Thursday, January 14, 2021

Loading Zone Performance List 1970 (Loading Zone cont. I)


The debut album of The Loading Zone was released by RCA in June, 1968

The Loading Zone-Performance List 1970
The Loading Zone, while obscure, are a uniquely important group in Bay Area music history. The Zone had a singly dizzying history. Loading Zone had initially been formed out of the ashes of a Berkeley group called The Marbles (who played the first Family Dog Longshoreman’s Hall Dance on October 16, 1965). The two guitarists from The Marbles then joined with organist/vocalist Paul Fauerso (formerly of Oakland’s Tom Paul trio, a jazz combo) and played a hitherto unheard mixture of psychedelic blues and funky R&B.

Loading Zone were based out of Oakland, in a house on West 14th Street. While they had played the original Trips Festival and many dates at the Fillmore and Avalon, they also played many dances and soul clubs in the East Bay. They added horns, and after some false starts, a powerhouse vocalist named Linda Tillery, and released an under-rehearsed album on RCA in 1968. The band also had a brief national tour, and played all the clubs in the Bay Area.

The Loading Zone thus laid the blueprint for the progressive soul music of Bay Area bands like Sly and The Family Stone and Tower of Power. Indeed, a Zone roadie, high school student Steve Kupka, played baritone sax with the band’s horn section, when there was room on stage and he was allowed in the club. At one such gig, he met a Fremont band called The Motowns, and they joined forces to create Tower Of Power.

The Loading Zone, ca. 1968

The unique status of the Loading Zone led to a major research project on their history. Besides creating a log of all known performances, based on the information available to us at that time, Ross created a spectacular Loading Zone Family Tree. The Tree gives a well-articulated picture of how the band was formed, and what it created. In retrospect, we did a really good job on the 1960s Loading Zone. Our information on the band in the early 1970s, however, was very limited, and some of it was actually incorrect.

With new information sources easily available, I am beginning a series of posts about the performance history of the Loading Zone from 1970 through their breakup in September 1972. The logging of the band's gigs, large and small, also acts as a survey of the different types of bookings available to a working rock band in the Bay Area at the time. This post will focus on all the known performances of the Loading Zone from 1970. Anyone with updates, corrections, insights, recovered memories or flashbacks with respect to the Loading Zone is heartily encouraged to put them in the Comments.


Loading Zone guitarist Pete Shapiro on the front porch of the Loading Zone house on 14th Street in West Oakland, sometime around 1967 (the house was identified by Shapiro's then-girlfriend)

The Loading Zone-1960s
1966-The Loading Zone were formed out of the ashes of the Tom Paul Jazz Trio and The Marbles, a British Invasion-styled rock band. They debuted on January 14, 1966. The band pioneered a blend of rhythm and blues with psychedelic guitar solos, showing that the mix worked in both hippie ballrooms and regular R&B dance gigs. The Loading Zone played the Trips Festival and many other foundational ballroom events, while playing dance clubs at the same time.

1967-The Loading Zone expanded their membership, experimenting with a female vocalist, and adding a horn section on occasion. The band played gigs all over the Bay Area, particularly in the East Bay.

1968-In early 1968, the Loading Zone added the dynamic young vocalist Linda Tillery. Female lead vocalists for San Francisco bands were hot, and the Zone was signed to RCA. The band recorded their debut album, probably too soon, and went on a National tour when the album was released around June. The band continued to improve and got better and better notices, although the album did not reflect that (for a good representation of the '68 Loading Zone, here is a mis-dated tape from September '68).

1969-At the end of 1968, Linda Tillery was signed to a solo contract by Columbia Records. The Loading Zone marched on, with Paul Fauerso taking over the lead vocals from the organ chair. In May '69, some original members left the band and the group was reorganized around Fauerso. The new members had more sophisticated jazz backgrounds. The mid-69 model of the Zone mixed the original funky drive of the band with some advanced jazz sounds. Tillery, meanwhile, released the Sweet Linda Devine album on Columbia, produced by Al Kooper in mid-July. She toured around the Bay Area with a trio.

The Loading Zone's second album, One For All (Umbrella Records early 1970)

The Loading Zone-Performance History 1970
At the beginning of 1970, the lineup of the Loading Zone was
Steve Busfield-guitar
Ron Taormina-tenor sax
Pat O'Hara-trombone
Paul Fauerso-Hammond organ, vocals
Mike Eggleston-bass
George Marsh-drums

The Loading Zone was trying to find a middle ground between their established funky sound and their jazzier leanings. In fact, once again, the Loading Zone were running a train down a track that had not been finished. In the 1970s, plenty of bands would try and straddle the line between making fun, danceable music that was sophisticated, including Santana, The Crusaders, Earth Wind and Fire and many others, but the Loading Zone created that problem first, even if they didn't rise to the heights of those other bands. In early 1970, Loading Zone released their second album, One For All.  It was on Umbrella Records, and was essentially self-released, another ahead-of-their-time innovation. 

January 2-3, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Hell and High Water (Friday-Saturday)
Mandrake's had been open since about 1965. Initially it had booked blues and jazz, but rapidly expanded to include rock when that music became prominent around 1967. The little club was on at the corner of San Pablo Avenue and University Avenue (at 1048 University), a faint trace of when San Pablo had been "Music Row," serving WW2 factory workers with money in their pockets. The Loading Zone had played Mandrake's many times.

I only have what must be a tiny portion of the Loading Zone's bookings for 1970. Many of the dance clubs they played would not have advertised in the newspaper (nor in ones that have since been digitized). So we only have the outlines of the band's gigging schedule.

January 23-24, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Geno Skaggs (Friday-Saturday)
The fact that Loading Zone kept returning to the same clubs, though making for dull reading, was a sign that they had built an audience and that clubs found it worthwhile to book them repeatedly.

February 11-12, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday)
The Keystone Korner, in San Francisco at 750 Vallejo (at Powell), was just off Broadway. The club booked blues and bluesy rock acts, for the most part. I'm not certain if this was the first time the Zone had been booked there (probably they had played before), but in any case they would play there repeatedly, so it must have gone well.

February 13-14, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Tangen and Friedman (Friday-Saturday)
The New Orleans House was also on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, about a mile North of Mandrake's (at 1505 San Pablo, at Delaware St). It had been booking rock acts since late 1966, and had been one of the first Bay Area nightclubs (as opposed to ballrooms) booking original rock bands. The New Orleans House was fairly eclectic, booking some rock, songwriters, blues, jazz and folk, but the hybrid Loading Zone would have fit in nicely. Jan Tangen and Dave Friedman were a folk guitar duo.

February 20, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
The Lion's Share was at 60 Red Hill Avenue in San Anselmo, about 10 minutes West of downtown San Rafael. It held about 250, and served beer, wine and some food. It was sort of a local musicians hangout, but since so many musicians lived in Marin, it was oddly significant for that. For a band like the Loading Zone, it made a good gig, and probably a bunch of their musician friends came to see them, too. The Zone probably played on Saturday and maybe even Sunday night as well.

By March of 1970, there were some changes to the Loading Zone. Drummer George Marsh had left to join the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, a Columbia band built around guitarist Hahn and organist/vocalist Mike Finnegan (they would release an excellent, if obscure, album later in the year). I do not know who replaced Marsh in the Loading Zone drum chair. More importantly, Linda Tillery had been dropped by Columbia, and returned as lead vocalist of the Loading Zone.

In March of 1970, the new lineup of the Loading Zone was

Linda Tillery-vocals
Steve Busfield-guitar
Ron Taormina-tenor sax
Pat O'Hara-trombone
Paul Fauerso-Hammond organ, vocals
Mike Eggleston-bass

I know of no recordings from this era. Somehow, the Loading Zone would have had to reconcile the soulful power of Tillery's vocals with the jazz leanings of the rest of the band. Just to be clear--this could have been really, really great. Fauerso wasn't a bad singer, either, so the chance to have dual vocals could have added a lot to the band, as well.

March 13-14, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Friday-Saturday)
The reconfigured Loading Zone unveiled themselves at The New Orleans House. Again, the fact that they were regularly booked at the club was a sign that their past shows had been well-attended.

March 19-22, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Chuck Berry/It's A Beautiful Day/Loading Zone (Thursday-Sunday)
Back in September '69, the Loading Zone had opened for Chuck Berry at Fillmore West, and Bill Graham had hired them as Berry's backing band. We know this because there is a tape on Wolfgang's Vault, and the Zone sounded pretty good. There's every reason to think the Loading Zone backed Chuck on this weekend as well, even if we don't have a tape.

March 27-28, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Slo Loris (Friday-Saturday) 

April 2, 1970 Civic Auditorium, Stockton, CA: Youngbloods/Loading Zone/Staton Brothers (Thursday)
"Fillmore" was a golden name outside of San Francisco. The Youngbloods were established ballroom headliners, and they had increased in popularity since 'Get Together" had become a surprise hit in 1969. As for the Loading Zone, while their music was largely unknown, even by 1970 dorm rooms all over the country were full of colorful Fillmore posters, whether authentic or reprinted. So "Loading Zone" was a familiar name, even if fans weren't sure what they sounded like. 

Stockton , CA was about 75 miles West of Oakland, on the San Joaquin River. It was an important agricultural town for the Central Valley, and it was the entertainment center for the rural areas surrounding it. The Stockton Civic Auditorium, at 525 N. Center Street, had opened in 1925, and had a capacity of 5000. Its unlikely to have been filled by this booking, but the show could have been very successful with just a portion of the number. Rock fans in the Central Valley were used to getting Fillmore bands on school nights, and this would have been an appealing event to Stockton fans.

