Jul 27, 2012

May 29, 1971: Winterland


SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) – About 1,000 young people attending a rock concert featuring The Grateful Dead took an unexpected trip when their apple cider turned out to be spiked with LSD.
Alison McDonald, a Berkeley woman who attended the Saturday night concert by The Grateful Dead, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, and R.J. Fox at the Winterland Auditorium, said that during a band break an anonymous voice announced over the public address system:
“Those of you who are going to get some liquid refreshment, pass it on so your neighbor can have some.”
Miss McDonald said, “When it was passed around, it tasted like watered down apple juice – I took a sip because I was very thirsty.”
She said in less than an hour, she knew she had taken something more than apple cider.
“It was OK acid,” she said, “but I feel sorry for anyone who took more than two sips.”
Police later reported that nearby Mt. Zion Hospital treated more than 30 persons during a five-hour period who complained of going through a bad trip.
“They said they had drunk a punch-like drink that was being passed around in various containers,” a hospital spokesman said.

(from the Los Angeles Times, June 1 1971)

Thanks to snow & rain at the Transitive Axis forum.

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The JGMF blog also quotes part of another article on this concert, from the 6/11/71 Berkeley Barb:


"A girl in front of us ... fell down on the floor and started to put things in her mouth. She would pick up tin cans, papers, socks, garbage and anything else that was on the floor. She threw up all over and then tried to take her clothes off. People were freaking out all over the place. It was like people were being shot down. People would fall down and struggle to get to their feet again. One guy fell on about five people and they all fell like dominoes. ... Time actually halted as if we were dead. Jane and I were the only ones standing in a five foot radius while the people around us were squirming on the floor like dying fish."


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SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - Police will try to revoke the permit for Winterland, the city's largest regular rock music hall, because 1,000 persons got stoned on LSD spiked water during a weekend concert, narcotics agents said Monday.
Sgt. Charles Hoenisch said chief Al Nelder will try to lift the permit for concerts at Winterland "and places like it that have been a cause of major police problems."
The water was passed through the audience of 4,500 young people who paid $2 each Saturday night to hear the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, R.J. Fox and other rock groups.
"There's some water being passed out," someone announced during a band break. "Just take a sip and pass it back so everybody can have some."
Police reported that more than 30 persons were taken to a nearby hospital during a five-hour period with "bad trips." No one was hospitalized.
Promoter Bill Graham said he was unaware of the anouncement about the water.
Hoenisch said the incident was still under investigation but "we know there were people involved - one who made the announcement over the microphone, and two others who brought in two 30 gallon plastic garbage cans of spiked water."

(from the Palo Alto Times, June 1 1971)


1 comment:

  1. Bill Graham then held a press conference - as reported in the 6/4/71 San Jose Mercury:

    "Rock music impresario Bill Graham angrily denounced Thursday attempts by police to revoke his dance hall license for Winterland, where a psychedelic-spiked beverage sent 30 young people to hospitals for treatment of 'bad trips' Saturday...
    On Monday, Police Chief Alfred Nelder said Graham's permit to use the Winterland Hall should be revoked, for failing to protect his patrons at a concert by the Grateful Dead.
    'You don't just close down an establishment because once, for the first time in five years and 1,300 concerts, this happens,' Graham told a news conference. 'Just because there's a train accident, you don't take the trains off the tracks.'"

    Evidently, Winterland stayed open.

    Graham had already made the announcement a month earlier that he was going to close the Fillmores, and Fillmore West only stayed open another month.
    As the 6/11/71 San Francisco Chronicle reported:
    "A week ago, stung by a police department threat to remove his permit for operation at Winterland, Graham suggested that he might doggedly prolong the life of the Fillmore West.
    Now, he said, in weariness, in frustration, in bitterness, in anger - it's all over...
    Ever since the disaster at Winterland two weeks ago, when a number of people drank water laced with what is believed to be LSD, the 41-year-old producer feels that the police have been harassing his audiences.
    'I just don't want to fight anymore,' Graham said."