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Thread: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

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    Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    August 14, 2009

    Hendrix and the Dead

    Jimi Hendrix died the morning of September 18, thanks to a casual helping of wine and sleeping pills. Drugs, exhaustion & carelessness silenced his guitar. With his habit of taking any quantity of any drug he was given, it's somewhat amazing he lasted as long as he did - (like other guitarists we could name....)
    Though he and the Dead traveled in very different circles, their paths crossed a few times.

    Musically they were nothing alike; though sometimes when the Dead were playing with noise (for instance on 2-14-70, in the second-set Feedback or the first-set space section in Dark Star) they could sound a bit like Hendrix. Their brief Foxy Lady jam on 4-21-69 is well-known; there's also an interesting moment about 17 minutes into the Lovelight on 4-11-70 - as the Lovelight breaks down they start another Foxy Lady-type riff, and Garcia wails in with a long sustained Hendrix-style feedback note almost like he's been possessed for a moment.
    http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-...841.sbeok.shnf
    http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-...072.sbeok.shnf

    The Dead played before Hendrix at Monterey. Though Hendrix spent hours after the shows backstage jamming with others like John Cippollina, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the stories differ, and though some claim he played with Garcia, it seems he never did. There's a famous story about how the Who and Hendrix tossed a coin to see who would go on first.....somehow it always gets left out that the Dead went on in-between them. In practically every Monterey account I've seen, the Dead's performance is either dismissed or forgotten entirely - by their refusal to be included in the film, they pretty much deleted themselves from that moment in musical history. (Though at the time they may have been more well-known in the US than Hendrix was - Are You Experienced didn't come out in the US until August.)
    Film director Pennebaker also said, "We were trying not to use up all our film on any one band, so we figured one song per group -- that is, until we started shooting Hendrix and The Who and then just threw everything into the pot. The Grateful Dead presented another problem. They got started and didn't know how to stop. They purely outlasted us. After ten minutes they were still on their first song [Viola Lee], and we simply ran out of film and lost them."
    Their set hasn't been released; Hendrix's set seems to be re-released every decade.
    http://www.archive.org/details/gd67-...586.sbeok.shnf

    In early February '68 Hendrix's tourings took him again to San Francisco, where some of his shows on Feb 3-4 were taped - the Dead were on their Northwest tour. But in October '68 he returned for three more nights at the Winterland, while the Dead were playing three nights at the Avalon. By then he was a superstar - much as the Dead had their huge 'family', Hendrix also had his own entourage, a 24-hour party that followed him everywhere. He taped his shows at the Winterland for possible use in a live album, but decided they weren't good enough. (A selection was released in the '80s, and some of the sets can be played over at Wolfgangs Vault: http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/a...drix/3342.html ) He used the occasion to bring on a number of San Francisco artists to jam with onstage, including Jack Casady - he was starting to get fed up with playing 'the hits' and was doing longer solos and instrumentals in his shows. Nonetheless, pressured by his management, he would always play mostly 'the hits' and the same few songs, and hardly ever did the kind of freeform shows he could have done - only in '69 did he sometimes play extended improvisations, so he had a very different approach to his shows than the Dead did.
    Hendrix had constant troubles with his amplifiers through the Winterland shows; on October 12 they burned out completely mid-song, resulting in a long drum solo while they were fixed. The 12th had probably the weakest shows of the run, with Hendrix sounding despondent and constantly apologizing for the equipment trouble while his amps were fixed: "It's just too bad that we're having all this trouble tonight.... We'd like to come back here again to make up for these last two nights where we've been having very bad equipment, because we want you to hear us the way we really are....and make up for this junk we have behind us.... You must all be really tired, cause I really am, I'm sorry, I really am tired."
    But, tired as he was, it seems it was on October 12/13 that Hendrix had his chance to jam with the Dead - Chet Helms tells the sad story:
    "Hendrix is back in San Francisco and he calls me and asks me to put together a jam with him and Quicksilver and the Grateful Dead. He said he really enjoyed jamming at Monterey and would like to do it again... I told him, "Sure, I think I can set it up." I made a few calls and got it together....I set it up for Quicksilver and the Dead to show up and jam with Hendrix.... I called Hendrix back and told him to meet us at the ferry boat in Sausalito at 2 am, and we would jam all night. We go out to this place [October 12], and the Dead are beat and dead tired because they had just played the Avalon, but after all, it's a jam with Hendrix. We sit there from 2 am until morning, and Hendrix never shows. Everybody in Quicksilver and the Dead were pissed.... The Dead played again at the Avalon that night [October 13] and Hendrix shows up there while the Dead were playing. [His shows were through and he had the night free.] Hendrix comes up to me and I told him that the Dead and Quicksilver and I were waiting for him all night in Sausalito, and I asked him what happened. Hendrix says, "Oh, I met this broad, and we dropped acid and we fucked all night".... Hendrix said, "Can I jam with the Grateful Dead tonight on the stage?" and I said, "It's OK with me, but it's their gig - if they want that to happen, it's fine with me." I brought Hendrix into the dressing room and told the Dead that Jimi wanted to jam with them, and they're saying, "Great! We'll do it!" The Grateful Dead go back out onstage to do their last set of the night and start playing. And keep playing. I tell Hendrix and everybody that no matter what, I'm pulling the plug at midnight. [The Avalon had a strict curfew, so Dead shows there had to be kept short, which accounts for the rushed endings we hear at some of their shows there.] What happened was the Dead kept telling him to wait, and played out their set.... So Hendrix never jammed with the Grateful Dead, and the bottom line is they were pissed at him."
    This is the show Hendrix waited through:
    http://www.archive.org/details/gd68-...910.sbeok.shnf

