I mentioned in my 11/18/73 post that The San Diego State Daily Aztec is digitized and online. Bravo, and thank you, librarians!
They have also, with the support of taxpayers and/or donors, produced scans of some alternative campus newspapers. These are not generally found in the wonderful UMI Underground Press Collection, so there is real value-added here. I had been unaware of these particular San Diego State papers. There's lots of great Latino, Chicano, and indigenous material, as befits the college's long status (like, late 19th century which, in the Amercian West, is old) as a pillar of a very diverse community. The library also appears to have digitized the San Diego Union, the San Diego Tribune, and the San Diego Union-Tribune, but those collections seem to be onsite access only, and I didn't have time to go to campus. I need to investigate a bit more.
Most relevant to this blog, they did a little paper called Sunrise, and it popped up with the following result, dated 10/7/70 to a search on "Grateful Dead" (which is either my first or second filter, depending on how much stuff I expect to return on it and "Jerry Garcia"):
Thought I would turn you on to a little info on how promoter Jim Pagni makes his money - based on the Grateful Dead concert he was forced to cancel because of Jerry Garcia's illness. When the Sports Arena is filled it holds 15,000 people. At Jim's prices, he would have grossed $60,000. Expenses of $12,000 for groups, approx. $6,000 for the facility, $3,000 for advertising, and $1,000 for miscellaneous would have left J.P. with a new profit of $35,000 of the people's money. No wonder J.P. can afford his Mercedes Benz and $100 suits.A funny thing happened on the cancellation of the Grateful Dead, Leon Russell concert. Supposedly Jerry Garcia was ill, but supposedly he managed to jam in Los Angeles and San Francisco over that weekend. Maybe the Dead finally learned they were playing for an old enemy, James Pagni, and that he is still ripping the people off with his ridiculous prices.
I had no idea what the columnist (Dave Olsen) was talking about. A little sniffing around generated a listing in the 9/21 Aztec for a Dead show in San Diego on Sunday, September 27, 1970: "The Grateful Dead, a San Francisco rock group, are back in San Diego, this time at the Sports Arena."
Innnnnntehrrressssting. Let's unpack.
1. This is a canceled GD gig previously unknown to me.
So, there's that. Naturally, I have added it to my spreadsheet.
2. The Dead in San Diego
The Dead were never that big in San Diego, really. Here's what I come up with in San Diego area gigs for the Dead and Garcia through the 70s:
- 8/2/68 GD Hippodrome
- 8/3/68 GD Hippodrome
- 5/11/69 GD San Diego State Aztec Bowl. Here is some SDSU eyecandy from the show. There are great Rosie McGee and other color pictures from this gig and surrounding stuff, Garcia sporting a very Chicano looking mustache, some gaudy orange stripy clothes, etc. The eyecandy I linked shows a rather empty looking facility.
- 1/10/70 GD Golden Hall
- 8/5/70 Acoustic GD Golden Hall. Uncertain, see especially here.
- 8/7/71 NRPS-GD Community Concourse
- 11/14/73 GD Sports Arena
- 11/18/73 JGMS San Diego State Aztec Bowl [canceled]
- 12/27-28/75 JGB La Paloma Thater in Del Encinitas
- 2-21/22/76 JGB La Paloma Theater
- 1/7/78 GD Golden Hall
- 12/27/78 GD I show "Community Concourse Golden Hall"
- 7/28/79 Reconstruction Roxy Theater
- 11/23-24/79 GD Community Concourse Golden Hall
For some reason I felt like there was a Garcia Band show on 5/24/76, but I must be imaging that. Anyway, they weren't that big in SD. There's something about the tone of the Aztec item – "The Grateful Dead, a San Francisco rock group, are back in San Diego, this time at the Sports Arena" – that feels a little cold. Odds are it's a single copywriter (if it's anything at all), but it just feels to me like things didn't always resonate between the Dead and San Diego.
3. The business information
The columnist obviously holds no love for promoter Jim Pagni. His position on capitalism in general is more ambiguous (though writing about "the people" in the Sunrise in fall 1970 probably indicates something). But this is great info, and I agree with him that paying the act $12k and profiting three times that sounds a little excessive.
I do wonder where the contractual information came from. Certainly the promoter wouldn't reveal it.
4. Something's not quite right ...
Maybe columnist Dave Olsen is just the suspicious kind, but he doesn't quite seem to buy that Garcia was sick, which is the given reason for the cancellation. He makes special note that Garcia played the weekend in LA (I assume referring to the Dead's attendee-confirmed Pasadena gig on Friday 9/25 [deadlists]) over the weekend. But Pasadena was before the canceled Sunday gig in San Diego, and between them was a little jaunt out to Salt Lake City for a Saturday show (deadlists, which gives a setlist). This is the schedule of a band that needed the money - SF to LA to SLC to SD to SF don' make no sense at all, unless you are just taking whatever check won't bounce.
