Saturday, July 25, 2009

October-December 1966 Jefferson Airplane Performance List (Airplane IV)

As a result of my research into other areas of Rock Prosopography, I have ended up with a fairly detailed list of Jefferson Airplane performances from 1965-69. Since I have no other plans for it, I am posting it here. This list leans heavily on the posted Jefferson Airpane set lists document by Scott Abbott, as well as information from Jeff Tamarkin’s fine book Got A Revolution, but it includes considerably more shows. Please forward any changes, updates, advice or criticism.

The previous installments listed known shows from Jefferson Airplane’s formation through the end of 1965, and early and middle 1966. This post covers known shows from October through December 1966.

September 23-24-25, 30, October 1-2, 1966 Fillmore/Winterland
Jefferson Airplane/Butterfield Blues Band/Muddy Waters

September 23 and 24, as well as September 30 and October 1 (the Friday and Saturday night shows) were scheduled for Winterland, and the September 25 and October 2 (Sundays) were Fillmore afternoon shows. However, due to riots in the Fillmore district, the October 1 (Friday) show was rescheduled from Winterland to the Fillmore, but was still only attended by a few hundred people.

October 6, 1966 Basketball Pavilion, Stanford University, Palo Alto
Jefferson Airplane/Butterfield Blues Band

On this day, the state of California declared LSD illegal.

The basketball pavilion (on the corner of Serra and Galvez) was built in 1921, and had a basketball capacity of 1,200. It was superceded by the newer Maples Pavilion in March, 1969, but now hosts various other Stanford sports under the name Burnham Pavilion. An eyewitness reported that Mike Bloomfield played Jorma’s Guild instead of his customary Fender.

The promotional photo above (note “Jerome” Kaukonen and “Diane” Anderson) was from the Hayward Daily Review on September 29, 1966.

October 7-8-9, 1966 Winterland, San Francisco (9th was an afternoon show)
Butterfield Blues Band/Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead

October 8, 1966 Pacific Jazz Festival, Costa Mesa, CA
Jefferson Airplane/Muddy Waters/Big Mama Thornton/Memphis Slim/Shakey Horton

The Airplane must have flown down for the afternoon “Blues” show, and returned for the evening’s Fillmore show. In the days of less crowded skies, playing afternoon and evening gigs in Northern and Southern California was common.

October 14-15-16, 1966 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco (16th afternoon)
Butterfield Blues Band/Jefferson Airplane/Big Mama Thornton

Bill Thompson had bought Grace Slick out of the Great Society’s contract for $750, and RCA and the band had bought out Signe for $6000. Saturday night (October 15) was Signe’s last show with the Airplane, and the band presented her flowers on stage. An apocryphal story had Signe not showing up at all on Friday night, forcing Grace to step in early. In this version of the story, Grace is nervous until she realizes that on stage the Airplane play so loud that she can’t hear herself sing. Delicious as that story is—Grace probably told it—it isn’t actually true. Signe played the first two nights at the Fillmore, and Grace’s first performance with the Jefferson Airplane was the early show on Sunday, October 16, 1966.

At this point, the ‘classic’ Airplane has taken shape. The lineup is

Marty Balin-vocals
Grace Slick-vocals
Jorma Kaukonen-lead guitar
Paul Kantner-guitar, vocals
Jack Casady-bass
Spencer Dryden-drums

According to Mojo Navigator, the Saturday night show goes on until 3:00am with a ‘Butterfield Airplane’ jam. At one of these shows (probably the 15th), Steve Miller, a guitarist from Madison, WI, via Dallas and Chicago, newly arrived that night in San Francisco from Austin, TX, spends his last few dollars to see old friend Paul Butterfield play the Fillmore. He is invited on stage to jam, and gets an ovation when he announces that he is planning to stay in San Francisco.

October 19, 1966 Civic Center Opera Guild Fol De Rol Benefit
Jefferson Airplane

This was a ‘society’ dance, featuring many non-rock acts as well.

October 22, 1966 [venue], UC Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, CA
Jefferson Airplane/Syndicate of Sound

October 23, 1966 [venue], [city], Iowa
Jefferson Airplane

This is described in Jeff Tamarkin’s book. Kantner says “all the kids came in prom gowns and tuxedos.”

October 24-27, 1966 The Matrix, San Francisco
Jefferson Airplane/The Only Alternative And His Other Possibility

October 28, 1966 Slip Madigan Gym, St. Mary’s College, Moraga
Jefferson Airplane/Patty Phillips & The Chosen Four
The show was promoted by The Associated Students of St. Mary’s College. St. Mary’s College was a Christian Brothers College in the suburbs just over the hill from BerkeleyThe Airplane’s booking is another sign that the ballroom bands are expanding their sphere of influence beyond San Francisco and a few hip college towns (Moraga was and is decidedly unhip). I do not know who Patty Phillips and The Chosen Four were.

October 29, 1966 The Matrix, San Francisco Jefferson Airplane
The Airplane play a show for their fan club at The Matrix, probably an afternoon show since otherwise  many of their teenage fans would not be allowed. Ralph Gleason describes it in his October 31 column in the San Francisco Chronicle. According to him, their new "girl singer," Grace Slick, "has excellent stage presence, projects warmly and has charm." Gleason mentions two songs, Skip Spence's "My Best Friend" and "The White Rabbit." He predicts "great success." Got that right.

