Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2925 Willow Pass Road, Concord, CA: Concord Armory and Eastern Contra Costa Performances 1967-69 (Concord II)

A current view of the unassuming Concord Armory at 2925 Willow Pass Road (photo by and courtesy of Kent Wood)

The Concord-Walnut Creek area is now a thriving suburb of San Francisco, with heavy commute traffic going in all directions on a huge freeway network. In the late 1960s, however, Concord and Walnut Creek were sleepy little communities, with plenty of open space and few commuters to San Francisco, and even fewer elsewhere, as much of the County was agricultural. While teenagers were certainly aware of the Fillmore and Avalon, that was perceived as being quite a bit farther away than it is today, and there wasn't as much to do on weekend evenings. However, like many 60s suburbs, Concord and other communities in Contra Costa County had their own rock history, even if it is largely just some fond, fuzzy teenage memories.

As part of my ongoing efforts to resurrect lost Bay Area rock concert history, some years ago I pieced together what I could about a forgotten venue called the Concord Coliseum. All I had was one poster, some listings in the Teen Age section of the Oakland Tribune, and a few other fragments, but that was a starting point. The venue was run by Bill Quarry, who had run a production company called Teens And Twenties in Oakland and the East Bay in the mid-60s. By 1967, Bill Graham was dominating the East Bay, and Quarry seems to have moved over the Berkeley Hills to the next county. At this time, communities like Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Concord were growing, but still somewhat rural. There were still walnut groves in Walnut Creek--good luck finding one now.

The Concord Coliseum was only open for a year, from August 1967 through June 1968, but lots of interesting bands played there, including Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and The Fish and The Yardbirds (with Jimmy Page). My narrow little post from October, 2009, triggered a remarkable Comment Thread, however, with a remarkable Long Tail that has continued on for nearly seven years. By now, the post features not only a fairly detailed list of shows, lively memories in the Comments and a remarkable selection of never-seen flyers from the venue. Scholar and Commenter Kent has been particularly thorough and resourceful in recovering these lost treasures. Kent's work has been so good, in fact, that the post is almost getting too detailed--all bloggers should have such problems!

As a result, I am continuing our look into Concord's lost rock history with another post. The initial focus will be on the Concord Armory, but we will look to extend this to the County Fair and other venues. Anyone with additional information, corrections, insights or recovered memories (real or imagined) please include them in the Comments. Thanks to all prior Commenters and particularly Kent for making this post possible.

A current look at the inside of the Concord Armory at 2925 Willow Pass Road (photo courtesy of and by Kent Wood) 
Concord Armory, 2925 Willow Pass Road, Concord, CA
Prior to the opening of Concord Coliseum, some concerts were held in early 1967 at the Concord Armory. The National Guard Armory is still there, at 2925 Willow Pass Road, not far from the Concord Pavilion, which has been Contra Costa County's leading concert venue since 1975. Thanks to Scholar and Commenter Kent, a few flyers have been rescued. Golden Star Promotions mostly worked in Sonoma County, putting on concerts in Santa Rosa and the surrounding area.

January 27, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: The Seeds/The Tame Greens/Blue Light District

February 10, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Sopwith Camel
There is a poster circulating that has Sopwith Camel headlining a dance in Marin on this date, at the Santa Venetia (San Rafael) Armory, but the Camel were replaced by the Grateful Dead. Thus I assume that the Camel actually played Concord Armory.

February 17, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Battle Of The Bands
The poster for this long-forgotten event was by banjo legend Rick Shubb, also a well-known poster artist.

February 21, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: The Baytovens/Hypnotist Collectors
The Baytovens were a locally popular "garage rock" band, who got good airplay on KFRC-am in San Francisco.

March 20, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: The New Breed/The Wheel
The New Breed were from the Sacramento, and at one point included Tim Schmidt, later of Poco and the Eagles. The flyer tells us that The Wheel were formerly known as Jack And The Rippers.

March 25, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Sir Douglas Quintet/The Spiders/Little Jimmie and The Goodtimers
Doug Sahm had been exiled to San Francisco due to an untimely pot bust in March, 1966. Possession of marijuana was a serious crime in Texas at that time. He found a performing home at the Avalon. In 1967, his Quintet was probably full of Texans, but the original band members were still on probation and would not rejoin him for another year. The Spiders were a tight, popular East Bay band, and a huge influence on the young musicians who would become Tower Of Power.

April 8, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Syndicate Of Sound
The Syndicate Of Sound were from Sunnyvale, and had a big hit with "Hey Little Girl." The band and the venue were very teenage, but note the Avalon-style art and cryptical references to "certain herbs." Psychedelia was making its way across the Berkeley Hills.

April 15, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Tears/Spiders

May 20, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Baytovens
The Baytovens, originally from Hayward, could still draw out in the suburbs, but they couldn't dream of a gig at the Fillmore or the Avalon, and the time for these groups was starting to fade.

