The recent discovery of some "lost" Grateful Dead gigs at Thee Image in Miami on April 12-13-14, 1968, springing from an AP Wire Service story about an Easter Sunday "Love-In" at Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach (right, from the Colorado Springs Gazette of April 15, 1968), pointed out the paucity of prosopographical analysis of Thee Image and the psychedelic rock scene in Miami in the late 1960s. I am attempting to rectify the gap with this post.
Thee Image was Miami's biggest and best known psychedelic rock club, even though it was only open for about 13 months. It was located in a former 32-lane bowling alley at 18330 Collins Avenue, just North of Miami in Sunny Isles Beach. It was principally operated by a band from Tampa, FL, originally called The Motions, who had changed their name to Blues Image in an homage to The Blues Project. Blues Image were reputedly hip Florida's best live band, with twin drummers and a funky, swinging sound. Besides helping operate the club, they were the house band and apparently played just about every weekend there, whether or not they appeared on the bill.
Thee Image opened on March 15, 1968 with The Mothers of Invention, and the last gig that I can find was April 26, 1969 with Ten Years After. The club had three stages and multiple rooms, along with a wall of Ampeg speakers, so it wasn't just a converted building. The club seems to be remembered fondly by performers and fans, but there is very little in the way of photographs or live tapes, and only a few posters circulate.
Visiting bands were impressed with the Blues Image, but Frank Zappa suggested that they would have to go to New York or Los Angeles to make it, and Eric Burdon invited them to Los Angeles, so in Spring 1969 they closed Thee Image and moved to Los Angeles. They briefly backed Burdon and went on to some success with the hit single "Ride Captain Ride" in 1970.
The one really interesting source on the late 1960s Florida rock scene was a multi-page site by one GL Sullivan, full of fascinatingly detailed information including detailed line drawings. This site is no longer accessible on the web, so while I will quote from it liberally, any information on links to his material would be very welcome.
The South was slow to open itself to psychedelic rock, not due to lack of interest from young people, but due to the more conservative nature of the region and police hostility to long hair, drug use and draft resisters. Miami, while very much part of the South, was also primarily a resort town and a destination for many people from the Northeast, and it had the relaxed informality of most seaside communities. While not necessarily hippie friendly, and while not yet quite Margaritaville, it was less conservative than other port cities in the South, so its not surprising that Miami was one of the first places in the South to attract a critical mass of hippies.
The World, Biscayne Blvd at NE 142nd Street
According to Sullivan
Previously in South Florida, before The World had opened in 1967, the only concert venues had been Code One and Tiger's Den (Masters) in Ft. Lauderdale and The Place
in North Miami. The World, sponsored by radio station WQAM and hosted by DJ Rick Shaw, was built in an old National Guard Armory hanger building off of Biscayne Blvd.
at NE 142nd St. Admission was $1.75.
It was total Psychedelia. There were 5 or 6 stages high up over the dance floor. Black lights, strobe lights and oil/slide light shows were everywhere. The house band was The Kollektion, a Super Group made up of members of the best local bands in South Florida, such as the Mor-Loks, the Shaggs, Sounds Unlimited and Dr. T & the Undertakers.
Several bands would play every Wed., Fri. & Sat. nights, with a host of national acts, such as: Spirit, Spencer Davis Group, Iron Butterfly, Mitch Ryder, Wilson Pickett, Moby Grape and Wayne Cochran. Today, the building is a warehouse.I only have a few performance dates for The World:
- May 3-4, 1968 Iron Butterfly/The Seven Of Us/Echo
- May 10-11, 1968 Clear Light/Blues Image/Bangles
The World had started to become too big and many of the local "hippies" needed a smaller, cooler, hipper more private place to hang. Soon, Thee Experience opened up a few blocks down the road, in a biker bar. The better San Francisco and West coast bands were playing there, instead of The World.
