January 30, 2015

Who's Who In The Aoxomoxoa Photo

When I wrote my last post on the Aoxomoxoa back-cover photo, I didn’t know who most of the people in the picture were, and had little hope that they would all be identified. But Dr. Jeff and I have investigated further, and thanks mainly to the help of Maura McCoy and Rosie McGee, we now know who almost everyone in the photo is.

Dr. Jeff has made a key to the photo, putting names to faces:

In January 1969, the Dead and some of their family & friends went out to Olompali to take a group shot for their upcoming album Earthquake Country. They’d taken photos of just the band, but that wasn’t quite what they had in mind; they wanted more of a “family” portrait – women, children, animals, a communal feel. Some girls from the Olompali commune were invited to join them, and they arranged themselves in front of a picturesque tree on a hillside above the main house. Pigpen, then the most well-known face in the group, sat in front, while the rest of the band mingled with the crowd.

The photo was taken by Tom Weir (no relation to Bob), a San Francisco photographer. The Dead had also used him to take the back-cover photo for Anthem of the Sun – if you look up other photos of his, he has a recognizable style that they must have liked: low-angle circular images, set in nature, taken with a wide-angle lens. (He also did album cover shots for the Steve Miller Band in ’68 and Shades of Joy in ’69.)

The people in the photo are surprisingly random – perhaps whoever was available that day.
A half-dozen girls from the commune sat in the photo. The McCoy sisters, Noelle Barton, and Siobhan McKendrick were the daughters of the commune’s founders (Don McCoy, Sandy Barton, and Sheila & Bob McKendrick, not pictured). Maura McCoy and Sheri Jensen sat by Garcia; Sheri’s sister Rhonda held Mickey's horse Snorty for him. She had been teaching the other girls at Olompali how to ride horses:
Jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi showed up; he had been hanging out with the Dead since their days at 710 Ashbury, and was even known to sit in at some shows.
Prankster Ken Babbs appeared, along with his partner Gretchen Fetchin and two of their children. Babbs had known the Dead at least since the Acid Tests; he was then living with his family at the Dead's warehouse/studio by Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato, and working as the caretaker there.
Band manager Jon McIntire appeared, but none of the Dead’s other managers like Rifkin or Scully (among others). McIntire was a recent addition to the Dead management team, having joined them during the Carousel days in early ’68.
Bill Kreutzmann brought his daughter Stacy and his new partner Susila Zeigler. She was then pregnant with their son Justin, who would be born in June.
The woman next to Mickey Hart is Terry, his girlfriend at the time. (Nothing more is known about her at the moment.)
Oddly, some of the Dead's other friends like Owsley, Mountain Girl, and Rosie McGee weren't present, though photographer Tom Weir’s wife sat in.

Courtney Love, of course, was not there.
The one person who hasn’t been identified is the woman sitting beneath Guaraldi and holding flowers to her face (#12). Our guess is that she may have come with Guaraldi; but if anyone recognizes her, speak up!

UPDATE:  It turns out the woman with the flowers did come with Guaraldi - she was his girlfriend at the time, Gretchen Glanzer (later Gretchen Katamay). She also worked with Bill Graham's Millard Agency promoting concerts, and around this time was working with the Dead. (Bill Graham was "managing" the Dead at the start of '69, and had a representative go with them on their Feb '69 tour. Gretchen also went on tour with them at some point.)
Vince and Gretchen had been seeing each other for years (despite his marriage), but were not a couple much longer. She later said, "Vince and I split up and got back together a lot. But we finally did it for good in 1969, when I was working for the Grateful Dead. I got a truck and told Vince that I just couldn't go back to this. There was just a lot going on. One of the Grateful Dead managers helped me move out of Vince's house." (0) 
It would also be nice to know who the dog in the photo was…  

The photo may have been inspired by the Band’s Music From Big Pink album, which had been released in summer '68 and featured a “Next of Kin” photo of the Band with their families:

Another possible inspiration for the Aoxomoxoa photo was the cover of the Incredible String Band's album The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, which also came out in '68:

The photos are quite similar - pastoral "family" shots with trees, kids, even a dog! This could be chalked up to coincidence or the common vibe of the times, but I wonder...

