Aug 14, 2015

November 11-14, 1970: 46th Street Rock Palace, Brooklyn, NY

(46th St. Theatre, B'klyn.)

The Grateful Dead brought their musical magic and excitement to New York's newest rock showcase, the 46th St. Theatre in Brooklyn, for four shows last week. However, the Dead were the only bright star in an otherwise dull evening, caused by the theatre's poor organization, management, and a faulty public address system.
Opening with a set by the Dead's country cousins, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, the evening was another example of the band's eclectic inventiveness. With Jerry Garcia now playing the pedal steel guitar as cosmically as he plays electric guitar, the New Riders are one of the best country rock combos around.
Preparing the over capacity audience for the Dead's electric set, the Riders scored with "Henry," "Dirty Business," and a rollicking version of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman." The latter tune showed Marmaduke's deep country voice off to best advantage.
Building upon existing themes, the Grateful Dead, led by Garcia, improvise as well as any group in rock. Constantly rising to intense musical peaks, the sextet's new emphasis on complex vocal harmonies adds to their established instrumental talents.
Performing lotsa new material, including the first distinct interpretation of Khris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee," the Dead also ignited the audience with "Shine On Your Love Light."

(by Jeff, from Variety, 25 November 1970)

Thanks to


  1. A short review from Variety - Jeff had also covered other Dead shows in NYC that year, and he liked them all. (He also liked the New Riders.)
    Here, aside from the music, he says the evening was dull due to "poor organization, management, and a faulty public address system," but doesn't go into details. The 46th Street Rock Palace was a new rock theater (converted from an old cinema) - Jefferson Airplane was advertised for November 16, but apparently had to cancel; instead some of them jammed with the Dead at the Fillmore East that evening.

    A memory of the Rock Palace shows:
    "Went to all four shows. Wed. about 250 People. Show ended 5:30 am - Great jam session
    Thursday about 150 people and seemed most were cops...
    Friday...Hot Tuna - great show.
    Sat. was too spaced, but the place was packed."
    [Hot Tuna couldn't have shown up on Friday, since they were at the Capitol Theater that night with the Airplane, but they appeared on Wednesday for the jam session.]

    There are a couple other memories on - the 11/11 review (stating the Dead played a 2:30 show to a deserted theater of senior citizens) I am sure is a fake - for one thing, the Dead only played one evening show, and no other account confirms this - but the review for Thursday, November 12 is fascinating:
    "It was a rainy night and not many people showed up, maybe 500 in all. The band experienced technical problems and the show started late, 9 or maybe 9:15. [Shows were scheduled for 8.] We expected to see the acoustic Dead open but the New Riders...opened the show and played a rousing set. The changeover took place and the Dead finally arrived on stage. They were introduced by Allison Steele, the Nightbird, and the show started. They were awful. Mercifully, after two or three songs they stopped. Weir came to the mike and said. "I broke a few strings, it's going to take a while for me to replace them and tune up. So, relax and we'll be back." [After the tuning break...] starting from eleven with one break they played until four am. It was the best show I'd ever seen by anyone, bar none. Some of the songs: a great Lovelight, St. Stephen, and a show stopping It's a Man's World."

    A couple comments elsewhere also recall FM DJ Allison Steele as the announcer, at least one show going til the morning, and on Fri-Sat, the 13th & 14th, "so many people trying to sneak in via the fire escape...after a while, the management let most people in for free, as they wanted to fill the theater and didn't want any one else to get hurt." (One person who sneaked in says the outnumbered ushers eventually gave up keeping people out.) (comments)

  2. Wednesday the 11th was unfortunately the only show that was taped - a very poor-quality tape, but it has Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen & Papa John Creach showing up to jam at the end of the show.
    Pigpen was limited to just a few songs on the 11th, but apparently dominated the other nights - one person on the 13th recalled "a lot of Pigpen," another says "Pigpen ripped up the joint," one mentions a "show-stopping" Man's World, and the Variety reviewer says that Lovelight "ignited the audience."
    A few people remember scattered setlist details from the other shows. It's hard to tell which show the Variety reviewer might have been at, but it wasn't the 11th - he says it was "over capacity" so that would mean either the 13th or 14th (if the Dead played til morning, he almost certainly would have left early!). Songwise, he says there was "lotsa new material," but only names Lovelight & Bobby McGee.
    He notes that their version of Bobby McGee is "the first distinct interpretation" - this reads oddly today, since we know the Dead got it from Janis Joplin; however her version was not released until 1971. The Dead started playing it in November '70 - in fact, this could be the first time they'd played it live.

  3. Thanks for the link! It has some more valuable comments:
    One person who must have attended on the weekend says, "The house was packed and people stood "armpit to armpit!"... I also recall that the combined sound of the band and the trains rumbling outside made plaster dust fall from the ceiling. I left the show early - the house was oversold, the noise was too much and I was convinced the building would collapse. It didn't."

    Another person recalls, "The first night was a Wednesday. I went Friday and Saturday. People that were at the first show told me it was half empty, and I couldn't believe it but it was true. No one at that time went to a Wednesday concert, we all had school or jobs! And yes it was packed the final 2 nights. Saturday was a sellout, so a pal and I snuck in (broke in with a crowbar on a boarded window to the top room actually, found the crowbar on the roof!) A line of people followed us up the old rotting fire escape, so the ushers that busted us two had to let us all in. I recall the greasers going nuts when Pigpen sang Lovelight! The mezzanine was a drug emporium, freaks hanging out passing dosed bottles of juice and reefers. Somebody opened the door off the stage and let people in so it got *real* crowded.... The ushers were in shock, no one knew how to deal with it!"

  4. On a more general level, all the audience memories of this run came from a wide variety of places - comments on,, the Archive, JGMF, Brooklyn & movie-theater blogs...
    While it's not that common to find accounts of lost shows scattered so widely, still, it does make me wish there was some more centralized Dead-memories site where they could be collected. But given the nature of the internet, we have what we have - memories of old shows keep surfacing here & there, and sometimes it takes an extensive search to find them in unexpected places.

    Memories on the Archive confirm the general picture: that the Wednesday & Thursday shows were only half-full, but Friday & Saturday were packed; NRPS opened each night; Jack & Jorma only showed up on Wednesday. A couple people also remember hanging out with members of the Dead.

    By the way, the new Deadbase 50 makes the startling assertion for 11/12/70 that "Deadbase's setlist of this show is from a tape that circulated in the 1970s but does not seem to be available now." I'm not sure whether to be sad at the loss of another audience tape, or skeptical that it ever existed.

  5. I hope it is true the Pig Pen cooked bacon on stage at the Saturday show. The just seems so perfect.

    1. Good find! Not many details about the shows, but it says, "Deadheads who attended the Saturday night concert speak of the extraordinary duration of the show, the clouds of marijuana, and the hashish smoke. Mind-altering drugs were prevalent at the time, and two separate attendees reported that it was light out when the concert ended early Sunday morning. Both also recall band member Pigpen cooking bacon onstage."

      The article mistakenly says this was "the third night’s show, which took place on Saturday, Nov. 11, 1970" - however, Nov 11 was a Wednesday; Saturday was Nov 14. We know Hot Tuna only showed up on the 11th; it's hard to say if one of the weekend shows went til dawn too (it would've been light out around 6:30).
      Pink Floyd also sometimes cooked bacon onstage in that period, though as part of their show (in live performances of 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast').