Sunday, March 06, 2011

Will The Circle Be Unbroken: The Dead and the Allmans, Sunday, May 10, 1970, Atlanta Sports Arena, Atlanta, GA

Grateful Dead
Sports Arena
310 Chester Avenue, SE
Atlanta, GA
Sunday, May 10, 1970, 4 pm
Mother's Day

As Corry has so often noted at Lost Live Dead, in 1970 the GD were still a hand-to-mouth band, touring hard. If we include NRPS gigs as separate, I do believe 1970 would be Garcia's most prolific onstage year.

Anyway, I guess I'd take the overnight from Worcester, MA on May 9, 1970 to Atlanta, GA on Sunday the 10th (Mother's Day, I think, FWIW) as a sure sign of a band that is trying to pack in the paying gigs.

Not much is known about this Atlanta show, for which no tape is known to exist (at least not to me). Here's what Deadlists has to say about this show:

According to Barry Welch, who attended the concert, it was announced before the show that TWA had failed to deliver the band's equipment and they were going to borrow the Allman Bros' gear, and first the Allmans would play a set, and then the Dead would play a set, and then they'd Jam together. According to Chris Cole who attended this show it was an afternoon show and among the tunes played were Hard To Handle and The Other One. The Dead Jammed with the Allmans during the Allmans' set as well. DeadBase IX lists a Mama Tried and a Will The Circle Be Unbroken, the latter with the Allman Bros.

I had a chance to peruse a few issues of the great Atlanta counterculture Great Speckled Bird, and can report a few things based on a review by Miller Francis, Jr. in the May 18, 1970 issue (p. 7).

First, this:

What's so great about this picture is the stenciling on the equipment, giving really nice confirmation to the equipment aspects of the story. That's some shirt ol' Jer is sporting, too. The photog was Bill Fibben.

Anyway, here are some of the key quotes from the review:
  • "Frankly, this was one of the greatest musical/sensual experiences the Atlanta hip community has ever had, rivaled only by another Dead offering in Piedmont Park after last year's Atlanta Pop Festival."
  • "Announcement by Ed Shane that the Allman Brothers were present and would jam with the Grateful Dead."
  • "The Allman Brothers lending their equipment to replace the Dead equipment left behind in Boston by the airline."
  • "Mama Tried"
  • "The first appearances on stage of Duane, Greg, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks"
  • "An incredible, unbelievable, destroying Southern hymn played by the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band, 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken'"

This account makes me think that Deadbase IX had some information from the GSB review, given the Mama Tried and Will The Circle Be Unbroken information.

I also wanted to display some of the other visual data surrounding this show, so here goes. First, the ticket stub:
hat tip:

Here's an ad from Great Speckled Bird, May 4, 1970, p. 21. Love that they were already the good ol' GD in mid-1970 in a town they had played what, once? Probably some other nice Atlanta vibe in the rest of the information.

Here's a second ad from a week later (press day one day after the show, in fact: Great Speckled Bird, May 11, 1970, p. 20) with some slightly different wording and which identifies the Hampton Grease Band as the opening act.
At the risk of being presumptuous, let me try to summarize my analysis of this show in the form of a draft revised Deadlists entry. As you can see, I am leaning toward the conclusion that the blurred lines of the acts and the possible fog of time lead me to discount the memories of a separate AB set, and to prioritize the non-mention in the contemporary source. That's debatable, for sure.

Band: Grateful Dead   
Date: 5/10/70 - Sunday   
Location: Atlanta Sports Arena - Atlanta, GA   

Hard To Handle;
The Other One;
Mama Tried;
Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

Comments: scheduled 4 p.m. start time. Hampton Grease Band opened. The Grateful Dead played on equipment borrowed from the Allman Brothers. This is supported by three pieces of evidence. First, Barry Welch, who attended the concert, recalls a preshow announcement that TWA had failed to deliver the band's equipment and that this would be the remedy! Second, a contemporary show review (Miller Francis Jr., Great Speckled Bird, May 18, 1970, p. 7) confirms this, adding the detail that the gear is in Boston, consistent with GD being in Worcester, MA the night before, which we know to be true. And, third, the Miller review is accompanied by a photo of Garcia playing in front of a stack of Allman Brothers amps.

A clear understanding of who performed is a little bit elusive. Previous Deadlists entries, based on information from Welch, noted that there was an announcement that the billing would be as follows: 1) Allman Brothers set; 2) Grateful Dead set; 3) GD/Allmans jam. (Such a jam would have reprised one in Piedmont Park, also in Atlanta, from July 7, 1969.) It is not clear from the information as given whether this announcement was made from the stage, previous to the show over the radio, or otherwise. A second attendee, Chris Cole, confirms the afternoon start time and has been credited at Deadlists with the recollection that "The Dead Jammed with the Allmans during the Allmans' set as well." This would seem to conform roughly to the layout above. No prior information has listed the Hampton Grease Band, which featured in late advertisements for the show and was discussd in the Miller review. There may be some doubts about whether there was a separate Allman Brothers set, based on the following. The GSB review by Miller Francis references an "announcement by Ed Shane that the Allman Brothers were present and would jam with the Grateful Dead." But it doesn't mention a separate Allman Brothers set. It seems extremely likely that this review would have mentioned a separate Allman Brothers set if it had been announced and a fortiori if it had happened. This guy and this paper seemed close to the Atlanta music scene and seemed very serious about the AB. It mentions Duane Allman, Greg Allman, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks coming onto stage and it mentions "an incredible, unbelievable, destroying Southern hymn played by the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band, 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken'". But no mention of an AB set. One guess is that there was no separate AB set, that the order was 1) Hampton Grease Band; 2) GD; 3) GD + AB.

