Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: 1976 (Page 1 of 4)


How bar-bandish was Phil’s hiatus bar band? Four songs with “mama” in the title AND Louie Louie in one set. That’s how bar-bandish.


Too Loose To Truck (possibly styled as Touloos Ta Truck) may be the most obscure of all Grateful Dead side bands. Go Ahead has its own damn Wikipedia page, and you don’t even know which Grateful Deads were in Go Ahead, do you? (Billy and Brent.) All that remains of TLTT is one recording, along with the night’s handbill; neither publicity nor performance photos were taken.

Phil left the womb less than the other band members. He was in the New Riders for fifteen minutes, bothered audiences with Ned Lagin for a year, this group during the hiatus, and two nights with the Jerry Band in ’81. Other than that, Phil played with the Dead exclusively because Phil is secretly the laziest Grateful Dead. When the band yeeted out in 1974, everybody else got to work (except for Billy, who immediately became a junkie). Garcia started touring the Jerry Band, which had previously been a local Bay Area act; Bobby joined Kingfish and recorded an album that featured Lazy Lightning>Supplication; Keith and Mrs. Donna Jean cut a record and put together a new band. Phil rounded up some buddies to play Slippin’ & Slidin’ at the bar by his house.


Weirdly reminiscent of Billy Cobham’s Spectrum. Good, good drummer.

Peel Your Face Right Off Your Head

Oh, God. Who gave you a monkey?

“Hey, Thoughts on my Ass! Meet Pinball.”

I don’t wanna meet Pinball. Why is there a chimpanzee around the Grateful Dead?

“The question is: Why HASN’T there been until now!? This fucker’s a hoot! Literally: he fucks and he hoots.

Who is he fucking?

“Bobby’s leftovers, same as the rest of us.”

This is not all right.

“He’s a show biz monkey, too. Knows all kinds of tricks. Watch this. Pinball! Card!”


“Was this your card?”

Holy shit, it was.

“Rides a unicycle, juggles, everything. He’s a triple threat.”

Is he toilet-trained?

“Quadruple threat. The poop is the fourth threat.”

Those animals are dangerous.

“So are me and Mickey.”

He should be in a jungle.

“And I should be in skank. But the world isn’t fair, and so we’re both on tour. Besides, it’s not like he’s got nothing to do. Mickey’s teaching him how to play the timbales.”

How’s that going?

“Not well. He fucks ’em. Oh, and–”

Mickey keeps dosing him?

“–Mickey keeps dosing him.”



Hey, Mickey.




That would be Mr, Jiggs, who was indeed a show biz monkey; he performed in between sets of the Dead’s 8/4/76 show at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. There is easily-found video of the poor animal’s minstrelry, and it is unbearably sad. Don’t search for it. The past was terrible.

What’s In A Name?

All Bills are Dollar Bills, but some are Wild Bills.

Both Stan and Dan are The Man.

Men named Boogaloo receive no nicknames, not ever.

What are you writing?

I have literally no idea, chief. Just started typing.

Make it up to the nice people with a show recommendation.

Oh, fine. 9/27/76 at Community War Memorial Auditorium in Rochester, NY.

Holy mackarel, was that really the venue’s name?

It is not poetic.

If they sold it in the supermarket, it would be in a plain white wrapper with VENUE stamped across the front.

Not a great name. Anyway, the show’s got a Help>Slip>Drums>Other One>Wharf Rat>Slip>Franklin’s, so it’s worth a spin.


That’s what I said.


