|The Keystone Berkeley, at 2119 University Avenue (at Shattuck), some time in the early 80s|
60s and 70s Rock Nightclub History Navigation and Tracker
Over the years, I have done detailed research into the performance histories of various rock music nightclubs in the 1960s and 70s. The goal has always been to identify an exact record of every musical performer at a club over a given period. Due to the paucity of sources, sometimes the chronicle may be incomplete, but not for lack of effort. In some cases, for less well-documented clubs, the goal is to identify every performer, even if the exact nights of their performances can't be nailed down.
60s rock found its footing in psychedelic ballrooms, and moved on up to civic auditoriums and basketball arenas. By the 1970s, the big business of rock touring took away many of the regional differences. If you saw the Grateful Dead, or Mott The Hoople or the Doobie Brothers in San Francisco, Des Moines or Boston, it was probably pretty much the same in each city. As the biggest bands moved up to the auditoriums, however, the rock audience got older and found that they liked a drink while watching music.
Rock nightclubs, rare in the 60s, were common in the 1970s. Unlike the big arenas, there were distinct differences between regions. There were even differences between parts of the Bay Area. The demographics of parking, FM radio and economies made each club distinct from its competitors, at least for a while. I have not used a precise definition of what makes a "rock nightclub," but the general criteria are:
- Original live rock music (with some exceptions, perhaps)
- Liquor (at least beer)
- Tables and chairs (at least some of the time)
This excludes rock venues with a bar in the back, or coffee shops. There isn't a size limit to my analysis, but my goal is to look at the middle tier of 60s and 70s rock.
By identifying a complete list, the club histories skew away from impressionistic memories that can be clouded by nostalgia. Seeing who was actually booked, the status of that performer at the time--as opposed to how important they would become later--gives a clear picture of the economic forces of any club, and in turn can be revealing about the city and the regional rock scene at the time.
I would not have been able to complete all this work without the assistance of co-conspirators. The Chicken On A Unicycle website has been a joint effort. As to the blogs, the Comment Threads are filled with detailed updates from known and unknown participants, greatly enhancing the scholarship.
This tracker has links to various associated pages on Chicken and specific blog posts. Here and there I also link to a few other posts by others that fulfill my needs. Some forthcoming posts are listed (without links yet, of course) in anticipation of the future.
| A Tom Weller flyer for Country Joe and The Fish at Berkeley's Jabberwock, November 1-3, 1966|
Berkeley Rock Nightclubs
The Jabberwock, 2901 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 1964-67
The Jabberwock was a folk club, but it gave birth to Country Joe and The Fish.
The Questing Beast, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Performance History 1965-66
County Joe and The Fish got started at the Jabberwock, but they went electric at the Questing Beast.
New Orleans House, 1505 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listing 1966-1970
The New Orleans, opened as a home for New Orleans-style jazz, rapidly became a rock club by 1966. It was the primary nightclub for original rock music in Berkeley throughout the 1960s. We attempt to identify every performer from 1967 to 1969, and its an excellent survey of original California rock bands just one tier below the Fillmore and Avalon.
Freight and Salvage, 1827 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listing 1968-70
The Freight and Salvage was really a folk club, but it was founded by Berkeley hippies in 1968, and it was part of the rock music community, in it own way. We attempt to identify every performer at the Freight and Salvage in 1968 and '69, and its a primer on American music over the next 50 years.
Mandrake's, 1048 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance List 1965-1973
Mandrake's, a converted pool hall on University and San Pablo, mainly presented blues and jazz, but by the end of the 1960s, it presented a lot of rock as well.
The Babylon, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listings 1969-70
The Babylon featured original rock music, almost all from local East Bay bands.
The Long Branch, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performers Listing May-December 1971
The Long Branch, at the infamous Berkeley music address of 2504 San Pablo, expanded the building and replaced the Babylon in May 1971. This post is a detailed discussion of every performer who was known to have played the Long Branch in 1971, even if some dates are uncertain.
Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listings 1972
The Keystone Berkeley replaced the New Monk, going from a fraternity beer joint to Berkeley's primary rock club throughout the 1970s. This post is a detailed discussion of every performer who played Keystone Berkeley in 1972.
Jerry Garcia played the Keystone Berkeley at least 243 times. His relationship to Keystone Berkeley was unique to Garcia's career, and an essential lynchpin of the club.
Bay Area Survey Rock Nightclub Survey, January-April 1974 Performance Listings
A snapshot of East Bay rock nightclubs in 1974, including analysis of performers for Keystone Berkeley (January), the Long Branch (February), Bill Graham Presents (March, at Winterland and Berkeley Community Theater) and the Freight and Salvage (April).
