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Chet Helms: Arrested in Dallas


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Soon after the assassination of JFK the Dallas police arrested a man called Chet Helms. It is not known why the police did this. Did they think he was related to Richard Helms? Was it his long hair and beard (unusual in Dallas in 1963)? Anyway, he was released without charge.

Helms was not involved in the assassination. However, he was a subversive. He went on to form and manage Janis Joplin and the Holding Company. He also arranged free concerts. This introduced the world to Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish and Jefferson Airplane.

Chet Helms, one of America’s hippy activists, died on Saturday.

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In 1963, Chet Helms, manager of Big Brother And The Holding Company, was rounded up in Laredo as a suspect in JFK's assassination simply because he had shoulder-length hair.

http://www.thestudentzone.com/articles/roky.html

This makes a great deal of logical sense, especially when you consider that Laredo is a mere 420 miles from Dallas.

Maybe 'Chet' is short for 'Chester.'

Hit 1 of 1

AGENCY INFORMATION

AGENCY : FBI

RECORD NUMBER : 124-10009-10080

RECORDS SERIES : HQ

AGENCY FILE NUMBER : 62-109060-344

DOCUMENT INFORMATION

ORIGINATOR : FBI

FROM : SAC, SA

TO : DIRECTOR, FBI

TITLE : [No Title]

DATE : 11/28/1963

PAGES : 2

DOCUMENT TYPE : PAPER, TEXTUAL DOCUMENT

SUBJECTS : JFK, DISPARAGING REMARKS, HELMS, CHESTER LEO, JR.

CLASSIFICATION : UNCLASSIFIED

RESTRICTIONS : OPEN IN FULL

CURRENT STATUS : OPEN

DATE OF LAST REVIEW : 10/26/1992

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.

Edited by John Dolva
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How do you know this?

The information appeared in an article in the Guardian yesterday. The story was told by Helms himself. Although he was arrested soon after the assassination I think he turned the story into a joke. It made me laugh anyway.

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Was it his long hair and beard (unusual in Dallas in 1963)?

Let's look at this from the perspective of 1963.

In 1963, beards were primarily worn by academics, "beatniks," historical reenactors, and the terminally eccentric. In 1963, long hair wasn't yet fashionable in the US; that only became so after The Beatles came to the US with their "mop-tops" in February of 1964, just prior to their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV. Anyone with long hair and a beard in 1963 most likely would've been considered a bum, a vagrant, someone without means of support.

So if Chet Helms had long hair and a beard in 1963, he would have IMMEDIATELY stood out from the crowd, no matter where...and in Texas, the contrast with the local citizenry would've been almost blinding.

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  • 3 months later...
Soon after the assassination of JFK the Dallas police arrested a man called Chet Helms. It is not known why the police did this. Did they think he was related to Richard Helms? Was it his long hair and beard (unusual in Dallas in 1963)? Anyway, he was released without charge. Helms was not involved in the assassination. However, he was a subversive. He went on to form and manage Janis Joplin and the Holding Company. He also arranged free concerts. This introduced the world to Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish and Jefferson Airplane. Chet Helms, one of America’s hippy activists, died on Saturday.

The memorial to Chet Helms will be held this Sunday in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It is planned as a huge free concert with an awesome line-up of performers.

Some of the greats are as subversive in death as in life. I was reminded of this last August when I traveled to Colorado for Hunter S. Thompson's memorial, before which I had a brief encounter with John Kerry, alone, by the side of a country road, outside the Woody Creek Store.

Here's Thompson's take on the Kennedy assassination:

JOHN F. KENNEDY, who seized the White House from Richard Nixon in a frenzied campaign that turned a whole generation of young Americans into political junkies, got shot in the head for his efforts, murdered in Dallas by some hapless geek named Oswald who worked for either Castro, the mob, Jimmy Hoffa, the CIA, his dominatrix landlady or the odious, degenerate FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. The list is long and crazy - maybe Marilyn Monroe's first husband fired those shots from the Grassy Knoll. Who knows? A whole generation of American journalists is still embarrassed by their failure to answer that question.

JFK's ghost will haunt the corridors of power in America for as long as the grass is green and the rivers run to the sea.... Take my word for it, Bubba. I have heard his footsteps for [40] years and I still feel guilty about not being able to explain the biggest news story of my lifetime to my son.

AT ONE POINT, not long ago, I went to the desperate length of confessing to the murder myself. We were finishing breakfast in a patio restaurant on a bright Sunday morning in Boulder. It was a stylish place near the campus, where decent people could meet after pretending they had just come from church and get fashionably drunk on mimosas and white wine. The tables were separated by ferns and potted palms....

"Son," I said, "I'm sorry to ruin your breakfast, but I think the time has finally come to tell you the truth about who killed John Kennedy."

He nodded but said nothing. I tried to keep my voice low, but emotion made it difficult.

"It was me," I said. "I am the one who shot Jack Kennedy."

"What?" he said, glancing over his shoulder to see if others were listening. Which they were. The mention of Kennedy's name will always turn a few heads, anywhere in the world - and god only knows what a tenured Professor of American Political History might feel upon hearing some grizzled thug in a fern bar confess to his own son that he was the one who murdered John F. Kennedy. It is one of those line that will not fall on deaf ears.

