Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: 1977 (page 1 of 11)

Facts! I Got ‘Em!

FUN FACT: 5/7/77 from Boston Garden is not only a world-class show, but the first set is alllllllllmost in alphabetical order. Go check for yourself.

FACT THAT IS NOT FUN AT ALL: The President of the United States is a stupid, racist asshole.

It’s What We Do; It’s Why We’re Here

“Good evenin’, folks. We’re the Grateful Dead. We play rockyroll music.”


The Dead’s career can also be read as three men’s desperate struggle to not have the least expensive guitar.

“Mine needs two cords, man.”

“Yeah, Jer. I see that. Nifty. But, uh mine has a motorized pickup that goes back and forth. And fancy crap on the fretboard.”



That should have been the line in the poem.

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look upon my works, you wieners, and despair!

Much better.


When was the last time you called someone a wiener? Probably been too long. Try it; you’ll left-foot a fucker. No one’s expecting to be called a wiener in 2019.

You have veered off-topic.

It was more of a drift than a veer.

Either way.

The Fullest Muppet Possible Given The Genetics

No one gives your ’77 beard enough credit.

“Yeah, she’s pretty manly.”

I don’t know if that sentence makes sense.

“Well, obviously my beard is female.”


“It’s, uh, sitting on my face. Not to get too Billy about the whole thing, but only ladies are allowed to saddle up.”


“But, you know, the characteristics displayed are masculine. Robustness, stolidity, forward-thinking.”

If you say so. Why do you have Dee Dee Ramone’s haircut?

“I asked for it specifically. Gotta keep up with the punkers.”

Okay. Tell Phil I say hi.

“He’s not fond of you.”

I’m aware.

Thanks, Mom

For all you mothers out there.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

Enthusiasts, this shot of 5/15/77 from the St. Louis Arena has never before been seen.

That’s because it’s from Giants Stadium in ’78.


That is clearly a stadium, not an arena. It is also clearly Giants Stadium, a dump to which we pilgrimaged to at least twice a year for our entire childhood.


St. Louis.

Go sew your lips to a goose’s asshole.

I just wanted the nice people to listen to the Eyes.

Then why did you feel the need to lie to them?

I didn’t need to. I wanted to.

Go find a goose.



Topics I Would Rather Write About Than Fucking Cornell Again

  • Meghan McCain and her stupidity.
  • Bonos’s business partner and his cupidity.
  • That coffee cup that went to the Met Gala.
  • The 38 CD Woodstock box set. (This is a torture device, plain and simple. I’d give up the nuclear codes halfway through the fourth disc or Joan Baez’ first number, whichever came first. The great Jesse Jarnow wrote some of the liner notes, and I’m glad he got paid, but this is not for me. I’m not voting for Joe Biden, and I’m not listening to fucking Woodstock. Come at me, Boomers. Struggle out of your chairs and come at me.)
  • The secret racist history of hula hoops.
  • Anything anyone has to say about Ilhan Omar.
  • Anything Ilhan Omar has to say.
  • Whether or not that runner lady who looks like a guy has a cock.
  • The Internet of Stuff. (It’s like the Internet of Things, but less specific.)
  • Joe Rogan’s podcast.
  • Moutaineering, bouldering, the Giant Slalom, sherpa politics. (Longtime readers will recognize these as topics that FoTotD Nick Paumgarten has covered in the New Yorker. My respect for–and envy of–Nick’s writing skills stand no chance in competition with my fervently-held belief that humans should stay the fuck off of mountains. That is not where we are meant to be. We are not snow leopards; you can tell by our posture. Draw a mountain, sure. Have a romantic picnic at one’s base. Hell, gain 200 pounds and name your band “Mountain.” These are all fine activities. But stay the fuck off the slopes.)
  • The Newt Yorker. (It’s like the New Yorker, but by and for newts. Latest issue features 20,000 words from Masha Geesen on her childhood as a communist newt.)
  • The re-emergence of Avitel Ronell.

You all seem like nice people, except the simpletons who post comments calling me a “soy boy” after I mention what a slapdick the President is, but you need to make your own decisions. Listen to 5/8/77, don’t listen to it, sand your nipples down to nubs: I don’t care.

For those of you desperate to hear a lonely weirdo’s impressions of a semi-defunct choogly-type band’s mid-week contractual obligation: the Search Button is your friend. For those who aren’t: the Donate Button is also your friend.


Coliseum, Now You Don’t

Hell of a year, 1977. Star Wars in May. Jimmy Carter posing nude in Cosmopolitan. Bill Walton was the MVP of the NBA finals that year. The Johnstown Flood. New York Blackout, Son of Sam, and Rocket to Russia. Elvis died and Groucho died. Scientists found rings around Uranus in 1977, how about that?

