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!
It would also be nice to know who the dog 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:

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.


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.) 

January 24, 2015

Were Rolling Stones at an Acid Test?

On December 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played at the San Jose Civic Auditorium. The audience leaving the late show that night found themselves accosted by strange beings from a new world, faces painted and bearing crayon-lettered flyers that read: “Can YOU pass the acid test?” Tom Wolfe would describe that as the “masses start pouring out of the Rolling Stones concert at the Civic Auditorium, the Pranksters charge in among them…handing out the handbills with the challenge…come to channel the wild pointless energy built up by the Rolling Stones inside.” The adventurous souls who went to the mysterious address on the flyer, near downtown San Jose, discovered the second acid test in progress.

Ken Kesey hadn’t been able to rent a hall in San Jose, so he used the house of a friend in town nicknamed Big Nig. Unfortunately the house was too small for the event, as perhaps four hundred people arrived (though everyone was charged a dollar at Big Nig’s request). The Dead played on one side of the living room, while the Pranksters set up their equipment on the other side: speakers, micophones, tape loops, the Thunder Machine, and strobe lights. The result was a deafening chaos.
Per McNally, “Sara Garcia would remember the night as frenetic, with people milling around a terribly loud environment…the Dead playing in too small a room.” (1) Phil Lesh would also write, “Unfortunately the room was very small, so all the attendees were crammed into the same space as the band, and the crush of bodies together with the wind-tunnel sound and flashing projections turned the Test into a mind-numbing blur of noise, light, and heat. There was no way any one individual could be aware of everything going on in the place. It was a free-for-all.” (2)

The Rolling Stones were the coolest band around, sending young audiences into frenzies everywhere. The Dead themselves were playing lots of Stones covers, in fact had formed earlier that year mainly to copy the Stones. When the Stones had played San Francisco, Emmett Grogan (who would found the Diggers the next year) distributed a flyer saying the Rolling Stones were “the embodiment of everything we represent, a psychic evolution…the breaking up of old values.” (3)
It was no coincidence that the acid test came to San Jose the same night as the Rolling Stones. In August, the Pranksters had gone to see the Beatles at the Cow Palace, and Kesey had been very impressed by what happened to the audience; he’d hoped to invite the Beatles to a party at his place, but they never came. Tom Wolfe suggests Kesey’s plan for the Stones’ show: “He can see all the wound-up wired-up teeny freaks and assorted multitudes…pouring out still aquiver with ecstasy…all cocked and aimless with no flow to go off in…” The Pranksters were ready to capture that audience for their own freakout – “and what if the multitudes didn’t know where it was going to be until the last minute? Well, those who were meant to be there…they would get there.” (4) (But admittedly, “a lot of the kids the Pranksters had corralled coming out of the Rolling Stones show did not take LSD that night.”) (5)
There was some effort to bring some actual Stones to the acid test. McNally writes that “Sue Swanson, Connie Bonner, and Neal [Cassady] went off to ‘bring back the Stones.’ Unfortunately the girls rushed the stage in the general melee occasioned by Mick Jagger’s shirt coming unbuttoned, and were ejected.” (6)

No eyewitness account of the acid test mentions any Stones arriving, and even in the mayhem you’d think they’d be noticed. Yet, a story has spread that some Stones did attend the acid test. The San Jose Mercury News had an article in 2008 on local rock landmarks which mentioned the acid test house, mistakenly writing that per Bill Wyman’s autobiography, “Keith Richards and Brian Jones also stopped by the party.” (This was quoted by the Jerry’s Brokendown Palaces site, and also repeated elsewhere.)  

Wyman actually wrote in his book Stone Alone: “After the San Jose show, which earned us a cool $18,000, Mick, Chrissie, Brian and Anita flew to San Diego. The rest of us returned to the San Jose hotel before going to a party. We rejoined Mick and Brian in San Diego next day and after a successful afternoon concert continued to Los Angeles, checking into the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel before the final concert of the tour… After the [Los Angeles] show some of the group went with Jack Nitzsche to visit the top session drummer Hal Blaine… It was that night, also, that Keith and Brian took LSD at a party given by the writer Ken Kesey and his followers.” (7)  

So Wyman says nothing about any Stones going to the acid test; and he places the meeting between Kesey and some of the Stones a day later, in Los Angeles.
It is still possible that the unspecified “party” Wyman mentions in San Jose was the acid test. (I haven’t seen his Rolling With The Stones scrapbook, which may have more info.) But it’s hard to imagine any Stones slipping in incognito, especially among a crowd of kids who’d just seen their show. The Stones are absent from all the firsthand accounts of the acid test – Tom Wolfe's book doesn't mention any such encounter that I could find, nor does Phil Lesh’s book say a word about glimpsing a Stone. Wouldn’t someone who was there have remembered it?
Two actual Rolling Stones at an acid test would've blown everyone's minds - particularly the Dead’s. The idea of some of the Stones watching the Dead play in 1965, perhaps even covering some of the same songs the Stones had just played, is so surreal I had to investigate further.
But a little research uncovered multiple conflicting stories about just what took place. Most of our sources are treacherous: Kesey and the acid test, like a sixties shadow, slip from date to date, from city to city, in different books, leaving it uncertain whether anybody actually knows what happened.

The most standard story is that Keith Richards and Brian Jones attended an acid test at the end of the Stones’ tour. (Keith had been electrocuted onstage at the December 3 Sacramento show, but by the next day was apparently none the worse for wear. After December 4 in San Jose, December 5 was the last date of the tour: an afternoon show in San Diego, and an evening show in Los Angeles.)
For instance, one chronology states that on December 5, “Following the Los Angeles concert, Keith Richards and Brian Jones attend an Acid Test party by Ken Kesey and sample LSD.”
Another website changes the date and adds some more details: on December 4, "Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Mick Jagger, alongside poet Allen Ginsberg, attended an acid test... Only Mick refrained from participating, but Jones and Richards quickly became converts."
(Ginsberg had hung out with Kesey’s group and attended the first acid test a week earlier, but I don’t know if he was at any later acid tests. In any case, no other source puts him with the Stones.)