Real-Time Thoughts On P-Funk, Live In Houston 10/31/76

  • Funk is its own reward.
  • That means something; I’m sure of it.
  • Most of the shit George Clinton said was like that.
  • Ooh, lights.
  • And a big eyeball.
  • Is that a reference to The Great Gatsby?
  • Almost certainly not.
  • Cosmic Slop opener.
  • There’s been thousands of songs written about hookers, but none of them are as compassionate as this one.
  • Aerosmith wrote songs about hookers, but they were not empathizing with the women’s plight.
  • This is because Aerosmith was made up of semi-literate dirtballs.
  • Garry Shider with the Travis Bean!
  • This was 1976, so he and Garcia were playing the same guitar at the same time.
  • Garcia did not, to the best of my research, ever wear a diaper made from a Holiday Inn bedsheet.
  • Not on stage, at least.
  • Who knows what he got up to in the Hostility Suite.
  • Sounds more like a Billy thing, though.
  • Michael Hampton on Stratocaster and giant hat.
  • Seriously, look at this fucking hat.
  • It’s too early to dive into racial theories, but I will: a white man could not wear that hat.
  • Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey on the drums.
  • This is 10/31/76 from the Summit in Houston, TX.
  • The Dead played the same venue three times: ’78, ’81, and ’88.
  • During those three performances, there were at most seven musicians onstage.
  • Whereas P-Funk has, like, 50 people up there.
  • At least seven vocalists, three guitarists, bass, drums, two keyboardists, horn sections, and assorted randos acting the fool.
  • Plus I think there’s a Brecker brother or two.
  • When it comes to P-Funk history, precision is often out of the question.
  • Sometimes Eddie Hazel would show up in the middle of tours, or drummers would get arrested and replaced.
  • Y’know Deadbase?
  • There is not a P-Funkbase.
  • The amount of scholarly attention paid to the Dead–or The Beatles or Queen or even fucking Zeppelin–was not and is not paid to P-Funk.
  • And P-Funk is ignored, lost to the past.
  • Gosh, I wonder why.
  • Standing on the Verge, baby!
  • Heavier than anything most so-called rock bands ever did.
  • Fuzzy Haskins on the vocals, even though Garry Shider did them on the record.
  • That is not easy information to find out.
  • P-Funk records would just have a whole list of players and singers in the credits without detailing which songs they were on.
  • Of course, it might have been that no one wrote anything down.
  • Everyone was real high all the time.
  • Acid, then coke.
  • Which you might recognize as the Grateful Dead chemical progression.
  • She scream.
  • She shout.
  • She turn that sucker out.
  • Sucker.
  • Not fucker.
  • George Clinton’s lyrics and chants were almost always more suggestive than outright obscene.
  • He started singing “I call my baby pussy” as I was writing that last sentence.
  • Stop making me a liar, George Clinton.
  • He looks like this, by the way:
  • And if it’s a wig, it’s a good one; it bounces and wiggles and wafts like real hair.
  • Children of Production!
  • The Dead never mentioned abortion in any of their songs.
  • The Stones might have, but only obliquely.
  • Like, in a poetical kinda way.
  • P-Funk just comes right out with out: We are deeper than abortion, deeper than the notion that the world was flat when it was round.
  • Which means something; I’m sure of it.
  • >Mothership Connection.
  • (The “>” is another link in the chain that connects the Dead to P-Funk. Why? Because they were both dance bands.)
  • Glen fucking Goins on vocals.
  • He was the churchiest of all of the singers, plus he played rhythm guitar.
  • He looked like this:
  • Glen called the Mothership down every night with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
  • But he was really singing about Jesus.
  • All the best songs are about Jesus.
  • Glen Goins died less than two years after this show, of Hodgkin’s lymphoma; he was 24.
  • I think I see the Mothership coming…
  • I can feel the presence of the Mothership…
  • P-Funk only did one tour with the Mothership, which was technically obdurate, obscenely expensive, and difficult to transport.
  • Sound like a Wall you’re familiar with?
  • October of ’76 to December of ’77, that’s it.
  • It looked like this:
  • And maybe it’s for the best that there were no HD cameras at the time.
  • I got a feeling that sucker’s not supposed to be seen up close or in daylight.
  • The very first show of the Mothership tour was in New Orleans, and the gig started with the craft descending.
  • Which was a mistake.
  • You can’t open with a showstopper.
  • Bad pacing.
  • From then on, the Mothership arrived somewhere around the middle of the evening, dislodging the cool ghoul with the hip bone transplant, Doctor Funkenstein.
  • Who looks like this:
  • I do not know where Doctor Funkenstein did his residency.
  • I do know that he is super-loose with his prescription pad.
  • Coming Round The Mountain!
  • Love this shit.
  • This is the good shit.
  • The dope shit.
  • The bomb.
  • CRTM (yes, I’m using Dead-style initialisms; deal with it) is one of those P-Funk songs where the lead singer is “everyone.”
  • They had a bunch of those tunes.
  • So did the Dead, but P-Funk could actually sing.
  • Let’s face it: a lot of the Dead’s harmonies were accidental.
  • George Clinton may have been the worst singer in the group, and he couldn’t–that I know of–play an instrument; what the man could do was hire guitar players.
  • He was a genius when it came to staffing.
  • In a perfect and non-racist Rock world, Eddie Hazel, Michael Hampton, and Garry Shider would each be recognized as better than almost anyone else that picked up the guitar.
  • All three of those men would knock Clapton’s dick in the dirt.
  • Speaking of racism, why is the only visual historical record of this tour a shitty videotape?
  • All the other big bands got film.
  • Dead, Zep, Stones.
  • P-Funk played (and sold out) the same venues and sold the same amount of records (if not more).
  • The Band?
  • The fucking Band never sold out the Los Angeles Coliseum.
  • The Band got a three-fucking-hour tribute to their cracker-ass asses and their hillbilly bullshit directed by Martin dicklicking Scorsese, and P-Funk gets videotape with too much red in it.
  • Lena Dunham’s right: America’s racist.
  • Shit, I missed like three songs.
  • They are currently tearing the roof off the sucker.
  • No, I’m still mad about racism.
  • And The Band.
  • “Ooh, look at us. We’re wearing suits and hats, and playing fiddles. We’re old-timey.”
  • Goddamned hipsters.
  • Okay, they’re into Closing Jam.
  • P-Funk could Closing Jam for longer than the Dead could play Dark Star.
  • Every bootleg I’ve ever heard has a CJ that lasts at least 20 minutes.
  • (It should, of course, be noted that an actual Closing Jam would come after three hours of Funk, not the hour that preceded it in this expurgated video.)
  • Hey, it’s Bootsy!
  • The guy on the left is Bootsy.
  • I swear.
  • He’s on the cowbell because he was playing with the Rubber Band on this tour and leaving the P-Funk bass duties to Cordell “Boogie” Mosson.
  • Who looked like this:
  • And if you can be funky on a Rickenbacker, you can be funky on anything.
  • Because funk, Enthusiasts, is its own reward.

