Friday, November 20, 2009

The Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston, MA 1967-68 Performance List (Work In Progress)

Boston, Massachusets in the late 1960s had a thriving rock scene, which was not surprising for a major Northeastern city with numerous colleges in the city itself and the nearby suburbs. However, while there are various overviews of the Boston scene available on the web, I know of no complete and accurate chronology of rock shows in the Boston area available in print or on the Web. As a result, performances for many groups have fallen under the radar.

While the famous Boston Tea Party is fairly well represented on the Web, The Psychedelic Supermarket, an obscure and unloved venue on Kenmore Square, remains shrouded in obscurity. There are a variety of impressionistic memories, but this post is an attempt to collect the available information about performances at Boston's Psychedelic Supermarket. This is a work in progress, with a considerable number of gaps, but it is the only attempt I know of to accumulate all the performance dates at the venue. There is considerably more information to be uncovered, but I am hoping to use this post as a starting point.

The Venue
The street address of the Psychedelic Supermarket was 590 Commonwealth Avenue, but actually the venue was in an alley behind Commonwealth Avenue, near Kenmore Square and backing onto Boston University. The "street address" made it easier to find. The venue was a converted parking garage, with acoustic qualities to match, and it was not remembered fondly by bands or patrons. Supermarket Promoter George Popadopolis had run a Boston coffee house called The Unicorn since the early 1960s, and by the mid-60s he was booking electric blues bands as well as folk music.

Boston's first and most famous psychedelic venue was the Boston Tea Party (at 53 Berkeley Street) and the second was The Crosstown Bus at 337 Washington Street in suburban Brighton. The Crosstown Bus ran afoul of the city and the police, however, apparently over licensing (the J. Geils Blues Band managed to get their equipment out just before the place was padlocked), just as the hottest band in the country had a booking there.

The Psychedelic Supermarket appears to have debuted with Cream from September 8-16, 1967. It appears that George Popadopolis seems to have hastily created this venue to facilitate Cream, in order (apparently) to cash in on the dates dropped by the hastily closed Crosstown Bus.  Memories of the club's debut suggest that it was not ready. It seems possible that a plan by Popadopolis to create a club was abruptly accelerated to cash in on the availability of Cream. Apparently, the venue was initially a parking garage during the day, and then the lower floor of the garage was converted to a concert facility for the evening. Eyewitnesses recall little more than cold concrete, no amenities and poor sound. There was some suggestion that an effort was made to make the venue more palatable throughout 1968, but it was never a comfortable facility.

The Unicorn, Popadopolis's other club was a coffee house with folk music on 815 Boylston Street (h/t The Funky Judge for the exact address). Now an Apple Store, it was near Boston University and Commonwealth Avenue, just across the Charles River from Cambridge and all its college students. As music evolved, some electric groups started to play The Unicorn as well. A Butterfield Blues Band performance from the Unicorn in 1966 has been widely circulated (for more about Popadopolis and the Cambridge folk scene, see the fine 1979 book Baby Let Me Follow You Down by Eric Von Schmidt and Jim Rooney). Thus Popadopolis's move into rock promotion, while sudden, was consistent with his prior businesses.

The Supermarket does not appear to have had much in the way of collectable or interesting handbills or posters, so the shows are somewhat lost to history. Some handbills are around from the 1967 era, but they seem based on blank format with an inserted photo and dates (a common practice at the time).

A veteran Boston commentator has unfond memories of the venue;
“The Psychedelic Supermarket (located where Kix and the Nickelodeon Cinema in Kenmore Square are now) was a blatant attempt by George Popadopolis to cash in on a trend. He had run the Unicorn, a Boston folk club, for some years before deciding to expand in early 1968. Seating of 300 was in the lower tier of a garage that was completely concrete, except for the stage. Cream played a memorable gig there in February '68 (sic—actually September 1967)not to mention Janis Joplin and the Holding Company. Stories of Popadopolis' financial finagling are a legend.. . groups would cancel contracts and leave because they would be paid less for long stands. The exposure was supposed to make up for the lesser pay!! One out of two bands would leave a gig after one set for various reasons and regular club-goers remember him raising ticket prices from $4.50 to $5.50 when he knew that a show was going to sell out.”
List of Known Performances at The Psychedelic Supermarket

Anyone with corrections, additions or new information, please Comment or email me. There are many blank spots in the schedule. Numerous local and regional bands acknowledge performing there, such as Tangerine Zoo or Crow (with a teenage Donna Summer as lead vocalist), but I have not been able to identify any dates for those groups. The Tom Swift Electric Band was apparently the "house band" and played many of the shows at the Supermarket as an opening act, but that too has been very difficult to pin down. I also do not know if the Supermarket was open only on weekends, like the Boston Tea Party, or all days of the week. I will be appreciative if anyone can comment on the general schedule of the place.

