Grateful Dead Woodstock Woes

Grateful Dead Woodstock Woes

The oft’ told tale of the Dead’s Woodstock performance was that it was plagued with various difficulties and was generally lackluster.  That it wasn’t a typical ’69 performance.  

Their Woodstock was only about 70 minutes of music with a more than 15 minute technical break after only two songs (St Stephen and Mama Tried) which had only totaled about five minutes.

Plus, there was the mic/walkie-talkie/PA  interference  during some parts. 

Grateful Dead Woodstock Woes
Dead at Woodstock…Jerry and Bob
Grateful Dead Woodstock Woes

Dead at Woodstock

Grateful Dead Woodstock Woes
Dead at Woodstock

 Well, let’s take a look at the set list: 

  • 1. Saint Stephen (2:04)
  • 2. Mama Tried (2:42)
  • 3. a High Time tease (30 seconds)
  • the 15 minute technical issues break
  • 4. Dark Star (19:10)
  • 5. High Time (6:20),
  • 6. Turn On Your Lovelight (which included some Ken Babbs ravings) (38:42)


So how atypical were the Dead at Woodstock? The concert immediately before at the Family Dog at the Great Highway in San Francisco on  August 3  was about 90 minutes. Their first concert afterward was on August 20 at the Aqua Theater in Seattle (no recording available).  How long was it? About 90 minutes.

If not for the technical issues, faced by most of the Woodstock performers, the Dead set at Woodstock was not too different.

Perhaps it’d be best to give the Dead at Woodstock an actual listen and decide for yourself. As for me, I enjoy it. Of course the spice of it being at Woodstock is an enticing enhancement, but even without that, it’s still good. After all, there’s only one Barton Hall and that was eight years in the future.


I dare you to click and open ↓ .

It’s really a nice listen for any day and a slice of history. You’ll hear the actual radio feedback that Phil Lesh talks about during a quieter part of their set.

For another much more thorough and thoughtful article on the Dead’s Woodstock set, see this article that Scott Parker, author of Woodstock Documented. wrote.

The whole article is well worth the read, but in his closing comments he concluded: Some have described this show as the worst Grateful Dead show ever, but this is a serious exaggeration. It is an uneven set, without a doubt. There are some real low points. But there are also some great moments, and it is worth remembering that on their worst night in 1969, the Grateful Dead were still better than most bands at their peak.


On August 23, 2021, Dead and Company played at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.  At the beginning of their second set, Bob Weir said this: “…50 something years ago [applause] we…right here…we tried this next sequence [Weir laughs] …it didn’t go so well for us. So, we’re gonna’ try it again.”

And so Woodstock finally heard the set so many had hoped for 52 years earlier.  And it was very nice!

Follow link to listen

Post Script

I occasionally give site tours to band members, guests of the bands, and, of course, the all-important roadies.

In 2023, Dead & Company was playing at Bethel Woods and Bob Weir needed a ride to a booth promoting voter registration that he was helping to support. He sat next to me (thrill!) and I had the following very brief “conversation” with him:

Me: “Thank you for your music.”

Bob: “You’re welcome.”

Me: “By the way, I didn’t think your Woodstock set was that bad.”

Rob: “It was.”

Grateful Dead Woodstock Woes

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Born October 20, 1945

Ten Years After Ric Lee,

Ten Years After Ric Lee

The New Sounds Old

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair made some things famous that had been there in front of us but we weren’t listening.

It was Sunday night about 9 when a sweating exhausted-looking Alvin Lee introduced Ten Year After’s last song of the set: “This is a thing called “I’m Going Home” by…[pause]…helicopter.”

I’m sure the band had already played the song many times that summer. It’s a great example of a song that one might mistake for a cover of and old blues song that Rick Lee shifted into high gear. It isn’t. Lee wrote it and Lee (guitar), Chick Churchill (keyboard), Leo Lyons (bass) and Ric Lee (drums) played it.

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Ric Lee

So who is this guy Ric Lee besides the drummer for Ten Years After? I gathered most of this from the Ten Years After site.

Ric’s first band was as the drummer with the Falcons and from there here joined Ricky Storm and the Stormcats (as opposed to Rory Storm and the Hurricanes .

While a Stormcat, Ric studied drumming with Dave Quickmire who was a drummer with the Jaybirds. The Jaybirds’ guitarist was Alvin Lee. The bassist Leo Lyons.

When Quickmire got married he left the Jaybirds and recommended Lee to replace him. Chick Churchill joined the band first as their road manager and later as their keyboardist.

The Jaybirds backed The Ivy League, a vocal group. The Jaybirds later went solo again and briefly became the Bluesyard before becoming Ten Years After in 1966  in honor of Elvis Presley’s 10 year arrival anniversary.

