Hippies, Guns, and LSD

The San Francisco Rock Band That Was Too Wild For the Sixties

George Hunter of the Charlatans never shot Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, not even once. But in the spring of 1966, on the grounds of Rancho Olompali just north of San Francisco, Garcia had reason to believe Hunter was gunning for him, causing the great guitarist to royally freak out. The misunderstanding unfolded when Hunter decided to drop some LSD and bring a loaded .30-30 Winchester rifle to a party at the Dead’s new Marin County hangout. Hunter never intended to strike fear into the heart of his genial host, but when he did, he was so high that he began to panic—perhaps he had accidentally shot someone, if not Garcia, after all. It took a long bummer of a night, and three of Hunter’s closest friends, to shake that demon thought from his troubled mind.

You’ve probably never heard of the “Incident at Olompali,” as no one has called it since, and your awareness of the Charlatans is likely limited to seeing the band’s name on scores of vintage rock posters, alongside more familiar monikers such as Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Grateful Dead.

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