Photo Restorations by Steve Deibel.
May 24-25, 1968 National Guard Armory
Feb 6, 1969 Kiel Auditorium (opening for Iron Butterfly)
Apr 17, 1969 Washington University's Quadrangle
Feb 2, 1970 Fox Theatre
May 13, 1970 NRPS, impromptu performance at Washington University's Quadrangle
May 14, 1970 Meramec Community College
July 8, 1970 Mississippi River Festival, SIU campus, Edwardsville, IL (within a half-hour's drive from St. Louis)
October 24, 1970 Kiel Opera House
March 17-18, 1971 Fox Theatre
Introduction by John Ellis
Most of the early Deadheads that attended the shows between 1968-1970 still speak about that era and those albums with a lot of reverence. My first Dead show was 2/2/70 at the Fox, but I already owned and loved everything they'd put out. I was INSANE over Aoxomoxoa (except for What's Become...). I love Anthem. (Even today, I still listen to all of the concerts that were recorded to create Anthem.)
I'm from the high school class of 1971. Most people that attended the earliest Dead shows were from the classes of 1969-1971...so my friends that are my exact age would have been the youngest attendees. The folks who were from the class of 1969/1970 were already doing LSD when they went. Both of the early 1969 shows (2/69 and 4/69) were HUGE tripping events.
By 1968, young hippies (including me) were totally sold on the new era of San Francisco music, and the drugs were getting stronger and more available. But LSD was a scary thing. Only the craziest of people were doing LSD at the time. Some of them (truly) paid with their lives because the doses were incredibly strong. I know of at least 2-3 people that never recovered from those shows... So a certain amount of people (including me) loved their music but we were scared to death of LSD. There was a national pushback against it.
I intentionally did NOT attend the early Dead shows because every person I knew that went to see the Dead said: "Meet over at my house. We'll all drop acid and go to the show." Even at 16, I was too young for that – I just wasn’t ready in 1968 to try LSD. Eventually I relented in late 1969, and loved LSD, but unfortunately I missed out on those early shows. Most all of my friends that attended were tripping though...
I was a bit miffed that I didn't ever get to see a real Live/Dead show. Even though 2/2/70 was my first show, I always asked friends about the early shows. The friends of mine who were 1-3 years older than me generally said: "The BEST shows were 2/6/69 and 4/17/69." I imagine there were a couple of factors. The 5/68 shows could have seemed a bit different to their ears...as in "brand new"...because Anthem hadn't been released yet. The Dark Star / Born Cross Eyed single had been released, and was getting some airplay...so they may have been prepared for how different the Dead’s sound was since their first album (which was a trippy garage-band album).
After the 2/2/70 show, I remember quite a few friends saying: "That was good, BUT..." My impression of the Fox show was that it was very dreamy and "tentative" and was missing the wonderful bombast of Live/Dead. When I listen to that complete show now, I have a different opinion...but I still get a vibe that although the show was very good, it didn't have the intensity of 2/13-14/1970 (Dick's Picks #4).
After that, in the Dead’s shows by mid-1970, especially by their 10/24/70 Opera House show here, they moved to a "song-oriented" band versus the gonzo-crazed Live/Dead sound. So that was when a lot of people were both relieved and pissed that "we'd lost the Dead."
The Dead changed from a super inside cult band (through 1969) to a band where all of a sudden there was a big uptick in the frenzy around getting tickets. 7/8/70 was the first time when the crowd started including a brand new audience. Workingman's Dead had just come out, and I think that was like the "icing on the cake" of their growing grassroots popularity. (But in fact, there was some pushback against that album. It was NOT for tripping, and there was very little jamming....which kind of shows how there were growing differences in what people wanted from the band.)
As far as how good/great the shows were: 7/8/70 and 10/24/70 were somewhat "okay." Very routine. The new crowd was bugging veterans. We were already MOCKING the lyrics to Casey Jones because people who had NEVER even heard of the band were now singing that song. Those July and October shows brought on board a ton of new fans.
By 1971 we were already worrying if the Dead were going to be good when they came for two nights in March 1971. Thankfully, they were very good and they were playing tons of new songs...which was very cool and a major drawing card for the Dead. Unknown songs at a concert. Fantastic idea. But the flip side is you didn't get to hear The Eleven, and Pigpen's splashy Farfisa was in the distant past...so...no Alligator, etc.
The Dead were generally 6 months "ahead" of us…they practically morphed at least twice a year until 1972. Each year the audience got to hear lots of new material. (I remember hearing Jack Straw one night at the Fox, and raving to someone who missed that show.) New, unreleased music was really important to devoted concert-goers back then. The attitude was: "I can listen to the album at home...I want to hear new stuff tonight."
But when the Dead came in March of 1971, it was very hard to get tickets...much less great seats. And those shows were great. Even "Live/Dead" fans were realizing that they were morphing really quickly...but in an acceptable way. And the 1972 shows were rapturously received. 3 nights of perfection. Obviously very much like Europe '72. It was almost impossible to believe they could sing that good....and Donna was accepted. It was hard for early Dead fans to believe that they could up their game after the loss of Pigpen, who was so loved by early Deadheads.
Most people WORSHIPPED the 1971 and 1972 shows. I think the fans of the Live/Dead period obviously loved the 1969 shows the most. And then with the influx of a new, widening audience (and GIRLS), the 1971/1972 shows were favorites for them. Girls generally weren't on board with the Dead until Workingman's Dead. Now, the problem was that girls LIKED THEM...which meant even fewer tickets were available.
I saw the Dead for all of the rest of their St Louis area performances through 1973. The October 1972 run of shows at the Fox were the last Dead shows that I really liked, although they were not the same band anymore. When I saw them in 1973, by then...THEY HAD GOTTEN TOO DAMNED POPULAR... The Dead were at their best when they were an underground band in ‘67-70. After American Beauty, their fan base exploded. Cute girls that used to HATE Live/Dead were now huge fans of American Beauty...and were seeking out the band to party!!! I pretty much saw all of the shows through 1973, but it was the Wake Of The Flood tour when I just decided seeing them wasn't going to be a NECESSITY any more.
The Dead were held in such high regard among hipster musicians back in 1968-1970. Not necessarily for their musicianship, but more for their ability to get weird and do something very NEW. I get comments from other bands that opened for the Dead in 1968/1969, and their opinions of the Dead vary wildly. Some (who are blues purists) felt the Dead were okay (when they were playing Pig Pen's songs), but disinterested in the "unknown" music the Dead were playing in mid-1968. Other members of the opening bands absolutely loved them. Some people only liked the Dead’s first albums and lost interest by 1970; they had no interest in becoming part of the Dead Heads club.
Me and my friends were all huge stereo guys. Every one of us had great hi-fi systems. We were among the first hippies that started assembling component systems. No one had component stereo systems in 1966. Your parents may have had a console system that may or may not have been any good. By 1967 albums like Sgt. Pepper’s kick-started the steroids system boom. By 1968, stereo geeks were buying McIntosh amps, etc.
So, we would spend most nights listening to Live/Dead, Quicksilver's Happy Trails and other tripping records like Anthem Of The Sun, etc. It was really exciting, but rigorous... Tripping (even mildly) took its toll...so of course we all started drinking to soften the buzz, and move away from LSD. By 1970, the quality of LSD had gotten ragged and buzzy. Laced with shit. So when the Dead put out Workingman's Dead, it was a bit of a relief:
Thank God we don't have to trip balls listening to this.
My friends did the most amount of LSD between 1969-1970. By 1971, most of my friends were moving on from LSD...and the softer music coming out from the Dead was actually looked on as something like Chicken Soup For The Soul. It was tough listening to ramped-up loud rock and roll on a full-time basis.
Our hardcore group eventually welcomed country rock, current good country, singer-songwriters, etc. We hated soft rockers...but softer rock from the Dead (especially American Beauty) worked wonders and had a calming effect. It wasn't necessarily what we WANTED, but their softer music was the best thing for us to help move away from LSD.
My friend group in high school (67-71) were all early hippies...or they were teens who didn't want to publicly commit to being a hippie because by 1968, hippies were aligned with drugs, sex, anti-war, etc. Most of the guys all loved the Dead, and every night we could we'd get together, get high and listen to music through a great stereo...lots of times in a big house built 100 years ago. Great sound. Lots of outside parties with multiple stereo systems (McIntosh amps) wired together. We'd have summer parties in the country with a generator for power....
Everyone stuck with the Dead until The Allman Brothers Live At The Fillmore East came out, and that record seemed more satisfying than Skullfuck. Since our scene was all about listening to music, over time we had a wider choice of albums, but Live/Dead was always held in the highest regard.
We would stop partying when we ran out of records to play...or were temporarily bored with the albums in heavy rotation. I don't remember seeing a bootleg Dead album until 1971…they just didn’t exist before then. We had everything officially released, and you can only play the same few records over and over. There is a burnout factor. Live/Dead would be saved for special times.
But by 1971, most of my friends were now 18-21 or more...so we had other challenges rather than just partying. People started working, getting married, etc. But for the most part, the hardcore fans still went to every show, and at least half of them remained lifelong fans, and many made a point of seeing the Dead if they were anywhere near St. Louis.
But by the mid-‘70s people were already hanging on to the notion that the Dead were still great in concert. For the most part, these were younger fans (by 2-5 years) that didn't even see them until 1972. They became the most feverish. They were creating a false narrative of thinking the Dead were as great in 1973 as they were in 1969.
And the loss of Pig Pen was a huge blow. In a sense, the dream was over for my age group. The younger ones never saw what we saw, just as I didn't see shows previous to 2/2/70. Younger fans were just not trusted. Their love of the band was dismissed as folly by my age group.
By 1971, our motto was "The Dead Died."
ST LOUIS BACKGROUND
St. Louis is a big Catholic town based on the Italian and Irish immigrants. Much of the "social structure" was based on church functions. There were dozens and dozens of Catholic churches that had dances every weekend. There were dances at non-Catholic environments, but events at non-Catholic environments were more "individual" and "one-off" events....whereas the Catholic community was very organized (and EVERYWHERE!!!). Live music was at parks, auto shows, parades, etc. Prior to my time, country music was throughout St. Louis and its surrounding areas. St. Louis is generally regarded as a very big "small town." Lots of country folk who loved their country radio, country concerts, etc.
There were lots and lots of local bands. St. Louis had a huge teen dance/social scene. Prior to The Beatles, most acts were very professional. In 1964, virtually all teen dances had music provided by professional bands that could play Top 40 soul music. They were all pro bands for the most part. Teen bands started right after The Beatles. 1965 was the advent of garage rock: the young teens that probably first got their guitars after seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan had their own bands and started learning how to play "garage rock"…simple music with an aggressive r&b edge. 1966 was probably the BIGGEST year for garage rock…but by 1968, garage rock had pretty much gone away as music became more psych. Also, by 1969, most local bands had bigger amps (and played LOUD) and the whole "teen scene" was falling apart.
The official concert scene in St. Louis prior to the rock era (which kicked into high gear in late 1968) was usually at Kiel Opera House and the larger Kiel Auditorium. Lots of package tours for pop acts, soul and R&B, and country. When rock came on really strong, it stole the thunder from the above, and the era of the "package tour" was officially over. Even Cream, The Who, etc, were still doing awful package tours when they first came over here. Dick Clark did package tours in 1966 with Dave Clark 5, The Yardbirds, etc. So, package tours was THE model until sometime in late 1967 (I think). By 1968, I don't think package tours existed anymore. Rock music had arrived and dictated a whole new model.
A lot of rock artists passed over St Louis because we didn't have any small theaters (that seated 750 to 2,000). So, consequently we got a lot of big names, but not as many of the bands that would have been playing clubs and small theaters. There were only a few rock clubs (like the Castaway and Rainy Daze). I think St Louis was such an old school R&B town, we didn't have rock clubs in place when rock tours were starting.
The St. Louis rock concert scene was still in its infancy in early 1968. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, Dave Clark 5, and others had come by 1966. In 1967, The Who came after their Monterey Pop performance, but as part of a package tour with The Blues Magoos and Herman's Hermits (the headliners). The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Yardbirds also played shows in 1967 for Wash U students.
Then Cream came in April 1968. This concert kick-started the rock era because within three months, first Steppenwolf, then the Dead, Canned Heat, and Jefferson Airplane came to town. Those shows were produced under the banner of “Velvet Plastic Productions” by a local guy, Jorge Martinez (who went by the name "Umberto Orsini"). Later in the summer and fall, things got rolling and rock shows started happening with some regularity: Big Brother, Iron Butterfly, Vanilla Fudge, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors…
Quicksilver Messenger Service played here outside for free at the Forest Park Pavilion in October 1968. Forest Park is our Boston Commons, Central Park, etc. The jewel of the city. Starting in 1967/1968, bands started playing there on weekends. The counter-culture gatherings were in full bloom. Fantastic times: lots of hippies, girls, pot, bikers, rock & roll, etc. The QMS show was one of the best shows I ever saw. (When they came back a year later with fucking Dino Valenti leading the band, we were booing him and throwing shit at him. He ruined the band!)
Big Brother & the Holding Company played at the Pavilion for free in August 1968 with The Hour Glass as their opener (with Gregg and Duane). The day before, Iron Butterfly had opened for Big Brother at Kiel – Big Brother’s show was cut short because of union rules and an overly long set by Iron Butterfly (among the other openers). I was really pissed off at Iron Butterfly for playing so long that Big Brother only got to play 15 minutes! But Janis did a free show in Forest Park to make up for it.
The Hour Glass were tremendous. They lived here off and on during 1967-1968. Duane met the mother of his daughter in St. Louis (coincidentally at the Jefferson Airplane concert, where Duane was attending). I got to see them two or three times when they were in St. Louis in ‘67/68. They were, BY A MILE, easily the best hippie band to play in St. Louis in that era. They were professionals.
From what I can tell, almost all of the headlining concerts prior to around 1970 were held at Kiel (Opera House or Auditorium), or older vaudeville-styled movie theaters (like the American, St. Louis, etc.). (Keep in mind: Up until the mid-1950s, St. Louis was not only the 10th biggest city in the country......it had BEEN in the Top Ten Biggest Cities since around 1850.)
All of the concert locations (Kiel, Fox, etc.) were located within a 3-5 mile distance of each other. These locations were "downtown", which is where most people still lived until around 1955 (when the exodus to the suburbs started). St. Louis ALWAYS had a large Black population, and there were plenty of concerts targeted directly to Blacks (whites rarely went to those shows until 1967).
Prior to the rock era (1968), virtually all shows were union shows following STRICT union rules. Tickets were ONLY sold at authorized ticket outlets. Virtually all shows were controlled by national agencies (like Regal Sports).
Around 1968/1969, local independents were doing shows, but those were at smaller clubs and theaters. Starting around 1970, other promoters started doing shows, but they were still doing the big shows at Kiel (either venue). Eventually in the early ‘70s, a local promoter aligned himself with the Ambassador Theatre (in a different area of downtown), and that became a main venue for at least a few years until the promoter's nefarious methods caught up with him. Contemporary Productions (Steve Schankman) was up and running as competition, and their booking rivalry led to some great shows. Eventually Schankman's Contemporary Productions became one of the biggest booking agencies in the country.
Here's where most of the rock concerts were held:
Kiel Opera House is a gem, and thankfully is back in business. It holds roughly 3,000. It has comfortable seats, etc. It is definitely a classy place. Kiel Auditorium was built for huge conventions, and was the home of a local college's basketball team...along with our NBA team (which left town around 1965). It certainly held over 9,000, although it was mainly used when the event would hold more than the Opera House could hold.
The sound in the Opera House is very, very good. That's where I saw all of the BEST sounding concerts (The Who in 1969, the Dead in 1970, etc.). Conversely, the sound in the Auditorium (the "Barn") was awful. You had to roam around and find a "sweet spot." Up through around 1970, loud rock bands used VERY LOUD amps. Vox, Marshall, HiWatt, etc. The vocals and drums came through the "mains," and guitars relied on the sheer volume of the amps. For certain bands, the sound of a monstrously loud amp was BLISS. Many bands struggled with the limitations surrounding loud amps, poor PA, no monitors, etc.
In 1968 and 1969, since concerts were mostly attended by hippies, concertgoers were very friendly and shared their seats, etc. So it wasn’t an issue to move around and not have to worry about "assigned seats." When the Dead played before Iron Butterfly at the Kiel Auditorium on Feb 6, 1969, it was Phil who invited the very spread out crowd to "come down here and cluster at the front." If the Auditorium holds well over 9,000, I assume at the Dead/Butterfly gig, the upstairs was mostly empty, and there were probably less than 2,000 attendees.
When you were at Kiel Auditorium, you had to walk around and find a sweet spot. BUT, by 1973, the Dead were so popular, you were somewhat stuck in your own seat, and "security" didn't allow you to get anywhere near the best sounding seats (unless you had a stub, or had your stealth game on.)
In the early rock era, security at concerts was done by "Andy Frain." Non-policemen with faux-badges. But they were "authority." At the same time Nixon demonized hippies, and Blacks, and drugs, and anti-War protesters – "emboldened" concertgoers paid less attention to "faux security"...and since we "behaved," we could roam around and sit wherever we wanted.
That freedom ended around Kent State (May 1970). By then, local promoters (and new out of town promoters) were bringing along their OWN security. The new security was almost entirely made up of bullies, who LOVED to make sure people were in their seats and NEVER EVER crossed the "threshold" of the 15th row.
