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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

1966: Darby Slick et al. "Jammin' With Garcia"

Chapter 5 of Darby Slick's autobiography, I guess (1), is entitled "Jammin' With Garcia" and recounts a Friday evening jam session, ca. 1966, in the Mission District. These one-offs are inherently interesting, of course, but especially interesting to me is the question of how often they occurred. I had always bought into the mythology that the GD (and its personnel, especially Jerry) were playing around pretty much all the time in the Halcyon days before the Summer of Love (TM). Corry Arnold has asserted that this probably happened a lot less than the mythology would have us believe, for example calling notions about frequent free concerts in Golden Gate Park "sadly wishful". Slick's vignette doesn't get at the question of frequency, but it does provide a first-person account of one free-form gig in these very early days of the hippie scene. The jam was apparently some sort of party to raise funds for something, perhaps the Mime Troupe. The crowd was SRO and flowing outside, where as many as 50 people were trying to get in.

I will just make a few notes about this as extracted from Slick's account. I'll focus especially on personnel, what they played, location, and date.

  • Jerry Garcia: electric guitar;
  • Bill Kreutzmann: drums;
  • ?Peter Albin?: bass;
  • ... joined by ...
  • Jerry Slick: drums;
  • Darby Slick: guitar.

  • "we all started to jam the blues, almost the only music we could launch into with no more discussion than 'It's in "A".'"
  • ca. 45 minutes

  • Mission District
  • in a loft
  • Slick parked three blocks away, across the driveway of a cement company
  • MJB coffee plant nearby

Date: I have no idea; a Friday night ca. 1966.

I don't know much about Slick, but he certainly writes glowingly of this night and of Jerry: "There was magic in the room that night, and though I have played in many jam sessions over the years, that is the one I remember with the most love, the most respect. ... I was left with a conviction that Jerry Garcia is a man of great spirit."

(1) Slick, Darby. 1991. Don't You Want Somebody to Love: Reflections on the San Francisco Sound. Berkeley: SLG Books.


  1. Man, blogger sucks. Can't even format bullet lists.

    Anyway, Yellow Shark has generously provided a matrix that identifies Friday nights in 1966 in terms of the known activities of the Great Society, GD and Big Brother.

    The Friday dates that, on present understanding, are open for all three bands are the following. Of course, given the surely incomplete state of our knowledge some of these probably aren't possible at all. Anyway ...

    Friday, January 07, 1966
    Friday, January 21, 1966
    Friday, February 04, 1966
    Friday, February 18, 1966
    Friday, April 01, 1966
    Friday, April 08, 1966
    Friday, April 15, 1966
    Friday, May 20, 1966
    Friday, September 30, 1966
    Friday, October 28, 1966
    Friday, December 16, 1966

    My hunch is that this is a spring evening --no textual basis for this, just a gut feeling-- so I'd guess one of the April dates or the May date. But I doubt we'll ever know.

    Thanks, Ross!

  2. from Facebook, 2018-01-25
    Darby Slick -"This is a famous event, should be discoverable: the first Bill Graham Mime Troupe benefit, but I'm not gunna' look it up."

    That makes it 12/10/65. Perhaps they moved to the Mime Troupe loft at either 450 Alabama or 3450 Twentieth Street (corner of Capp Street) after the Fillmore gig. Waiting for his response.


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