A little background on Olompali’s history can be found here:

The Dead had a close connection to Olompali – it was, for them, something like sacred ground. After returning from Los Angeles in spring ’66, they moved to Rancho Olompali and stayed there through May and June, renting the property for several weeks. Though they weren’t there long, they would remember their stay as an idyllic golden age, a “paradisiacal retreat.” (Although sometimes in their acid trips, they’d have threatening visions of the ancient Indians who’d used to live there, their spirits still haunting the walls and trees.)
The band held some famous parties during their stay, playing music for a stream of tripping visitors from San Francisco. On one occasion, May 22, they sent a flyer to all their friends in the music scene: “The Grateful Dead invite you to an afternoon of inter-galactic travel, to a communion with the spirits of long dead Indians, to a dance celebrating mainly all of us.”

Garcia remembered: “It was a great place. It had a swimming pool and barns and that sort of thing… We didn’t have that place very long, only about eight weeks. It was incredibly intense for everybody… Novato was completely comfortable, wide open, high as you wanted to get, run around naked if you wanted to, fall in the pool, completely open scenes. And I think it was the way they went down and the way people responded to that kind of situation. Everything was just super-groovy. It was a model of how things could really be good. If they really wanted to be. All that was a firming up of the whole social world of rock and roll around here…all the musicians in the Bay Area, most of them are from around here, they’ve known each other for a really long time in one scene or another – and that whole thing was shored up…at those parties. The guys in Jefferson Airplane would get together with Quicksilver and different guys, 81 different players, would get together and get high and get loose and have some fun… That was when we started getting tight with Quicksilver… They came and hung out at our place in Novato when we had our parties. And a lot of people like the various filmmakers and writers and dope dealers. All the people who were into doing stuff. People who had seen each other at rock and roll shows…in that first year. Those parties were like a chance to move the whole thing closer, so to speak. It was good times – unselfconscious and totally free. After that we moved back into San Francisco.” (1)

Phil Lesh fondly recalled Rancho Olompali, “its huge adobe mansion, several large outbuildings, a swimming pool, and acres of grounds… The surrounding fields were leased by some kind of rancher, who took an immediate dislike to our presence; we were informed that trespassing on his land would not be tolerated for any reason… That summer, we invited pretty much everybody in the local music scene (the bands, the promoters, the poster artists) out to Olompali to celebrate… All the musicians came and played (or not). Bear and some of the Pranksters…set up [speakers] in the living room and all over the grounds; there was food and drink for all, and the pool was wall to wall with mostly nude people… From the makeshift bandstand by the kitchen terrace, an ad hoc band composed of members of the Dead, Quicksilver, and the Airplane played some of the most startling music I’ve ever heard, a new kind of music no one had ever made before, a true synergy of spontaneity and structure, created on the spot.” (2)

George Hunter of the Charlatans remembered visiting the Dead at Olompali:
“The Dead used to have some pretty good parties out in their place in the country, in Olompali. Two or three hundred people would come, and of course, most of them probably took LSD… It seemed like a third to half of the people at these parties would be naked, hanging around the pool. It was a great place. It was sort of a ranch estate that had a nice big house that looked kind of like Tara in 'Gone With the Wind'. Then there was a lot of land around it – hills, a creek in the back, a big lawn and the pool. It was maybe 1000 feet off the highway, so it was fairly secluded. In between the house and the pool the Dead would set up their equipment and play from time to time during the day. Usually there'd be members of other bands there too, like the Airplane and Quicksilver, and there'd be little jams with people who wanted to play. I remember that the Dead would be playing and Neal Cassady would be doing this strange little dance… Neal was always in the thick of things. Those parties (I'm not sure how many of them there were) were always on a nice afternoon. Everyone would play all day in the sunshine, just doing everything, and then when the sun would start to go down and it got cold, people would pack it in. By the time it was dark most people were gone, but there were always enough people who were either around to begin with or who wanted to stay, so that the party would continue inside. In fact, with the number of people hanging out there all the time, it was pretty much a party all the time anyway. I don't know if it was 24 hours a day, but every time I was there it was going.” (3)

After the Dead’s lease at Olompali ended, they headed on to Camp Lagunitas in late June ’66, and then moved to the house at 710 Ashbury Street in September. Now that they lived in the city, they needed a new place to rehearse; and they came into contact with Don McCoy, who was renting space for bands to rehearse in at a heliport he owned.

