A Once-Legendary Colorado Music Venue is Now a Gentlemen’s Club
History of Colorado's Family Dog
It was the brainchild of legendary Colorado music promoter Barry Fey and San Francisco hippie figureheads Chet Helms and Bob Cohen. The idea was to create a place to host the same bands that frequented San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom such as The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Canned Heat, and they would eventually accomplish this goal.
However, unlike San Francisco, Denver's more conservative population was not ready for hippies and, according to those that were there, were terrified of them.
Subsequently, The Family Dog was heavily monitored by police and caused a lot of problems for patrons of the venue and artists alike.
In fact, one of the most memorable and controversial events involving police at the venue was immortalized in a song by Canned Heat called "My Crime." The story goes that the band was at the venue and was joined by a man that they thought was a friend. It turns out that he was doing undercover work for the Denver Police and, according to the band, planted the marijuana in the room that Canned Heat would be busted for, causing them to be arrested and forced to cancel the show that night.
What Happened to Colorado's Family Dog?
Despite nearly two years of legendary concerts including performances by Jimi Hendrix, Buffalo Springfield, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, and many others, The Family Dog closed due to factors including pressure from the city of Denver and Barry Fey's growing career in promotion after its last show on July 19, 1968.