Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: 1969 (page 1 of 3)

We’re A Two-Gong Band

“How many cables do we need, Precarious?”

“All of them.”


“All of them.”


“Put everything we own on the stage.”



They must be playing one of their bibbledy-boppidy songs that Pigpen can’t understand, because look how sad he looks with that stupid tambourine.

A Tale Of Two Cities (Temporarily)

Let’s get beyond the irony of the sign on the right: it is basic and obvious, and it would lower us to belabor it.

It’s kinda perfect, though.

Oh, absolutely. It’s the type of detail only a hack novelist or real life could come up with.

Maybe it’s French.

Oh, the Lé Itimatê?



No. It’s just funny.

It is. They wanted to be classy so bad, and they did it so badly.

Right. What and when is this?

This is the International Hotel in 1969; Elvis started headlining there on July 31st of that year. He played the whole month of August–a dinner show at 8 and then another at midnight–and if you adjust for the time zones, then it’s likely the King was performing at the same instant that the Dead were onstage at Woodstock.

We are told this is culturally significant.

Enthusiasts–and I am sure you can see this coming–I would pick this over Woodstock in a hummingbird’s heartbeat. Don’t get me wrong: my heart would be in a shit-strewn field without basic facilities listening to Joan Baez, but only metaphorically; my physical heart would be with the rest of my body in Las Vegas.

This is an opinion best argued in bullet points, Enthusiasts. TotD presents Reasons To Choose 8/16/69 In Vegas Rather Than Woodstock:

  • I reiterate: no Joan Baez.
  • Also neither Country Joe, nor Fish.
  • But fish would be available–sole or flounder, with a choice of two sides–and so would a sweeping variety of other foods; there are also beverages of hard and soft natures.
  • Whereas Woodstock ran out of food.
  • Forget the narrative-induced juxtaposition of Vegas/Woodstock in any societal sense: the place with the food is always better than the place without the food.
  • In the casino that Bill Graham set up backstage at Woodstock, there was no craps table; point: Vegas.
  • Did not rain in Las Vegas in August, and if it did you could just go inside and play craps.
  • I didn’t look that up, but it did not rain in Las Vegas in August.
  • Oh, wait.
  • I did look that up.
  • BOOM, bitches!
  • Don’t call the nice people that.
  • The need to get at me, dog.
  • Don’t talk like DMX, either.
  • Get out of the bullet points.
  • You get out of the bullet points.

Fine. It is worth noting–as long as we’re discussing the narrative-induced juxtaposition of Woodstock/Vegas in a societal sense–that the Vegas lineup is far more diverse on a strictly numbers basis (33% to 15%) but judged by a metric of “southern lunatics” then the Vegas show is not diverse at all.

But look at that show! (Yeah, yeah: it’s two separate shows, but you could see them all in one night)

This is what the Ike and Tina Turner Revue sounded like in 1969:

Four songs–not lip-synced, real performances–and an interview with Hugh Hefner. Feel free to skip the interview if you don’t want to watch Ike get escalatingly more perturbed as Hugh directs all of his questions to Tina, but stick around for the Ikettes. Also, Hugh has invited every single one of his black friends to the taping, and the director is determined to let you see them having a good time.

And this is Wayne Cochran and the C. C. Riders from a few years later:

So there’s that.

There’s no film of Elvis at the International that first run, but this is what he sounded like the week after Woodstock on 8/24/69:

It’s a clear SBD, and uncut: you get to have fun with Elvis onstage as he babbles about whatever comes into his head, and also squirrels.

Then, when those three high-powered, house rockin’ bands are done, you can play blackjack or wear hats or have mob tie; whatever people did in Vegas late at night back then.

Or you could make a doody in a bush while Ravi Shankar sitars at you.

There is no choice.

  • Hey. Excuse me.

Why are you still in there?

  • I don’t know. I can’t leave. Can you help me, please? It’s brittle and loud in here. There are monsters.

