Opening as the counterpart to San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium in March of 1968, legendary concert promoter Bill Graham’s New York City venue, The Fillmore East, served as one of the cogs of live music in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Dubbed the “Church of Rock and Roll” for good reason, Graham had a knack of uniting some of the most unique and explosive artists of the generation under the same roof, including John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. On February 11th, 1970, Graham booked a now-legendary triple-billing of San Francisco fixtures: the Grateful Dead, Los Angeles psych-rockers Love, and a relatively unknown group from the Atlanta area, the Allman Brothers Band.
Though the Allmans and Dead had met some months prior at the first Atlanta Pop Festival, it wouldn’t be until the bands’ 1970 Fillmore East show that the two iconic jam bands collaborated on stage. The Allman Brothers’ set that night included classic tunes like “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”, “Trouble No More”, Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”, Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man”, and the always gargantuan instrumental that is “Mountain Jam.”
Playing both an early and late show, as was customary at the Fillmore East, the Grateful Dead began their set with an intense “The Other One” segued into “Cryptical Envelopment” before finishing up with “Dire Wolf” and “Casey Jones”—two tracks that would appear on the release of the Dead’s country music inspired album, Workingman’s Dead, later that year. “Not Fade Away” was used as a launch pad for the rest of the smoking set, which also included another pair of Workingman’s cuts, “Cumberland Blues” and “High Times”.
Beginning with the cornerstone jam in any Dead’s vocabulary, “Dark Star”, the band settled into the true meat of the show. For this rendition, the band featured the mesmerizing slide guitar from Duane Allman, which was later augmented further when Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac (who was not on the bill that night, but had been a fan of the Dead’s since playing with them in San Francisco in June 1968) and Love’s Arthur Lee (percussion) were added into the mix.
As the “Dark Star” jam built and boiled with the three guitar players on stage, the song gave way to a rare Miles Davis-inspired “Spanish Jam” with the ABB’s Gregg Allman sliding in onto the organ bench. Finally, as Pigpen busts into a raging “Turn On Your Lovelight,” Gregg gets in on the party to trade vocals with Pigpen on this show-stopper. You can listen to this unreal collaborative performance from February 11, 1970, below.
[Audio: Darrin Sacks]
Setlist: Grateful Dead | The Fillmore East | New York, NY | 2/11/1970
Early Show: The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment, Dire Wolf, Casey Jones
Late Show: Not Fade Away, Cumberland Blues, Cold Rain And Snow, High Time, Me And My Uncle, Dark Star*! > Spanish Jam*# > Turn On Your Lovelight#
Encore: Uncle John’s Band^
* with Duane Allman and Peter Green
! with Arthur Lee
# with Duane Allman, Gregg Allman and Peter Green
[Photo via Dead.net]