Introduction by Michael Evans
Steve Jones conducted a lot of conventional research at the Marriott Library and Salt Lake Public Library about Salt Lake City in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s before contacting me in 2012 about making an online Cosmic Aeroplane Archive.
In previous decades, Steve had laboriously conducted his research by working with newspapers and records on microfilm, which was then transferred to paper of varying quality by Xerox or FAX machinery. I first populated the site with new digital scans of material from the family of Bruce Roberts, and items stored at Charley Hafen Jewelers and Gallery, where Steve did part-time work. The Cosmic Aeroplane Archives were launched in early 2013.
Jones worked steadily on the archives until his final illness in 2016.
The Old Mill page was based on legwork by Charley and Steve. Two thousand people viewed that page over its first weekend. The Light Show Trilogy, two years in the making, was a project which Jones started by his authentic contacts and active phone numbers, which made everything possible.
Steve Jones gathered more collections of microfilm scans as outlines for future Cosmic subjects, and he planned to make a page about other businesses that tried and/or thrived in the rapidly-expanding Alternative movement.
This page lays out research by Steve Jones about other head shops
… and several more Alternative businesses which developed in the wake of 1967’s Summer of Love around the Salt Lake City and Northern Utah.
As the webmaster, I am explicitly inviting staff, competitors, and customers to use the COMMENT section for historical information and insights into these businesses from fifty years ago. Emails will be gladly exchanged too — scroll to the bottom of this page, and if you are visiting from Facebook, feel free to contact me there — Michael Evans
Salt Lake Tribune Business — Sunday, August 2, 1970
This article by Robert Woody profiles “Alternative” business owners and their shops — The Cosmic Aeroplane, Chester’s Drawers, The General Store, Tape Head Company, and Advertising Et Al.
Steve Jones compiled handwritten lists of his research, with reference notes:
The following material is mostly based on Steve Jones’ list of Head Shops, but it is organized by geography instead of numbers, and includes businesses that weren’t head shops, but served the alternative tastes of the burgeoning Baby Boomers. There is one bookstore from Steve’s other list, and anything else about those shops and others will be welcome.
State Street runs north to south through the entire Salt Lake Valley and youth would “Cruise State” in the 20th Century.
First on Steve Jones’ list, after the Cosmic Aeroplane, was the General Store
on 727 South State Street — right across the drag strip/cruising corridor from Sears.
Rick Romney had started his General Store in a booth-like space inside a Rock Club called the Old Mill at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1969.
The General Store was also an early concert promoter, and pioneer in giving away free high-quality full-color calendars to customers. Chester’s Drawers, the Cosmic Aeroplane, and Tape Head Company all sponsored similar giveaways at various times.
Marko Johnson returned to Salt Lake after David Ronniger closed his pioneering Kamaran Clothing shop in Aspen, Colorado — the only Salt Lake City head shop to branch out to another state. He joined the General Store’s staff in 1973, and was also involved with the important Park City Art Festival for over a decade.
Marko Johnson wrote in 2019: We moved into a much bigger building space, and each of us had our own departments — Rick Romney had posters and paraphernalia, Dave Borg had plants, David Knudsen had clothing, and I did leather goods … We closed in 1976.
Handbill-style “flyer” version of The General Store’s “Cold Blood” concert, which was also sketched and inked by poster artist Neil Passey (see above).
The row of commercial buildings along State Street, which housed the General Store and Mama Eddie’s Beanery, had many other tenants and stood until 2019, but most of these structures were fenced off for demolition and new construction in 2020.
Digital drawings and photos by Michael Evans
Mama Eddie’s ‘Right On’ Beanery was next door at 764 South State Street.
Mama Eddie’s eponymous cafe was very popular over the next decade. Owner Editha (Mama Eddie) Perez, had been a popular employee at nearby ‘Grogan’s’ lounge, across 800 South from Sears, when it was a Folk and Rock venue, before it became ‘The End’ — continuing to change names, owners, and purposes over sixty more years.