According to the Olompali Movie facebook page, "The Dead rehearsed at Don McCoy's Gate 6 warehouse at the heliport in Sausalito. Other bands that rented the space from McCoy were Country Joe and the Fish, Sons of Champlin, Quicksilver, and even Chicago... McCoy also owned a small houseboat complex at Gate 6, where entertainers like Otis Redding and Bill Cosby stayed."

It seems that Dan Healy, John Cipollina and other members of Quicksilver also stayed in McCoy’s houseboat community, and the Dead may have heard about McCoy’s heliport rental space from them. Or, according to McNally, McCoy also owned the house at 715 Ashbury Street, across the street from where the Dead were living, and they may have met him there. At any rate, the Dead soon started regular rehearsals at the heliport, and even held a concert there on October 15, 1966. They’d use it as a rehearsal spot until switching to the Potrero Theater sometime in mid-’67.

McCoy had divorced his wife Paula in 1966, and kept custody of their three children; and she continued to live at 715 Ashbury. McNally says the house “had been owned by Don McCoy, a wealthy young hippie, and then by his ex-wife, Paula, who became involved with the Diggers… [She was] the doyenne of the Digger salon at 715 Ashbury Street, who liked to wear boots with a mink coat and nothing else.” (4) (Another resident of 715 Ashbury was Glenn McKay, who did light shows for Jefferson Airplane.) “All sorts of people - musicians, poets, artists, Diggers, and Angels - would shuttle between the two houses to hang out, play music, share ideas, and of course, borrow a cup of sugar.” (5) Her daughter Maura writes that Paula “was good friends with Bill Graham and Peter Coyote, among many others.” Paula and Coyote were also among the band of Dead friends who traveled with Rock Scully to London in December ’68 to meet the Beatles and the Stones.   

Meanwhile, Don McCoy was going through changes. After his divorce, “I found myself a lonely man… It started in disillusionment with what I was doing.” Though wealthy from an inheritance and the profits from renting his properties, he said that “I had become a slave to my business affairs. If you are unhappy, you are a failure, no matter how much money you have.”

McCoy was willing to help out his friends when they needed money, and to support those in need. One instance was the visiting Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan: “Through his recent connections in the American counterculture, Khan had made friends with author and Zen Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts, who had been living on a houseboat in Sausalito. When Khan told Watts of his desire to open a new school devoted exclusively to North Indian classical music, Watts immediately picked up the phone and called Don McCoy, a wealthy real-estate agent, who came to Watts’ houseboat within the hour and presented Khan with a check for $20,000… [Using the money,] the Ali Akbar College of Music was founded in December 1967.” (6) (Mickey Hart would start taking courses there the next year, and would become friends with Khan.)

McCoy became restless: “I was really looking to duck responsibility. I also was on a search for meaning in life. I was looking for answers. It seemed like the world was going headlong to its own destruction. It seemed like man was raping the earth… I wanted to change the world.” He sold the houseboat business, and started looking for a new place where he could live with his friends. “I wanted a family. I wanted a big place where the kids could all be together.”

Possibly the Dead told him about the place at Rancho Olompali, or he’d heard about their stay there. McCoy rented the land there, moving to Olompali with his friends and their families in November ‘67. It proved a perfect location for McCoy’s flight from the ‘establishment,’ and as more people moved in, the Chosen Family commune was formed around the hippie ideals of freedom, togetherness, collective child-raising, and plenty of marijuana.
“I felt we were chosen for something,” McCoy said. “I thought we were going to create a new society…a new way of doing things, a new way of living together, getting along in a peaceful world.” The commune became well-known in the area for its large-scale baking operation: each week, nude commune members would bake hundreds of loaves of bread for the Diggers to distribute for free in San Francisco.