Regarding the setlist, Cole recalls Hard to Handle and The Other One. The Francis review mentions Mama Tried. For those three songs, we cannot know on present information whether Allman Brothers were onstage. Francis does mention Will The Circle Be Unbroken as Grateful Dead plus Allman Brothers.

There is more information at data at Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger.

Recordings:     none in circulation 10/00


  1. This is a fantastic find, particularly the photo of Jerry. I'm wondering, too, whether the Allmans actually played a separate set. On the other hand, what was the Allmans equipment doing there? Maybe the Allmans just stepped up and played a few numbers while the Dead took a break, rather than playing a whole performance.

    Hampton Grease Band, probably the first band to come out of Athens,GA, featured "Col." Bruce Hampton, later the leader of the Aquarium Rescue Unit. I think he's still out there...maybe he'd know.

    1. Colonel Bruce passed away a few years ago

  2. It just struck me that we may want to reserve judgment on the picture as evidence, and here's why. Around the time of the Legion of Mary's April 1975 run in Atlanta the Great Speckled Bird used this same photograph, even making it seem like it was from the ('75) show. So this could be their "stock" photo, which could mean it's really from July of 1969 rather than May of 1970. In both cases, Garcia might have been playing in front of AB amps.

    Thoughts about whether this looks more like 1969 or 1970?

    1. Absolutely 1970. Garcia had a beard most of '69 and I believe was not yet playing the SG in July of '69 which he appears to be playing in the picture. the Allmans were not at piedmont park in '69, that is a Dead only show as I have a recording of it, and there was no ABB set according my friend who attended. I was too young, didn't see them until later at the Fox in '70's and '80/'85. Good stuff thanks.

    2. Eyewitnesses do report a GD/AB jam 7/7/69 in the park.

    3. I was there and know the Brothers well. They also joined in with their friends.

    4. I was there babysitting 6 or 7 guys from University of South Carolina who were tripping. We sat on the floor. It was memorable to be sure.

  3. Jerry's guitar and beard match up nicely to the Amalie Rothschild photos on the 5/15/70 GD release. Of course, the Rothschild photos might be from other 1970 performances at the Fillmore East, but at least it's a match.

  4. I have been looking into the Hampton Grease Band side of things. It turns out that HGB guitarist Glenn Phillips made an album with Henry Kaiser, and Bob Weir did some vocals on it (the album is called Guitar Party).

    I think the Weir connection is through Kaiser, not Phillips, but if I could find an email for Phillips it would be an excuse to ask him.

    The history of Hampton Grease Band is quite interesting, for those who are interested, in a woulda-shoulda-coulda kind of way.

  5. That is absolutely a May 1970 photo of Garcia; it matches other photos of the time, like 5/6/70. (Well, I haven't seen that shirt before...)

    I have to agree that the non-mention of an Allmans set in a contemporary Atlanta review is more credible than later audience testimony. (Deadbase, for that matter, also didn't list a separate Allmans set.)

    But it's a good question - how would the Allmans so conveniently have their speakers at the ready for the Dead if they weren't also playing that day?

    I envision a situation like the Stones faced in Oakland, November '69 - when their amps were on the fritz, the Dead eagerly loaned theirs, which were just a drive away.
    So when the Dead arrived in Atlanta with no equipment, they were undoubtedly in contact with the Allmans (having befriended them at the Feb Fillmore shows), and the Allmans would have had little trouble driving their equipment over. (They were probably planning to attend anyway.)

    Further evidence is on the Allmans' Hittin' the Web setlists site. The Allmans had also played the previous night in Atlanta; and the site states of 5/10: "Not an ABB show, but jammed w/ Grateful Dead".

    So all in all, despite audience recollections, it seems there was not a separate Allmans set.

  6. P.S.
    I think the Dead were referred to as a "good old" band as early as 1966 in San Francisco, though I've forgotten where I saw that reference.
    A Rolling Stone article in 1969 also called them the "good old Grateful Dead", so the label was spreading from early on.

  7. "they were undoubtedly in contact with the Allmans (having befriended them at the Feb Fillmore shows)"

    They hit it off as early as 7/7/69 in Piedmont Park, but, yeah, I am sure they just called 'em up when they were in a bind.