Taj Mahal (Henry Saint Clair Fredricks) was a respected and popular performer who had won the hearts of Salt lake City’s audiences with assured and confident concerts that started with his opening set for Jefferson Airplane at the Terrace in 1968. He also did impromptu shows at Mama Eddie’s when passing through town. The Right On Beanery (Right on State Street) even co-sponsored a Taj Mahal concert at prestigious Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus.
More shops on State Street catering to the Alternative Crowd:
This shop specialized in fashionable clothing, but kept jewelry and incense in stock.
Manager Jordan Greenglass was featured in the Tribune’s article about young entrepreneurs.
Chester’s Drawers was located in a brownstone building on a section of 300 South between State Street and Main Street locally called “Broadway,” alongside with some venerable high-end stores.
The alert and attractive staff kept Chester’s Drawers popular for many years.
Chester’s Drawers also cultivated a visual style and commissioned colorful poster/calendars for its customers.
Tape Head Company drew crowds on the important State Street drag strip
as FM Radio and car stereos transformed the music industry. Customers who loved Heavy, Progressive, and Alternative Rock purchased records, tapes, and equipment in unprecedented quantities for both car and home as these genres were cross-pollinating smart new styles of eclectic Pop Rock that dominated music for yet another decade.
Stan Schubach of Tape Head Company produced a great run of concerts in the Salt Lake Valley — quite often at the Terrace.
Schubach was already a car stereo buff. He was also involved with Salt Lake City’s light shows after the Summer of Love and included on Steve Jones Light Show List .
Stan Schubach commissioned a variety of high-quality posters for his THC concert series over several years by artists like Rob Brown, Mikel Covey, and Rainbow Jam.
Tape Head Company also printed classy give-away calendars for their customers and stayed in business well into the 1980’s
A progressive local Rock Band named Wishful Thinking with Kenny Martinez, Eric Williams, Randy Brown, Carey Comas, manager Ole Jensen, etc … had a rehearsal space in the house north of Tape Head Company:
Wishful Thinking co-starred with the internationally famous American band Iron Butterfly at the peak of their popularity in 1969. This was also the first Rock Concert held in the Salt Palace Exhibition Hall, a venue that would later host Credence Clearwater Revival, Eric Burdon & War, the Chambers Brothers, and even Australian group INXS in their heyday. (L to R) Lead Guitarist Kenny Martinez pointing forward, Original Drummer Don Foote pointing upward, and Keyboardist Dave Thomas pointing sideways.
Wally’s Records and Tapes;
“Wally” was a local entrepreneur who started selling albums from the trunk of his car and out of his house on 900 South selling new records at the lowest possible legal price. He even opened up a brick-and-mortar store on busy State Street, directly across from Tape Head Company, his most popular competitor.
Frank Zappa’s (in)famous commode poster was on display right above the telephone in Wally’s Records — Michael Evans bought it for two dollars while Wally was selling off everything in the place as he was closing his store. The music-buying public enjoyed low prices bred by competition, but razor-thin profit margins set limits on both.
Number Seven on Steve Jones’ List was an obscure shop called Hobbit Slot,
Which was located still further downhill at 1328 South State Street. They bought at least one classified advertisement in the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Ed Grisco’s Salt Lake Acting Company also presented shows at the First Unitarian Church on 1300 East, near the University of Utah. They eventually evolved into an established company, located in a historic church in the Marmalade Hill District on the west side of Salt Lake City’s Capitol Hill. Members of the Human Ensemble theatrical company worked with Mr. Grisko before doing independent productions at the Cosmic Aeroplane and the Glass Factory in Arrow Press Square.
Number Eight on Steve Jones’ List was the Village Idiot,
run by Stan Swenson, who obviously had a sense of humor, at 660 South State Street.
The Village Idiot bought expensive radio ads and sold an eclectic range of products across the road from Tape Head Company on the drag strip that fueled State Street culture in the 60’s and 70’s.
Head Shops in Downtown Salt Lake City
Number Two on Steve Jones’ List was the Grass Roots
located just off Salt Lake City’s Main Street, at 24 East 100 South,
east of the historic, but now-demolished Montgomery Ward Building.