June 24, 1967 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Immediate Family/The Virtues
By this time, school was out, so it seems there were fewer concerts.  The Immediate Family were a Walnut Creek power trio, led by guitarist Tim Barnes, who would end up in Stoneground. The Virtues were an ambitious Contra Costa band that would evolve into Country Weather. The era of teen bands was ending, and heavy psychedelic blues was the order of the day. On August 4, 1967, Bill Quarry opened the Concord Coliseum at 1825 Salvio, and the Armory was not used for concerts for some time.

November 22, 1968 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Frumious Bandersnatch
Frumious Bandersnatch were from Lafayette. They had a three guitar lineup, not at all typical for the era, and most of the members were good singers. While the group did not release an album while they were together, one of them (George Tickner) played with Jerry Garcia, most of the members ended up in the Steve Miller Band at one time or another--one of them (David Denny) still tours with him--and some of them ended up in Journey as well, including manager Herbie Herbert.

Herbie Herbert and Frumious probably rented the Concord Armory and promoted this concert themselves. The Concord Coliseum had closed at the beginning of Summer 1968, and by this time the Bay Area concert market had regionalized, emphasizing bigger shows in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose, rather than smaller regional events.

July 21, 1969 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Santana
In the Summer of 1969, there were a series of shows at Concord Armory. I do not know who the promoters were. However, one dynamic at play in the Bay Area was the immense popularity of Fillmore shows had extended to the suburbs, but not all those suburban teenagers were able (or allowed) to go to big, bad San Francisco. So many second and third tier Fillmore bands put on smaller shows all over the Bay Area, usually with a local light show. Bill Graham's booking firm, the Millard Agency, was particularly active in finding suburban gigs for its acts.

Santana was booked by the Millard Agency, and by this time had already recorded their first album for Columbia, but it hadn't been released. The band would be familiar to teenagers from many Fillmore West posters, and they had played various High School dances around the region at well. A month later they would play Woodstock.

August 20, 1969 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Sons Of Champlin
Marin's Sons Of Champlin were another hard-working band who played all over the Bay Area. They were booked by West-Pole, run by Quicksilver manager Ron Polte, who was also sharp about the appeal of the Fillmore bands in the suburbs (for a more complete story of the Sons during this period, see my post here).

September 13, 1969 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Country Weather/Fox/Daybreak
Country Weather, once the Virtues, were also booked by Millard.

October 18, 1969 Concord Armory, Concord, CA: Rejoyce/Linn County/Beggars Opera
Rejoyce was a familiar name from old Bay Area rock handbills, but I don't know anything about them. Linn County were from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by way of Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago. Known as The Prophets in Cedar Rapids, they had become the house band at a Chicago club called Mother Blues and changed their name to Linn County Blues Band (Cedar Rapids is in Linn County). They were signed by Chess Records and began to record, but Mercury Records heard them, signed them and moved them to San Francisco. In 1969, they had released their second album Fever Shot.

Contra Costa County High School Rock Highlights
It would be a formidable task to assemble a list of every rock band who played a Contra Costa County High School in the 1960s, and I won't even attempt it. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out a few highlights. Anyone with additional highlights, please send them along.

August 23, 1966 Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, CA: Grateful Dead
The JGMF blog covered this in some detail. "Bob," a Commenter on the site sums up the story
I attended the 1966 show in Walnut Creek - I was 15 and attending Las Lomas High School at the time. My parents were subscribers to the Civic Arts Art Forum series and bought me tickets to shows I wanted to see. Most of the shows were at the Walnut Creek Library - I saw Dave Brubeck play there. I don't really remember that the Dead show was originally supposed to be at the library but was moved. It seems quite possible, even logical since rock 'n' roll was rare in the series, the library was small and there were a bunch of kids who wanted to see the Dead. Sorry to say, I don't remember much of what they played - one song that sticks in my memory was Pippen singing "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" - of course that was totally appropriate. My main memory is what happened when the show started. There was no lecture, just a brief introduction. The crowd was split between season ticket holders like my parents and teenagers. When the Dead started playing all the teenagers left their folding chairs and started dancing, and someone, I guess the Civic Arts organizers, stopped the show. There was some discussion with the band on stage, then Jerry explained that the Civic Arts people had not applied for a dance permit, so there would be no dancing allowed. He said the band wasn't happy about it, that their music was dance music, but there was nothing they could do. So we sat on the floor in front of the stage and bounced around, dancing as best as we could sitting down. 
Phil Lesh's parents attended the show, apparently.

December 16, 1966 Miramonte High School, Orinda, CA: County Joe And The Fish
Country Joe and The Fish came over the Berkeley Hills--do you think they took Fish Ranch Road?--to play a Christmas dance at Miramonte.

July 29, 1967 San Ramon Valley High School Stadium, San Ramon, CA: Yardbirds/Sir Douglas Quintet/Loading Zone
One of the most famous events in Contra Costa High School history, at least retrospectively, was Jimmy Page and The Yardbirds headlining the football stadium at San Ramon Valley High School (at 501 Danville Blvd). San Ramon was probably an unincorporated area at the time. According to legend, Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty was sick, and a drummer from one of the other bands filled in.