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Ten Years After

We know Ten Years After. They were on the road constantly (check out their 1969 tour archive) and were regularly invited to the many 1969 festivals. Before Woodstock there was the Bath Festival of Blues (June 28), the Newport Jazz Festival (July 4), the Laurel Pop Festival (July 12), the Seattle Pop Festival (July 25), and after Woodstock the Texas International Pop Festival (September 1).

Of course it was their appearance on both the soundtrack and in the Woodstock movie that permanently put them on the map.

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Woodstock Memories

From a 2016 Forbes magazine interview:


We were in a chopper with a medic. He told us once we got there not to drink anything that’s not out of a sealed can and not to eat anything unless it’s been cooked. There was an outbreak of hepatitis [no medical records indicate any such outbreak] that could turn into an epidemic if we were not careful. When we landed, there were no drinks, of course, that weren’t opened. I watched the beginning of [Joe] Cocker’s set, which was fantastic, and not long after came the storm. It was a mini-cyclone I think, with very strong winds. The whole stage was live, but they wouldn’t let anybody use it. That festival these days would not get past health and safety. If you look at the film, you’ll see the covering for the stage was really pathetic. The whole thing got soaked. They were also scared that the big speaker towers people were climbing and sitting on were inadequate. The speakers were very heavy. We were incredibly lucky none came down.

Playing after the storm

The band followed Country Joe and the Fish at about 8:15 Sunday night. Well, it was still very damp. I remember we had to start Good Morning Little School Girl four times because the guitars wouldn’t stay in tune. Alvin just would not play out of tune and try to sing to it. That was nerve-wracking because 400,000 or 500,000 people – no one seems to know the exact number — were sitting there wanting us to play. In those days, there were no electronic tuners, so everything was by ear. Leo [Lyons] was tone-deaf, so Alvin had to tune his bass! Once we finally got going, the crowd loved it. What can I say? [for their full set, see Woodstock day 3]

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Side interests

While still in Ten Years After, Ric studied at Berklee School of Music in Boston, with Alan Dawson, then drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Ric also began teaching young enthusiasts privately when at home between touring commitments.

Ten Years After Ric Lee

After Ten Years After

After Ten Years After stopped touring in 1976, Ric ran his own Music Publishing, Management and Record Production company. He continued to study, now tuned percussion at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Gilbert Webster, percussionist with the BBC Radio Orchestra.

In 1980 for 18 months, Ric joined Stan Webb in Chicken Shack. Chicken Shack toured the UK and Europe many times in this short period and made an album for RCA Records “Roadies’ Concerto”.

Ten Years After re-formed again in 1983 for the Marquee Club’s 25th Anniversary. During this short “rebirth”, Ric managed the group as well as being its drummer.

Between 1984 and 1986, Ric managed several up and coming young acts and continued publishing catalog.

Ten Years After Ric Lee

Ten Years again

Ten Years After re-formed yet again in 1988 and recorded a new album “About Time” in Memphis, Tennessee and spent the next four years touring Europe and the US.  In between tours Ric continued to study drum techniques, this time  Latin percussion with Trevor Tompkins, Professor of Percussion at the Guildhall and the Royal College of Music.

In 1994, Ric formed The Breakers with an old friend, Ian Ellis and together they wrote and produced MILAN, released in July 1995.

In the middle nineties Lee produced a series of ambient albums, the most successful of which was Spirit of Africa.

Ric worked again with Ten Years After between 1995 and 1999. In 2001 he recorded an album in Nashville.

Ten Years After continues its intermittent existence and Lee is also part of Natural Born Swingers. Here is a link to a review in Elmore magazine from September 2017.

And in 2021, Ric Lee, published his autobiography, From Headstocks To Woodstock.

“It was something I’d always wanted to do and I actually started it more than 10 years ago, but kept stopping and starting for various reasons, Then a chance conversation with a friend in Los Angeles persuaded me to get it finished.

Comprised of 448 pages, the book is available for purchase directly via Lee’s website.

Many happy returns Ric!

Ten Years After Ric Lee

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism


Voting Rights

October 20, 1917: Alice Paul and three colleagues were arrested for picketing the White House on of women’s suffrage. Calling themselves “Silent Sentinels,” the purposefully went to the White House gates when staff were leaving work. A large crowd gathered, with some people cheering and other jeering. [CNN article] (see Oct 22)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism


Virginia Legalizes murder

October 20, 1669: the Virginia Colonial Assembly enacted a law that removed criminal penalties for enslavers who killed enslaved people resisting authority. The assembly justified the law on the grounds that “the obstinacy of many [enslaved people] cannot be suppressed by other than violent means.” The law provided that an enslaver’s killing of an enslaved person could not constitute murder because the “premeditated malice” element of murder could not be formed against one’s own property.  [EJI article] (next BH, see Oct 29; next SR, see February 28, 1708; see SR for expanded chronology of slave revolts)

