Monday, April 26, 2010
Winterland, San Francisco "Monster Jam" for Olompali, March 17, 1969
Rancho Olompali was the Marin County retreat for the Grateful Dead in Spring 1966, before they moved to 710 Ashbury (via Western Marin) in September. It was owned by Don McCoy, who later lived across the street at 715 Ashbury. In 1967, McCoy started a commune called The Chosen Family. A fire caused by faulty wiring burned down the mansion. I assume that this Ralph Gleason column item from the San Francisco Chronicle (from Monday, March 17, 1969), refers to the fire's aftermath. It says "Tonight at Winterland, there's a benefit for Olompali with a monster jam session, light shows by both Jerry Abrams and Glenn McKay and also the Garden of Delights."
I know nothing else about this show except what you are reading here. Nevertheless, a Monday night rock show at the largest rock venue in San Francisco, with three established light shows, suggests that someone interesting was expected to show up at the jam. Given the connections between Don McCoy and the Grateful Dead, it does at least hint that Jerry Garcia and/or members of the Dead might be there. Glenn McKay was the Airplane's light show man, so that hints at some members of the Airplane who might like to jam (as the t-shirt says, if you don't know Jorma, you don't know Jack).
Most San Francisco bands didn't work Monday nights, and both the Dead's and the Airplane's March touring itinerary puts them in town. I don't know how to pursue this any further, but I'd certainly be looking for a Jorma and Jack, Mickey and The Hartbeats kind of thing. [update: As you can see in the Comments, Ross found that my supposition was largely correct].
Rancho Olompali, and the mansion on it, had a long and complicated history dating back to 1843, General Vallejo and Mexican California. The property had ended up in the hands of the University of San Francisco by the 1950s. In the 1960s, they attempted to sell it various times, but when various buyers defaulted, the property kept reverting back to USF. I assume Don McCoy gave up on the property as well. In 1977, the State of California purchased the property from USF, and turned it into Olompali Historic State Park. The address of the park is 8901 Old Redwood Highway, 3.5 miles East of Novato, CA.