(Thanks to some useful correspondence, I have updated the list since the original post--new or changed dates are shown as added or updated)

September 10-16, 1967 Cream 
Cream was on their first American tour, and had just finished an exciting run at San Francisco's Fillmore. While they may not have played all seven nights, they played most of them, and by all accounts Clapton absolutely tore down the house.  They apparently played Brandeis University one night (Saturday September 9), and and some eyewitnesses allude to "six nights," so perhaps Cream played from Tuesday September 11 through Saturday September 16. In any case, although the club was not ready for prime time, it was a memorable event (updated).

A photo survives.

October 24-29, 1967  Chuck Berry
The Massachusets Institute of Technology in Cambridge has every surviving copy of its newspaper scanned into an archive, befitting the legacy of a top-flight Engineering school. The Tech is a fantastic resource for the Boston and Cambridge rock scene in the late 1960s. This set of shows was advertised in The Tech. The ad in The Tech (10.24.67) says “for benefit of Multiple Sclerosis.”

Its impossible to know how many shows were actually held at The Psychedelic Supermarket. Were there shows every night, or every weekend? Were there only shows when there was a headline act? I have never found a definitive answer to that question, particularly in the early days. 

October 31-November 13, 1967 Electric Flag/Blues Children/The Illuminations

The Electric Flag, Mike Bloomfield's newly minted "American Music Band," after debuting for two weekends at the Fillmore (some with Cream), played two full weeks at the Supermarket. A flyer survives, although I am not entirely certain about the dates. The engagement may have begun on Friday November 1. The J. Geils Blues Band, then a local group, may have opened some of the shows (updated).

November 15-16, 1967 The Yardbirds (CANCELED show)

November ?-, 1967 Procol Harum (updated)
 
November 24-25, 1967 Mothers of Invention

December 8-9, 1967 Grateful Dead
I have written about the Dead at the Supermarket elsewhere. There is an extant flyer, which has the same format as other flyers. Steve Grant's review of The Dead at the Pscyhedelic Supermarket in the Tuesday, December 12, 1967 edition of The Tech (Volume 87, issue 52, page 6).

December 29-30, 1967 Grateful Dead
It is an apocryphal Dead story that the Dead played Boston on December 30 and flew home to San Francisco the next day, expecting to jam with Quicksilver at Winterland on New Year's Eve. However, a potent batch of brownies--no doubt filled with chocolatey goodness--caused many  of the exhausted band members to fall asleep and miss the jam. Regardless of whether you believe the brownie story, it does confirm that the Dead were on the East Coast so I am inclined to believe they played Psychedelic Supermarket two weekends of December 1967.

January 5-6 1968 Moby Grape



January 12-13, 1968 Chuck Berry(added)

January ? 1968 The Fugs
An article in the February 23, 1968 edition of the MIT student newspaper (The Tech) mentions previous gigs at the Supermarket by Moby Grape, The Fugs, Spirit, Procol Harum and Electric Flag, but these could have been at any time from September 67 thru February 68. There is a circulating audience tape of The Fugs at The Psychedelic Supermarket from some time in 1968, so it is probably from one of these shows. Moby Grape was touring the East in January and February 1968 (updated).

Februrary 16-17, 1968 Colwell-Winfield Blues Band
The Colwell-Winfield Blues Band were a progressive blues band featuring two saxophones. The band released a 1968 album on Verve, and broke up in 1970. Horn men Colin Tilton (tenor sax) and Jack Schroer (alto) went on to become Van Morrison’s horn section during the Moondance period.

February 23-24, 1968 Big Brother and The Holding Company/Blood Sweat & Tears
Blood, Sweat & Tears, still featuring founding member Al Kooper, were touring in support of their recently released debut album. A well-recorded audience tape circulates of the band’s first night performance, the only known live tape of the Kooper-led B, S& T.

March 1-2, 1968 Charles Lloyd (added)

March 8-9, 1968 Country Joe and The Fish
The Friday night show (March 8) is reviewed in the Harvard Crimson (March 16, 1968), including an interview with Joe McDonald. Barry Melton is referred to as “lead guitarist Barry Nelson.”

