Oct 24, 2017

April 11, 1969: University of Arizona, Tucson


TUCSON (AP) - The University of Arizona administration was accused yesterday by a member of the Student Peace Association of preventing the campus appearance of a California rock group.
Bruce Marshall, association president, charged that the administration had blocked his efforts to rent the school auditorium for a performance of the Grateful Dead since February.
Marshall said he filed a complaint with Steve Malkin, Associated Students president.

(from the Arizona Republic, 19 March 1969)

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The Grateful Dead, one of the earliest "San Francisco sound" rock bands, will appear in concert at the University of Arizona auditorium at 8 p.m. Friday.
Sponsored by the UA Student Peace Assocation... Tickets are priced at $2 and $3. They are available at Student Union Room 106 on the UA Campus.

(from the Arizona Daily Star, 10 April 1969)

* * *


"We're gonna be here for a long time and just play any old thing," said Jerry Garcia. And the Grateful Dead proceeded to unleash some of the heaviest sounds and probably the most decibels the University of Arizona auditorium has ever held.
The San Francisco rock band moved a capacity audience of at least 2,600 to cheers and dancing in the aisles, assaulting them with a tidal wave of sound from a complex of 35 amplifiers and speakers.

The concert was sponsored by the UA Student Peace Assn. and was dedicated to draft resister Bradley Littlefield, now serving a sentence in the federal prison camp at Stafford.
The seven members of the Dead include Garcia on lead guitar, Tom Constanten on keyboards, Ronald McKernan (Pigpen) doing vocals, Phillip Lesh on bass, Robert Weir, rhythm guitar, and William Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart on drums.
Not to be overlooked is their sound engineer, who sat at a console adjusting each musician's volume so that any of them, including the vocalist, could be heard over the rest of the band.

It was as much a social occasion in its own way as a night at the opera; a large majority of the youthful audience showed up in bellbottoms, headbands, capes, beads, boots and other finery, and once intermission was over people drifted in and out continuously, stopping briefly to dance or talk.
The Dead were as tight musically as they were loose in between numbers; and even though there were four or five separate musical lines going on at once the result was cohesive. Especially outstanding were Garcia's fearsome guitar solos and Lesh's solo-like bass playing, although they, like much of the music, suffered from repetitiveness.
The bulk of their numbers were blues-based tunes extended with lengthy instrumental breaks, amazingly complex in spite of the speed and volume at which they were usually played. Occasionally they worked in a folk or country influence, as in "Walk Me Out in the Morning" or "Sitting on top of the World."
The climax of the almost three-hour concert was [a] visceral driving number that ended with the audience standing up screaming and crowding into the orchestra pit as the Dead called it a night.

(by Richard Saltus, from the Arizona Daily Star, 12 April 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis.


1 comment:

  1. Very observant reviewer here - his comments on the Dead's music are accurate and hold up well, and there's no indication he'd heard them before. He isn't quite as estranged from the audience as many mainstream reporters at the time were, though he's a little taken aback by the volume and the number of amps. This must be one of the earliest notices of Owsley at work as the Dead's soundman!

    Garcia gives one of his characteristic show introductions - which we don't have on tape. The reviewer says the show was almost three hours; the circulating tape is some 70 minutes. Deadlists speculates that we may be missing a cassette side, 45 minutes, at the start of the show, during which they played Morning Dew and Sitting on Top of the World (its first known performance since 1966!). The show closer was Lovelight, which as always brought the audience to ecstasy.