Saturday, December 26, 2009

Moby Grape Performance History January-April 1969 (Moby Grape VI)


Moby Grape was one of the best of the San Francisco groups, but their never ending run of poor choices and bad luck has insured that they lead the woulda-shoulda-coulda category, with a long series of frustrations punctuating their career. Over the years, the nonetheless fascinating story of Moby Grape has been documented fairly comprehensively. However, there is no longer a good Moby Grape performance history on the Web, or at least not an accessible one, so I have constructed one for the years 1966-69. It was originally based on the one that was available on the web some years ago, but I have revised and added to it considerably.

My focus on this concert history is on Moby Grape's actual performance history, rather than an attempt to document their recordings or other aspects of the band's history. I have had to give some thumbnail information in order to make the history coherent, but I am aware that I am simplifying or leaving out many aspects of the band's history due to my narrow focus on concerts.

The Moby Grape Performance History will be in 6 parts (1966, early and late 1967, early and late 1968, and 1969). The history represents the best information available to me at this time. Anyone with additional information, corrections or insights into missing or incomplete performance dates please list them in the Comments or contact me.

Part I: 1966
Part II: January-June 1967
Part III: July-December 1967
Part IV: January-June 1968
Part V: July-December 1968
Part VI: January-April 1969 Performance History 
January 24-25, 1969  Winterland, San Francisco  Moby Grape/It’s A Beautiful Day/Other Half/Tim Hardin 
The Family Dog Presented this show at Winterland. Chet Helms had lost his lease at the Avalon, and briefly put on shows at other venues.

February 1, 1969 Middle Earth Club, The Roundhouse, London, GB Moby Grape/Jody Grind/Ice
The Grape begin a brief European tour. I have no idea if I have collected all the dates. The group is still a quartet (Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis, Bob Mosley and Don Stevenson).

Originally the Middle Earth gig was supposed to be the night before (Jan 31) with Group Therapy, but it was delayed until the next night. Moby Grape replaced Spooky Tooth and Steamhammer.

February 4, 1969 BBC Studios, London, GB Moby Grape
This was broadcast on March 16, 1969.

February 6, 1969 City Hall, Newcastle, GB Moby Grape/The Nice
 The Nice ran over time, and the emcee offers the crowd “more Nice” or a 15-minute set by Moby Grape, and the crowd chooses The Nice.

February ?, 1969 The Revolution, London, GB Moby Grape
This gig may be spurious--no one can figure out what the venue might have been.

February ?, 1969 The Place, Edinburgh, Scotland Moby Grape

February ?, 1969 [venue], Stockholm, Sweden  Moby Grape
A tape apparently exists, although Bruno says it is incorrectly dated (as Feb 15).

February ?, 1969  [venue], [city], Denmark  Moby Grape

February 11, 1969 Mies Bouwman TV show, [city], Netherlands

February 15, 1969  Rai Congrescentrum, Amsterdam, NL Moby Grape
Part of this show was broadcast on VPRO-fm.

February 16, 1969 De Doelen, Rotterdam, NL Moby Grape

March 7-8-9, 1969 Avalon Moby Grape/AB Skhy/Gale Garnett and Gentle Reign/Group Therapy
 Soundproof Presents.  New promoters briefly put on shows at the Avalon. I am not certain that Moby Grape performed.

March 14, 1969 The Hideout, Clawson, MI Moby Grape/Group Therapy
March 14, 1969 Silverbell Hideout, Detroit, MI Moby Grape
I am not certain that the Grape performed these Michigan gigs, either. In any case, Bob Mosley leaves the band shortly after this, just as their album Moby Grape '69 was released.

April 1, 1969 Sun Air Drive-In, Palm Springs, CA Palm Springs Pop Festival
Moby Grape was billed (h/t Ross for the scan), but did not appear. The band had disintegrated at this point, and although they continue to exist as a recording entity, for contractual reasons, they cease as a performing band. Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis and Don Stevenson record another album in Nashville, with session man Bob Moore on bass (released in August 1969 as Truly Fine Citizen), but many of the Miller/Stevenson songs are credited to road manager Tim Dell'ario due to contractual problems.