Some books place the acid test (correctly) in San Jose on December 4. David Dalton’s book Rolling Stones is the earliest account I could find: “Brian and Keith got a taste of Electric Kool-aid at the second Acid Test party thrown by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters after the [San Jose] concert.” (8)

Victor Bockris’ biography of Keith Richards states: “Wrote the author of Haight-Ashbury, Charles Perry, ‘When the Stones show ended leafleteers appeared out in front distributing hand-lettered sheets reading “Can you pass the acid test?” and giving an address. This was shrewd advertising, and this time the acid test drew about four hundred people.’ Keith and Brian attended Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ acid test party that night.” (9) (Perry had not actually mentioned anything about Keith & Brian.)

Scott Allen's extremely dubious book Aces Back to Back says that 12/4/65 was the first acid test, and invents a brand new story: “Before the Acid Test, Ken Kesey and some of the Merry Pranksters attended an afternoon concert by the Rolling Stones at the San Jose Civic Center. Prior to the evening show, Keith Richards and Brian Jones ran into Kesey and his crew outside the arena. After discussing Jimmy Reed's music to break the ice, the Pranksters offer the two some acid. During the Stones' late show, Jones and Richards take their maiden voyage on LSD.” (10)

Other books place the acid test in Los Angeles on December 5. For instance, Laura Jackson’s biography of Brian Jones: “The tour wound up in Los Angeles on 5 December. To celebrate the end Brian and Keith went off to an Acid Test party given by the writer Ken Kesey and his crowd. Needless to say, Brian passed the test as did Keith, which was to try out a man-made drug so new it had not yet been declared illegal…LSD, more commonly known as acid. That night he dropped acid and set his ever curious feet on a new and, this time, destructive path.”  (11)

Philip Norman’s biography of Mick Jagger follows the same path: “On December 5, after the Stones played their final date of the tour at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Brian and Keith attended one of Ken Kesey’s regular LSD parties, or acid tests, listened to Kesey’s sermon on the new consciousness and creativity it could unlock in them, and then tested it on themselves. For both, the experience fully lived up to expectations, and they urged Mick to try it without delay. But the cautious, health-conscious Mick…preferred to hold back awhile.” (12)

Christopher Anderson’s biography of Mick repeats the story: “Until now, Mick had resisted LSD; at a party thrown in LA by One From the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey, Keith and Brian both dropped acid, but Mick declined. ‘He was afraid of losing control,’ Chrissie said, ‘and that’s the most important thing to him, more important than love or even money: control.’” (13)

Paul Trynka’s biography of Brian Jones adds a new twist: “…5 December, the final date of the Stones tour, which also inspired the first public Acid Test, run by Ken Kesey and his Pranksters – the first time a San Francisco R&B band, the Warlocks, performed under their new name the Grateful Dead. In the following weeks, stories filtered out that Brian had turned up for this crucial event, briefly appearing on stage with Jerry Garcia, as if to give the emerging counter-culture his blessing. It wasn’t true. ‘We did go to the Stones venue and pass out pamphlets,’ says Prankster Ken Boss, ‘but Brian showing up was just a myth.’ The myth would circulate for years, though, cementing Brian’s reputation as the Stone who was unafraid to venture into new psychic territory.” (14)
This is a rather bizarre story that I’d never heard; at least it doesn’t show up in any Dead books. I suppose it was the writer’s imagination? What’s more interesting is the quote from prankster “Ken Boss” – which could be either Ken Babbs or Kesey. Though the pseudonym doesn’t inspire confidence, Boss’s statement does sound accurate.

Trynka’s book also states that this wasn’t Brian Jones’ first time on acid – far from it. “He dropped his first tab on the way to a club on Sunset Boulevard on 16 May [1965]… ‘He said the whole ground was covered with snakes,’ recalls Bill Wyman. ‘He jumped along the pavement trying to avoid them.’ The snakes would become a leitmotif, says Marianne Faithfull… ‘[His] paranoiac condition worsened on acid. Everyone would be looning about, and Brian would be over in the corner, crumpled up.’” (15) Despite this, Brian immediately started taking acid regularly and urging everyone to try it.

Bill Wyman’s book Stone Alone confirms that Brian was indeed taking acid on May 16, 1965. The Stones’ car was crushed by fans as they tried to leave the Long Beach Civic Auditorium afternoon show that day: “Back in Los Angeles, unbelievably, we went straight to work in the evening, probably good therapy. We filmed four songs for a television show, and Brian and I later felt fresh enough to go out to the Action Club, where Brian eventually got up on stage and sat in with the band, playing harmonica. Brian’s behavior was bizarre that night and Kathy (West) Townsend, a girlfriend of mine at the time, recalls that he had been ‘dropping acid, running all over the Ambassador Hotel, jumping over snakes.’ I, too, remember Brian walking from the car to the entrance of the Action Club, saying the ground was covered with snakes; he proceeded to jump over the imaginary reptiles.” (16)

But did Brian’s acid appear out of nowhere? No! Wherever there’s acid, it seems, Kesey must be too. According to John McMillian's book Beatles vs. Stones: “On May 16, 1965, Ken Kesey's group, the Merry Pranksters...drove from San Francisco to Long Beach, where they partied with the Stones and plied Brian Jones with a fistful of acid.” (17)