On March 15, 1968, at 10:30 pm, Boston classical music station WBCN-fm begins broadcasting ‘underground’ rock on the overnight shift.  WBCN transforms the rock music scene in Boston and the Northeast, as fm rock stations did all over the country. The midnight-7am shift is handled by “The Woofuh Goofuh. ” The Woofuh Goofuh is Hallucinations lead singer Peter Wolf, who handles the overnight shift for the next year (unless he has a gig). He becomes an underground legend as a dj in Boston before he ever becomes famous as singer of The J. Geils Band in the 1970s.

March 15-16, 1968  Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston, MA Eden’s Children (updated)


March 22-23, 1968 Butterfield Blues Band
An audience tape circulates from March 23, featuring guitarist Elvin Bishop and saxophonist David Sanborn.

March ?, 1968  Mothers of Invention
According to the most informed Zappa chronologies, The Mothers played a weekend in March as well as the November, 1967 shows.

April 19-20, 1968 Tim Hardin (added)

May 10-18, 1968 First Annual Boston Pop Festival
This is mentioned in the “Making The Scene” column of The Tech. The “festival” was hosted by the Boston Arts Project, and the acts “include Colwell-Winfield Blues Band, Eden’s Children, Faith and others.”
>May 10, 1968  Listening/Hedge & Donna/Miss Lark/Freeborne
>May 11, 1968 3rd World Rasberry/Dave Morgan/Megan

May 24-25, 1968 Canned Heat (added)
Contributor Adam found an ad for these Canned Heat shows in the paper Boston After Dark.

June 3-6, 1968 Electric Flag (added)


June 25-29, 1968 Walk On Water (added)

July 25-26-27, 1968 The Fugs (added)

September 27-28, 1968 Traffic (added)

October 4-5, 1968 Colwell Winfield Blues Band
An enthusiastic review in The Tech (October 8, 1968) fails to say where the band was playing, but I am inferring it was at the Supermarket.

October 11-12, 1968 Blood, Sweat & Tears/Tom Swift Band
 The October 12 (Saturday) show is known from a review in The Tech (Oct 15 '68)), and the Friday night show was confirmed by Billboard magazine. The Tom Swift Electric Band featured guitarist Billy Squier (who had many hits in the 1980s) and keyboard player Barry Flast. The implication seems to be that The Tom Swift Electric Band was performing regularly at the Supermarket through much of its brief lifetime.

Billy Squier has said that The Tom Swift Electric Band was the "house band" at The Psychedelic Supermarket, and opened many shows there, including the Moody Blues and Steve Miller Band.  I don't know exactly when Squier's band became regular performers at the venue.

November 1-2, 1968  Moody Blues/Tom Swift Electric Band

There used to be a lengthy and amusing online description of seeing the Moody Blues at the Supermarket, but I can't find it any more.

November 8-9, 1968 Blue Cheer (added)
Blue Cheer had just completed a European tour. Guitarist Randy Holden had replaced Leigh Stephens just before the tour.

November 15-16, 1968 Sly And The Family Stone (added)

November 22-23, 1968  Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston, MA Procol Harum/The Spikes
 Reviewed in The Tech (12.6.68).

December 6-7, 1968 Steve Miller Band (added)

January 10-11, 1969 The Unicorn, Boston, MA Iron Butterfly
The Unicorn, also called The Unicorn Coffee House, took over the site of the Psychedelic Supermarket at 590 Commonwealth.  The Unicorn had been a smaller, folk-oriented venue in Cambridge that moved to the larger site. I'm not sure if the Unicorn in Cambridge was still open by this time, but since George Papadopolis owned both venues, this would have been a merger of sorts.

March 28-29, 1969 The Unicorn, Boston, MA Joni Mitchell/James Taylor (added)
An eyewitness in the Comments recalls Joni Mitchell being an hour late due to snow, but sounding all the better for it.

Nonetheless, other than the Iron Butterfly poster, I have seen little other evidence of the Unicorn as a post-1969 venue, so I think this was a late effort to lend some credibility to the venue that seems not to have succeeded. As the rock business got bigger after 1968, many small to medium sized venues faced great difficulties, and it is no surprise that a highly competitive market like Boston would have some casualties.

Aftermath
The building later became a movie theater (initially called the Nickelodeon), and was eventually torn down to provide a new science building for Boston University.

I am hoping that enough additional information will arise that I can significantly update this list (thanks to those who have already contributed additional dates and corrections).

70 comments:

  1. Nice to get this stuff documented. I just found a note for The Paupers at the PS April 11-14, 1968 in the 3/16/68 Billboard

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  2. Thank you for a facinating article especially the bit about the J. Geils Blues Band getting out of the Crosstown Bus before the police padlocked the place.

    I'm a J. Geils fan and am attempting to put together a timeline of events for the band from the early days as 'Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels' and Wolf's 'Hallucinations'.

