Back in the early days of 1969, an up-and-coming band called The Grateful Dead were making waves along the West Coast. The band was generating some excitement, and CBS booked them to appear on a Hugh Hefner-hosted program called Playboy After Dark. Naturally, it being the Grateful Dead, things got totally out-of-hand, but everything wound up working out just fine.
The January 18th, 1969 performance has become something of a legend in recent years, especially after Bill Kreutzmann’s recent telling of this story on Conan back in May. As the legend goes, the Dead’s sound engineer/LSD synthesizer Owsley “Bear” Stanley slipped some of his homemade psychedelic concoction into the Playboy After Dark crew’s coffee supply, effectively dosing the entire staff for the late-night program.
Hefner went on to interview Garcia, before the band performed a handful of songs on the program. You can watch a full documentary of the occasion below, including performances of “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen.”
In response to the occasion, Hefner sent the following glowing letter to the Grateful Dead just a few days after the airing:
[Photo via Dead.net]
Here’s some full-show audio coverage on the anniversary of this Playboy After Dark performance, as provided by Jonathon Aizen:
Rest In Peace, High Heffner!