    The Dead and Hendrix played famous sets at Woodstock in '69. The Dead's set is famed for being terrible - with delays, high winds, rain, a collapsing stage, radio signals in the speakers, and electric fireballs of death onstage - though they held together pretty well. Hendrix didn't arrive til the next day, and his set was also fairly chaotic what with an unrehearsed band, more sound problems onstage, and having to wait til 8 am to play to a sleeping, mud-drenched audience; but by the end of the show he got it together enough to perform a remarkable improvised, mostly instrumental medley that's perhaps his finest moment - and also the closest he came to a Dead-style medley that takes the listener on an emotional arc from rock to noise & feedback to a flamenco-like passage to a wordlessly fragile, melancholy finish. Afterwards Hendrix fled to a hotel, tired and unhappy with his performance and wanting to get away from everyone, and passed out.
    The Dead's show of course hasn't been released (until a few selections this year) - Hendrix's show has been re-released several times.
    http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-...205.sbeok.shnf

    The last time they appeared together was on May 16, 1970, playing a bill at Temple University in Philadelphia along with Steve Miller. Miller saw Hendrix backstage and says, "He was really sick. He looked like he was really strung out. He had a bunch of Mafia thugs who were working with him. The Grateful Dead played, then we played, then Jimi. When Jimi came out and walked by me, he smelled so bad it almost made you sick. He and Mitch Mitchell had just shot up a whole lot of methedrine and he was completely wigged out. They were both in really bad shape." A tape was made of Hendrix's show and it's one of the poorest shows of an erratic year for him - he's obviously quite wasted. Audience members also started taping the Dead's show until they were stopped by a mean Sam Cutler:
    http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-...769.sbeok.shnf

    On September 19, 1970, while the Dead were in their Fillmore East run, Led Zeppelin were playing at Madison Square Garden, and Robert Plant took a moment to say to the audience: "Yesterday something happened - Jimi Hendrix died and we're all very sorry because he contributed a lot to the current music thing, and we'd like to just hope that everybody thinks it's a real shame."
    The Dead, as far as I know, never commented, but Garcia in an interview shortly after Janis Joplin's death (which he called "a dumb fucking accident") complained about "that celebrity bullshit": "You can't get away from it....so it leaves the human things just completely fucked up and that's one of the things that has never been successfully handled in society.... The whole star system is not something that really happens; it's something somebody invented and laid on the public. It's responsible for all the evils in the music business, that whole trip, in terms of what it does, in terms of why people turn to downs or drugs and stuff like that just to get away from the shit for a while. I mean, Jimi Hendrix lived with it. I never saw him without a half-dozen weird people hanging around him - vampires and shit. It's just a bummer."

    [and one interesting comment, the rest is either on whether Garcia jammed with Hendrix at Monterey or not, or his death]

    Light Into AshesMay 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM
    This quote is from a comment on my Cream post, but it's also relevant here. Frank Kofsky interviewed Garcia in early September 1967 (published in the recent book Dead Studies vol. 1) - Garcia had just seen Cream at the Fillmore and was still in shock. Kofsky also asked him about Hendrix...but Garcia felt Hendrix wasn't in the same league as Cream.