Stephen Davis’s book Old Gods Almost Dead adds more detail: after the May 16 Long Beach show, “the Stones flew back to LA. Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters had driven down from Frisco to party with the Stones, and they gave Brian a load of acid… Brian took to acid like someone who’d found God. Tripping his brains out, stepping over hallucinatory snakes, he took his harmonica to the clubs along Sunset Strip and spent his nights jamming with any band that would let the dissolute, wide-eyed young rock star onstage. After dropping a few cubes of Orange Sunshine, Brian even disappeared for a few hours, causing a frantic search so the Stones could make their May 17 gig in San Diego. They were so late for the show that the Byrds began to play Stones songs…” (18)
(Davis gets a little carried away here. Wyman’s memoir says nothing about Brian disappearing: “In San Diego, our car broke down, making us thirty minutes late arriving at the theatre. The Byrds…had preceded us on several concerts, and now they had to stay on stage to keep the audience entertained until we arrived. We were amused to see that by the time we got to the stage, they had run through their entire repertoire and were playing Rolling Stones songs!”) (19)

Davis doesn’t rest with just one Kesey encounter. As well as the party in May, after the December 5 Los Angeles show, “Keith and Linda and Brian and Anita attended the second Acid Test run by the Merry Pranksters. …Brian was flying on acid all the time now.” (20)

In the end, we are left none the wiser. Did Kesey meet the Stones in May, or in December? In San Jose, or in Los Angeles? Or did he ever really meet them at all? The whole story of the Stones at an acid test is probably an urban legend! None of these books offer convincing sources for their tales, needless to say, as the facts seem to shift around and Kesey pops up in various places. In most cases I suspect the writers are just copying earlier Stones books, making up new details to add color to the story.
Wyman's account looks the most accurate to me – Stone Alone is a firsthand memoir, definitely taken from some kind of diary he kept at the time (though of course it's not the original unaltered diary). So if he writes that Kesey was at a party in Los Angeles on December 5, giving out acid to the Stones, that’s the best evidence we have. Not quite an acid test, but close.
Despite the multitude of books on the Rolling Stones, we’re still lacking a good biography of Ken Kesey. Tom Wolfe’s book is the most thorough account of Kesey’s activities at the time, but it shouldn’t be the last word. I haven’t seen any confirmation outside of Stones books that Kesey went down to LA to meet the Stones – Kesey did have friends in Los Angeles, but for all we know, it might not have been Kesey after all. Perhaps some aging Pranksters will remember and tell the story…

Keith Richards doesn’t specifically mention meeting Kesey in his memoir, which isn’t surprising in the blur. But he has some harsh words for Kesey’s legacy, referring to people (like himself) who kept taking acid despite bad trips:
“It was the idea of a boundary that had to be pushed. There was a bit of stupidity there as well. Wasn’t so good last time? Let’s try it again. What, are you chicken now? It was the Acid Test, Ken Kesey’s goddamn thing. It meant if you hadn’t been there you ain’t nowhere, which was really dumb. A lot of people felt obliged to take it even if they didn’t want to, if they wanted to stay and hang with the crowd. It was a gang thing… Acid made Brian feel he was one of an elite. Like the Acid Test. It was that cliquishness; he wanted to be a part of something, could never find something to be a part of. I don’t remember anybody else going about saying, ‘I’ve taken acid.’ But Brian saw it as a sort of Congressional Medal of Honor. And then he’d come on like, ‘You wouldn’t know, man. I’ve been tripping.’ …It was the typical drug thing, that they think they’re somebody special. It’s the head club. You’d meet people who’d say, ‘Are you a head?’ as if it conferred some special status. People who were stoned on something you hadn’t taken. Their elitism was total bullshit. Ken Kesey’s got a lot to answer for.” (21)


  1. Dennis McNally, Long Strange Trip, p.113
  2. Phil Lesh, Searching for the Sound, p.65
  3. John McMillian, Beatles vs. Stones, p.158
  4. Tom Wolfe, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, p.210
  5. Wolfe, p.215
  6. McNally, p.112
  7. Wyman, Stone Alone, p.358
  8. David Dalton, Rolling Stones, p.59
  9. Victor Bockris, Keith Richards, p.100
  10. Scott Allen, Aces Back to Back, p.50
  11. Laura Jackson, Brian Jones, p.143
  12. Philip Norman, Mick Jagger, p.193
  13. Christopher Anderson, Mick, p.75
  14. Paul Trynka, Brian Jones, p.176
  15. Trynka, p.155
  16. Wyman, p.320
  17. McMillian, p.159
  18. Stephen Davis, Old Gods Almost Dead, p.124-5
  19. Wyman, p.120
  20. Davis, p.149
  21. Keith Richards, Life, p.192, 206

January 1, 2015

It Wasn't Courtney

For years, there has been a rumor that the five-year-old Courtney Love was on the back cover of Aoxomoxoa – the girl in the front, sitting next to Pigpen. This story has been repeated so often, it’s become an internet “fact,” supposedly confirmed by David Gans and even mentioned in official Dead writings.
Here’s one site that tells the tale:

Circumstantially, it was possible for her to be there. Her father, Hank Harrison, had been a college friend and roommate of Phil Lesh in the early ‘60s, had briefly managed the Warlocks “for one week” in 1965, and stayed in contact with the Dead up to the ‘70s, gathering material for his books on them. Courtney Michelle Harrison was born on July 9, 1964; Phil Lesh was her godfather. She lived with her parents in San Francisco until their divorce in 1969; then her mother took her to an Oregon commune in 1970. She had a loose hippie upbringing: one biographer describes her childhood house as full of musicians, groupies and freaks; and Courtney later shuddered, “There were all these hairy, wangly-ass hippies in our house…running around naked.”[1]  “We were doing tons of acid, changing sex partners, and tripping out,” Hank said;[2] and in a child custody dispute, her mother would testify that Hank gave Courtney LSD as an infant. With her father hanging around the Dead, it wouldn’t seem surprising for her to be included in a Dead family shoot.