Grass Roots advertisement from the Daily Utah Chronicle on 04 October 1967 —
The Grass Roots boasted a Black Light Room that was second to none.
The bank vault that was used for black-lighting still exits in 2019. The interior of this building is original, like its sandstone facade.
These posters are two of their most popular items from their shop:
“Lucifer Rising” was a nationally famous multi-level poster by Rick Griffin, who was living and working in San Francisco at the time, with one level originally done for an elusive movie by the elusive film maker Kenneth Anger. Other levels were colorful adaptations of antique engravings. Strobes and UV light caused a frenetic exchange of images in the viewers eyes.
The blinding “WE’RE ALL MAD” poster was created by San Francisco artist John McHugh, and the full-sized edition was on display, and for sale, at the Grass Roots.
It had been reproduced, but reduced to thumbnail-size, inside the influential Time Magazine in an article about Psychedelic Art which featured bright, but equally small, concert posters by John McHugh’s peers on the West Coast, like Wes Wilson, Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Alton Kelly, and Stanley Mouse.
Number Four on Steve Jones’ List was the West House of San Francisco
West House of San Francisco was located in a storefront on 226 South Main Street.
West House occupied a store-front space in a Main Street building along with other specialty shops, slightly north and uphill of the Karrick Building (236 Main Street in the photo above.) That old one-story row eventually gave way to skyscrapers.
Over the following decade, Gilbert E. Martinez’s music store at 238 Main Street rented studio space on the upstairs floors of the Lollin Building (left) to musicians and artists like the Great Salt Lake Mime Troupe before they relocated to Europe. Artist Deon Duncan of KRCL had an upstairs studio in the Lollin Building during the 1980’s before going on to earn her Masters Degree at the Chicago Art Institute.
Sam Weller’s Bookstore employed several future Cosmic Aeroplane staff members: Ken Sanders, Bob Ormsby, Robert Firmage, Jose Knighton, etc … and shared the enormous David Keith Building (one more structure south) with a licensed restaurant/bar called the Iron Horse that was eventually replaced by the Roxy Club, which hosted Punk-Rock bands during the late 1970’s. Cosmic Aeroplane and KRCL personalities including Scott Simons, Aldine Strychnine, David Faggioli, plus Lisa Verstieg, performed at the Roxy.
West House of San Francisco advertisement from the Electric News in Spring 1968:
West House of San Francisco advertisement from the Electric News in Autumn 1968:
Salt Lake City’s Avenues District was an important residential area during the early Alternative movement
Number Nine on Steve Jones’ List was the White Rabbit.
The White Rabbit, on 476 Third Avenue, was owned by Richard (Dick) Bagley and Paul (Tree) Black, A.K.A. “Dick and Tree,” former managers from Grogan’s lounge, who had previous experience booking Rock and Folk performers.
The White Rabbit’s opening was covered on local TV news, and they kept the name in the public’s consciousness with a series of concerts that began almost immediately after the Summer of Love in 1967.
Their first concert was a collaboration with the rebellious Pillar of Salt newspaper who began an Underground Press “Movement” out of the University of Utah’s Journalism Department, led by the late Paul Taylor.
The White Rabbit’s second concert featured San Francisco’s Country Joe and the Fish and Moby Grape, but a then-unknown band from Los Angeles stole the show, whose name was actually Spirit. They became local favorites for several years as their career expanded to literally international dimensions.
Jefferson Airplane’s first concert in Salt Lake filled the Terrace TWICE — two shows per night was a standard practice in the early days of Progressive Rock concerts.
Steve Jones researched contemporary advertisements which the White Rabbit placed in the Daily Utah Chronicle:
White Rabbit’s “Joint Show” at the Terrace had made stars of the group Spirit. San Francisco’s Flaming Groovies would make their own musical place in the future. War of Armageddon was a local band who had opened for Taj Mahal and Jefferson Airplane.
The White Rabbit abruptly closed very soon after announcing an upcoming concert featuring the rock band Love in the spring of 1968. Steve Jones researched their ads in the Chronicle — March 6th’s ad is composed horizontally, and March 14’s ad is composed vertically. This photo of Love is on the back cover of “Forever Changes,” which is mentioned in the March 14 article, and bridges the two other items, but wasn’t printed in the newspaper.
