Friday, February 3, 2012

11/19/68 Jefferson Airplane's Short, Free Show Atop The Schuyler Hotel, NYC, NY(Updated)

Just heard about this for the first time - thanks to the Bush Tetras' Dee Pop!Seems those damn dirty, sandal wearin', dope smokin', free-lovin' San Francisco hippies in Jefferson Airplane wanted to shower Midtown Manhattan with some free musical love back on a chilly November 19, 1968. What could be better, right? Seriously! November 1968? Jefferson Airplane WAS music, man! Anyway, the band and their crew set up sound equipment on the roof of the 9-story Schuyler Hotel, then located at 57 West 45th Street. Can't find much history about the place. It's not there anymore. What's there now?

Famed filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard arrived on the scene to film the event as part of his upcoming project "One A.M.", aka "One American Movie." You'll see that footage in a minute, but keep reading first...this is pretty cool stuff.

Unfortunately, neither the band, their management, nor Godard's film crew had ever bothered to obtain the proper permits for the free musical spectacle they hoped to unleash. Big mistake!
Shortly after the Airplane announced "New York! Wake up you fuckers! Free Music!" and...uh...took off (sorry about that!) - ahem...I mean, shortly after the band began to play, a contingent of New York City's Finest (whom were surely refered to by many other, less complimentary names that day) arrived and promptly pulled the Airplane's plug.

The whole situation seems to have gotten the better of the famously boisterous actor Rip Torn, who also become involved in the fracas that ensued as he was there participating in the Godard "One A.M." film project as well. Torn, who has been known to enjoy a drink or ten, even in more recent years, wound up being charged with harrassment of a NYPD officer. The story even made the New York Times the following day...

11-19-68 Jefferson Airplane @ NYC, NY
(Image via Rock Prospography 101)
Just another day in 1968-era New York City...looks like it was fun while it lasted anyway.

(Updated video courtesy SwingMan1938)

A final bit of information about this event comes from "Take Me To A Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual" (2006 by Craig Fenton): (If there is nothing about the Hotel Schuyler gig showing as you view this, just scroll to page 144.)


HippieChick said...

I had recently begun work on a rock magazine here in NYC and adored the Airplane, so when my editor/publisher (I became the editor myself the following month)said did I want to come along to meet the group while she interviewed them (just after this roof event) I said you bet. Grace had on the same brown leather coat she was wearing here, and I liked it so much I went out and bought an identical one for myself. The interview was hysterical and was very well received; we had the Airplane on the cover all got up like a 50's lounge act, also a fun time. Those were the days, all right...

NYCDreamin said...

Thanks, HippieChick! Great additional details to the story! Is that interview online anywhere we could read it? What magazine were you writing for?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the hotel seems to have been located on 45th W57th Street, ny ny, as per the following.

it looks like it was torn down. it looked beautiful in the movie. I would like to know what happened to it too.

Anonymous said...

No it WAS 45th street... watch the video. Also, see the image below..

SwingMan1938 said...

Looks like the source for the video here is gone.

Try mine:

SwingMan1938 said...

And, BTW - the correct date for the gig is Tuesday, November 19, 1968.

Sources are linked in the description of the video I linked to.

NYCDreamin said...

Hi Swingman1938 - Thanks for reading and for sending the correct date for this Jefferson Airplane gig as well as link to new video - so weird. I just watched the original link a month or so ago and it was still working then. Anyway, thanks for catching that and taking time to make sure we noticed as well.

SwingMan1938 said...

My pleasure, NYCDreamin - your page here turned up in my research when I was putting the video together last month and I tried to post a comment about it with the video link twice then, but they never stuck. Just came back yesterday morning on a whim, tried it again and voila! LOL!

You've got a hell of a good site for research and reference here (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the gig log!) and I just wanted to do my part, is all.

I hope I was able to do some justice to the performance. Though it brought out hiss, I was able to brighten up the high end as well as enhancing the bottom and incredible reverberation of Jack Casady's bass off of the surrounding buildings and meat up the vocals & Dryden's toms without mudding the rest up - and, unlike other YouTube presentations, I was able to correctly synchronize sound-to-picture. ;)

And, as a final touch, I was able to pump the color up a bit without over-saturating the picture - now you can see a little bit of blue in the sky of an otherwise chilly day. ;)

Again, glad to help - and thanks for the awesome resource. :)