Of course it’s not known just how involved Hank was in the Dead scene in 1969, as detailed information is scanty and his books are rather obscure. It’s possible he just had occasional contact at that point. Courtney later wrote that Hank was not as close to the Dead as he claimed: “He had published 2 unauthorized books…writing from the perspective of an insider, when in fact he barely dealt with the band.”[3]  On the other hand, Courtney’s also said, “My mother had ties to a lot of the women around the San Francisco hippie scene, like Ken Kesey’s wife and the Magic Bus people.”[4] 

Ken Babbs also appears in the Aoxomoxoa cover photo, along with various other mostly unidentified friends of the Dead. The Dead could have taken a more traditional band-only shot, something like this (done with the same photographer and location):  

But instead they rounded up some women and children they knew and headed to Rancho Olompali for a kind of bucolic, tribal-commune image: this wasn’t just a band, it was a whole family.

As it happens, Courtney was not one of the kids included. The girl long identified as her was actually a close family member of the band – Stacy Kreutzmann, born a week apart from Courtney.

Rock Scully wrote: “Billy [was] married to his first wife, Brenda. They were high school sweethearts, had married in 1962 when Billy was just 18, and on July 3, 1964, had a daughter, Stacy – the little girl next to Pigpen in the Dead family photograph on the back cover of Aoxomoxoa. Toward the end of 1967, Kreutzmann got divorced from Brenda and around the time of Woodstock moves to Mill Valley with his new girlfriend, Susila… He eventually marries her and on June 10, 1969, they have a son, Justin.”[5]

When the photo was shot, Brenda had been separated from Kreutzmann for some time, and Stacy lived with her mother. She was still part of the Dead family, though – in fact, “Pigpen was my first babysitter.”[6]

One newspaper article on Stacy begins:
“A normal childhood? Not for Stacy Kreutzmann Quinn. As the daughter of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, she grew up in the epicenter of hippie culture. She remembers sleeping under her dad's drum kit, walking around Haight-Ashbury in the middle of the night and, yes, having Dead keyboardist Pig Pen as her first baby sitter.
"My mother liked him. The other guys were all tripping, but he was not into that," Kreutzmann Quinn says of Pig Pen, with whom she was pictured on the cover of the Dead's "Aoxomoxoa" album when she was 5 years old.”[7]

In another interview, Stacy revealed that she was very fond of Pigpen:
“I have a deep, everlasting love of rough looking Hell’s Angel kind of guys that are into the blues… I had a deep love for him. My mother said he was a very gentle, tender guy, and she really trusted him a lot. He was always very tender with me.”[8]

A couple of the women who were at the Aoxomoxoa photo shoot (Maura McCoy and Rosie McGee) have also confirmed that it is Stacy in the photo, not Courtney.[9]

The people have moved on, but the Olompali site can still be visited today:

Asked about her life growing up around the Grateful Dead, Stacy recalled:
“It was like being raised by the circus. There was a lot of concern when I went to kindergarten about how I would do. This bohemian kid, the stories of sleeping under the drums, the stories of being at acid tests. I was very sophisticated, precocious. I knew about everything. I've always been very streetwise. I think the best gift coming from the Grateful Dead is a sense of tolerance, love and openness of spirit, because that really did exist. It's not just a myth.”[10] 

As for Courtney, she later drifted far from the Dead scene…. 

1. Ian Halperin, Who Killed Kurt Cobain p.44
2. Halperin p. 42 
3. Poppy Brite, Courtney Love: The Real Story p. 185 (Courtney went on: "Just ask the Grateful Dead if my facts are straight, he claims to have managed their charity events for an annum, pretty vague job description, but last time I checked he was still selling 60s Dead boots in the back of Relix, Goldmine, and sometimes Rolling Stones." I doubt Courtney herself knew or cared much about Hank's connection with the Dead; but his accounts are more inventive than factual.)
4. Halperin p. 43 (Books like these should be treated with caution. Almost any 'fact' about Courtney's childhood is disputed, depending which source you use; and there are no good sources, given that she and her father are both unreliable and bitterly divided, and the authors who write about them do not inspire trust.)
5. Rock Scully, Living with the Dead p. 163
7. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8414778.html (“Daughter of the Dead brings publishing venture to life,” by Steve Morse, from Boston Globe 1/3/97)
8. http://www.tonibrownband.com/AcidTest24-2.html ("Acid Test Productions," an interview with Stacy Kreutzmann Quinn by Toni Brown, from Relix, April 1997) 
9. Admittedly, I don’t know who the other kids and people in the photo are, and more identifications might be useful in mapping the Dead's close social network circa '69. 
11. See this article by Jesse Jarnow for comments from Dylan Carlson - Cobain's best friend and a Dead fan: http://www.jambands.com/news/2011/08/01/indie-rockers-celebrate-jerry-garcia-on-jerry-day  
"They're always kind of underneath the radar in a lot of ways. Maybe the perception is that they represent this whole [hippie] thing - it's so hippie we gotta hate it - especially in the underground rock world...  I think the Dead are weird because a lot of people who say they don't like them haven't actually heard them. Unfortunately, Kurt was not one I was ever able to turn." 
Indeed, Cobain was extreme in his punk sneer: "I wouldn't wear a tie-dyed t-shirt unless it was dyed with the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Jerry Garcia." But it's worth mentioning that members of bands Cobain admired - Greg Ginn of Black Flag, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets - are also Dead fans. One of the ironies of his life.

