Saturday, December 26, 2009

Moby Grape Performance History July-December 1968 (Moby Grape V)

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 Performance History
July ?, 1968  The Sanctuary, South Lake Tahoe Moby Grape/Santana Blues Band/Queen Lily Soap
I know someone who saw Moby Grape in Tahoe, but there is a chance that it was at Kings Beach Bowl in North Lake Tahoe the Summer before. By July 1968, the band was a four-piece (Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis, Bob Mosley and Don Stevenson), as Skip Spence had left the band. The album Wow had been released in April 1968, but it was inevitably compared unfavorably to their great first album.

July 23-24-25, 1968 Fillmore West, San Francisco Moby Grape/Jeff Beck Group/Mint Tattoo

August 2-3, 1968  Eagles Auditorium, Seattle, WA Moby Grape
The Eagles calendar says “The Original” Moby Grape, to distinguish them from the bogus version of the band playing as Moby Grape under the auspices of fired manager Mathew Katz. The bogus Moby Grape had toured the Northwest and Midwest in the summer of 1968.

August 9-10, 1968 The Cave, Vancouver, BC Moby Grape
This was reported in the Vancouver Sun (h/t Mark). The Cave was a "Supper Club" that had made somewhat of a conversion to rock.

August 23-24-25, 1968  The Kaleidoscope, Hollywood Moby Grape
This was probably the last rock show at The Kaleidoscope. The Kaleidoscope had been built in the 1930s with a revolving stage, and had been a TV studio and later The Hullabaloo.  While it was a wonderful venue, it was too small (capacity 1,000) to be viable.  It became (and remains) the Aquarius Theater.

September 6-7, 1968 The Bank, Torrance Moby Grape/Fair BeFall

October 4-5, 1968 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA Moby Grape/Albert King/Woody's Truck Stop

October 12-17, 1968 Café Au Go Go, New York, NY Moby Grape/The Moke Eaters
We are obviously missing a lot of tour dates on the East Coast.

October 18, 1968 Action House, Island Park, NY Moby Grape

October 19, 1968 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA “Quaker City Rock Festival”
Big Brother and The Holding Company/Moby Grape/Vanilla Fudge/Buddy Guy/Chambers Brothers/others?
 There appears to have been two ‘Quaker City Rock Festivals’ at The Spectrum in 1968 (the other was Dec 6), and time seems to have confused the memories of various eyewitnesses.

October 20-21, 1968 The Scene, New York, NY Moby Grape

October 22, 1968 [Gym], SUNY, Stony Brook, NY Moby Grape
This date does beg the question a little bit as to whether they also played Valentine's Day 1968 at Stony Brook.

November 1-2, 1968 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL Moby Grape
Throughout November the band continues recording their next album.

November 9, 1968  Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA Moby Grape/The Grass Roots/The Hook/others
This show had been rescheduled from another date.

November 30, 1968 Commodore Ballroom, Lowell, MA Moby Grape

December 6, 1968 The New Place, Chicago, IL Moby Grape/Illusions
This was advertised, but its hard to say whether it happened.

December 27-28, 1968  Felt Forum, New York, NY Moby Grape
The Felt Forum was a theater within the Madison Square Garden complex.

next: Part VI January-April 1969


  1. I was working with "Queen Lily Soap" @ "The Sanctuary" in 1968. Moby Grape did come up and play as a 4 piece without Alex "Skip" Spence'. The Grape's band mates informed us that Skip had been admitted to a mental health institution: "Bellvue Hospital". I worked with Skip later. He never spoke of his past.

  2. A great bit of information. The whole story of the Lake Tahoe scene in 1967-69 is quite interesting and remains largely untold. Do you recall the name of the operators of The Sanctuary in 1968? I know that Jim Burgett took it over in 1969.

  3. Re: October 22, 1968 [Gym], SUNY, Stony Brook, NY Moby Grape

    (a) I can confirmed that the show was in the Gym

    (b) also on the bill: Procol Harum, The Churls

  4. I saw the great Moby Grape at the Continental Ballroom (Santa Clara) in September '67, so when I came out of the mountains from backpacking on a Saturday in early July '68, and saw a marquee that said "Moby Grape, Santana, and Local Bands" I knew what to do. After dinner we went to The Sanctuary, a small club on the "strip" (south side of road about halfway between the "Y" and the casinos). We were told that Moby Grape was no-show because one or two band members had been arrested for statutory rape (true or not, that was the story). So, we enjoyed Santana (pre-Bill Graham management and they were great of course) and Queen Lily Soap (actually very good band). About 30-40 people in the club. Never got to see Moby Grape after that. RIP Skippy.

  5. Ghost, this is a fascinating little memory. I do know most of the story behind The Sanctuary in Lake Tahoe, although I have not had a chance to publish it. The venue was started by a guy who owned Supermarkets, and he turned an unused one into a Summer rock club in 1968.

    Santana was the house band there for several weeks in 1968, along with Queen Lily Soap. Queen Lily Soap featured the son of the supermarket owner (I think he may have been the drummer), but they were reputedly pretty good. QLS played some gigs in Sacramento and San Francisco, I think. Santana and QLS played almost every night for the first part of the Summer of '68, often augmented by SF headliners.

    1. In the Summer of 1969 Santana and Sanpaku played the 4th of July & the following weekend at the VFW Hall at South Lake Tahoe. I think between the two bands there were Seven Cancers.

  6. They played 1 performance in Maine I think it was Colby College...any know?

  7. I went to the Sanctuary in July 1968 after a backpacking trip. We wanted to see Moby Grape they were heard that some band members had been arrested and they would not appear -- whether that was true or not, I don't know but they missed the gig. But, the then unknown Santana band played and were great. Maybe 25-30 people in the room.

  8. I was at the Cave show in Vancouver. There wasn't many people there as it was poorly promoted. Bob seemed pissed off but that only intensified his performance. Great show, one of my top 10 of all time. Unfortunately I don't think Skip was there.

  9. In The Summer of1968 Santana played the South Shore and Sanpaku played the North Shore of Lake Tahoe both venues augmented there shows with SF Bands and other Touring Acts like “The Iron Butterfly” of Ina Gada De Vida fame.