October 31, 1968 Monte Vista High School, Danville, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Spiders
Monte Vista High School is in Danville (3131 Stone Valley Road). Now, Danville is a very prosperous community of commuters to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, but back in the 60s it was still pretty rural. The Spiders were a popular East Bay dance band whose tight, sophisticated performances were a big influence on Tower Of Power.

February 22, 1969 Ygnacio Valley High School, Concord, CA: Beggar’s Opera/Lazarus/All Men Joy/Phoenix/Maggie’s Farm Benefit for Biafran Relief
All Men Joy and Phoenix were San Francisco bands. Lazarus was from Berkeley, and Maggie's Farm and Beggar's Opera were from Contra Costa. 

April 1, 1969 Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, CA: Santana
Santana had not yet recorded their first album, but it was the famous lineup. This was probably more like a concert than a school dance, but the distinction may not have been large.

The Grateful Dead at Campolindo High School in Moraga on May 16, 1969 (via JGMF)
May 16, 1969 Campolindo High School, Moraga, CA Grateful Dead/Frumious Bandersnatch/Velvet Hammer
The Grateful Dead, whose finances were always on a wing and a prayer during 1969, appear to have filled an off night by playing Campolindo, much to the pride of future graduates. Stories abound, not all of them true. Attendance was probably limited to high school students, but that's who was going to attend suburban rock concerts anyway. Velvet Hammer included some members from Campolindo.

A listing from the June 21, 1969 Teen Age section of the Oakland Tribune announces the concert by  Frumous Bandersnatch at De La Salle High School
June 21, 1969 De LaSalle High School, Concord, CA Frumious Bandersnatch/Beggars Opera
De La Salle is a private high school with a prestigious reputation for sports, but it had only opened in 1965. By the Summer of '69, Frumious Bandersnatch were regulars at Fillmore West, albeit as show openers. They too were booked by the Millard Agency.

The San Andreas Fault poster (FD-700702) for the Family Dog presentation of The Kinks at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord on July 2, 1970
July 2, 1970 Ygnacio Valley High School, Concord, CA: The Kinks/Beggars Opera
Although 1970 is beyond my scope, no chronicle is complete without mentioning perhaps the most curious 60s rock show in Concord:  a Family Dog production at Ygnacio Valley High School. Since school was out, the hall would simply have been rented. I'm not aware of another Family Dog production this far East. The Kinks had played Tuesday and Wednesday for Chet Helms and the Dog in San Francisco, and Chet added an extra date.

Contra Costa County Fairgrounds
Every county in California has a County Fairgrounds, initially to provide a place and a means for farmers and ranchers to display their wares and buy and sell goods. It was also an excuse for an annual celebration. By the mid-20th century, while every county still had a county fair, Fairgrounds were used for entertainment and trade shows as well. The Contra Costa County Fairground were in Antioch (at 1201 W. 10th Street), in the Eastern part of the county. In the late 60s, Antioch was still in a rural area, which was a good place for the County Fairgrounds.

Still, rural or not, there were rock shows at the Contra Costa Fairgrounds in 1969. Since the rock audience was largely teenage, parents were probably far more comfortable with letting their kids go to a show at the Fairgrounds, where they had probably been many times, rather than letting them drive off to Berkeley or San Francisco. This is hardly a complete list of Fairgrounds shows, just a few highlights. If anyone can confirm other evidence of Fillmore West bands playing the Fairgrounds, please note it in the Comments.

November 26, 1969 Main Exhibition Building, Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, Antioch, CA: It's A Beautiful Day/The Kinks/Cold Blood/Dry Creek
It's A Beautiful Day was riding high on their first album, so they headlined over The Kinks. After a long absence from touring America, the Kinks had returned in late 1969, behind the album Arthur and the single "Victoria." Pianist John Gosling had joined the band, and they were now a five-piece.

February 21, 1970 Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, Antioch, CA: Sons Of Champlin/AUM/Joy Of Cooking
The Sons Of Champlin had put out three fine albums and toured hard, but gotten nowhere. They pretty much broke up after this show, and did not formally perform as The Sons for a few more years. AUM, featuring guitarist Wayne Ceballos, were booked by the Millard Agency and had opened many Fillmore West shows. Joy Of Cooking was a rising Berkeley band at the time.

April 17, 1970 Contra Costa Fairgounds, Antioch, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/AB Skhy/Beggars Opera
This would have been one of the final shows of the Just For Love lineup of Quicksilver, with singer Dino Valenti and piano legend Nicky Hopkins augmenting the classic quartet (John Cippolina, Gary Duncan, David Freiberg, Greg Elmore). AB Skhy had relocated from Wisconsin, and picked up organist Howard Wales in San Francisco, but I think Wales had left by this time, replaced by guitarist Dennis Geyer.

1300 Boulevard Way, Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is now a very upscale Bay Area suburb--Stephen Curry lives there, for example--but it was not always so. I can recall when there were actually walnut groves. Walnut Creek doesn't really have much of a 60s rock history. Interestingly, however, it all revolves around one place--1300 Boulevard Way.