After I wrote this post, Dr. Jeff and I continued to investigate who the people in the Aoxomoxoa photo were, and we were able to identify almost all of them: 

September 5, 2014

Missing 1968 Shows

The Grateful Dead played approximately 120 shows in 1968. Of those, only 42 shows (either whole or in part) circulate from the year. With two-thirds of the shows from 1968 lost, it is a melancholy task to list them all, but I thought I’d give it a try: this list will cover the shows and parts of shows we don’t have.

Tapes that are incomplete and missing pieces of shows are listed. A few audience tapes survive from 1968; those are only listed here when they’re incomplete. I’ve also noted the few uncirculated tapes that are known to still be in the Vault.
The Hartbeats shows and a couple other known Garcia jam sessions are included.
Lost songs recalled from deadbase or other sources are listed [in brackets], and useful recollections of the shows are quoted when available.

This post completes a series on the Dead’s missing tapes from 1968-1970:
(I will not be covering 1966-67 like this since we are missing 90% of the shows played in those years!)

The Dead taped a large number of shows for Anthem of the Sun from January through March ’68, so we have a good picture of those months. April through July ‘68 is more or less a gaping hole in our tape record, though a few fragments survive. When the Carousel closed in June, Owsley (who’d been taping shows there) rejoined the Dead as their soundman and started taping them again; so we have a small number of unlabeled tapes from June. Since the Dead briefly considered taping another live album in August, we have a batch of tapes from that month. The rest of the year is spotty, and it’s certain that many of Owsley’s tapes have disappeared – aside from the Matrix Hartbeats tapes, we have just a handful of tapes from the fall, and a few more from December.

A note on the winter ’68 tour: per David Lemieux, the bonus material on the 2/14/68 Road Trips release came from a San Francisco studio that was closing and sent their Dead material to the Vault, including live tapes the Dead were working on for Anthem of the Sun. There were only snippets of shows on compilation reels, none complete - but he said the only piece they couldn't fit on the release was a ten-minute Alligator (no Caution) which was dropped due to sound issues. (He didn’t identify the show.)

1/20/68 Municipal Auditorium, Eureka, CA
Only 35 minutes of this show circulated; Viola Lee Blues and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl were included on the 2/14/68 Road Trips release. It’s hard to say how much more we might be missing, but probably at least a China Cat>Eleven following the cut Dark Star.

The circulating shows labeled January 22-23 are from the January 26-27 Eagles Auditorium, Seattle shows. Combined with the “1/23” songs on the Road Trips release, our tapes seem to be nearly complete. A newspaper review says the 1/27 show opened with Lovelight, and confirms some of the banter on the "1/23" tracks.

1/29/68 Portland State College Ballroom, Portland, OR
Part of a newspaper review: “Flash after flash, skyrockets, bombs... I've never seen anything like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane lightshow. [The band was] loud, loud enough that we didn't need ears. We could see and feel the music, it saturated the ballroom... [They] kept hitting climaxes, bursting, sense-tearing climaxes, until on some magic cue they relaxed, dropped back to reality, stringing us along...” [McNally]

1/30/68 EMU Ballroom, U of Oregon, Eugene, OR [Gloria, Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment]  
“After the Anthem of the Sun suite, Pigpen sang ‘Gloria.’” [dead.net]
New Potato Caboose from this show was released on the 2/14/68 Road Trips bonus disc, but it is doubtful whether more survives in the Vault.

2/2/68 Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
The circulating tape is only 33 minutes and cuts off in Schoolgirl. The Dark Star encore was included on the Road Trips release, but clearly more is missing (the following night’s set is an hour long).

2/4/68 South Oregon College, Ashland, OR

2/15/68 San Quentin State Prison, CA ("free afternoon concert on the lawn outside the prison")

2/17/68 Selland Arena, Fresno, CA [Good Morning Little Schoolgirl ; Turn On Your Lovelight]
George Hiatt: “They opened the show and played "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and then an extremely long version of "Turn on Your Lovelight" – that was the show!” [deadlists]
Rod Hanson: “They did play only two songs (they came in very late for the gig that night)…they did play "Good Mornin' Little School Girl" for their opening...and it lasted about 20 minutes...then they played "Turn On Your Love Light" for a very long time...they jammed on "Love Light" for quite awhile…and that was it.” [setlists.net]

2/22/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA
One reel of this show was posted on the dead.net Taper’s Section, and another reel is still in the Vault. “The reels labeled one and two were missing all the vocals and one of the drummers. David Lemieux recalled that two of the songs that were played on 2/22/68 were Morning Dew and Beat it on Down the Line.”
An audience memory: “The Dead came out individually and began tuning, then two tuned together, and amongst all the tuning, undiscovered and unrecognized, they were already playing a song... such a smooth transition, the point upon which the tuning stopped and the playing began was impossible to discover. The night was filled with parts of their first album - Morning Dew and a couple others, then much if not all of the great "Anthem" album…and an early version of Dark Star... The show was finally stopped when the powers that be turned off the electricity to the stage... otherwise it would have gone on for hours upon hours into the early morning. Bobby came forward and appoligized for not being allowed to play longer since they wanted to... This was one of those shows Jerry played 'to you' and everyone was close enough so that he would stare you in the eyes and play parts directly to and for you, it was magic... I saw the next evening's show, but it wasn't as intense as this evening's performance.
Songs played I remember:
Morning Dew
St. Stephen
Early version of Dark Star
a blues tune sung by Pigpen
New New Minglewood Blues
Drum solos” [setlists.net]
(St Stephen was not written yet, but otherwise this looks accurate. Alligator wasn’t always connected to Caution at this time.)