Concerts were never the same after security was "improved." Therefore mid-1967 through mid-1970 was about the time when the young hippies could enjoy freedom at concerts. (Fortunately the Mississippi River Festival started up in 1969, and the security there was lax until around 1971.)
As rock got bigger and bigger, the younger rock crowd became more and more obnoxious. Mini-riots happened several times at the Kiel Auditorium. Concerts were getting a bad name...BUT...the MONEY was so good...promoters started putting on more and more big shows at Kiel Auditorium or the (dreaded) St. Louis Arena...a hockey arena. Circuses, etc. Bad behavior by angry teens caused the suspension of rock concerts at Kiel Opera House. Eventually, Kiel Auditorium closed down, as did the Kiel Opera House.
St. Louis really only has two national colleges: Washington University (Quadrangle) and St. Louis University. Washington University has always been WAY more hip than St. Louis University. Wash. U is considered an "Ivy League school that's located in the Mid-West." Therefore, Wash U. has a long history of having concerts. They have an outdoor venue (the Quadrangle), and an indoor venue (the Field House). The list of people that have played there is incredible:
St. Louis University obviously had concerts, but they are not documented as well as Wash U's. Also...St. Louis University is spread out over a several mile wide "campus" (several campuses) AND is just not as "rich" as Wash U. Wash U. had real entertainment budgets. I don't know of hardly any concerts that were held on the SLU campus. (However The Byrds did play there in early 1966 in the facility that was a gym.)
Grand Avenue, the street that the Fox is located on, was the heart of the "theatre district." There were at least 2 major venues (the Fox, and Powell Symphony Hall), and another 3-4 smaller theaters. But the Fox was already going downhill by around 1964. "White flight" to the suburbs, etc. The glory years of the Fox were over by the mid-to-late 1960s.
If you look at the movie bookings at the Fox from 1966-1968, you'll see the material went from PG to some edgier material like Valley Of The Dolls. By 1967, they were showing spy flicks. Then in 1968, it was biker flicks. In 1969, they started showing horror flicks, and trying some live shows (Wayne Cochran in May 1969, Lou Rawls & Richard Pryor in August). In 1970, it was still mainly Horror and Action, but by 1972/1973, it was Blaxploitation and Kung Fu for a couple of years. They were desperate to try and turn around their business!
Concerts were almost never held (to my knowledge) at the Fox, and at that point, the Fox had been left to somewhat decay, but at its core was a majestic theatre that was visually amazing, and had very good sound. When the Dead played there in Feb 1970, that was its FIRST rock concert. Traffic played there as a trio (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood) in June of 1970, but then the only other rock concerts at the Fox were the Dead in 1971-1972.
1964 was probably the last peak for the neighborhood. Slow decline into 1970, but it was still mostly safe during the daytime because there were still businesses and SLU. But there was no "quality" nightlife. It was turning into a ghost town at night. But going down to the Fox in 1970, and even thru 1972 was not an issue at all. The Fox was never really a seedy neighborhood...it was just in decline for decades. Business closed...shopping stores, restaurants, pool clubs, etc. All gone. That used to be a serious theatre district. The most amount of theaters in ONE area.
I went there starting around 1964 or so. I witnessed the initial decline in the late 1960s until the late 1970s. That area on Grand used to have DOZENS of theaters in the 1920s/1930s. It really became the victim of white flight to the suburbs. Areas like that in St Louis went into decline. Only the Fox, Powell Hall, and the Kiel Opera House are still in use.
1970-1973 was a time when I don't remember anyone ever complaining about car break-ins, or on-the-street shakedowns, etc. It was perfect for us high schoolers who thought it was cool to go downtown. So...as a balance to the fact that the neighborhood was in decline, it was also the perfect neighborhood to see the Dead. We always felt "gifted" about those shows. Even while it was happening at the Fox, we couldn't believe we were seeing them in THAT theatre. It was the most trippy, ornate palace...perfect for getting high and listening to loud music in an atmosphere that was not full of awful security assholes. I don't even remember the "bomb scare" issue. I guess we didn't care. It was a wild era.
New owners bought the Fox in 1977, and then slowly it became a premiere concert venue to this day. The Fox survives and thrives today because of the massive resurgence in that area as the center for the arts.
The ONLY "underground" FM rock station in St. Louis was KSHE. Rock radio on FM didn't start in St. Louis until KSHE started playing a “West Coast” format in November of 1967. By late ‘69/early ‘70, there was another rock station (KADI), and even though they did the late ‘71 Dead broadcast, KADI was never "cool." KSHE was at least cool from 1967-1970, then they started playing a wider variety of shit, but they also continued to play a lot of great music, and they were (and still are) the most historic and viable rock station in town.
I started listening to KSHE when it first started when they played some cool Top 40, but also played a lot of new music: Buffalo Springfield, Dead, Airplane, Moby Grape, Electric Flag, etc. From 1967 until Workingman's Dead, only KSHE played the Dead. I distinctly remember Morning Dew being played. Anything from Anthem was prohibitive in that each side represented a whole "commitment". The Born Cross-Eyed single got some airplay. China Cat Sunflower and St. Stephen absolutely got a lot of airplay, but only on KSHE. Both Anthem and Live/Dead were so big (in our little world) that by 1969, we "didn't need the fucking radio"...we had stereo systems. And parties with big stereo systems. So, there were certain really big party albums: Quicksilver's Happy Trails, early Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, etc.
1967/1968 were the years when people in high school suddenly had to make a choice: "Am I gonna listen to AM radio?...or am I gonna start listening to ALBUMS?" If you listened to KSHE in 1967/1968...you were a hippie. Straight people listened to AM radio.
I remember very little advertising for the Dead. We didn't have a good "street paper." The only place to throw money at would have been KSHE..but already "advertising" was sometimes considered a bad thing. Word of mouth was "better." Of course everything changed upon Workingman's Dead…
St. Louis was always a big town for local bands. Prior to the Beatles' arrival in 1964, virtually all the bands that played in St. Louis (on a regular basis) were high-quality soul bands that played the most current hits. Virtually every band had 6-10 people in it. Full horn section, and generally Black singers fronting the band.
Prior to the era of rock music, teens went to mixers, social dances, church dances, record spins, etc. Dancing was still very important as a social thing through the dawn of the hippie era. Through 1967, dances were a weekend thing in St Louis at dozens of churches every weekend. Learning to dance, or faking it, was essential. Even if you weren't any good, you at least were used to the feeling of being on a dance floor.
I bring this up because if you were interested in socializing with other teens (14-17 years old), you could find DOZENS of dances to go to. These "teen town" dances drew tons of kids who wanted to dance...but also (like me), a handful of kids who LIKED the music, and wanted to watch the bands. The same people that loved the bands were among the very first concert-goers when the era of the rock concert started happening in 1967/1968. The attendance at all of the early rock shows was by music freaks...who, generally, were also the first hippies in town.
The bigger the act, the more potential for crossover. Girls who weren’t music freaks also went to rock shows; groups of kids would have gone to these shows together. I think a lot of people were so young, they got their parents to take a car-full of teens down to the show. I think as much as 15-25% (or more!) of the attendance at early rock shows was normal people on dates. I think we sometimes think: "only music fans attend concerts"....and back then, that wasn't true. Going to the concert was like going to the fair or the carnival. It was "part of a date." And many times, it was just something to do.
At a Dead show, if you were tripping, most of the crowd wanted to hear the jams so they could dance. By "dance," I mean just shake it wildly. Way before the "twirlers," we were all very well aware of the skills of dancing by watching the crowds dance the latest dances at the teen town. The guys who danced the best were dancing with the cutest girls, etc. So, dancing was a skill, and you had to at least minimally function on the dance floor. The Dead "freed us up" in that we didn't have to do a "proper" dance (like the boogaloo, the African Twist, the Hitchhike, the Swim, etc.)...you could FINALLY just MOVE...and be free. Up until 1968, you NEEDED to know how to dance to meet girls, etc. By late 1968, you didn't because the dance scene came to a crashing end with the advent of AM radio playing huge hits by the new rock bands. The "teen town" dance scene quickly became a thing of the past. Music tastes had shifted, and "formal" dancing had died, but the need to shake it was very much an important thing.
I bring up all of the above backstory because by 1970, the old guard was fading away. By 1970 (when I was 17), people who were 1-2 years younger than me had NO memories of ever attending "teen towns." When that era ended in 1968, it came to a crashing end. People who were born after 1955 had no need to EVER learn how to dance.
Prior to the advent of SF music, bands focused on playing dance material. But once the concerts became more rock, the more people just sat in their seats...or tried to move toward the stage. I remember a lot of people sitting down at rock concerts, but also a lot of people "shaking it...moving to the music."
John Crouch was in the band Hugging Pillow at the time, and comments: “At the places my band played – teen clubs and bars, dancing was the thing, so we always had to do danceable songs. We were doing mostly top 40 type stuff but trying to find danceable songs from the new generation coming out of FM radio. Sitting down and just watching started with the S. F. concert scene. Seats were assigned in the big venues (Kiel, Powell Symphony Hall, etc.) and standing or sitting became the thing pretty much when the S. F. groups started coming in, but usually at less formal venues. I saw Canned Heat at Kiel Auditorium and seats were assigned. But when I saw them a second time at a union hall, it was standing or sitting only, no chairs even provided. (But that was great for me as I always made my way to the band up close to try and learn stuff by watching the lead guitar player…) [A venue like] Kiel Opera House was all assigned seating. But at the Avalon Ballroom in S.F., or the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, or the Electric Theater in Chicago, it was all sitting or milling about.”
The Armory show was promoted as a dance concert. In 1968, there were no "hippie dance moves" (twirling, etc.) that I was aware of. By 1968, I had been going to Catholic dances with live soul bands for 2-3 years. The pressure "to dance" was intense. Especially if you wanted to meet girls, and be considered cool. Anyone who went to see soul bands play understood that dancing was "why we were there"...whether you danced or not. I usually hung back and watched the bands, so there were plenty of us who were there to "see the band" versus going to meet girls and dance. However, the idea of people "moving" and shaking it to a live band was solidly in teens' "training."
To have attended the May 1968 Dead show at the Armory, you would have had to be a hipster...of sorts. It definitely means you weren't "looking to dance and meet chicks." Everyone I talked to about "dancing" has said they just stood there in amazement. I've talked to people who said they "moved" to the music...
THE DEAD IN ST. LOUIS
The Dead came to St. Louis so often between 1968-1971 – more than many other small Midwestern markets (Memphis, Kansas City, Omaha, etc.).
1968: 2 concerts
1969: 2 concerts
1970: 4 concerts (and an NRPS informal show)
1971: 4 concerts
Most other acts only came every once in a while: the Airplane in 7/68 & 6/70, Quicksilver in 10/68 & 8/70, etc… So the Dead were regulars. We really got used to that as a normal thing. 5 more shows in 1972 and 1973, and then came the drought. I don't think they returned until 1977. Younger fans, especially those who got on board by the late 1970s, had no awareness that the Dead had previously come so many times. Simply because they came here so often, the word spread very fast. The buzz on every show of theirs was so incredible that people became Dead Heads based on the buzz...and then Live/Dead sealed the deal.
The Dead had a close relationship with Scotty’s Music (see the Appendix). Scotty's was one of the only shops in town that had used instruments. The smaller music shops only carried a few guitars. (Music stores at the time primarily made their money off of teaching, renting instruments, sheet music, etc.) Ed Seelig was the first guy in town who was selling guitars to rock bands, starting in 1970 when he was 17. He opened Silver Strings, the first vintage guitar shop in St. Louis, in fall 1972.
The market for vintage used instruments didn't exist until around roughly 1967. Musicians gradually learned that "current" guitars being built around 1964-1968 (or so) weren’t as good as older instruments. So in 1968, it was known that a new Strat wasn't as good as an older pre-CBS Strat. But in 1968, you could easily buy any of Jerry's Les Pauls, Strats, etc. for under $500. The "market" for vintage used instruments didn't "explode" until around 1971-1973 (or so). Up until 1971, there were very few guitar salesmen in that game, and almost none of them had a shop of their own. So it was a cottage "industry" started by music fans, who were generally guitarists.
Aside from shopping at Scotty’s Music, the Dead & NRPS also bought guitars from individual dealers. Garcia bought a refinished 1957 black Strat, David Nelson bought a 1960 Gibson ES-355TDC-SV, and John Dawson bought a mid-'60s sunburst Gibson Firebird V. One guitar seller sold Weir his sunburst Gibson 1960 ES-335 before the soundcheck at Kiel Opera House. Quoted $475 for the mint guitar, Weir offered $425; when the seller agreed, Weir tossed him a set of guitar strings from the road case and walked off, saying, “Soundcheck’s in 20 minutes, have it restrung and ready!” (This would become one of Weir’s favorite guitars.)
A variety of people helped out the Dead when they were in town. The local "support system" for the Dead was really: whoever made themselves available. The Dead regularly used locals as temporary roadies…they always had a supply of willing cheap labor on hand. The Dead's equipment crew was still very small at the time, just a few people before '71 when they started expanding the crew. They probably learned early on that wherever they went, there would be kids eager to help drive or lug amps or whatnot, for free! So you’ll find plenty of stories here of people volunteering to drive the Dead and their gear, or unloading their truck for free passes…basically becoming “weekend roadies” when available.
As one (perhaps apocryphal) example, Buzz Wall tells the story of a couple of friends of his who went to a Fox show: “They went down in the early afternoon… A semi truck is parked in the alley next to the Fox. They walk over and ask, if they help off-load could they get in free? (Hard to imagine now, but those kinds of things happened back then.) Ramrod said OK. Tickets were 3.50 for a balcony seat, so it was a good deal for the GD. After a couple hours, they were just about done and Mickey calls them over. He’s at his drums. He reaches down and has a peanut butter glass jar. Opens it, takes his drum stick, dips it in, and tells them to open their mouths and taps a drop into both their mouths… They got in free and dosed… I tried the same thing next day. They told me to get lost.”
Often people seemed to function "on the inside," but at the same time didn't know who other local "insiders" were. It's like the Dead had numerous support groups, in a way, as they spent time with many people in their visits. There are stories of members of the Dead coming over to people’s homes for dinner, or going horseback riding with friends…
Ladue is the richest area in St Louis. Their high school (Ladue Horton Watkins High School) is where the MOST amount of people attending the early concerts (1968-70) came from. (A lot of the class of 1969/1970 were kids from wealth...and had plenty of money for concert tickets, etc.) I’ve come across a group of students from Ladue High who befriended the Dead by the time of the Wash U show (4/17/69), and would hang out with them.
For instance, one guy took the Dead to dinner at Villa’s and Balaban’s restaurants, took them to the Gypsy Cowboy (a head shop/hipster clothing store), and took them horseback riding out on a farm in Chesterfield (10 miles west of St. Louis). He couldn't remember any dates, but it’s obvious that by the time of Wash U, they had a serious support system of RICH kids.
Band manager Jon McIntire (who had grown up in the area) must have been involved with putting St. Louis people in touch with the Dead, but so far we haven’t tracked down his connections. My guess is that McIntire (born in 1941) knew “society people,” restaurant owners, etc., and probably wasn't concerned with the teens hanging around the Dead.
Local young fans would track down the Dead at their hotel, and at times the Dead would hang out with the kids lucky enough to find them. Garcia was probably the one that young guys would want to meet most. When I met him on the stage at the NRPS show, he seemed relaxed and engaged, and was available to talk to. He was obviously nice to fans.
I’ve heard a crazy number of "I got high with Jerry Garcia" stories. People would visit him at the shows and hotel rooms bearing gifts, and Garcia was not one to turn them away. Two examples:
After the Armory show: “They went to the hotel and waited for Garcia, talked to him a little, and asked if he wanted to get high. He said no, went down to his room door, then turned around and gave them the "come on" arm wave, and they did.”
At the Fox: “About this time Jerry comes walking up and said hi. One of my friends had some blow and asks, ‘Does anybody want a bump?’ Jerry says sure and does a couple of spoons. After a minute or two, Garcia says ‘not bad, but seems a little speedy.’”
Such was life on the road…
BEFORE & AFTER ST. LOUIS
I made a list of the Dead’s travel dates around St. Louis, indicating how long they could have spent time in the city. In 1969-70, they generally did not have much time to spare, flying in & out on tour with perhaps an extra day at most to visit. The pattern changes in 1971 though, as they start spending several days at a time in St. Louis.
5/21/68 San Francisco (Carousel Rock Jam) –- 5/24-25/68 STL –- 5/30/68 San Francisco
2/5/69 Kansas City, KS –- 2/6/69 STL –- 2/7/69 Pittsburgh. PA
4/15/69 Omaha, NE –- 4/17/69 STL –- 4/18/69 West Lafayette, IN
2/1/70 New Orleans, LA –- 2/2/70 STL –- 2/3/70 San Francisco (Family Dog TV rehearsal)
5/10/70 Atlanta, GA –- 5/13-14/70 STL –- 5/15/70 New York City
7/7/70 San Francisco (NRPS) –- 7/8/70 MRF –- 7/9/70 New York City
10/23/70 Washington DC –- 10/24/70 STL –- 10/26/70 San Anselmo, CA (Joplin wake)
3/14/71 Madison, WI –- 3/17-18/71 STL –- 3/20/71 Iowa City, IA
12/7/71 New York City –- 12/9-10/71 STL –- 12/14/71 Ann Arbor, MI
Here is a list of ticket prices & known attendance for these shows. (As a rule the Kiel shows had reserved seating while the other venues were mostly general-admission.) The Fox shows in 1972 were $4.50 and the Kiel shows in 1973 were $5, so ticket prices at the major venues barely went up in these years. But attendance went way up!
