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The Grateful Dead were known for playing at many benefits. But this was a benefit for them! On January 31, 1970, they were busted for drug possession after a gig in New Orleans and so on February 23, just three weeks later, the leading San Francisco bands, along with Bill Graham, staged a benefit show to raise money for the Dead's legal fees. The bust was later immortalized in the song, “Truckin”
“….Sittin' and starin' out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they're gonna kick the door in again
I'd like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you're gonna come in.
Busted, down on Bourbon Street, Set up, like a bowlin' pin.
Knocked down, it get's to wearin' thin. They just won't let you be, oh no.”
The skeleton actor, in blood-red jester outfit, bound by ball and chain, looks like he aims to make his point defending the band with his sword, the background of skulls implying the legions of similar offenders behind them.
The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac and The Flock had played The Warehouse in New Orleans on the weekend of January 30-31, 1970, and the Dead were busted after the second show.
After bailing out almost 20 people, the Dead were out of cash, a clear sign of the hand-to-mouth life of a touring band in those days. They added an extra show at The Warehouse on Sunday night. Fleetwood Mac agreed to play as well, and the show was well attended, thanks to the local FM station.
At this extra concert, buckets were passed around for people to drop money in to help the Dead, and in thanks the band passed around bottles of Cold Duck. They announced from the stage "its Electric Duck, so only take a few sips," and the New Orleans police, used to 200 years of different sorts of vice, somehow missed the reference.
At the Benefit advertised by this poster, “Winterland was jammed,” according to Ralph Gleason, and the bands all played their hearts out at what is believed to be the only benefit FOR the Grateful Dead. The bands played for free and about $15,000 was raised for the Dead's legal defense fund.