3/1/68 Looking Glass, Walnut Creek, CA

3/2/68 Looking Glass, Walnut Creek, CA
It is uncertain whether these Walnut Creek shows took place, as there is no information about them and even the venue’s existence is uncertain.

3/3/68 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA [The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment ; Dancing In The Street]
Our partial audience tape cuts off in the Cryptical intro. Dancing closed the show.

3/8/68 Melodyland, Anaheim, CA  
The band “played just two very long, mostly instrumental songs in its allotted 30 minutes, not bothering to identify either number by name.” [newspaper review]

3/9/69 Melodyland, Anaheim, CA (two shows)
“I only remember China Cat Sunflower because it was a catchy song.” [Lost Live Dead comment]

3/11/68 Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA [Cryptical Envelopment > Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose > Born Cross-Eyed > Caution Jam]
Show with Tom Constanten.

3/15/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
This show was recorded for the Anthem of the Sun album.

3/17/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA [Dark Star > Born Cross-Eyed]
The complete second set was released. We’re missing the first set up to Lovelight, but it is in the Vault. Per the release notes, “The majority of the songs from set 1 could not be salvaged due to technical problems that were partly due to "sound experiments" conducted on the master tapes during the production of Anthem Of The Sun.”

3/18/68 Pier 10, San Francisco, CA (free daytime strike show – Garcia jams with Traffic)
This has traditionally been listed as a Dead show on Green Street to support the KMPX strikers, but it appears the Dead didn’t actually get the chance to play that day – though Creedence and Traffic did, and Garcia pitched in.

3/20/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

3/22/68 State Fair Coliseum, Detroit, MI

There was a second Detroit show scheduled for 3/23, but per Lost Live Dead, the Dead canceled and didn’t play this show after poor attendance on 3/22. They also canceled a show scheduled for 3/24 in Grand Rapids, MI, due to bad weather.

There was no show on 3/26/68, whether at Melodyland or an “unknown venue,” despite the traditional listing. The old tape with this date comes from 3/29.

3/31/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
Our tapes of the March 29-31 Carousel run are incomplete, with the 3/31 tape particularly short. The actual date arrangement is unknown, with some sets being attributed to different dates. Charlie Miller notes: “Date and song order are uncertain (I'm going with Dick's notes on DAT).”

4/3/68 Winterland, San Francisco, CA [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose > Born Cross-Eyed ; Alligator > Caution]

4/12/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/13/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/14/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL
This weekend of shows is not in deadlists:  

4/14/68 Greynolds Park Love-In, Miami, FL (free afternoon show)

4/19/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/20/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/21/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

An Archive eyewitness review of a show at Thee Image:
“The experience was so overwhelming my memory may not be that clear…it was an incredible experience that I have never forgotten. It changed my music tastes forever. It was like nothing we had ever heard and it will always represent the "real" Dead and SF sound to me…
I think Jerry was really on it the night we went. Incredibly quick and constant with very few "resting spots" during his licks. It was a incredible non-stop flow that I never forgot. Not just fast but moving. Thee Image was an emptied out bowling alley with a low temporary stage so the acoustics were terrible and Pig Pen and Weir were buried in the noise as well as most of the vocals. It was the first (and only) time I heard them so I have a hard time trying to recall the set lists. I had no grid for what I was seeing/hearing.
In general the first set was a lot of the first album and the second set was Anthem of the Sun… I am convinced Dark Star was part of the second set. I have always distinctly remembered the interlude and "scraper" thing and gong from their performance… [It was] a much faster tempo with a different feel to it [so] it did not stand out from the rest of the set. The whole second set was played at an incredible pace... One song I am sure they played was Alligator…that song stuck in memory. And of course the drums stood out on Alligator…  
Two images that stick in my mind are Kreutzmann putting an incense stick on his high cymbal and never taking his eyes off it the entire second set. The other image is of Garcia standing on the edge of the stage doing his thing for what was the longest non-stop music we had ever heard…
“There was no "back stage" at Thee Image so they just hung around in between sets...just off to the side of the stage.”

4/26/68 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

4/27/68 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

4/28/68 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

5/3/68 Columbia University, NYC (free afternoon show)
This show was filmed – the song that Weir sings in one part looks clearly like the Other One. Setlist attributions have come from album songs that were dubbed over the film.

5/4/68 SUNY, Stony Brook, NY
“In a set without a break that lasted over two hours, they played one epic number that lasted over an hour.” (probably Alligator>Caution) [newspaper review]

5/5/68 Central Park, NYC (free afternoon show)  [Morning Dew]
An audience memory: “The Jefferson Airplane played the night before at Fillmore East and announced that they would be playing at the bandshell in Central Park with their friends the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Grateful Dead. The BBB played first, then the JA… Shortly into the Dead's set, the last of the afternoon, everyone was up and dancing and didn't sit down until they stopped.
Here is what I can remember. There may have been more.
Morning Dew
Cryptical Envelopment
The Other One
Cryptical Envelopment
Alligator” [setlists.net]

5/7/68 Electric Circus, NYC (two shows)

5/8/68 Electric Circus, NYC (two shows) [Viola Lee Blues]

5/9/68 Electric Circus, NYC (two shows) [He Was a Friend of Mine]

5/17/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA
“I believe they opened with Morning Dew and I seem to remember Schoolgirl as well as many others.” [setlists.net]

Though it may seem that our tape of the 5/18/68 Santa Clara Fairgrounds afternoon show is incomplete, the Alligator>Caution was in fact the complete set. According to a newspaper review: “Jerry Garcia said they'd do Alligator and they did, for about forty minutes. That was their set and it blew the place wide open.”