February 23, 1963 Walnut Creek Hall, Walnut Creek, CA: Bobby Freeman/Wally Cox/The Untouchables
Correspondent Kent found this ancient "boxing-style" poster, for what very well may be Walnut Creek's very first rock show. It was held at The Walnut Creek Hall, at 1300 Boulevard Way. Bobby Freeman had had a huge hit with "Do You Wanna Dance" (no, Jerry Garcia did not play on it, whatever you may have read). The Wally Cox was not the actor, but a singer.

March 1-2, 1968 Clifford's Catering, Walnut Creeek, CA: Grateful Dead/The Looking Glass
For many years, this show was listed as having been at The Looking Glass, on 1300 Boulevard Way. I had assumed it had been canceled. JGMF finally tracked it down, however, and it turns out to have actually occurred. The Grateful Dead played Walnut Creek twice, in 1968.  JGMF correspondent Brad Vicknear reports the details
I saw The Grateful Dead at Clifford's Catering in Walnut Creek on Saturday, March 2nd, 1968 
I was friends with twin brothers and their older brother was one of the guitar players for The Looking Glass. They were a band from Concord/Walnut Creek that played locally in the late 60's. The drummer's father booked The Grateful Dead and The Looking Glass at Clifford's on Friday, March 1st and Saturday March 2nd. The Dead played the weekend before at Kings Beach Bowl in Lake Tahoe and the day after their Saturday night gig in Walnut Creek, they played on two flatbeds on Haight Street. 
The venue was originally Portuguese Hall. A poster from 1963 promoting Bobby Freeman, Wally Cox, and The Untouchables lists the venue as Walnut Creek Hall. In 1965 and 1966 the venue was called Holy Ghost Hall. Local bands and major recording artists appeared, including Sonny & Cher, Martha and the Vandellas, Dick and Dee Dee, Dobie Gray and others. In 1967, the venue was called Scuzzy Mouse. The venue has gone through many name changes over the years, but is best remembered as Holy Ghost Hall. 
The venue was called Clifford's Catering when The Grateful Dead appeared. Clifford's was a restaurant/catering business that would rent out the hall on occasion.
It might seem that the rock and roll history of Walnut Creek would end at Clifford's Catering, but that was not quite so. It is a little known (but confirmed) fact that Pete Townshend and his family spent the Summer of 1975 in Walnut Creek, so that Townshend could study with Meher Baba. And where was Meher Baba's study center located? You guessed it--1300 Boulevard Way.

I am looking forward to updating this posts with additional Conta Costa County events at various locations from around the region.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

November 21, 1968: Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service – Los Altos High School Gym, Los Altos, CA

Guest Post by Light Into Ashes

After more than forty years, our knowledge of the Bay Area rock performances of the ‘60s is still growing. Despite the diligent efforts over the years of researchers and sites like this to compile the histories of bands and venues, show lists even for the most famous bands are still incomplete. Some shows remain unknown or forgotten to this day, lasting only in the memories of a few aging fans.
Our knowledge that a concert took place primarily comes from posters or newspaper listings from the major cities; but when those aren’t available or don’t survive, shows can often slip through the cracks and become “lost,” especially if they were played outside the traditional venues. So when someone reminisces about the old days and says, for example, “I saw Santana and Quicksilver play a show at my high school back in ’68,” it can be hard to find any corroborating dates or details, since such a show can’t be found in any of the bands’ performance listings:

Nonetheless – in this case, not only was the show played, but there is quite a lot of information about it, including audience memories, ticket stubs, photos, and even a short review!

I first heard of this show when corresponding with Randy Beucus, a graduate of Los Altos High, about various concerts he’d seen. He commented, “When I was in high school I was able to book Santana and Quicksilver… I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these high school shows have been forgotten.” 
This show had indeed been forgotten, and I was surprised to hear that a concert with these two bands had never been reported before.

A search revealed that a few people had mentioned the show online after all – in fact, it left quite an impression on them. For instance, on the “Fandalism” site, musicians were asked, “What was the first concert you ever went to?”
Byron Laursen: “Late 1968 at Los Altos High School, with my brother, then a teacher, who had to chaperone at a concert featuring two emergent SF bands... The show was so loud that all I could be sure of was that the second band was rock-and-roll-y and the first one had some Latin influence. It was Santana opening for Quicksilver Messenger Service.”
Alan Eglington: “The first pro Pop Concert I ever bought tickets for and attended without adult supervision was, dare I say it? (drum roll please!) "Chad & Jeremy" (hey! I had a good time so sue me!) at the Los Altos High School main gym. But to show how fast things changed…I attended my second pro concert in the same location, the "Santana Blues Band" opening for "Quicksilver Messenger Service!" That concert had a huge impact on my personal development, because soon after I was drumming in my second band. And that band ended up playing a lot of Santana & Quicksilver material.”