The Staton Brothers were an East Bay band from Hayward who had been signed by the Monkees' management around 1967. Jeff and Mike Staton were both singing guitarists, broadly in the style of Buffalo Springfield. The band had toured with the Springfield and others in the 1960s. In late 1972, the Staton Brothers would release an album on Epic, but there was a problem with distributors, so the album did not sell. Ultimately both Staton brothers worked with Stephen Bishop and many others as guitarists and songwriters, mostly based in Nashville. Since "Staton" was often misunderstood, and just an adopted name anyway, they used different names for their LA and Nashville work.

April 4, 1970 Quad, Irvington High School, Fremont, CA: Elvin Bishop Group/Loading Zone/Staton Brothers (Saturday)
Bill Graham's booking agency, the Millard Agency, specialized in bringing Fillmore West rock bands to the Bay Area suburbs around Northern California. Millard groups like Santana, the Elvin Bishop Group and Cold Blood were familiar from Fillmore posters, even if their music was barely known. In the suburbs, or Lake Tahoe, a flyer advertising "direct from San Francisco" was appealing to a lot of kids. Many rock fans were teenagers, and for many of them in the suburbs, the Fillmore West was off-limits. Some of them had a car, or a friend with a car, but their parents weren't going to let them drive to big, bad San Francisco at night. This probably went double for suburban daughters.

Fremont CA was a largely working class suburb at the time, the center of local agriculture, and anchored by a GM factory (now the Tesla plant). Fremont was in Southern Alameda County, right next to San Jose, half an hour from Oakland and 45 minutes from San Francisco. While Fremont parents may have been uneasy about San Francisco at night, a Saturday afternoon at the local High School would have been just fine. Irvington High (at 41800 Blacow Road) was a big public high school, and would have had plenty of young rock fans. This show would have been a good payday and allowed Elvin Bishop, the Zone and the Staton Brothers (another local group) to build an audience, too. Loading Zone was not booked by Millard, as far as I know, but Zone manager Ron Barnett had been working with Bill Graham since 1966.

April 10, 1970  Tea Room, Mills College Tea, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone and Sweet Linda Devine (Friday)
Mills College was a highly regarded women's college in the Oakland Hills. It was at 5000 MacArthur Blvd and Seminary Avenue, just above the Oakland Coliseum (Seminary is 59th Ave, and the Coliseum is at 66th). Mills College had been established in 1871, as the first Women's College West of the Rockies. A band like the Loading Zone would make good money playing college dances, so this would have been a good gig. Linda Tillery may not have been thrilled to be promoted as "Sweet Linda Devine" but that was probably just business.

April 11, 1970 South Cafeteria, College of San Mateo, San Mateo, CA:  Loading Zone/The Dusters/ Backyard Mamas (Saturday)
The College of San Mateo was a junior college in the hills above San Mateo, at 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd. The size of the student body was probably huge, although most of the students were probably part-time commuters. Back then, even junior colleges would have had entertainment budgets that would help support dances and other fun cultural events for the students. On a Saturday night, the student cafeteria would have been available, because the gym would have been in use for a sports event. California public school policy at the time (and no doubt still) was that any profits from an event would have to be donated, so the event was a benefit for the Peninsula Association for Retarded Children and Adults.

A promotional photo from the April 10, 1970 San Mateo Times shows a six-piece Loading Zone with Linda Tillery. This implicitly suggests that one of the horn players had left, but I can't tell for sure. 

A listing in the April 23-30 Berkeley Barb announces a benefit concert at the Fillmore West (or Winterland) on Wednesday April 29, 1970.

April 29, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/AB Skhy/Loading Zone
Benefit for Berkeley Defense fund (Wednesday)
Bill Graham would let organizations rent the Fillmore West on weeknights. In this case, the Barb advertised that this was a benefit for a Berkeley Defense Fund. It said "17 still in Santa Rita" (Santa Rita Jail, in Livermore,was the state lockup for those who had just been arrested). The ad also says "Fillmore West or Winterland." There's no telling if this actually took place.

Tower Of Power
Back in 1968, the Loading Zone had expanded to include a horn section. Initially, it featured tenor saxophonist Todd Anderson and trombonist Todd O'Hara. Sometimes, if there was room on the stage, and minors were allowed, teenage roadie Steve Kupka would join in on baritone sax. Kupka's father was a doctor, so he was nicknamed "Doc." On Saturday, July 13, 1968 the Loading Zone headlined the dance concert for the last night of the Alameda County Fair out in Pleasanton. Also on the bill were two local bands, the Lovestreet Offramp and The Motowns. The Lovestreet Offramp are unknown to me.  But we know about The Motowns.

Alto saxophonist Emilio Castillo's family was from Detroit, but they lived in Fremont. By 1968, Castillo had been a working musician since his high school days. In 1966, he had been led a band called The Gotham City Crimefighters, who played at a place called Wayne Manor in Sunnyvale (what, you've forgotten "Who Stole The Batmobile"?). When the Batman craze faded, although still in High School (Kennedy HS in Fremont), Castillo and his friends got more into soul music. They formed a group called The Extension Five. The Extension Five had turned into The Motowns, playing dances and clubs (when minors were allowed, or allowed to sneak in) in Southern Alameda County. Member included Castillo, his brother Jack on drums, Jody Lopez on guitar, Rocco Prestia on bass and Greg Adams on trumpet. By 1968, Skip Mesquite was probably on tenor sax. 

At the Alameda County Fair, Doc Kupka met the Motowns, a bunch of East Bay kids his age, playing soul music. Now, Loading Zone were barely in their twenties, but there was still some gap between them and Kupka, and the Zone had a psychedelic edge to them. The Motowns invited Kupka to jam with them, and he went over to a rehearsal with them at Castillo's house. Something happened--something really good. Doc Kupka joined The Motowns. By 1970, they were the Tower Of Power.

In 1969 and '70, Tower Of Power were regularly playing clubs in Oakland, mostly on Broadway (such as King Richard). The ABC cracked down on underage performers at one point, which cut down on their gigs, but the band just rehearsed more. Tower Of Power's big break came when they played the Tuesday Night Auditions at Fillmore West (an interesting story in its own right). Bill Graham used the auditions not only to find opening acts at Fillmore West, but also to find clients for his booking agency, management company and record label. 

Tower first played the Fillmore West around January of 1970, and Graham and his producers liked what they heard, but they told Emilio Castillo that he had to get a new guitarist and a new drummer. The guitarist was an old pal, and the drummer was his brother, but Castillo and the band made the change. Tower Of Power returned to the Tuesday night auditions on April 21, 1970, with Willie Fulton on guitar and the great Dave Garibaldi on drums, and that sealed the deal: Graham signed the band to his San Francisco Records label, distributed by Atlantic.

Once Tower Of Power was signed up with Graham, they weren't just a bunch of kids anymore, and they needed a manager. It's not surprising to find out that Tower signed up with Loading Zone manager Ron Barnett, since they already had a connection through Doc Kupka. I don't believe that Tower Of Power were booked by Graham's Millard Agency, but Barnett had been working with Graham since 1966, so there was a long history of cooperation.

An ad in the October 24, 1969 Oakland Tribune, for the Kings X at 4401 Piedmont (at Pleasant Valley)

As far as I know, Tower Of Power and Loading Zone shared a rehearsal hall in Oakland somewhere, and would end up sharing some musicians as well. They also played many gigs together. Ironically, if justly, it was Loading Zone that opened the door to hybrid soul-rock bands playing the Fillmores, but it was Tower Of Power who took Oakland soul to the National stage (with the Pointer Sisters close behind, I might add). In the 1970 period, many of Loading Zone and Tower Of Power's bookings were not rock gigs at all, but gigs in dance clubs in the East Bay, probably from Richmond to Fremont. Those clubs didn't advertise in the hippie underground or mainstream papers, so we have almost no traces of those shows.

In a fascinating interview with researcher Jake Feinberg, Paul Fauerso described sharing many gigs with Tower Of Power. One place he specifically mentioned was alternating sets all night with Tower at The King's X in Oakland. The King's X, at 4401 Piedmont Avenue, just across 51st Street, right near the Chapel Of Memories (old Oaklanders know what I mean), was a wonderful little restaurant at the edge of the commercial district, but near the Mountain View Cemetery. I used to go there regularly in the 1980s, but it no longer had bands any more. I miss the Kings X these days--and I didn't even get to see Tower and The Zone funking out until closing time.



May 16, 1970 Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, CA: Loading Zone with Linda Tillery/Charlie Musselwhite/Mose (Saturday) 

June 17-18, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday)
Two weeknights at the Keystone Korner seemed to be the end of the line for this configuration of the Loading Zone. Fauerso, after slugging it out as a professional musician for at least 6 years, dropped out of the music business. In the Feinberg interview, Fauerso mentioned getting a call around this time that Janis Joplin was putting a new band together. This group would become her Full Tilt Boogie band. Now, of course, an invitation was not a guarantee of employment, but the fact that he got a call was in indication of his standing in the San Francisco music scene. But Fauerso chose to focus on lecturing and writing about the then-new subject of Transcendental Meditation, and Loading Zone seemed to disintegrate.  