5/18/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA (evening show)

5/24/68 National Guard Armory, St Louis, MO
[Deadbase lists: Lovelight, Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > Dark Star > Saint Stephen > The Eleven > Caution > Feedback > We Bid You Good Night]
This setlist is of dubious origin, since there’s no evidence the Dark Star>St Stephen>Eleven medley was actually being played that early.  
An audience memory: “They opened with Morning Dew and went into Schoolgirl second. After that, I didn't recognize anything (this was before Anthem of the Sun came out so it probably was Cryptical). They played for an hour or so, then the opener, a local band, played again, then the Dead came out--but unfortunately I couldn't stay for that set.” [setlists.net]
“Morning Dew was the opener, starting it with a giant Chinese gong, then School Girl and then what I later identified as That's It for the Other One.” [dead.net – actually this is the same reviewer]

5/25/68 National Guard Armory, St Louis, MO

5/30/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

5/31/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

6/1/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

6/1/68 Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA (free afternoon show)
Not in deadlists:

6/4/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA “Tuesday Night Jam”
Garcia took part in this jam, along with a host of other SF luminaries including Elvin Bishop, Barry Melton, Steve Miller, etc. It may have been similar to the 5/21/68 jam we have on tape, though more crowded (Ralph Gleason wrote that “there was a long jam session going on with all kinds of guitar players and saxophones and rhythm men”). This wasn’t a Dead show, of course, but it is of interest to Garcia fans, and may remind us of all the unlisted jams Garcia took part in that have vanished because they weren’t taped.

6/7/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA [Saint Stephen > Dark Star]

6/8/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

6/9/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

The ’68 Mystery Reels collection includes parts of three shows that aren’t dated or otherwise circulating, thought to be from May or June. These are most likely from the Carousel shows this month, or even the Fillmore East.
Fragment 1 (tracks 1-11): //St Stephen > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose > Alligator > Drums > Jam > Caution//
Fragment 2 (tracks 31-35): St Stephen > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > Turn On Your Lovelight
Fragment 3 (tracks 36-41): Morning Dew, It Hurts Me Too, Dark Star > St Stephen > Turn On Your Lovelight

6/14/68 Fillmore East, NYC (early show) [Morning Dew ; Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose]
Kenny Schachat (who attended the early show): “I'm quite certain that Morning Dew was the first song or at least very early in the set, that the Cryptical > Other One > Cryptical > Caboose came after and was the bulk of the set, followed by one or two at the end. I'm less certain, but I believe they played Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. I'm certain that they did not play Lovelight. I'm pretty sure that they also did not play Saint Stephen… I'm certain that they did not play Dark Star on that night " [deadlists]
Another account: “The first show featured a TOO suite followed, I believe by Schoolgirl.”
An audience tape exists of the late show; an audience member reported that Dark Star started the late show, but is missing from the tape. “The second [show] began with a little ditty called Dark Star. They played DS for perhaps ten minutes--sang the first verse--but the audience didn't seem to "get it." So, they suddenly played real quietly and came to an all-but stop for about a minute to shut the crowd up (oddly this worked) and then let rip the feedback you hear [at the start of the tape].”
A partial SBD tape of the end of the late show has also been released, so possibly more of this run also exists in the Vault.

6/15/68 Fillmore East, NYC (two shows)
The Deadbase setlist for 6/15 was taken from the 6/14 tape. Deadlists reports that Dark Star was played and “it was the whole set,” Weir dedicating it to Wes Montgomery (who had died that morning). This was likely in the late show, since Kenny Schachat didn’t remember it in the early show.
Another account: “The Saturday show was actually better [than Friday 6/14]--they were warmed up, settled in, and had a more aware audience. They played The Other One and Dark Star that night.”

6/17/68 Daytop Village, Staten Island, NY

6/19/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
The tape with this date is actually from 2/19/69.

6/22/68 Travelodge Theater, Phoenix, AZ
A newspaper review: “"Last weekend's Grateful Dead concert was a smash. Too bad not everyone knew it. The further the Dead got into their music the quicker some people got out to their cars." [deadlists]

7/11/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA

7/12/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA

7/13/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA

8/2/68 Hippodrome, San Diego, CA

8/3/68 Hippodrome, San Diego, CA

8/4/68 “Newport Pop Festival,” Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, CA
“I remember Jerry or Bob telling the crowd "we don't play that anymore" to shouted requests for stuff from the 1st album.” [dead.net]
Partial film snippets exist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJcMUMh5IA8 
(This is one of the only film clips where you can see Garcia bobbing on the edge of the stage with his guitar, a habit he lost in later years.)

8/20/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA [Dark Star > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Death Don't Have No Mercy]
This setlist may be taken from the following night, but they were playing it almost every show.

8/28/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
Our tape is just one set, 45 minutes long, so we are missing a set.
As deadlists notes, on the old circulating tape (not available online), side B started with an audience recording of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, introduced by Bill Graham – evidently from an otherwise unknown AUD tape of one of the nearby Fillmore West shows.

8/30/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

8/31/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

9/1/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

9/1/68 Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA (possible afternoon show) 

I am suspicious that our tape of the 9/20/68 Berkeley Community Theater show (45 minutes, including a 25-minute drum solo) is incomplete and missing songs, but it's impossible to say for sure, since the band sounds like it's in some disarray. Mickey Hart often recalled this show in later years - the lengthy Drums with his fellow percussionists was not due to spontaneous equipment failure, but prearranged.

9/22/68 Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar, CA [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, New Potato Caboose, Alligator > Caution > Feedback, In the Midnight Hour]

10/5/68 Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA

10/9/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA (Hartbeats show)

10/11/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
One audience member at this Avalon run reports that Pigpen was absent, and “the first song was Morning Dew.”