    I've found during extensive internet searches that the Unicorn Coffee House was at 815 Boylston Street (now an Apple Store).
    I have a photo of them playing at the Coffee House from summer 67 thanks to bass player Danny Kleins wife Valerie. http://funkyjudge.net/geils/locations/the-unicorn-coffee-house/

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  3. Thanks for the detail--I corrected the post. I didn't realize Paul's Mall was the former Unicorn--wasn't it kind of small?.

    I love your site.

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    1. Paul's Mall and the Unicorn were separate clubs. They had separate entrances and George Papdopoulos had nothing to do with Paul's Mall.

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    2. Thanks for clarifying this. Do you know if Paul's Mall and The Unicorn had separate street addresses, or were they both 815 Boylston?

      And on a side note, wasn't the famous Jazz Workshop very nearby on Boylston as well?

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  4. I distinctly recall a Joni Mitchell / James Taylor show at the Psychedelic Supermarket location. It had been snowing. The crowd was very small. We all sat on the cold, stone floor waiting for Joni to arrive (she was delayed more than an hour by the weather). She was a little flustered by the time show started. But the cold stone walls of the venue made her dulcet voice sound even sweeter.

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  5. James Taylor opened for Joni Mitchell at the Unicorn Coffee House on March 28-29, 1969.

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    1. Yes, he did-- I was there.  I was a first semester freshman at B.U., living in Myles Standish Hall, 30 BayStateRoad, an AWESOME location from which to explore the Boston/Cambridge area, my adopted 'where I'm from' home.  Parenthetically, I later bartended at Jack's on Mass. Ave., (have a photo of Bonnie Raitt from the weekly Phoenix 'sea-level' newspaper [ vs. B.A.D., both of which I sold many Monday's(?) at the intersection of Arlington and Beacon, on Beacon, about three cars spaces from a bar named "The Bull and Finch," now familiar as the exterior shot of "Cheers" in the "open" of the sitcom of the same name-- but I digress..... ] ) half a block toward Harvard Sq. from...  the Plough and Stars-- still VERY MUCH there and also in Harvard Sq. at Club Casablanca when it was awesome and was managed by the mercurial, often testy, and always brusque, Van.
      Oh, yes, why I started this "Reply":  I have an original handbill for three new artists who performed at the '590 Comm. Ave.' Unicorn in 1969, three guys-- one named James Taylor (April 15-20), another named Dave Van Ronk (April 22-27), and a third named John Mayall (May 1-5)......  One of the nights (went four of five), asked him about the lyric from "Carolina on My Mind," "just like someone hittin' me from behind"--  hey, go easy!  Remember, I was a  f I r s t  semester freshman, just beginning four years of.........    Where was I?  Hell, where AM I?!           KIDDING!       I think......

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    2. at Jack's on Mass. Ave., (have a photo of Bonnie Raitt ----sitting at the bar reading (she also performed there-) with me in the background behind the bar, long hair and beard; I was the bar's token, middle class, pseudo-hippie/radical in rumpled, unpressed, button down, Brooks Brothers shirts---- from the weekly Phoenix 'sea-level' newspaper


      One of the ----James Taylor---- nights (went four of five), asked him about the lyric from "Carolina on My Mind,"

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    3. I was at 1 of the Cream nights. Think there was only about 40 or 50 people in the dungeon that night. Clapton did the 95% of the show w/his back to the "crowd."... and he got mugged while in town too. A wonder he ever came back to Boston.

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    4. I was a sort of manager at the Unicorn in those days. I remember James Taylor (and his brother, Livingston, who would play at my hootenanies during that time and supposedly I'm the one who got his sister, Kate, up on stage for the first time at one of them at Liv's suggestion.. I remember Dave Van Ronk as well. No one mentioned The Youngbloods.

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    5. As I recall Georg's check to Joni Mitchell bounced.

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  6. Beachsound, Bruno: thanks for the great find. I added it to the list.

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  7. Additional gigs for you (posters exist for all of this):

    September 27-28, 1968: Traffic
    November 8-9, 1968: Blue Cheer
    November 15-16, 1968: Sly & The Family Stone
    November 22-23, 1968: Procol Harum

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  8. Crow (with a teenage Donna Summer as lead vocalist and as the only black member of the group) debuted at the Psychedelic Supermarket in 1967.

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  9. Great finds for the 68 shows, Bruno. I knew about Crow and Donna Summer, but I've never been able to find a date.

