(From the 1969 Campolindo yearbook -- thanks to Marcus Buick for the scan!)
--updated to identify the source of the story, Evan Hunt, by name--
Campolindo High School (Moraga, CA) is my alma mater. Below are the recollections of the gentlemen --Evan Hunt-- who organized the Grateful Dead concert there on May 16, 1969. If you have ever been to Moraga, CA, and can imagine what it must have been like in 1969, this scene is absolutely hilarious (but for some mildly offensive language -- not mine!). In any case, if you love this kind of history and the English language, I have to think that this bit will knock you out (so good I'll reproduce it twice)!
There were hundreds of longhaired, dope-smoking zonked-out young kids writhing around in the dirt between parking strips. The cops consisting of four off duty sheriffs reserves were hopelessly beleaguered by banshee-cheering maniacal Deadheads, and flanked by frantic bouffant coiffured housewives pleading with anyone who could still stand for decorum and decency. Marijuana smoke rollicked out of the ceiling fans. Cans of dayglo paint were slathered against school walls. Terror ruled the hearts of most. There was virtual pandemonium. People of all sorts of dress and persuasion were staggering about mumbling into the vinegar sky. They'd all been dosed with Owsley LSD unsuspectingly lying wait in ladles of pink lemonade punch.
Anyway, the whole account follows. Happy reading.
Here's the story of the Grateful Dead at Campolindo—hope you’re not easily bored.It was early 1969, maybe January, I was attending Diablo Valley College and involved in student activities such as concerts and dances. Some of my friends were in rock bands and asked me to get them gigs at DVC. I became more and more involved in booking and auditioning local talent and often went around to the high schools and frats to drum up business. As a result, I got to meet lots of people and listen to a lot of music. Since early 1966 I went to the city and/or Berkeley at least once a week to hear the latest acts that came to the bay area and that played the most popular venues at the time-- Fillmore (& Fillmore west), Avalon Ballroom, The Family Dog, and The Matrix.Some friends of friends (I don't recall their names) were students at Campolindo High in Moraga. They wanted to hire the Grateful Dead to play at their spring concert, but all of their efforts fell flat because the Dead’s management didn't want to play at some suburban, teenybop high school. The Campo crowd had planned the date for May 16th and it was locked into the school's calendar. Here they'd spent all this time telling everybody in school that they were going to get the Dead, and they had no Dead. In the meantime, they signed Frumious Bandersnatch--a local band from Lafayette that had a considerable following, and they also signed school faves The Velvet Hammer to be on the concert bill.One of the students on the concert committee found my name and number in the "Band Folder" and called me at DVC to ask me if I knew anyway to get in contact with the Dead. So, I went early to where the Dead were playing in S.F. and hung around outside until I spotted the Dead’s manager. I had seen him before at Dead shows and I knew his name--Danny Rifkin--and I walked up to him and explained the situation. He gave me his phone number and a week later I went to the Dead’s office in the Haight. Rifkin was very nice to me, but told me that the Dead were already booked May 16. I asked if there was any possibility that they had a cancellation for that date to call me. I also asked him how much the dead would charge to play a high school dance--the figure was a whopping $3,000.00, which was an extremely high price for those days--but Campolindo had to make it worth the Dead’s while, and, to their credit, they did.A month went by. February became March. Out of the blue, Rifkin called and told me that the Dead’s tour itinerary had changed and they were free for May 16. I contacted the concert committee, arranged the contracts, and did the legwork.The committee was supposed to give me $60.00 as a finder's fee, four free tickets, and a backstage pass for me and my girlfriend (who was a senior at Acalanes--my alma mater, too!). I never did get the 60 bucks, and when I tried to use the backstage pass the Dead’s roadies wouldn't let me in. so, we went out front to join the masses. The bleachers were pulled out, but it was festival seating on the floor.In the gym the acoustics were dreadful. Velvet Hammer opened and were okay (more on them later). Frumious Bandersnatch was next and they were as good as any band could sound under those circumstances. The bass player was another Acalanes class of '67 grad you've probably heard of--Ross Valory--of Journey fame. Later that year, they released a record in the bay area that actually sold a few thousand copies, but they never went anywhere with their act.Sadly I cannot supply much info about the Dead’s performance other than it was pretty awful. I think they were enroute to Seattle on their tour and really mucked-up on acid. I don't even remember one song except "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" off their first album. Me and my girlfriend left before the show ended. What we observed outside before the last Garcia solo will forever be etched in the grainy netherlands of my cerebral cortex. But there were the Dead’s people grabbing little teenaged girls who were barely in bleeding stage, and throwing them into the back of the 'quipment van and were helping themselves carnally. The girls did not seem afraid so we moved on about our business.Though Campolindo made a lot of money from ticket sales the gym floor was thrashed by cigarette butts and Thunderbird wine bottles. There were hundreds of longhaired, dope-smoking zonked-out young kids writhing around in the dirt between parking strips. The cops consisting of four off duty sheriffs reserves were hopelessly beleaguered by banshee-cheering maniacal Deadheads, and flanked by frantic bouffant coiffured housewives pleading with anyone who could still stand for decorum and decency. Marijuana smoke rollicked out of the ceiling fans. Cans of dayglo paint were slathered against school walls. Terror ruled the hearts of most. There was virtual pandemonium. People of all sorts of dress and persuasion were staggering about mumbling into the vinegar sky. They'd all been dosed with Owsley LSD unsuspectingly lying wait in ladles of pink lemonade punch.What did I get out of it? Funny. The lead guitarist for Velvet Hammer caught my eye that night--he a skinny little 15 year old punk laying down these bodacious jazz licks. Nine years later I auditioned him in a group called "Climate" whom I managed into obscurity. Nonetheless the skinny lead guitarist from Velvet Hammer became a close friend and to this very day we write music together. My girlfriend married an Arab oil sheik.