  8. i was there. hgb opened,an announcement from the stage about lost eqpt. and the dead would be using the abb eqpt. the allmans did not play a seprate set but they came out and jammed with the dead at the end. here's one i never heard anyone say. on the final song duane and jerry were plugged into the same marshall head and at a high point in the song the amp head exploded. everybody rushed out to replace the head and they finished the song. anybody that saw that show, saw this. set lists included almost everything on working man's dead including cumberland blues and dire wolf.

  9. My name is Murray Silver. I was the promoter of the Dead/Allman concert on May 10, 1970 at the Atlanta Sports Arena. Doubters have only to resort to the Great Speckled Bird for a complete review of the show plus photos by Bill FIBBEN. By the way, the posters and ticket depicted here are genuine. I oughta know: I designed them and had them printed. Questions? Drop me a line at Peace

  10. Thank you so much for posting here, Murray!

    Can you please confirm whether or not there was a separate Allman Brothers set? Also, did the New Riders of the Purple Sage play a set (and/or were they supposed to)?

    Of course: got tapes? :)

    Thank you again.

  11. Bill Fibben took the photo of Garcia by the Allmans amp. He worked for the Great Speckled Bird. The two bands had already played together in a free concert at Piedmont Park documented on The Strip Project in "Dead Play Piedmont Park" under hippie stories. (can't get the URL to post).

  12. to the best of my memory, the dead only played in the park once. june 6 1969. the allman bros were there but did not preform. i think part of the mix up is the abb played saturday night at the tech coliseum. that's the night before the dead at the sports arena. the band flew in on sunday, the day of the show but had no eqpt. the new riders opened for the dead a year later at the municipal aud. with jerry on pedal steel.
    tom lindley

  13. Thank you, Tom!

    I have the Piedmont Park get together as July 7th, 1969. One June 6, the GD were back home in San Francisco.

    So, on this May 10th Sports Arena show, there was no AB Set, and there was no NRPS set, right?

    Also, I would have thought that the November '71 NRPS set had Buddy Cage on pedal steel. The story goes that the Atlanta show was more or less the one at which the switch from Jerry to Buddy took place, but I'd love to learn more.

    Thank you again for sharing.

  14. you are right , the show was sunday june 7 1969. also playing that day in the park was spirit,cta,and delaney,bonnie and friends. the dead came on about dark. sports arena show-no nrps-no allman set but they came out at the end and jammed. in 71 i remember jerry playing pedal steel but he may not have played the entire set. i remember more the near police riot. they stopped the show at least twice because people were not in their seats and were to close to the stage and dancing in the aisles. fire marshall bullshit.
    tom lindley

  15. That first picture is by Bill Fibben, photographer for The Great Speckled Bird. The Allman's were the Piedmont Park Band by that time. They knew the Dead from playing Piedmont Park, etc. The promoter contacted them as first choice for jamming equipment.
    By the way Hampton Grease Band developed in Piedmont Park about the same time. The Athens bands came later. Athens was still in the party and act crazy as portrayed in the B52-s Love Shack.

  16. I was there. Awesome as advertised. The Dead had played for free in Atlanta's Piedmont Park after the 1st (?) Atlanta Pop Festival in, I think, 69.

  17. Kreutzmann 2015, 56-57 narrates some Atlanta hotel time with Bear and a lover, continuing their loving while Phil and Bill hang out and cops search the room.

    1. The trouble is, Bear was not with the Dead on that tour; certainly not as their soundman. I don't think he left California after February 1970?

      But maybe Kreutzmann's remembering an incident from their Atlanta stay in July 1969....assuming he has the right city!

  18. My older brother Martin called me prior to the show and told me to round up my friends and head on up to Atlanta so we could be roadies for a Grateful Dead concert at the old Atlanta Sports Arena. I suppose his buddy at the time who was from Florida and friends with the Allman Brothers had gotten the word. So I got my friend Mark and probably one or two others and headed to Atlanta, picked up my brother and his friend and we went over to the Sports Arena where there was a large truck being unloaded...we all pitched in...I got a small amp or preamp and my friends struggled with some large speaker cabinets. We walked up a ramp which led to the area directly behind the low stage that had been built at one end of the basketball arena. The first person we encountered there was Jerry Garcia...he was sitting in a folding chair with its back to the stage and plucking on a banjo if I recall correctly. I probably nodded nonchalantly and soon found myself and my friends sitting around in the bleachers behind the stage having a smoke with Phil and Jerry and some guy with greasy hair and wearing either a fringed leather jacket or something like that. Phil at one point was putting on his bass guitar and as he leaned over towards me he said something like, "Whew! That's all I can handle...I gotta play! I don't recall Hampton Grease Band playing...though of course they could have...I think the Dead played a very long set with members of the Allman Brothers Band sitting in for a monumental Mountain Jam and more at the end. It was a magical night...Phil and Garcia and their friend were extremely friendly...Garcia came across as kind of a fatherly figure in that he would do things to members of the audience to ensure a positive adventure for all.

  19. David, thank you for sharing these memories!


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