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  10. Gary Avadanian was the lead in a band called Faith that opened for many of the acts back in the day. He was the Emcee for the Supermarket as well. He has a lot of information about dates and acts. 781-942-0680

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  11. I actually worked at both the Unicorn and the Psychedelic Supermarket before moving to NYC to work at Jazz & Pop magazine and then on to San Francisco for a stint at Bill Graham's newly formed FM Productions. To add to the dialogue, I do not believe the Unicorn was ever located in Cambridge...if so, it would have been pre-1965 ...perhaps y'all are thinking about the Club 47.

    The blog is terrific and has stimulated many exceptional memories.

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    1. i couldn't remember a cambridge unicorn, either... do you remember a club called
      the 'catacombs'? hieroglyphs painted on the walls, maybe an abandoned T station?

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  12. Thanks for the kind words.

    I think I was misinformed about the location of the (first) Unicorn. It appears to have been part of the Cambridge "scene", so to speak, but wasn't it actually on Boylston Street?

    Did the Unicorn become Paul's Mall, or am I imagining that?

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  13. The Unicorn was located next door to Paul's Mall (the jazz club) on Boylston and both clubs were operating at the same time. Later in the '60's the Unicorn moved further uptown.

    I, as you might imagine, have a million stories but one of my favorites from that era was around a Cat Mother and the All NIght Newsboys and Taj Mahal gig at the Unicorn. George pulled one of his notorious stunts and held the groups over for an additional week claiming he'd not made enough money during their first week...Charlie Chin of Cat Mother was a friend of a friend so I told the band they could all stay at my apartment to save money and when Taj got wind of it he and his crew moved in too -- the guys did all the cooking and the jamming was fantastic!

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    1. Hi Terry,

      My name is Adam Ellsworth and I'm a journalism student at Boston University. I'm working on a story about the Psychedelic Supermarket and I'd love to talk to you about your experience working there. You can contact me directly at adamlz24@hotmail.com. Thanks so much and I hope to hear from you.

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  14. Hey Corry,
    Recent poster Terry T. is a life-long best friend and she DOES have a million stories, both of the Boston scene and early BGP in SF history. Can I give her your direct contact for more stuff?
    HJ

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  15. I saw Country Joe & the Fish at the PS, but I also have a memory of another show there that isn't listed in your excellent article. One night my brother and I saw a Sox game at Fenway, and after the game we were walking by the PS. The club was open and we wandered in, and Van Morrison was on stage, but he wasn't playing, he was in an argument about money with the club owner, on the stage, in front of a very small audience! We just listened to them curse each other for a few minutes and then left. Is there any other evidence of this show anywhere? Or is my memory totally faulty? I'm pretty sure this was after the Country Joe show in March '68, so it had to be during the 1968 baseball season sometime....

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    1. On the afternoon of what I recall as having been a spring or early summer day in 1968 I happened to wander by the PS, and drifted inside to catch a bit of Van Morrison & band (a sound check or warmup). I think it was the next day, driving a shift for Town Taxi, that I and another cab were dispatched to the stage entrance of the PS to pick up Van Morrison and band. The other driver (either by chance or by being chummy with the dispatcher) got to pick up Van himself, but I picked up two other band members and chatted for a bit with the guitarist, who game me to understand that the PS gig was a stop on a tour. (If Van Morrison lived in Cambridge at that time, as asserted in another post, I was not aware of it.) I did not hear the actual gig. I did make it to hear Canned Heat, listed in this blog as having occurred May 24-25, 1968. I believe the Van Morrison appearance was earlier than that.

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  16. These are some fascinating details. I don't know of another direct reference to the Van Morrison show you mention, but I know he lived in Cambridge during this period, and played "around," so there had to be shows. You must have seen one of them.

    One of the reason I started this blog was to uncover stories like this. The owner of the Supermarket was infamous for penurious financial dealings with musicians, and you perhaps witnessed a particularly public version.

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    1. I worked at a club called the ARK, on Lansdowne St., next to Fenway. Van the Man appeared there during this time period, and I do believe he was also at the PS.
      Also, I think that at least one of the Traffic shows at the Supermarket was cancelled, because the night I went he didn't show up because of a "sore throat".
      "BUMMER"!!

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  17. I was at a Procol Harum concert at the Pyschedelic Supermarket in 1967 or 1968. The show was remarkable for the band's inability to start playing for more than an hour past scheduled time because they were missing a foot pedal. A request was made to the audience for anyone with knowledge of how to get one. Brooker (the lead vocalist) apologized for the delay and said they'd try to do an extra special job for us. I heard him reminding the band members of this just before they finally started. They performed all of the tracks on the "Whiter Shade of Pale" album, but no new material. The fans much enjoyed the concert.

