Most scholarship on late 60s rock concerts focuses on a few famous venues and cities, like San Francisco, The Fillmores and Detroit. Some satellite scenes have gotten their due as well, from ourselves and others. However, 60s rock bands crisscrossed the country, playing numerous gigs at Civic Auditoriums, Colleges and various converted facilities. It is a time consuming process to uncover the concert history of places that did not have home grown marquee bands or collectable posters. One purpose of this blog is to present fragmentary bits of information as it currently stands, in the hopes that others may add to the story.
Salt Lake City, Utah does not initially strike one as a likely place for a lengthy string of psychedelic concerts, but quite the opposite appears to have been the case. Numerous bands apparently played Utah, some several times, but I have found precise details of only some of those events. Although there was no local scene to speak of—Mormons were not yet down with the LSD/free love/anti-Vietnam thing—from 1967 onwards, Salt Lake City became a stop on the psychedelic ballroom circuit for the simple reason that Salt Lake City was one day’s drive (if you’re a roadie) from San Francisco (735 miles on I-80) or LA (608 miles on I-15). While Utah as a whole was dominated by relatively conservative Mormons, Salt Lake City had been an important industrial and business center since the 19th century. The Transcontinental Railroad linked up in 1869 just north of Salt Lake, and the Southern Pacific-Union Pacific junction was still nearby at Ogden. With many businesses as well as the University of Utah in Salt Lake, the city provided a dedicated if small fan base for rock bands.
San Francisco, with the Fillmore West and the Avalon, was the home base of many rock bands, and was the endpoint of tours for many bands from elsewhere. The presence of all major record companies in Los Angeles insured that California tended to be an essential destination for every 60s rock tour. If you look at the touring schedule of any major 60s band, you can see that in most cases they follow the major Interstate highways, for the simple reason that equipment had to travel by truck (some more popular bands would fly their members, but they usually had equipment follow in a truck).
It follows that a band with a weekend in Chicago and a weekend in San Francisco two weeks later would find gigs along Interstate 80 in order to make travel easier and effectively finance the tour. Thus, for an I-80 tour, stops between Chicago and San Francisco often included Des Moines (IA), Omaha (NE) or Salt Lake City because they were easy to drive. Other tours followed I-90 (in the North) or the more central I-70.
Alternately, California bands looking for quick weekend gigs would fly out to Denver and play one night in Denver and then (driving one hundred miles North to Cheyenne, WY and I-80, then 440 miles West) one in Salt Lake City (or vice-versa) and fly home, while the truck traversed the interstates. Similar trips could be made northwards to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, or Southwesterly to Texas via Phoenix and Albuquerque. Thus every tour did not stop in Salt Lake City, by any means, but many more bands have played there than I initially had realized, due to the economic imperatives of a cash-based economy requiring gigs on Interstate 80.
There were three main venues in Utah, two in Salt Lake City and one twenty minutes North, in Farmington. Other buildings were used occasionally as well. I have no idea who the promoters or booking agents might have been in Salt Lake City. Its clear there were many connections to Los Angeles and particularly San Francisco, but I do not know what they were, one of many curious questions about Utah concerts that remain unanswered.
The Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City
The Terrace Ballroom had originally been built in the 1930s (possibly earlier), and was originally known as the Rainbow Rendezvous. It was located on 464 South Main Street between 4th and 5th. Many touring bands played gigs here, and the regular Light Show in the 60s was called Maynard Associates with Frank and Stein. The venue remained active into the early 1990s, although it appears that it was used for other events besides rock concerts.
Union Ballroom, University of Utah
Occasionally, promoters used the Student Union Ballroom at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, known as Union Ballroom. It appears to have been a smaller room.
Lagoon Patio Gardens, Farmington
Farmington, midway between Salt Lake City (20 minutes South) and Odgen (20 minutes North), was the site of a lagoon on the Great Salt Lake that had been a resort since the late 19th century. The resort is now an amusement park, and while the history of the park is too lengthy to go into here, it is quite interesting in its own right. After a catastrophic fire in 1953, the facility built the Patio Gardens as a dance hall pavilion. It was used for all kind of concerts, from Ella Fitzgerald to the Rolling Stones (on July 23, 1966). Most psychedelic acts played downtown at The Terrace Ballroom, but in the Summer of 1968 there was a burst of interesting performers at the Patio Gardens (note: due to confusion caused by the ad above, from the July 19, 1968, I mistakenly thought that bands playing the Lagoon played at the much smaller Lagoon Opera House). The building is currently The Game Time Arcade at The Lagoon.
Utah photographer Brian Record has an amazing page of photos from Utah rock concerts, many from the 1960s. His photos give a striking visual record of rock shows outside the Fillmore, with enthusiastic crowds and hiply dressed band members, in relatively small places that were not exclusively rock venues.
Known Concerts 1967-69
I have not attempted to pursue various British Invasion style performances from the 1964-66 period. This is a scattered list of what I have been able to piece together from various tour histories.
July 19, 1967 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Herman’s Hermits/The Who/Blues Magoos
Two shows (7pm ‘concert’ and 9 pm ‘show and dance’). According to The Who Concert File, a local band is added to the late show bill.
October 31, 1967 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Jefferson Airplane
December 14, 1967 Terrace Ballroom (?), Salt Lake City, UT Country Joe and The Fish/Moby Grape/Spirit
I am confident that this trio was billed in Utah and played approximately at this time, but we have not yet been able to pin this down exactly.
February 10, 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Jefferson Airplane/Taj Mahal/War Of Armageddon
March 28, 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Steppenwolf
This date is unconfirmed. Note, however, that it is a Thursday night, suggesting that the band was on its way somewhere for weekend gigs.