Reporters became interested in this communal experiment, and there are many retrospective articles available on the Chosen Family. For those readers interested in learning more, I’ve made a separate page with several articles on Don McCoy and the commune at Olompali:

Friends with McCoy, the Dead visited the Olompali commune through 1968, sometimes playing impromptu shows or jam sessions there on the weekends, along with other San Francisco musicians. McNally writes, “They still had a connection to Olompali, which had been taken over the previous December by their Ashbury Street neighbor, Don McCoy, who had inherited money and set up a commune at Olompali that taught children in the manner of the British experimental school Summerhill. Nicknamed by the students the Not School, it served eleven kids and included twenty-five people. Spiritual but not formally religious, it was a good place that summer, with the Dead visiting at times to play music by the pool. Mickey boarded a horse there…so it felt like an extension of the band’s scene.” (7)

One park ranger recalled, “This was a big weekend gathering place for the San Francisco rock icons. They had a lot of jam sessions here. They could play their music loud. They didn't have neighbors to disturb.”
Don McCoy said, “The Dead played because they loved the sound. They'd get into these long, long riffs. They'd improvise. It would echo throughout the hills. You could go up in the hills anywhere and hear the music. It sounded like it was coming from above.”  
Per the Olompali Movie facebook site, “Also joining in on these sessions would be members of the Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Charlatans, among others. It was a magical setting, with grassy lawns to dance on and a beautiful pool to cool off in, surrounded by the open country and rolling hills.” 

There are photos of the Dead stage setup at Olompali sometime in '68, and Garcia jamming with Jack Casady there, during a pool party held by the commune:

Mickey Hart formed a particular bond with several of the commune members. McNally writes that when Hart moved out of San Francisco to Marin County, “he moved first to a home on Ridge Road in Novato. He owned horses, stabling them at Olompali, but it was not terribly convenient, and he got a friend, Rhonda Jensen, to seek a better place to rent.” (8) She found a ranch nearby off Novato Boulevard that Hart took an instant liking to, and it would become a central gathering place for the Dead family over the next few years, various friends staying or living there. (8-1/2)
Among the first to live there were “Mickey’s informally adopted ‘daughters,’ the Jensen girls, Rhonda, Sherry, and Vickie. The Jensens had been living at Olompali, part of Don McCoy’s child-based commune. Their mother was Opa Willy, a pot smuggler, and when she failed to return from a business trip to Mexico, Mickey became a substitute parent.” (9)

The Jensen girls from Olompali also danced onstage at some Dead shows in this period. Ken Babbs says, "I remember the Olompali Angels...all these beautiful girls living up [in Olompali] and they all wore these white diaphanous outfits. The Grateful Dead would be playing and here they'd come wafting in; it was quite a sight."
For instance, at the March 15, 1969 Black & White Ball, they came dressed as angels, and a reviewer remarked on them: “the "Angels of the Dead" - the five little daughters of the group - swaying in the background, wearing white robes, looking like swinging seraphim. Will they be stone deaf, the Grateful Deaf, by the time they're 15? ‘No, because we never never stand in front of Jerry's speaker.’” 

Rhonda is in the back of the Aoxomoxoa photo, with Mickey's horse; her sister Sheri is also there. Sheri would later marry a Hell’s Angel, one of Mickey’s friends; their sister Vicki remained friends with the Dead, and would go scuba-diving with Garcia in Hawaii in '87. (Steve Parish would write that Vicki was "a dear friend...a lifelong Grateful Dead family member [and] an avid diver.") Rhonda was close to Mickey Hart for years, and was with Mickey in his car crash in June ’77; she was able to crawl out of the car to get help. Rhonda also worked with Courtenay Pollock on his tie-dyes in later years, and still runs his website.

When the Aoxomoxoa photo was taken in January ’69, the Olompali commune was entering a crisis. There were a couple drug busts at the commune in January; and on February 2, the main house burned down, leaving many of the residents homeless. The Jensen girls went to live with Mickey Hart.
Don McCoy made an impromptu appearance (in the nude) at the Dead’s “Celestial Synapse” show on February 19 – Bill Graham had to restrain the Fillmore security crew from pulling him off stage, as he remarked, “What are you doing with all those clothes on, baby? I thought we were going to be naked up here! Now wait, this looks like the long arm of the law…excuse me, sir, but I’m just doing my thing.”  