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  18. Similarly, I remember attending a Mothers of Invention concert at the Psychedelic Supermarket round about 1970 or 1971. When the band were setting up, Zappa came on mike and said in heavily reverbed audio, "Mr. Psychedelic! You've got to give us more light or we'll make *terrible mistakes*". The audience got a chuckle out of that. Later that night, they sprung a surprise on the audience when, with one of the vocalists who was previously with The Turtles, the band did an eerily accurate performance of "Happy Together". A tragically hip teeny-bopper near the stage was rolling her eyes and going "OH NO!". Apparently, it was not what she expected from Frank Zappa and the Mothers. Lots of fun that night... the band played a long, long time and got cooking. I may still have an audio tape (I remember having a portable miniature reel-to-reel recorder along).

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  19. Are you sure of the venue? Psychedelic Supermarket became the Unicorn, andn then kind of closed, as far as I know, by late 69 (and became a movie theater, I think). MOI played Boston Tea Party in October 1970. This doesn' t rule out an undocumented Zappa gig at another venue, like Paul's Mall or something.

    If you have an uncirculating Mothers audio tape, even if its low fidelity, there are a lot of interested people.

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  20. Now that I cast my mind back I recall the MOI concert was in 1969... my freshman year in college was 1969 to 1970, and that's when I heard them. Zappa's specific reference to "Mr. Psychedelic" seems to confirm it. As far as the audio tape, I remember listening to it many times-- it contained the rendition of "Happy Together" by the Turtles and some gag (by Jimmy Carl Black?) imitating a groupie who complained she couldn't climax "unless you sing me your BIG HIT RECORD".... That's when we got "Happy Together". That tape is probably packed in boxes from the Old Days under my stairs. One of these days I'm going spelunking there to see what can be unearthed; and sure, if you think others would enjoy that tape, if I find it, I might ask you how to get it out and available. Best regards..... lwm

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  21. I also remember hearing Country Joe and the Fish, and The Velvet Underground in that (late sixties - early seventies) era. Country Joe were definitely at the Psychedelic Supermarket (I took pictures with my Nikon but don't have them anymore), and a group called the "Instant Up" opened for them. The Velvet Underground were in a much larger space (either the Psychedelic Supermarket moved or it was perhaps the Boston Tea Party), and Lou Reed performed "Heroin". They were the loudest band I had ever heard (or have heard since), with about twelve giant ACOUSTECH - brand amplifiers on stage.

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  22. lwm, I know nothing at all about Zappa/MOI, but please do unearth that box. There are many people who can get the best out of whatever's on that tape and others like it, and will do it with a smile for the sake of preserving the document for posterity!

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  23. I sat on the stage for the Cream show at the Psychedelic Supermarket. I was a student at BU at the time. I remember sneaking into a bunch of shows there - it was easy! When Blood Sweat and Tears played there, I met their manager, known then as "Crazy Larry" and went to NYC with him, where we went to Cafe Wha, and where I met Tim Buckley. I had a relationship with him for several years. Prior to that, I was a waitress at The Unicorn, where I got stoned (my first time) with Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane, and met Linda Rondstat (I recall she was bitchy to the wait staff!).

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  24. My bandm, The Freeborne, opened up at the Supermarket for Tim Hardin (wrote Reason To Believe, If I Were A Carpenter, and other great songs) one night and Canned Heat another. Our lead guitarist, Bob Margolin, went on to join the Muddy Waters thru the 70s and has played/performed on that level up to the present. The band's LP is now available and owned by Smithsonian Folkway Collection.

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  25. Nick, thanks for the great information. I may be able to figure out when Canned Heat was in Boston (more or less, anyway). It's a neat touch to think that Steady Rollin Bob Margolin was playing in a psychedelic palace like the Supermarket.

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  26. I was at one of the Blue Cheer shows and it still remains the loudest concert I have ever been to, and I have been to a lot. Wall of sound indeed.

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  27. Bob, Blue Cheer were pioneers in their own way. Nice to hear that the legend of Blue Cheer was not exaggerated.

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  28. I saw Procol there twice. Neither show had the Spikes. I remember $4 seemed steep at the time. Yes the floor was concrete but we didn't care. They killed both times. Robin Trower live was a revelation. I remember The Chambers Brothers being announced along with other upcoming shows. Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher would cross the stage and play the other's piano/Hammond on one song.
    I saw Procol at the House of Blues in Cambridge in 2002 and spoke with Gary Brooker. I asked if he remembered the Psychedelic Supermarket. He said yes and asked me if I remember who opened for one of the shows. I drew a blank and then he said, "Joni Mitchell."