San Francisco Rock Nightclubs
The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA Performance Listing 1965-70
The Matrix was San Francisco's first, and for a while only, hippie rock night club. This page is a list of performers at the Matrix, to the best of our knowledge.
The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: Performer Listing January-June 1970 (Matrix I)
This post provides a detailed analysis of all the known performers at the Matrix during the first half of 1970. As the tiny Matrix became a less lucrative gig, the club turned into a musician's hangout and the music played was pretty interesting. Not least--besides Bruce Springsteen dropping in--Jerry Garcia began his long collaboration with bassist John Kahn.
The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: Performer Listing July-September 1970 (Matrix II)
Continued analysis of performers at the Matrix in 1970. Merl Saunders joins Garcia and Kahn.
The Matrix is in decline a club, but it is all the more fascinating for having become Jerry Garcia's hangout.
Whisky A Go-Go, San Francisco, 568 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA: March 11, 1967
The West Hollywood Whisky A-Go-Go had a long forgotten San Francisco branch. I obtained a photo of the Grateful Dead's performance there on March 11, 1967. I discuss what little is known about the club, with some links to other posts.
2629 Bayshore Blvd, San Francisco, CA The Moonrose Forest (formerly George's Log Cabin) November 1969
Bay Area Rock Nightclub Survey, May-September 1974
A snapshot of Bay Area rock nightclubs in 1974, including analysis of performers at The Great American Music Hall (May), the Boarding House (June), the Orphanage (July), the Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati (August) and the Lion's Share in San Anselmo (September).
Palo Alto Rock Nightclubs
Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, 1965-66 (Palo Alto I)
Palo Alto, to hear Palo Altans tell it, was the birthplace of psychedelic rock. Palo Alto's first rock nightclub was The Big Beat, at 998 San Antonio Road. Right before it opened, the club was rented by The Merry Pranksters for the Palo Alto Acid Test on December 18, 1965, with the Grateful Dead providing the music. The Big Beat was never that interesting again.
Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, 1967 (Palo Alto II)
In April, 1967, The Poppycock opened in downtown Palo Alto, at 135 University Avenue. It presented original rock bands, and downtown Palo Alto slowly came to life. I list what is known about performers at The Poppycock this year (and elsewhere in Palo Alto).
Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, 1968 (Palo Alto III)
In 1968, the modest Poppycock books a lot of good Bay Area rock bands. I review the status of all the known performers from the year.
Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, January-June 1969 (Palo Alto IV)
Rock music is exploding in the Bay Area, and some really good bands play the Poppycock. The club is starting to seem on the small side, however. This post identifies all the Poppycock performers from the first half of 1969.
Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, July-December 1969 (Palo Alto V)
In the second half of 1969, the Poppycock has become too small to compete with other venues. Some really good bands play the club on weeknights, some that really interest us today, but the club was wearing out its welcome in downtown Palo Alto. It would close quietly in mid-1970.
In Your Ear, 135 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA: Performer Listing, May 1971-December 1972
In Your Ear opened at the site of the Poppycock (135 University). Nominally, it was a jazz club, but it had a broad booking policy that included jazz, blues and rock. A fire on New Year's Eve 1972 closed the club. Fellow scholar CryptDev has the details of all the known performers.
Homer's Warehouse, 79 Homer Lane, Palo Alto, CA: Performer Listing 1971-73
Quiet Palo Alto did not like the noisy rock of the Poppycock downtown. A few blocks away, and quite literally across the railroad tracks, Homer's Warehouse booked bands in a quonset hut that was formerly a warehouse. The fun lasted until 1973. CryptDev has what details survive of the known performers.
Sophie's, 260 S. California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA: Performer Listing 1976
After a quiet period, rock music returned to Palo Alto. This time, however, it wasn't downtown, but rather on the main street of what was formerly Mayfield, the rowdy predecessor to Palo Alto. Sophie's opened in 1975. I review the performers in 1976, when the club was migrating from just being a Top 40 dance bar to an original music club (Sophie's would become the Keystone Palo Alto in 1977).
Palo Alto Rock History Navigation
I have a page listing all my Palo Alto and South Bay posts, including Night Clubs, other venues and some bands.
|The Leaves, opening the Whisky A-Go-Go in Sunnyvale, August 1965|
Bay Area Rock Nightclubs
These are some pages and posts to assorted rock nightclubs around the Bay Area
Whisky A-Go-Go, Washington and Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA: Fall 1965
Briefly, there was a franchise of West Hollywood's legendary Whisky A-Go-Go in suburban Sunnyvale, between San Jose and Palo Alto. It only lasted a few months--but we have photos.