The album picture was taken shortly before the mansion burned down, but the Dead lent some support to the Chosen Family afterwards. On March 17, a benefit was held at Winterland for the commune. A Berkeley Barb notice read, in part: “A "Superjam" dance and concert will be thrown at Winterland this Monday, St. Patrick's Nite, to benefit the Chosen Family that was busted and burned out at Rancho Olompali in Novato. Featured will be musicians from the leading Bay Area rock groups, according to Bob McKendrick from Olompali, the Airplane, the Dead, and Sons of Champlin are expected to show up; also jamming will be the Garden of Delights. […] Glen McKay’s Headlights will provide enlightenment for all. The Superjam is for a good cause...something like 18 to 20 people from Olompali haven't the bread to pay their attorney's fees, and they are all homeless, as Burdell Mansion on Olompali burned down after the bust.” 

Bob McKendrick was a sometime concert promoter and hippie event organizer, who probably helped arrange this benefit - he had produced the "Dance of Death" Costume Ball at California Hall back on Halloween '66, which the Dead had played instead of the Acid Test Graduation. Lately he had been trying to run the Olompali commune while Don McCoy was on a trip to India, though the residents were unhappy with his leadership (many blaming him for the commune’s downward turn). His wife Sheila had been a co-founder of the commune; she had also gone off to India, and would later divorce Bob and marry Don.
Noelle Barton, a teenager at Olompali (and in the Aoxomoxoa photo), worked for the Garden of Delights, a light-show outfit sponsored by McCoy that worked at various venues in '68-69 - the Carousel, the Fillmore West, the Avalon, the Family Dog – in fact, they’d done the lights for the Dead’s recent shows at the Avalon. They had been doing a light show at a Longshoreman’s Hall concert the night the mansion burned down.
Unfortunately no details are known about the “Superjam” as no tape has come out.

McCoy apparently had a nervous breakdown around this time and went to the hospital for some time. The commune remnants staggered on for a few months longer, but after two kids drowned in the pool in June ’69, everyone was evicted and the commune shut down. The former residents went on to new lives, though many of them kept in touch with other Family members. McCoy recovered and went back to the ‘straight life,’ putting his Olompali episode behind him. The land was eventually bought by the state, and turned into a state park. The commune itself became part of the distant sixties past, a failed utopian hippie experiment living on in stories and memories, its most visible legacy the back cover of a Grateful Dead album.

An Olompali lily field…

Thanks to Dr. Jeff, Maura McCoy, Rosie McGee, Ken Babbs, and Jerilyn Brandelius for their help.


0. Derrick Bang, Vince Guaraldi at the Piano, p.248
1. Garcia, Signpost to New Space, p.32-33
2. Lesh, Searching for the Sound, p.88-90
3. Jackson, Garcia, p.104 (See also Scully p.53-59 and McNally p.144-147 for more Olompali anecdotes.)
4. McNally, Long Strange Trip, p.193, 282
6. Peter Lavezzoli, The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, p.66
7. McNally p.262
8. McNally p.307
8-1/2.  See also Rosie McGee's book, which says that Mickey got the ranch in early spring '69.

9. McNally p.308 (Some of McNally’s details are taken from band anecdotes, so they may not be correct.)  

* * * 
Dr. Beechwood has tried to find the exact location in Olompali where the cover photo was taken: 
A couple possible areas are shown... 
...but the tree may no longer be standing, and the mystery remains!


  1. I recall Courtney Love claiming she was on this cover (I think slot #24). David of http://gratefulseconds.blogspot.com/

    1. You may want to check out the link in the first sentence of this post...

    2. yes of oourse. i totally appreciate the depth of your continual strong research

    3. I could totally believe she claimed that

  2. While an anthropology student at Sonoma State University in the late 80s, I worked on a project about Olompali, interviewing some of the people mentioned in this article, some of the adults from the Chosen Family and some of their children, too. None of those interviews were ever published, but I believe they are part of the State Park's archive. I didn't get nearly as much info as you did, it was a hard crowd to get access to and when the participants read the transcriptions of what they had said on tape, many of them refused to let the interviews to be published in anything but heavily edited versions. The tapes of the interviews belong to the State Park, but can't be published without the approval of the interviewees. They kinda neutered the whole thing and I pretty much gave up. I'm really thrilled to read this stuff, thanks for your excellent research! Maybe one day those interview tapes could be revisited by some intrepid researcher, if they are still in the State Park's archive.

