42 Years Ago Today: Grateful Dead at Aztec Bowl 5-11-69

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5-11-69: The Grateful Dead headlined SDSU's Spring Fling concert at the Aztec Bowl. Held on Mother's Day, the show included Canned Heat, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lee Michaels, Tarantula, and Tijuana-bred Carlos Santana. Jerry Garcia performed "Morning Dew," and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (four years before he died) sang lead on a 20-minute version of "Hard to Handle." Pigpen also fronted the band for "Good Lovin'," "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," and "Turn on Your Love Light," the last highlighted by a jam with Santana's percussionists and singer.

One of Spring Fling's promoters was future mayor Roger Hedgecock, who at the time aspired to create a local concert scene similar to San Francisco's. "There was a lot of opposition from the city," he recalled in a 1980 interview with Kicks Magazine. "But all the predictions of total chaos and calamity did not come true." Hedgecock recruited the local chapter of the Hell's Angels to provide security, sealing the deal with a complimentary case of Jack Daniel's. "I got a note back from them thanking me for the case," according to Hedgecock. "They drank it all at one party."

Space was provided for arts-and-crafts exhibits, as well as a booth for the city's brand-new free clinic. "Even the Black Panthers had a booth," said Hedgecock. Much of the show was aired live on KPRI-FM, and tapes of the broadcast still circulate among tie-dyed and squinty-eyed collectors.

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