Dyer anti-lynching bill

October 20, 1921: the House Judiciary Committee favorably reported the Dyer anti-lynching bill, imposing heavy penalties on persons involved in mob action resulting in the taking of life. (next BH, see Nov 30 ; see Dyer for expanded story; next Lynching, see Nov 30 or see AL3 for expanded chronology)


October 20, 1933: The cases were removed from Judge Horton’s jurisdiction and transferred to Judge William Callahan’s court. (SB, see Scottsboro travesty)

“Durham Manifesto”

October 20, 1942: sixty leading Southern Blacks issued “Durham Manifesto” calling for fundamental changes in race relations after a Durham, North Carolina, meeting. (listen NC Museum of History) (see Dec 4)

Tallahassee bus boycott

October 20, 1956: modeled after the Montgomery bus boycott, the Tallahassee bus boycott had begun after a May 17, 1956 incident in which two Florida A&M students were arrested for sitting in the white section of a city bus. Because the city’s buses were primarily patronized by African American residents, the boycott left the vehicles nearly empty. In July 1956, city officials were forced to suspend bus service due to lost revenue. The bus company resumed services in August following an initiative led by the Junior Chamber of Commerce to get more white residents to ride the buses but the boycott continued. The Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council (ICC) led the boycott and organized a carpool to serve as alternative transportation.

In October 1956, 21 carpool drivers, including nine people who comprised the ICC’s executive committee, were arrested for not having “for hire” tags on their vehicles. On October 20, 1956, following a three-and-a-half-day trial, all 21 drivers were convicted. City Judge John Rudd sentenced them to pay a $500 fine or spend 60 days in jail, in addition to a suspended 60-day jail term and one year on probation.

Faced with this legal harassment, the ICC voted to end the carpool two days later. The boycott continued until December, however, ending only after federal courts ruled bus segregation unconstitutional. On January 7, 1957, the Tallahassee City Commission repealed the city’s bus segregation law. [Florida Memory dot com article] (see Nov 13)

Charles Mingus

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

October 20, 1960: Charles Mingus recorded “Fables of Faubus” with lyrics for his Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus album for release on independent label after Columbia Records had refused to release it with lyrics.  The song was written as a direct protest against Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus  who in 1957 had sent out the National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American teenagers. (see Oct 25)


Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us!

Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us!

Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us!

Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!

Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!

 Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.

Governor Faubus!

Why is he so sick and ridiculous?

He won’t permit integrated schools.

Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!

Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)

 Name me a handful that’s ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.

Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower

Why are they so sick and ridiculous?

 Two, four, six, eight:

They brainwash and teach you hate.

H-E-L-L-O, Hello.

March to Montgomery

October 20, 1965: Roy Reed in the NY Times reported that, ”an all-white jury dominated by self-proclaimed white supremacists was chosen…for the retrial of Collie Leroy Wilkins, Jr, a Ku Klux Klansman charged with the murder of Viola Liuzzo.” (NYT article) (see Liuzzo for expanded story)

Murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner

October 20, 1967: an all-white jury convicted seven conspirators, including the deputy sheriff, and acquitted eight others. It was the first time a white jury convicted a white official of civil rights killings. For three men, including Edgar Rice Killen, the trial ended in a hung jury, with the jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of conviction. The lone holdout said that she could not convict a preacher. The prosecution decided not to retry Killen and he was released. None of the men found guilty would serve more than six years in prison. (BH, see Oct 28; see Murders for expanded story)


October 20, 2014: Officer Jason Van Dyke followed in his car 17-year-old Laquan McDonald before shooting him 16 times in the middle of Pulaski Road on the Southwest Side. It will be more than a year before the video of the incident is released. [Chicago Tribune article] (B & S, see Nov 20; Van Dyke, see November 19, 2015)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

The Red Scare

October 20, 1947: the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on this day opened its famous hearings into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. The hearings began with a series of “friendly” witnesses who argued that there was Communist influence. The “friendly” witnesses included President of Screen Actors Guild and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who testified on October 23, 1947. Ayn Rand testified regarding the pro-communist slant of the film Song of Russia. (see Oct 23)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

see October 20 Music et al for more

“Monster Mash”

October 20 – November 2, 1962: “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers #1 Billboard Hot 100.

Peter, Paul, and Mary

October 20 – November 30, 1962: Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Peter, Paul, and Mary is Billboard’s #1 album.

Ken Kesey

October 20 Peace Love Activism

October 20, 1966: Ken Kesey arrested. (NYT article) (see Oct 31)

October 20 Peace Love Art ActivismOctober 20, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono released their third album, Wedding Album.

