Friday, September 1, 2017


After last week's post on Summer Of Love 1967 I wanted to go back to the fun & crazy early days of the San Francisco music scene.  "What a long strange trip it's been." 

Yep,...that's me on the left with my Dad and brother in Northern California. I may not look like most of the people who frequented San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium back in the day when so many concertgoers had long hair and smelled of patchouli oil. I just loved the music! If you attended some of these concerts, intrigued with the times, or just dig on the music, you will enjoy the videos below!

Marla and I loved attending Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead concerts in San Francisco.  She is on the far left with some Delta Gamma sisters at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Her house was quite conservative so she would leave the sorority in a skirt and we would stop at a gas station for her to change into jeans. There was also a 2:00 curfew so we had to be sure to make it all the way back to Stockton in time for the DG house curfew! (We went to the "Summer of Love" exhibition at the De Young Museum last week with Lea Bearshear Isetti who is 2nd from right)

Grateful Dead poster for an Avalon Ballroom concert by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley. This was our first concert to see the Grateful Dead. My friend Tom Rackerby gave me this poster as a birthday present. Tom, former president of Time Warner Cable National Division, has one of the very best rock poster collections in the country.

A super video of the Grateful Dead singing "Golden Road" live. It really gives a feel for what those early Avalon and Fillmore concerts were like with the amazing psychedelic light shows. In those days there were no chairs as everyone just danced, stood up, or sat on the floor.

Chet Helms (Left) and Bill Graham were responsible for exposing local rock bands to a wider audience in the San Francisco area. They both were innovative and very creative in their early days. Helms ran the Avalon Ballroom and Graham had The Fillmore & Winterland Ballroom.

This is a great Youtube video about their early rock promoter days. It tells their fascinating early history and background!

Bill Graham, kneeling, is shown with Paul Kantner and Gracie Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

We were standing in line to see our first Jefferson Airplane concert at the Avalon. A guy right in front of Marla was prevented from getting in the door by a security guard. He said, "I'm Marty Balin and I'm playing tonight with the Jefferson Airplane!" Marla said, "He's the lead singer!"  They let him in and the band was amazing that night!

 Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 was a musical game changer and really was the beginning of the Summer Of Love. The 3-day music festival was the brainchild of John Phillips of the Mamas & Papas and record producer Lou Adler. Everyone was there including Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Big Brother & The Holding Company (which then included Janis Joplin), The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. The movie of the concert is a must see!!!

I'll share some videos of my Very favorite and iconic performances from the concert.

Janis Joplin singing "Ball and Chain" with Big Brother and the blew everyone away! Still get goose bumps! Mama Cass Elliott's reaction at the end of the song is priceless!

When Pete Townsend of the Who heard Jimi playing he almost quit the business. "I can't play like him!" What a total frenzied tour de force!

Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane sings Marty Balin's fabulous and poignant song, "Today." I almost cry every time I hear it!

A very favorite from the concert, Otis Redding singing " Try a Little Tenderness", something we really need right now! So powerful!!!

Great Jim Marshall photograph of the Dead playing a free concert on San Francisco's Haight Street.

Marla and I were HUGE Sons Of Champlin fans catching their shows in Marin County, San Francisco, Denver, and Boulder. At one Colorado performance, Marla asked band leader, Bill Champlin, if they would play in our house. Bill looked at her and said,..."But where would we put ALL this equipment?" Bill went on to play with "Chicago" for many years.

We'll end with Sons of Champlin for this look at the San Francisco Sound.

Images: Dick Gentry, Rolling Stone, Jim Marshall Photography, Whicker's World, SF Gate, Bay Area Revelations, YouTube

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