2/69 KIEL AUDITORIUM (opening for Iron Butterfly)
4/69 WASHINGTON U QUADRANGLE
2/70 FOX THEATRE
5/70 MERAMEC COLLEGE GYM
8/70 MISSISSIPPI RIVER FESTIVAL
10/70 KIEL OPERA HOUSE
3/71 FOX THEATRE
12/71 FOX THEATRE
* * * * *
MAY 24-25, 1968
No tape known.
OPENER: Public Service
Dennis McNally writes: “Late in May , they flew to St. Louis for two nights, traveling 2000 miles to sell fewer than 400 tickets. The promoter, of course, lost his shirt.” (p.264)
The promoter was Jorge Martinez, an artist who promoted a number of St. Louis rock shows in 1968-69. Martinez died in 2020. From his obituary: “In the early 1960‘s, because of his love of modern jazz and the lack of a local venue for it, Jorge opened “Jorgie‘s” on Gaslight Square [where many jazz artists appeared]… Later in that decade, on a visit to San Francisco, he met Jerry Garcia and Grace Slick who were appearing that night at the Fillmore, resulting in his productions of the first St. Louis appearances of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and many others.”
In 1968 Martinez (through his production company Velvet Plastic Productions) booked a series of concerts called NO BUMMER SUMMER - A SERIES OF SUMMER DANCE CONCERTS.
Included in this series was:
Steppenwolf on May 18, 1968 at the National Guard Armory
Grateful Dead on May 24/25, 1968 at the National Guard Armory
Canned Heat on June 14/15, 1968 at the Winterland Skating Rink
As Umberto Orsini, he also brought the Jefferson Airplane on July 23, 1968 to the Kiel Auditorium.
(Later in 1969 he also brought Dr. John, Mother Earth, and The Byrds.)
The initial concerts in the series were held at the National Guard Armory on Market Street. It was close to the St. Louis University campus and later on it was often used for frat parties and concerts (as well as sports events).
Some Armory history is here - and here’s a site with some good photos of the building:
John writes, “Booking the Dead for two nights was a mistake. It was very poorly attended, less than 200 people each night. Although the National Guard Armory was a low-cost venue to put on a concert, it was a horrible-sounding “room” (a big open space actually). Pictures (not from the concert, but from historical online sites) show that it was a gym.
“The venue had never been used for rock shows. Even though it was only 3 miles away from Kiel Auditorium/Kiel Opera (where most of the concerts were held), AND it was slightly closer for the suburban teens that attended, it was only the second time a rock concert was held there. (Steppenwolf played there on May 18, 1968….one week before the Dead.) So one reason why the attendance at the Armory was so low was because the "rock concert scene" was just starting. Also, people were totally unfamiliar with the Armory as a venue.
“The local “underground” radio station was playing tracks from their first album and was actually playing their new single (Dark Star/Born Cross-Eyed)….they played Born Cross-Eyed more often. It was NEVER in heavy rotation, but it was played. Still, the Dead were almost completely a word of mouth experience. And “standing out as a hippie freak” in 1968 was a new thing.
“Most people don’t remember hardly any song titles…they just remember the EXPERIENCE of seeing a band JAM. Songs from the first album weren't played much at that time. Most people seeing the Dead then would have recognized very little since the Anthem album hadn't come out yet. If anyone even heard the Dark Star single, that would have been no preparation at all!”
The ads seem to list different light show companies: Visuals by Lights For The Blind (handbill) and The Optic Nerve Light Show (“Fillmore” styled ad). It may be the same group under two different names; in any case, we could not find any trace of them outside of Martinez’s productions.
Jorge Martinez hired the local band Public Service to open for the No Bummer Summer series. (At first they were called Public Service, then later the Public Service Blues Band; both names appear on the ads.) Tom Kemper, the band’s drummer, later wrote a memoir More Than A Garage Band which had a chapter on these shows (the Dead are on p.128-130).
Public Service Blues Band FB page:
Tim Lawder writes: “Two members of Public Service had to drive to the airport in St. Louis to pick up all the equipment for the Grateful Dead and deliver it to the Armory. Also, members of Public Service were given boxes of the handbill to hand out and inform the public of this upcoming concert.”
Bob Schnieders was the lead singer for Public Service. At the time he worked in a record store and was a serious collector of blues records. Bob was into "real" blues...not the new psychedelia. His band did covers by The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, etc. So when he was asked what he thought of the Dead several days after the Armory show, he said: "Oh, they were all right. Pig Pen did a couple of good songs."
(He can be seen in some photos of the show peeking down at the Dead from behind the stage curtain.)
“We were still being called "Public Service" for those shows. Actually, we never changed the band card to "Public Service Blues Band," and it was basically a musical transition more than anything - I had this burning desire to be a pure blues band, but I knew the other guys wouldn't go for a complete change in material, so it kind of "morphed."
The Dead's first album came out prior to that show (it came out in early 1967), so I had heard it, and since they covered some blues stuff on the album, I was interested in seeing them, although I didn't care for the original tracks on their record. Frankly, myself and the other guys in the band were probably the only non-fans in attendance at those Armory shows!
Tom Kemper and I drove the Dead's equipment truck (a rental) from the airport to the venue for $50, if I recall correctly.
I talked quite a bit with Jerry Garcia that weekend, as he had a keen interest in the blues guys who were from St. Louis or nearby - Albert King, Little Milton, and Ike Turner in particular, as I recall. He was somewhat of a record collector, and I gave him some 78's that I had duplicates of. I liked him - seemed like a good guy.
For the Dead shows, Garcia asked us if we wouldn't mind playing just one set, so that they could play their usual single extended set. I was fine with that, as long as we would be paid the same as the contract called for, even though our one set would be far shorter than the standard two sets. Martinez was fine with that, so we played one set each night - probably 45 - 60 minutes. We used our own equipment, and tore down after the set both nights.”
Tom Kemper relates the same agreement in his book, with Garcia asking a favor: “When we get into the groove, we don’t like stopping. If you don’t mind, would you do one set and we’ll take over from there?” Normally each act would do two sets (Public Service – Dead – Public Service – Dead), but the opening band had no problem dropping an extra set since the pay was the same.
Kemper remembers that “backstage, the guys in the Dead treated us graciously” and Pigpen was like their host, “making sure that we feel welcome and comfortable.” Pigpen looked “tough as nails…but what a nice guy.” Garcia sat in a chair onstage before the soundcheck, warming up on guitar, but as a drummer Kemper felt more threatened by the Dead drummers “warming up, doing paradiddles, flamadiddles, and double and single rolls in perfect synchronization.” Of the show itself, he remembers the bright lights and what was for him a large crowd: “With no chairs, people wandered around, danced, and sat in circles on the floor.”
Despite the small audience, there are a number of memories from concertgoers. Craig Petty went on the first night at the Armory on May 24, and remembers that Public Service opened and then the Dead played one long set.
Mark Bumiller recalls: “Owsley and Pig came out before the show with a bag of powder, threw it on the first few rows of people sitting on the floor in front of the stage. What a trip! No chairs and like 300 people, no one knew who they were."
One comment on dead.net: “I was 17 at the time, the crowd was small... I was able to walk in the dressing room, Jerry and Pigpen were walking around and I talked with Phil and he let my friend play his bass for a minute. They were all just regular guys and that impressed me. While playing, Mickey's cymbal fell and hit someone in the small crowd. After repairs the show went on.”
At the Armory on the first night (Friday), a drummer’s cymbal went off the stage into a girl’s forehead. (One person heard it was Billy's cymbal.) Her name was Karen Burkheimer, and the story goes that members of the Dead went by her parents’ house the next day to check on her.
Pete Sullivan: “I heard about the incident from Jerry talking to someone beside me about her condition during Saturday night’s break. When asked about the incident, I heard Jerry tell the guy, “Oh she's groovy, she's cool, she's here.” I even saw her briefly later during their second set with a forehead bandage.”
Stuart Johnson (of the band Alvin Pivil) attended the first night, the 24th. He doesn’t remember seeing the opening act (although he was aware of Public Service), but he was certain that once the Dead played, the opening act did not play again. He thought the concert ended around 30 mins prior to midnight. (So any fanciful recollections by people who said they played until 3am is just not true.)
Stuart said that most of the songs they played were unknown to him aside from the songs he was familiar with from their first album. He was positive that they played In The Midnight Hour, and Good Morning Little School Girl.
Thom Meininger (also of the band Alvin Pivil) said: “The head roadie from our group was at the Armory and some people knocked down the American flag which caused a ruckus and I believe got the Dead banned from playing the Armory again.”
might not be true, but another witness also remembers the flag incident. John
Crouch writes on setlists.net: “I was at the 1st nite May 24, 1968 of this 2
nite show. It was the 1st time the Dead played St. Louis. I sat on the floor
directly in front of Garcia right in front of the stage.
Contrary to other websites, they opened with "Morning Dew" which they did at all the shows I saw of them both in St. Louis & Chicago in '68 & '69. They took a break in playing about halfway thru the show and instead of going backstage, they just stepped off the stage into the audience. I got to talk to Phil Lesh for a short time.
Up to that time only their 1st album was out. But that nite they played lots of stuff from "Anthem of the Sun" which nobody had yet heard and it was truly mind blowing. There was nothing else out like it, mainly consisting of long jam songs.
Somebody took the American flag that nite, and a National Guard officer came on stage and demanded it back or the show would be ended. It was returned.”
Showgoer Bix was there on the 25th and says he remembers Morning Dew and Good Morning Little School Girl. Everything else was new!
Another commenter on the Archive wrote about the “awesome show” he can’t forget: “I knew who these guys were but I had no idea that this concert would change my life permanently.”
“My memory is that they closed with Morning Dew on the 25th but I could be wrong...I do have a clear recollection of Morning Dew ending with a band member grabbing a mic off of the mic stand and crashing it into the six foot tall gong, repeatedly and rotating the mic which still worked, around and around the face of the gong and the most incredible sounds coming out from this along with the guitars... At that point, right then and there, I decided that I needed to leave St. Louis ASAP and move to the Bay Area to be able to see these guys perform, over and over again, on their home turf...which I did.”
Another witness recalls being there on the "second night. They played in the big main room on a makeshift stage about a foot high, sparsely attended with no chairs. I was sitting on the floor 10 feet from Garcia, amazed at the double drummers and the two equally-fine guitarists, with the audience sitting - dancing - freaking freely, including someone in a big cardboard box... A local group, Public Service Blues Band, opened up each night. I seem to recall a lot of fluid music, a lot of Garcia in-flight, standing at the edge of the stage, and a few "songs" we recognized, including Schoolgirl, Viola Lee, Morning Dew - I think that's the one where he broke a string and changed it, standing up, in like a minute or so, pretty impressive. And what was likely Alligator with everyone getting onto percussion - guiro ("scraper"), vibraslap, etc. We were only familiar with the first album, so there was a lot of new music to digest."
Bill Keithler attended the 25th, sitting on the floor in front of the stage. He’s written a few online reviews but gave us more details:
"I was just 16 when I saw my first Dead show at the Armory and had only heard their first album up until then. I remember that they started with Morning Dew which was followed by Good Morning Little School Girl. I remember that they started Dew with a Chinese gong that built up to a crescendo from which they launched the power chord crashing into the song. Mickey came out and did the gong although at the time I thought it was Pigpen as they kind of looked similar at that time, and I didn’t know of Mickey yet.
After Schoolgirl, they went into a long piece which went to the end of the first set, so it probably lasted for about 40 minutes. It was nothing that was on the first album, so I am guessing that it was likely Cryptical > New Potato Caboose possibly ending with Born Cross Eyed. I do remember that Pig did not sing other than Schoolgirl so it was unlikely to have been Alligator or Caution… One unusual event that occurred during this long jammy piece was that Phil broke a string and it whacked him in the face. The band did not stop playing and he got a new string on and rejoined the song.
Public Service opened with an hour set, then the Dead played for about an hour. Public Service came back and then unfortunately my father showed up to bring me and my friend home, so I missed the second set.”
(Bill had heard that the Dead had played late into the night at the previous show, so this was very disappointing. Although each band had done one set the first night, he says, “I am certain about the second night having 2 sets by each band as my Dad found us during the set break after the Dead’s first set.” This differs with Bob Schnieders' memory.)
According to Bill, stories of the Dead’s first show were already growing by the next night:
“We were talking to so people who had attended the night before and they related a story which may or may not be entirely true. We were told that the second set on 5/24/68 went very late—if that show followed the same pattern as the one I saw, the second set would have started sometime around 11:30-12:00. They were still playing at around 2:30 am and the police tried to get them to quit. Naturally they did not comply. The cops supposedly had someone turn off the power to the band which only had the effect of creating a drum duet with Billy and Mickey, with Pig on the vibraslap. Again, the story goes, the cops then fired a shot into the ceiling to impress upon the band that they were serious about stopping the show and they did quit after that. Not sure I believe it but that is what we were told."
The Dead had a strong effect on many people in the Armory, who became fans and would return to the Dead’s shows repeatedly. John comments, “The people who first latched on to the Dead liked them because of how different they were. And these early Dead fans liked them on the strength of their first album, which had a ‘new’ vibe to it, as did other SF bands.” But the first album would have been little preparation for these ’68 shows.
John Crouch was in the band Hugging Pillow, and would later see the Dead again on 4/17/69 and many other shows:
“We totally loved the Dead. I met Phil at the Armory show, and at the Quad we all got up on stage and talked to all the band members.
“My band loved the new Anthem of the Sun music. It wasn't the typical 3 minute songs we'd been used to. The jam factor of Anthem was phenomenal and it drew me in to experience the ins & outs, the ups & down, the bobbing & weaving of it.
“We were already playing some of the Dead songs from the 1st album, Morning Dew, Good Morning Little School Girl & Cold Rain and Snow. We also picked up on Lovelight right away even though we'd only witnessed Pig Pen doing it, as it didn't appear on an album til Live Dead.”
Stuart Johnson was in the band Alvin Pivil; as a musician he was interested in the Dead’s new, fresh approach to older R&B tunes, and also their approach to improvising. His band would open for the Dead on 4/17/69, and he kept seeing them after that. He liked the Dead partly because they were new and exciting, and they stretched out their songs. But also, like many early GD fans, Pig Pen was a big draw. As with many fans of Pig Pen, Stuart seemed to like Pig Pen more for the style Pig brought to the band – aggressively played rhythm and blues tunes – versus Pig Pen’s lack of singing prowess. (John remarks, “I think this was common among early Dead fans. We knew we weren’t seeing Otis Redding, but still…it was always very clear that Pig Pen BROUGHT THE PARTY whenever he sang...except for the occasional slow Pig song.”)
Even on this first trip to St. Louis, Jerry Garcia met some familiar faces. Patrick Harvey writes, “My brother Brian went with his friend John. Jerry had known John's brother and some of our other friends from back in Haight-Ashbury. John and Brian struck up a conversation, and they all decided that Jerry would come back over to Belleville with them after the show to look for some of those people, and grab some after-hours food. Middle of the night John's VW bug pulls up in our driveway, and Brian comes running in and says that they had Jerry Garcia out in the car and were going for something to eat, and he needed some money. He ran back out; the story is that the three of them wound up at a Mr. Donut on the west end of Belleville, where one of the lightshow guys worked the overnight shift, and they wound up getting some of those hamburgers that came wrapped in plastic, which Garcia christened "Ratburgers."”
There’s a tape online with this date:
This is an undated tape fragment falsely attributed to this date, but it does come from the same time period. (The old Deadbase setlist for 5/24 actually came from 2/5/69.)
A number of the tape fragments in this collection are from May/June 1968 and give an idea of how the St. Louis shows might have sounded:
Photos by Craig Petty, 5/24:
* * *
FEBRUARY 6, 1969
OPENING FOR: Iron Butterfly
John writes: “This concert was the first time that fans were prepared and were very familiar with Anthem Of The Sun, which was an extremely popular partying/tripping album. This is the show that many “old-timers” regard as their best show in St. Louis from the “Live/Dead” period. Several people I talked to remembered how strong the LSD was. The LSD consumed by concertgoers that night was VERY VERY strong stuff. I know one guy ended up in the hospital.
“I've talked to numerous people who were at the Armory, this show, and the Wash U show. This Kiel show is usually regarded as the most explosive and exciting, followed by the Wash U show. These two shows are right in the Live/Dead time frame. I think that the Armory shocked everyone because most of the material was unheard. My guess is that the appreciation of 2/69 is partially based on the fact that it was the first time they saw a performance of well-known material…totally jammed out.”
Along with the previous show in Kansas City, the Dead opened for the more popular band Iron Butterfly. Most of the crowd were there to see Iron Butterfly, so the Dead may have won some new fans in this audience. The show was put on by Mission Promotions, an obscure St. Louis agency that promoted a few concerts in 1969 – including Blue Cheer at the Opera House on Jan. 25 and Country Joe & the Fish at the Opera House on April 25. (All of these shows have “KSHE Radio Presents” on the ads, the station likely publicizing the shows on the air.)
The large 9300-seat Kiel Auditorium was far from filled. After the opening song Morning Dew, Phil says, "Since there's so few of you, why don't you come down here and cluster at the front." (In 1969, you were still very free to roam around and find a better seat. It’s very likely that many people left their assigned seats to move up front.)
After Lovelight ends an hour-long set, Phil says "The Iron Butterfly will be on in a few minutes," but then after only 30 seconds Jerry says, "OK, we have some more time, we're gonna play a little more." (A bit later Phil says "That's right, wrap yourselves around each other.") Then they play another 25-minute suite.
After the Dead finishes, the crowd still calls for more. The announcer says, “Did you like them? We’re going to have a very brief intermission because I know you’re all waiting to see the Iron Butterfly.” (Crowd: “No! No!”) “They’re gonna call out the heat and close up this place in about an hour and a half, so we’re gonna have to get on with the show.”
Bill Keithler writes: “The Dead opened for Iron Butterfly who were still riding high on In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida and most of the audience was there to see them rather than the Dead. The prior August, Iron Butterfly opened for Janis Joplin/Big Brother and played so long that Janis could only do a few songs before being stopped because of the curfew in place at that time. To make it up to her fans, Janis did a free concert in Forest Park the following day (which sadly I only heard about after it happened). The urban legend about the show in February was that the Dead were giving the Butterfly a little payback. They had played a pretty long show (for an opener) and ended with Lovelight. We all thought they had finished, then they launched into the full version of Cryptical > Feedback > We Bid you Goodnight adding another 45 minutes or so to an already lengthy early 69 show (Dew, Dark Star St Stephen The Eleven Lovelight). I suspect the story is apocryphal as this was a fairly typical show length for this period. With an opener like the ’69 GD I would not have wanted to follow that act.”
The ‘payback’ was just a rumor since the Dead may not even have heard of Big Brother’s shortened show. John writes, “There were absolutely fans who were at the Feb. 1969 Kiel show who were die-hard fans. They had to be real fans specifically because they attended. I remember there was already some pushback against Iron Butterfly.....because they had gotten popular via In-A-Gadda. Music fans who considered themselves "in the know" and "insiders" pushed back against IB. I remember this in high school. Liking Iron Butterfly was like admitting you were a fan of Grand Funk. My friend Bix claims that Kiel emptied out after the Dead finished, but that [may just be] his friends left after the Dead were finished. Also....lots of people were taking strong LSD that night. My guess is that numerous Dead Heads left because they didn't wanna get bummed out by listening to a band that was "beneath them." Also....the pushback against IB started intensely after IB played so long at the Kiel gig with Big Brother/Janis in August 1968. We blamed IB for playing "too long"...but who knows if the Dead even knew about the midnight curfew that closed that concert down after 4-5 songs by Big Brother.”
Stephen Turley went to see Iron Butterfly....not the Dead. He remembers that both bands had their fans and detractors. He remembers some booing during the Dead’s set. John says, “Iron Butterfly were hugely commercial, and aside from their first album, the critics trashed them. Their young fans were looked down on by many music hipsters. Even though KSHE played 2-3 tracks from their first album, people were sick of In-A-Gadda. So, it was very likely that many Dead fans showed up for the Dead's set and were only mildly interested in seeing Iron Butterfly. It may be accurate to say that many Dead fans left after the Dead's set, and that there was scattered booing and grumbling from Iron Butterfly fans seeing this opening band play longer and longer.”
The way one attendee remembered it later, "A flip of a coin determined they would open for Iron Butterfly, dashing any hopes they would be able to extend their performance and play all night for us. (As if anything like that would’ve even happened with a union stage.)" Most likely the Dead were always going to open though, just as they had in Kansas City the day before.
One Archive reviewer writes: “They opened for Iron Butterfly at this gig, and the set was supposed to end with Lovelight. But (and I have this information from a person who was backstage at the show), after listening to the Dead burn the house down, Iron Butterfly didn't want to come out. So, the Dead came back on to play a "few more minutes" and proceeded to add insult to IB's injury with the Cryptical sandwich, Feedback, and AWBYG.”
Bix recalls, “They finished their set and Iron Butterfly refused to follow them and asked them to play some more, is the story I heard…so they did and we were just fucking wild about it!"
"Another thing I remember is T.C.'s organ went out and boom! the crew brought out another organ in about 20 seconds, it seemed like. (Like a pit stop or something.) I was impressed. (Man, they have a backup ready like that?) Later I read it was Iron Butterfly's organ they had to take as it was staged behind them for the load-in.”
Tom Constanten also remembered this in his memoir Between Rock and Hard Places:
“I had to borrow Iron Butterfly’s Vox organ for the show in St. Louis… Similar to the one I’d used earlier with the band…this one was set up high, so you had to play it standing up. Subtracting the foot needed to work the pedal, it quite nearly left me without a leg to stand on.” (p.74)
John writes, “The Dead were on fire, and were obviously feeding off crazed fans who were up close supporting them. The band thought they had run out of time, but Garcia got the nod to play more. Maybe Iron Butterfly knew that the Dead were playing really great!”
Bix adds, “Keil was the best…they were young and kicking ass. To me, that will always be their peak…it was simply, completely balls out! Also, Pig Pen said "take your hands out of your pockets...didn't your momma tell you that'd make you CRAZY?" And Garcia and all of us were open mouthed, WHAT??? and cracked up.” But once the Dead’s set ended, “After about half a song from IB, we moved and sat at the very back of the floor level "bleachers" mostly ‘cause we were too stoned to leave.”
At the very end of the show the announcer says "How about a hand for the Electric Rainbow?"
Electric Rainbow was a lightshow outfit from Belleville, IL that did a number of shows in St. Louis in the ‘60s-70s, including several of the Dead’s shows.
Patrick Harvey, a member of the group, writes about their background:
“Electric Rainbow was never really a company. Really just a group of friends who did lightshows, with [my brother] Brian's leadership, for a few years in the late sixties and early seventies. There was a fairly consistent core group, and then whomever happened to be around the house (my parents’ place was a major gathering place for our folks in Belleville) on the day of a show. The lightshow never got paid much more than a few hundred dollars for a gig. Brian paid off the equipment loan, we bought any new supplies we needed, gas for whoever drove, some after show munchies, and there may have been a few bucks to spread around beyond that. Mostly we were all in it for the free backstage access to concerts, and for the experience of being in the heart of a scene.
We started at a little show venue called the Palace, which was a converted old movie theater in Belleville. Ron Lipe (Prince Knight on KSHE) was an old friend of my dad's, and of some local musicians we all hung with, so when he opened the Palace, he asked Brian to figure out how lightshows were done in SF. Brian got a little loan for equipment, and off we went.”
Of the Dead’s shows in the area, “We did 2/6/69, 4/17/69, 2/2/70, 5/14/70 (although I didn't go myself), and the 7/8/70 MRF show. Five Electric Rainbow shows in all with the Dead.”
Patrick’s memories of the Kiel show:
“The Dead opened, and were phenomenal. This was my first show and it was a great start. They didn't really have dressing rooms or anything for us or the band, so we wound up sharing a green room backstage before the show. My biggest memory of the before-show time was a big cloud of homegrown smoke, and standing up against a wall listening to Brian and Robert (another lightshow guy) talking with Garcia. At one point Robert felt the need to explain the presence of the "kid" (me), and turned to Jerry and said, "This is Patrick. He's still in school." Jerry grinned at me and said, "School's for shit."
Like I said, the show itself was wonderful, if a little compressed by the time allotted to an opener. I think that may have injected some urgency and density to the music. Turns out, it wasn't necessary. The story is that IB was so intimidated by how great the set was that they didn't want to follow the Dead on. From where I was standing, I can't testify exactly to that, but it was the case that there were a couple of hurried conversations between IB and the promoter, and then the promoter and the Dead, and next thing we knew the Dead went back out and played a really extended encore (really pretty much another set), and then Iron Butterfly went on after a lengthy reset of the equipment.
I didn't see much of their set. They had flash pots and stuff and said they didn't need a lightshow, so my friend Bob and I went outside the stage door for some fresh air, and got locked out, and it took us most of the rest of the concert to get let back in.”
(Unfortunately, Craig Petty attended the show but said: "Since I already had shots of the Dead, I only shot Iron Butterfly.”)
Pigpen at the Kiel 2/6/69, by Mike Dixon:
* * *
APRIL 17, 1969
QUADRANGLE, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
OPENER: Alvin Pivil
Released on Download Series vol.12.
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Dark Star >
St Stephen >
It's a Sin >
St Stephen >
The Eleven >
Turn On Your Lovelight
Cryptical > The Other One > Cryptical >
John writes: “The word from the previous February concert was extremely high. People were becoming familiar with how the Dead sounded in concert, and how much of their material was NOT on albums. After listening to both, I think 4/17/69 is a better Live/Dead-era show than 2/6/69…but they were BOTH great! I think the Quadrangle show is when it all came together. The Quadrangle is a perfect setting for a concert. A lot of people liked to lay down on their blanket in the lush grass. And people were doing really really strong LSD…”
Jon McIntire, one of the Dead's road managers, had grown up in Belleville (in the St. Louis area) and graduated from Washington University sometime earlier in the ‘60s before heading to San Francisco and attending SF State, where he met Rock Scully. He was certainly at this show, back on his old campus.
Tom Constanten wrote about this visit to St. Louis in his book Between Rock and Hard Places:
“Returning to St. Louis in early April, several of us in the band went to one of its ritzier restaurants… Silver-tongued thespian Jon McIntire, traveling with the band as our road manager, was from there, and arranged everything. ‘No, sir. They are a famous rock band. They don’t even own neckties.’ The decorously decorated staff were eyeing us nervously the whole while, but we were on our best behavior. Later that night found us down by the river, at the base of the Gateway Arch, looking up and wondering if we could scale it if ‘they’ were after us.” (p.74)
David Seagraves was part of the student committee who booked the Dead at the Quad. “It came about as a result of former WU art student Mark Epstein working at the Carousel Ballroom and getting to know the band and their manager [McIntire], who was from St. Louis. I was president of the art school student government, and that spring we put on several big name concerts, so we had no trouble at our end okaying the $500 fee (we got a deal!). The band was on tour and had that night open.”
Mark Epstein quit school before graduating and moved out to San Francisco around 1967. David went out to visit Mark in ‘67/68, and since Mark was working at the Carousel, they got to see a lot of music together. David says he thinks it was Mark who first suggested that they bring the Dead. (David graduated in 1969 and left St. Louis shortly after the concert.)
The planning for the Quad show fell together quickly and took only one to two weeks – the band offered the $500 figure. Although the tickets say “WU Student Union Presents,” it was the School of Fine Arts that put together the concert. (Bob Shelli, who MC’d the show, said “the show was booked through students in the School of Fine Arts. David Seagraves was one of them... He knew that I'd worked the Armory shows in ‘68, and I put him in touch with Rock Scully.”) Perhaps the April tour was already booked and they just lucked out and found that the Dead had open dates between Omaha, NE on 4/15 and Lafayette, IN on 4/18.
David remembers that there was quite a bit of apprehension and "back and forth" with officials from Wash U about the concert. They didn't want the show to go too late, but they also didn't want it to start until all of the night school students were out of class. (Wash U was/is famous for their "night school.") One teacher was adamant that the concert not start until after his class had ended. Night classes got out around 9 pm, so the concert was scheduled for 9:30.
David and Mark were the ones who made the show posters up in the art room. (David thinks they made between 100-200 posters, though poster-buyers think there were far fewer.) David remembers going to the Dead's hotel the day before the concert and meeting the band, Owsley, and their manager McIntire. Band members visited the hipster bookstore Burdorf’s Books and Gypsy Cowboy, which was a hippie clothing store and mecca for touring bands.
(By the way, one of David's buddies was Robert Quine, who later became a well-known guitarist and was then in law school at Wash U. Quine was a music mentor for David and taught him a bit of guitar. Quine was also a Velvet Underground fan; David was on the student committee that brought the Velvets to play the Beaux Arts Ball at Wash U on 5/11/69, which Quine recorded. (The surviving part has been officially released on the Velvets’ “Bootleg Series.”) He & David went to see the Velvet Underground & the Dead in Chicago right after St Louis, either 4/25 or 4/26. Quine, however, hated the Dead.)
Bob Shelli was the MC and helped get the band’s gear ready: “I was involved with the production, and was in the Quad most of the day, and interacted with band members and crew.” You can hear him at the beginning of the tape, announcing a lost dog and asking people to bring drinks up to the thirsty band: “The beautiful thing about working with the Dead is that they really need no introduction.”
One attendee writes: "The Dead played outside in the Quad under the tiny bandshell used for symphony concerts. I can never listen to Dark Star without thinking of sitting under the huge trees in the Quad staring up at the stars in the night sky... Laying on the grass under the stars and listening to Dark Star and St. Stephen as The Dead jammed under the bandshell was nothing short of magical."
Dead.net attendees wrote about the outdoor show: “Pigpen did Turn On Your Lovelight and I was blown away. There was acid all around… It started to rain lightly… The show ended abruptly when somebody literally pulled the plug on the power in the middle of Caution at the order of the cops.”
Garcia mentions the rain on the tape, saying before the Other One: “Save that hassle for the heat. Really, who needs it, man? The rain won’t hurt you. You won’t melt, you’re not made of sugar. For god’s sakes, people!”
John Crouch wrote on setlists.net:
“I was at this show along with 3 members of a band I was in. The concert was on an outdoor stage on the university quadrangle.
"We were in the orchestra pit directly in front of the Dead along with the soundboard & their well-known soundman who had to get up on the stage several times and the only way he could do it was for my band's singer to get down on all fours and the soundman to use him as a ladder up.
"Another excellent concert, 3rd or 4th time I had seen them both in St. Louis and Chicago.
"After the show we climbed up on the stage where the Dead were still milling around. I got some great up close pics of all the band members, including one where I got Bob Weir to hold a rose someone had given him in his mouth & one of Pigpen giving me a sly smile after I had asked him to take off his cowboy hat and he'd replied, "don't take my hat off for nobody", and one of that famous soundman on the stage. Still have the pics.
"Just before the Dead started playing I bought 2 posters of the show. I was gonna buy them after the show but the dude selling them said he only had a few and was sure they'd be gone before the show was over. [Years later] I discovered there were only 20 of those hand silk screened posters printed by a student in the university art dept.”
Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Magazine article on Wash U’s concert history:
David Backer recalls: “I was in the library studying when a friend came looking for me, stating: ‘Quick, the Grateful Dead are going to play in the Quad!’ So I grabbed everything, and we ran out.”
Bob Shelli emceed the Grateful Dead show. Shelli, who also helped band members with their equipment, recalls that the cowbell mounts on Mickey Hart’s drum kit had broken the previous day and needed repair. At first, he and Hart approached the music department to try borrowing some additional drums (timpani) for the show — a request that could not be granted on such short notice. Then, the two walked down to the architecture school, where Shelli asked a friend, John Reeve, if he could weld the set back together. Reeve did, and Hart was able to put down an outstanding performance in the Quad.
At one point in the Grateful Dead’s long show, guitarist and singer Bob Weir remarked on an ominous-looking sky, “This is what they call ’tornado weather.’” It started raining just as the band played “Morning Dew.” “A little rain came for a while but didn’t bother anyone,” says Jan Fitzgerald. “Everyone was so relaxed, and the show was just a big picnic.”
The show went well into the night. Mark Edelman adds: “It probably had to do with the cloud cover or something, but it was so loud people were complaining about hearing it in Webster Groves. People called the chancellor to complain.” The concert was abruptly cut short when the police threatened to arrest the band’s road manager if they didn’t stop playing. After a moment of initial disappointment as the show came to a halt, the crowd regrouped with a thunderous burst of applause for the band’s exuberant performance.
The opener was the local band Alvin Pivil.
They were known for great versions of songs by Quicksilver, etc. Jim Laverty says, “I saw them perform quite a few times at shows and always thought they were extremely good for a local band.”
Alvin Pivil did a great version of Quicksilver’s Gold And Silver. They had all of the important parts worked out with their 2-guitar lineup. Alvin Pivil’s lineup changed later on with an additional drummer, and for a while they had two drummers in the band, both exceptional musicians. (But they didn’t add a second drummer in order to copy the Dead; bandmember Stuart Johnson says they absolutely were not trying to be a copy/tribute band.) As a result of Alvin Pivil opening at Wash U, they got opening slots for numerous other bands.
Alvin Pivil’s singer, Tim Sullivan, had a girlfriend who was on a Washington University committee comprised of four female students that organized the Dead concert. That connection was how they got the opening slot for the Dead. (Although one person remembers them going on as early as 6, the show was scheduled for 9:30 and they’re unlikely to have played much earlier than that; photos show it was dark.)
Stuart has a few memories of the show: Each member of Alvin Pivil got a poster. (Stuart thinks there were less than a dozen printed up.) He said the Dead’s crew were more like Hell’s Angels than hippies. Mickey offered him some LSD: “No thanks.” The rain during the show was not a big thing, more of a drizzle. Stuart remembers it being a long time – seemingly “almost two hours” - before the Dead started.
“Bear’s not here yet,” said Jerry.
John Crouch recalled, “Owsley was running the sound for the Dead and he was very meticulous and took a long time getting them set up.” Thom Meininger also saw Bear’s hand at work: “The Dead waited quite a while to start because they were waiting to get the recording gear set up.”
Bix and his friends were at the Quad when Owsley needed a ride back to the hotel: “When a roadie or Owsley himself asked to get a ride to the Airport Hilton BEFORE the show, we offered my car. We held up the show for at least half an hour doing it. I didn't know who he was!
I tried to play my 8 track and he said take that crap off! Too much wow and flutter!
