material or just have some fun. According to Christopher Hjort's indispensable Byrds chronology So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star (2008: Jawbone Books), the Byrds were supposed to have played "Fiesta Da Vida" in Anza, CA, in Riverside County. It was apparently supposed to be held at the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, but the Riverside County Sheriff blocked it at the last minute, so the Byrds were available.
The Kentucky Colonels had been good friends with Jerry Garcia and Sandy Rothman since 1964, and indeed they had driven across much of the country together. Clarence White, a true guitar giant on both electric and acoustic guitar, was a significant influence on Garcia as well. White played some amazing electric guitar with The Byrds--if you haven't heard live Byrds from 1969-73 with Clarence, you're missing out--and if this sighting was accurate, it's nice that on one of his rare "nights out" Jerry went to check in with his old friend. I don't know what Garcia would have been doing in Los Angeles, but perhaps he had business with Warner Brothers. Certainly the Dead were not booked, since their sound system was on tour with the Medicine Ball Caravan. In any case, the Dead did play an acoustic show in Los Angeles the next weekend, so Garcia's presence isn't so far-fetched.
[update] LIA found the link to the Wolfgang's Vault Comment
I was at this show. Freddie was the opening act for the Byrds! Jerry Garcia was in the audience. One of the most memorable shows I had the good luck to be at. Freddie tore the place down. Hot pink satin suit, white frilly shirt with French cuffs. He took his coat off after the first song and ripped! I never saw anyone sweat so much. just BURNIN!
1970 or '71, The Crossroads, Bladensburg, MD: Roy Buchanan
[update] Guitarist Roy Buchanan had been a legendary guitarist in the 50s and early 60s with Ronnie Hawkins and others, but by the late 60s he was a family man. He pretty much only played at one bar in suburban Washington, DC. Over time, visiting rock musicians, particularly English guitarists, passed the word around, and many guitarists made a pilgrimage to see Buchanan when they were in town. Eventually, Buchanan became such a legend that PBS made a documentary about him. LIA reports
Garcia apparently saw Roy Buchanan at the Crossroads nightclub in Bladensburg, Maryland sometime in 1970-71.
Garcia appeared in a TV documentary on Buchanan that aired in November 1971, saying, "He's probably just the most original country-style rock & roll guitar player, a Fender guitar player. He has the nicest tone, the most amazing chops technically, super fast. And much neglected."
The thing is, Buchanan didn't have any albums out yet. He'd been playing in the houseband at the Crossroads since summer/fall 1970 - I'm not sure when Garcia could have been in Maryland in 1971, but possibly he made a trip during the Dead's fall 1970 east-coast tour. (At that point Buchanan was an unknown, but word-of-mouth about him was going around the Washington DC area - the Washington Post ran an article on him in Dec 1970 - and some folks were even traveling from New York to see him.)
|Kenny Burrell's classic album Midnight Blue, released on Blue Note in 1963|
Tony Saunders was interviewed by journalist and scholar Jake Feinberg, and he had a variety of interesting revelations (continued here). One of the interesting details was that when Garcia found out that Merl Saunders knew Kenny Burrell, Jerry and Merl went to see Burrell play live in San Francisco, and hung out with him either before or after the show. The El Matador was the upscale jazz club in North Beach, at 492 Broadway, from back when jazz was popular music. They still had fine music, however, if not always particularly far out.
Kenny Burrell is one of the deans of jazz guitar, inevitably funky and sophisticated, but in a cool, laid back way, where the notes he doesn't play are as important as the ones he does. Garcia's playing in the earliest incarnations of the Garcia-Saunders band seems to owe something to Burrell, and it seems it was not a coincidence.
[update] LIA found the quote from Merl Saunders, in Robert Greenfield's oral biography of Garcia:
I found more details on the early-70s Kenny Burrell show, from Merl Saunders:October 14 or 15, 1971, Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA: Crosby And Nash
"One night, Jerry called me. 'Merl, you know Kenny Burrell?' I said, 'Yeah, I know Kenny Burrell, he's at the El Matador. Why don't we go see him?' After the show was over, Jerry wanted to meet Kenny Burrell. He asked him questions, and Kenny didn't know who in the hell Jerry was until after I talked to Kenny the next day." (Greenfield p.139)
[update] LIA: in the Signpost to New Space interview (p.49, my edition), Garcia says, "I saw Mickey last night, he was at the Crosby & Nash concert."
|"Killing Me Softly With His Song" was a big hit for Roberta Flack in early 1973|
This one is a little different. The Grateful Dead were between gigs--September 30 in Washington, DC and October 2 at Springfield Civic. On the night off, however, and the night before the Dead's Springfield gig, Roberta Flack was playing there. The sound man was an old pal of the Dead's, former Fleetwood Mac sound wizard Stuart 'Dinky' Dawson, who by this time had his own sound company in Boston.