Wayne Manor, Washington and Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA: 1966-68
The Sunnyvale Whisky closed, and then re-opened as Wayne Manor, a Batman-themed club. At the time, the comic book was a popular TV show.
Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Performance Listings, January-June 1966
There were very few rock clubs booking original music in the Bay Area in early 1966, but Frenchy's, at 29907 Mission Boulevard in Hayward, was one of them. Far more interesting than you might think.
Inn Of The Beginning, 8201 Redwood Highway, Cotati, CA: Performance Listings 1968-75
A complete list of performers at the Inn Of The Beginning from 1968-75, albeit without commentary.
Chateau Liberte, 22700 Old Santa Cruz Highway, Los Gatos, CA
The Chateau Liberte was a legendary early 1970s nightclub, but I have been unable to find a consistent source for bookings. This post is a meditation on the peculiar economics of the club itself (with a picture of the Zig Zag Man swimming pool).
West Hollywood Rock Nightclubs
Whisky A-Go-Go, West Hollywood, CA: Performance List 1966-70
The Whisky A-Go-Go in West Hollywood started as a dance club, but it became America's first high profile rock club. Local bands and touring bands wanted to play the tiny Whisky in the 60s, just to see and be seen.
The Trip, West Hollywood, CA: Performers List 1965-66
Elmer Valentine, the proprietor of the Whisky A-Go-Go, had another West Hollywood club, The Trip (at 8572 W. Sunset). The Trip was more attuned to the psychedelic era, and the Valentine migrated the booking policy of The Trip over to the Whisky.
Thee Experience, 7551 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA: Performance List March-December 1969
Thee Experience was an intriguing competitor for The Whisky A-Go-Go, but it was only open for several months in 1969.
Thee Experience proprietor opened an "upscale" rock club called Thee Experience, and the club opened with the acoustic Grateful Dead. The club was ahead of its time, but didn't last.
The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA Performance List January-April 1970 (Troubadour I)
The Troubadour had been open (in some form) since 1957, and while generally a folk club, it took on critical importance in the early 1970s. If rising singer-songwriters wanted to make it big, they had to play the Troubadour.
The Troubadour, West Hollywood and San Francisco, CA: Performance List May-August 1970 (Troubadour II)
The Troubadour expanded its footprint beyond Hollywood and opened a branch at 960 Bush Street in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Troubadour closed with barely a trace, while the West Hollywood club continued to thrive.
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List 1965 (Au Go Go I)
The Cafe Au Go Go was Greenwich Village's main rock club from 1965 through 1969.
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1966 (Au Go Go II)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-December 1967 (Au Go Go III)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1967 (Au Go Go IV)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-December 1967 (Au Go Go V)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1968 (Au Go Go VI)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-December 1968 (Au Go Go VII)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1969 (Au Go Go VII)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-October 1969 (Au Go Go IX)
Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List 1964-1965 (Au Go Go pre-rock)
|Oakland's Loading Zone, ca 1968|
Band Performance Histories
The performance history of some smaller bands gives us a good snapshot of Bay Area venues at the time, including the various clubs.
There was a tangle of related bands, the Vipers, Universal Parking Lot, Blue House Basement, Phoenix, Mt. Rushmore and Potter's Wheel. We sort them out.
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Performance List 1969
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen migrated from Ann Arbor, MI to Berkeley in the Summer of 1969, and played every gig in town.
Loading Zone Performance List 1970 (Loading Zone I)
Loading Zone Performance List 1971 (Loading Zone II)
The Lost Horizons series are intriguing bits of research where the story remains just out of reach.
February 6-7, 1970, Red Ram, 444 E Williams St, San Jose, CA: Bronze Hog (Lost Horizons II)
|998 San Antonio Road, site of the Big Beat and the Palo Alto Acid Test (as of 2009)|
These posts are about specific events at (mostly) Bay Area nightclubs. Included for completeness.January 23, 1966 Whisky-A-Go-Go, San Francisco, CA: The Hedds
Questing Beast, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA
The demise of the Questing Beast.
1048 University Avenue, Berkeley-Mandrake's
527 comments in the thread, read them all (really)
September 9, 1971 Gold St Club, San Francisco: Pigpen
The Matrix, San Francisco, CA (412 Broadway): 1973 Shows
February 2, 1974, Keystone Berkeley: New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia (Home, Home On The Road)
October 11-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Jerry Garcia Band w/Nicky Hopkins--Tim Hensley, electric piano
December 21-22, 1976, Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Who Is John Rich?)
Jerry Garcia and Keystone Shows Overview
December 5, 1977: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA Robert Hunter and Comfort (Alligator Moon-FM XIV)
January 9-10, 1976: Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: The Jerry Garcia Band with James Booker
"So What" The Jerry Garcia Band: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA November 3, 1978