He said cassette was the way to go ‘cause they are reel to reel! (I never saw a cassette car player for months later if not a year.) I talked to him about McIntosh ‘cause I saw him using a Mac pre amp down in the pit… He was talking and rolling a joint with one hand, all at the same time.
When we got there I asked if he wanted me to wait and he said no, I said who ARE you... ‘cause the vibe he gave off was indescribable.... "They call me Owsley" and BAM! away he went.
I drove back and they all said do you know who you took and I said yea and ignored them, kinda in shock.” Owsley came back later, and the show could go on.
(Bix & friends were hanging out in "the pit" - John says, "The "pit" was like an orchestra pit directly in front of the Quadrangle's stage, below ground level. The sound was fine in the pit. If you were standing, you could see the band...and party with friends in your “private area.” The band could also look down at you.")
As the Dead’s show progressed, Stuart said that he was in a backstage area and a cop came back there and wanted to know “who’s in charge here?” (Stuart wasn’t sure who the Dead’s road manager was, thought it might be Rock Scully.) The cop announced: “We are to arrest someone if the music doesn’t stop. It’s already after the 11pm curfew. We are getting complaints from miles away.”
One person has an interesting dramatic memory of the show: “The Dead received volume complaints from ~3-5 miles away and the police threatened to arrest their road manager, Rock, and they replied, "We'll see ya in the morning." They played a couple more songs and then said that if they didn't quit that the whole band was going to be run in for disturbing the peace, so they ended with an acappella rendition of Praise The Lord I Saw The Light. I saw all this from behind Jerry's stacks of Fender Twin Reverbs with 12" JBL's which he ran his hand over the master volumes (controlled all the amps) cranking them to the max, roadies screaming, "He's doing it again." They were afraid that he'd blow the speakers. I believe he had 8 Twins…”
The Dead played for over 100 minutes: concertgoers think the Dead started around 10 and played until midnight. The newspaper article says the police arrived due to noise complaints around midnight.
Jim Laverty recalls, “There was some sort of meeting with security regarding curfew, and the Dead apologizing for cutting the show short, but “the man” says they have to. I don’t think it went past midnight at all… I don’t think the powers that be at Wash U would have allowed that to happen.”
The Dead stopped playing after they started Caution and announced, "They're taking our road manager to jail if we play any more. We ain’t gonna let our road manager go to jail; we like him a lot, he’s a really good guy, and you people are really good too.” Weir reassured the audience, “We’ll be back, you know that.”
The article says only about 300 people were in the audience by the end of the show, which seems hard to believe. (A year earlier, 340 had attended the May ’68 Armory shows.)
Jim Laverty remembers the audience: “The crowd in front of me were all sitting down. No twirlers, no dancers... From what I remember, most everyone was sitting “Indian style” cross legged on the ground. There were no chairs, and I don’t remember seeing any twirling, or dancing in the crowd. People seemed more or less infatuated with the new innovative sounds of The Dead. The crowd, I am guessing was made up of a majority of Wash U students as it was held on their quadrangle. Interlopers like me were sprinkled about amongst the crowd, no doubt, but I would say it was a more sedate, aloof Wash U student body that was there.”
One reason for the quiet audience was that a lot of them had taken some strong doses. One person recalls, “After the show, we all ended up in T's room flat on our backs hanging on while the walls buckled and we couldn't see three feet for a couple of hours...”
Several people don’t remember any light show (which is common, most people don’t remember light shows at the other Dead concerts either). But Electric Rainbow was there, projecting on a cloth backdrop behind the band, and the lights can be seen in some photos. (Even the short newspaper piece mentions “the flashing of psychedelic lights.”) The camera flashes obscure the actual lighting, but the shot of Phil in the darkness may be closest to what it "really" looked like on stage.
Thom Meininger (of Alvin Pivil) says, “There was a light show, mostly oil, colors, and water and rear overhead projectors; being new at the time it was pretty cool.”
Patrick Harvey of the Electric Rainbow light show remembers:
“My best show ever, period. No stagehands or security or big-time concert venue shit, so it was really anarchic and fun in a way that could only have happened in St. Louis in that little window of time before the band got to be as huge a deal as they were soon thereafter.
Bear was very visible running the sound and generally at the center of the scene in the afternoon and into the show, complete with this little plastic bottle that looked like one of those things Murine eye drops used to come in. The crew, Bear, and the band/extended family all seemed like they were on a mission to bring a whole new culture to the Midwest. I remember somebody crouched down behind the amps before the show with a rolling machine, rolling up joints and hook-shotting them out into the crowd. [This has not been confirmed by audience members.] One of the lightshow folks and his big cup of Coke had an "encounter" with Owsley at one point. He got through about 2/3 of the drink and wandered off into the paisley. I wound up inheriting the rest of the soda.
At one point in the afternoon, Bob and I (for God only knows what reason) decided it would be cool to weave a big spider web out of dental floss between two columns. Somebody (I'm pretty sure it was Bobby, but can't swear to it) came over and told us we'd have to take it down, because Bear was always moving around adjusting things during the show, and he was seriously paranoid about tripping over stuff in the dark.
The music was sublime. Kind of a strange Hard to Handle, a really thunderous Morning Dew, a great Schoolgirl, and then into Dark Star>St. Stephen>Lovelight. They dropped out the "Ladyfinger" bridge and inserted "It's a Sin" instead.
There was a light rain much of the time. You can hear Jerry crack wise about it just before That's It for the Other One if you listen to the recording. The rain was really a nice touch. Not heavy at all. I remember when they did St. Stephen, and veered off into It's a Sin, when they came back down into the last part of SS it was so much fun that I shut down my overhead and went out the window to dance in the rain. (Thank you, Owsley.) Brian saw me and kind of gently herded me back in through the window so I could go back to work.
The stage was set up in the Quad, maybe twenty or so feet in front of a classroom building. We had set up the overheads for Bob and me in a ground floor classroom itself, because it had power, and we could project through the window out onto a makeshift screen behind the band.
After Lovelight, I looked up from my projector and there were these two really obvious plain clothes cops standing there. I guess they thought we were part of the band, because all hippies look alike and are in it together. Anyway, one of the cops says something like "We've had complaints about the noise. We have your road manager in custody, and we're going to take him to jail if the band doesn't quit playing." (To this day, I have no idea who they had.) I managed to tell the guy that we weren't the band, but we could go find somebody for them to talk to.
At that point Bob…climbed out of the classroom window and ran up to the stage. A couple of minutes later, back he comes (through the door this time) with Jerry. The cop repeats his rap about taking the "road manager" to jail, and Jerry looks at him and says (in his reedy Jerry voice), "Well, man. It looks like you've got us by the balls. Would it be okay if we do one more song to close it out." The cop said that was okay, and Jerry went back out. They launched into a "That's It for the Other One" suite that must have gone for about half an hour. When they headed straight into Caution, somebody pulled the plug and it all skidded to a halt.”
Alvin Pivil photo by Jim Laverty:
("When Alvin Pivil was playing, the shots I got of them were about maybe 12 rows from the stage.")
("The first Dead pictures were taken from where I was sitting back about 6 rows. Then I moved up to the lip of the stage and got bold and jumped down into the orchestra pit right in front of the stage. So, standing there, I was at eye level with the audience sitting crosslegged behind me and with Jerry and Bob in front, right there up above me. I aimed at Garcia, and he saw me and started sticking his tongue out at my camera and making funny faces at me. I snapped two pictures...one he is looking right at me, and the other he and Pig are getting down.")
(Laverty: "Then I got this “happy accident” when I was focusing on Phil and my flash didn’t go off. Fortunately there was enough light on stage to make this cool shot.")
Photos by John Crouch:
(“Best of what I have. I was right below them in the orchestra pit, little Kodak Instamatic camera aimed upwards which accounts for the angle of the pics. Never was able to get Bill K because he was so far back and behind his drums.")
* * *
FEBRUARY 2, 1970
(Fragment - full show released on Dave’s Picks 6.)
Hard To Handle
Cold Rain & Snow
Dark Star >
Saint Stephen >
Uncle John's Band
Turn On Your Lovelight >
Not Fade Away >
Turn On Your Lovelight
We Bid You Goodnight
This is the first newspaper review of a Dead concert in St. Louis, and it covers the basics. The show was part of the St. Louis University Homecoming festivities. It’s said “the Dead and their equipment did not arrive in St. Louis until nearly 7.” The show was scheduled to start at 8, but the Dead didn’t start playing until 10:15 after a “middling” performance by the opening band Aorta. Owsley spent an hour adjusting the sound equipment, unhappy with the PA system. The crowd is estimated at 2000, which would have only half-filled the theater (with a capacity of about 4500) – the Dead were still not a huge draw yet.
This reviewer mentioned in the paper a few days later, "Several friends have commented that the Grateful Dead thing a few weeks ago at the Fox Theater was the best concert ever heard in St. Louis. It's hard to argue with them." He also wrote about the show again in 1973 ("the best rock concert I've ever been to"):
Here's a site with more Fox photos - http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/435/photos - and a little photo history of the Fox:
At the time, the Fox Theatre “seldom had live performers.” The Fox was almost exclusively a movie house: they hadn’t booked live acts on a regular basis for decades, and recent performances were very intermittent. In May 1969, they booked the r&b soul shouter Wayne Cochran and His CC Riders. By one estimate they sold "50 tickets” and it was not a success. The only other live booking I could find for the Fox Theatre during 1969 was for Lou Rawls & Richard Pryor on August 14. Few musical acts had appeared at the Fox in years, and the Grateful Dead would become the first rock band to play there.
In late 1969, the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity at St. Louis University started talking about doing a concert at the Fox for their annual Homecoming. TKE needed a sponsor to cover the expenses for booking the bands and the theater. Fraternity member Tony Dwyer recalls, "Joseph Griesedieck (President and Director of Falstaff Brewing) provided all the funding for the show. He was a major benefactor of the University and TKE. We went to him to secure the money."
TKE leased the Fox Theatre: "Mr. Edward Arthur was happy to accommodate us, likely because of the relationship with SLU. TKE negotiated the deal with Edward Arthur and Dion (Tony) Peluso." Arthur was president of the Arthur Enterprises (which owned the Fox and numerous other local theaters), and Peluso was the Fox Theatre manager and an employee of Arthur Enterprises. "Peluso didn’t want live entertainment, he saw himself as a manager of a movie house. They would only make the theatre available to us on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, so that they could be open to exhibit movies leading into and through the weekend."
With the Fox in hand, "We had the money, we had the venue, all we needed was an act. We tossed around any number of bands to be considered. We decided on the Grateful Dead if available. We contacted Contemporary Productions to check availability and book the band. Contemporary booked the band for us and we began the production process. Aorta was booked as an opening act."
At the time, Contemporary was a newly-formed small local booking agency that hadn’t done any national acts. It was run by Steve Schankman and Irv Zuckerman from an office next to the Fox Theatre. The recent book “Produced by Contemporary” (by Dick Richmond with Steve Schankman) sets the scene with a phone call from November 1969:
The voice on the other end identified himself as a St. Louis University student who was charged with obtaining entertainment.
"We want to bring in the Grateful Dead," he said...
His mind and pencil racing, Schankman took a deep breath and asked the caller a number of questions, including the amount of money budgeted.
"Do you want the band to play at the university?" he asked.
"No," the caller replied. "We were thinking it might be better if the band played down the street at the Fox."
After agreeing to book The Grateful Dead for a date the following February, Schankman put down the receiver and signaled to [his partner] Irv Zuckerman, who was still on the phone booking a band for a local high school.
After Zuckerman completed his call, Schankman told him about his request from the guy at St. Louis University.
"We can do that," Zuckerman said, as if he had been booking national acts all of his life. "You call Dick Arthur and see if we can rent the theater anytime in February, and I'll track down the group's agent."
"The show is being sponsored by Falstaff beer," Schankman said.
"Yeah!" Zuckerman said in mild exclamation. "That's really something, isn't it?"
The booking accomplished, TKE handled the poster artwork and tickets. Dwyer continues the story: "We did the promotion (and did get some help from Bud Murphy at Warner Brothers), ticket distribution, and a few of us provided some psychedelics."
On the day of the concert, all of the Dead's equipment was flown from New Orleans. “I picked the band up at the airport around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and drove them to the hotel. Ramrod and the equipment landed a few hours later. It was standard operating procedure for the band and their equipment to fly. Often they checked the equipment as baggage. Ramrod was on his own and late, so the equipment came up on a cargo plane later. There were some Twin Reverbs, some Dual Showmans and their cabinets, two sets of drums, and Owsley’s recording equipment." To pick up the gear, a Ryder truck was rented as part of the contract.
(Schankman also remembers “a few of us” picking up the equipment, though in his memory, more dramatically “the band didn’t get there until 6 o’clock, right before the concert, because they had just gotten out of jail… Their equipment was sent out through cargo at the airport, and we had to go with a 24-foot truck, load all this equipment, and…set all those amps up at the Fox Theatre.”)
After the New Orleans adventure, Ramrod had a lot to deal with, arriving late to the St. Louis show. Dwyer recalls, "Garcia suggested to me that Ramrod would likely quit again that night due to his ridiculous work load.”
When Dwyer took Garcia and Weir around the Fox, Garcia said to the little old lady at the concession stand: "Bet you're gonna sell a LOT of popcorn tonight."
Bob Heil's company provided the Dead with a few of the PA speakers for the show, but Dwyer did not have any contact with him. Owsley was up in the mezzanine with his oscilloscope tending to the sound issues. As far as the light show, Dwyer remembers “one dude who showed up in the lobby of the Fox with his overhead projector and asked if he could provide a light show. At first I was apprehensive, but when his fee was entrance to the show, we set him up in the balcony. He provided an atmosphere that was totally appropriate. It was fantastic, given it was a single overhead projector. He definitely added to what was a memorable evening.” This was Patrick Harvey again.
(Dwyer drops out of our story here, but he would later be part of Sky High Associates, which promoted the Dead's St. Louis shows in 1972-73. Pacific Presentations, a west coast concert company, financed the productions while the local Sky High Associates handled the local work: placing ads, selling tickets at hip venues, etc. As Dwyer describes it, "The ‘72-73 shows were produced by Pacific Presentations and Sky High Associates. Sepp Donahower at PP put up the money, got artwork done, and oversaw from afar. SKA did all local promotion, ticket distribution, poster and handbill distribution, ticket reports to GD management, rental of all equipment (Steinway piano, Hammond B3), and all that is needed for a successful show.")
In later shows at the Fox, the Dead would beseech the audience to take care of the theater and not damage anything (and the audience seems to have heeded the request). It was reported that the management held the ticket money against damages, which may have been the case at this first Fox show as well. In any case, theater manager Tony Peluso seems to have been somewhat alarmed by the rock audience of excited teens running around the place. People who’re asked about him say that “Tony was a tough guy…he was the guy with the big cigar who looked like a carnival barker...always yelling at young teens to behave...”
One description of him from the business angle: "Tony Peluso was a movie house manager who took care of getting films, hiring staff and reconciling the box office; he was more like a concession manager. He did know that theatre inside and out. He was a lifelong employee of Arthur Enterprises and as such had Mr. Arthur’s ear. As a movie exhibitor the Fox was failing. Mr. Peluso didn’t want live entertainment interfering with showing movies. Movies are leased for a specific period of time, you’re paying whether you show them or not. Can’t show a movie when there is an act on stage."
One newspaper article on him is here:
Stuart Johnson (of the band Alvin Pivil) didn’t have a ticket, so on the day of the show he went down to the Fox, and there was already a line of people waiting for the box office to open. At some point, one of the Dead’s roadies came around to the line and asked if anyone wanted to help unload in return for passes to get in. Stuart and others unloaded all of the guitars, drums, etc. At some point, Bob Heil must have been contacted because he showed up with his own amps.
The opening band was Aorta, a progressive-rock group from Chicago.
John writes: “They were on Columbia Records, so they were getting some airplay on K-SHE. But their style was somewhat "art rock," and they had players who were really good, but they were doing their pretentious originals. Nobody paid attention to them. They didn't do any "known" songs. They didn't have any r&b groove to them. They certainly weren't a bad group, it's just that they didn't connect...and were immediately forgotten about.”
Bix remembers the wait for the show to start: “Owsley was there and there was (Sandoz again) an excruciatingly long delay with the sound with Owsley at one point threatening there may not BE a show if we can't get this sound right. There was a bearded guy sound-checking a mike and saying the names of all kinds of food, vegetables and what not...while Owsley was running around like a madman.”
People knew the Dead had been busted, and Bix adds a rumor: “I "heard" that federal marshals were in the wings waiting to take him off to Cali for prison, and that's why he and the rest were so pissed off.”
The show itself was a memorable one for Bix: "It started in a funk... Owsley was PISSED (with good reason, it turns out) and it started up very somber and heavy. I thought it was the Sandoz but there was more to it than that. I almost walked out in Uncle John's Band, then about 20 feet up the aisle with my back to them, I heard "...come with me-eeee" and I turned around and Garcia was looking at me, up the aisle.....he got to me with "got some things to talk about," and I came back and they started lightening up…
All in all, the whole "show" was a reaction to their getting busted and the business/judicial hassles, I think, but they finished up in style. Black Peter, in a foul mood, is not recommended for a light evening at any time. I will always think of it as my heaviest Dead concert experience where they revealed this shit is real, and I really have never been the same with it since."
