The Grateful Dead’s 1969 “Playboy After Dark” Appearance On Acid

By on May 22, 2015

Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann was recently a guest on Conan O’Brien’s talk show, “Conan,” recalling the time that the band was performing on Hugh Hefner’s CBS show “Playboy After Dark” while everyone — including the show’s crew — were tripping on acid, after Owsley Stanley dosed the coffee they were drinking during the soundcheck.


We found this vintage clip, introduced by David Steinberg, of the Dead’s appearance — on January 18, 1969 — who explains that the “counterculture was in full swing,” at the time. It certainly was.

There’s some slightly NSFW photos here, from the pages of Playboy, and don’t miss Dolly Read, standing beside Jerry Garcia, who we told you about in this recent Night Flight post (she would be starring in Russ Meyers’ Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls a year later).


According to the Rolling Stone article — which highlights the recent interview between Conan O’Brien and one of the Dead’s drummer’s, Bill Kreutzmann, on-hand to promote his new memoir, Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead:

In the late Sixties, the Dead were invited to perform on Hefner’s CBS program, “Playboy After Dark.” As the band arrived at the studio for soundcheck, they noticed some odd behaviors from the crew, resulting in technical glitches like out-of-focus cameras.

“I had this strange suspicion,” Kreutzmann says in the clip, explaining that famous LSD-maker Owsley Stanley had dosed the set’s communal coffee pot.

“Wait a minute – so everybody who’s trying to run the show is on acid?” Conan asks. “Should be a crime, I would think.”

But the drummer notes that acid “wasn’t illegal” at the time.


Bill Kreutzmann and Conan O’Brien

Actually, if we have our facts right, LSD became illegal in California on October 6, 1966, so… well, it was a crazy time!

Kreutzmann actually refers to the “Playboy After Dark” taping taking place in 1967 — but you know what they say about the Sixties….

Anyway, it’s kinda fun to think about the crew of “Playboy After Dark” (you can see their names scrolling by at the end of that clip above) possibly taking their first and last acid trip.

Watch the interview here:

More here, including Kretzmann’s interview with Conan.

(h/t Rolling Stone)

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.