An ad for King Richards, at 310 Broadway in Oakland, from the April 21, 1969 Oakland Tribune. Jules Broussard, Al & Tom Coster had a residency on Monday and Tuesday nights

While it appeared that the Loading Zone would disappear with the departure of founder Paul Fauerso, the July 4, 1970 Chronicle mentioned that the Loading Zone has been "reorganized." Linda Tillery, the most recognizable person in the band, had in effect formed a new group using the Loading Zone name. Now, no doubt, they did some of the same songs, and roughly played in the same soul/jazz mode, so it wasn't misleading, but it was still a new group.

The reorganized Loading Zone in July 1970 had the following lineup:

Linda Tillery-vocals
Tom Coster-Hammond organ
Mike Eggleston-bass
Al Coster-drums

Tom and Al Coster had extensive jazz backgrounds. In the prior year, they had mostly been playing in a trio with saxophonist Jules Broussard. In 1969, I know they had a Monday/Tuesday residency at an Oakland club on 3rd and Broadway called King Richard (see the ad above). Tower Of Power would play regularly at that club later. The Coster brothers were probably personally well-known to the Loading Zone crew.

July 10, 1970  St. Elizabeth’s High School, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone with Linda Tillery/American Canyon (Friday)
The new-model Loading Zone made their debut at a dance at St. Elizabeth's, a Catholic School in the Fruitvale District (at 1516 33rd Avenue). Now, back in the 1960s, most Bay Area High Schools had the occasional Fillmore band play a dance or some event, but for some reason St. Elizabeth's dances in the 60s read like a Fillmore poster. I don't specifically know why so many good bands played there. In any case, Loading Zone was just one of many bands with Fillmore pedigrees who had played a dance there. For some of the private schools, their dances often allowed in students from other high schools (with student IDs), so there was a certain amount of publicity to encourage it.

At this point, being billed as "Loading Zone with Linda Tillery" was not just sound business, it was really true, as the band had been re-formed around her. American Canyon was a community near Napa, but it was also the name of a local band (probably from American Canyon).

July 16, 1970 Civic Auditorium, San Jose, CA: BB King/Loading Zone (Thursday)
The San Jose Civic Auditorium, at 135 W. San Carlos Avenue, had been built in 1934. The 3000-capacity auditorium was the South Bay's biggest rock venue for many years, and lots of classic bands played the building. There could hardly be a more classic act than BB King. The King's most recent album would have been Completely Well, released on Bluesway/ABC in December 1969. The album featured BB's biggest ever pop hit "The Thrill Is Gone" which reached #15 on the Billboard pop charts.

July 17-18, 1970  New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/The Crabs (Friday-Saturday)
The more public debut of the band was the next weekend at The New Orleans House, where they were billed as "The New Loading Zone." Also on the bill were The Crabs, a Berkeley "roots-rock" band (although that term was not yet in use).  

July 31-August 2, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Friday-Sunday)
The Loading Zone also returned for a weekend at another old standby, Mandrake's. Since the new Loading Zone was booked at all their old venues, and then re-booked regularly, they must have gone over pretty well. My own guess is that Linda Tillery backed by the Costers was more straightforward than the six or seven-piece band with some advanced jazz leanings. Now, Tom Coster was a pretty interesting organ player, and the music must have been extremely high quality, but it would have been less dense than it would be with numerous soloists.

August 7, 1970 The Odyssey, San Mateo, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
The Odyssey was at 1606 El Camino Real in San Mateo (at 16th Avenue, near CA-92 and the San Mateo Bridge). They booked local rock bands for a few months this Summer, and sent in their listing to the Berkeley Barb. I don't know anything else about the club.

August 14, 1970  Peninsula YMCA, San Mateo, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
The Peninsula YMCA, at 240 El Camino Real in San Mateo, was often for rent for events on Friday and Saturday night. Some local club was probably putting on a dance, and rented the gym. I presume the Loading Zone played numerous such weekend events in their time, but we only have trace evidence of them.

August 20, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Nazgul (Thursday)

August 21-22, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Pig Newton and the Wizards From Kansas (Friday-Saturday)
The Loading Zone had a return weekend at the New Orleans House, so the new band must have gone over well. The peculiarly-named Pig Newton and The Wizards From Kansas suggests a one-time ensemble featuring expatriate Kansas musicians, who may have included Mike Finnegan and Jerry Hahn, among others.

August 26, 1970 Football Field, Shasta College, Redding, CA: Loading Zone/People/Bittersweet/Crystal Axe/Rosey Bones/Seventh Dawn/Silver Hill/Trike (Wednesday)
Redding is about 200 miles North of Oakland, near Mt. Shasta. Far Northern California is very beautiful but thinly populated. The Junior College had been founded in 1950, but by 1965 it had expanded so much that it moved to a new, expansive campus at 11555 Oregon Trail, where it thrives today (incidentally, its likely that the road really did follow the track of the Oregon Trail). This seven-band event included two "big city" bands, including Oakland's Loading Zone and San Jose's People. Bittersweet was a band from Chico, and presumably the other bands were local. School wouldn't likely have been in session, so this was probably just a fun end-of-summer events. City rock bands didn't play Redding much, and there wasn't that much local entertainment, so the event was probably pretty well attended.

The Lion's Share, at 60 Red Hill Avenue in San Anselmo, sometime in the 1970s

August 28-30, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Cookin' Mama
The Loading Zone returned for an entire weekend at The Lion's Share, another sign the new band was a success. Cookin' Mama was a big horn band featuring vocalist Sherry Fox and guitarist Pat Thrall.

September 4-6, 1970 Frenchy's, Hayward, CA:  Cold Blood/Loading Zone/Charlie Musselwhite (Friday-Sunday)
Although it was in Southern Alameda County, Hayward was not the upscale, upper-middle-class commuter town that it is today. As noted above, much of the area East of Mission Boulevard was unincorporated farm land, and the biggest employer was the GM factory in Fremont. Frenchy's, way out on Mission Boulevard (at 29097 Mission, near Tennyson Rd), had been a big nightclub since the 1960s. Frenchy's had been through every fad, Go-Go dancers, topless, the British Invasion and all sorts of things. At different times, Frank Zappa and Sly and The Family Stone had played there. The club sold a lot of drinks and was one of the primary destinations for that part of the County.

September 17-19, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Sea Train (Thursday-Saturday)
Sea Train (aka Seatrain) had arisen out of the ashes of the Blues Project, who for convoluted reasons had reformed in San Francisco in 1968, even though the band had been founded in Greenwich Village in 1965. By 1970, Sea Train had moved from A&M Records (where they had released their debut album Sea Train) to Capitol, where they had released their album Seatrain. Their membership had changed in the meantime. By 1970, Seatrain featured guitarist/singer/songwriter Peter Rowan, keyboardist/singer/songwriter Lloyd Baskin and electric violinist Richard Greene. As before, bassist (and flautist) Andy Kulberg and drummer Roy Blumenfield remained. Since Greene and Rowan had wintered in Marin the previous year, the band had numerous pals in town. This was probably sort of a homecoming gig for Seatrain.

September 24-26, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Chuck Berry/Buddy Miles/Loading Zone (Thursday-Saturday)
The Loading Zone played yet another weekend at the Fillmore West, once again opening for Chuck Berry. It seems plausible that the Zone backed Berry, as they had before. If they did, only bassist Mike Eggleston would have actually had prior experience with it (having done it at least once, and possibly as many as four times). Tom and Al Coster were both jazz guys, so while I'm sure they could play rock and roll--I have seen Tom Coster live, I assure you he can play anything--it would have been somewhat out of character. Graham could have hired another local band to back Berry, of course, but it was usually simpler to let one of the opening acts do it.

October 2-4, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Bill Evans Trio/Loading Zone (Friday-Sunday)
The newspaper listings are a little ambiguous (as they often are), but based on the past history of Mandrake's, it seems likely that the Bill Evans Trio and Loading Zone were probably separate admissions, at least on Friday and Saturday night. It would have been well worth it, however, great jazz from an iconic pianist, and then dancing away the evening with Linda Tillery and the Costers.

October 27-28, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Vince Guaraldi/Loading Zone (Tuesday-Wednesday)
A few weeks later, The Loading Zone played two weeknights at Keystone Korner with another jazz great, Vince Guaraldi. Because it wasn't the weekend, there wouldn't have been separate admissions. Guaraldi, unlike almost all jazz musicians, had steady income from the Peanuts soundtracks, so he could play when he wanted to. Guaraldi loved performing but not touring, so he played clubs constantly around the San Francisco area, yet rarely left town.

At this time, the Keystone Korner was a blues and rock club, rather than a jazz club (which it became in Summer '72). According to definitive Guaraldi biographer Derrick Bang, however (whose book Vince Guaraldi At The Piano is a must-read for anyone interested in West Coast Jazz), it was a little-known fact that Guaraldi liked playing electric keyboards. So while he Guaraldi would play grand piano with his groups in traditional jazz venues, in some more "rock" oriented clubs he might be more likely to play a Fender Rhodes, with a big amplifier. Guaraldi often used Mike Clark as a drummer during this period (per Bang), so there could be some big sounds indeed coming from the bandstand.

October 30, 1970  Salesian High School, Richmond, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
Salesian High School was a Catholic High School in Richmond, at 2851 Salesian Avenue. It had opened as a Seminary in 1927, but started admitting High School boys in 1960. This was probably a school dance.