March 30, 1968 Utah State Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, UT Buffalo Springfield
The Fairgrounds were at 155 N 1000 W (Salt Lake City). Presumably there were numerous other acts.
April 6, 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT The Byrds/Sopwith Camel
I am surprised the Sopwith Camel was still together. More likely, they were booked but had broken up by this time (two shows 7:00 and 10:00).
April 13, 1968 Utah State Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, UT Blue Cheer/Clear Light
April 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Eric Burdon and The Animals
I'm confident of the approximate date (plus there's a great photo), but The Animals could have played there more than once.
July 6, 1968 Lagoon Patio Gardens, Farmington UT The Bossmen/Holden Caulfield
An article in that day’s Salt Lake City Tribune explains that the Jefferson Airplane had canceled, but a free concert and light show would be held for ticket holders. The Airplane finally appeared on August 14.
July 18, 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Love/Blue Cheer/Fever Tree
The poster says “Tape Head Presents”. The poster has a date but no day of the week, leading to some confusion. Sometimes this show is listed as 1970. The touring schedules of the three bands suggests that the year was 1968 (Blue Cheer, for example, played Denver on July 19, 1968).
July 20, 1968 Lagoon Patio Gardens, Farmington, UT Big Brother and The Holding Company/Blue Cheer
August 14, 1968 Lagoon Patio Gardens, Farmington, UT Jefferson Airplane (7:00 and 9:30)
This was probably to make up for a canceled July 6 show.
August 30, 1968 Lagoon Patio Gardens, Farmington UT Jimi Hendrix Experience/Soft Machine
September 20-21, 1968 Union Ballroom, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT The Byrds
In the Christopher Hjort Byrds book, drummer Gene Parsons recalls debuting in Utah, but no details have surfaced. The date is speculation
November 8, 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Spirit (two shows)
Brian Record's page has some great photos.
December 26, 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Genesis
It does appear that many San Francisco and California bands played Salt Lake City, many just barely known in their own cities. Genesis was a Los Angeles band featuring Joe Kooken (aka Jack Ttanna), formerly of The Sons Of Adam, and later Lee Michaels's road manager. It was NOT the English band, which had just formed.
undated 1968 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City UT Donovan
Brian Record has a photo of Donovan performing.
April 5, 1969 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Poco/AB Skhy
Poco was a fairly unknown Los Angeles band at this time, although they featured two former members of The Buffalo Springfield (Richie Furay and Jim Messina). AB Skhy were a Milwuakee band that relocated to the Bay Area in mid-1968, featuring organist Howard Wales.
I have to assume that the absence of Winter shows was due to the uncertainties of driving over the Rockies in heavy weather, a daunting experience indeed in any case, and particularly so in a rickety band mini-van.
April 12, 1969 Union Ballroom, U. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT Grateful Dead/Spirits of Creation (2 shows)
Its surprising that the Dead played Union Ballroom, but this is just one of many mysteries about Utah concerts.
June 21, 1969 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Santana
At this time, Santana had been signed to Columbia and had mostly recorded their legendary first album, but it would not be released for another month. Although Santana was a popular live act already in San Francisco, they could not have been known in Utah. Its unclear to me whether appearances like these were along with other acts or simply regular concerts for entertainment-starved fans.
July 19, 1969 unkown venue, Salt Lake City, UT Sons of Champlin
This was described in Sons’ road manager Charlie Kelly’s website. The date is approximate, but Kelly remembers being in Salt Lake City when astronauts landed on the moon.
July 30, 1969 Terrace Ballroom, Salt Lake City, UT Vanilla Fudge/Led Zeppelin
Vanilla Fudge and Led Zeppelin shared a booking agent, and the Fudge were friends with Jimmy Page. As a result they toured with the early, primal Zeppelin. After this concert, Led Zeppelin became the headliners, as their performances and growing acclaim overtook the Fudge.
August 22, 1969 Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT Blind Faith/Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Free
The Salt Palace was the large basketball arena. The Blind Faith tour was the biggest rock tour ever up to this point. Two nights earlier (Wednesday August 20) the band played San Antonio, TX and the next night (Saturday August 23) they would play Phoenix.
I have found some references to other bands who have played Utah, albeit without dates. I am presenting them here as I found them.
The old www.pooter.com light show listings included an entry for Maynard Associates.
“Maynard Associates along with Frank n Stein along did shows at the Terrace Ballroom , Salt Lake City during 1967-69 including groups like It’s A Beautiful Day, Spirit, Sopwith Camel, Cleveland Wrecking Company, Flaming Groovies, Byrds, Steve Miller Blues Band, Iron Butterfly and a bunch more.”
A now inaccessible website (www.groups.msn.com/FarmingtonStar/allperformers.msnw) had a list of Terrace/Lagoon performers by year, but not date, going back to the 1940s (not complete, sadly) (update: a new version of the site is online). Among those listed (besides ones noted above) are Beau Brummels (66), Harper’s Bazaar (68), Herman’s Hermits (66, 67, 68), Mojo Men (67), Paul Revere and The Raiders (65, 66, 67, 68, 69), Strawberry Alarm Clock (68), The Animals (66, 68), The Association (67,68), Dave Clark Five (66), The Doors (67, 68), Electric Prunes (67), Mothers of Invention (68) and The Turtles (67, 68). None of these dates are confirmed.
These very partial listings are only the beginning of a work in progress. Nonetheless it is a place to start. Anyone with corrections, additions, insights or recovered memories (real or imagined) is encouraged to email me or Comment.