Aftermath
  • Skip Spence had many problems, but still had his talent, and recorded the album Oar in Nashville
  • Bob Mosley joined the Marines
  • Peter Lewis laid low 
  • Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson retreated to the Santa Cruz Mountains and formed a group called The Rhythm Dukes. Bass and drums were handled by John Barrett and John "Fuzzy" Oxendine, from the Bay Area group Boogie, so Stevenson could switch to guitar. The group toured a fair amount, but outside of the Bay Area promoters tended to bill them as Moby Grape. This not only dismayed Miller and Stevenson, but the Moby Grape name was tied up in litigation so it was not merely a semantic issue. Stevenson quit the band, replaced by Bill Champlin. All late 1969 posters with the name Moby Grape are actually the Rhythm Dukes.
Moby Grape reformed in 1971, with all the original members, and then again in 1978, 1986, 1991, 1998 and some other times. They were always a good band, but the breaks never fell for them and they remain in litigation. Skip Spence passed away in 1999, but the other band members continue to make music, still purple, still living under the ocean.

(thanks to Ross, Bruno and particularly Marc for all the information, updates and corrections) 

Appendix: For a different view of the history of Moby Grape, Ross has put together an excellent Moby Grape Family Tree

8 comments:

  1. The Moby Grape date at the Middle Earth was originally to be held at the Roundhouse on January 31, 1969 (10:30pm to Dawn) with support to be provided by Group Therapy. It seems it was held over until February 1, 1969 (also 10:30pm to Dawn)with Ice, Jody Grind and Moby Grape playing the Roundhouse in place of Spooky Tooth and Steamhammer who had originally been scheduled for February 1.

    They were still in London (or may have returned to London) for a February 4, Top Gear session recorded for the BBC - and broadcast on March 16. As with most Top Gear sessions, tapes circulate: If You Can't Learn, Truckin' Man, Ain't That A Shame, Five To Eight, I Am Not Willing. Ross

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  2. Newcastle date was February 6, 1969 at City Hall.

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  3. I think the February "Revolution" show might be a red herring - I cannot find any details about the venue or the show.
    It seems likely that we are missing some European dates - I was also wondering whether Group Therapy played the whole tour.
    I have the Mies Bouwman recording on February 11, 1969.
    March 7-8 should carry on to the 9th and "Gale Garnett and the Gentle Reign" can have the oblique removed.

    All in all a really fantastic job. Ross

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  4. Anyone know the true accounting of a tape (i've had over 20yrs) of a 3-8-69 show from the Keystone, Palo Alto? It's an FM broadcast over KZSU, Stanford and approx 25 minutes with a live female DJ station ID between songs. Can't seem to find this anywhere in the 'lists'. Either the date is wrong or possibly a day show/broadcast before that nights Avalon show?

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  5. lostsailor, the Keystone Palo Alto did not open until 1977. Prior to that it was called Sophie's, but even that did not open until 1975. Prior to that, it had been a supermarket.

    However, KZSU did a lot of broadcasts from Keystone Palo Alto in the late 70s, and I believe there is a Moby Grape tape floating around from a December 1977 show that might fit the bill. During that period, a lot of the original members of MG were back with the band, albeit sometimes only for a night or two.

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  6. In 1969 the Grape also played a blistering set at small club in Beckenham called the Mistral

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  7. Okay, here goes . . . I'm extremely pleased that there are still Moby Grape fans out there. The Grape was a truly amazing group, up there (IMO) with Buffalo Springfield. I have a question, though: Does anybody . . . ANYBODY . . . know the lyrics to "Rounder?" Oh, and could they share them?

    Every lyrics site I've searched categorizes the song as an instrumental; but any Moby Grape aficionado knows differently.

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