And P-Funk played the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on June 4th.

This is the Coliseum:

The Coliseum was built by aliens around 12,500 years ago; every 300 years, the end zones line up perfectly with the Arcturus Manifold and a low note–estimated to be F# two octaves below middle C–resonates throughout the bowels of man and mammal for thousands of miles. It is a primitive building, constructed with the same techniques and materials as the Flavian amphitheatre for which it was named. There are urinal troughs that Calvin Coolidge once pissed in, and the bones of Bebe Didrikson are reportedly in a supply closet on the mezzanine level. It’s old!

And big! You could pack 100,000 people in there until very recently, and that’s just the stands. Let the crowd onto the field and you can get 134,000 souls in one place, as Billy Graham did in 1963. (Not the rockin’ Billy Graham, the shitty one.) When a real star comes to Los Angeles, this is where they set up the stage: the Pope, Mandela, Bigfoot. (Not the shaggy man-beast, the monster truck.) Evel fuckin’ Knievel, man.

Wattstax was here, and so was Springsteen and U2 and Metallica and Van Halen and the Stones a bunch of times. The Dead played the Coliseum only once, on 6/1/91, and they did not sell out.

As you can see:

And on 6/4/77, P-Funk was booked.

(The Dead, coincidentally, were in Los Angeles that day, playing at the much smaller Forum across town. The show is one of three not available as a SBD from the Spring ’77 tour, but the AUD is a Front Of Board and has good reviews. There is no evidence that Bobby reviewed P-Funk’s performance for any of the local papers.)

The Funk Mob was riding high in ’77: a #1 hit with Flashlight, a string of Top Ten records, and the Earth Tour had been shaking asses and selling tee-shirts for eight months. The Mothership Connection was upon us!

George brought friends, too:

A short list of notes:

  • “P/Funk” is not right at all.
  • Check out Cordell with the Rickenbacker.
  • The Bar-Kays appeared at both Watts-Stax and this show.
  • Why are there so many Bar-Kays, anyway?
  • I think this is a race thing.
  • The white groups all had three or four members.
  • The black groups were, like, 19 guys.

This was the stage:

Well, the back of it. You can see the Mothership in the center there.

You can also see it here:

I was right: you’re not supposed to see the Mothership up close or in the daylight. It’s just haphazardly-glued mirror chunks and bad welding.

Never meet your heroes.

The show went eleven hours. The lineup was hot–P-Funk, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Rick James, Rufus w/ Chaka Khan, The Brothers Johnson, The Bar-Kays, and Rose Royce–but ticket sales were weak and the sound was crap. Plus, as each band had 35 people in it, the changeovers between acts were interminable.

And it wasn’t a crowd you wanted to keep waiting.

Holy shit, get a band up there. Entertain that guy or he’s gonna mean-mug us to death. If that was his face at a P-Funk concert, I don’t wanna meet him at a funeral.

Also: Heeeeeey, White Chocolate.

Those two are a cop show. Mr. Bones & the Skeleton. They fight crime, they love ladies, they drink aperitifs whenever the fuck they want. Y’know what? Forget P-Funk, forget the Dead. This site is now strictly about White Chocolate and Smooth Criminal.

Also: how annoying did that tambourine get after 30 seconds? I bet there was a fight.

After midnight, P-Funk took it to the stage. They looked like this:

That isn’t all of them. There’s a couple motherfuckers taking a breather, and one’s hidden behind Parlet. Pray for P-Funk’s road manager: imagine trying to get this many musicians on a bus every morning. Or through an airport.

One shudders.

Jesus, Fuzzy, put that thing away. That’s not potato salad, it’s just a whole potato.

That’s George in the dinosaur jacket with the foxtails, and Bootsy is behind. On the right is Ray Davis, who sung bass. Tear the roof off the sucka, tear the roof off the muthasucka? That was him. He was one of the original Parliaments from the barbershop in Plainfield, and the only one not to leave the group after this show. He died in 2005.

Fuzzy Haskins, along with Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas, would strike out on their own in a dignified and high-minded way. Nah, fucking with you: it was as Bush League as anything the Dead ever could dream of. After quitting acrimoniously for the usual reasons (money, control, personal bullshit), the three vocalists released an album called Connections & Disconnections–and even performed on Soul Train–under the name Funkadelic.

As you might imagine, this led to lawsuits.

That’s Glen Goins with the impossibly skinny legs in the impossibly bitchin’ trousers. He called the Mothership down every single show, and died right after the tour ended. That is not beautiful or poetic, because he was 24 and nothing can be beautiful or poetic about dying at 24.

Garry Shider is next to him, and Garry is dead, too. 2010. He was 57, which is also too young.

There’s a lot of dead people in P-Funk.