October 31, 1970  Montclair Recreation Center, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone (Saturday)
As the 1970s dawned, many Bay Area parents didn't really object to rock music, but weren't necessarily enamored of the idea of their children traveling to San Francisco or Berkeley at night just to see rock bands. In the Fall of 1970, the parents in the Montclair district of Oakland arranged to have rock shows on Saturday night at the local recreation center. The idea was to give kids something fun to do in their own neighborhood. There were rock shows most Friday nights for the next year. The bands were local, but they were good ones. Many of them had played the Fillmore West, and a few of them even had albums.

The Montclair Recreation Center was at 6300 Moraga Way, on the main road through Montclair, but just outside the district shopping area. The Rec Center was just above a Fire Station, and there was even a light show. The shows were listed in the Oakland Tribune, and supposedly there were flyers as well (although I've never seen them). The shows seem to have started on September 19, 1970 and the Loading Zone played five weeks later. The Zone played the Montclair Rec Center the next week, and then a few times after that, so it must have gone well.

November 4-5, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday)

November 7, 1970 Montclair Recreation Center, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone (Saturday)
There is a bit of uncertainty about whether the Zone played this date.

November 13-14, 1970 Basin Street West, San Francisco, CA: Aum/Loading Zone (Breakfast shows 2:30am Friday and Saturday)
Basin Street West was a jazz club at 401 Broadway in San Francisco. The Broadway district had been the Bay Area's nightlife district, between North Beach, the Financial District and the Bay Bridge. In the mid-60s, the clubs were mostly topless, and by 1970 the area was pretty unseemly. It wasn't such a good place for a music club, since parking was difficult and the atmosphere could be grimy. Still, Basin Street West had the occasional rock act.

Although the advertising in the SF Chronicle is confusing, it appears that AUM and Loading Zone were booked to do Friday and Saturday night "Breakfast Shows" from 2:30am-6:30am. Since bars closed at 2:00am, these shows were often musician hangouts. Officially, drinks were not served, although I'll be alcohol was available somehow. Due to some peculiarities in the SF Chronicle Datebook "Pink Section," this Breakfast Show booking was advertised every week through February. For reasons too granular to get into here, there is no reason to believe them to be accurate. I suspect that AUM and the Zone did play a month of Breakfast shows, however, or something like that. Breakfast shows did not interfere with other lucrative weekend bookings, and musicians often stay up all night anyway.

November 17-18, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Cold Blood/Loading Zone (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Cold Blood was booked by the Millard Agency, and even had an album. On weeknights, however, they were on par with the Loading Zone, so they were sharing a booking at Keystone Korner.

December 4-6, 1970  Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Righteous Brothers/Loading Zone (Friday-Sunday) The Righteous Brothers, "blue-eyed soul" singers Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, had been huge in the 60s, with hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Little Latin Lupe Lu." They had split up in 1968, but periodically got back together. The Frenchy's crowd had money, but wasn't a Fillmore audience--the Righteous Brothers would have fit the bill, and the Loading Zone would have kept everyone sweaty and dancing.

December 7, 1970 Club Francisco, San Francisco, CA: Jam Session (Monday)
In the December 8, 1970 Oakland Tribune, jazz writer Russ Wilson mentioned that local guitarist Eddie Duran had played the Monday night jam session with his new quartet (it may have been November 30). It included Tom and Al Coster (and bassist Peter Marshall). Obviously, with the Loading Zone obligations, the Costers could only play part-time with Duran. Still they probably played some weeknights with him around and about.

December 9-10, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday) 

December 17, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Beefy Red (Thursday)
The last 1970 gig I can find for the Loading Zone was at the Keystone Korner on a Thursday night. The opening act was a Marin band called Beefy Red. Beefy Red was a big, jazzy group with a horn section. They never recorded, but they had a few members who went on to musical success: Barry Finnerty on guitar, Jim Preston on drums and Mark Isham on trumpet.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Palo Alto Rock History Landscape and Navigation

998 San Antonio Road, site of the Big Beat and the Palo Alto Acid Test, as the building appeared in 2009

I have published a large number of blog posts about the 1960s and 70s rock history of Palo Alto, CA. The posts are scattered about several different blogs, and go back many years. They do a tell a story, of sorts, when seen together, so I have gathered them here. I had to do this for my own purposes, so it made the most sense to make this generally accessible.

The posts below are about the rock history of Palo Alto, Stanford University and some nearby towns. They cover landmarks, events and bands. Since bands don't really have a location, I have been broad-minded about what counts as a Palo Alto band. My one exception has been the Grateful Dead, where I have only noted them in relation to events actually occurring in or around Palo Alto. Here and there I have included posts from other scholars' blogs, where they have fit my scholarly interests. Nevertheless, I am not trying to make a complete list of other people's posts about Palo Alto, just mine. I have included a number of posts that are planned or in development, but not yet complete, in order to give a fuller picture.

I have included some material about San Mateo County and the Peninsula, mostly from 1966 and earlier, since it wouldn't fit anywhere else.

The Cabana Hotel, 4290 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, in 1963. It looked about the same in August 1965, when the Beatles stayed there. Palo Alto has never gotten over it. The co-owner's wife (Doris Day) wondered why there was a "statue of a Greek whore" in the fountain


Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows 1965-66 (Palo Alto I)
The Beatles stayed at the Cabana Hotel in August, and The Grateful Dead had an Acid Test on December 18, 1965. And so it began.

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows 1967 (Palo Alto II)
The Poppycock opens at the Western end of University Avenue, and downtown has a rock club. The city of Palo Alto holds some free "Be-In" concerts in the downtown park.

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows 1968 (Palo Alto III)
The Poppycock starts booking rock bands from around the Bay Area, and the city of Palo Alto keeps holding Be-Ins.

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows January-June 1969 (Palo Alto IV)
The Poppycock hits its high water mark in the first half of 1969, and University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto is almost, kind of, a happening place, at least at the Western end. 

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows July 1969-1970 (Palo Alto V)
In progress 

The Grateful Dead and Menlo Park
Whatever you think about the history of the Grateful Dead in Palo Alto, much of it was actually next door in Menlo Park.

Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Stanford Landmark Guide (So Many Roads II)
A guide to buildings (or at least locations) in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Stanford University that played a part in Grateful Dead history.

The New Delhi River Band formed in Summer 1966 in a house on Channing Avenue in Palo Alto. This flyer from August 1966 was their first known publicity. It was a band joke to constantly spell their name differently on different flyers.


The Tombstones (South Bay 1966)
The Tombstones were not particularly important, in the scheme of things, but they were more or less the first "house band" at The Big Beat, which was Palo Alto's first rock club.   

The Flowers>Solid State: South Bay Psychedelica 1966-68
The Flowers (later called Solid State) were actually from San Jose, but they were the house band at The Poppycock in 1967, and played the major Palo Alto Be-Ins. Along with the Ken Kesey connection, they were a significant part of the Palo Alto rock story (even if they mainly played jazz).

The Good News-Performance History 1966
The Good News were from Redwood City, two towns over (Northwards) from Palo Alto. They were the first Peninsula band to have their own light show (mainly strobe lights), and their membership included a number of players who went to other bands (Dave Torbert, Tim Abbott and Chris Herold). 

David Nelson and The New Delhi River Band, Summer 1966 (David Nelson I) 

David Nelson and The New Delhi River Band, Fall 1966 (Nelson II)

David Nelson And The New Delhi River Band, January-June 1967 (David Nelson III)  

David Nelson and The New Delhi River Band, July 1967-February 1968 (David Nelson IV)
Guitarist David Nelson, later famous as a founding member of the New Riders of The Purple Sage, was a critical part of Palo Alto's rock music history. Nelson, after working with Jerry Garcia in numerous bluegrass ensembles in 1963-64, ended up forming the New Delhi River Band, the second psychedelic blues band to come from Palo Alto. The NDRB story is our best insight about the underground rock scene in the South Bay in 1966 and '67.

Petrus w/Ruthann Friedman and Peter Kaukonen (Half Moon Bay, CA-1968)
Petrus seems to be about the only 60s rock band to ever make it out of Half Moon Bay. 60s bands on the Peninsula that were playing original music had to revolve around Palo Alto somewhat, as there were no other real options at the time.

The Poppycock, at 135 University Avenue, near the train station, was Palo Alto's leading (also only) psychedelic rock venue from 1967 through 1970. This ad was in the February 28, 1969 Stanford Daily.


The critical 60s Palo Alto rock venue was The Poppycock, at 135 University Avenue, right near the train tracks and the University. For details of The Poppycock, see the Palo Alto annual overviews listed above.

Jerry Garcia, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Peninsula School 1961-71
Peninsula School was (and still is) a forward looking K-8 school in Menlo Park, right near the Palo Alto border. Not surprisingly, it turns out to have numerous direct and indirect connections to Jerry Garcia.

Jerry Garcia, The Top Of The Tangent, 117 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 1963-64 (Lost And Found) 

Jerry Garcia Live on KZSU-am and fm, Stanford University, 1963-64 (KZSU I and FM Part Zero) 

Summer 1965, The Top of The Tangent, 117 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA: The Warlocks
The Top Of The Tangent, at 117 University Avenue, provided the launching pad for not only Jerry Garcia's career, but numerous other future Fillmore rockers as well. While it was a folk club, it played a critical role in the rock history of Palo Alto (and, in fact, the electric Warlocks actually played there in the Summer of 1965).    

The Warlocks At Palo Alto High School (Not!)
No matter how many times you've seen that poster, the Warlocks did not play Palo Alto High School. An interesting Comment Thread as well.