‘The Avenues’ is a bridge between the University of Utah District and Downtown.
David Ronniger founded the independent Whole Earth Natural Foods on the Avenues: It was the first ‘health food’ store in Salt Lake after the Summer of Love. His sister, Molly Ronniger, wrote: David started Whole Earth Natural Foods in 1971. He ran it until 1976 maybe. Before he came and got me in Oregon to come back to SLC to run the store so he could move to Idaho. Whole Earth was owned by the Ronnigers from 1971 to 1983. New Frontier purchased it after then.
Whole Earth advertisement from 1971
Laura Garon wrote in 2019: David was very much involved in the late sixties Salt Lake culture opening Kamaran Clothing located at 720 E. 1st South, and then later in 1971 opening Whole Earth Natural Foods located at 1026 2nd Avenue which he ran until his sister, and my dear old friend, Molly Ronniger took it over in 1976.
Interior photos of Whole Earth Natural Foods courtesy of Molly Ronniger.
After David was able to persuade Molly to take over running Whole Foods; he moved to Idaho where he took up organic farming, before anyone else was doing it and began to grow specialty organic potatoes creating a successful farming business. David Ronniger passed away on July 2, 2017.
Laura Garon also wrote in 2019: “David Ronniger was somewhat of a late sixties Renaissance Man, in that he had many areas of talent and was always on the move creating new business ventures — he even moved Kamaran Clothing to Aspen for a time. Personally, David was probably one of the coolest dudes that I knew from back then—riding around on his Harley, a stoic man of few words with a roguish smile. David was also involved with concert promoters Factory Company, so if anyone has any memories of which concerts he promoted and/or working with him; it would be greatly appreciated. ”
In 2019, the former gas station at the intersection has been replaced by a school, the former laundry is an art gallery, and the former Whole Earth Natural Foods is a restaurant, but the buildings and yards in the historic neighborhood surrounding this corner are largely recognizable from the Sixties, well-kept, and charming as ever.
Alternative Shops at the Corner of 700 East and 100 South
Intermountain Guitar & Banjo and Wasatch Touring
have both been “established” since the early 1970’s, but even these wholesome businesses were still considered “alternative” at the time of their founding.
David Ronniger’s Kamaran Clothing occupied the space now used by Intermountain Guitar and Banjo at 720 East 100 South, which was Number Three on Steve Jones’ List
Electric News — Spring 1968 issue, with the “Dragon and Woman” Cover
Electric News #4 — Autumn 1968, with the “Unicorn” Cover
Kamaran also advertised in the Daily Utah Chronicle, published on the nearby University of Utah campus, from which they drew many of their customers.
Kamaran Clothing opened a branch store in Aspen, Colorado, and closed the Salt Lake City location by early 1969.
Letterhead and clothing sketch from David Ronniger — Courtesy of Marko Johnson.
Richard Cordray moved right in to 722 East 100 South with his sandwich shop Desolation Row from its initial location at the 9th & 9th.
Desolation Row’s owner was Richard Cordray of ‘Smoke’ Blues Band, and he continued to feature Smoke’s first drummer Rotis in some of their advertisements, as well as buying ads to promote his own group.
The 9th & 9th Connection
Named after Bob Dylan’s famous song, Desolation Row on 870 South 900 East started business at the 9th & 9th before moving to 722 East 100 South.
Photos by Ross Terry, taken at 870 South 900 East, which also features Smoke Blues Band’s drummer Rotis, who starred in another ad when Desolation Row moved.
Other places carried on with the successful sandwich shop idea at the 9th & 9th after Desolation Row moved away:
Last on Steve Jones’ List — The Connection at the 9th & 9th
around the corner from the original Cosmic Aeroplane.
The Connection, at 888 South 900 East, began with former Cosmic Aeroplane partner Jack Bills teaming up with Larry Ficks from the College Bookstore, who later became a Soul Music DJ on KRCL Community Radio. Their fresh-made sandwiches proved to be more profitable by far than the book shop, underground comix, or used records.