Eric Weitzmann also mentioned on Facebook, “Santana and Quicksilver Messenger Service played our high school (Los Altos, Ca.) in 1968. I'll never forget that show, and still have the ticket stub.”
This was exciting news, and he was able to add further details:
“The show was on Thursday, November 21, 1968. 7:30 pm in the Boys Gym, Los Altos High School. $2.50 for students with Student Body Cards and $3.00 all others. It was cool, they had a "Light Show," very psychedelic. The bands sounded really good, it wasn't unusual for rock bands to play high schools back then because there wasn't the club venue scene like there is now. I remember waiting in line before the show and all the guys from Santana walked right by us.”  
The show was well-attended, and was quite an event for the school. “The basketball floor was open for dancing, with bleacher seating on both sides… I don't recall many parents or hipsters coming. Mostly, the student body.”

Paradoxically, Randy Beucus, who’d booked the show, had no memory of it:
“I didn't go, even though it was my senior year in high school and I was pretty much responsible for putting the show together… I stayed away from the show even though I helped put it on. I just couldn't see myself seeing those bands at my high school. I was seeing both bands anyway [in San Francisco] around the same time… 
“That was the only show that I booked, but I went to a lot of rock & roll shows from my freshman year in high school, and when I found out the school had a certain amount of money to get a "big" known San Francisco group to play, someone contacted me… I must have called one of the Polte brothers (Ron & Frank) who managed Quicksilver, and maybe the same for Graham who was managing Santana at the time.”

Santana was booked by Bill Graham’s Millard Agency – Graham could be reached by phone at the Fillmore for bookings. Quicksilver would have to be contacted separately – they were booked by the West-Pole agency run by Ron Polte, who also managed the band. (Frank Polte was their road manager.)
The school’s budget is unknown, but Bill Graham for one was eager to get high school bookings, as a way of building an audience for his bands on Millard. One story from the Santanamigos site illustrates this point, when a show was booked by a San Jose high school in March ’69: “My friend Jamie called Bill Graham (promoter and Fillmore owner), and asked for Santana to play. Bill asked how much the student body had as a budget, and Jamie told him we had $2,500. Bill laughed and said ‘no way,’ Jamie said ‘thank you, we will get someone else.’ Bill called back within about 10 minutes, and said ‘OK, you can have them and the three other groups for that price!’”

Corry writes: “It was very much the Millard strategy to put their bands in the suburbs. They were all Fillmore West openers, so they could play the 'burbs and advertise truthfully, "Direct From Fillmore West." It certainly built an audience for Santana. Don't forget that the rock audience was pretty young… All of the Millard bands also played a lot of gigs at suburban gyms and movie theaters, that held 700-1000 people. A lot of parents who weren't going to let their high schoolers drive to San Francisco had no problem with letting them drive a few miles to a local place.”
It must have been a treat for the Bay Area teens who couldn’t drive to San Francisco to have the Fillmore bands come to them.

Santana played quite a few local high school shows in the year before their first album came out – in fact, the day after this show, November 22, they would play at Campolindo High in Moraga. Other examples include:
Mission San Jose High School, Fremont (fall '68 dance)
Elizabeth High School, Oakland 10/18/68
Woodside High School, Woodside 2/11/69
James Lick High School, San Jose 3/7/69
Washington High School, Fremont 3/8/69
Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek 4/1/69
Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto 6/10/69 (graduation dance)

In contrast, Quicksilver were rarely spotted at high school shows at this time. They were the more established, well-known band and had just taken a short cross-country tour in October; whereas Santana would barely leave California until the summer of ’69. Making this booking even more unusual, this was to be one of Quicksilver’s last appearances before Gary Duncan left the band in January ‘69, effectively leaving Quicksilver in limbo for another year before he rejoined.

This was an unusually high-profile booking for Los Altos High, which typically had less well-known local bands play its dances. For instance, the Homecoming dance in ’68 was played by The People (fresh from their regional hit “I Love You”), and the prom dance in ’69 featured the Syndicate of Sound (still best-known for their ’66 hit “Little Girl”) – both popular San Jose bands who’d been in the charts, though not the kind of acts you’d see at the Fillmore.
Randy mentions: “I tried to have Paul Butterfield to play my high school the year before…but when I called Albert Grossman, the price he wanted for the Butterfield Blues Band was higher than the school could pay for.”
Other concerts at Los Altos High from ’66-70 were played by such local groups as the Tribesmen, the Lord Jim Quartet, Bogus Thunder, New Dawn, Green Catherine, and Gropus Cackus, and others even more obscure, or still in high school – we only know of these since they were pictured in yearbooks. (Chad & Jeremy’s show there is still fondly remembered by some grads, though!)

As a big show for the school, you might wonder if the Santana/QMS concert was mentioned in the school yearbook, the Excalibur. I was thrilled to find out that the show actually got a two-page spread in the 1969 yearbook, with photos and a brief report:

Pictures courtesy of Randy, who observes: “Notice the mistakes in names for the members of Santana. The yearbook company got into trouble for adding the balloon caption over Duncan's head!”

In an odd case of misreporting, the Santana bandmembers’ names are totally mistaken. In reality, the bass player was David Brown; the drummer was Bob “Doc” Livingston; and the percussionist was Marcus Malone. (Livingston and Malone were soon to leave the band within the next few months.)
The yearbook culprit who had Gary Duncan saying “I’m so sweet” has not yet been found.

