Monday, January 23, 2012

November 24, 1968: Jam with Jefferson Airplane, Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI (POSSIBLE)

In connection with another post that is taking me a long time to finalize, I have been looking at the various crossings of Garcia and the Jefferson Airplane. Among the many sources I have been using is Scott Abbot's JABase volume 3, available online at

There, I find a listing for the Airplane doing two shows at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, MI on Thursday, November 24, 1968. Abbot notes a "jam with the Grateful Dead after the second show".

Deadlists shows a GD show on this date at the Hyde Park Teen Center in Cincinnati, OH. However,  Deadlists's own notes point to a flyer at, which, if legitimate, indicates the Hyde Park Teen Center show was on 11/30. Both dates can be made sense of in terms of the GD itinerary, which has them at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago on Wednesday-Thursday 11/27-28/68 (where were they on Friday, 11/29/68?). The 11/24 Cinci gig would presumably have had to be in the afternoon, if it's accurate, and if the location of the GD in Detroit that night is to be believed. More likely, I think, is that the Cinci thing was on 11/30. This leaves the GD free between 11/23/68 in Athens, Ohio and 11/27/68 in Chicago.

Here are the mileages from Athens to Detroit (e.g., after 11/23), from Detroit to Chicago (e.g., after 11/24). The map also shows the distance Athens-Chicago.

So, they had a super-long drive from Athens to Chicago between 11/23/68 and 11/27/68, as well as the implied several free nights. Why the hell not pass through Detroit and jam with the Airplane? Check out the room in advance of their own billing the next week. Now, I note that this makes the 11/30/68 Teen Center thing seem less plausible -- why drive 430 miles for such a gig? I am not sure how all of this fits together.

I am really inclined to believe that members of the GD were at Grande Ballroom on 11/24/68 with the Airplane.

Oh yeah, one other thing (which would also cause problems for the 11/30/68 Teen Center thing), based on looking at the posters for the 12/1/68 GD date at Grande Ballroom linked from Deadlists. Can the posters be read to say the GD are playing 11/29, 11/30 and 12/1/68 at the Grande, with opening acts on Friday night (BS & T) and on Saturday (The Rationals), playing without an opener on 12/1? This would account for the open Friday night, which the late 1968 GD would absolutely abhor if it could be avoided in favor of a payday.


  1. This is an extremely interesting sequence of events. I agree that the Dead would do everything to prevent a non-paying weekend while they were on the road.

    The best source on the Grande Ballroom (at has the Dead only on Sunday 12/1, with BS&T and the Rationals headlining on Friday (11/29) and Saturday (11/30). There must have been a canceled show, but where? I suspect Cincinnati would be the likely culprit.

    WRT jamming with the Airplane, my suspicion would be that the band flew to Detroit, and let the equipment truck drive. Another reason to visit the Airplane may have been more prosaic--if the Dead had a canceled gig, they may have been broke and lacking needed supplies (ahem), and hanging with the Airplane may have provided some free places to stay and reload.

  2. The promoter for Hyde Park Teen Center would have likely been Jim Tarbell, who later opened the legendary Ludlow's Garage in Cincinnati. I'm thinking a Saturday night there on Nov 30 is pretty plausible. It still lives Friday Nov 29 as an open date.

    Of course, Thursday Nov 28 '68 had been Thanksgiving, so maybe it was hard to rustle up a gig on that Friday. Certainly they couldn't have played a college gym on that night, since none of them would be open. All the more reason to hang out with the 'Plane, then.

  3. There's an interview with Tarbell here:

    About the Dead, he says
    "You can still see people wandering up and down Erie Avenue with smiles on there faces wondering what happened. It was the Grateful Dead and all they embody, which was a little extreme for Cincinnati at the time. They were two hours late, and they played for three hours. They were running around chasing teenage girls. People were literally hanging from the rafters."

  4. I agree that the appearance with the Jefferson Airplane on 11/24 seems plausible (I have them with The Frost for the early show and Terry Reid for the late show) but worry that given the Grande Ballroom was a large venue, well attended and well documented - how come this has slipped through the net all of these years? But then we stumble over unexpected dates often enough. I certainly concur over the November 30 date as I know of two handbills for the show.

