The Day of the Dead and the Brothers

Sunday, 10 May 1970

Pictured here: Jerry Garcia leans up against a stack of speakers provided by the Allman Bros (picture coming soon)

Sunday morning and the bad news is that the Grateful Dead's sound system was left behind in Boston by the airline and can't get to Atlanta in time for the concert slated to start around 4 pm. My only alternative was to wake up Duane Allman down in Macon and ask him if I could rent the Allman Brothers Band sound system.

"Who's it for?" Duane asked.

"The Dead," I said, said I.

"Tell you what: Introduce me to Jerry Garcia and you can have it for free."

And that's how the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band came to play together for the first time. A capacity house of maybe 3,000 paid $3 to see it; I've run into maybe 20,000 of them since then…"and who here in Atlanta will ever be the same?" asked the alternative newspaper, The Great Speckled Bird.

If I live to be a hundred, I will never, ever forget the two best jam bands the world has ever known jamming together on that greatest of Southern hymns, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"

The show was also memorable for the opening act: Atlanta's own Hampton Grease Band: Col. Bruce Hampton on vocals; Mike Holbrook on bass; Glen Phillips, guitar; and Jerry "Bubba Freon" Fields on drums. I don't remember their entire set, but I distinctly remember that they did a bizarre rendition of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey".

Of all the acts we brought to Atlanta from 1969 to 1973, this show stands out. The Dead rarely ventured into the South from their home base in San Francisco, and the freaks on Tenth Street were dyin' to see the high priests of gettin' high. When I rolled the van out onto the the tarmac at the airport to load their equipment, I was forbidden to touch a six-foot long Anvil case that was padlocked; inside was what looked like a million dollars worth of dope, most of it Owsley LSD. And the first thing the band wanted to do was to head over to Georgia Tech: Garcia had it on the authority of highly reliable sources that the Chem majors at Tech had been given a government grant to explore LSD's use as a truth serum in deprogramming Russian spies and he wanted to check out what kind of product these boys were turning out.

When we arrived on campus The Dead scattered in all directions and came back within the hour with mission accomplished: they had purchased a fresh batch of windowpane acid smeared over a roll of paper that was perforated like postage stamps. There were tens of thousands of hits of acid and it had only cost them ten bucks, once the Chem. major realized whom he was doing business with.

And as we drove past the City water works, suddenly Garcia has a genius idea: lets throw the acid in the holding tank and turn on the whole town, get 'em in the right frame of mind for a Deadhead experience. Had it not been for workers onsite, the plan might've developed further, maybe to the point where we would all be arrested and thrown in prison for the rest of our lives. "It makes more sense to just give free hits to everybody at the show," I suggested. The Dead thought this was an even better idea. Thus, a couple thousand kids were tuned for free, the city was spared, and I am still walking around a free man.

For the rest of the story– and others like it– please avail yourself of a copy of "When Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama". If you do not absolutely love it, I will give you your money back.

Speak Your Mind