    KOFSKY: Who have you learned from recently?
    GARCIA: The Cream.
    KOFSKY: What about Jimi Hendrix? I've heard a lot of talk about him.
    GARCIA: Nothing like the Cream. I mean, he's also got a three-piece band - similar sound, you know, because of the instrumentation - but the Cream is much heavier. They're much better musicians than Jimi Hendrix... You should have seen [Cream] at the Fillmore...cause they played with a lot of very heavy bands. They played with Gary Burton's band. They played with the Electric Flag. They played with Paul Butterfield's band and with Charlie Musselwhite's band. And they made them all sound pretty old-fashioned...
    KOFSKY: I talked to Eric [Clapton] too, as a matter of fact...he mentioned Hendrix to me. That's one of the reasons I thought I'd ask you.
    GARCIA: Well, you know, he probably thinks one way about Jimi Hendrix. I mean, Jimi Hendrix is very strong and he's got a fantastically good stage come-on... And he's a strong musician, too. I mean, he plays real good, and his ideas are good. He writes pretty good songs and stuff like that, but I really don't think that the whole level of that band is anything like Cream.
    KOFSKY: He's one guy...but the Cream are three guys that are all -
    GARCIA: Equally heavy.
    KOFSKY: Yeah, definitely, it is a lot of an individual thing with the Cream... Whereas Jimi, it's always "Jimi Hendrix and blank blank." And the "blank blank" can be changed from day to day and wouldn't make much difference...
    GARCIA: Right. The Cream have got a bigger thing together than Jimi Hendrix.

    http://deadessays.blogspot.nl/2009/0...-and-dead.html
    "Specially when your only friend talks, looks, sees and feels like you, and you do the same just like him." Jimi Hendrix - My Friend

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezy Rider View Post
    August 14, 2009

    Hendrix and the Dead


    Jimi Hendrix died the morning of September 18, thanks to a casual helping of wine and sleeping pills. Drugs, exhaustion & carelessness silenced his guitar. With his habit of taking any quantity of any drug he was given, it's somewhat amazing he lasted as long as he did
    Well that's a sack of shite right away!

    The rest is just a load of disgaceful disconnected waffle. Miller? what was he on! Bonkers!
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    It seems to me there is some animosity in the interview with Jerry Garcia. Looked at the photos of Jimi at Temple he looks okay to me? Both Miller and Garcia had a bit of resentment towards Jimi. I have to defend the Grateful Dead as Jimi stood them up which was not cool at all.

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by stplsd View Post
    Well that's a sack of shite right away!

    The rest is just a load of disgaceful disconnected waffle. Miller? what was he on! Bonkers!
    The article is from something called "An ongoing series of articles on songs & performances of the early Grateful Dead." No offense to Deadheads, but I never could really get into Garcia's playing. I have, however, told this to many Deadheads over the years only to get lectured and given countless musical examples of Jerry's greatness. In short, it's not surprising an article on a Dead oriented blog would be biased against Jimi who, while most Deadheads I've met respected, was again to them not Jerry.

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpstat View Post
    I have to defend the Grateful Dead as Jimi stood them up which was not cool at all.
    I concur. Its a great Rock n' Roll story, Jimi standing up the Dead with the Dead seeking revenge. Both Jimi and the Dead had Prankster tendencies. Frankly Jimi was light years ahead of Jerry and the Dead. I'm a pretty big fan of the Dead especially between '67-80. When you compare Jerry and Jimi they lived very parallel lives, growing up in the West Coast, joing the Army early to get away then both hating it and pulling shenanigans to get out. While Jerry was playing bluegrass and acoustic music, Jimi was immersing himself in various blues/soul/r&b circuits. The Dead were playing some very compelling music through 1968-70, morphing from a truly psychedelic sound to more of an earthy, country vibe = The Workingman's Beauty era while still retaining their group improvisational gestalt. Even still Hendrix destroys Garcia on the electric guitar, there is no comparison. Jerry hit some nice peaks, pun intended, Jimi sounded like Coltrane or Albert Ayler, able to sculpt sound. Check out the 20April1969 I Don't Live Today from Dallas TX. Incendiary.