Tales from In Your Ear – Live Music in downtown Palo Alto 1971-72
Fellow scholar CryptDev has done an excellent job reviewing the performers at In Your Ear, the club that replaced the Poppycock in 1971-72. In Your Ear styled itself as a jazz club, but its actual musical offerings were broader than that

Live Music in Palo Alto1971-73 - Across the Tracks at Homer's Warehouse
CryptDev also reviews what can be discerned about the last gasp of downtown Palo Alto rock and roll, at Homer's Warehouse. Homer's Warehouse was a beer joint in a Quonset Hut behind the Town and Country shopping center, actually a better place for rock and roll than University Avenue. It was open from 1971 to '73. Ultimately, rock music in Palo Alto moved over to California Avenue (to Sophie's, which became Keystone Palo Alto, The Edge, Illusions and perhaps a few other names). I will eventually get to the Keystone Palo Alto story.

The December 2, 1966 Stanford Daily had an ad for a "Happening" at Wilbur Hall, the Freshman dorm complex, the following night. The featured performer was Big Brother And The Holding Company. Stanford University seems to have banned campus rock concerts after this event. Damn, it musta been fun.


January 25, 1964 Little Theater, College of San Mateo Folk Festival, San Mateo, CA: Black Mountain String Band 

January 16, 1965 Hootenanny, Peninsula YMCA, San Mateo, CA: Mother McRee’s Uptown Jug Band Champions 

December 3, 1966: 658 Escondido Drive, Stanford, CA: "A Happening In The Wilburness" with Big Brother and The Holding Company
At the end of Fall '66, the Stanford Freshman Dorm complex had a Multi-Media "Happening" with Big Brother and The Holding Company. That was it for rock concerts at Stanford. Man--must have been a hella good time. 

December 17, 1966 Christmas Dance, Ladera School Multipurpose Room, Ladera, CA: Grateful Dead/Rhythm Method Blues Band  
Ladera is an unincorporated community in San Mateo County, in the hills just above Palo Alto. They had "teen dances." On December 17, 1966, they had the Grateful Dead. Really.

June 16, 1967 Cubberley High School Graduation Dance, Palo Alto, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Freedom Highway
This post also includes a list of known performers at Palo Alto, Cubberley and Gunn High School dances from 1967-69 (of the bands that are "known" anyway) 

4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA Cabana Hyatt House "Cabana '67 Presents 'Who Is Miss Boutique'"-Music By The New Delhi River Band 

July 2, 1967, El Camino Park, Palo Alto, CA: Mary Poppins Umbrella Festival and Be-In
Palo Alto's second most legendary rock event (the first was the Beatles spending the night at the Cabana in 1965). The Grateful Dead played a free Be-In concert in downtown Palo Alto's biggest park. Researching this seemingly lost event was one of the reasons I began blogging.

100 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA June 23, 1968 Free You Be-In  

October 5-6, 1968 San Francisco International Pop Festival, Searsville Lake, Palo Alto, CA: Traffic/Iron Butterfly/Blue Cheer/Country Joe and The Fish/Steve Miller Band (canceled)
Stanford University blocked a plan by promoters to have a rock festival at Searsville Lake, right near campus. Tickets had actually been sold before the University canned it. It would have been a debacle. A legendary debacle, though. 

July 28, 1968 Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford U., Palo Alto, CA: Chambers Brothers/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin/Creedence Clearwater Revival/Santana Blues Band/Morning Glory (“Stanford Summer Rock”)
Rock music had finally gotten big enough  to use Stanford's best venue, the grassy bowl (capacity 6,900) of Frost Amphitheater. This Summer '68 concert was a success, paving the way for judicious use of Frost over the next few decades.

November 21, 1968-Los Altos High School Gym, Los Altos, CA: Santana/Quicksilver Messenger Service
Another fellow scholar (LightIntoAshes) makes a guest appearance to describe the remarkable findings in the 1969 Los Altos High School yearbook. Quicksilver and Santana headline a High School dance.  

August 2, 1969 Baylands Athletic Center, Embarcadero Road East, Palo Alto, CA: Eleven Hours, Eleven Bands (Last Palo Alto Be-In)
The final, thoroughly forgotten Palo Alto Be-In turns out to have been a Signpost To New Space.

October 5, 1969 Frost Amphitheater, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA Its A Beautiful Day/Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites/Cold Blood/Southern Comfort/Sanpaku/Old Davis  

New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Peninsula School, 920 Peninsula Way, Menlo Park, CA May 19, 1970
CryptDev's remarkable photos provide a trip back in time, when Jerry Garcia and the Riders played in the afternoon at Peninsula School.

October 3, 1971, Frost Ampitheater, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

December 31, 1974: Stanford Music Hall, Palo Alto, CA: Kingfish/Osiris  

August 9, 1975: Frost Amphitheater, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA: Eric Clapton/Kingfish 

January 9-10, 1976: Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: The Jerry Garcia Band with James Booker 

December 5, 1977: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA Robert Hunter and Comfort (Alligator Moon-FM XIV)

"So What" The Jerry Garcia Band: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA November 3, 1978 

An ad for the Tiger A Go Go in the San Mateo Times (Nov 12 '65)

El Camino Real, San Mateo County and The Peninsula

These posts about the Peninsula aren't really part of the Palo Alto story, but they provide a good counterpoint to how different downtown Palo Alto was compared to the rest of the El Camino Real. I threw in a few other posts about the Peninsula, just for completeness.

North To San Francisco: The Warlocks in The South Bay, 1965

November 12, 1965: Tiger A Go Go, San Francisco Airport Hilton, Burlingame 

1836 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA-The Nu Beat (later The Spectrum)  

Hart Music, 894 Laurel Avenue, San Carlos, CA 

4301 El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA: The Trip November 1966-Spring 68 

September 2, 1966, Ayn and Lyn Mattei Debutante Ball, La Dolphine Mansion, 1760 Manor Drive, Hillsborough, CA: The Grateful Dead/Al Trobe 

September 21, 1968 Pacific Recording, San Mateo, CA ("Jam with Vic and David")

December 12, 1981 Fiesta Hall, San Mateo County Fairgrounds, San Mateo, CA: Grateful Dead/Joan Baez/High Noon "Dance For Nuclear Disarmarment"

Saturday, October 3, 2020

September 1-6, 1970 960 Bush St, Troubadour North, San Francisco, CA: Elton John/David Ackles (New Era)

History is like the ocean, all-encompassing but very hard to track from close quarters. In music, unlike war or politics, it can be difficult to identify exactly when a historic moment changes. Once in a while, though, you do get to see it, and even put a date on it. Rock music in the early 1960s had been defined by London and the Beatles, but in the late 1960s it was defined by San Francisco. Rock music exploded in the minds of young people, with phenomenal economic returns as well. 60s rock in the United States had its own institutions: their own concert halls, modeled on the Fillmores, free-form FM radio, and hugely successful bands that seemed to owe little to the traditional starmaking machinery of New York and Los Angeles.

By the 1970s, that had changed. The studied indifference and self-important--some said self-indulgent--music of the Fillmore bands was replaced by "singer-songwriters," singing catchy, heartfelt songs that captured the imaginations and hearts of huge swaths of the listening public. The singer-songwriters of the era, like Carole King, James Taylor and Cat Stevens, came from all over, but they made it big in Los Angeles. In particular, the critical venue for early 70s LA was The Troubadour. The Troubadour had been opened by proprietor Doug Weston as a coffee shop back in 1957. By 1970, it was a bar where the best of the singer-songwriters played for the Los Angeles music industry, who in turn made them famous. Hollywood, whatever else you think, knows how to make stars.

When did the California rock zeitgeist move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, from the Fillmore West to the Troubadour? There could hardly be a more emblematic 1970s rock star than Elton John, and in his recent autobiography and biopic, he describes playing the Troubadour in a performance so ecstatic that he felt he lifted off the ground. Elton John's "career trajectory" was straight up like a rocket from then on. Yet the very next week, Elton played the entirely forgotten Troubadour North in San Francisco, rocked a packed house and got a sniffy review. San Francisco didn't notice, and Elton didn't remember. It didn't matter.

Elton John 1970

Elton John had been a working musician in England in the mid-60s, playing with Long John Baldry and others. He also had a songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin. Elton (birth name Reginald Dwight) had released his debut album Empty Sky in 1969. It was only released initially in the UK, and made little impact. In 1970, he released his second album, Elton John, but it was his first album released in the United States, on the tiny Uni label (DJM in the UK). Ultimately, there were two big hits off the record, "Your Song" and "Take Me To The Pilot," but the single wasn't released until October of 1970. Still, I believe that Elton's album was getting FM airplay on rock stations.

Elton's management sent him to America mainly to expose him to the music industry, so that he could get radio play. It was the form book for success in the 1970s. The old 60s model had been that bands toured all the Fillmore-type places, as well as the civic auditoriums and the rock festivals and college gyms, first as an opening act, then second and finally headlining. As a band became known, they started getting airplay on the local hippie FM stations. Bands like Ten Years After became huge on this model, without any really major records. The 1970s acts inverted this model--get big on the radio, and then rake in the concert receipts. In that sense, Elton John (along with his manager John Reid) were pioneers.

