Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Whiskey-a-Go-Go - 1967

The Whisky A-Go-Go became the hangout of Sunset Strip musicians and hipsters in the 1960s, hip enough for Dustin Hoffman's character, Benjamin, to be seen running out of the club in the 1967 film The Graduate.  Johnny Rivers was the first sensation to come out of the club soon after it opened (on January 11, 1964). It was then that the club started the trend of having a mini-skirted girl dancing above the crowd in a cage. The Whisky became the cool place for bands to play; an easy crawl down the canyon.

Often the unbilled bands were simply local bands, like my brother's band, The Sounds of Shadows, but it being Hollywood, at times the unbilled bands went on to become hugely famous; you know, like The Doors. The Whiskey went from folk to rock 'n' roll to rock to punk to new wave, and still headlines up and coming bands and those headliners looking for an intimate setting. This week a blast from the past, Iron Butterfly (December 15)! For this writer, I was lucky enough to see the Byrds (I was 7; you really should read Jay and the Americans), Kraftwerk, Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, Souixsie and the Banshees, Circle Jerks, The Cramps, X and, my favorite show of all, The Tubes, after the release of their 3rd LP, Now. Here's a line up of the most notable from '67

January 1-2 Peanut Butter Conspiracy
January 6-7 1967 Love (Hot off the release of their 3rd LP)
January 12-22 Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
January 26-February 5 Jimmy Castor, Young-Holt Trio

February 23-March 4 Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker

March 21-26 Hugh Masakela, Stu Gardner Trio
March 29-April 9 The Temptations, Brenda Holloway 
March 13-23 Gladys Knight & The Pips

April 25-30 Hugh Masakela

May 5-14 Martha & The Vandellas
May 16-21 The Doors, The Byrds (This one of course worth a post of its own!)
May 28-June 4 The 4 Tops

June 11-24 The Impressions (The guitarist and principal songwriter of The Impressions was Curtis Mayfield.)
June 26-July 4 Sam & Dave (Sam & Dave are initially booked through July 7, but appear to be replaced by Mitch Ryder and Eric Burdon.) 

July 2 Jimi Hendrix Experience (The Experience played a surprise guest set at the Sam & Dave show. Shortly thereafter, Hendrix moved into Peter Tork's house in Laurel Canyon. By the middle of July, Hendrix had joined the Monkees tour as their opening act. He was dropped after just a few dates, however, due to the fact that Monkees' fans couldn’t quite wrap their heads around Jimi's music. Of the night, Hendrix said, "We had a great time in L.A., where Dave Crosby and a group called the Electric Flag came round to see us at the Whisky A Go Go. I love the West Coast, all those beautiful people.")
July 5 Mitch Ryder Revue (This was probably at the very end for the fondly remembered initial iteration of Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, with Jim McCarty on guitar.)
 July 6-8 Eric Burdon and The Animals (Eric Burdon had a new, psychedelic Animals and was doing songs like “San Franciscan Nights”.  Despite Burdon’s occasional histrionics, all the evidence suggests that they were an excellent live band.)
July 13 Buffalo Springfield (The Byrds were billed all week, but McGuinn fell sick and the Springfield filled in. By some accounts, The Byrds apparently were billed all week, but McGuinn fell sick this night and the Springfield fill in. 
July 14-19 The Paupers, Youngblood
July 21-22 Johnny Rivers, The Paupers
July 23-30 Johnny Rivers, The Paupers, 5th Dimension

August 1-8 Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
August 14-17, 1967 Kaleidoscope, Sunshine Company (The Peanut Butter Conspiracy may have originally been booked for some of these days. The Kaleidoscope were a Los Angeles band featuring 4 multi-instrumentalists and a drummer. Decades ahead of their time, they invented “World Music” before such a term existed. They released 4 albums on Columbia, largely ignored by non-musicians. Jimmy Page, among many other fans, called Kaleidoscope his "ideal band." The band's first album Side Trips had been released in June 1967.)
August 21-25, 1967 Moby Grape (Moby Grape was one of the best groups to come out of San Francisco, but Columbia’s relentless hype made many fans suspicious, and the band never found its footing.  This performance was a few months after the release of Moby Grape’s first album, which Columbia over-hyped by releasing 5 singles at once.)
August 26-27, 1967 The Byrds, Things To Come (Things To Come was a famously obscure LA “acid-punk” outfit from Long Beach, featuring Russ Kunkel on drums and Bryan Garafolo on bass, both future LA session men. Things To Come had been the house band at club called The Marina Palace in Seal Beach.)
August 28-30, 1967 Gene Clark, Things to Come 
August 31-September 3, 1967 The Byrds, Things to Come

