The Grateful Dead tried to capture this gut-level excitement in their album called “The Grateful Dead.” Though there’s a taste of the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom, the full flavor doesn’t come through.
However, the album can stand alone. It contains some fine work, such as the strangely haunting “Morning Dew,” the bluesy “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” and “Viola Lee Blues,” which is as close to jazz as Paul Butterfield’s “East-West.”
The songs convey a sense of integration in the playing that has come about through the Dead’s having played and lived together, sharing experiences and dreams, for nearly three years. With their two managers and an assortment of friends they have occupied a nine-room Victorian house one block from Haight Street. But they are leaving the Haight-Ashbury soon. They expect to live for awhile in the Southwest, perhaps Santa Fe, New Mexico. “We’ve been squeezed out by tourists and Tenderloin types,” said Rock Scully, one of their managers.
“We paid our dues and went to school with the Grateful Dead”, explained Warner Brothers executive vice president Joe Smith, former Boston jock. “With the Grateful Dead we learned there are other ways to sell records, like sponsoring a free concert in Denver. We learned that you don’t have to be on Top 40, that there’s a whole market in underground FM. We learned that posters mean something, that billboards mean something.”
Janis and Pigpen were kindred souls. They were drinkers and wary of acid, so they ran together. This photo was taken outside 715 Ashbury, across the road from 710, where HALO (the Haight Ashbury Legal Organization) had its offices, and where the poster artists Mouse, Kelley, Moscoso and Griffin had their studios.
Troupers Hall was the meeting room for a retired actors club in Hollywood. The rent for the gig couldn’t have been much. We did everything ourselves, all in two days. We plastered handbills all over Hollywood. Stage decor was a few lengths of paisley cloth purchased that afternoon at a fabric store. For a box office, we had a card table and a cigar box.
Our not-quite-full house must have had over a hundred people; and when the night was over, our net take was $75. At 2 o’clock in the morning, we went to Cantor’s Deli on Fairfax and spent it all on dinner for everybody — with dessert.
Photos: Pigpen and Janis – Ron Rakow, band – Rosie McGee, other – Herb Greene