Oh, wow. The bullet points are their own separate reality? Never realized. Live and learn.

  • Please help. I shouldn’t be here; I don’t have enough nipples.

You’re on your own.

Keep It Down Up There


The garage is, mythopoetically, where bands come from; guitarists are born in bedrooms.

Uncirculated Chain

Something has happened, Enthusiasts. What it was, I cannot say, but something. A chance encounter? A dream sequence leading to a car chase leading to a giant beam shooting into the sky? Was it karma?

I bet it was karma.

However these things start, the end result is a semi-flood of new, never-before-circulated versions of shows hitting the torrents, along with a handful of never-before-heard practice session tapes (one of which included the previously obscure Wanderin’ Man that I posted). Their originator prefers to remain anonymous, but they have been cleaned and buffed by a fellow (I’m assuming, for reasons that will become evident exactly one word from now) named Sir Mick (see?) and if you’re a torrent-type person, then you can go grab all of them here.

(That’s fourteen new-to-circulation tapes in the last two days. Also Bobby’s new album, and Phil did something, I’m sure.)

If you’re not a torrent person, however, you can still enjoy this new SBD of 4/5/69 at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco:

One Night In America

deadandco charlotte pride flag

If you were a snazzy dude or a stone-cold fox in Santa Rosa, CA, on 6/28/69, you were in luck. The Grateful damned Dead was in town and for the price of a ticket, or a boost up the venue’s drainpipe, you could kick the shit off your rock and roll shoes. You could get down, or get high, or get busy, or get real loose with it, or you could get into some real heavy shit. The cops would give you the stink-eye, and pick off the dumb and unlucky, but mostly it was a summer night in America and you could fall in love.

If you were gay in Manhattan and wanted a drink, you were fucked. I mean: you could purchase a beverage. You just couldn’t be gay while you drank it; it was illegal. And actually, the beverage itself probably was illegal, as the only bars that catered to homosexuals were owned by the mob. An establishment that tolerated homosexual behavior would get its liquor license pulled, and there were undercover cops scouring the city looking for enclaves of gays and lesbians who had the temerity to be thirsty and want to dance to the jukebox. A legitimate restaurateur needed his license, so even if he were sympathetic (or secretly gay himself,) he wouldn’t permit gayness in his place.

Criminals, on the other hand, couldn’t give a shit about licenses, and they owned the gay bars.  Every week, the local precinct’s bagman would swing by for his payment, and every month or so, a bunch of cops would swing by to arrest people: men for dancing with one another, or women for wearing “un-feminine” clothing. These bars were terrible and filthy places with stolen and watered-down liquor, and the worst bathrooms in Manhattan until CBGB’s opened. One place, the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, didn’t have running water.

Veteran’s Auditorium in Santa Rosa had running water. The kids could dance, and wear whatever the hell they wanted.

The undercover cops I mentioned? They’d hit on guys, and arrest them for responding. The paper would print your name and address the next day, and lawyers wouldn’t take your case. And–and this is the important part right here–society was happy to see you get what you deserved, fairy. You weren’t a criminal. You were the crime.

A drink in a clean, well-lighted place. A dance floor, and dimes for the Wurlitzer. It isn’t too much to ask.

On June 28th, 1969–probably at exactly the same time the kids in Santa Rosa were doing exactly what they wanted to do–the cops raided the Stonewall, where the kids were not allowed to do what they wanted.

I called them kids.


They were.

The busts were usually peaceful, but not this night; the riot lasted three days and sparked the modern gay rights movement. People will only eat shit for so long, and there are stories of drag queens ripping up the sidewalks to throw chunks of paving stones at cops. I hope those stories are true, but there’s no tape. Not even an AUD.

’69 was a long time ago, but not that long, and society’s come far, but not far enough. The finish line keeps moving itself backwards, it seems.