September 4-6, 1967 Cream, Rich Kids (Cream, on their first American tour, had just come from two amazing weekends at the Fillmore, and would never play a venue this small again.)
September 7-10, 1967 Electric Flag, Rich Kids (The Electric Flag was created by ex-Butterfield Blues Band guitarist Mike Bloomfield as a sort of all-purpose super group.  It had many talented musicians and lots of promise, but never put it all together.  These shows were among the earliest gigs of the band, right after being billed at the Fillmore with Cream the week before.)
September 18-October 8  Jackie Wilson
September 25-27 Hugh Masakela, Vanilla Fudge, Lee Michaels (It's possible, even likely, that Vanilla Fudge and Lee Michaels stood in for Masakela; there is no record of Masakela playing). The Fudge, from Long Island, epitomized "heavy" rock, and Michaelsoffered similar fare from the West Coast.  Michaels had been in various surf bands in the early 1960s (such as The Sentinels) and then relocated to the Bay Area.  He had reappeared as a singing organist, playing as a duo, with only a drummer.

October 12-22 Spirit, Deana Martin and the Chromium Plated Streamlined Baby (Spirit, featuring guitarist Randy California, had recently signed to Ode Records. Chromium Plated Streamlined Baby were in fact Paul Grank's trio Head Over Heels renamed whilst they toured briefly with Dean Martin's daughter Deana and later with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.)
October 23-24 Seven Souls (As evidenced by an LA Free Press ad, Pink Floyd had originally been scheduled to perform on these dates. The same ad lists the band as returning to the Whisky on October 31, and November 1 & 2 - a fragile Syd at the Whisky on Halloween 1967 - there’s a thought. Whilst the 1967 Pink Floyd tour of the west coast was to be their first to the United States, it was blighted with a number of problems, not least the visa problems that led to three shows being cancelled at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco (October 30, November 2 and November 3). They eventually made their US debut on November 4 at Winterland (performing with Big Brother & The Holding Company and Richie havens). All five of the proposed shows at the Whisky-A-G-Go had been cancelled, for reasons unknown, some time before the band had even left the UK.
October 25-29 Eric Burdon & Animals, Spirit

November 2-12 Bo Diddley, Jimmy Smith
November 15-19 The Youngbloods, Things to Come
November 22-26 Procol Harum (Procol Harum, named after producer Gus Dudgeon’s cat, had already had a big hit with Whiter Shade of Pale. The English group was on the tail end of their first American tour, behind their hit single Whiter Shade of Pale.
November 30-December 3 Five Americans, Hour Glass (The Hour Glass featured Duane and Gregg Allman, then resident in Los Angeles, living in the “Dirt House” with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Steve Martin. The Five Americans were a Beatles wannabe group from Texas and had a hit with Western Union.)

December 5-10, 1967 Them, Blue Cheer (Them no longer featured Van Morrison on vocals, although they performed his material. Blue Cheer were the loudest and hardest of San Francisco bands, very different from almost anything else coming out of the Bay Area. Blue Cheer actually played a benefit concert at the Santa Monica Civic on December 9 (Saturday night). It was common for bands billed at the Whisky to open a show somewhere else in LA and then go back to the Whisky to play later sets.
December 10, 1967 The Byrds (An ad in the Southern California Oracle shows The Byrds playing on December 10, but the same ad lists Them and Blue Cheer from the 6th to the 11th. Perhaps the Byrds made a special appearance along with the other groups on December 10.)
December 11-14, 1967 Sweetwater, Steppenwolf (According to the Sweetwater timeline in Ugly Things #24, newly formed San Fernando Valley band Sweetwater were booked with the equally unknown Steppenwolf. Sweetwater played really well, and ended up being held over to open for Big Brother the next weekend.)
December 14-17, 1967 Big Brother and The Holding Company (December 15 and 16 only), Blood, Sweat & Tears, Sweetwater (An ad in the So Cal Oracle has Blood Sweat & Tears opening from the 12th to the 17th, and a different flyer has Sweetwater opening from the 14th to the 17th. This would have been the original line-up of Blood Sweat & Tears, featuring Al Kooper on vocals and keyboards (noted in a Free Press ad as "Al Cooper's Blood Sweat & Tears").

(Big Brother, breaking out nationally behind their Mainstream album, attracted all the record company reps, and the beneficiary was the newly-formed Sweetwater, who were signed immediately. Based on the Sweetwater timeline, Big Brother played on the 15th and 16th (Friday and Saturday). Sweetwater, a unique mixture of folk and jazz, would eventually play Woodstock, but when vocalist Nansi Nevins was injured in a car accident, the band broke up and was never able to capitalize on their early buzz.)
The Byrds were booked from December 14-17, but cancelled to play the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach instead.

December 18-23, 1967 Moby Grape
December 27 Country Joe and The Fish