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  29. Philip, this is a great story. Given the proximity of the Cambridge folk clubs to the Supermarket, I have to think that some pretty interesting acts opened up for various rock bands there.

    Obviously Procol recognized Joni's talent at the time, or Brooker wouldn't have remembered it 34 (or so) years on. Nonetheless it must have been a jolt to them when they heard her first records and said "hey, she opened for us at some parking garage in Boston!"

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  33. There has been hardly any mention of the Jefferson Airplane playing at the Unicorn, I saw them sometime in the April 18th-30th, (1967) timeline. Even had a chance encounter with Jack Casady in the men's room where we had a brief conversation. (see link... http://home.myfairpoint.net/srabbot/airplane/jabase.htm#1967)

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    1. I remember Airplane at Unicorn in 1967.

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  34. Thanks to Marc, I have been able to pin down the Moby Grape date (January 5-6) and add a few other 1968 dates.

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  35. I recall seeing the Moody Blues at the Supermarket. Mike Pinder hit the first note on the keyboard and blew every fuse in the place. Saw great shows there during my time at BU, starting with Cream in September 1967.

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  36. Sorry to come late to the party but I saw the Dead there in 1967. I was 16. Bought hippie-style verticle striped pants for the occasion. Maybe 100 people sitting on that concrete floor. Got back in the car afterward, turned on the radio and thought, what I just heard sure wasn't the Beatles.

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  37. On the night of the Joni Mitchell - Procul Harum concert in No. 1968, while the band was playing one of my favorite songs "whiter Shade of Pale" in the back office, George Papadopulo asked me to manage the Unicorn which was relocated from its Boylston St Address to the small front room of the Psychedelic Supermarket.
    I wasn't a very good club manager. However I got Kate Taylor, James' sister up on stage for her first time at one of my Hootenannies (I was prompted to do so by Livingston Taylor to get her to sing.

    By the way, as I recall these times over 40 years later, I recall that Joni Mitchell's performance was disappointing. She had to be helped up onto the stage as she was pretty high at the time.

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    1. Hi there,

      My name is Adam Ellsworth and I'm a second semester graduate student studying journalism at B.U. I'm working on a story about the Psychedelic Supermarket and would love to talk to you about your involvement. If you're still in the Boston-area, would love to meet face to face, maybe even head over to the old site. If not, phone or Skype will work. I'm still feeling my way around the story, so any memories or dealings with George P or even descriptions of the place will be a huge help. Thanks so much and if you're available to talk, just respond here and we can set it up. Thanks again.

      Adam Ellsworth

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    2. Hi Adam. I still live in outskirts, town called Norton and you can reach me at pjinaries@yahoo.com.

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  38. Since the Dead at the Supermarket in '67 came up, I thought I'd add a reminder about the possibility of December 1-2, 1967 GD shows as well. Not sure I ever established that they did or did not happen, though my Boston friend says they were canceled.

    For the record, and all that.

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    1. The Dead were at the Ark for a weekend, sometime in the spring of '69, before it closed, if that helps. I don't ever remember them at the PS.

      I remember that the PS had a Head Shop that sold Zig-Zag papers and hash pipes along with other doo-dads. I think the shop was the main reason that the club eventually closed down, due to drug related legal problems.

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    2. Arkmark, thanks for your interesting comments. I think the Dead's weekend at The Ark was April 21-23, 1969 (and I think a young Ned Lagin was in attendance).

      Didn't the Ark become the second home of The Boston Tea Party, by late 1969?

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    3. You may have the wrong Boston date for Ned Lagin's GD attendance. I thought it was the Tea Party, and at one time I thought it had been the early October (1969) shows. Now for some reason I have in mind that it was the end of year (1969) shows. But I can't seem to pin down why I think any of those things.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. Hello everyone,

    My name is Adam Ellsworth and I'm a second semester graduate student studying journalism at Boston University. I'm working on a story about the Psychedelic Supermarket (after all, it was located at what is now a part of the Boston University campus) and I would love to talk to anyone who has personal memories of the club, or, worked there in some capacity. If you live in the Boston area we can meet in person (and perhaps even walk over to the old location). If you're outside of Boston, phone or Skype will work too. If interested, please reply here and we'll set it up. Thanks all!

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  40. Adam, good luck on your project. If anything relevant turns up (for which the statue of limitations has expired, of course), it would be great if you could share them in the comments. I'm particularly interested in "lost" dates for artists who played the Supermarket.

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    1. Will do...as long as the statue of limitations has passed!

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  41. I also remember the Steve Miller Blues Band at the PS before they went Hollywood Poprock.
    Good bluesy / jazzy stuff. Don't remember the date though.