The text:
Shades of Quicksilver and Santana 
“The sometimes annual fall concert featured the sounds of “Quicksilver Messenger Service” and “Santana” and the lights of Mr. What. The barrier between performers and the sizable audience of 2000 was broken when members of Quicksilver asked some of the listeners to come closer and sit on the floor. Although given second billing, Santana drew the admiration of many, and their blues sound was widely considered better than the rock of Quicksilver.”

It’s interesting that the relatively unknown Santana proved more popular with the audience. Quicksilver had one album out, but Santana had not yet recorded and their first album wouldn’t be released until October ’69, so they were perhaps known mostly by their live reputation. Some students might already have seen a few of the many San Francisco shows Santana had played that year.
On the other hand, Santana’s band and its “Latin influence” may also have seemed more fresh and new to older listeners than Quicksilver, who had been playing the same small repertoire all year.
Santana’s “blues sound” is mentioned – at the time they were sometimes still billed as the “Santana Blues Band.” (Though they’d shortened their band name back in the summer, show posters outside of San Francisco still kept the older name.)

Randy wrote: “As I recall I was told that the bands only played one set each. At that time Quicksilver's first sets were nothing special. Kind of like the Dead, they really came alive in their second sets.”
Quicksilver’s request to the audience to “come closer and sit on the floor” is also striking. Perhaps they were having trouble ‘coming alive’ – one wonders why this empty floor wasn’t filled with dancers?
But that reminds me of a recent eyewitness memory of a somewhat older crowd at the Dead/Quicksilver show at South Oregon College in Ashland, Feb 4 ’68: “I was there and it seemed the only ones dancing were the ones that had a fair amount of LSD in our systems (far too many folks were sitting on the floor with their mouths agape).”

Scheduled for 7:30, the concert probably did not run very late. As the opener on a weeknight high-school show Santana’s set may have been short, but their setlist was probably similar to the Fillmore West sets from the next month released as “Live at the Fillmore ’68.” Quicksilver’s setlist was most likely much the same as at their famed Fillmore West run earlier in November, partly used on the Happy Trails album and later circulating on tapes and bootlegs:  
So it’s easy to imagine what the show must have sounded like in the crowded gym.

Mr. What also did the light show at Santana’s 2/11/69 Woodside High concert, but I haven’t seen them listed elsewhere.

At any rate, the bands were loud, the light-show psychedelic, the gym converted to a mini-Fillmore for the night, and the experience was burned in students’ memories. No doubt before long many of them were heading off to San Francisco to see more rock shows.
While it would be nice to report that this show passed into Los Altos legend, oddly enough, any word of it instead soon vanished into the fog of the sixties. No ads or posters have survived, no press listings were found; and the yearbook spread appears to have remained unknown outside the student body. As a result, only those who attended remembered that it ever took place.
It’s possible more memories of this show may come to light, now that this article has been posted. Los Altos High also had a biweekly newspaper, the Lance, which may well have run an article on the show, if anyone has access to issues from November ’68…

Two related posts worth checking out:  
A description of a Santana/Quicksilver show with the Dead at Winterland a month later (and “so sweet” Gary Duncan’s last appearance with Quicksilver for a year) -  
And a listing of Palo Alto High School concert highlights, 1967-69 -  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

COLOUR ME POP - BBC2 1968-1969

Colour Me Pop was a late night show broadcast after 10:30 on BBC2 in 1968 and 1969 (on Fridays until the end of August 1968 then on Saturdays). Initially it was a effectively an adjunct to contemporary discussion programme Late Night Line Up which featured a slot for folk, pop and rock acts on a weekly basis, and provided a monthly best of the bunch summary.
Most weeks a singles act would perform a 25 minute set broadcast without a break. Occasionally there would be more than one act and occasionally outside broadcasts would be aired. The most notable of these were the three broadcasts put out in November 1968 featuring the recordings taken from Olympop! - A Benefit for the British Olympic Appeal Fund held at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on September 29, the same year. The first showcased Eclection with the wonderful voice of soon to depart Kerrilee Male, Spooky Tooth and Jethro Tull. Two weeks later we saw a performance from The Nice and a week later The Alan Price Set and Julie Driscoll Brian Auger & The Trinity.
Unfortunately, many of the original recordings have now been lost.

