Healy: At that time we had moved out to Marin County. We had a practice hall up in northern Marin, near Hamilton Air Force Base. In this hall we had our practice complex set up, and there was this old shed out back. That became the technical electronics shop, where we would work on stuff. Owsley, Wickersham, Rick Turner, Matthews and Betty and all of us would go out there to try building our own pickups, guitars and amplifiers. Garcia would come in there and tear his guitar apart in the afternoon. That was a great place. That was where the Alembic thing got formed, about 1970/71.
Garcia: That was fun. We got a lot done there. That’s where we smashed Weir’s Acoustic amplifier. We executed it, jumped up and down on it.
Healy: Weir had this horrible Acoustic amplifier that had a horn like the ones under the hood of cop cars. It was a big cabinet, and it had this horn right at the top, right about ear level. It was just murder, pain every time he’d play it. Your ears would fall right out of your sockets. So finally we couldn’t stand it anymore. One day we decided to sacrifice the amplifier, and we destroyed it right on the spot. That was great. We were seeing appendages of that nailed to the wall for months.
The band dwarfed by the Wall of Sound.
Alembic plainly doesn’t see itself taking over the instrument or sound system markets. The philosophy is more that of its ‘founding godfather’ Owsley: `To raise the level of bossness.’ The before and after stage set-ups show the revolutionary rock n’ roll Tower of Babel. It requires 26 crewmen, working 14 hours—eight for the
7-foot stage, six for the 30-foot system—to hoist it into place. After such Egyptian toil, to play less than four hours would be criminally unjust to the crew who must tear it all down immediately after the show.
On the first fret of Phil Lesh’s new bass two lightning bolts leap out of a block of lapis lazuli. On the third fret a Cosmic Serpent eats its tail; on the fifth, a crescent moon either waxes or wanes, depending on how you look at it; on the seventh, there is an alchemical salamander, and soon, up through the planet Saturn and the infinity sign (equals high A, apparently), all inlaid in mother of pearl. On the back of the neck, the god Osiris, the Judge of the Dead, points his divine flail and impassive eyes toward whoever holds the instrument.
— John Christensen (Louisville Times)
Phil at Oakland Stadium 74-06-08
Che’ Jordan and Josh Rakow showing their muscles.
Sunshine Kesey, Josh Rakow and Annabell Garcia in the melon garden.
Photo Credits: main – Richard Pechner,Phil – Bob Marks, Boys – Sue Swanson, Kids – Annette Flowers