Then, Thee Experience had booked the Mothers of Invention to appear. The club was too small, so they found an old 32 Lane Bowling Alley on Collins Ave. and opened up Thee Image. The Mothers of Invention opened thee Image on March 15/16, 1968 and the rest is history.
Thee Image was the ultimate experience. There were 3 stages with black lights and day glow paint everywhere. A shop sold all your psychedelic needs. And, of course there was the Meditation Room... The house band was the Blues Image. It was open Fri., Sat., & Sun. nights, with the admission price between $2 and$3, depending on who was performing. The list of famous bands that performed there was endless, including:
the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Loving Spoonful, the Velvet Underground, Country Joe & the Fish, Big Brother & the Holding Company, The Yardbirds, TheTroggs, Procol Harum, Ten Years After, The Electric Flag, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, James Cotton Blues Band (James jammed with the Blues Image until the Sun came up), Cactus,
Elvin Bishop Blues Band, Savoy Brown and the US premiere of Magical Mystery Tour...
Often, the band would put on a free concert Sunday afternoon at Greynolds Park. Today, the building is a Publix supermarket...As near as I can tell, the operator of the initial, smaller Thee Experience club was one Marshall Brevetz. Brevetz was also involved with the Blues Image in the operation of Thee Image as well. Its hard to be certain what role he played, but it seems that Brevetz was more of a manager and booking agent, and Blues Image were more involved in the daily operation of the club.
I have no idea which "West Coast" bands played Thee Experience, and I would very much like to know.
|Correspondent Ryan sent in a scan of the poster for the first concert at Thee Image, The Mothers of Invention on March 15-16, 1968|
It is reasonable to presume that Thee Image was open every weekend, with Blues Image and/or regional bands, but these are the dates I have been able to uncover. Anyone with additional information or memories (real or imagined) is encouraged to Comment or email me.
March 23, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Lovin Spoonful/The Bangles/The Kollection/Blues Image
Note that The Kollection were the house band at the competing club The World.
April 5-6-7, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Country Joe and The Fish
There is a poster for the week of April 5-14.
April 8-9-10, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Yardbirds/Blues Image/The Kollection/The Bangles
This was a rare Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday billing for the Jimmy Page-era Yardbirds.
April 11, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Cream/Blues Image
As numerous Commenters have observed, Cream played a surprise show at Thee Image on this date, and apparently rattled the walls.
April 12-13-14, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Grateful Dead
April 14, 1968 Greynolds Park, Miami, FL Grateful Dead/Blues Image
I have discussed these shows at length elsewhere.
April 19-20-21, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Grateful Dead/Blues Image
May 3-4, 1968 The World, Miami, FL Iron Butterfly/The Seven Of Us/Echo
May 10-11, 1968 The World, Miami, FL Clear Light/Blues Image/Bangles
May 10-11, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Procol Harum/Fantasy/The Kollection
Note that the two "House Bands," The Blues Image and The Kollection, are playing at their "opposite" clubs this weekend, a sign that the bands and promoters were cooperating.
May 18-19, 1968 Gulfstream Park, Hallandale, FL Miami Pop Festival
Jimi Hendrix Experience/Mothers of Invention/Blue Cheer/Crazy World of Arthur Brown/John Lee Hooker/The Crowd/The Bangals
Marshall Brevetz and Michael Lang, the owner of Coconut Grove's first head shop, put together the Miami Pop Festival at a horse racing track (Gulfstream Park) in nearby Hallandale. Criteria Studios in Miami helped put the sound system together, as they had for Thee Image. The show was a financial disaster, mainly due to bad weather, and the second day was canceled altogether. Hendrix, Zappa and many other unoccupied musicians spent the day jamming in a bar. Lang went on to organize Woodstock.
May 25, 1968 Dinner Key Auditorium, Coconut Grove, FL Vanilla Fudge/Ojus Philharmonic
Jim Morrison’s notorious exposure incident took place here in 1969.
June 7-8, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Vanilla Fudge/Fantasy
>July 2-7, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac was booked, but canceled. They hung out in San Francisco this week.