My son leaned forward and stared into my eyes as I explained the raw details and my reasons for killing the President in cold blood, many years ago. I spoke about ballistics and treachery and my "secret work for the government" in Brazil, when he thought I was in the Peace Corps in the sixties.

"I gave up killing about the time you were born," I said. "But I could never tell you about it, until now."

He nodded solemnly for a moment, then laughed at me and called for some tea. "Don't worry, Dad," he said.

"Good boy," I said. "Now we can finally be honest with each other. I feel naked and clean for the first time in [40] years."

"Not me," he said. "Now I'll have to turn you in."

"What?" I shouted. "You treacherous little bastard!" Many heads had turned to stare at us. It was a weird moment for them. The man who killed Kennedy had just confessed publicly to his son, and now they were cursing each other. Ye gods, what next?

What indeed? How warped can it be for a child born into the sixties to finally be told that his father was the hired shootist who killed Kennedy? Do you call 911? Call a priest? Or act like a cockroach and say nothing?

Thompson, Hunter S., Better Than Sex: Confessions Of A Political Junkie, New York: Random House, pgs 3-5.

Tim

Edited by Tim Carroll
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Soon after the assassination of JFK the Dallas police arrested a man called Chet Helms. It is not known why the police did this. Did they think he was related to Richard Helms? Was it his long hair and beard (unusual in Dallas in 1963)? Anyway, he was released without charge. Helms was not involved in the assassination. However, he was a subversive. He went on to form and manage Janis Joplin and the Holding Company. He also arranged free concerts. This introduced the world to Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish and Jefferson Airplane. Chet Helms, one of America’s hippy activists, died on Saturday.

The memorial to Chet Helms will be held this Sunday in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It is planned as a huge free concert with an awesome line-up of performers.

Some of the greats are as subversive in death as in life. I was reminded of this last August when I traveled to Colorado for Hunter S. Thompson's memorial, before which I had a brief encounter with John Kerry, alone, by the side of a country road, outside the Woody Creek Store.

Here's Thompson's take on the Kennedy assassination:

JOHN F. KENNEDY, who seized the White House from Richard Nixon in a frenzied campaign that turned a whole generation of young Americans into political junkies, got shot in the head for his efforts, murdered in Dallas by some hapless geek named Oswald who worked for either Castro, the mob, Jimmy Hoffa, the CIA, his dominatrix landlady or the odious, degenerate FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. The list is long and crazy - maybe Marilyn Monroe's first husband fired those shots from the Grassy Knoll. Who knows? A whole generation of American journalists is still embarrassed by their failure to answer that question.

JFK's ghost will haunt the corridors of power in America for as long as the grass is green and the rivers run to the sea.... Take my word for it, Bubba. I have heard his footsteps for [40] years and I still feel guilty about not being able to explain the biggest news story of my lifetime to my son.

AT ONE POINT, not long ago, I went to the desperate length of confessing to the murder myself. We were finishing breakfast in a patio restaurant on a bright Sunday morning in Boulder. It was a stylish place near the campus, where decent people could meet after pretending they had just come from church and get fashionably drunk on mimosas and white wine. The tables were separated by ferns and potted palms....

"Son," I said, "I'm sorry to ruin your breakfast, but I think the time has finally come to tell you the truth about who killed John Kennedy."

He nodded but said nothing. I tried to keep my voice low, but emotion made it difficult.

"It was me," I said. "I am the one who shot Jack Kennedy."

"What?" he said, glancing over his shoulder to see if others were listening. Which they were. The mention of Kennedy's name will always turn a few heads, anywhere in the world - and god only knows what a tenured Professor of American Political History might feel upon hearing some grizzled thug in a fern bar confess to his own son that he was the one who murdered John F. Kennedy. It is one of those line that will not fall on deaf ears.

My son leaned forward and stared into my eyes as I explained the raw details and my reasons for killing the President in cold blood, many years ago. I spoke about ballistics and treachery and my "secret work for the government" in Brazil, when he thought I was in the Peace Corps in the sixties.

"I gave up killing about the time you were born," I said. "But I could never tell you about it, until now."

He nodded solemnly for a moment, then laughed at me and called for some tea. "Don't worry, Dad," he said.

"Good boy," I said. "Now we can finally be honest with each other. I feel naked and clean for the first time in [40] years."

"Not me," he said. "Now I'll have to turn you in."

"What?" I shouted. "You treacherous little bastard!" Many heads had turned to stare at us. It was a weird moment for them. The man who killed Kennedy had just confessed publicly to his son, and now they were cursing each other. Ye gods, what next?

What indeed? How warped can it be for a child born into the sixties to finally be told that his father was the hired shootist who killed Kennedy? Do you call 911? Call a priest? Or act like a cockroach and say nothing?

Thompson, Hunter S., Better Than Sex: Confessions Of A Political Junkie, New York: Random House, pgs 3-5.

Tim

Tim,

Good post. Is the cigarette smoker in the Doonesbery cartoon supposed to be Hunter S. or "brains"? (from the Thunderbirds)

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Good post. Is the cigarette smoker in the Doonesbery cartoon supposed to be Hunter S. or "brains"? (from the Thunderbirds)

The cigarette smoker was Doonesbury long-time character "Uncle Duke," based on Hunter S. Thompson and/or his alter ego, Raoul Duke.

Tim

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  • 4 weeks later...
Maybe 'Chet' is short for 'Chester.'

Quite so. It was my father and grandfather's name.

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