Electric Rainbow put on the light show for the Dead again. Patrick Harvey recalls:
“A really strange show, but still one of my favorites. Famously, the band had been busted just before in New Orleans, so they were really late to the venue (or at least the gear was.) The PA was pulled together from Bob Heil's shop in Marissa, IL, and they were kind of putting it all together on the fly. No time for a sound check, as I recall. We were projecting from side-boxes in the lower balcony, so the lightshow pretty much covered the whole theater screen. The music sounded pretty rough at first. The improvised PA was being tweaked as they went, and the sound was uneven out in the hall. (I've heard the recording of this show, and it apparently sounded a lot better through the board.) As they got rolling, it was pretty amazing. I think the Dark Star was the best I've ever heard in person. Then there was the roof-raising Lovelight. (There's a review of it as liner notes to one of the early "From the Vault" releases.) Pig took over the building and just destroyed everybody and everything in the place. The stage wound up crowded with people who had to get up there and dance. It was just mind-boggling.”
John writes: “It was really a great show. But at the time of the show, I was a bit disappointed, since TC wasn't there. I was totally prepared for a Live/Dead experience, and was not prepared for the speed at which they morphed. By the time they came to The Fox on 2/2/70, they had changed. Plus, I had friends that were at 5/68, 2/69 and 4/69, and those shows were considered better....simply because they were wilder, more rocking shows.”
“As far as fan stories go, I think there was a wide range of feelings about this show. This show had a bit of a pushback against it because the Dead were moving towards Workingman’s Dead. Although it was a great show, it wasn’t “Live/Dead”…and it included slow songs like Black Peter. None of the songs from Anthem were played, disappointing those who wanted to hear Alligator, etc.”
“Listening to the show, I now realize that it was a very good show. But back then, although I had a great time and was thrilled to see them (finally), a lot of the concert seemed super chill...somber....quiet...reflective....although it did explode at the end with Turn On Your Love Light. (One report said there were dozens of people on stage, but I don't remember that.) At the time, it wasn’t that I was disappointed, but I came to the realization that I wasn’t going to see the insane monster that the band was during the period when Live/Dead was recorded. For me, it was a bit depressing that the band was morphing so quickly. (It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the band was really morphing every 4-6 months between 1967-1972.)
“Everyone that I know that went (at least 25-35 people) all seemed to be either tripping, or just incredibly stoned. Smoking weed could be risky in that environment. Plus, if you were tripping, you didn't want to be worried about security......although it was minimal. People PLANNED to enjoy that night. We stockpiled our good drugs for the occasion.
“Everyone in the theater was there to see the Dead, so it was in everyone's interest to want to have a great concert experience. Expectations were high, especially since everyone loved Aoxomoxoa, and of course Live/Dead. But if you were expecting the Live/Dead sound, you were a bit disappointed. And other than Saint Stephen, they didn’t play any of Aoxomoxoa. They were already on to their next phase since they played 4 unreleased songs from the Workingman’s Dead album.”
“From my perspective, this concert was a bit "sedate". A 10-minute version of Black Peter slowed the pace. However since this whole show has been officially released, I now have a brand new appreciation of it. When I was at the concert, I was disappointed they didn't sound like Live/Dead which had been released in November 1969. The Dark Star at the Fox was "dreamy"...it didn't have the BIG moments that the Live/Dead version had. Years later when I heard the Dick's Picks' release of the 2/13-14/1970 concerts, I then realized that's how they were playing Dark Star during the winter of 1970. It had gotten much more open and dreamy. It didn't knock you over your head like the Live/Dead version. Now I like all of the variations of the different versions of Dark Star. And the version of Lovelight was utterly astounding. It was the most powerful Pig Pen I ever witnessed.”
The Dead were thrilled with the Fox Theatre, and by 1971 it was already an “old rumor” that the Dead wanted to buy it. This became something like common knowledge among St. Louis fans…but it wasn’t so. The Dead said in 1971 they had no intention of buying it, and they weren’t even able to play there again after 1972.
Many people also say, "They delayed the first Fox show by one day ‘cause of the bust." It’s apparently a common memory that the Dead were held down in New Orleans for an extra day. Not quite: the ad for the Fox show was always for Feb. 2, and the Dead played an extra benefit show in New Orleans on their free day, Feb. 1. The St. Louis show was not rescheduled, but the Dead & their equipment did arrive late that day, probably due to officious delays in New Orleans.
The story’s often told that Owsley was not at this show: “there was no Bear to run things, since he was still in jail.” (For instance this is how Bob Heil tells it.) Needless to say, Owsley was very much at this Fox show and in charge of the sound, as evidenced by multiple people’s memories, the newspaper report, and the tape he made.
Then there’s Bob Heil’s story. He ran a music shop in Marissa, IL (“almost an hour from St. Louis in the middle of nowhere”); among other things he rented Hammond organs to concert promoters, and also carried large speakers that could be used for a PA system. On Feb. 2, 1970, he got a call from the Fox Theatre…and this tale has been repeated many times, for instance here:
“The Grateful Dead arrived in St. Louis without their sound equipment, which had been confiscated in New Orleans. Heil found himself on the phone with Jerry Garcia, the Dead's guitarist. "Jerry said, 'You have all this gear, man. What kind of amplifiers do you have?' I said 'They're MacIntosh.' 'You have MacIntosh amplifiers?' I was just building a big hi-fi system… And so we took it up there that night and it was an amazing night," Heil said. "We went on the rest of that tour and we hit the front page of Billboard Magazine, that this little music shop in Marissa, Illinois, got the Grateful Dead contract." After he improved the Grateful Dead's concert sound, rockers from all over the world sought out Heil…”
(The story’s also in more detail here:
I speculated on Heil’s contribution in this old thread:
It’s certain Heil’s PA was used that night, his big amps on the side of the stage. (As Steve Deibel points out, "You can see the Ye Olde Music Shoppe logo on the mains.") He was probably called once it became clear the Dead’s equipment was going to be late. But the tale has grown in the retelling: Owsley and the Dead’s own amps arrived intact, Heil did not go on any known tour with them or “get the Grateful Dead contract,” and no Billboard article said so. There’s no evidence they used his speakers elsewhere.
They seem to have had contact with him before: Heil’s mid-’69 ads state that the Dead were one of the bands he’d serviced, and in a Jan. 1970 Billboard interview he said, "The first group I worked was the Grateful Dead, and I learned more about amplifiers from them than anywhere else since then." So they may have rented speakers from him in early ’69 and later on when they were in St. Louis. It’s unknown whether he helped with the sound at the next three 1970 shows in the area, but he was apparently seen at the October ’70 Kiel show. In a March ’71 photo at the Fox, the “Ye Olde Music Shop” sign appears to be on Pigpen’s Hammond. And that’s all we know of his involvement with the Dead.
And one last odd story – Thom Meininger recalls: “When they did the show at the Fox, they hired Greg Hine’s brother Maurice to do a stunt. He dressed like an usher and was on the right side of the steps going onto the stage. When they were doing Turn On Your Love Light, he got all crazy legged and then went up the wall next to the stage and did a 360 and the place went nuts.” (Billy Ford also remembers this: “The place was going wild. Piggie was requiring everybody to turn it on…”)
So far we haven’t found other people who remember this and we’re not sure whether it actually happened at this show.
Photos by Craig Petty:
* * *
MAY 13, 1970
QUADRANGLE, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE
John writes: “I saw that show. The Washington University Quadrangle is a beautiful outdoor facility. It has a permanent stage area, and no formal seating. The grassy area can hold well over 1,000 people. At the NRPS show, there were very few people there, maybe less than 200 scattered around the wide open Quadrangle...so it seemed very sparsely attended.
“This whole concert was very informal. No advance notice. (It may have been mentioned on the radio station K-SHE: one friend said he heard the news on K-SHE, but he wasn't 100% sure on that.) It was completely word of mouth. I got a phone call that afternoon from a friend who tipped me off. And when I first heard about it, it was all hush hush. I asked: “Who’s playing?” “I’m not sure, but members of the Dead are supposed to be there.” I'm certain it wasn't "announced" until the day of the show, or one day beforehand.
“Lots of us were hanging out on stage. You could get on stage if you wanted. Back then Garcia was VERY approachable. He would talk to you. I was only 17, but I walked on stage and hung out before the concert. I watched Garcia talk to some people, but I knew I didn't have anything interesting to say, so I ambled off… I just remember how OPEN the whole scene was. There was no "backstage"...he was just standing there talking to people... There were just not that many people who were frenzied fans back then. Everything changed so quickly after the release of WD/AB.
“Their first album wasn't released until August 1971, so I wouldn't have known any of their original songs. However, I do have a distinct memory that they played 5-10 songs (less than 45 minutes). The New Riders played a mix of unknown songs and well-known covers. I knew some of the songs, a few country standards like (perhaps) Six Days On The Road, Trucking Driving Man, Lodi…maybe The Weight, or Honky Tonk Woman, or other covers that they were doing at the time…but I could be merging both nights’ songs. (My memory tells me that Lesh was playing bass, but I guess my memory isn't so great because friends have insisted that Torbert played bass.)”
Mike Barada remembers they did Cathy’s Clown: "I got there when the New Riders had already started. I specifically remember them playing The Everly Brothers' Cathy’s Clown."
Dan Mullen says, “The Dead played a few songs before the New Riders.” This hasn’t been verified, but if Weir & Lesh were spotted there, it’s possible the Dead could have opened up with a few acoustic songs.
Williamson tried taping the show: "I took a portable reel to reel to the
NRPS/Dead Quadrangle show... We were in the pit. Unknown to me the batteries slowly gave out. Consequently,
the playback started at normal speed and progressed to Warp Factor 10. Most disappointing!" (John sighs, “I'm
sure the tape was thrown away. I
remember hearing it...and it was unintelligible.”)
Once again, locals helped the Dead with their gear. Steve Deibel recalls, “When they had a PA problem at the NRPS show before Meramec, I loaned them my Altec 1210 mixer/head which was in my U-haul trailer out on the parking lot. I wanna say they had a couple of those grey Shure columns.”
Bob Shelli (who had MC’d the Dead’s Quadrangle show in ’69) says, “I was an accidental roadie from the New Riders at WU to the GD show at Meramec CC the next day. Hauled equipment in a small school bus I had.”
* * *
MAY 14, 1970
MERAMEC COMMUNITY COLLEGE
OPENERS: Aardvarks, NRPS
Acoustic – (Bill on drums)
Bob Weir says at the start, “Can we have the house lights down please? Turn ‘em off all the way. How’s about turning all the lights off, including the spots and the whole light show and we’ll all go by the light of this one candle right here and everybody’ll gave a good ol’ time… Not going for it, huh.” Then the lights go down to a big cheer and Weir mutters, “I can’t see jackshit in here.” The Dead admit, “We can use a little more than that.”
On this tour Bob Matthews was doing the sound, since Bear couldn't leave California. But Matthews faced as many complaints from the Dead as Bear did! Deadlists gives an idea of the sound problems the Dead faced in the early part of the show as they struggled with the monitors:
Acoustic set - “Throughout the first five tunes they are plagued by monitor sound problems and the pauses between songs are full of efforts to fix them… Sam Cutler comes up on the PA and says "Can Bob Matthews come up on stage and sort out the sound system which isn't working."” (After five songs they abandon the acoustic set.)
NRPS set - “After Whatcha Gonna Do someone asks Jerry if it's OK, then announces "Alright we're gonna open the back doors and let everybody else in free." Monitor level problems continue during this set. [After a Henry false start] they are yet again trying to get the monitors and PA working right. Marmaduke wonders if the house lighting is drawing power off the PA & suggests turning it down.”
John writes: “This was the show right after Kent State. At the Wash U campus just a week before, the ROTC building was burned down. It was a scary time. Mickey Hart had a clenched fist on his kick drum at Meramec.” (Pigpen ends Lovelight shouting “Fuck the pigs!”)
“The concert was held in the gym, and depending on where you listened, the sound was awful. The Dead came on first and did a short acoustic set (Garcia, Weir, Lesh, Kreutzmann). There were monitor problems, but everybody was really high or just chilling out, and although there were issues with the PA, it got better, and eventually it didn’t seem like a problem anymore.
“The show was really slow to start: monitor issues, someone breaks a string, slow acoustic songs, etc. The idea of seeing an acoustic Dead set was (at that time) completely new. I don’t think we were informed that the show would be acoustic – NRPS – electric. It was all so informal… It was under-attended, and they were very accessible (with the make-shift stage). However, people were very accommodating, and there were no boos… I think we were all just waiting for the electric Dead.
“The set by the New Riders was really well received. Meramec (and the Quadrangle the previous night) would’ve been the first time most fans would have even known that Garcia played the steel. Garcia was so popular that the crowd immediately embraced his new instrument. Hippie bands doing country music was becoming a popular sub-genre, and so the New Riders found a responsive audience. (The first NRPS album wasn’t released until 1971, but country rock was starting to catch on. Country & country rock were very much a part of the St. Louis scene where WIL had been playing country music for decades.)
“The Dead’s set was great. The mostly medium-to-uptempo pacing was only broken by 2 new slow songs (High Time and the first-ever Attics Of My Life). After Attics, it was one great groove after another. Numerous incredible jams!” (At the end the crowd stomps for an encore until Cutler asks for “two minutes to catch their breath, just hold on a second!”)
“The casual environment in the gym made you really close to the band. It was some type of makeshift stage that was perhaps only a few feet off of the ground. The gym’s bleachers is where a lot of people sat at first. But more and more people came down to sit or stand right in front of the band. By the time the Dead really starting grooving, the whole floor area in front of the band was solidly packed, but about 10 “rows” back you could move around and dance freely.
“Meramec was probably one of my favorite shows by them, simply because it was the last show that had a "dance concert" vibe to it. They played in a gymnasium...tons of people on the floor...watching. And then, as the songs picked up steam, the whole crowd went WILD on the dance floor. It transformed from a situation where you were in "your spot" (where you were standing)....and changed so that the dancers and shakers started to control a section of the floor...until that "dance section" grew to become the dominant feature on the floor. That was the last time in St Louis that the area in front of the band was an open dance area.
“It was the last show I remember when the band really went into the unknown during the jam. Of course, it was under-attended (maybe under 1,000?), and they had just been here 3 months earlier at the Fox (which only had average attendance). It was definitely the last show that featured what some of us call "Good Ol' Grateful Dead." Workingman's Dead was released in June 1970, so the first concert that really benefited from their new popularity was Miss. River Festival in July 1970.
“For me Meramec was a HUGE turning point. Workingman's Dead hadn't been released, so the onslaught of new fans hadn't happened. Meramec was their final concert before they broke big. It was the last concert where "the old guard" was still very much in attendance....prior to the new younger crowd coming on board at the Miss. River Festival in July. The difference between the vibe (and general crowd) at Meramec versus the MRF cannot be understated. I think perhaps MOST of the MRF crowd were newbies and general MRF attendees.
“From the setlist at Meramec, you can see how they were still delving into "no man's land" in the latter part of the show. There were no mystery jams at MRF, and at the Kiel Opera House October 1970 concert, they were very "organized".....too organized for my tastes (and most old-guard Dead Heads who wanted open, gonzo jamming).
“Although the Meramec concert wasn't exactly how I would have wanted, it still was the last time ever where people could go wild on the dance floor. And although the Dead waited until close to the very end to create a jam....when they did...it was explosive...and those of us on the dance floor responded in a way that can't be done when you are in assigned seating.
“Although it was a pivotal concert (with the newbies coming on board later at MRF), it probably wouldn't be remembered by those attending as the best show. It was now the "Evening With The Grateful Dead" approach, and that had some serious drawbacks. You were now getting a much more watered-down concert.
“There was a lot of pushback against the Workingman's Dead era! At least in my crowd. We'd get together virtually every night to spin albums, and Workingman's Dead was "nice," but hardly kicked ass. If we wanted to rock out, we'd listen to Live/Dead, or Quicksilver, or the Allman Brothers, etc.
“It was odd for us because the Dead kept on getting more and more popular, but they weren't rocking as much in 1970. There was quite a lot of grumbling that the Dead "had changed," but eventually they got so good at their new style (and their shifting lineup) that we eventually "gave in" to their new style.”
The background of the booking:
When Jon McIntire attended Washington University, he was friends with Mike Kramer, who eventually became an English teacher at Meramec Community College and was part of the Student Council group that brought the Dead there. In Nov/Dec ‘69, the Student Council started planning their annual Spring Dance: they had to decide by December who they were going to hire for the dance, and they chose the Dead. Mike Kramer put "the whole thing together" and was the guy who provided contacts for the Dead; Greg Fullington & Don Bachman got in touch with McIntire for the booking. The price was around $3,500 for both the Dead & NRPS.
Much of the planning for the Dead concert was done in a very guarded atmosphere. The students arranging the show were well aware that “a dirty hippie rock group” like the Grateful Dead was not the type of band that the college would approve of, and they kept their plans private. The concert was to be held in the gym – Jack Mimlitz was the basketball coach and was very concerned about the potential problems of having a concert in the gym. The students told Mimlitz that the Grateful Dead “were a California band very much like Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys.” They were worried when the coach wanted to cancel the show, but the Student Council had already paid the Dead their deposit for the gig.
Ronnie Ryan was a student at Meramec and a reporter for the student newspaper (the Montage), and he attended the Student Council meetings as a reporter. It was also Ronnie’s job to sell as many tickets for the concert as he could, and he remembers going to the Wash U Campus (among other places) to sell tickets. The day before the show, Greg Fullington took Stuart Johnson (of Alvin Pivil) to hang out with Garcia at the Holiday Inn; and Gene Weisman took Garcia to Scotty’s Music.