Nature’s Way market eventually took over the SW corner of the 9th & 9th
and Ed Hurd managed the sandwich shop for over two more decades.
Mike Circuit owned Nature’s Way at the 9th & 9th. His lady Uta was longtime manager.
Phillips Gallery was first located at the 9th & 9th
before Dennis and Bonnie Phillips moved to their permanent location on 200 South.
Besides selling artwork and supplies, they also ran short movies by up and coming young film makers at the 9th & 9th. The Tower Theater was near the same corner, coincidentally specializing in foreign movies and quirky art films. Steve Jones researched the gallery’s showings of Underground Films advertised in the Daily Utah Chronicle:
Other Alternative shops at the 9th & 9th Community included:
Robert Gaddie’s Stone Balloon Waterbeds, featuring a massive, beautifully-painted sign by Daryl Barton of neighboring Skin Company, and Stone Age Crafts, in the still-extant Woodman Building, who employed young Tony Martinez before he went to work at the Cosmic Aeroplane.
Tony Martinez managed the Cosmic Aeroplane’s “Head Shop” department, or so-called “Tobacco Boutique” downstairs at 258 East 100 South before taking his independent and successful Blue Boutique to one of the busiest commercial corners in Sugar House during 1987. (There are four locations along the Wasatch Front in 2019, including Sugar House.) During the Millennium, Steve Jones worked and lived near the boutique’s Sugar House location, in a now-demolished building complex at the intersection of Highland Drive and 2100 South.
Alternative Shops in the Sugar House Area
Number Six on Steve Jones’ List was Asparagus Posters & Head Gear
2016 South 1100 East, near the Soup Kitchen and Central Book Exchange
Central Book Exchange was Number Ten on Steve’s Bookstore List.
Future Cosmic Aeroplane partner Ken Sanders worked at Central Book Exchange during 1968 — months before he founded Dream Garden, tried Kamas, Utah, Collectors Books in Los Angeles, and Sam Weller in Downtown Salt Lake.
The Soup Kitchen, on the other side of 1100 East, opened about the same time, and attracted an Alternative clientele at first. Both businesses were still thriving at their original locations, with much of their original style, during 2019.
Number Five on Steve Jones’ List was Mandala Posters & Buttons
in Sugar House at 1256 East 2100 South (Open July 21, 1968)
It was located between the 2019 locations of Raunch Records westward, and the Blue Boutique eastward. Both of the latter shops have been established in Sugar House for decades, although they’ve changed buildings over time.
Former Cosmic Aeroplane record store manager John “Smokey” Koelsch, friend of Richard Cordray and Steve Jones from 1967 onward, helped develop another alternative business corner between Sugar House and the University of Utah at the still-pleasant corner of 1500 East and 1500 South alongside Betsy Burton’s King’s English Bookstore when he opened his own independent store called Smokey’s Records at that location.
The corner is still anchored by the King’s English and now features summer Jazz at Caputo’s restaurant. Einstein’s Bagels helped usher in Salt Lake’s Espresso Coffee scene in the Millennium, and an art gallery across 1500 East is still doing business after many name changes over the years. Mazza’s Restaurant, occupying Smokey’s old building, has a second location at the 9th and 9th as well.
Alternative Gathering Places in the University District, Memory Grove, and Sugar House Park
Larry Ficks worked in the privately-run College Bookstore at the corner of University Street (1400 East) and 200 South before opening The Connection and being a DJ on KRCL 90.9 FM, Transition Clothing also sold water beds, with future Jazz DJ Steve Williams at the counter or the stereo, on the southeast corner of 1300 East and 200 South, in a space that eventually housed the first incarnation of Graywhale CDs and Records — who later moved across 1300 East, next to Gepetto’s, and then into the former Waking Owl building. Both Gepetto’s and Waking Owl Books served the Alternative scene on 1300 East with live, sometimes unconventional, music and classically unconventional literature through many decades.
The Fisherman Coffee House inside the Campus Christian Center on 200 South and University Street and Charlie Brown’s sincere little church on nearby Alameda Avenue weren’t retail businesses, but they greatly influenced the Alternative Movement with music and social activism.