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by Valleys Of Neptune View Post
    The article is from something called "An ongoing series of articles on songs & performances of the early Grateful Dead." No offense to Deadheads, but I never could really get into Garcia's playing. I have, however, told this to many Deadheads over the years only to get lectured and given countless musical examples of Jerry's greatness. In short, it's not surprising an article on a Dead oriented blog would be biased against Jimi who, while most Deadheads I've met respected, was again to them not Jerry.
    Jerry Garcia was a wanker not anywhere the same league with Jimi as a guitarist. That's just my opinion, but other than some noodlings on "Dark Star" I have never been able to listen to the Dead. And I've been to two of the Dead's live shows in their heyday, just to dig the hippie chicks. Their music does nothing for me (other than the aforementioned "Dark Star".)

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Interesting read ER
    Guess anybody is entitled to his own opinion,and certainly the Ultimate Dead Head himself. But favoring the Cream above Jimi ??????? Still the Dead was an Jam/Improvising band like the Cream of course. And as for Mr Miller's comment,though I like some of his older pré "Fly Like an Eagle" music quite well, I think he's talkin like a Mr. Modelcitizen again.

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbaas View Post
    Interesting read ER
    Guess anybody is entitled to his own opinion,and certainly the Ultimate Dead Head himself. But favoring the Cream above Jimi ??????? Still the Dead was an Jam/Improvising band like the Cream of course. And as for Mr Miller's comment,though I like some of his older pré "Fly Like an Eagle" music quite well, I think he's talkin like a Mr. Modelcitizen again.
    “I remember one time - it might have been a couple times - at the Fillmore East in 1970, I was opening for this sorry-ass cat named Steve Miller. Steve Miller didn't have his shit going for him, so I'm pissed because I got to open for this non-playing motherfucker just because he had one or two sorry-ass records out. So I would come late and he would have to go on first and then we got there we smoked the motherfucking place, everybody dug it.”
    Miles Davis

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    purporting opinionated slime as factual information is a disservice to everyone. bullshit begets bullshit. wha? Temple University was “-one of the poorest shows- (of 1970)” ? lol!

    PS -love the Miles Davis quote above!

    btw, i have a Miles Davis mono AUD master that a buddy of mine taped. it smokes!
    MILES DAVIS FILLMORE WEST, S.F. 4/9/70 47mins/A

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    What do Deadheads say when they run out of weed? "This band sucks!"

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpstat View Post
    I have to defend the Grateful Dead as Jimi stood them up which was not cool at all.
    Wha? duh?
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by woof View Post
    PS -love the Miles Davis quote above!
    PS - hate his arrogant bullshit!
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    What the Miami disc proves (if we needed any!!),that although Baker was probably a better drummer than Mitch, and Bruce was a better bass player than noel, As a unit, the Experience was far better live band than the Cream. Not only as a Straight rock band, as in Foxy Lady, Fire, They were a better blues band, and could improvise far better than Cream, e.g. Tax Free and I Don't Live Today. Proof surely that jerry Garcia was jealous of Jimi's superior guitar playing.

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    Re: Hendrix and the Grateful Dead

    Quote Originally Posted by paul387 View Post
    What the Miami disc proves (if we needed any!!),that although Baker was probably a better drummer than Mitch, and Bruce was a better bass player than noel, As a unit, the Experience was far better live band than the Cream. Not only as a Straight rock band, as in Foxy Lady, Fire, They were a better blues band, and could improvise far better than Cream, e.g. Tax Free and I Don't Live Today. Proof surely that jerry Garcia was jealous of Jimi's superior guitar playing.
    I think Garcia is also a bit envious of Hendrix stage jam abilities, to play a jam in almost a concert like structure, just off the cuff, straight from music heaven through his guitar. Because, as far as I have understood, Cream and the Dead were the first bands which began playing songs as jams during live concerts. Hendrix was a bit later on the scene but any extended jam of a song sounds infinitely better than what those other guys could muster up. With Cream you had three musicians completely soloing as three individuals and jamming in their own world, but the Experience was still a tight unit even when jamming, and the credit goes not only to Hendrix but also to Mitch and Noel. Not many other musicians would be able to follow or being able to add to Hendrix in a freehand jam live on stage.

    Speaking of which, I can't wait to see and hear the Miami Tax Free!
    "Specially when your only friend talks, looks, sees and feels like you, and you do the same just like him." Jimi Hendrix - My Friend

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