    So, from my GD list I show the following for this window (having added the 11/24 today:

    24 November 1968 - Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI: Jefferson Airplane, Terry Reid (unconfirmed jam after the Jefferson Airplane show)
    27 November 1968 - The Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL: Grateful Dead, Procol Harum, Terry Reid
    28 November 1968 - The Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL: Grateful Dead, Procol Harum, Terry Reid
    30 November 1968 - Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati, OH: Grateful Dead (Pale blue and white handbills exist confirming November 30 date)
    01 December 1968 - Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI: Grateful Dead, Popcorn Blizzard

    Corry is correct about the dates of the other Grande shows as not involving the GD. So I concur with the caveat that it surprises me this one slipped through the net.

  5. I concur with the YS timeline. I am now considerably less bothered by the absence of a Friday night show. Since November 28 was Thanksgiving, the Wednesday Nov 27 show was effectively a Friday night, and the Dead would have been paid accordingly.

    It's an interesting experiment that the Kinetic tried a T'giving show on Thursday. I can certainly think of a lot of Thanksgiving evenings that I would have rather spent seeing the Dead than sitting around grousing with my sisters, but so be it. I'll bet the show bombed, since there were few other such events.

    However, having gotten paid a weekend like wage for Wed-Thurs (27-28), the Dead would have done alright for the week. I think the "Teen Center" was pretty small, the type of filler show the band played when they had nothing else. The disruption of a Thanksgiving weekend must have closed a lot of venues (like colleges) for Friday night possibilities, but it was less critical after the Wednesday night payday in Chicago.

    We also need to reflect a little bit on what "jam with the Grateful Dead" actually means. I think it meant "Jerry Garcia plus at least one other Dead member plus a few Airplanes." Thus, I would suspect that the post-show jam in Detroit was Jack, Jorma, Jerry and Mickey, or some such configuration. Fun, for sure, but nothing we haven't heard.

    The interesting possibility to me would be to find out if Terry Reid took part. Reid was a great talent, a fine guitarist and excellent singer. Come to think of it, his organ player was pretty good too (Pete Solley), so either or both of those guys would have made for some interesting blues. I think Reid's still around, maybe he remembers (but then again...).

  6. Good find! It's surprising no one saw this before...considering that listing must have been in the JABase for years now! And it also, at any rate, opens up other questions about the Dead's late-Nov 68 itinerary.

    The poster for the Grande Ballroom 12/1/68 show I think is pretty clear that it's only the Dead on 12/1, and the other two bands on the preceding two days, and Popcorn Blizzard as the 12/1 opener.

    11/24 is an interesting question. I was skeptical of the 11/30 handbill linked to on the deadlists page, but if YS says there are two different handbills, then 11/30 is more likely to be the right date.
    (Deadlists notes that the Lemon Pipers opened the Teen Center show.)

    The theory that perhaps the Dead played an afternoon show in Cincinnati on 11/24 seems extremely unlikely, especially with Tarbell's comment that "they were two hours late, and they played for three hours." (But it's nice to have additional proof that there was in fact a Teen Center show!)

    Tom Constanten also remembered that show: "There was one exquisite gig in Cincinnati where both Pigpen and I played keyboard. He had the B-3 and I had the Continental."
    On the 30th, it would have been TC's fourth show with the Dead.

    Remember that the Dead were not booked for 11/23 Athens either. Though on Saturday, it was a free show - as deadlists says, "So many students from Ohio University in Athens came to the show in Columbus on 11/22/68 (a long drive - about 1 1/2 hours or so) that the band decided to go to Athens and put on a free show for them!" (This is also mentioned in McNally's book p281.)

    So in terms of the itinerary, they apparently had a large gap between the 11/22 and 11/27 shows, and it certainly makes sense for them to try to find a couple extra playing opportunities in that week, even for free.

    We're left, though, with a couple unanswerable questions about sources - how did the Teen Center show get attributed to the 24th, and who reported that the Dead jammed with the Airplane on that day?

    I'm also struck by Tarbell's memory that the GD were two hours late for the Teen Center show. Granted, this is a wispy & perhaps unreliable memory, and the weather may have been atrocious - but if their last show was in Chicago on the 28th, why would they have been so late to a Cincinnati show on the 30th, less than a day's drive away?
    Perhaps there was a "lost" show played somewhere on the 29th.

  7. Thank you all for sharing!

    I am also intrigued by the idea that there might be a lost show or two in this window. Seems like they were willing to drive considerable distances to play, if not to get paid. Why the hell not? As Corry points out in his beautiful post on the 3/12/78 crossing (a shared billing) of Garcia, Hunter and Nelson, the road can be a weird place. This is November of 1968, presumably a reasonably down and dirty, dark feeling-time. Odds are it wasn't all sunshine and light. Tom Constanten is just out of the Air Force. Let's road trip!