Garcia and Owsley sat at the mixing board with Dinky, checking out his state-of-the-art system, thinking about how they could build their own, research that would lead to The Wall Of Sound. Roberta Flack is a fine singer and had a great band, so even if Garcia was there for the PA, he probably enjoyed the music (there is a tape of it on Wolfgang's Vault). I have a post about this night, drawing from Dinky Dawson's description of the night from his fine book Life On The Road (for the record, Dawson's biggest problem was that he was very thirsty, since he refused to drink any liquid with Owsley around).
October 1973, The New Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Bob Marley And The Wailers
[update] Garcia was apparently intrigued enough by Bob Marley and The Wailers to check them out at the New Matrix, where they played several shows in October of 1973 (17, 18, 19, 20, 29 and 30). The Matrix had closed in 1971, but it reopened in 1973 on 412 Broadway, an address that Garcia and his fans would come to know well some years later when it became The Stone.
|Planet Waves, by Bob Dylan and The Band, was released on Asylum Records in January 1974|
Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that every San Francisco luminary was at the two 1974 Bob Dylan concerts in Oakland (early and late shows), although I no longer recall if he explicitly mentioned the Dead. So Garcia's presence is unconfirmed for now, but I would be pretty surprised if he didn't make it. I posited the idea that Garcia's presence at the show caused him to bring back "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" a few times in 1974.
May 29, 1976, Paramount Theater, Oakland, CA: Bob Marley And The Wailers
[update] JGMF: There are also eyewitness accounts to Garcia seeing BMW at the Paramount in Oakland in, I think, May 1976.
The Paramount, built in the 30s, was restored in the mid-70s, and Bill Graham put on a fair number of shows there for a while. Its a beautiful theater, but the sound isn't great, and deserved or not, downtown Oakland wasn't an appealing destination for many suburban fans. Nonetheless, seeing a show at the Paramount remains a treat. Marley and The Wailers did two shows. Garcia would have been rehearsing with the Dead over at the Orpheum, so he probably caught the late show.
|The Last Waltz, by The Band, was a triple album commemorating their "final" concert at Winterland on November 25, 1976|
The Last Waltz was the can't miss rock event of 1976 in San Francisco. Once again, Selvin reported that "everybody" was there, although I'm fairly certain he mentioned the Grateful Dead this time. Once again, I'd be surprised if even the homebound Garcia missed this one, but I don't have confirmation.
April 1, 1979, Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA: Dire Straits
[update] LIA found an interesting quote from Garcia, in the 1985 Jas Obrecht article
Q: Any bands you'd go out of your way to see?I'm guessing a little bit about the date, but Dire Straits did not play the Bay Area very much. They played The Old Waldorf on March 31/April 1, and Reconstruction had a show the first night, so that points towards April 1. At the time, "Sultans Of Swing" was hitting, and Dire Straits was already a kind of retro sensation. For that initial tour, the Straits were just a simple four-piece.
Garcia: "There are a few, yeah. Let's see - the last band I went to see is Dire Straits. That was the last band I went to see live, a couple of years ago. There are others that I would, but most of the time I'm out working and stuff. So I don't really get a chance. But there are more that I would go to see if I were in a situation where I wasn't working nights so much. I would go out more. But yeah, there's actually a lot of music that I would go to see. It's just the opportunity doesn't present itself that often. That's the problem. Time and space, you know."
|The River, by Bruce Springsteen, released in 1980|
I have never gotten confirmation on this. The San Francisco Chronicle used to have a great column called Question Man, and in one 1982 edition, backstage at The Bammies, she asked various musicians who was the best performer today. Jerry Garcia said the best performer today (in 1982) was Bruce Springsteen. I had the yellowed clipping for years, but I can't find it now.
This raises the question of when, or even if, Jerry saw a Bruce show. For years I had assumed he had seen one of Oakland shows on The River tour (October 27-28, 1980), but in fact the Dead were at Radio City Music Hall. Bruce did not play the Bay Area until 1984, so when did Jerry see him, if he did? The Dead were in Southern California in August 1981, so maybe Garcia saw one of the Sports Arena shows, right before the Dead's Long Beach show. Given how few concerts Garcia saw from this point on, I really hope Garcia got to see Bruce and the E Street Band in their prime.
[update] Given that we have learned that by 1985 Garcia had not seen anybody since Dire Straits, when did Garcia see Bruce? Maybe he just saw a video or something, and drew his opinion from that. Too bad, if it was the case.
July 28, 1981, The Stone, San Francisco, CA: High Noon
A commenter on a different post noted
Michael Hinton posted this little vignette at Facebook: "Played all 3 [Keystone family] venues in 1981 w/Mickey Hart's band High Noon. Most memorable was when Jerry Garcia came backstage and shook my hand at The Stone. Mickey said "we actually got Jerry to leave his house!"" Based on your list, this had to have been 7/28/81.Mickey Hart put together a little band called High Noon, which I have written about them extensively elsewhere. High Noon mostly featured the original songs of Jim McPherson, who also played piano and guitar. Other band members included Merl Saunders, guitarist Michael Hinton, bassist Bobby Vega, harmonicat Norton Buffalo and percussionist Vicki Randle, with almost everyone singing.
