May 4, 1970: Jim Morrison Appears at Village Gate

Jim Morrison at the Village Gate

Jim Morrison appeared at the Village Gate to read his poetry for a benefit for Timothy Leary on May 4, 1970*.

The Village Gate opened in 1958 on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, and had a reputation as a venue for hosting jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dexter Gordon. As it moved into the rock and roll era, Jimi Hendrix played there, as did the Velvet Underground and Patti Smith.

The Village Gate, New York City
The Village Gate, New York City

On May 4, 1970 the Village Gate hosted a benefit for Timothy Leary called the Holding Together Benefit, to aid in his legal defense to appeal convictions on drug arrests to the Supreme Court. The Village Gate benefit included appearances by Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, The Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg. No tapes or films of Morrison’s Village Gate appearance are known to exist, and it is also unknown what poems Morrison read there.

The Village Gate has other counter-culture bona fides in that it hosted National Lampoon’s musical comedy revue “Lemmings” from 1971-1973. “Lemmings” was a satire of music festivals such as Woodstock, and one of the most famous parts of that show is John Belushi’s Joe Cocker impression. “Lemmings” also launched the careers of Chevy Chase, Christopher Guest, Doug Kenney, Harold Ramis, and Anne Beatts.

*Some sources list the Village Gate benefit as May 11, 1970.

Originally published May 5, 2016.

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