The Grateful Dead perform at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle on July 16, 1967.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 6/21/2007
  • Essay 8192

On July 16, 1967, the Grateful Dead perform at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. Five other local bands perform at the "Be-In." Admission is free. 

The Golden Road 

Located in Ballard, Golden Gardens was typically a place where the “straights” hung out, far away from the usual hippie hangouts near the University District and Capitol Hill. The crowd of 2,000 people who gathered at the park for the Be-In was a mix of all folks who just wanted to enjoy some rock music in the hot summer sun. 

The bands performed on a flatbed truck with electricity provided by a small portable generator. Brick went on first, followed by Karma, The Daily Flash, The Time Machine, and Pappa Bear's Medicine Show. The Grateful Dead came on last. 

The Dead were in Seattle for a show that evening at the Eagles Hall, and since they were veterans of many Be-Ins in San Francisco, the band and their manager, Rock Scully, decided to take part in the gathering at Ballard. The Be-In was arranged by Tim Harvey of Overall Cooperative Structure and Jerry Mathews of United Front Productions. 

Unlimited Devotion 

In an interview with the Helix, a Seattle-based underground newspaper, Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia (1942-1995) talked about the band’s background, noting that he started playing guitar at 15, that vocalist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was heavily into country blues, and that bass player Phil Lesh was classically trained on the violin and trumpet. He described the band’s music as mostly blues. 

Garcia also talked about the influence of psychedelic drugs on their music, noting that these drugs were just another part of their lifestyle. “The thing that happens when you get high and play,” said Garcia, “is like new ideas present themselves, new possibilities ... . If you’re a little stoned, you’re less into yourself, less into demonstrating your ability, less into your own thing and more into the total thing. Playing itself is a high, playing is in fact the best high I know. There’s no comparable experience in drugs. Nothing like it.” 

When asked about the kind of people who came to their shows, the interviewer pointed out that not all people in the Golden Gardens audience were hippies. “No, but they’re all people,” responded Garcia. “Like the more straight people that come to these kind of scenes, the easier it’ll be for them to see that the hippies aren’t going to hurt them. The whole scene is ... good natured.”

Sources: “The Cool Brave Heat for 'Gentle Sunday,'" Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 17, 1967, p. 3; Interview with Jerry Garcia, Helix, August 16, 1967, p. 11.
This essay was corrected on July 16, 2015.

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