Feb 19, 2018

May 1967: Warnecke Ranch, Russian River


"The Grateful Dead" have been stirring things up along Chalk Hill Road during recent nights.
There's no cause for alarm, o ye of the older generation. Nothing was amiss. No one related to Count Dracula has been prowling the canyons hereabouts.
"The Grateful Dead" play rock 'n' roll music and have chosen that particular name for reasons known only to themselves. And they seem to be making a go of it.
The San Francisco group was resting, relaxing and rocking at the Warnecke property off Chalk Hill Road some 14 miles out of Healdsburg as the guests of John Warnecke Jr.
They put together five new songs during their R-and-R (rest and relaxation or, if you will, rock 'n' rolling) stint at the Warnecke digs.
The grateful ones have already cut one album plus singles and are said to be on the way up.
The word leaked among this area's teen generation that some of the princes of pop music were disporting themselves nearby, but the word was also out that they didn't want to have a big audience. And local teens let them have their rest.
Now that the general alarum is out, don't go rushing off to Chalk Hill Road to listen. The Grateful Dead have vanished. They materialized in Napa for a one-nighter Monday and then headed for THE big city -- New York.
If you listen carefully out there along Chalk Hill Road, you might...just might...catch an echo or two of an amplified guitar still bouncing off the slopes of a distant canyon.
But The Grateful Dead have fled. Their muse and their agent were calling them.

(from the Healdsburg Tribune, 1 June 1967)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

See also: http://hooterollin.blogspot.com/2012/12/russian-river-to-mchenry-library-via.html  


  1. A remarkable find; I didn't expect the Dead's brief stay here to be reported in the local Healdsburg news! This reporter seems to be unfamiliar with the Dead except as some oddly-named rock group that the kids like, so this piece was just a bit of local color to amuse readers.

    More details on the Dead's stay are in the Hooterollin blog link. The band fondly remembered their time there, jamming and playing with noise and writing new songs out of the public eye. Weir gleefully recalled bombarding passing canoers with feedback and sonic weirdness: "We'd have them diving out of the canoes." Kreutzmann said, "We'd get freaky, get high, and make weird sounds - frogs, invading Martians, whatever - the PA turned up all the way... We could almost turn over canoes."

    Phil wrote that they happily accepted John Warnecke's invitation to hang out at his dad's summer place: "It seemed a wonderful opportunity to keep playing every day in a new setting, and to try again to work up some new material... We set up our gear outside on a covered deck next to the river, and when unsuspecting boaters would float by, we would confuse them with low-level feedback...while Pig and Bobby muttered strange imprecations into the mikes. Most of the time, though, we just jammed, searching for ideas we could incorporate into tunes."

    "They put together five new songs"...that seems to be an exaggeration. Weir said, "We worked up a few songs, among them the first few strains of 'The Other One' and 'Alligator,' and one or two others. Most particularly 'The Other One' and 'Alligator.'" Phil also recalled the Other One and Alligator, and being excited by working on Hunter's lyrics. Alligator was the first Hunter tune they did, and they immediately put it into their live set in June. The Other One took a few more months to appear in shows (as far as we know, with most shows untaped). They might also have worked on New Potato Caboose, a relatively new song - Garcia had mentioned it to an interviewer in March, but no live tapes show up until August. No other new songs are known from that period, until Dark Star a few months later. (They composed slowly that year, but made each one count!)
    1967 is unusual in that, except for Alligator which they started playing in shows at once, months seem to pass between each song's composition and its first live appearance. Maybe the Dead were just very fastidious rehearsers, but I think more likely this is simply because most of the shows that year are lost. Though, if you listen carefully, you just might hear the echo of a lost show still bouncing off the distant canyon slopes...

  2. The Warnecke Ranch still exists today. They even have an article on the Dead's 1967 stay: https://www.warneckeranch.com/single-post/2017/03/23/1967-Grateful-Dead-visit-the-Warnecke-Ranch
    And is this the cabin up on Russian River? – may be: https://www.warneckeranch.com/the-cabins?lightbox=dataItem-irfef0j9