According to Lennon, It was like our sharing our wedding with whoever wanted to share it with us. We didn’t expect a hit record out of it. It was more of a… that’s why we called it Wedding Album. You know, people make a wedding album, show it to the relatives when they come round. Well, our relatives are the… what you call fans, or people that follow us outside. So that was our way of letting them join in on the wedding.”

Wedding Album commemorated their wedding in Gibraltar on 20 March 1969. Although it was the final installment in their trilogy of avant garde and experimental recordings, the couple continued to document their lives on tape until Lennon’s death in 1980. [Beatles Bible article] (see Nov 1)

John & Yoko

October 20, 1973: John Lennon filed suit asking the court to force the Immigration and Naturalization Service to produce the records under which deportation decisions were made. [NYT article] (see Oct 29)

Mark David Chapman

October 20, 1980: Mark David Chapman quit his security job and signed out for the last time. Instead of the usual “Chappy” he wrote “John Lennon”.

Chapman murdered Lennon on December 8. (see Nov 17)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism


Benjamin Spock

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

October 20, 1967: Dr Benjamin Spock turned in a briefcase full of what he said were draft cards to officials at the Justice Department building here and later accused one of them of being “derelict in his duty” for not having arrested him. He said he wanted to be arrested in order to precipitate a “moral, legal confrontation” with the Government over the draft. Justice Department officials said later that the briefcase had contained draft cards and other matter. (Vietnam, see Oct 21 -22; DCB, see January 5, 1968)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

Watergate Scandal

October 20, 1973: “Saturday Night Massacre”. Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon after Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Assistant Attorney General Ruckelshaus had refused and resigned. (see Watergate for expanded story)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

Iran hostage crisis

October 20, 1979: the U.S. government allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to travel to New York for medical treatment. [NYT article] (see Nov 4)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

US Labor History

October 20, 1980: Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorsed Reagan, “I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.” He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election (see August 5, 1981) he fired the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions. (see June 12, 1981)

Weather Underground

October 20, 1981: the 1981 Brink’s robbery was an armed robbery and three related murders committed by several Black Liberation Army members and four former members of the Weather Underground, now associated with the May 19th Communist Organization. The plan called for the BLA members to carry out the robbery, with the M19CO members — David GilbertJudith Alice ClarkKathy Boudin, and Marilyn Buck — to serve as getaway drivers in switchcars.

The conspirators stole $1.6 million in cash from a Brink’s armored car at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New York, killing a Brink’s guard, Peter Paige, seriously wounding Brink’s guard Joseph Trombino, slightly wounding Brink’s truck driver guard, James Kelly, subsequently killing two Nyack police officers, Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown, and seriously wounding Police Detective Artie Keenan. [Wikipedia article] (next WU, see )


October 20, 2000: Robert D Ray (see August 28, 1987) died. (next AIDS related entry, see July 7 > 12, 2002)


October 20, 2010: Barack Obama’s administration announced it would also appeal the judge’s ruling on the constitutionally of Don’t ask, don’t tell even though Obama announced earlier in the year that he wished to end the policy. (see Nov 1)

Nuclear/Chemical News

October 20, 2018: President Trump said he would pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. The treaty limited the number of missiles in each country.

Trump said Moscow had violated Treaty and he would halt the agreement.

Trump said the U.S. would pull out “and then we are going to develop the weapons” unless Russia and China agree to a new deal, though China isn’t currently a party of the agreement.

“Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” the president said. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.” [USA Today article] (see Nov 1)


October 20, 2020: NASA’s OSIRIS-REX spacecraft touched the surface of an asteroid  200 million miles away to gather a sample of rocks and dirt. The operation proceeded smoothly. The sampling mechanism set down partly on a rock about 8 inches wide. [NYT article] (next Space, see Oct 23; asteroid, see September 24, 2023)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

Fair Housing

October 20, 2022: three real estate companies operating in Washington, DC, were ordered to pay record-breaking penalties in a suit brought by the city for illegally discriminating against tenants who use Section 8 vouchers and other forms of housing assistance.

The attorney general for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, announced a settlement for $10 million. While fair housing cases involving lenders have resulted in larger compensation payouts, $10 million was the largest civil penalty ever levied in a housing discrimination case. [Bloomberg article] (next FH, see January 20, 2023)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism

Women’s Health

October 20, 2022:  in a move that cames as many states had rolled back access to abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Pentagon announced that it would pay for service members to travel for such care.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the department in a memo  to adopt a suite of reproductive health care policies in response to the Supreme Court’s June decision to end the federal right to abortion.

“The practical effect of the recent changes was that service members may be forced to travel greater distances, take more time off work and pay more out-of-pocket expenses to access reproductive health care, all of which have readiness, recruiting and retention implications for America’s armed forces,” said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, speaking to reporters  [NPR article] (next WH, see Oct 21)

October 20 Peace Love Art Activism