    1. Well, some of the kids from the Chosen Family are now involved in making a documentary about Olompali and the commune, which I'm sure will feature a number of interviews with the people who were there. Who knows, they may even use some of your tapes!
      I don't know how "warts & all" it will be, but it's been 25 years since your interviews, more is being written & published about the commune, and some of the older adults have passed away; so I'd imagine more people might be willing to be open about their experiences there.

  3. This is a very interesting post, not just for finally nailing down the back cover of Aoxomoxoa, but for helping to tie together various threads in Grateful Dead history. Don McCoy lived across the street from 710 (initially), rented the band's first rehearsal space, and appears to have been the landlord of Quicksilver and Dan Healy as well. Add in Glenn McKay at 715 (not to mention that HALO was based there), and many of the little parts start to fit together.

    Cookie Eisenberg (#16) was Mickey Hart's girlfriend at the time, having met him in New York in Summer '68. She had owned a travel agency in New York, and besides a Millbrook connection, knew a lot of wealthy, wild East Coasters.

    1. We haven't definitely confirmed that #12 is Cookie Eisenberg; people say it looks like her, but we're not totally certain yet.

      When I wrote the Courtney post, I had no idea there were so many connections between the Dead and McCoy & the Olompali crowd, so I learned a lot from writing this. It probably wouldn't have been possible before the new Olompali documentary started turning up a lot of info. I'm also very much in Dennis McNally's debt, since the research in his book made clear a lot of threads that otherwise would have remained unknown. This post is a partial sketch, since I'm sure there are still many stories about the interactions between the Dead and the people at Olompali that I'm unaware of, or that haven't been told.

      I plan to keep this post updated as more info comes in.

    2. Definetely not Cookie Eisenberg - she was not around until a year or two after this photo shoot. Of course Courtney Love was not around at all.

    3. Not Cookie. Don't know when she came along, but she was with Mickey by August 1969. They drove me to SF and the next day the Sharon Tate slayings were the headlines. And DEFINITELY at Altamont in Dec. 1969.

  4. the dog next to 22? i don't think it is otis.

    I-) ihor

  5. Babbs and his brood were living on the Novato compound where Alembic and the rehearsal studio were; he was sort of the caretaker, paid by the Dead and everything. Here's a quote we axed from out forthcoming tome of Babbs talking a bit about Alembic and the scene up there with the Olompali girls:

    "That's where I got know Owsley a lot better, because he was the soundman and spent a lot of time up there. He was an ambitious guy - the floor in the that building was concrete, so[he had] them take everything out of there and then they went in and drilled holes in the concrete and then laid down a wooden floor and screwed the wooden floor into those holes, because it would sound better than covering it all with carpet. And up on the side was a loft, and that became a place where a lot of people hung out. I remember the Olompali Angels - I don't know what their names were, but there were all these beautiful girls living up [in Olompali, nearby] and they all wore these white diaphanous outfits. The Grateful Dead would be playing and here they'd come wafting in; it was quite a sight. [Laughs]"

    1. The Olompali Angels! That must have been a sight... Perhaps they showed up regularly at Dead shows in that period.

      Ken Babbs recently wrote on his website, "In 1969 I was working as the warehouseman at the Grateful Dead studio called Alembic in Marin County. My bus was parked in the yard and I lived in it." He seems to have accompanied the band at a couple photo shoots in Jan/Feb '69 - one by Herb Greene, and one by Tom Weir...

      Babbs' situation reminds me a bit of Willy Legate - a friend of Garcia in Palo Alto in the early '60s; sometimes writing liner notes & newsletters for the Dead in the '70s; and in the '80s, the custodian/superintendent of the Front Street studio, and the first "vault" tape archivist. If you were an old friend of the Dead's, they'd find a place for you! Some people found long-lasting positions in the Dead organization, but it seems Babbs drifted out again.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Note to Ihor: I've seen 'Stacy' spelled 'Stacey' in some places, but 'Stacy' is the most common and probably how she spells it. Changed to 'Stacy' in the text here, but I'm content with inconsistency on this.
      I don't have the original vinyl Dead album releases, so can't say just how 'Kreutzmann' was spelled on the early albums, or whether Bill himself cared. At any rate that wasn't an issue for me here; there may easily have been misspellings in the album credits. (I know a couple examples were "Tom Constaten" and "Ron Wickershim.")