The Troubadour, The Whisky A-Go-Go and West Hollywood

In the latter 60s, bands made their bones in the ballrooms, with the light shows and people swaying. Word would pass on the underground telegraph that Cream or Quicksilver Messenger Service  or Ten Years After were great, and you would check them out the next time they came to town. There were a few rock nightclubs, but most fans weren't even 21 yet, and clubs in any case were too small to create much residual buzz, not compared to a college gym. There was one exception to this rule, however. The infamous Whisky-A-Go-Go club in West Hollywood (at 8901 Sunset Blvd) defied all these rules. Name bands played for union scale just to get heard. The Hollywood hip people, whether in the record industry or just cool cats, heard the bands and helped to decide who got some buzz. In August 1966, the house band at the Whisky were some unknown called The Doors, and they became as big as anybody. In January, 1969, a new group built on the ashes of the old Yardbirds played the Whisky, and within a week the word was out about Led Zeppelin.

Hollywood proper had been part of the city of Los Angeles since the 1930s. But West Hollywood was unincorporated, part of the county but not the city. It was insulated from the notorious Los Angeles police and the machinations of the LA City Council. Thus West Hollywood was, paradoxically, the entertainment district for Hollywood, and had been since the 1940s. There were clubs, restaurants and jazz, and plenty of stars came to hang out, and that was how tastes got made. Rock and roll wasn't that different. The Whisky had opened in 1964, and made "Go-Go" a thing. By 1966, the club had a new act every week, all trying to catch the Hollywood buzz. Cream and Jimi Hendrix each played there in 1967, for practically nothing, just to get heard. So did numerous other ambitious groups, because rocking the Whisky was a ticket to a big tour.

A mile East of the Whisky, however, was a former coffee shop called The Troubadour. Proprietor Doug Weston had opened the club in 1957, but by 1970 it had a full bar and regular performers. Initially it presented folk acts, and in a sense it still did. Electric instruments were standard fare by the end of the 60s, and the Troubadour wasn't for purists. But the Whisky was for rocking out, and the Troubadour was for reflection. Now, wherever you are on the spectrum of Elton John fandom, it's undeniable that he cut across a lot of boundaries. Bernie Taupin's lyrics were thoughtful, and Elton sang them with feeling. The songs were carefully arranged so the full impact of those lyrics could be heard. Yet even just with a trio, Elton John rocked hard, his piano covering a lot of musical territory. Elton could have rocked out the Whisky, no problem. But he played The Troubadour the week of August 25-30, 1970, and elevated it, and the era of the singer-songwriter had begun, with its most successful performer.

960 Bush Street in San Francisco, the site of Troubadour North, when it was the Boarding House (some years later in the 1970s)

The Troubadour North, 960 Bush Street, San Francisco

In 1969, rock music taste was being made in San Francisco. Mercury Records and Columbia Records were building studios in town, Wally Heider's, a big Hollywood studio, had opened a studio in the city, and so on. The biggest new act in the  country, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were recording in San Francisco.  Even after the initial Fillmore wave, bands like Sly and The Family Stone and Santana kept coming out of the city. The music industry was in Los Angeles and Manhattan, but San Francisco mattered. So The Troubadour, already an established presence in West Hollywood, and soon to become a world wide institution, decided to open a San Francisco affiliate. No one remembers.

The Troubadour North, as it was called, was at 960 Bush Street. The room, seating about 300, was a circular bowl with great sightlines. The building had been a recording studio (Coast Recorders), and the place sounded good. For a manager, Weston chose David Allen, the former house manager for San Francisco's famous 60s nightclub The Hungry i. I think the Troubadour North opened about August of 1970, maybe July. It was only open for a few months (closing on November 1) before it disappeared with hardly a trace. 960 Bush was between Union Square and Nob Hill, not really accessible from the suburbs and not easy to park. The Troubadour North site was ultimately revived in 1972 as The Boarding House, run by Allen, a much-beloved City club, but very different than the industry showcase that was Troubadour North.

September 1, 1970
Elton John played The Troubadour in West Hollywood from Tuesday August 25 through Sunday August 30. It made his career. The very next week, from Tuesday September 1 through Sunday September 6, he played The Troubadour North. Not only does no one in San Francisco seem to recall it, even the remarkable Eltonography site only vaguely alludes to the booking in its 1970 concert chronology (it says "date unknown").

The very first night, Tuesday September 1, was reviewed in detail  the next day (Sep 2) by San Francisco Examiner critic Michael Kelton. The key points of his review sum up why Elton wasn't going to break in San Francisco in 1970. The fact that he had busted out in West Hollywood tells you what you need to know. Kelton:

The trouble with  Elton John is that he's about as good as his publicity. His opening last night at the Troubadour was preceded by almost evangelistic Los Angeles notices, yet he drew enthusiastic applause throughout his inaugural San Francisco set and was rewarded finally by a standing ovation from a crowd composed primarily of news media representatives...

Outfitted in flashy red corduroy bib overalls, aluminum colored shoes, Donald Duck buttons and wire-rimmed glasses, John fits in nicely with the hippie-chic atmosphere of the Troubadour. He seems, at first glance, to deserve little more than a yawn.Why the raves? The music, undoubtedly...

John combines county funk with rhythm and blues, rock and roll and good old mainstream melodrama to create a sound that somehow seems to transcend derivation. It is also good listening. 

The most disconcerting aspect of John's act--for me at least--is that it is so obviously an act. He communicates, but a maturity of feeling is missing. The jumping about, hand-clapping and "soulfulness" he employed in the finale are purely dispensable.

Kelton's review is fair, and probably accurate. The music is excellent, and shows his influences without being a prisoner to them. Yet Elton's performance style is the opposite of Fillmore-cool, Jerry Garcia or Carlos Santana crouched and squinting over their guitars. Even more active Fillmore performers, like Sly Stone or Janis Joplin, had somehow branded themselves as "authentic," in the way contrary to a middle class Englishman in stage clothes framing himself as more artificial. Authenticity is a product of its time, and Jerry Garcia was no less of a performer than Elton John, if in fact his performance was just a guy in a black t-shirt playing a guitar. In terms of perception, San Francisco saw Elton as a talented musician with too much artifice, when Los Angeles saw the future. 

There could hardly be a more scientific comparison. The same venue in its Los Angeles and San Francisco incarnations, probably more or less the same sets, just one week apart, and media reps getting the first look. Los Angeles found a star, and sent him back to London as such, while San Francisco wrote him off. Now, sure--Elton played the Fillmore West a few months later (opening for The Kinks on the weekend of November 12-14, 1970) and apparently killed it. Elton played sold out concerts in the Bay Area for the next several decades, as he did everywhere else. But SF wasn't Elton John's town, not the way it was Eric Clapton's. And now we can put a date on it.

Appendix: James Kelton's San Francisco Examiner review September 2, 1970




9081 Santa Monica Blvd (at Doheny), West Hollywood (near Beverly Hills)




Friday, September 25, 2020

700 West 32nd Avenue, Los Angeles, CA Shrine Exposition Hall: Rock Concerts 1966-69 (Vintage LA)


The Shrine Auditorium and Exposition Hall was built in 1925 by the Al Malikah Temple of the Masonic Order.  The building is in a Spanish Colonial Style with a Moorish flair.  The main entrance to the Auditorium was at 665 West Jefferson Street.  The stage is huge (186 by 72 feet) and it is a popular home for the Academy Awards.  The Auditorium has 6,489 seats on three levels.  The Exposition Hall, part of the same complex but around the corner at 700 West 32nd (at Figueroa) is a 56,000 square foot open area that was (and is) used for trade shows and conventions as well as rock concerts.  The Expo Hall had a capacity of about 5,000. In the late 1960s, most rock concert listings that say “Shrine” are typically at the Exposition Hall rather than the Auditorium. From the 1970s onward, however, almost all rock concerts listed as "The Shrine" were at the Auditorium. 

Los Angeles, more than any other American city, traffics in the glorification of its own history, particularly when it comes to entertainment. LA always celebrates old theaters or nightclubs from brighter days, so often historical sites are better known now than they were back in the day. Looking at the best retro-LA sites, like VintageLA, is like reading about American popular culture history from the inside, and 60s rock history has its place in that world. VintageLA, for example--which I can't recommend enough--has features on the Aquarius Theater and The Whisky-A-Go-Go. Yet it has nothing about the Shrine Exposition Hall, which tried to be the Fillmore scene for Los Angeles. 

In another post, I discussed how the rise and decline of the Shrine Expo Hall was linked to the role of the Grateful Dead, as it was in so many cities. In the sixties, at least, Los Angeles didn't really warm up to the Dead, and whether cause or corollary, the Shrine Expo Hall was far less important than comparable venues in other city. 

In writing my post on the Grateful Dead at the Shrine Expo Hall, I discovered that there was no accessible on-line repository of 60s rock shows at Shrine Expo Hall. This post acts as a companion piece to the other post, mainly just listing of Fillmore-type rock concerts at the Shrine Exposition Hall in the late 60s.

FREAK OUT Hot Spots! Insert to the first Mothers of Invention album, with a map of underground sites in 1966 Los Angeles (Freak Out album released June 1966) 

August 13, 1966 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  Mothers of Invention/others
Los Angeles is an Entertainment industry town, and proud of it. Thus any cultural progression--new, contrarian, regressive, progressive, even revolutionary--gets assimilated into modern entertainment. Any performer who can be accused of "selling out" is also buying in, because it's the nature of the beast. In the Summer of '66, with the Vietnam War expanding, the Watts Riots still haunting the city and hair getting longer everywhere, Los Angeles had an underground rock scene, just like the Fillmore and Avalon. We like to think of Frank Zappa as an iconcoclast, or should I say, Frank wanted us to think that, but the very first Mothers Of Invention album included a map to LA's nascent 1966 underground.