Six Of One, Half-Dozen Of The Other One

“Shit. Shiiiiiiit. Shit.”

What’s going on, Bobby?


Ah. I see. What’s it like?

“On the plus side, I’ve got six times as much potato salad.”

That’s good, I guess.

“But, uh, I’m also experiencing reality like a conference call.”

That’s bad.

“Yeah. Turns out the human mind is not set up for even semi-panopticality.”

I’ll alert Foucault. Do you have any idea how this happened?

“Right now, my working hypothesis has the white jeans as a main suspect.”

Jeans shouldn’t be white.

“Yup. It’s, uh, racist but true.”

So many things are.

“Not really.”

It was a joke, Bob.

“My, uh, sense of humor is like a mirror thrown onto an ice-skating rink right now.”

Makes sense.

Not Quite The Royal Wedding

This was 9/15/76, and the Duchess was a real boat, not some poorly-named North Shore bar. The New York branch of the Hells Angels–friends of the Dead since the ’72 Academy of Music benefit–threw a party in a location they knew could not be raided by the cops. It wasn’t a dinghy, either. Check this fucker out:

Did you check that fucker out? (The Duchess used to be called the Bay Belle. Ships can change names. For example, in the 60’s the SS Lew Alcindor changed its name to the SS Mohammad Ali.) A boat’s officially big when it’s required to have other, smaller boats hanging off the sides. (One day, Carnival Cruises will build a ship so large that its lifeboats are so big that they themselves need lifeboats.) They didn’t go much of anywhere–just circled Manhattan a couple times–but Jerry Band played, so it was probably worth putting on your floaties. (This was the version of Jerry Band with John Kahn in it, just in case you’re a stats nerd.) But why listen to me? Read about the show from someone who was there.

Or just watch it.

Whatever floats your boat.

Always A Dead Connection

Like so many other things, this was John Kahn’s fault. You will recall that in October of ’74, the Grateful Dead pulled the ol’ “fake retirement” trick–one of the hoariest gimmicks in show biz–and now Garcia had no touring money coming in. This is suboptimal for a man with three children and a mortgage, and so Garcia ramped up the Jerry Band. Whereas before, he stuck mostly to the Bay Area and played with locals, now he would take to the road and get some of that sweet, sweet East Coast cash. Those coffers ain’t gonna replenish themselves.

First, he put together the Legion of Mary–his best solo band, hands down–which was Kahn on bass (of course), Merl Saunders on organ and terrible vocals, Martin Fierro on out-of-tune saxophone, and the Greatest Drummer of All Time™ Ronnie Tutt. Sadly, this combo proved short-lived; Garcia fired Saunders and Fierro (not personally, of course; he let Parish make the calls) and added legendary British pianist Nicky Hopkins. Those big, brutish block chords in Sympathy for the Devil? That was Nicky.

But Nicky wasn’t a road dog like Garcia was: he was unhealthy since he was a kid, and he drank too damn much. He was a chatty drunk, too, and would introduce songs for ten minutes. Plus, according to Ronnie Tutt, he had bad time. (What Ronnie Tutt thought of Garcia’s time, he has kept to himself all these years.) A new keyboardist was needed. Someone reliable, professional, a real team player.

So Garcia hired an insane junkie.

James Booker’s tenure with the Jerry Band lasted a weekend, which makes him the Anthony Scaramucci of the JGB. Quite frankly, I can’t believe Garcia kept him on for the second night. Go listen to the show. Booker overpowers Garcia, and Kahn, with the deluge of music coming from his piano and, even more hilariously, refuses to listen to Garcia in the slightest. Booker cuts off his solos, goes into verses when Garcia starts singing the chorus, and at least once takes over the lead vocal halfway through the song. Also: the tunes end when James Booker says they end, and that’s it. (Every song. Every single song ends with Garcia trying to finish up the song but Booker keeps playing, or he’ll just ripcord out of the song while Garcia is soloing away merrily in the background.)

Was he amused? Pissed? I bet Garcia was pissed. I’ll bet his eyes got darker and darker throughout the evening, and that he made fun of Kahn for the suggestion for years afterwards.

Anyway, this is the 1/9/76 show. There was a second show the following night, and then James Booker was bundled back onto a plane bound for New Orleans. Garcia called up Keith and Mrs. Donna Jean and never hired any geniuses ever again.

« Older posts