The Family Dog Denver, 1967 - 1968


Read Westword’s preview of The Tale of the Dog:

The Mystery of the Family Dog, Denver’s Most Storied Rock Venue


Project Update:

Interviews for the film thus far include:

  • Canned Heat (Larry Taylor, Fito de la Parra, Skip Taylor)
  • Lothar and the Hand People (Paul Conly)
  • The Eighth Penny Matter (Brent Warren)
  • Otis Taylor
  • Raf (Bob) Schnepf (poster artist)
  • Diogenes Lantern Works (light show) (Marc Arno, Roy Wanamaker)
  • Tony Guillory (Manager)
  • Detective John Gray and Captain Jerry Kennedy (Denver Police)
  • Melody, Marilynn & Roy Wanamaker (employees of the Dog)
  • Bob Pitler (Dog attorney)
  • Bob Pennetta (concert goer)
  • Bruce Bond (concert goer)
  • Historians: G Brown (Colorado Music Hall of Fame), Paul Epstein (Twist & Shout Records), Scott B. Montgomery (University of Denver)

 


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The Family Dog Denver was a venue for rock concerts that was operated in Denver by San Francisco’s Family Dog hippie collective.

Between September 1967 and July 1968 the “Denver Dog” sponsored dozens of concerts that brought The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin (Big Brother and the Holding Company), The Jefferson Airplane, and numerous other legendary acts to the Mile High City. Posters were made for the concerts by a number of San Francisco’s leading psychedelic artists. What began as a psychedelic outpost of San Francisco’s Family Dog was a watershed in Denver’s hip history.

There is scant record of the Denver Dog, with no known film footage, only a few photographs and recordings. The most prominent visual record of the Denver Dog is provided by the psychedelic posters made for the concerts. Beyond this, the most valuable sources in filling out the picture have been the personal recollections, and much of the story of the Family Dog Denver currently resides in individual memory. Part of this project’s mandate is to capture and preserve this important cultural memory and legacy.

The story of the Family Dog Denver unfolds through first-hand interviews of those people who ran and hung out at the Dog, musicians who played there, light show artists, concert attendees, members of the Denver police, and historians. This project is assembling these disparate pieces and collating them into the rich narrative that is the The Tale of the Dog.

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Immediately upon its opening, the Family Dog Denver became a flashpoint in the culture wars that saw the Denver police and both the patrons and owners of the Dog in regular conflict which would ultimately escalate into two separate court battles. This reached a pinnacle with the bust of Canned Heat on charges of marijuana possession. By the end of 1967, the toll of the battles led to the San Franciscans’ retreat from Denver. In their wake, the Denver Dog’s young local talent agent, Barry Fey, revitalized the venue under Feyline Productions and continued to produce rock concerts there throughout the turbulence of 1968. His extraordinary success saw him eventually make the transition from counter-cultural experimenter to rock and roll industry pioneer and one of the most influential promoters in music history.

Dan Obarski and Scott Montgomery, Ph.D


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