    I like the idea of them driving around this neck of the woods at this moment of time in crazy non-patterns. On the one hand, it's like a hippie mandala. On the other hand, gotta make a buck or two, gotta do what you gotta do.

    It's just a beautiful, crystalline moment in time when the two things, living out on the edge and also giving a semblance of making it work, come together in this particular way.

    By the way, in terms of my own bookkeeping fetish, I am listing this as follows: 19681124 Sunday Jefferson Airplane Grande Ballroom Detroit MI.

    Question: Can I get a ruling on whether we consider this listing CONFIRMED instead of POSSIBLE? I know there's no real difference, but I'd like to get a sense whether our present consensus is that this event happened.

    I am not good about updating posts, but I think I may be updating this post. To me, we should confirm this gig. It's the weakest form of evidence (some mention of unknown provenance in an albeit longstanding, outstanding reference resource, the best source for Airplane information bar none). But, triangulating, all of the other patterns fit. I will be working on an updated post bringing together some of our comments, and some further work I am doing, over the next few days.

    I am also still working on a long post tentatively titled "Garcia and the Jeffersons", which covers some (but not all) of the ground prior to PERRO. So it'll benefit from this discussion and it'll work hand in hand with the updated post here. Thanks!

  8. Have you tried emailing Scott Abbot about the source for the 11/24/68 listing? I see there's a setlist provided, so presumably the same person who gave the setlist reported the Dead's appearance as well.

    Looking forward to a long post on the Garcia/Jeffersons interactions! All of that hasn't really been gathered into one place yet.

  9. I tried emailing on the address linked at JABase, but got a bounce.

  10. And remember, California natives of this era (and Westerners to this day) are prepared to drive distances that would have been (and would remain) almost unthinkable to our Upper Midwest, and more still to our Eastern Seaboard brethren/sistren. Five hundred miles in California gets you from the Bay Area almost to the Mexican border (San Diego) or the northern border (southern Oregon) or the middle of nowhere (if you head anything other than due north or due south). 500 miles is "two towns over". The same is true a fortiori of the West more generally. From Salt Lake, 500 miles is like *one* town over (Denver or Cheyenne). South out of Cheyenne, it's Denver, the Springs, and pretty much then Santa Fe (I don't count Pueblo) -- a pretty serious haul. I have never done the I-90 route at all, nor even I-80 east into Nebraska out of Cheyenne, but there is a shitload of empty space out all those runs west of the Mississippi. Etc. My point is that doing some runs in the 200-400 mile range just wouldn't strike these guys as particularly strange. That's like driving to LA - no big deal.

  11. I found a confirmation!

    At, one of the reviews for the 8/11/67 show by "Craig Maceachern":
    "worked at the grande for 3 yrs......the dead the airplane and procol harum were the best of all.........i remember an airplane show on a sunday nite/2 show nite/ i hid all my friends in the attic so they would'nt have to pay for the second show......well, we got high w/grace, paul and jorma.........jerry and phil and bob sowed up about 12:30 and jammed with the airplane til about 4:00 in the shit ........terry reid also played two sets."

    This comment was left in 2007, and as unlikely as it must have sounded at the time, it fits perfectly. A Sunday night at the Grande Ballroom, two Airplane shows, Terry Reid also playing, members of the Dead showing up unannounced after the second show - I would definitely put this in the CONFIRMED category!

  12. Just because.


    I also noticed on a couple eyewitness reviews of the 11/23/68 Athens show.
    A comment for 11/22:
    "Crummy weather driving to Columbus to see these guys, didn't know much about them at all. Promoter did poor job of advertising and ticketing--only about 250 ppl in a 3,000 seat auditorium! Should have put this show on somewhere closer to the college campus, maybe? But where? Columbus was not a rock n roll city at the time... Sufficiently wierd show (mostly stuff from "Anthem") that I decided to follow them to Athens, Ohio the following night."

    And for 11/23:
    "Mem Aud.... 1929 theater style auditorium with balcony, max occupancy 2500, that night a room full of kinetic heads, the local freak scene, maybe a couple hundred folks max, lights up, people milling about, equipment set up on oriental rug on stage, folks walking up and down the steps to the stage where a number of people stood talking to each other, chatter, laughter, excitement, patchouli, and then amid it all an undersound of music emerging from the seeming randomness and the show was on! ... I know Pig was wailing out front and learned since that it was Tom's first night on keys, which freed Pig for vocal theatrics. Oh did the boys play...long into the evening!"
    Another witness confirms the small crowd: "Sort of catch-as-catch-can atmosphere, big venue, but small audience (heck Thanksgiving was here!), as in Columbus the night before. Small turnout for two nights in a row made me wonder if this band had a future! Again, general weirdness and jamming prevailed."