Performance History
14 June 1968 Manfred Mann
21 June 1968 The Small Faces (performance includes: "Song of a Baker", "Happiness Stan", "Rollin' Over", "The Hungry Intruder", "The Journey", "Mad John" & "Happydaystoytown")
28 June 1968 Eclection
12 July 1968 Salena Jones with The Brian Lemon Trio
19 July 1968 Fleetwood Mac
26 July 1968 The Kinks (performance includes: "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", "Well Respected Man", "Death of a Clown", "Sunny Afternoon", "Two Sisters", "Sitting by the Riverside", "Lincoln County", "Picture Book" & "Days")
09 August 1968 The Peddlers
16 August 1968 The Tremeloes
23 August 1968 Barry Noble
30 August 1968 Spooky Tooth
07 September 1968 The Hollies
14 September 1968 The Moody Blues (performance includes:"Ride My See Saw", "Dr Livingstone I Presume", "House of Four Doors", "Voices in the Sky", "The Best Way to Travel", "Visions of Paradise", "The Actor", "Om")
21 September 1968 Unit 4 + 2
28 September 1968 David Ackles
05 October 1968 O'Haras Playboys
12 October 1968 Honeybus; Clodagh Rodgers
02 November 1968 Eclection; Spooky Tooth; Jethro Tull (all performances were recorded on 29-Sep-68 at Olympop! - A Benefit for the British Olympic Appeal Fund held at Fairfield Halls in Croydon) 
09 November 1968 Foggy Dew-O; Lew Prinz And The Bedrocks
16 November 1968 The Nice  (performance includes:"America", "Ars Longa Vita Brevis" & "Rondo" and recorded on 29-Sep-68 at Olympop! - A Benefit for the British Olympic Appeal Fund held at Fairfield Halls in Croydon) 
23 November 1968 The Alan Price Set; Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger  and The Trinity (all performances were recorded on 29-Sep-68 at Olympop! - A Benefit for the British Olympic Appeal Fund held at Fairfield Halls in Croydon) 
30 November 1968 Giles, Giles and Fripp
07 December 1968 Timebox
14 December 1968 Love Sculpture
21 December 1968 Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (performance includes "Canyons of Your Mind", "I'm the Urban Spaceman", "Mr Apollo") 
04 January 1969 The Move (performance includes:" I Can Hear the Grass Grow", "Beautiful Daughter", "Goin Back", "Wild Tiger Woman", "Christian Life", "Blackberry Way", "Something", "Fire Brigade" & "Flowers in the Rain")
11 January 1969 Sons And Lovers
16 January 1969 The Pop Tops
25 January 1969 The Toast
01 February 1969 Chicken Shack
06 February 1969 Bobby Hanna; The Art Movement
15 February 1969 The Equals; Barbara Ruskin
22 February 1969 The Marmalade
01 March 1969 Ten Years After (performance includes:"A Sad Song", "No Title" & "I'm Going Home" Audio exists)
08 March 1969 World of Oz
15 March 1969 Caravan
22 March 1969 Harmony Grass
12 April 1969 Free
19 April 1969 Jimmy Campbell; Sweet Thursday
26 April 1969 Elastic Band
10 May 1969 Family (performance includes: "The Weavers Answer", "Observations From a Hill", "How Hi the Li", "Processions" and "A Song For Me")
17 May 1969 Cats Eyes
31 May 1969 Group Therapy
07 June 1969 Lions Of Judea
14 June 1969 Strawbs (with David Bowie and Tony Visconti miming to “Poor Jimmy Wilson”)
05 July 1969 Trapeze (performance includes"Magic Carpet Ride", "Meet on the Ledge" & "Can't See a Thing" all recorded at a live show in Wolverhampton introduced by Emperor Rosko), Samson 
12 July 1969 Copperfield
26 July 1969 Orange Bicycle
02 August 1969 The Love Affair; Philip Goodhand-Tait
09 August 1969 Gene Pitney with the Mike Cotton Sound
30 August 1969 The Fortunes
Not Broadcast Chambers Brothers

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Parliament Hill Fields Performances, London

Wednesday September 4, 1968: Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, London - Jefferson Airplane, Fairport Convention

Photograph Copyright of Brian Richards
After a short break following their August 31 performances on the Isle of Wight, Fairport Convention and the Jefferson Airplane were booked to appear on the corrugated iron bandstand on Parliament Hill Fields on the south-east corner of Hampstead Heath in London. Camden Council had organised the event but had failed to adequately promote proceedings. John Peel had mentioned the event on his Top Gear radio show and International Times carried an advertisement. 

Nevertheless, only a few hundred showed up, perhaps others were kept away by the persistent rain. Of those who did show up a pocket of post-lemonhead mods/proto-skinheads made their feelings known about the dirty hippies and freaks. Fortunately the rain drove them back to the Bull & Last. Although Sandy Denny was late arriving, Fairport Convention opened proceedings and a partial set list includes Suzanne, Stormy Weather and I'll Keep It With Mine. As an aside, Richard Thompson attended William Ellis School on Parliament Hill close to where they performed.

The Jefferson Airplane played a pretty much standard short set: She Has Funny Cars, Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil, Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon, It's No Secret, If You Feel, Somebody To Love, Today and returned with White Rabbit as an encore.

Grace Slick and Paul Kantner thanked the audience for standing in the rain and enjoying their set. The long demolished bandstand itself provided shelter for the performers.

Friday May 9, 1969: Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, London - Pretty Things, Musica Electronica Viva, Pete Brown and his Battered Ornaments, Jody Grind, Pink Floyd, Roy Harper

Come May 1969 Camden Council had decided to not only allow, but sponsor three more free shows at the Parliament Hill Fields bandstand. The first of these saw a very good crowd of about 8,000 London hippies (including Ladbrook Grove denizens and weekend hippies), casual observers and head-band clad drug squad officers witnessing a strange mix of performances. 

