Feb 18, 2012

February 1968: Europe Tour Planned


The Grateful Dead, having completed an extremely successful tour of the Pacific Northwest, are turning their attention to Europe. At the end of March the band will leave San Francisco to play several Eastern cities, then Paradise Island in the Bahamas, visit Paradise Island in the Bahamas [sic], and so on to the Continent.
Paradise Island was purchased a number of years ago by Howard Hughes, the secretive plutocrat, who erected a giant resort hotel there. Friends of the Dead, the Mary Carter Paint Company, have just bought the property from Hughes and the group will provide the music for a housewarming party at their private residence on the island.
After engagements in Washington, D.C., the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and probably Detroit and Cleveland, and the Paradise party, the Grateful Dead sail for France. They will perform in Paris (most likely at the Olympic Theatre), Grenoble and Lyons in April, and then head for the Scandinavian countries. Appearances are set for Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen, Upsala, and Stockholm in May. Stops in Holland and England will complete the long-projected tour. There are also plans, but less definite ones, to return to San Francisco the long way around and play Japan and Australia.
Recording on the group's next album should be completed before they depart ("We've already spent $60,000 of Warner Brothers' money and they want to see something for it," Rock Scully, the Dead's manager, commented) and they expect it and two single records, all as yet untitled, to be released sometime in March. A St. Valentine's Day dance at the Carousel Ballroom with Country Joe and the Fish - to be broadcast live by KMPX in San Francisco - and a Washington's Birthday weekend stand at King's Beach in Lake Tahoe with the Youngbloods are also on their crowded schedule. The last two events, like the Northwest tour, are being produced and promoted by the Dead themselves in a move for artistic and financial independence.

(from Rolling Stone, March 9 1968)


  1. This article, though it bears a March publication date, was written in early February 1968.

    Things did not go as planned.
    The European tour and Bahamas trip fell through. Even the planned eastern tour was cut short, as the band ended up playing only in Detroit...
    And the album, of course, was nowhere near done in March; though they did manage to release the Dark Star single in April.

  2. Rolling Stone ran an article by Michael Lydon in their 2/10/68 issue titled "The First European International Pop Festival: Pigpen To Meet Pope?"

    A shadowy group of promoters announced the Festival would take place in Rome from February 19-25, 1968, and were inviting numerous bands from England & San Francisco to play. "Invitations are also going out to bands from the Continent and all over the world...
    "The Rome Festival will be run on traditional European lines: performers will be paid, and a panel of judges will award eight 'Golden Laurels' to the best groups. Thirteen four-hour shows are scheduled, making one-hour slots for 52 groups."
    The terms? "The Festival is offering terms of $500 per man to all groups, round trip transportation, accomodations in Rome, and 1400 lbs of paid air freight for equipment." Festival proceeds, of course, would be donated to charity.
    About 20 groups were said to have signed up, and Country Joe had already signed a contract - however, bands in San Francisco were skeptical of the Festival. The Doors refused to go. "Its organization seems chaotic and its origins shadowy... Few have expressed confidence in the Festival... The doubts echoed by others seem justified.
    "The sole American representative of the Festival, former light-show manager and small-time promoter Robert Bleggi, admits that he knows little of the Festival's organization and its leadership. The idea began several months ago he says, with a projected European tour of Country Joe and two little-known San Francisco groups that he was arranging through Dave Howsen, another small promoter and former nightclub operator in London. Howsen met two wealthy Americans living in London, who in turn met an Italian prince, and the Festival idea blossomed.
    "The only American connected with it is Don Fredrickson, a San Francisco promoter who failed, now working in Europe who was connected with the Love Conspiracy Commune, a group which gave one dance in San Francisco last year. The dance was picketed by the Diggers and widely believed to have 'syndicate' backing. Fredrickson is called a 'hang-up artist' by many who have had contact with him.
    "Bleggi himself hasn't done much to allay the suspicions of local managers. He has given them little hard information, and several claim he has changed the terms on the offered contract."
    It was also suspected that numerous 'name' groups were claimed to have signed just to entice others; but Bleggi said over $100,000 in advance money had already been put up. It was also pointed out that "Rome has long been known as a dead town for rock and roll - the Beatles bombed there in 1965," and Italians preferred local groups. The timing was also questionable, since rather than being scheduled for the summer, "Rome in February is most often cold, grey, and relatively deserted. Moreover, the shows will be held in the round, which could create problems of presentation and sound control."

    "'If they come up with the bread and the tickets, of course we'll go,' said Grateful Dead manager Danny Rifkin, 'but I don't know whether they will or not. I've got my doubts.' Pigpen (Ron McKernan), the Dead's organist, has long expressed a desire for an audience with Pope Paul VI."

    As it turned out, the Festival did take place on May 4-7, featuring a few mostly English groups such as Pink Floyd. It took place in the midst of student riots & poor attendance, and got moved from an arena to a club due to lack of ticket sales...
    See http://digilander.libero.it/pinkside/p3.htm (and the following page)

  3. Can not believe how the story got confused. It was Hartford of the A&P empire who had bought PI not Howard Hughes. Next the Band was coming to our House on Paradise Island for the opening nothing to do with Mary Carter Paint Co. who had just bought PI from Hartford. Jim Crosby and Jack Davis were both very strait, and would not have approved of the Dead. My Mom and step father had Timothy Leary, down and one of there many friends was said to have financed the Dead early on, and so had the contact to have them come and play. One of the problem was the Dead insisted we set up a tent city which we had planed to use American Indian teepees, to house the groupies who fallowed the band. We figured the authorities might frown upon this action so the idea was given up. The house was destroyed a few years ago by Atlantis Resort owner Sol Kerzner for tax reasons I was told. I made a YouTube clip of pic and will include the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKRrD4jmErg

    1. Hi Christopher,
      Could you email me at slipnut01@gmail.com about your photos?

  4. Hi Christopher,
    Could you email me at slipnut01@gmail.com? Still seems unclear if they played or not.

    1. The way I understand it, the Dead were invited to come play the house-opening party, but the idea was dropped, and presumably they never came. The Rolling Stone article mangled the details, but the commenter's info on Paradise Island is accurate. (He didn't mention the name of the house owner or who invited the Dead, though.)
      I'm a little amused by the idea that in early '68, a host of groupies was going to follow the Dead to the Bahamas - but possibly the Dead wanted to bring their "family" with them on their vacation, or there was some miscommunication.