    Judging by the small audiences in Ohio, the Dead may not have had an easy time finding Midwest places to play in late 68.
    Note how this little tour ended - after the Grande Ballroom on 12/1, then we have the Quaker City Rock Festival in Philadelphia on 12/6, then off to Bellarmine College in Louisville on 12/7 - about 6 or 700 miles away, something like an 11-hour drive in one day! (But perhaps they flew.) One gets the impression the Dead were playing anyplace that would have them... has a surprising number of comments on the Hyde Park Teen Center show:
    Apparently the Teen Center was in an old church building (some say the basement), it was a tiny place, and the audience was packed; thus a couple people mention being deafened by the Dead's amps!

    Memories vary, with some reviewers disagreeing with each other: one person says, "It was in the basement of a church and was packed... We waited forever, then the band played only a few songs, then said they had to leave... It was a big disappointment."
    Another person notes, "Jim Tarbell flew the Dead in from SF for the first nite of two nite shows. The Dead were beat, and I mean tired! Tarbell said the NEXT night was better, of course."
    What's intriguing is that a couple people say the Dead played there on two nights (the second night free). Of course, this contradicts the handbill, and the Dead could not have played there on 12/1 as they were in Detroit! (Nor would they need to fly from SF, since they were presumably coming from Chicago.)
    Nonetheless, both Tarbell and one reviewer here remember the Dead being late, and another remembers them being tired...

  14. I was at the dead show on 11 30 68 cincy hyde park teen center. I passed out posters for Jim Tarbell around town{ I even have a couple of these rare buggers left,if any body is interested} The poster says two shows one at 7:30 the other at 10.But I also remember that there was a show for hyde park community center members only on the day before or after, cant remember.

  15. Wow - awesome sleuthing!

    Anon - great to have an eyewitness! I'm definitely interested in your poster for 11/30, even if only to get a scan to put on the GD poster archive.

    e me at

    Also, can you give me an approximate address of the Teen Center, or at least the nearest intersection?



  16. I'd also love to see that poster online.
    The handbill linked to on the deadlists site does not mention any show time - it's interesting to hear that there was an early & late show. (The better to get more people into the small Teen Center, I guess!)
    One comment on says that of the two nights, "the first night members of the center were free," which kind of jibes with Anon's statement; so that extra night would have been Friday Nov 29. (They were in Detroit on Dec 1.)

  17. I would be interested in one of the posters and can be reached via:

    I assume it is the same as the handbill previously mentioned and shown at:

  18. If there's a poster available, I would love to have one! Thank you! Please email me at

  19. I would love to get a poster as well, PLEASE! HUGE poster collector/fan here. Please email me at: coldflavorepair @ if you have any left, THANKS!

  20. In connection with your long-awaited post on the crossings of Garcia & the Airplane, there are a couple earlier intersections outside California. (Within CA, they're almost too common to note.)

    On May 5 1968, the Dead played a free show in Central Park with the Airplane and the Butterfield Blues Band. An eyewitness on deadlists says, "The night before, 5/4/68 at the Fillmore East, Paul Kantner told the audience that they will be playing free in the park with the Dead tomorrow. The Dead opened 5/5/68 with Bob Weir saying to the NYC crowd, 'Welcome to San Francisco.'"
    Although he remembers the Dead opening and the Airplane playing next, the Village Voice article from May 16 said that Butterfield and the Airplane went first, and the Dead closed, and apparently had to cut their set short because they weren't permitted to play longer in the park.
    I'm reminded of the September 16, 1967 free concert in Griffith Park in Los Angeles - the two bands were in town, had the day free, and decided what the heck, let's have a free afternoon show in a park... (Though they'd both played the night before, both on 9/15/67 and 5/4/68!)

    Even more germane is the trip to Montreal and Toronto in July/August 1967, which is well-known, BUT, on the first night in Toronto (July 31) the Dead and the Airplane and a third group, Luke & the Apostles, jammed together onstage after they had each played their sets.
    Deadlists quotes the Toronto Star review, which notes that the 3 bands jammed for 50 minutes as a crowd danced onstage.
    I don't know how often they did this during the Toronto run - but for all the two bands played shows together, it's not so often we hear about post-show jams like this. Perhaps they were quite common, even at shows we have and don't suspect.
    (Tom Constanten recalled the Airplane sitting in with the Dead at the New Orleans Pop Festival on Sept 1 1969, which must have been after our tape of the show ends, so nothing more is known about that. Given the festival setting, I doubt there was much time for extra jamming.)