Cordell. Dead. 60.

Also: no one ever won a fringe-off with George in the 70’s, not even David Crosby. And you know the Croz can fringe.

Hey, it’s Eddie Hazel! He rejoined the group after getting out of jail. Eddie punched a stewardess in 1974. Grady Thomas is the guy who is not the lady, and the lady who is the lady is Dawn Silva. She and Lynn Mabry were the first Brides of Funkenstein. (The Brides had multiple lineups.)

I know. This is all very confusing.

Who says a funk band can’t do the goofy bullshit that the rock bands do? Hell, you wanna see some Rock Star shit? Look at this:

Same act as KISS, except performed by actual musicians.

But all was prelude on the Earth Tour that started October of ’76 in New Orleans and finished here in Los Angeles on this day in June of 1977. Appetizers. Foreplay.

Now they have come to reclaim the pyramids.

The Mothership landed in Madison Square Garden and the Sportatorium. Same venues the Dead played, but also Macon and Mason and Mobile.

There she was, much better under the stage lights. The Mothership needed to make an entrance, and did every show of the tour, blowing unsuspecting minds along the way. Remember: no internet. You had no idea what was coming and BOOM spaceship out of nowhere. Maybe you heard rumors, or read about it in Jet magazine, but check out the size of that fucker.

And there he is! Dr. Funkenstein! Swift lippin’, ego trippin’ and body snatchin’ and comin’ to you directly from the Mothership! Look at him!

But he’s not coming to you from the Mothership. There’s no door. There’s no inside. They darken the stage by the ladder, and the fog machines go into overdrive, and George walks up the ladder. Lights come up and there he is.

Never look too close at magic.

The next tour would be deliberately scaled back, and feature the entire group in army fatigues instead of their wild, individual get-ups. George would abandon the P-Funk name the year after that and spend the next decade smoking crack with Sly Stone and suing people.

But they played the Coliseum, which very few acts and even fewer monster trucks can say.

Random Thoughts Upon My Fourth (Maybe Fifth) Spin Of Dave’s Pick 29

They should play this music for at-risk youths. Get caught shoplifting? Truant? Hijack a school bus and ram it into a ghost mall? What if, instead of disciplining these children, we sat with them and smoked thicc doobies with them and cranked the shit out of 2/26/77 at them? What a world that would be.

No other species invented Prog Rock. David Attenborough won’t shut the fuck up about cuttlefish, but they’re just smart squid and none of their songs take up the whole side of the album.

The Sugaree is not titanic. Naked I stand, bald and po-faced and dulled before THE LORD, for He is Good, and I may neither prevaricate nor equivocate:

This Sugaree, LORD? It is just pretty good!

Do not blame the Sugaree. At barely over 11 minutes, it is among the shorter of 1977’s renditions, and I think we can all agree that 11 minutes are not enough minutes due a Sugaree of proper pedigree. That’s like ripping the baby from the womb mixed with post-birth abortion. That’s what Democrats want: short Sugarees and no more Christian babies.

The Eyes>Dancing transition is surely amongst the Best EVAR rankings. Phil does some downright mathematical shit to get from here to there.

Disco Dancing is the superior Dancing arrangement. They played it all herky-jerky real early, and then the number dropped from the repertoire, only to come sniffling back in ’76 all tooted up in glam and glitter. The Dead never played funk music, but they did on occasion get within pissing distance of funky.

AND it had that risey-descendy riff on either side of the jam, and the jam would be so pure and right and disco-dancey. Garcia, often, would engage his Mu-Tron pedal and so his guitar would be all MWAH MWAH MWEE MWOO and that is such a tasty sound, verily.

AND they fucked up the intro every time, which makes me happy. You can start Dancing in the Streets two ways: Dancin’, dancin’, dancin’ in the street or jumping right into the verse with Callin’ out around the world. Neither way is superior to the other. You just need to choose one. The Grateful Dead, or at least the singing Grateful Deads, did not choose. Instead, they fucked it up every time. Garcia and Mrs. Donna Jean would sing Callin’, and Bobby would sing Dancin’, or variations thereof.

When Keith was replaced by Brent and Mrs. Donna Jean was also replaced by Brent, the slick arrangement of the Motown classic remained. As did the confusion centering around the intro: now, sometimes Brent and Bobby would sing Callin’ and Garcia would sing Dancin‘. Same shit, different keyboardist.

AND when they brought the song back in 1984, it was a pointless slog played like a half-drunk bar mitzvah band.

If you think about it, the Dead’s disco tunes are the real punk rock.

If 2/26/77 has any faults, it is that it may be too good. Also, the blackface worn to several Halloween parties. So, 2/26/77’s faults are: 1, being too good; 2, culturally-sanctioned racism.