Maybe around 1,500 people attended the show. A fair amount of the students expected a “dance,” not a dance-concert, and some people were dressed for a social dance. Most of the people who attended either sat down in front of the band on the gym floor, or in the stands. Many of the students who were expecting a dance band left, and the crowd that was left were mostly fans of the Dead. Some speakers were brought out in front of the gym’s entrance for people who didn’t have a ticket. A covering for the gym floor was rented from Jefferson Tent & Awning Co. Security was minimal, a few hired cops. Witnesses remember seeing cops drinking beer and smoking weed with concertgoers.
The opening band was the Aardvarks, a popular local group called "a Meramec favorite":
John writes, “The Aardvarks were a very good local band. They started off as an Invasion band around 1964. They had a different name in 1964, but then became The Aardvarks. I used to see them quite a bit in 1966-1968. They were really good, but they were definitely "song" oriented...not jammers, although they could rock out.”
Leonard Ledoux wrote, "Garcia went over and spoke to the fellows and commented that they were really good and should go out West to pursue a career." But Mike Newman of the Aardvarks said (even though they opened), they never even interacted with the Dead. “I think we played and then left.”
One guy remembers, “The gym floor was covered with heavy canvas for protection.” Another fan says, “At the first break I chatted up PigPen for an autograph, and Garcia bummed a cigarette. I sat on the corner of the stage for the rest.”
Patrick Harvey writes, “I didn't make this show... I do remember when everybody got back they seemed kind of disoriented by the Dead's new direction into country and acoustic stuff.” The shift to the Workingman’s/American Beauty direction was even more apparent than it had been at the Fox, with so much of the show devoted to new songs & country tunes.
An Archive comment points out how some fans reacted: “I have an old timer friend that drove 100 miles with friends from Springfield, Illinois to attend this show. I asked him about the show. He gave a look of disgust and said "They played acoustic instruments and it sucked. We thought we were going to see the real Grateful Dead, not wimpy soft acoustic music, so we left." I told him that they would have played electric later in the set. He just shook his said and said, "They sucked."”
Tom Armbruster commented on setlists.net: “My first show. Terrible sound problems during the acoustic numbers, both NRPS and Dead, but the benchmark St. Stephen/Lovelight. Workingman's Dead and American Beauty had not yet been released, so much of this was virgin territory for us.”
Tom writes more details: “The guy who pulled it together to get them to Meramec was named Greg Fullington if my alleged memory serves. He had a pitifully small budget, something like $600. It was your basic gymnasium setup with the band at one end
No doubt you've heard the tapes of the show. The Workingman’s and other "acoustic" tunes as well as much of the NRPS set suffered badly since the acoustic instruments couldn't be adequately amplified without feedback. By that point, I was getting pretty bummed since all I'd heard up to that point was drums, mumbling and feedback.
At some point fairly early on Bob had the house lights turned back on, explaining "we like to see who we're playing to."
The second set was better and got even better as the show went on. I know it wasn't an acid induced hallucination because I verified it with a couple of others but…at one point even the Andy Frain rent-a-cops were trucking around, dancing and grinning. In the end, it was a glorious finish to a pretty inauspicious beginning. To this day, nothing quickens my pulse and grabs my attention faster than Lovelight, no matter who is doing it.”
Another showgoer has a positive memory: "We recognized the show as pretty special at the time. The concert was in the gym, set up with a small stage and folding chairs. We got there early and sat down, and pretty soon everyone was folding their chairs, passing them out to the perimeter to be stacked and sitting on the floor in families - boy, what a great communal moment. But it wasn’t just that free-thinking vibe. They were always introducing/ playing new songs ahead of their next album, and this was not the same Dead we’d seen just 3 months earlier at the Fox. At Meramec they would bring acoustic guitars, their New Riders spin-off group, and multiple sets - this was the first tour of “An Evening with the Grateful Dead.” Local mythology has it that as folks left after the encore, Lesh came back out asking where everyone was going, as they wanted to play another set…"
remembers leaving as the Dead were playing their encore (Cold Jordan) around
After the show, some fans were hanging around outside the gym entrance with Sam Cutler, who was drinking whiskey from a Dixie cup. A roadie or someone asked if anyone had a van to take the Dead’s guitars back to the hotel airport hotel. Mike Barada had a station wagon, and volunteered. David Nelson and the Dead’s guitars piled into Barada’s car and off they went, with Cutler and Garcia driving separate rental cars. Cutler flew ahead on the highway at top speed. Mike kept within the speed limit and lost him, then missed the turn for the hotel and had to circle around the airport, not sure where he was going, while Garcia followed him. When they finally arrived at the Hilton, Mike apologized to Garcia for the long ride, but Garcia just smiled and said, “That’s OK man, I like surprises.”
Tom Armbruster became a temporary roadie for the Dead after this show:
“I insinuated myself onto the bus with a recommendation from Greg [Fullington] right after the Meramec show… My life was pretty much mountains of cable, the back of a semi, sleep when I could, speed when I couldn't. When possible, I hung close to Dan Healy (Bear was in the joint) and learned as much as I could about big league sound reinforcement... Downtime was back in California crashing where I could, primarily at the clubhouse. But…at this remove, it's all pretty much a blur… At the Opera House show I told Rock "thanks, see ya," and came back home.
“I took my mom to one of the Fox shows in 1971. Being a jazz bass player, she was seriously impressed by Phil. And she told me that jumping on the bus with no notice made a lot more sense to her.”
There is a rumor that the Dead returned to Washington University on 5/19/70 to play a stealth show. (One person recalls, “A couple of people I knew told me that they had seen the Dead at Wash U that evening. I was quite skeptical in that they had played at Meramec less than a week earlier. I got the impression that it was a private party... There was no advertising of the event that I was aware of and I was pretty glued to KSHE at that time and would have heard of it.”) A tape fragment even circulated in later years with this date.
But the tape turned out to be part of the Alfred 5/1/70 show, and the whole date turned out to be false, since Garcia was actually playing with the New Riders in Menlo Park that day:
* * *
JULY 8, 1970
MISSISSIPPI RIVER FESTIVAL
Not taped. No opener.
Known songs -
Acoustic set: Silver Threads &
Golden Needles (with technical problems), Deep Elem Blues, Candy Man
Black Peter, Cumberland Blues (most likely acoustic, but uncertain)
Electric set: Good Lovin' (first song, 23 minutes long with a drum break), Casey Jones, High Time, the last song was probably Lovelight (a Pigpen song with a “fever pitch finale”)
The Mississippi River Festival held a series of outdoor concerts each summer. John writes, “The MRF started in 1969. Located on the Southern Illinois University campus in Edwardsville...20 minutes across the river East from St. Louis. 1-2 headliners a week...basically whoever was doing summer tours. I went a lot from 1969-1973. It carried on for a long time, through the 1970s.” (The Dead came back in 1980, shortly before the Festival ended.)
People would sit on blankets on the lawn and watch the performers play under a giant tent. “Although you could still "move around" at MRF, there was no area close to the band big enough to assemble a "dance crowd", unless you wanted to do that in the big area outside of the covered-tent stage area.” Pictures illustrate that it was a comfortable spot to see a show, but not very intimate or close-up.
“The MRF was in its second season and was starting to get very popular. This is the first time there was a BIG crowd for the Dead. There were way too many newbies. The word was out. People were drinking as opposed to earlier shows where it was more tripping/smoking than alcohol. Since Workingman's Dead had just been released and because the MRF was an outdoor party atmosphere, there were a lot of younger people there. I was 17, but I remember seeing a lot of younger kids.”
The brochure says the start time was 8:30. No opening act is listed. The newspaper mentions that the band was delayed and the show started late, “but the fans did not seem disappointed.” (I wonder if NRPS travelled with them, but didn’t play because they were running late?) Also, they left immediately after the show and flew to NYC, just like in May.
Per one paper, “The concert, which started about half an hour late, lasted until almost midnight, with the audience shouting for more, more, more.” With the show scheduled for 8:30, the Dead would have started around 9; another report also says the Dead played for three hours. They “didn’t stop for applause or breaks or a breath of air once they got going. Each number flowed into the next.”
According to the paper, the Dead drew a crowd of 8,500. In comparison, these were the attendance figures for some other popular rock bands:
1969 Janis Joplin 10,000
1969 Iron Butterfly 12,700
1970 The Guess Who 12,400
1970 The Band 15,200
1971 The Who 32,100
(Folk & country singers drew much less, and some acts like Smokey Robinson or Delaney & Bonnie only drew about 6,000.)
For the most part we don’t know what songs were played. “It’s a bit of a blur…hardly anyone can remember this stuff… Any setlist you see online is bullshit. I have ZERO memory of them playing Alligator, Caution, etc. I'm just not sure about the setlist. I do remember Casey Jones, Good Lovin', perhaps Not Fade Away, etc. Nothing really special...”
Bill Keithler says, "I am pretty fuzzy on that. The only electric song I remember was Lovelight, but I have no idea at what point in the show they played it."
Craig Williamson says, "I don’t remember much about the Dead MRF concert in 1970 except for a lot of jams… One girl I talked to was impressed that so much of it was ‘ad libbed.’”
Buzz Wall writes, “The Mississippi River Festival was a hoot... All of the tent seats (reserved) were full of what looked like a group of straight people right out of Happy Days... Pigpen starts doing Schoolgirl and screaming into the mic about what he’s going to do to their 15 year old daughters, howling into the mic. They started leaving in droves... Anyway I ended up back on the lawn, it was more comfortable and I had already seen them up close.”
(John says he may be remembering a rap in Good Lovin’ rather than Schoolgirl. “I was always glued on Pig. He didn't have to be a great singer to do a very convincing job bringing real R&B to the band. I don't ever remember him cussing, or even ever being overtly salacious.”)
Bix recalls: "Pig Pen before the show was walking around with a kind of a leather tote bag under his arm... We were going, 'I wonder what the heck's in that bag that's so important.' I mean he never let go of it... Well, finally, he sat down at the B3 and unzipped it, pulled out a QUART (not 5th) of Jack Daniels (I think there were more in there) and cracked it open and took a big pull, then set it on the B3 by the music stand flat spot. It was empty by Lovelight, which he didn't want to do, telling Garcia 'No, no!' and Garcia just nodded at him to get going and started up. I'm surprised he could stand. Of course he pulled off Lovelight like the pro he was..."
The newspaper mentions the light show for the Dead, throwing patterns that looked like “an amoeba in ecstasy.” Patrick Harvey was there with the Electric Rainbow light show:
“This was the Rainbow's last gig with the Dead. We were the "house" light show for the MRF for the first couple of years, and this was the first of our rock and roll shows there. We'd done a classical concert with the St. Louis Symphony a few days before. We didn't have access to the mechanism that would lower the scrim (a translucent screen) for us to rear project onto, so we set up on the ground in front of the stage. That was a non-starter, and Phil pointed it out, because we'd be blocking the view of some the audience. We had to quickly reset, so we were projecting from onstage but near the outer edges, at an angle. That put my friend Jody and me, on one of the overheads, right next to Mickey's gongs, which was really cool, but I don't think I recovered my hearing for a week.”
John recalls the end of the show, which even at 3 hours still seemed short: “There was no encore, which had some people grumbling. After they finished, Lesh came out and very calmly explained that the band was beat, but they'd be back soon... (Basically he said, "We'd love to play more, but we've got to leave town immediately." This was true because the road crew had to drive to NYC for a gig the very next night!) Some people in the crowd were assholes, and there was a handful of "shocked boo's." Someone threw a firecracker or smoke bomb on stage...Lesh saw it coming and immediately pounced on it. He picked it up and threw it back into the crowd where it came from...and then he crouched down a bit...and firmly flipped the guy off, and abruptly marched off stage. Not a happy ending to an average concert.”
* * *
OCTOBER 24, 1970
KIEL OPERA HOUSE
The Kiel Opera House was in the same building as the Auditorium, on two sides of the building; the stages were back to back (so both sides could be opened for large events).
John writes, “The Kiel Opera House was very much like the Fox. 3-4 miles apart from each other. It held around 3,000 seats (less than the Fox). The Opera House was not an ornate theatre like the Fox was, but it had very good sound. (The Kiel Auditorium was a "barn," and was reserved for concerts that would draw well over 5,000 people... The Auditorium had AWFUL sound, unless you were right up close...then it was pretty great.)
“At the Kiel Opera House concert, it was completely assigned seating. Although there may have been people who went down to the front to be near the stage, there was no area big enough to dance....so that dance vibe was non-existent. Same with the subsequent shows at the Fox in 1971/1972. Groups of people tried to huddle near the stage, but it wasn't DANCING or even twirling.
“So at this show people had to “sit down and behave.” It is the second concert in the St. Louis area (after MRF) that was affected by the release of Workingman’s Dead…which caused a huge upswing in their popularity. It was the first time they played in St. Louis where tickets were “scarce.” Tons of new, young fans. This was when older fans definitely started “turning away” from the Dead. Too many short songs. Not enough jamming.”
There’s no known review of this show so we don’t know the attendance, but John thinks it was almost sold out (over 3,000). This is most likely the show where DeWitt Scott (of Scotty’s Music) visited Garcia and watched him play with the New Riders. (More on that below.)
The promoter of this show is unknown. The ad for the show says “from KADI the fun company,” a rock radio station. This show wasn’t broadcast, but KADI did broadcast the Dead’s 12/10/71 show a year later. Their presence in the ad here was likely just a form of promotion for the station – Tony Dwyer talks about the practice at other shows couple of years later when “KSHE Presents” was put on the Dead’s show posters: “We would put ‘KSHE presents’ on all printed advertising and they were allowed to say ‘KSHE presents’ on air. In return we would get discounted ad buys, they would play Dead, and DJ’s would plug the shows. They had nothing to do with the production other serving as a ticket outlet.”
Jack Peil has an interesting story about sneaking in early for the soundcheck:
“My first Dead concert was there… I had a ticket front row left… I was there alone and was able to stroll right in to my seat… I had taken chocolate mescaline and tried to arrive early so I would come on to it at the right time…thus peaking at the best time… I found myself right in front, no one else was there yet…
“Jerry Garcia came on for a sound check as the pedal steel was right in front of me… So he played a bit of tuning up, and looked at me and asked, ‘How does it sound out there? You think it’s good?’ I said, ‘Yes sir’…I was captured by how well he played pedal steel... And he said, ‘Well let’s see how it goes…’
“So when the lights came on and I was in the front row and my body was rushing with that mescaline body high Jerry was bending and pedaling that pedal steel…I was spellbound.”
Otherwise this show does not stand out in people’s memories.
Patrick Harvey of Electric Rainbow says, “We didn't work it. I'm pretty sure I was there, but I don't remember there being a lightshow.”
Bix: “The performance wasn't all that great. Good but nothing special I recall. The New Riders with Jerry on pedal was good though.”
John: “It was just a normal show. Nothing magical. It was magical for newbies, I'm CERTAIN of that.”
A dead.net comment: “I most remember Love Light at the end. There were big flat "gongs" in the back of the stage and Mickey got up as the song was ending and beat the gongs and all of us into submission. What an ending.”
An archive comment: “At the end of this show, Phil came out to politely explain to the crowd that they were absolutely beat from a long hard tour and were going to forego an encore. Some dillhole up front apparently flipped him off and Phil made a stupid face, bent down and flipped him back. Right on, Phil!”
Bix recalls the same incident: “At the Opera House concert, they announced the show was over and some guy right next to me kept yelling keep playing, keep playing! Phil came to the mike and said words to the effect we're done good night, and the guy yelled FUCK YOUUUU! Phil gave him the finger and yelled Fuck YOU!”
[Since John has almost the same memory of the MRF show, either this happened twice or someone’s remembering the wrong venue.]
Photos from Bruce Siebert:
* * *
MARCH 17-18, 1971
(Released on 30 Trips.)
Newspaper reviews for 3/17/71:
Known songs from 3/17 –
Hard to Handle
Next Time You See Me
Me & Bobby McGee
The Other One suite
Johnny B. Goode
The end of the show is in dispute. A newspaper review singles out Pigpen’s vocal in Lovelight, but one attendee says “Pig did not do Lovelight at this show.”
Me & My Uncle
Big Boss Man
Me & Bobby McGee
China Cat Sunflower >
I Know You Rider
Playing In The Band
The Other One >
Greatest Story Ever Told >
Johnny B. Goode
Not Fade Away >
Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad >
Uncle John's Band
Per the newspaper reports of 3/17, between 3500-4000 attended (not quite a sellout). I don’t know how many of them went both nights, but there were certainly many regular fans catching every show. The show was scheduled to start at 7 but one report says the Dead started “almost an hour late,” not unusual for them. (“There had been some minor quarrels backstage over arrangements for the concert.”) The New Riders played a 90-minute set and the Dead came on at 9:15. A couple of smoke bombs were set off but were just a minor distraction. “The concert ended just before midnight with many in the crowd dancing and shouting, "Play all night!"”
The Dead were attached to the Fox and preferred to keep playing there rather than the other venues in the area. One paper says “the group wanted to play the concerts in the old ornate Fox Theatre.” Jon McIntire called the Fox “a boss place” and there were hopes it would become “a Fillmore Midwest.” Although these quotes don’t come from the March Fox shows, I have to include the Dead’s requests to the audience in December '71:
Phil, 12/9/71 - “Try to be nice to this place – don’t stand on the seats or kick in the walls or rip out the ornaments – seeing as how this is the only place we like to play around here. And if we can’t come back here to this theater, we won’t come back to this town, which means you’ll have to go to Kiel Auditorium and listen to Grand Funk Railroad.”
