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

Tag: 6/4/78


Amazing how quickly we can accomplish miracles, Enthusiasts, if you define “miracle” as “recognizing a mass-produced object.” The guitar Bobby was playing in the last post was indeed an Ibanez, but not his custom Cowboy Fancy: it was was the MC400NT (NT meant  natural, as opposed to the DS’s dark stain), and if you want a 40-year-old, overly-complicated, ridiculously-heavy axe, you can pick one up for $1,300.

Thanks go to Valued Commentator Cube, who pointed us in the right direction but inadvertently brought up another question. Cube claims that Bobby played the MC400 only once, at 1978’s premier Red Rocks shows, but further snooping reveals that the guitar was also used on June 6th in Oregon.


Did you look? I’ll just assume you looked. I’m not gonna hector you about it. If you didn’t look, well: fuck you. Why are you even here if you’re not gonna look at what I tell you to look at? Sure, sometimes I tell you to look at turtle penis, but usually not. Even the most cursory glance at the above photo would have revealed that it isn’t turtle penis, so why not look?

Y’know what? Now you can look at turtle penis.

Why do you make me do that shit? You know I love you. You know I don’t want to hurt you. But you push the goddamned issue, don’t you? And now you’re looking at turtle penis. You deserved it, too.

Anyway, Bobby’s guitar or something.

You’re Welcome

Here. I found this for you because I love you. You’ve seen the picture of Warren with Phil in the background, but you haven’t seen this one. Y’know how I know? Because before five minutes ago, I hadn’t seen it. And, Enthusiasts, you know how good I am at Dead-picture-seein’. If Dead-picture-seein’ were an Olympic sport, then people would say, “Why is that in the Olympics? It’s not only not a sport, it’s not a thing.” Regardless, I’m spectacular at it. Existing in a society, maintaining relationships, earning money: not great. Knowing whether or not I’ve viewed a particular photo of a semi-defunct choogly-type band? World-class.

The shot is from the energetic-to-the-point-of-being-overheated 6/4/78 at Campus Stadium at UC Santa Barbara (Go Banana Slugs!). Warren was one of three opening acts; the other two–Wa-Koo and Elvin Bishop–went over well, according to contemporaneous reports, but Warren was more vodka than man in 1978, and so he mocked the crowd for being hippies and got booed. (Corry and his esteemed Commentators over at Lost Live Dead shed some more light on the day.)

Warren would make amends with the band, opening up for them again in ’80, ’83, and ’84, but on this hot day in California, he pooched it so hard that even fucking Keith was laughing at him.

Gong, Show


In the distance, where the hills ran parallel to the stream of frissile blue water his best goat drowned in summer last, there were Comanche; The Guitarist had seen them, once, outside of a town whose name was unknown to him. The fierce horribles, gnashing ghastlies in mufti and chaps; some naked, and painted, not with paint; one had a stovepipe hat and a slavewoman’s ass for a saddle; blood-eyed mustang unsaddled madness in the red-specked snow of a winter that doesn’t belong to the white man around here.

And Mrs. Donna Jean thought, “Oh, not this shit again.”


We’ve got ourselves an old-fashioned chin-off, Enthusiasts.


Aw, they gave Bobby the clavés.


This is another pic from FoTotD Ste4ve (pronounced Stuh-FOUR-vuh) and maybe if you say nice things to him in the Comments Section, then there will be more. or maybe not: people with numbers in their names are often squirrelly, as exemplified by New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee. That woman’s squirreliness is off the charts.

Campus Rumpus


Parish had been a drummer for the Grateful Dead for five minutes when he threw a tantrum, punched the rest of the band, and flew home.


“It feels nice on your back, Jer.”

“Don’t rub my back, Weir.”

“Your front?”

“Parish! Oh, you’re right there.”


Either Mrs. Donna Jean is shaking her maracas, or Phil has the daintiest hands I’ve seen on a man since politics politics politics.


In a karate fight with improvised weapons that took place in a drum store, cabasa vs. maracasa is an even match up: cabasa is good for a hammer-type blow, while you can wield the maracas like sai. Obviously, a guiro is of no use whatsoever in karate fighting. Optimally, you would stand at a distance and frisbee ride cymbals at your opponent’s neck as hard as you could.


This shot’s from 6/4/78 at the University of California at Santa Barbara. (Go Banana Slugs!)

The Mutineer

The show I posted yesterday generates opinions: some enjoy the energy, and others think that 6/4/78 was too over-the-top, that there is a difference between being enthusiastic and being the naked guy who still keeps trying to eat cops after he’s been shot seven times. Mrs. Donna Jean joining in the NFA jam was certainly her prerogative, and I enjoyed it: she saw everyone else going out-of-tune and decided to join in. Cool beans for Mrs. Donna Jean.

The show was from one of Bill Graham’s Day on the Green shows and Warren Zevon was opening and Warren Zevon was drinking because that’s what he did that year.

It did not go well.

Zevon wasn’t a good drunk, but he was a consistent one. He blacked out, a lot. He liked guns, and kept them handy. Also: pills and hitting people, mostly the woman closest to him. His shit was fucked up.

There is a recording of the abuse that Warren threw at the mostly-Deadhead audience, but it’s not readily available; I did find this picture:

phil zevon

I found this on the wonderful that contains some nifty pictures taken by a lovely man with a good eye named Bill Fridl.

You must appreciate Phil’s bemused chuckle at watching Warren eat it, deliberately and seemingly on purpose. “Yeah, I’ll get to the coke, but first I’m gonna watch Johnny Hairline piss off 25,000 people. That reminds me, I should call Ned Lagin.”

Warren: this was a big show, probably the biggest in sheer size you had ever, and might ever, play. The Deadheads liked you coming into it: their heroes had given you the most explicit of thumbs-ups. Covering a song that was in the charts? Unheard of! (Butchering that song? Heard of!) The Dead played one of your goddamn songs: MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM, you idiot: the audience AND the band.

And it’s odd of him to piss off famous people of any stripe: Warren was an inveterate name dropper; every song in his live show has an intro about “It’s one of Marty Scorsese’s favorites.”Warren was never quite as famous as he knew he should be. It’s not narcissism: I share the opinion. So do most people with a little bit of taste in music.

His live show was usually good, especially during the ’80’s when tough times turned him into a one-man-band, playing twelve string and, of course, piano in little theaters and big bars. When times were good, he had LA sharpies; he could never afford to take the real motherfuckers out with him, though–the guys he hung out with back home and made most of his records with.

Zevon’s first bunch of records were immediately brilliant.  They were cool and funny and smart and his hair…well, you know about his hair. His next bunch (and this was a rather larger bunch; some might say ‘most’) were in retrospect full of heartless love songs that over years worm their way into you as their production makes the expected transition from ‘cheesy’ to ‘dated’ to ‘classic’. Then his last three, which were contextually beautiful back then; they stand on their own now.

Writers make sense of place, and explain ourselves to us: without grounding, there is nothing. To this day, there are parts of Lower Manhattan that still feel like Visions of Johanna. Hunter got San Francisco, and the open road, and the trail: Hunter was good with the trail.

But, Warren got Los Angeles right.



Warren Zevon could write the fuck out of a song.

PLUS the Heineken.