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  42. Hello Friends, I am writing a biography of Tim Hardin and would love to get any memories you may have of the man, particularly the very important early years he spent in Cambridge. Please contact me via hardinhistory@gmail.com. Many thanks. BTW, Tim referred to the Supermarket as "the Psychedelic Shithole." Having attended Cream and a couple other show there, I second his emotion!

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  43. Jonathan Richman frequently played at open mikes at the Catacombs on Boylston Street '67/'68. A few years later it became The Stone-Phoenix and The MODERN LOVERS played there regularly. The club was downstairs and to the right of Little Stevie's Pizza, where I would by a pie and bring to Jonathan before the shows... The Unicorn (to the left of Little Stevie's) was on the ground floor. The Velvet Underground played there (sans MO, who was ill). The Tea Party put on a big festival so no one would show for the Velvets and they didn't (about 12 people). Jonathan Richman was suppose to open for the Velvets but the asshole club owner refused to let him play... I saw the Mothers of Invention at their 1st PS gig -- very good. also saw The Colwell-Winfield Blues Band there. the space later became the Abbey Cinema. The later cinema on Cummington St. was further down the street.

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  44. Wow. I was just looking for some information about Cream and stumbled across your blog. I was a freshman at Boston College ('67) and had begun my metamorphosis from preppy button down Brooks Brothers to long hair, tie dyed T shirts and bell bottoms. My girlfriend was much cooler) than me and took us to see Cream at the PS in '67, indeed the sound was crap but the intensity was overwhelming. I remember a Joni Mitchell concert where we waited shivering (I think my car got towed) waiting for her. We also were at the Zappa / Happy Together gig which at the time surprised me as I was infinitely (by six months) cooler than on my first visit.

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  45. I was at the Sept '67 Cream show on Sat night. I also say Procol Harum, Steve Miller Band, and Rhinosarus there the following year. I was only about 15, my brother was going to college in Boston so I'd visit and we go to places like this and the Tea Party.

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  46. Saw the Mothers show at the Supermarket in Nov. 67. A great local band opened for them but I wasn't sure of the name years later.
    Recently met Stephen Bladd from J. Geils who confirmed that it was them as I had suspected for some time.

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  47. I saw a number of shows there I remember seeing Canned Heat, I believe I saw the Electric Flag there. I remember Janis Joplin being there the same night as Blood Sweat & Tears (w Al Kooper) w Janis sitting in with BS&T. I remember Jeff baxter playing there and talking with him (can't remember the band's name). Years later talking with Jeff, he remembered playing there

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  48. I was at the BS&T concert when they opened for Janis Joplin. We sat on the floor about 15 feet from her. Later that night we wandered over to Harvard where Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground were playing at some student concert. Quite a night...

    "February 23-24, 1968 Big Brother and The Holding Company/Blood Sweat & Tears
    Blood, Sweat & Tears, still featuring founding member Al Kooper, were touring in support of their recently released debut album."

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  49. The Supermarket was surely funky and raw, but so many great performances happened there! I saw The Fugs a few times, Country Joe and the Fish, Canned Heat, and the Velvet Underground. I was also there the night that Procol Harum couldn't find a foot pedal but I didn't care how long it took. I had the best seat in the house. Somebody had left a ladder next to the stage and I climbed up on it because it was more comfortable than the concrete floor. Nobody ever told me to get down so I spent the whole night up there looking over Matthew Fisher's shoulder and down on Gary Brooker's piano.

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  50. I worked at the Supermarket from some time from Oct or Nov of 67 till May of 69.
    First realized there was a club in the basement of my art school when we heared Cream rehersing through a window below the front stupe of the school.
    Four dollors was a lot of money so I started hanging out there doing what ever I could til I became crew.
    Made posters swept the floor ran , annouced just anything to be in the life of it.
    The music was as it should be, no more than 500 people low ceiling that we tried putting sound reflectors on. It was an intimate musical experience.
    Joplin was amazing, the first Blood Sweat and Tears fabulous, Electric Flag wonderfull.
    Zappa coducted, Sly and the Family were a grin from ear to ear.
    George's idea was a rock venue, the Unicorn was to small, folk was dead. There was supposed to be shops at the back of the room and he started building them but money was always a problem.
    He started a Blues club as well.
    I think he did it for the music I don't know how he made any money on it. If we pulled in 10,000$ the group took 8500$.
    George was always excited by the bookings and we looked forward to the groups coming like the next Beatles album.
    I love live music, the Supermarket was so much better than a stadium. It was as close as you could get to it.
    The floor was hard, the stage could barley fit the equiptment but for me it was the best.

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