Some people like to go to Dead shows, and some people like to go to gay bars; they’re the same thing: something to drink, and someplace to dance, and people who understand you. Maybe even want to kiss you. Somewhere you could let your light shine.

It isn’t too much to ask.

Strangers Stopping Strangers, Just To Sell Them Stuff

woodstock fuck commies stall

The right of a free and prosperous people to sell each other crap shall not be infringed.

Although, putting a “Fuck Communism” sign on a temporary t-shirt stand is redundant: an economy’s freedom and robustness can be measured by the amount of guys selling t-shirts outside an event.

Also: her back.

Once You See Him

woodstock couple guy

Hey, gorgeous.

“Oh, hello. Danke. Ja, Ich bin hot und bra-less.”

Not you.


Absolutely not. Nice afro, though.

“You talking to me?”

This picture’s all about you, Redshirt.

“Um, thanks? Nice and all, but I really don’t–”

SHHH. Don’t talk. Just stand there and look dumb.

“This is weird.”

I would totally rather have you on my face than VR goggles.

“I don’t know what that means.”

Oh, really? Why?

“This is Woodstock. It’s the past”

Huh. What year?


Ahhhhh, yeah.

“Okay, I’m gonna go.”

And I’m gonna watch you walk away, you beefcake.

“Don’t talk to me.”

Y’know, you hippies had an awfully circumscribed definition of “free love.”

Big Enough Rock

The Big Rock Powwow could be called South Florida’s attempt to have themselves a Woodstock, except that this festival happened three months before Woodstock. Time Sheath explanations are probably not correct: apparently, someone in Florida had an original thought. Shocking.

There’s not much about the festival on the innertubes, and I googled it almost twice, so I feel assured that I am correct in whatever the hell I am saying. There’s a handbill:

big rock powwow handbill
You could get your tickets at any Slak Shak for just five bucks, which comes out to $31 today, so you almost couldn’t afford to miss this show: this is some serious value for your South Florida Hippie Dollar.

There’s also a poster:

big rock powwow posterA few questions:

  • Did the Dead hear Darkness, Darkness by the Youngbloods at this show, only to turn it into the rarely-spotted Darkness Jam ?
  • Was there one record store in South Florida that didn’t spell their name wrong on purpose?
  • Did Edgar Winter frighten Bobby?
  • Rhinoceros?
  • Really?
  • That was the best name you could think up?
  • Is the water muddy, or is the water sweet?
  • Did Joe South not have anywhere else to go?

Florida Men


Speaking of terrible mustaches, the Powwow Festival, and spoons, here’s this pic. There was a good four or five-year period of this bands life when they were trying to out-hippie one another through the cunning use of facial hair and strategic deployment of vests. Mickey’s vest seems like it might come with a long story about Native Americans, too.

phil mickey jerry powwow
Hey, Garcia. I see you back there.

“I’m the Babadook, man.”

How do you even know what that is?

Are you using the Time Sheath to go to the movies?

“You get so much more popcorn in the future.”


A Study In Scarlet

Why has there been no scholarly attention paid to the state of Garcia’s facial hair and its relation to the jams? Were the jams, in fact, hairier when Garcia was, or did the music and his face vary inversely in hirsuteness? What predicated the shavening? Did Mountain Girl throw him out again? Seems like that might lead a man to cut his hair in a dramatic fashion.

We need dates, people. What the fuck are those slackards at Deadbase doing if there’s not an educated and sourced reckoning of Garcia’s beard/mustache/muttonchops? I think we can narrow it down to weeks, or even days: it probably took Bobby the whole summer to grow that shitty ’77 beard, but Garcia could most likely raise himself a decent beard in a long weekend. From the neck up, Garcia was at least a quarter wolfman. (From the neck down, Garcia was strangely hairless; like a Brazilian dolphin.)

jerry mustache powwowFrom the Comment Section: this is most definitely Florida–the Powwow show that got released as one of the sorely-missed Road Trip series. You can listen to it, if you’d like.

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