July 14, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Blood, Sweat & Tears/Blues Image
David Clayton-Thomas had already joined, as founder Al Kooper had recently left.
“Summer 68” Thee Image, Miami, FL Spirit/NRBQ
“Summer 68” Thee Image, Miami, FL Amboy Dukes/NRBQ/Fantasy
“Summer 68” Thee Image, Miami, FL Canned Heat/NRBQ/Blues Image
September 20, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Chambers Brothers
October 5, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL NRBQ/Blues Image/Fantasy
October 11, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Blue Cheer
October 14, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL John Mayall
From the Mayall Fan Club. Not confirmed—date approximate, venue assumed.
October 26, 1968 Sports Arena, Miami, FL Cream
Cream was the biggest live rock act in the country at the time. Numerous eyewitnesses say that Cream played Thee Image as well, although exactly when remains in dispute. It was probably considerably earlier than this show. Apparently, unscheduled shows were common at Thee Image, and often sold out by word of mouth. Jimi Hendrix Experience also apparently made a surprise appearance one night as well. This isn't as far-fetched as it might seem--touring bands often used Miami for a kind of time-out, sometimes when they were recording at Criteria Studios as well (update: April 11, 1968 seems like a plausible date, and a photo exists of Cream performing at Thee Image).
November 2, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Canned Heat
November 15-16, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Jeff Beck Group/NRBQ
According to various sources, Jimmy Page jams with the Jeff Beck Group on the first night. I really hope this is true, but of course Led Zeppelin plays Manchester the next night. I still prefer to believe its possible.
November 22-23, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Steppenwolf
The date is from Billboard (Nov 16, 68). Possibly November 30 also.
November 24, 1968 Miami Beach Convention Hall, Miami, FL Jimi Hendrix Experience/Cat Mother and The All Night Newsboys
December ?, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Iron Butterfly
According to Sullivan (who was there), guitarist Erik Brann collapsed on stage, and left in an ambulance.
December ?, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Fever Tree/Fantasy
December 14, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Amboy Dukes
December 21, 1968 Thee Image, Miami, FL Blues Image
December 28-30, 1968 Hollywood Pop Festival, Gulfstream Park, Miami, FL
I'm not certain who were the promoters behind this version of the Miami Pop Festival, but I believe Marshall Brevetz played a key role.
December 28, 1968: Jose Feliciano/Country Joe and The Fish/Buffy St. Marie/Chuck Berry/Infinite McCoys/Wayne Cochran/Dino Valente/Fleetwood Mac/Pacific Gas & Electric/Terry Reid
December 29-30, 1968: Procol Harum/Three Dog Night/Steppenwolf/Marvin Gaye/Grateful Dead/Hugh Masakela/Flatt & Scruggs/Paul Butterfield Blues Band/Joni Mitchell/James Cotton Blues Band/Richie Havens/Box Tops/Iron Butterfly/The Turtles/Canned Heat/The Grass Roots/Junior Walker and The All-AStars/Sweetwater/Joe Tex/Ian & Sylvia/Charles Lloyd Quartet
February 14-15, 1969 Thee Image, Miami, FL Led Zeppelin/Fantasy
There are interesting descriptions of seeing Zep at Thee Image at the Zeppelin concert site.
February 21-22, 1969 Thee Image, Miami, FL John Mayall
March 1, 1969 Dinner Key Auditorium, Coconut Grove, FL The Doors
In a notorious incident, Thee Image promoters Ken and Jim Collier put on a Doors show at the large Dinner Key Auditorium, apparently a converted airplane hangar. Jim Morrison, quite out of it, reputedly exposes himself to an ugly crowd. Morrison is subsequently indicted for indecent exposure, and the effect is bad for both The Doors and rock music in the South. Since Thee Image were the promoters, contemporary Florida papers suggest that there is pressure on the venue to close.