It’s true: the Grateful Dead’s most creative years were the 1980’s, and the reason that more shows from that era haven’t been released is that David Lemieux has a personal grudge against you for a comment you made in a Usenet forum in 2007. You were right, and you should stop taking your medicine.

David Lemieux and Jeffrey Norman deserve blowjobs. No particular person owes them one, but a beej is karmically destined for both. Go listen to DaP 29 again. Witness the meatiness. Now go listen to live releases from other bands while smashing your own hand with a hammer. Which one’s the more pleasurable experience? And that’s from a work tape! We should really get Betty in on this blowjob thing. Someone slobber Betty’s johnson.

To compare the Playing>Wheel>Playing to Saladin the Great would not be unfruitful.

All I Could Swing

That’s the Swing Auditorium. It was in San Bernardino and was a rock n’ roll victim of aviation hijinx just like Buddy Holly and Lynyrd Skynyrd and that poor tour bus that Randy Rhodes crashed into. 1981. Hit by a twin-engine Cessna going 200 miles an hour. Pilot and his son died, and the building was razed after the fires were put out.

Before that, Sammy and Dean and Frank played there. Bob Hope brought Jerry Colonna and some pretty girls and a new armful of jokes for 13 years straight. San Bernadinans always did like that wholesome, patriotic material. The Sisters Andrews and MacGuire came through, and the King. The kids filled the hall, too, when Alice Cooper and KISS and Zeppelin played. Rock Stars loved the gig: close enough to Los Angeles to make it to Last Call at the Whiskey after the show. Stones did their very first American show here in 1964, one of those early tours with the tiny amps and the teenies down front pissing themselves.

The Dead played there on 2/26/77, which is the new Dave’s Pick, but you can listen to it for free because of the First Amendment. It was their first show in almost two months, having gotten deeply strange over New Year’s at the Cow Palace and then been (literally) locked into the recording studio to finish up Terrapin Station. You can tell: there is bit-champing, and there is leash-straining. The drummers are syncomeshed, and Phil is approaching the heaviest tones of his career, and Keith isn’t bored. Plus, this is Garcia’s first tour with his new Mu-Tron pedal and he’s putting that fucker through its paces. (The Mu-Tron is the effect that Garcia applied to his guitar starting in 1977 that made it sound even more Garcia-ish.)

Is there a heaven for venues? And if there is, do the other venues make fun of the Swing Auditorium?

“How do you get hit by a plane?”

“Dude, shut up already.”

“The odds are so against it!”

“I said ‘shut up!'”

And so on.

Seven In 77

Going generally counter-clockwise, but retaining the option to call an audible and double-back or skip around:

  • Is Keith staring Death in the eyes?
  • That’s the only explanation for that expression.
  • And he is about to spill his Fanta.
  • Keith Godchaux loved Fanta.
  • Mrs. Donna Jean, as always, has the best hair; if she were a collie, you would think her owner had been mixing raw eggs in with her kibble.
  • I bet Mrs. Donna Jean had all sorts of rules and schedules and protocols regarding her hair and its upkeep.
  • Shampoo once every this many days, and condition once every that many, and various calibers of comb and brush.
  • Plus assorted scarfs and babushkas for bad hair days.
  • Deadheads over the years have spread vile rumors about Mrs. Donna Jean regarding supposed assignations that were extramarital but intrabandial, and I find this low gossip intolerable and cruel.
  • But she definitely wasn’t banging Phil.
  • That is some rough body language there.
  • The longer you look, the more they hate each other.
  • The hips are the giveaway, but Mrs. Donna Jean’s lean–as if she’s italicizing herself–is the clincher; one will also note Phil’s posture, which can be described only as “surly.”
  • Everyone in the top row is happy not to be in the bottom row, because the bottom row is weird and unfun and Keith might have just pooped himself.
  • OF IMPORTANCE: Each of the non-Billy men in the top row has taken caution in re: getting their dicks punched, and punched hard.
  • Bobby’s elected to go all-in with the knee, while Mickey and Garcia have not only positioned their shoulders in front of Billy’s, relieving him of any leverage, but also have their free hands in dick-adjacent readiness.
  • The non-Billy men have done this unconsciously, by sheer muscle memory, as they have been in a band with Billy for 12 years now.
  • You live, you learn.
  • Speaking of Billy, this–long hair and mustache–was his best look.
  • Coming back from the Hiatus to ’77, I think.
  • He looked like a dog-track habitue.
  • Owned a dozen laundromats on the black side of town, racist as fuck, good tipper, got divorced more than he got married.
  • Had an Airedale terrier named Chico.
  • And finally: Being a Rock Star is a hoot most of the time, but you’re still gonna spend a lot of afternoons in rooms with folding chairs and bare lightbulbs.
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