The Grateful Dead At the Fillmore West, June 1969   2 comments

This is the first of three blog posts on the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West, 1969, 1970 and 1971.

The Internet Archive is the home of the Grateful Dead Tape Collection.  The 1969 represents in many ways the high point in the first phase of the Grateful Dead (the era of the Dark Star, Jamming, Pig Pen and LSD) and also a transition to the more single song orientation of Aoxomoxoa .    The Dead did a four night run at the Fillmore West on June 05, 06, 07 and 08.   The Fillmore West is more or less the home court for the Dead during this era and June is, mostly, the best month, for most years, that quality performances were caught on sound board recordings.   This run survives on three sound board recordings (June 05, 07 and 08) and a fragment of the June 06 set with an audience recording of three songs (including what may be the longest LoveLight at 46 minutes plus).  These shows show the extreme breath of the Dead’s song list even at this early date when enthusiasm often exceeds technique and also point clearly to the future dead where Dark Star all but disappears from the set list (Jerry said it morphed into the Mise-en-scène of the band).

The June 05 show is the type of Dead set which the early Dead are remembered for most today.  The run of Cryptically Envelopment/Drums/The Other One/ Cryptically Envelopment pretty well sets the crowd on fire and this is followed by a classic Dark Star/ St. Stephen / The Eleven in the second set.  Jerry’s petal steel guitar version of He Was A Friend of Mine is unique to this show. 

The June 07 show  is very different.  Pig Pen is absent and TC on the keyboards through out  until Pig Pen returns for the closing Lovelight.  This is a very Jerry set  as the opening shows:  Dire Wolf –> Dupree’s Diamond Blues –> Mountains Of the Moon –> Dark Star –> St. Stephen –> The Eleven. 

The show of June 08 turns the wheel again.  This is a dance riot set and the bass and drumming are way up front. The set  starts with Dancin’ in the Street and a monumental  early Dead classic New Potato Caboose.  The second set opens with  a unique 37 minute  deluxe version of Turn On Your Love Light (with With Elvin Bishop & Wayne Ceballos).  Phil and the drummers are just on fire.  Jerry is more or less absent.  If less typically psychedelic in sound, our old friend is clearly in the minds of the band.  Phil Lesh wrote of the June 08 show:

” I looked over at Jerry and saw a bridge of light like a rainbow of a thousand colors streaming between us; and flowing back and forth across that bridge: three-dimensional musical notes – some swirling like the planet Jupiter rotating at 100 times normal speed, some like fuzzy little tennis balls with dozens of legs and feet(each foot wearing a different sock!), some striped like zebras, some like pool balls, some even rectangular or hexagonal, all brilliantly colored and evolving as they flowed, not only the notes that were being played, but all the possible notes that could have been played. That moment may well have been the peak of psychedelic music for me – the combination of absolute inevitability and ecstatic freedom has never been equaled.”

You could pay out big bucks to Dead.Net and get the “Dead at the Fillmore West” with its much restricted set list  or you can listen to these recordings for free.  After you have  absorbed these 3 and one half hours of music, you might want to stay in your  seat at the Fillmore but jump ahead to June 1970.

Fillmore West: 1969-06-05

  • 01 09:51 Morning Dew Listen
  • 02 03:31 Me And My Uncle Listen
  • 03 07:06 Doing That Rag > Listen
  • 04 11:46 He Was A Friend Of Mine Listen
  • 05 05:43 Hard To Handle Listen
  • 06 06:39 Cosmic Charlie Listen
  • 07 02:18 Cryptical Envelopment -> Listen
  • 08 01:31 Drums -> Listen
  • 09 08:36 The Other One > Listen
  • 10 12:11 Cryptical Envelopment Listen
  • 11 04:33 China Cat Sunflower -> Listen
  • 12 03:41 Sittin’ On Top Of The World Listen
  • 13 21:12 Dark Star -> Listen
  • 14 05:54 St. Stephen -> Listen
  • 15 12:57 The Eleven -> Listen
  • 16 26:57 Turn On Your Lovelight Listen
  • Concert Length: 02:07:26Fillmore West: 1969-06-07
  • 01 02:29 Dire Wolf Listen
  • 02 04:01 Dupree’s Diamond Blues Listen
  • 03 05:35 Mountains Of The Moon Listen
  • 04 20:46 Dark Star Listen
  • 05 06:40 Saint Stephen Listen
  • 06 14:56 The Eleven Listen
  • 07 03:25 Sitting On Top Of The World Listen
  • 08 02:49 Cold Rain and Snow Listen
  • 09 08:01 Doin’ That Rag Listen  (is that Joplin saying Come On at ~3:40?)
  • 10 03:31 Me and My Uncle Listen
  • 11 20:57 Turn on Your Lovelight Listen(Joplin again according to set notes on Dead.Net)
  • Concert Length: 01:25:10Fillmore West: 1969-06-08
  • 01 13:00 Dancin’ In The Streets Listen
  • 02 12:09 He Was A Friend Of Mine -> Listen
  • 03 04:14 China Cat Sunflower -> Listen
  • 04 13:32 New Potato Caboose Listen
  • 05 04:01 Me & My Uncle Listen
    • 06 37:17 Turn On Your Lovelight Listen  (With Elvin Bishop & Wayne Ceballos)
  • 07 08:03 The Things I USed To Do Listen
  • 08 05:39 Who’s Lovin’ You Tonight Listen
  • 09 02:06 Cryptical Envelopment -> Listen
  • 10 00:59 Drums -> Listen
  • 11 11:31 The Other One -> Listen
  • 12 08:02 Cosmic Charlie Listen
  • Concert Length: 01:44:24Plus: Bonus Track:  Casey Jones early arrangement from 1969-06-27

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