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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Where Was Paul Humphrey on June 5-6, 1974?

Ad for Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music, Oakland Coliseum, June 4, 1974. Hayward Daily Review, May 24, 1974, p. 38.
Lawrence Welk and His Champagne Music, "With All 40 T.V. Stars!", appeared On Stage! In Person! at the Oakland Coliseum on June 4, 1974.

I wonder if Paul Humphrey was with them? By October, for sure, Paul Humphrey is in the JGMS drummer's chair, which he occupies for these guys' first-ever east coast tour in November. Exactly who is drumming on which dates throughout 1974 seems quite arbitrary. Who knows, maybe he drummed the next night or the night after his Welk gig with Jerry and Merl? (I can't get enough of these shifts, from Champagne Music to whatever the hell you'd call JGMS of the June 1974 vintage.) I.e., titularly, Where Was Paul Humphrey on June 5-6, 1974?

These June 4-5-6, 1974 shows are out of pattern in a lot of ways. First, that's Tuesday-Thursday, which is really unusual at this point. Second, these (4th and 5th; 6th was at Keystone, Berkeley) are among the last times that Garcia would play the Lion's Share, I think. He spent a lot of time there from about 1971-1974. Third, there are several setlist oddities from this three day period: Alice Coltrane's "Ptah, the El Daoud" (4th and 6th, only two known versions), a loping "All Blues" from the 4th (singleton), "New York City Blues" on the 4th (singleton) and "Kansas City Blues" on the 5th (singleton). Fourth, probably not unrelated, there is personnel fluidity: Alice Stuart guests on the 4th and 5th, while a pretty credible source puts Tony Saunders on bass on at least the 5th.

I don't know if there's any connection, but this particular moment is a fluid one, as my discussion of the Aunt Monk listings from a week earlier engages at a little greater length. In many ways, this window feels like a last hurrah for the loose, I-can-play-any-club-any-night-of-the-week period of Garcia's life. I'll add June 4 and 6 to the To Listen To Pile to see if I can hear about who is drumming, though my ears for drummers are bad. What a grind, anyway. :)


  1. My understanding, unfortunately, is that Paul Humphrey did not become the Lawrence Welk Orchestra drummer until 1976. On the other hand, the touring band and the TV orchestra may not have been identical, and the Welk orchestra could use subs (since the music was written), so Humphrey very well could have ben the drummer in 1974.

    You could go over to the Welk site and look at a few dozen pages of photos if you want, at

  2. It's funny, because what I had understood about Humphrey and Tutt in '75 is that Tutt could play the weekday gigs and Humphrey could play the weekend gigs, both around their "day job" schedules (Elvis and Welk, respectively). The latter, at least, appears not to be true. And I have been concatenating Tutt dates from the Elvis Presley in Concert database (, and there are just very few conflicts for Tutt (though there are a few in June 1975).

  3. Well, I can't believe I just looked up the history of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, but I did. From 1955-76, the drummer was Johnny Klein, who was also Welk's cousin and the band's equipment manager on the road. However, it turns out that he retired from the band in l976 due to serious health problems. He became Welk's music librarian, and Humphrey took over the drum chair from 1976 to 1982.

    However, if Klein had had serious enough health problems to have to retire in 1976, he must have missed some tours and some shows beforehand. If Klein missed some dates, my guess is that Humphrey was the "first call" sub. That would mean that Steve Parish's remarks about Humphrey getting off the plane in his Welk show stage clothes might still be plausible.

    Thus, although the business about Tutt and Humphrey having to alternate turns out to be fanciful, Humphrey may have had regular gigs with the Welk Orchestra during Fall '74 when he played with JGMS. It also means that Humphrey may indeed have been the drummer for Welk on July 5-6, 1974, and if he was pals with Merl they probably at least hung out.

  4. Also, variety and talk shows were some of the most lucrative and steady work available for Hollywood musicians (and NYC ones), so the best players got them. I believe that Ron Tutt was the Tonight Show drummer in early 1970, for example, missing an Elvis tour as a result.

    Humphrey may have been the drummer for a daily show in Los Angleles, and that may have been a scheduling challenge for Garcia. However, people only got interested in the actual history of the band after 1985 (myself included), so memories of which show Humphrey may have worked for may have gotten muddled. If Humphrey was playing for the Dinah Shore show or something in 1974, everyone may simply have forgotten what year he started with Welk.


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