Folk and Acoustic Music were taught and played by professionals Bruce (U. Utah) Phillips and busy mother Rosalie Sorrells in a variety of locations in and around the University campus. Phillips also worked with community activist Ammon Hennacy before the latter’s unexpected death. Bruce described Hennacy as a man “… whose deeds matched his words one hundred per cent.”
The Salt Lake Tribune’s photo editor Jeremy Harmon published a story about Ammon Hennacy and his idealism on September 24, 2017:
U. Utah Phillips and Rosalie Sorrells both achieved respectable musical careers and nationwide acclaim.
Charles (Charlie Brown) Artman
Artist and sculptor Kevin Bruce Mahaffey writes: Robert Macri started the Alameda Street church and he asked Charlie to watch the place while Jim was in California on vacation. When Bob got back, Charlie was feeding 70 people … In my opinion, he and Ammon Hennacy were the only real conscious people in Utah. After many trials and tribulations, when he got his bus back, he lived in Kamas (Utah) for a while, but the locals started shooting at his cats. He then took the tribe to California.
He used my typewriter to write his opus. Anyone have a copy of that? 1/2 spaced with several hundred pages … Charlie was a truly fun individual and I am proud to have known him. Even if he still owes me for 10 typewriter ribbons.
Charlie was based in the tiny Alameda Street Church, on the north side of the avenue at approximately 1245 East, but the building was eventually torn down and a parking lot covers its former location in 2019.
The tiny houses and apartments that once characterized Alameda Avenue — an equally tiny street, running downhill from Reservoir Park for a solitary city block, are rapidly disappearing with time.
Charlie Brown made a Folk Album with Harmonica Slim, Matt Umanov, Bob Fernbach, Sherry Noyes, Pat Winston, and Gene Tambor, after many adventures in the Pacific Northwest and the San Francisco Bay Area. This recording is available from Smithsonian Folk Ways Recordings.
(Below) Charles Artman having a “Lenny Bruce” moment with Steve Jones inside the Cosmic Aeroplane when it was located at 369 West South Temple a couple of miles away from University District. Charlie usually got around Salt Lake by bicycle. Once-banned Grove Press and Black Cat books were on sale at the shop, including books by and about the late Mr. Bruce. Copies of Teton Tea Party, which consisted of innocuous folk songs, were also available in Cosmic record bins.
Salt Lake City’s Deseret News published an article about the passing of Charles Artman in Northern California —
The ‘Art Barn’ above Reservoir Park also presented unconventional shows and high quality events by variously creative people. The basic building was remodeled over the years, and is known as the City Arts Finch Lane Gallery in 2019.
The building once had a downstairs apartment for curators and guests. Cosmic illustrator Neil Passey lived there for awhile. The Art Barn hosted the Salt Lake Sixties exhibit in 1995, with Mr. Passey as Guest of Honor.
Webmaster Michael writes: The Art & Architecture Departments extensively utilized the classy Art Barn for a variety of events. We normally inhabited WWII barracks from Fort Douglas, scattered under trees surrounding the University of Utah campus proper. Neil Passey and I took a class in a barracks classroom together during 1969. There were Dance companies and electric guitarists practicing around us, and even the Daily Utah Chronicle was housed in a converted military structure. A significant portion of Salt Lake City’s Alternative Culture was fomented and fermented in those modest wooden buildings beneath the Cottonwoods, Elms, Spruces, and Pines.
Salt Lake City’s Memory Grove was an important gathering place during the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967
Eclectic wide-ranging music pulsated at the heart of the Alternative Movement.
Take a peek at Brian C. Record’s book of Fine Art Photographs
about Famous Musicians Who Rocked 1960’s Utah
Sugar House Park, with expansive views of the mountains and valley, replaced narrow downtown Memory Grove in popularity for Alternative youth during the next few years.
We actively request your contributions of pictures, memorabilia, and oral histories concerning the Cosmic Aeroplane and related enterprises — please contact our blogmeister: firstname.lastname@example.org