November 6, 1966 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco
Jefferson Airplane/Daemon Lover
The Associated Students of San Francisco State Coming Home present an “Edwardian Ball”

San Francisco State, known in the Haight as "Stoner U," still had a football team and a homecoming dance. The students capped their weekend of entertainment with a Sunday evening dance at the Fillmore, headlined by the Airplane (Muddy Waters and Quicksilver had played a regular Sunday afternoon show as part of their weekend stand).

November 9, 1966 Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, BC
Jefferson Airplane/Muddy Waters/Tom Northcott Trio

November 25-26-27, 1977 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco (27th afternoon)
Jefferson Airplane/James Cotton Blues Band/Moby Grape

December 1-11, 1966 Whisky A-Go-Go, West Hollywood
Jefferson Airplane/Peanut Butter Conspiracy

There is some confusion about the exact dates of the Airplane’s run at the Whisky. Bookings at the Whisky were often subject to change, so it is not surprising that different flyers exist. The last word (so far) comes from Mark Skobac, who found a reference in the November 25 LA Times that says the Airplane’s 11 day run would begin on Thursday December 1.

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy were similar to the Airplane, with harmonies and a female singer. Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden had been in the group when they were called The Ashes.

December 16-17-18, 1966 Fillmore Auditorium (18th afternoon).
Jefferson Airplane/Junior Wells Chicago Blues Band/Tim Rose

December 28, 1966 Civic Auditorium, San Francisco
Beach Boys/Jefferson Airplane/Sopwith Camel/The Seeds/Music Machine/Royal Guardsmen

The ad above is from the Oakland Tribune, December 18, 1966.

December 30-31, 1966 Fillmore Auditorium
Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service

For the next installment, see here.


  1. The 6/3/67 issue of the Los Angeles pop-newspaper KRLA Beat has an article on the Jefferson Airplane which mentions the 10/19/66 Opera Guild benefit.

    The Airplane were "invited to play at a strictly white-tie, high-society charity ball recently called the 'Fol Der Rol.'
    'I understand what these people are like,' said Grace, herself a product of an exclusive private girls' school. 'They hired us to amuse the socialites, kind of like a freak side show.'
    'We played well,' said Marty, 'and then the audience, who were pretty drunk by this time, booed us.'
    'So we all bowed,' said Jack, 'and we said, "And now for our first encore!"'
    The group dressed no differently for the ball than they usually do - riotously clashing mod outfits. The rich and beautiful people just weren't digging it." (p.10)

    Hendrik Hertzberg, writing an article on the SF music scene for Newsweek, also covered this date:
    The Airplane "performed at the San Francisco Opera Guild's 'Fol de Rol,' an annual fund-raiser which is also one of the city's most important society events of the season. The Airplane appeared on the same program with members of the San Francisco Opera, who sang pompous versions of 'Bess, You Is My Woman Now,' 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly,' and other favorites. Not all the gowned ladies and tuxedoed gentlemen who filled the Civic Auditorium appreciated the intrusion of hard-driving folk-rock - some even hissed - but the Junior Leaguers and their husbands were enthusiastic."

    The event was also covered in the 10/22/66 San Mateo Times. After a listing of the various opera singers: "The Fol de Rol went all the way mid-way and tossed The Jefferson Airplane into the program, causing a few not-so-in guests to walk out for air. After the show, everyone was invited to dance to the music of Ray Hackett and his band and the Jefferson Airplane, until 2 a.m."

    I find it funny that this was Grace Slick's second date singing with the Airplane!

    1. Thanks for the great source material. It's a reminder of how much of a gap there was between the musical tastes of the old and the young, and how much rock music was perceived as a threat.

      The Airplane wouldn't even have been loud, by today's standards--Jack, Jorma and Paul would have had their amps, and the vocals would have been over some sort of house PA. No mixing board to speak of. Yet it seems to have upset the old folks (and not because of the lack of balance, either, I don't think).

    2. An article in the 3/5/67 SF Examiner ("When Society Goes Op-Mod") referred to the evening:
      "The Opera Guild, which staged a 'Fol de Rol Goes Pop' last fall in Civic Auditorium, is still cringing over the reaction of the galleries to combining pop with opera.
      The Jefferson Airplane was soundly booed every time the group attempted to take over after a number by an opera star or the San Francisco Ballet.
      It seems that music lovers will tolerate the new sounds in an all-modern program but rebel when it is combined with the old favorites."

      (The article also mentioned a more recent incident: "Just last month the [Museum of Art] held a 'Light and Sound Dimension' which received less than favorable acclaim. In fact museum members, who are more tolerant than most of the new trends, were seen heading for the exits in great numbers with hands over ears as the overwhelming sounds coupled with liquid light projection jarred the senses.")

  2. Sometimes when looking up articles on the Dead, I come across Airplane reviews & sigh since they're pretty much uncatalogued & there's nowhere to use them.
    I would love to see a site that had the Airplane performance list combined with details (& links) to the available tapes, and texts/images of the newspaper reviews of the shows.
    Not that it'll ever happen, but it's nice to imagine...