April 25-26, 1969 Thee Image, Miami, FL Ten Years After
(Note: of the groups referred to by Sullivan above who are not otherwise on this list, the well-researched Big Brother, Electric Flag and Velvet Underground lists do not include Thee Image or Miami, although anything is possible. The Troggs toured America in Spring 1968, and Savoy Brown and Elvin Bishop toured America in early 1969, and Butterfield Blues Band toured constantly, although I cannot pin down exact dates).
The postcard image is from an exceptional Led Zeppelin site, and includes a photo of Cream at Thee Image)
Appendices: The Blues Image and Marshall Brevitz
It is worth adding a few words about The Blues Image and Marshall Brevetz, some of the principal entities behind Thee Image.
Blues Image were a 6-piece R&B band called The Motions from Tampa, Florida, with two drummers, one of several acts around the country who started playing with two drummers, including the Dead in San Francisco and Clear Light in Los Angeles. There seems to be a good argument to make that The Motions were first in 1966, but in any case none of the bands seemed aware of each other. The Motions moved to Miami because they felt they had a better chance to make it. They changed their name, too, and Blues Image was an homage to Al Kooper and The Blues Project, at that time an ultra-hip band (and rightly so). The best known members of Blues Image today are guitarist Mike Pinera, still rocking it today, and drummer/percussionist Joe Lala, active for many years as a session man and best known for working with Stephen Stills Manassas (not to mention a lengthy acting career).
When Thee Image opened in March 1968, Blues Image were not only the house band, they ran the club. It appears that Blues Image played pretty much every weekend at Thee Image, whether or not they were on the poster. Visiting musicians were very impressed with the group, and both Frank Zappa and Eric Burdon told them that they had to move to New York or Los Angeles to make it. Since Zappa and Burdon were both based in Los Angeles, Blues Image moved to Los Angeles. They released a few albums, enjoyable blues rock for the most part, but clearly somewhat tamer than their impressive live reputation, a typical result of 60s record production.
After their self-titled debut album on Atco in 1969, Blues Image's second album in 1970 was called Open, and it featured the single "Ride, Captain, Ride" a worldwide monster hit. Mike Pinera had actually left the band he helped found by that time, but he went on to play with Iron Butterfly, Ramatam, New Cactus, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and many others. After a final album in 1971 (Red, White and Blues Image) the group broke up for good.
Although the Blues Image ran Thee Image, one of the key participants was a promoter named Marshall Brevetz. He seems to have been a big mover and shaker on the Florida rock scene in 1968. He organized two outdoor concerts in 1968 at Gulfstream Park (May 18-19 and December 28-30) in Hallandale, FL. Hallandale is fairly near to Thee Image. The Dead played the Hollywood Pop Festival in December 1968 (Hollywood is a small town near Hallandale). Brevetz worked with future Woodstock promoter Michael Lang on these concerts.
Brevetz, too, was looking for a larger stage than Miami could offer at the time, and he moved with The Blues Image to Los Angeles in April 1969. With the house band and staff gone, Thee Image closed. Brevetz opened a hip Hollywood (California) nightclub called Thee Experience, at 7551 Sunset Boulevard (between Stanley and Curson), with the name a shout out to the prior club. Blues Image initially were the house band at Thee Experience, until they were rapidly snapped up by Atco, just as Zappa and Burdon had predicted (Blues Image apparently backed Eric Burdon for a tour as well, in mid-1969).
In 1970, Thee Experience closed, and Brevetz replaced it with a venue called Thee Club, with his signature "Thee" intact. Thee Club was somewhat ahead of its time, an upscale restaurant and rock club, but the rock market was not ready for it. Still, Brevetz opened Thee Club with an appropriate bang, bringing in the acoustic Grateful Dead to open the venue on August 28, 1970.
Thee Club did not last long either, however, and Brevetz moved on to artist management, where his primary client was Bobby Womack. Womack was successful as a performer, producer and writer in the 1970s, but Brevitz died in 1986, and his intriguing career was cut short.
(update: a very interesting Forum thread mostly populated by Miami folks has some very interesting memories about Thee Image, and is well worth a look)