I don't think the Dead would have walked away from $12 grand to fuck over the capitalist pig, which Olsen seems to imply. My first guess was that, y'know, Garcia really was sick. Maybe they brought the contract terms to light as a PR move, vilify the capitalist a little bit. "Sorry for the last minute cancellation. By that way, that guy is really fleecing the San Diego hip community …" But they could not have afforded to refuse the gig to make a political statement. Circumstances must have been exigent.
5. But here's what it might be?
Ruth Clifford Garcia Matusiewicz passed away on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 29th. She had been gravely damaged in a horrible-sounding car wreck on September 8 and had held on for three weeks, in traction in intensive care at San Francisco General Hospital visibly suffering inter alia physically. Jerry had barely interacted with his mom for a good long while, but during her hospitalization he visited all the time, bringing in Mountain Girl, coming along with his brother Tiff, crossing paths with ex Sara Ruppenthal and visiting Ruth petty much daily when he was in town. Sara had kept in touch with Ruth, grandma to Heather. It was one of those things, she recounted, where she had been hanging on for awhile before someone called her up and said "She's dying", and she died that day (that whole paragraph paraphrased from Jackson 1999, 198-199).
Both Sara and Mountain Girl confirm that Ruth's passing hit Jerry really hard (Jackson 1999, 199-200). Talking about it six years later (see JGMF, "JG interview by Father Miles Riley, KPIX-TV Studios, San Francisco, CA"), Garcia sounded wistful: "Once your parents are gone ... y'know ... y'know .... they're gone. On some levels it's liberating and on other levels it's very sad."
What I strongly suspect, now, is that Ruth was fading fast (like so many, I have seen this happen), and Jerry went home to be there. We know he played Pasadena on Friday and the Deadlists setlist suggests he did go from there to Salt Lake City on Saturday. But instead of flying down to San Diego, he went home. I conjecture that the San Diego cancellation represents Garcia having to get back to say goodbye to his mother.
6. And one more thing—
Sorry, but this is JGMF: Olsen has heard that Garcia played San Francisco over the weekend, all while allegedly too sick to play San Diego. What might this be? I would not be the least bit surprised if Jerry, having canceled his Sunday out-of-towner to be close to the hospital, didn't nevertheless play closer to home. Why not? It's his favorite way to spend an evening (this would presumably be at the Matrix, presumably with Merl Saunders), he's not doing anything else, and playing is always the order of the Garcia day, even when it might not help, even just a little, to take the mind off its troubles.
Conjecture upon conjecture upon conjecture, of course. But there's nothing wrong with trying to do some groutwork, filling in some interstices, so long as it's labeled as such. As always, caveat lector.
6. In closing
Funny how little flecks can turn out to be small, rippling echoes out from the huge things we have to endure in the human condition. I believe the Dead canceled the San Diego gig so Jerry could see his mother off her mortal coil. If it's safe to say that everyone has mother issues, I hope you'll permit me to infer that Garcia certainly had his. Anytime you get shuffled off to grandparents' care so a living parent can focus on other things, however legitimate those other things are, you're going to have complex feelings around abandonment, attachment, all that. "It's weird", he seems to say in his 1976 interview, and this is pretty much true under any circumstances.
All things considered, he seems to have handled it reasonably well; productively. He immersed himself in the Dead's American Beauty while "it was raining down hard on us", as Mountain Girl put it; Ruth, Phil's mom, Bob's mom, soon Janis all passing; Mickey wrecked over Lennie Hart's perfidy, fixing to leave the band. But the next several years would see Garcia achieving newfound professional and musical heights, in many ways the most productive years of his life. Trouble would come, as it will, but most of that came later. For now it would be taking the lumps but also stepping up to the plate, making his way –truly, for the first time, his own way, in the sense of lacking even implicit parenting—in the world.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
! listing: Daily Aztec (San Diego State College), September 21, 1970, p. 5, accessed via SDSU digital collections, URL http://library.sdsu.edu/find/digital-collections, consulted 11/21/2014.
! expost: Olsen, Dave. 1970. Metacoustics. Sunrise (San Diego State College), October 7, 1970, p. 13, accessed via SDSU digital collections, URL http://library.sdsu.edu/find/digital-collections, consulted 11/21/2014.
! ref: Jackson, Blair. 1999. Garcia: An American Life. New York: Penguin Books.
p.s. Bonus content for Ross, from Olsen (1970): "Country Joe and the Fish have finally split completely. Joe is doing an acoustic thing and Barry Melton and the rest are putting their own thing together." I am sure you knew that, but anyway …