  7. with vince guaraldi in the picture, and mixed band jams occurring at rancho olompali, would his contention that he played with the grateful dead be supported by supposing that he played with them during a gd appearance here, or that he played with some of the band members during a mixed band jam session here?

    I-) ihor

    1. Yes, it makes a lot of sense that some hitherto impossible to identify instances of Vince playing with the Dead may have been at Olompali. I still think Vince jammed with the Dead in the wee hours of New Years Eve 68-69 at Fillmore West, too, but we will probably know.

    2. Unfortunately, we have little idea just when, where, or how often Guaraldi played with the Dead. He's a ghost guest!

      In later years, we know Guaraldi occasionally played with Garcia at the Matrix Monday-night jam sessions in 1970 (Garcia & Guaraldi were both regulars at the Matrix), and that they also played together in a band a few times in summer 1972:

  8. I have updated the post a little with some new info; note that the photo key has also been changed.

    It seems Cookie Eisenberg wasn't there; apparently she was not with Mickey yet. (McNally's book gives a different impression, saying they'd met in spring '68 and that her travel agency arranged the December '68 "London Run" in which Rock Scully & some other Dead friends went to London; but of course that doesn't mean she was already hanging out at Mickey's place.)
    Instead, we have a woman named Terry I don't know anything about.

    I know precise dates for these things are hard to come by, but there are a couple events I couldn't date:
    - I don't know when Bill married Susila.
    - I don't know when Mickey got his ranch.

    1. White Angels. That's sweet although the only time I remember wearing "white diaphanous outfits" was at the Black & White Ball. The way I remember it was Bobby's mom got to choose the entertainment and Mickey told us it had been decided everyone associated with the band were going to find black & white costumes so he took us to a costume store in the city and rented us the angel outfits and I believe he was Zorro and Jerry a pirate. There was everything from a pope outfit (Goldfinger), to a black gorilla suit (Jackson). The SF elite were not sure what to make of it. The whole thing was fun but pretty weird. Someone else may remember who all wore what.

      When we moved to Olompali the mansion, dormitory and 5 acres was renting for $200. The rest of the acreage was run by a guy named Fred Miller with cattle and a string of renta horses who Rhonda worked for before we moved there and a little while after. We had quite a few horses when we came and paid Mr. Miller grazing fees. When Don came in he took over the whole ranch except for a good size house near the lower 40 where some people ran a pheasant farm and a funny little tucked away place where this cool old guy ran a worm farm. Don asked us to stay and after seeing us with our horses asked our mom to find horses for all the kids and anyone else that wanted one. My mom knew how to deal and Rhonda knew how to pick them. Almost all the kids got right into it and learned fast. When Mickey started hanging out with us he would load a bunch of us in the car for Dead shows (maybe in small part because his car would not start without a push), and afterwards we'd go back out to Olompali with some band and crew and their girlfriends and saddle up to watch the sun rise. The perfect end to some perfect trips.

      We got "Mickey's Ranch" in March '69. Some months later Rock invited Cookie to the ranch and she stayed. 14 horses came with us from Olompali. Opal Willie Jean wrote a letter making Mickey the guardian of us and the horses at which time she moved to Baja and married a retired LAPD gentleman. The other things written about her came after his death. Anyone that wanted to ride could come out and we'd fix them up. Anyone who wanted a horse could have one as long as they would handle what that entailed (consistent care & exercise). Bill & Susila got a small ranch in Novato and took one and Bobby found a cool ranch out in Nicasio.