Roy Harper opened and was soon followed by Pink Floyd playing a somewhat rushed set (they were booked to play Southampton University later that evening) on Orange equipment that was not proving reliable. The Pink Floyd set was: Astronomy Domine, Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun. Careful With That Axe Eugene, A Saucerful Of Secrets (shortened version).

Jody Grind (organ, guitar and drums heavy trio) and Pete Brown did what Jody Grind and Pete Brown did, keeping the audience happy but not ecstatic. Poet and Cream lyricist Brown would soon be thrown out of the his own band The Battered Ornaments. Italian experimental band MEV were, reportedly, not well received at all and quickly headed off. 

The evening concluded with a set by the Pretty Things with the stage occupied by many of the audience dancing, Twink climbing everything he could climb, Mick Farren and many others.  

Sunday May 18, 1969: Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, London - Procol Harum, Soft Machine, John Fahey, Third Ear Band, Blossom Toes, Forest, Yes

A reported 16,000 folks turned up to see a rather more laid back afternoon of music under gray clouds and light rain. Previously called Mabel Greer's Toyshop, Yes performed their set which at that time still included covers of Byrds and Beatles numbers and was far from the painful progressiverock that would become their trademark.

Forest were a Grimsby sired folk group that took refuge in the midlands. A favourite of John Peel, they produced two decent albums and are often tagged as part of the acid folkgenre.  By the time of their performance at Parliament Hill, Blossom Toes had drifted from their psychedelic roots demonstrated on their first album (We Are Ever So Clean) to being a pretty much down the line rock band – as capably demonstrated on their second album (If Only For A Moment) released that summer.

Photograph Copyright of Chris Downes
The Third Ear Band was an evolving musical collective that utilised traditional orchestral instruments in an improvisational manner. At the time of this performance, their Peter Jenner produced album Alchemy was being released (featuring John Peel on Jaws Harp).  The line up for the show was Mel Davis on cello, Glen Sweeney – chimes, tabla and hand drums, Dave Tomlin and Richard Coff playing violins.

John Fahey also played a Roundhouse benefit for Fairport Convention with Al Stewart on May 25. After a May 11 performance at Mothers in Birmingham with Eclection, Fairport Convention’s Martin Lamble died in accident when the van carrying the band crashed on the M1.  Fahey followed the benefit with a Top Gear session for John Peel on May 29.

At the time of the show the Software Machine would have been playing as a four-piece with Robert Wyatt on Drums, Mike Ratledge on keyboards, Hugh Hopper on bass and Brian Hopper on sax.  Procol Harum were still riding high in the States but by mid 1969 there popularity was waning in England. This was the first show in England since the spring of 1968 and one of only half a dozen shows before they would return to North America.

A second stage had been set up to aid the transition between performances.

Friday May 30, 1969: Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, London - Fleetwood Mac, Edgar Broughton Band, Duster Bennett, Bridget St John, Poet And The One Man Band, Taste

An all night event attracting a crowd reported to be around 25,000, the show was cut short by serious trouble with the crowd. Skinheads threw bottles, coins and heckled Fleetwood Mac when they came on stage and mobs threatened the audience and bands alike.

Rory Gallagher’s Taste opened the proceedings with their loud and heavy blues-rock set a little after 9PM playing on the second stage. Poet and The One Man Band were a short-lived vehicle for Albert Lee, Jerry Donahue, Pat Donaldson (previously of Dantalian’s Chariot), Pete Gavin andTony Colton most of which would later be involved with Fotheringay and Heads Hands & Feet. They released a couple of decent (or so I recall) albums in the folk rock genre. A story that needs telling.

1969 saw Bridget St John release her, and John Peel’s Dandelion Records’, first album. She played a well received set including Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and Joni Mitchell’s Night in the City as well as a number of songs of her own.

Duster Bennett was a Welsh country-blues one man band and singer that was always well received live, but never really successful in terms of record sales. Fleetwood Mac had provided the back line on his first album and he went on to produce a couple more for Blue Horizon. There was trouble already brewing when Bennett played but he carried on undeterred.

The Edgar Broughton Band were the mainstays of the British festival scene and continue to play benefits and tour to this day.  The anthem, Out Demons Out, was belted out that night – perhaps antagonising the skinhead demons that were to soon wreck the evening.

A little after midnight, Fleetwood Mac came to the stage and played a couple of numbers including Albatross. Soon after, the evening was bought to a close as the skin heads forced the band off the stage. Peter Green's father was so upset by the events of the evening he wrote to the press to complain:

My son travels all over the country playing to different audiences practically every night and last Friday was one of his nights off. But instead of taking advantage and resting, he offered his services to play for free at an open air concert along with other artists. Everything would have gone off fine, when along came a small group of hoodlums - not I may add, long haired freak , as is their usual description - but a gang of crew-cut young thugs who seemed to delight in spoiling a night out for the vast majority of people who were there to enjoy themselves.

After many nasty incidents the concert had to be abandoned, much to the disgust of the organizers who went to a great deal of trouble to arrange it . It is time sterner measures were taken by the law and stiffer sentences imposed on these so called citizens of the future.

J Green