One of the founding events of the Los Angeles underground was a show at the Shrine Exposition Hall on August 13, 1966, featuring the Mothers of Invention and several other (then unknown) acts. Just like the Family Dog events in San Francisco, Southern California "Freaks" suddenly realized there were a lot more people like them than they realized. The Shrine was apparently simply rented, probably because it was centrally located and available.

September 17, 1966 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Mothers of Invention/Little Gary Ferguson/Factory/Count 5/West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
October 15, 1966 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Little Gary Ferguson/Davie Allan & The Arrows/Kenny Dino/The Mugwumps/Dolores Johnson/The Way Out/The Fabs/Vito
“Freak-In” Presented By Pat Morgan

In September and October there were sequels at The Shrine Expo Hall. The Mothers headlined in September, with some other undergroundish bands, and there was a light show as well. The October event didn't advertise the Mothers, and there were none after that. I have no idea what happened at the third one--was it a financial debacle, or did the cops hassle everyone? In any case, there were no more Freak Outs, but the Shrine Expo Hall had been proven as a possible venue for Fillmore style "Dance Concerts."

December 18, 1966  Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company/Quicksilver  Messenger Service/Loving Impulse (possibly canceled)
Big Brother and Quicksilver booked a show at Shrine Expo Hall, and some ads circulate. I'm not convinced the concert actually took place. The importance of the ads, however, was that it meant that word had gotten around that the Shrine Expo Hall might make a Southern California Fillmore stand-in.

November 10-11, 1967 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Buffalo Springfield/Grateful Dead/Blue Cheer Pinnacle Concerts Presents
By the fall of 1967, almost every psychedelic rock band had played Los Angeles, at a wide variety of venues, but there was no venue that played the role of the Fillmore. At the Fillmore, the mere fact of playing there meant you were a hip band, and fans came just to see what was hip. All over the West Coast, there were comparable places--the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Eagles Auditorium in Seattle and The Retinal Circus in Vancouver, for example--but none in Southern California. The Kaleidoscope had been conceived to fill the void, but the City Council (and perhaps the cops) had throttled it pre-birth. There may have been a few hip little nightclubs, like the Magic Mushroom (at 11345 Ventura Blvd, formerly the Cinnamon Cinder), but no venue where the rising underground bands played profitably on a regular basis.

The first regular promoter of rock shows at the Shrine was Pinnacle Dance Concerts, the partnership of Sepp Donahower, Marc Chase and John Van Hamersveld. Supposedly some of the money was supplied by the heir to a cereal fortune, but that may be apocryphal. Pinnacle promoted concerts at the Shrine, both the Expo Hall and the Auditorium, on many weekends between November 1967 and August 1968. As far as I know, during the week the Shrine presented the usual run of corporate or civic events, but I don't know that for certain.

Van Hamersveld was a poster artist, at the time most famous for the promotional poster for the legendary surf film Endless Summer. By 1967, he was the the head of design for Capitol Records. Over the course of his career, Van Hamersheld did the covers for over 300 albums. Among his many, many classic album covers were the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street and the Grateful Dead's Skeletons From The Closet. Van Hamesveld did the posters for Pinnacle Productions, and many of the posters were so good that we remain familiar with them today.

After Pinnacle's debut with Buffalo Springfield and The Dead, they put on a series of shows at Shrine Exposition Hall. Pinnacle only used the Shrine on weekends, and not even all of them, and the Exposition Hall seems to have had the usual trade events and the like throughout the whole period. There weren't as many rock concerts at the Shrine as at the Fillmore, but Van Hammersveld's posters are fairly recognizable today. Pinnacle must have made at least some money, since they kept putting on shows.

December 15-16, 1967 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Moby Grape/Country Joe and The Fish/Blue Cheer Pinnacle Concerts Presents
The poster is very obscure

December 22-23, 1967 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: The Doors/Tim Buckley/Sweetwater
I am only indicating the Promoter when I can see it on a poster or read about it. The promoter for this weekend very likely was Pinnacle, but I don't know that yet.  Pinnacle seems to be on a plan to present shows two weekends a month at The Shrine Expo Hall, although that doesn't precisely work out on the calendar.

December 31, 1967 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Wolfman Jack's New Year's Eve Party
Wolfman Jack was, of course, the legendary dj who worked out of XERB in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, bringing R&B to teenagers across the West with 50,000 watts of power.. The bands at this event were probably a lot of fun--The Olympics, The Soul Survivors ("Expressway To Your Heart"), Sam & Dave and so on. But it wasn't the Fillmore crowd. I don't really know anything else about this show. Still, it was a sign that Shrine Expo Hall was just for rent, and it wasn't just rented to hippies.

January 12-13, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  Big Brother & The Holding Company/Blue Cheer/Mint Tattoo Pinnacle Presents

A handbill for the Jimi Hendrix Experience show at the Shrine Auditorium on February 10, 1968

February 10, 1968  Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA:  Jimi Hendrix Experience/Soft Machine/Electric Flag/Blue Cheer Pinnacle Concerts Presents
The most famous Pinnacle production at the Shrine has, ironically, had the effect of painting a misleading picture of Shrine concerts in the 1960s. Jimi Hendrix was not only huge, but a sensation. So, appropriately, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played the Shrine Auditorium. There were 6000 seats, instead of about 5000 for the Expo Hall, and reserved seats meant not only higher prices, but guaranteed places for important people. 

Since Hendrix was so rightfully famous, the poster and the event have had far more reach than any event at Shrine Expo Hall. So there has been an implicit, somewhat unstated assumption that "Shrine" rock concerts in the 60s were at the Auditorium. I believe there were more Shrine Auditorium concerts in the 1970s, as the rock market got bigger, and that lent weight to the assumption that 60s concerts were in the seated Auditorium.

February 23-24, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Charlie Musselwhite/The Ceyleib People/Clear Light

March 15-16, 1968  Shrine Exposition Hall  Los Angeles  Cream/Buffalo Springfield/James Cotton/Mint Tattoo Pinnacle Dance Concert
Buffalo Springfield was unbilled.

March 29-30, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Traffic/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Crumbs Pinnacle Presents

April 12-13, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Electric Flag/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Charley Musselwhite  High Torr Dance Concert
I have never understood who High Torr represented, and why they put on shows on a couple of weekends, instead of Pinnacle.

May 2-3-4, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company/Albert King/PG&E  Pinnacle Presents

May 10-11, 1968  Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Mothers of Invention/Charley Musselwhite Blues Band/Sweetwater High Torr Presents

May 17, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Grateful Dead/Steve Miller Band/Taj Mahal
May 18, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Grateful Dead/Steve Miller Band/Taj Mahal/
[with Jefferson Airplane as unbilled guests] Pinnacle Presents
By May of '68, Pinnacle had put on a steady run of hip shows at the Shrine Expo Hall. For the weekend of May 18-19, the Grateful Dead returned, along with another rising San Francisco group, the Steve Miller Band. The Miller Band had just released their debut album on Capitol, the great Children Of The Future. Taj Mahal was a well-known local act, whose debut album had just been (or was about to be) released on Columbia. 

In line with being cool, the Airplane "showed up" at the Grateful Dead concert on Saturday night. This was probably announced on FM radio. Pinnacle would not have had the Airplane drop in if ticket sales had been more robust. It's worth noting that the Dead, Airplane and Steve Miller were all playing the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival in Santa Clara this weekend. The Dead would have played the Shrine on Friday night, flown up to San Jose, played the Fairgrounds on Saturday afternoon, and then returned to the Shrine for the Saturday night show.

llumaniti Alert: in an interview, poster artist and Pinnacle partner John Van Hammerseld, interviewed in Paul Grushkin's Art Of Rock book (p.255), says that George Lucas was part of the light show crew at some point in 67-68. So for those of you who feel that there was a secret connection between the Grateful Dead and Star Wars...

May 24-25, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Chambers Brothers/Dr. John The Night Tripper/Velvet Underground/Salvation  Pinnacle Presents
Velvet Underground did not appear, and were replaced by Electric Flag. There is some intimation that Blues Project played, but that group only barely existed at the time and were based in the Bay Area.

May 31-June 1, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  The Yardbirds/B.B. King/Sons of Champlin  Pinnacle Presents

June 14-15, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Chambers Brothers/Chuck Berry/Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Pinnacle Presents
This date is only known from the well-known Who poster for the end of June (below). I do not know if the show actually happened. I do know that Fleetwood Mac did not debut in North America until June 28. The Chambers Brothers had a big hit with "Time Has Come Today," so the show very well may have come off.

June 28-29, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: The Who/Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac/Crazy World of Arthur Brown Pinnacle Presents
This was Fleetwood Mac’s American live debut. They had been scheduled for a few shows earlier in the month in San Francisco, but the band was delayed by visa problems. The Mac was still the original 4-piece lineup (Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood) as Danny Kirwan would not join until August.

The second night (June 29) Steve Miller Band replaced Crazy World of Arthur Brown, due to an injury in the band.

July 11, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Grateful Dead/Blue Cheer
July 12-13, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Butterfield Blues Band/Velvet Underground/Sly and The Family Stone/The Rockets
Pinnacle Presents
The Grateful Dead returned in 1968 to headline a rare Thursday show at Shrine Expo Hall. It's hard to read the poster (done by Neon Park), but I'm not sure if it was a Pinnacle show. Certainly Pinnacle produced the weekend show, with a triple bill of Butterfield Blues Band, Sly and The Family Stone and the Velvet Underground. Presumably, the fact the Dead could play on a Thursday suggested they had an audience, but they weren't a big enough draw for a weekend show. 