    2. Thanks for writing! Interesting stuff - it's good to hear from someone who was there.

    3. Is Opal Willie Jean the same person as Jean Jensen?

  9. From Rosie McGee's book Dancing with the Dead, chapter 6:
    “Mickey called me one day in early spring of 1969. Rhonda Jensen, who helped run the horse rental facility at Olompali, had found him the perfect property to rent in Novato. She and her sisters, Vicky and Sheri, had moved to Mickey’s Ridge Road house when a fire had nearly destroyed the Burdell mansion, where they’d been living with Don and Paula McCoy and a group of other families… Mickey secured a lease on the place and he, the Jensen girls, and Jonathan [Riester] all moved in… Since the property was really too small for the Jensens to bring their horses out from Olompali, they left them at the boarding stables and rode out to Mickey’s from there.”
    The Jensen girls stayed there for some time (along with an ever-growing group of the Dead's friends). When the Dead were thinking about acting in the musical western Zachariah sometime in '69, the Jensens brought enough horses over to the ranch so the Dead could have riding lessons.

    I should also mention that Rosie's book has a few photos of Stacy Kreutzmann circa '69, who seems to have been hanging out in the Dead scene at the time - there's even a shot of her at the 5/7/69 Golden Gate Park show. Her father Bill lived on Mickey's ranch for a while that year. What became of her mother Brenda (who split with Bill in late '66, I think), I have no idea. At any rate, Stacy wasn't lonely - the photos show her on the ranch with older girls like the Jensens, and also Sunshine Kesey, close to her age (and also spotted onstage at some Dead shows). Children were always at home on the Dead's stage...

    1. Per Bill's book, he and Brenda had a hard time sticking together in '66, and he had their marriage annulled late in the year, after moving out of 710. He met Susila shortly, and sometime in '68 moved to the Lucas Valley Road house with her. After they were busted for growing pot in early '69, they moved to Novato (on Benton Lane) and got married; and Justin was born on 6/10/69.
      Meanwhile, Stacy stayed with her mother Brenda, who moved back to Palo Alto and remarried. Bill says he barely kept in touch and didn't see Stacy often; but still, there she is in several Dead pictures in '69, so she must have been spending some time with him at least.

  10. another oddity - in that 'just what we were kneading' article, the ranch is consistently called 'oampali'.

    thanks for all the updates!

    I-) ihor

  11. My next post here will be at the end of May.
    I'm sorry for the unintended hiatus - I thought I could finish another essay in the last 3 months, but other plans kept getting in the way. I expect there to be a number of new posts here over the summer, though - several articles are partly done.

  12. Good news. I think I found the link to finding the flower girl, unidentified......Will see if its true and get you the goods....

  13. Oh - I know this one!!! #12 is Gretchen Glanzer. She was in a long term relationship with Vince (who I got to meet once and gave me a Woodstock pin) and also appeared in a picture on one of his albums. She was a friend of my mother's from Dinuba CA who moved to SF in the 60s and worked for Melvin Belli then became a rock and roll promoter for Bill Graham. I loved hearing her stories- she was always larger than life. Here is a link to a blog someone wrote about meeting her. The story she told about this album picture was that she wasn't sure they would amount to anything so she was partially hiding behind the flowers. http://impressionsofvince.blogspot.com/2013/01/incident-at-coffee-shop.html

    1. thank you I've been looking everywhere for this proof to validate the stories I tell of my amazing "auntie" Gretchen. She was my mom's cousin and I grew up with her daughter. thanks again

  14. Way to go Leslie! I knew you had it in you!

  15. Great story! Can't believe all the Manson crew was amidst all this other stuff that was going on.

    1. Um...I don't think any of the Manson crew were at Olompali. The Chosen Family were a totally different group.

  16. I added a note on Dr. Beechwood's quest for the spot where the picture was taken:
    The search continues...

  17. I believe it's the tree nearest the parking lot. It just makes the most sense, the people would mosey out to the most convenient and close spot for the shot. And you can't really tell that it is close to the house or parking lot. I filmed a super 8 movie once in Golden Gate Park, and we used a spot that looked completely rural, it was about 20 feet from the street.

  18. Interesting that Pigpen is the most prominent band member in the photo, yet according to Bob Weir he was not on the album. Sad to hear that.

    1. Yeah, I'm not sure if Pigpen even stepped in the studio at all in that period; they didn't really want him on that album. Ironically, he was on the verge of getting kicked out of the band as the Aoxomoxoa sessions started, even though he was then the most popular & recognizable member of the group. Typical Dead perversity.

  19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=MzBoYFO-q60 The Olompali Documentary is now on YouTube. Fascinating and depressing. (Dr. Jeff)