10/18/68 The Bank, Torrance, CA

10/29/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA (Hartbeats show)

10/31/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA (Hartbeats show)
Dick Latvala reported that in the Vault "there are two dates, 10/28 and 10/29, both of which have four reels.”

11/1/68 Silver Dollar Fair, Chico, CA
We are missing the first set. Jim Powell: “Latvala played a Viola Lee from this date at one of the Dick's Picks release parties.”

11/4/68 Longshoreman’s Hall, San Francisco, CA

11/7/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

11/8/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

11/9/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

11/10/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA [Morning Dew opener]

11/15/68 Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

11/17/68 Eagles Auditorium, Seattle, WA (two shows)

11/23/68 Memorial Auditorium, Ohio U, Athens, OH
Tom Constanten joined the Dead at this free show.

On 11/24/68, members of the Dead jammed with Jefferson Airplane in the Airplane’s show at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit.
A Grande worker wrote: “I remember an Airplane show on a Sunday nite/2 show nite… [In the second show] Jerry and Phil and Bob showed up about 12:30 and jammed with the Airplane til about 4:00 in the morning.”

11/29/68 Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati, OH [Good Morning Little Schoolgirl opener; possibly That’s It for the Other One > New Potato Caboose]
“On Friday night, they started with a rather sloppy version of Good Morning Little School Girl, but in short order got into the groove and blew the roof off the place.” [Lost Live Dead comment]
(This reminds me of the newspaper review of their Electric Circus shows in May: “Their first tune is always a shambles - "You'll have to wait till we figure out who we are and what we're doing here," says Jerry Garcia.”)

11/30/68 Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati, OH (two shows) [Dark Star, Saint Stephen, Turn On Your Lovelight]
Tom Constanten: “There was one exquisite gig in Cincinnati where both Pigpen and I played keyboard. He had the B-3 and I had the Continental.”
These shows have long been attributed to 11/24/68, and there has been much confusion and varying memories over how many shows there were at the Teen Center – several audience accounts can be found at http://www.setlists.net/?show_id=0362
The promoter recalled that on Friday, “They were two hours late, and they played for three hours.” But one person remembered, “We waited forever, then the band played only a few songs then said they had to leave.” Another person agreed that on the first night, “The Dead were beat, and I mean tired! …The NEXT night was better, of course.” One of the lightshow crew recalls both nights as life-changing: “Saturday night was as musically explosive as Friday.” Everyone agreed that the small building (a converted church) was packed, and the Dead were very loud, their equipment filling up much of the space. Despite all the reviews, no specific songs were remembered except possibly Saint Stephen & Morning Dew.

11/27/68 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment ; Alligator]

11/28/68 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL
Ron Ramsey attended the Nov. 27-28 shows: “I know for sure they did 'That's It For The Other One' that first night... Also on the 27th: Alligator. As for the rest of the songs, they did pretty much the standard repertoire for late 1968: Doin' That Rag, Dupree's, Dark Star > Saint Stephen > the Eleven > Lovelight, Feedback, etc. But other than the two mentioned, I cannot say which nights they did what. (They did not, to my eternal regret, play New Potato Caboose either night.) …Both nights were two set shows, with the Dead as the closing act.” [deadlists] (I am doubtful that Doin’ That Rag or Dupree’s would have been played, since they don’t appear on live tapes until late January, but it’s possible.)

12/1/68 Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI [We Bid You Goodnight]

12/6/68 Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

12/13/68 The Bank, Torrance, CA

12/14/68 The Bank, Torrance, CA

12/20/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA [Good Morning Little Schoolgirl]
Only the last half hour of the show circulates; a newspaper review mentions Schoolgirl. I think it’s likely that a Dark Star>St Stephen preceded the Eleven on our tape.  
“I'm pretty sure they played Morning Dew with the gong adding to the opening flourish.” [setlists.net]

12/23/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA – “Jam Session with Jerry Garcia, Jack Casady and others”
A tape of the 24th circulates that has Garcia jamming with Harvey Mandel’s band.

12/28/68 Catacombs, Houston, TX [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment ; Jam ; Morning Dew]
An eyewitness reports: “Most of what was played was from Anthem of the Sun (That's It for the Other One, Cryptical Envelopment, etc. and a very good 'space jam' that came back into the album to finish). There was a second keyboard player, besides Pigpen, so this was probably Constanten. I also know for sure that Morning Dew was played (mainly because it was my favorite from the first album), also I remember Garcia's introduction to the song, 'let's get the old shit out of the way' and then the cymbals starting up Morning Dew. Schoolgirl was probably played but I'm not certain. I know Pigpen definitely had a couple of songs, but mostly stood around looking uncomfortable.” [deadlists]
(Pigpen recalled in a Sept '69 interview that when the Dead were in Houston, "I woke up sick and feeling feverish, and we had to play that night. [But after having some miso soup,] I could feel better even while I was taking it. I even managed to play one set.")

12/31/68 Winterland, San Francisco, CA [In the Midnight Hour, Dark Star > Saint Stephen > The Eleven > Turn On Your Lovelight]
(This was the Dead's first live 16-track recording. David Lemieux says, "The reels of 12/31/68 were erased to record the January '69 Avalon shows…with one lonely Midnight Hour left on tape, featuring all of the musicians who performed that night in an all-star jam. The sound on this 16-track recording is very poor, filled with distortion.")
http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2011/12/december-31-1968-winterland-grateful.html  (There are a few vague memories of the show in the comments...that the Dead "played Midnight Hour all night;" "Turn On Your Lovelight seemed to go on forever"...)