The Rockets would go on to become Crazy Horse, and work with Neil Young.

July 19-20, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Love/Rhinoceros
Another poster has Iron Butterfly/Barry Goldberg Reunion/The Collectors. I don't have any more information.

July 26-27, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Pink Floyd/Jeff Beck/Blue Cheer Pinnacle Presents

August 2, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Electric Flag/Ornette Coleman/Jeff Beck Group/Charles Lloyd/Rockets
August 3, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Jeff Beck Group/Blue Cheer/Steve Miller Band/Big Mama Thornton and the original Hound Dog Band/Charles LloydAugust 4, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  Butterfield Blues Band/Ike & Tina Turner/Electric Flag/Magic Sam/Steve Miller Band/Kaleidoscope
Pinnacle Presents
A poster shows Pinnacle presenting all this weekend's shows. Mike Bloomfield had left Electric Flag by this time. If the group played on Friday (Aug 2) and Sunday (Aug 4), it would have been among their last gigs.

August 4-5, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Buddy Miles Express/Taj Mahal And His Great Plains Boogie Band/The Rockets
A newspaper ad says “Lifeline Presents a New Season At The Shrine.” This conflicts with the August 4 date above, but those dates have always been a bit uncertain. As is typical with the Shrine, it's unclear who "Lifeline" was, why they would book shows on a Sunday and Monday night, and why it might conflict with a pre-existing Pinnacle booking.

To add to the confusion, the disintegrating Electric Flag renamed themselves the Buddy Miles Express, since Miles was leading the band anyway. It makes even less sense that a band would play the same venue a few days after re-naming itself. Possibly the "Lifeline" ads are mis-dated, and replaced the Pinnacle weekend bookings.

August 23-24, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Grateful Dead/Taj Mahal/others Pinnacle Presents
The Grateful Dead released one of their many archival cds (1992's Two From The Vault) from these Shrine shows. While a beautifully restored tape, in the Grateful Dead tradition, the liner notes suggest that the Dead played the Auditorium when they in fact played the Expo Hall. Clearly, everyone seems to have had a memory lapse... 

August 30-31, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Barry Goldberg Reunion/Charlie Musselwhite/The Rockets 
Known from a newspaper ad. The ad says “Fresh Air: Arbor Day Presents Blues”

September 6-7, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: John Mayall/Junior Wells/Taj Mahal Pinnacle Presents
Pinnacle's last stand.  John Mayall's new Blues From Laurel Canyon quartet (with future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor leading the way, plus bassist Stephen Thompson and drummer Colin Allen) makes their American debut. According to Mayall (in Chris Hjort's indispensable Strange Brew book), Mayall called it "a big hit." This weekend is the last Pinnacle promotion.

An ad for a canceled concert at the Shrine Expo Hall on September 27-28, 1968, presented by "Zenith Sunrise," and featuring the Grateful Dead and Buddy Miles Express

September 27-28, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Grateful Dead/Buddy Miles Express/Black Pearl/Little John Farm  [canceled] Zenith Sunrise presents
The Pinnacle company fell apart after August. An intriguing artifact is this poster for scheduled Grateful Dead concerts at Shrine Expo on the weekend of September 27-28. The poster says the shows will be presented by Zenith Sunrise. The concerts never happened. Presumably, Zenith Sunrise was a reformed version of Pinnacle, but it didn't happen. Much of the Pinnacle team reconvened as Scenic Sounds, and started putting on shows around Southern California. The Dead were very loyal to promoters, so I assume that if they took the September booking, it would have been with the same principals as Pinnacle.

November 2, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Iron Butterfly Scenic Sounds presents
The Pinnacle group reconstituted itself as Scenic Sounds. I know that John Van Hammersveld was the Art Director for Capitol Records by this time, and the cereal heir was gone (if he was ever really there). Scenic Sounds rented Shrine Expo Hall again for a few more shows in the Fall.

November 9, 1968  Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:   Love

November 29-30, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Jeff Beck/Moody Blues/Ten Years After/Mint Tattoo Scenic Sounds presents
We know for certain from the poster that Scenic Sounds promoted this show.

December 6-7, 1968  Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  Mothers of Invention/Easy Chair/GTO’s/Alice Cooper/Wild Man Fischer
Frank Zappa and his manager (Herb Cohen) had two "imprints" (vanity labels) on Warners, Bizarre Records and Straight Records. This weekend was a celebration of all the acts on the label, probably subsidized by Warners. Presumably, the Scenic Sounds team ran the show. 

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band may have played, unbilled (per fellow scholar Charles Ulrich) Easy Chair featured Jeff Simmons (was he playing Comedy Music?). All of the acts are now infamous or famous.

December 20-21, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  Grateful Dead/Country Joe and The Fish/Spirit/Pulse/Sir Douglas Quintet/Mint Tattoo Scenic Sounds presents
It is largely forgotten that outside of San Francisco, Country Joe and The Fish had a higher profile than the Grateful Dead. Since Country Joe and The Fish had no bass player at the time, Mark Andes of Spirit filled the chair for these shows, per eyewitnesses.

There were two stages, apparently, to speed up the set changes. Still, it must have been a long evening.

December 31, 1968 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Canned Heat/Pogo/Lee Micheals/Black Pearl/Love Army/Sweetwater Scenic Sounds presents a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza.
"Pogo" was Poco (Richie Furay, Jim Messina et al) before they changed their name. I know almost nothing else about this show save for the fact that it was advertised.

January 11, 1969 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Vanilla Fudge/Spirit
Vanilla Fudge was the main touring act for Concerts West. In the Pacific Northwest, they had been booked with the newly-arrived Led Zeppelin. By January 11, however, Led Zeppelin was killing it at Fillmore West, and the Fudge were just another band past their prime. Spirit was probably good, though.

January 24-25, 1969 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:   Mothers of Invention/Sir Douglas Quintet/Fleetwood Mac/Black Pearl (double shows each night)
Fleetwood Mac released a cd in the 1990s, recorded on January 25. Apparently there were double shows each night, probably an effort to turn over the house and make it more profitable. The fact that this approach was only tried once suggests it wasn't a viable idea (I'm not even certain it happened that way). I can't tell from the poster who might have promoted this show.

January 31-February 1, 1969 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA:  Pacific Gas & Electric/Charles Lloyd/James Cotton/Things To Come Scenic Sounds presents
The last Scenic Sounds event couldn't have sold a lot of tickets. In fact, the music would have been pretty good: P,G&E were a funky blues band from San Francisco, James Cotton and Charles Lloyd were always great, and Things To Come was a rising band on the LA club circuit. But who was going to buy tickets and drive over to see it? By definition, there are always million things to do in LA, and all teenagers had access to cars--why would they go see some obscure band from SF, even with some quality blues and jazz acts on the bill?

After this, Scenic Sounds moved their operation to The Rose Palace in Pasadena, and they no longer put on concerts at The Shrine. The Expo Hall and Theater were still rented out occasionally to concert promoters, however.

October 31, 1969 Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA: Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Geronimo Black/Smoke/Eric Burdon/Southwind/C.K. Strong/Gypsy
“LA Rumor Control and Information Center Presents.”
The last gasp of Shrine Expo in the 60s was Halloween '69. I don't know who the promoter really was. The ad just says “The Shrine.”  Eric Burdon would have played with War. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends were mostly playing Topanga Canyon, and would not become well known until Eric Clapton toured with them a few months later. CK Strong featured singer Lynn Carey, who would later be in Mama Lion (the Mama Lion album cover is infamous, but don't google it at work, even though it was a legit album).

Aftermath: Pacific Presentations
The significant impact of Pinnacle concerts at Shrine Expo was the genesis of subsequent concert promotion companies. The Pinnacle team became Scenic Sounds. In early '69, Scenic Sounds started booking regular concerts on weekends at the Rose Palace in Pasadena. Many of the same bands who played The Shrine returned to play The Rose Palace. The ever-loyal Grateful Dead, for example,  played for Scenic twice more at the Rose Palace, on March 21-22, 1969 and then again on May 10.

Scenic Sounds in turn became Pacific Presentations. Pacific put on concerts all over the country, particularly in secondary markets like San Antonio or Rochester, where there weren't major promoters. Band like the Dead and Ten Year After were willing to play the hinterlands, but they wanted to work with promoters they already knew, so Pacific Presentations promoted a lot of shows all over the country.

Pacific grew into one of the largest concert companies in the United States, promoting thousands of concerts all over the US and Canada. The company established and popularized venues such as the Hollywood Palladium, and the Santa Barbara County Bowl. Pacific put together California Jam in 1974, which set the record for paid attendance. The company also promoted entire tours of Rod Stewart & The Faces all through the 1970s, helping make the artist one of the biggest attractions in the world. In the late 1970s, Gary Perkins, Brian Murphy, and Bob Bogdanovich split from Pacific and formed Avalon Attractions. Danny Kresky was also with Pacific. After around four years, Danny left to start his own company, DKE in Pittsburgh. Donahower stayed with Pacific and promoted tours with Bob Marley & The Wailers and other attractions. 
Sepp Donahower is currently the sole owner of Pacific Presentations. After Perkins left Avalon a few years later, Irving Azoff and Bob Getties bought into Avalon and it was sold to SFX a few years later. SFX was then sold to Clear Channel, and Clear Channel spun off their concert company into Live Nation, which now has merged with Ticketmaster.