June 1985, Opera House, San Francisco, CA: Wagner's Ring Cycle
Also, in June 1985, Phil persuaded Garcia & others in the Dead to see Wagner's Ring opera done by the San Francisco Opera, even canceling some Dead shows in Sacramento to do so. Garcia didn't make it through the whole series though, even falling asleep during the performance on the third night: "In the end Jerry didn't make it back for the final opera of the cycle, having made previous plans to take his daughter Annabelle to see Phil Collins at the Oakland Coliseum. 'What?' I asked when he told me. 'You're going to pass up 'Twilight of the Gods' for Phil Collins?' 'If it was just me - but I promised Annabelle.'" (Phil's book p.273-74)
McNally mentions that 'Ride of the Valkyries' started popping up in Dead rehearsals...
|No Jacket Required, Phil Collins third album, released in 1985. Although Collins had already been successful, and he was the singer and drummer for the very popular Genesis, this album made him a mega-star|
In a unique occurrence, Garcia used his status to take his daughter to see Phil Collins at the Coliseum on his No Jacket Required world tour. Although Collins' music was far from Garcia's normal fare, Collins is an excellent musician who had a top-flight band (anchored by Darryl Steurmer, Pete Robinson, Leland Sklar and Chester Thompson), so there's no doubt Garcia could at least appreciate the professionalism
|The Detroit Free Press from June 29, 1986, reporting on Jerry's assessment of Bob Dylan's show with Tom Petty at The Greek on June 14, 1986|
June 14, 1986 Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Bob Dylan with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
[update] Grateful Seconds reported that Garcia attended the second of two Bob Dylan concerts in Berkeley, apparently in anticipation of Summer touring.
December 19, 1986, The Omni, Oakland, CA: Go Ahead
In July of 1986, Jerry Garcia had a very close brush with the other side, but he returned. By December 19, he had already performed with both the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead. Yet, perhaps in a different frame of mind, he made a rare trip outside to see Go Ahead, the new band with Brent Mydland and Bill Kreutzmann (for the complete Go Ahead story see here).
The Omni, formerly an Italian-American social club built in 1938 as Ligure Hall, was on 48th and Shattuck in Oakland. The owner was John Nady, who had made a fortune inventing wireless guitar pickups. He decided to use the money to open a rock club, and more importantly, a rock club near my apartment at the time. Unfortunately, The Omni was a terrible dump and mostly featured metal bands. I'm not surprised Jerry never set foot in it a second time.
September 1987, unknown venue, New York, NY: Suzanne Vega
[update] Per JGMF, Garcia caught Suzanne Vega while the Dead were in New York for their Rainforest benefit.
[update] Chico Archivist: Some people I knew saw Jerry at the Peter Gabriel show at the Oakland Coliseum Arena [sic] Sept 23, 1988. Supposedly Jerry liked the show enough to ask around if anybody had taped it.
Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel and Sting played several stadium shows in support of Amnesty International, although Sting had to miss the Bay Area show. I wonder if Jerry got his tape?
[update] The Dead were playing MSG this night, so Jerry couldn't have been at this specific show.
March 14, 1989, Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA: REM/Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians
[update] This was confirmed by a couple of correspondents. Supposedly, when Jerry and Bob entered through backstage, a security guard who did not recognize Jerry told him to put out his joint. I saw this show, and it was great. So I can say that Jerry, Bob, me and my sister saw REM together.
March 15, 1989, Fox-Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA: Gipsy Kings
[update] Legs Lambert: Jerry and Bob Weir attended a show by the Gipsy Kings at the Warfield in San Francisco (I'm told Bill Kreutzmann was there as well, but I did not see him).
During this period, Garcia seems to have gotten out to a relatively large number of shows. I believe it was the period when he was living with Manasha Matheson.
August 5, 1990, Concord Pavilion, Concord, CA; Bruce Hornsby And The Range
According to McNally, shortly after Brent Mydland's unfortunate death, Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia went to a Bruce Hornsby concert "in the Bay Area" to offer him the Dead's keyboard chair. Garcia had played that afternoon at the Greek Theatre, and I'm not even sure if he stuck around for the concert.
May 11, 1994, Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, CA
[update] various people pointed out that Jerry showed up to watch Phil Lesh guest-conduct the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in two selections - the Infernal Dance from Stravinsky's "The Firebird" and Elliott Carter's "A Celebration of Some 100 x 150 Notes,"
Thanks to all the Commenters, we know that Garcia got out a little more often to hear music than I had originally feared. However, it seems to have been largely confined to a relatively brief period from 1987-90, and then he retreated into isolation. Although Garcia himself preferred playing over watching, it's still a telling sign that Garcia could not simply go out and enjoy some artist he would like without attracting a ruckus. In the larger picture of Garcia's life and career, it's not a big thing, but it's still a clear sign of how isolated Garcia had become once the Grateful Dead became truly iconic.