  21. LIA, thank you. The 7/31/67 jam is new-to-me. (Sitting hidden in plain sight, at Deadlists, like this 11/24/68 hid in JABase all these years!)

    I will make a push on that post. The problem has been that I felt like in order to say some of the things I wanted to say, I needed to take the non-trivial step of entering complete JA data, by hand, through 1969. I am mostly working from Corry's great posts at Rock Prosopography 101. I assume Bruno will have some stuff I need to check out, as well.

    I am through 1967. I think the later years will become a little bit easier for various reasons.

    As I was writing, I seemed to recall from long ago that copies of Tapetracker came with pre-loaded data (effectively, separate Access files), including maybe JA data drawn from JABase at some point.

  22. I now find that the Tapetracker site has finally lapsed, and looks like it'll turn into property management or something. So unless I can dredge those old data up, that might be a dead end.

  23. Yes, I never noticed that 7/31/67 jam either, which is why I posted. You never know what you can find when you look for something...

    Tapetracker, yes, extinct. Nobody tracks tapes anymore! I suppose etree is the "replacement."
    Entering JA data sounds like a big project. I assume, between the Rock Prosopography JA itineraries & JABase, the Airplane's shows are pretty well-covered.

  24. Another possible lead for this thread:

    The April 5, 2012, Detroit Free Press notes a new documentary film on the Grande is being released. The filmmaker could be a source of info for this possible jam.

  25. found this interesting tidbit:

    The Eli Radish Band was proud to open Ludlow’s with Grand Funk, and to be invited back so many times. It was a great venue and Jim Tarbell was a visionary rock impresario, as the roster of talent confirms. He was always a gentleman who cared about the musicians. He often invited us to stay at his lovely mansion, rather than get hotel rooms. We were a bit wild and not easy to host, but Jim embraced us. By the time David Allan Coe joined my band and we moved to Nashville, Ludlow’s was gone and Cincinnati became just another food and fuel stop for us on the way to other concerts. We missed Ludlow’s. I just ran across our poster from opening night and will have it posted at

    So did the Grateful Dead get invited to stay at Tarbell's mansion?

  26. I was at the Athens, Ohio show 11/23/68. Small crowd, a couple hundred, all freaks. At one point a member of the SDS came on stage, giving a big anti-war speech. No one seemed to care, since everyone there was grooving on the Dead. At points, very informal, many folks on stage, some part of the Dead family, others just hanging and dancing. As Athens was a very rural area, a bunch of us retreated to a Hippie farmhouse after the show (maybe 2 AM) and continued to groove on with the Dead. A good time had by all. Special time because no one was famous yet.

  27. Thank you for sharing your recollections! Did the Dead play at the hippie farmhouse, or just hang out and party?

  28. Was just revisiting this thread. So it seems pretty clear that the GD played the party at the Teen Center, for members only, on Friday 11/29, and then the two shows on Saturday 11/30. Right?

  29. yes to JGMF...I wanna know more about the hippie farmhouse jam possibility....kshapero please email me at slipnut01 at gmail dot com

  30. Surprisingly, the Dead's appearance at the Airplane's Grande Ballroom show was hinted at in advance!
    The 11/22/68 Detroit Free Press, listing upcoming Grande Ballroom shows: "Sunday there will be two shows, at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m., with the Jefferson Airplane. Backing them will be Terry Reid and a special guest."

    Though concertgoers probably couldn't have guessed who the guest would be (the Dead were scheduled at the Grande a week later), still it seems their appearance wasn't just a casual unplanned walk-in.

    What makes this even more surprising is that the Dead's free show at Ohio University in Athens, long thought to have been on Nov. 23, turns out to have actually taken place on Monday Nov. 25 (and was also apparently planned at least a little in advance).
    Which means, for the Dead, a 200-mile trip from Columbus OH north to Detroit to spend a (non-paying) weekend with the Airplane, then another almost 300-mile trip back to Athens OH for a free show! Then back north to Chicago (430m.), then BACK to Ohio to play Cincinnati (300m.), then reverse course again and head back north (260m.) to Detroit again! I only hope someone in the Dead touring organization had a map.


!Thank you for joining the conversation!