Bob, 12/10/71 - "This is really a nice theater. It's one of the very few finest in the country...and it's a good place to have a rock & roll show. And the owners of the theater hope that you won't be careless and rip it up, so that we can keep coming back."
The Fox didn’t exactly become another Fillmore, since the Dead were just about the only rock band that played there. The theater manager Tony Peluso only wanted to exhibit films and was not interested in putting on more live shows. The Fox management turned down promoters’ requests to use the Fox for a series of concerts. The Dead, however, were able to return repeatedly (as long as it was on weekday nights).
The promoter for these shows was Carl Bianco. He was the co-owner of a rock club in Chesterfield called Rainy Daze (open from 1967-71). A Post-Dispatch article has a little background on these shows:
“Carl Bianco, promoter...has been promoting rock concerts at lower ticket prices than other promoters who bring rock to St. Louis. For an advanced general admission of $3.50, a person can get into the concert. (Rock concerts at Kiel Auditorium by out-of-town promoters usually run from $4 to $6)... Bianco, who is bringing the Grateful Dead to town for two nights…said he was trying to get rock music at a lower price in St. Louis... The Grateful Dead...oppose excessive commercialism in their industry. Bianco said that several promoters were trying to get the concert for St. Louis, but he was selected to promote it, because of the lower ticket prices he was willing to charge… In a traditional 'one night city,' The Grateful Dead is willing to try a two-night stand.”
Bianco writes, "I was the promoter of the two March 1971 concerts at the Fox Theater. I dealt with Jon McIntire to set up the concerts. I don’t remember how we connected, but I was active doing concerts in St. Louis, and the Dead were looking for someone to promote their visit to St. Louis. The name of my company at the time was Rainy Daze Productions.
"It took quite a bit of convincing of Tony Peluso, the manager of the Fox, to get his consent to have the concerts. He had been the manager for many years and told me he was very concerned about damage to the beautiful facility. I finally convinced him to move forward, but he did require extra security primarily to protect his facility. Looking back, I don’t remember any issues at the concerts that caused any concern on his part and by the second night, he was much more relaxed."We had a major scare in that there were rumors circulating that there were going to be a lot of forged tickets that would be used to enter the concerts. Being relatively unsophisticated and to save money, I had not used the multicolored and multilayered ticket stock that was commonly used for tickets at the time. When the tickets were torn as you entered a facility, the colored layers would be immediately identifiable. I began to hear the reports of counterfeiting before we delivered tickets to the vendors, but it was after the tickets had been printed and there was not sufficient time to print new ones. As a solution, we stamped the back of each ticket with dayglow ink which would not show up in ordinary light. At the entrances to the concerts, we set up dayglow lights, and put each ticket under the lights before allowing entrance. It turned out that no tickets had been counterfeited, but I was called to the entrance where a young couple were almost in tears as they had unstamped tickets. It was obvious that we had missed stamping a couple of tickets, and we immediately allowed them in. The end result was that both the couple and I were much relieved, but the relief came for substantially different reasons."
One article mentions that to enter the Fox lobby, the audience had to file through security guards hired to stop gate-crashers. A later report of a Fox show mentioned that “people inside were constantly being herded by ushers and police.” Security kept people in line, confiscated forbidden items, patrolled the crowd, and got them seated. This wasn’t universally popular.
One person remembers going to a Fox show with his friends: “It was a madhouse at the Fox. Lines around the building, etc. When you got in, you were forced to stay in a portion of the lobby area. After the first night of being stuck in the lobby like sardines for a LONG time (over an hour?)...the next night, we bolted through their minimal security, and ran up numerous flights of stairs… Our plan was to get inside and then "hide" until they started letting people in...and then grab the best seats.” The plan was successful, although Peluso was on the search for them. They could hear him: “Get these kids out of the theatre and back into the lobby!”
But audiences appreciated the Fox as a “down-at-the-heels but palatial Egyptianate ‘trip palace,’” “a beautiful, trippy Art Deco place built in the 1920s and good sound to boot.” A description from a later concert: “The Fox was fairly run down back then, not bad, but they used it for midnight flicks and concerts, and you could smoke in it... When the lights went out the air soon filled with a cloud of sweet perfumed smoke.” Those in the front might get to enjoy open drinks handed out by the roadies “to enjoy and pass on.” (One fan recalled, “I have never since had a beverage quite like that one.”)
These particular shows were fondly remembered by newer fans (although online reviewers tend to blur the March & December ‘71 shows together). One Archive attendee remembers “all the unexpected new songs” and the “incredible Garcia pedal steel solos” in the New Riders’ set – he felt that afterwards the Dead “never came close to this.”
Other Archive reviews:
“I was a 17 year old newbie to the Dead in '71 and had no clue what I had in store that night. I think I paid $3.50 for my ticket which got me a general admission ticket to the Fabulous Fox. Spent the evening in the orchestra pit leaning on the stage less than 10 feet away from the band and was totally blown away by them. The electricity that they had that night could never be matched.”
“I went to this show with some people I barely knew. I had listened to the Dead on vinyl but had no idea what the concert would be like - the Fox theater with its over-the-top velvet and gold decor, mescaline, NRPS, and hours of Dead music. I spent the night moving from place to place including up on stage... The thing I remember the most was a percussion solo that seemed to last for hours and Bobby's beautiful long hair. I went back to the Fox every time the Dead played there but this concert will always stick with me as a magical night.”
Greg Carmack remembered some setlist details from the 17th: “Set I opened with Truckin’. Hard to Handle was Pig's first song, early in Set I. Set II concluded with NFA>GDTRFB>NFA (Jer had switched to a black Les Paul Custom) and JBG. Pig did not do Lovelight at this show.”
The memory of Garcia switching to a Les Paul seemed suspect, but lo and behold, one of the pictures from the 17th does show Garcia playing a Gold Top Les Paul (possibly the same one he’d played in ’68, and the only time he was seen with it in ’71).
* * *
"GARCIA! GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR!"
That was Dogman. It was the fall of 1969, my junior year of high school, and a mess of us had gone to see the Grateful Dead play at Graham Chapel, a glorious Gothic structure on the campus of a local university in St. Louis.
We were right up front, and there were the Dead, in all their ragged glory and at an incredible volume, with their piles of drums and gongs and massive jumble of amps and speakers with tie-dyed grill cloths in between the carved-wood choir stalls, stained-glass windows soaring overhead behind them. We were all tripping. Oh, wow.
Dogman was already a seasoned veteran of Dead shows. At 18 years old he was an imposing figure - well over six feet, lanky and intense, with a shaved head - who "danced" standing bolt upright with his feet together, rooted to the floor, hands at his sides, his entire body shaking with intense vibrations as he moaned and growled along to the music through tightly clenched teeth. People gave him room.
Garcia was just kind of noodling around, though, and Dogman was dissatisfied. During some too-long Dead air between songs, there came one of those moments when hundreds of people all happen to stop talking at the same time, and Dogman's voice rang out. "Garcia!" Jerry turned, looked right at him, and said, "What?" "Get your ass in gear!" The rest of the band cracked up. Jerry, with a surprised look on his face, shouted "Whoa!" and launched into the simple triad riff of "Lovelight." Pigpen stepped up to the mic, and for the next two and a half hours it just got better and better.
- by Baker Rorick, from Guitar Shop magazine, November 1995
This piece from a 1995 issue of Guitar Shop raises a few questions. First off, the Grateful Dead didn’t play a show at Graham Chapel in the fall of 1969, or any other time. (The small chapel, which is as described, was located in Washington University, where the Dead played at the Quadrangle on 4/17/69. One person seems to recall the Dead rehearsing in the chapel that afternoon, but multiple other people who were there that day say they didn’t hear of it and “it never happened.”) Rorick has heard from people saying there was no such show, and admits that his memory was mistaken. As far as setting the scene, this can be attributed to “artistic license”!
But the central incident, a guy shouting “Garcia! Get your ass in gear!” did happen. The shouter was Craig Williamson (aka Doggmann), whose appearance (tall, with a Mohawk haircut) made him a well-known character at Dead shows. John suggests, “Garcia was well aware of who Doggmann was. The Deadhead community was so small at the first few concerts that the Dead knew a lot of the fans.”
But which show did this happen at? Doggman himself remembers yelling it at the Meramec show in 1970, where he had his wrist in a cast. John says what he shouted was: “Get it in gear, Garcia! We’re STARVING!” According to John, “This makes sense because that concert took a while to get up and running. That was what we were experiencing: a complete absence of dance music...not to mention no jamming. He yelled ‘We’re starving!’ because the Dead were taking so long to get to any type of jam.” And after that, the Dead got it in gear.
But Bix has a different memory. He says, “My memory is clear! I know exactly when it was ‘cause I was sitting right next to him. He had his Mohawk hairdo and his hand was in a cast with thumb sticking up. It was at the 1st Keil ‘69 (with TC) and the words were "Get your ass in gear, Garcia...we're STARVING!" (shaking the bandaged hand in the air at him)… It was right when they came out to start. Garcia gave him a mouth opened, astonished look.”
this case, it was a greeting to the band at the start of the Kiel show on
2/6/69, as if to say, "We've been starving for you guys since the last
time you were here!" But Bix also says Doggmann liked the effect enough to
shout it to Garcia again at a later show…which leaves unsettled where Rorick
might have heard it. (And it's worth mentioning that Doggmann, as in Rorick's account, does not recall shouting "We're starving!")
* * *
Scotty’s Music was a tiny music store in St. Louis run by DeWitt Scott, who was known for his expertise on the pedal steel guitar, and it quickly became a gathering place for pedal-steel players. (From what I hear it was as much a place for players to share tips as to buy instruments.) At the time the Dead began playing in St. Louis, he was just starting to set up annual Steel Guitar Conventions in local hotels (the first one in 1968), which grew in size every year, and Garcia would certainly have been aware of them early on.
We don’t know when Garcia first visited Scotty’s, but it seems to have been in April ’69 when he’d just bought his own pedal steel and hadn’t yet started playing it. There’s a story that “Scotty gave Garcia his first steel guitar lesson,” but we haven’t been able to confirm any details.
Stuart Johnson (of Alvin Pivil) recalls, “I was at Scotty's shortly after the Wash U show (a few days or a week) and Scotty told me Garcia had been in and bought a used Mary Kaye Strat he had, although at that point they were not yet referred to that way (the main features being gold plated metal parts and see-through blonde finish). I had my eye on it but he wanted $300 for it. At that time I was loath to pay more than $100-$125 for a used Strat. I had the impression that the Dead always encouraged their crew to pick up info on good local music stores, etc.”
John comments, “I don't think any more than a dozen people could fit into Scotty's. I would imagine Garcia chose Scotty's simply because of its low-key vibe...and it was the only steel guitar shop in town. And of course there was no Guitar Center (or any chain)… There just weren’t stores that carried a lot of guitars. There was NO vintage guitar shop in St Louis until Silver Strings opened in mid-1972…and Scotty's was one of the only shops in town that had used instruments. It wouldn't have taken Garcia long to find out about Scotty's.”
Thom Meininger also seemed to recall Garcia going out to Scotty’s during the April ’69 visit – I don’t think Garcia had his pedal steel on that tour but he would likely have had questions! “Scotty used to jam with Jerry and helped him with some steel problems early on when he was first getting into steel guitar… Jerry had some trouble with his steel so we sent him out to Scotty’s Music and Jerry and Scotty became good friends, and he often jammed out there after gigs when he was in town.”
Whoever first introduced Garcia to Scotty, much of that is definitely true – Garcia did pick up some pedal-steel licks from Scotty, he did hang out at the store on frequent visits, and they did become friends. Scotty said that Garcia “had a sincere love of the instrument and behaved with the highest integrity.”
Dead fans would sometimes hang around Scotty’s when the Dead were in town, knowing Garcia would arrive. One person says he was there when a half-dozen guys were waiting there to meet Garcia. After Garcia arrived with Tony Dwyer and went into Scotty's office, the guys kept staring through the window. Dwyer was heard saying, "Jerry, they're looking at you like you're weird." To which Garcia replied, "I am weird." Another person tells the unlikely story that during one of the Dead's runs at the Fox, "One afternoon somebody heard the band would be at Scotty's pedal steel studio. We bummed a ride from campus and sat on the floor while the guys jammed on songs from Workingman's Dead."
But there were jams at Scotty's. On 12/9/71 Scotty recorded a tape of a country-music pedal-steel jam at his store with Garcia, Weir, members of the New Riders, and others:
http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2017/08/scottys-jam.html (info on the jam session)
Scott wrote his memories of the Dead in an email back in 2000:
“The Grateful Dead and the New Riders were at my store. Not once but several times over the years. Unfortunately, I do not keep very good records and do not know the exact dates or what I did with the photos that I took.
“My store is small but both bands were here and they sat on the floor and we were crowded but everyone enjoyed it. What they liked about meeting at my store is that I did not take advantage of their being here by letting everyone know that they were coming. Jerry, especially, liked that. I had contact with Jerry for a long time after that. I sent him a lot of my Steel Guitar LP's and he sent me everything that the Grateful Dead and the New Riders had on recordings up to that date…
“I remember I went to the Fox but do not remember much about it. I do remember more about going to the Kiel auditorium for one of their concerts. I went down before the show and Jerry had his ZB steel guitar set up and he invited me to sit behind it. He sat on the floor beside the steel and when I would hit what he liked he would say, "Far out" and I would show him the lick.
“I sat backstage that night for the concert and the backstage was full of people. Jerry invited me to set a chair on the stage close to his steel guitar which I accepted. About ten minutes into the concert Bob Heil tapped me on the shoulder and told me to look behind me. I did and there was no one behind stage anymore. Bob said I should feel honored because no one, absolutely no one, was allowed behind stage when the Grateful Dead was playing, much less being on the stage while they were playing. I got embarrassed, I got off the stage and went out into the audience. As I look back to that scene I really do feel honored that I had that privilege.
“On one of their trips in St. Louis Jerry bought a new MSA D-10 steel guitar from me. When it came to pay me the manager asked me, "What is our price?" Jerry put his hand on the manager’s shoulder and said to him, "You pay this man the retail price!" They counted out about $2,800.00 in cash and gave it to me. I really felt nervous walking to my car that night with $2,800.00 in my pocket.
“I would meet with Jerry and the guys at their motel out by the airport here in St. Louis and party with them. In fact, anytime they would get within 200 miles of St. Louis they would call me and I would take my reel to reel tape recorder and a bunch of tapes from the International Steel Guitar [Convention] and we'd sit around and listen to them.”
https://archive.org/post/329204/scottys-music-store-jam (near the bottom)
Here's another recollection of his, covering the same history - pardon the duplication:
“I was at my store, Scotty's Music in St. Louis and whole bunch of long haired people came in and all I said to them was "Howdy." I didn't know who they were. They got really friendly and in fact invited me to the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis for their sound check. I went and there was a ZB steel guitar sitting on stage with a Sho Bud amp and a guy was playing on it. He asked me to sit down and play some on it. I did and this guy was sitting on the floor looking up and when I hit a lick he would say, "far out" and asked how I played that. Of course I showed him as I would any other person. I still didn't know who the band was. I went to the concert that night and I then found out it was the Grateful Dead and the steel player was Jerry Garcia. Jerry set me in a chair a few feet from him ON STAGE. I was enjoying the show until a guy tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and it was Bob Heil from Marrisa, Il. He said to me, "Scotty, turn around." I did and there was no one behind the stage anymore. Bob said nobody is allowed behind stage when the Dead are playing. I got so embarrassed I got off the stage.
“The next time that the Dead came to St. Louis, the New Riders were with them and both bands came to the store and we had a kind of off the wall jam session. Sometimes Buddy Cage would play the steel and then I would play. I owned Lloyd Green's old double neck Sho Bud with the yellow streak on the front and that is the guitar we played on. I took pictures and even put up a mike and recorded that jam session.
“They came to the store one more time, and anytime they would get within 200 miles of St. Louis they would call me and I would take my reel to reel tape recorder to the motel and take several tapes of the Steel Guitar Convention with me, and after their concert we would listen to them the rest of the night.
“I sold Jerry a double neck MSA and when it came time to pay for it the manager said to me, "What’s our price?" Jerry put his hand on his shoulder and said, “You pay this man full price!" Wow! Jerry and I corresponded for awhile and we exchanged LP's with each other. He sent me every LP the Dead and New Riders had and I sent him all of my Midland steel guitar records.”
Scotty’s son Michael recalls that he was there “at the Kiel when we delivered him a new guitar… His road manager said “what’s Jerry’s price.” Jerry jumped in and said “pay the invoice.” We were handed $2,700.00 cash. As no one was allowed back stage while the Dead played, we were offered front row seats for their concert. This was turned down as we didn’t want to be in a big crowd with that much cash in our pockets.” One source said he was “a bit out of his element surrounded by hundreds of tripping hippies, carrying a fat wad of cash, and nervously got the hell out of there quickly.”
As for the Kiel show where Scotty was onstage, that was most likely the 10/24/70 Opera House show (the only Kiel date where Garcia played with the New Riders). Scotty saw the New Riders’ set at least – by that point he surely knew who the bands were, but I suspect he may not have stayed around for the Dead’s show.PHOTOS
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For more photos from these shows, see:
Dozens of people have helped me with this effort. Some I know, and some I don't. Some have helped an immense amount, others only a little...but maybe just ONE detail is a GOOD detail.