Oct 11, 2017

July 1970: Warner Brothers Promotion


BURBANK, CALIF. - Three weeks after release, sales of "Workingman's Dead" by The Grateful Dead on the Warner Bros. label have reached 200,000 albums. With the re-soliciting of Warner's distributors throughout the country lately, the total was raised to 400,000 records shipped.
Backing up this album, Warner Bros. Records Inc. is directly involved in the most wide-spread advertising campaign in its history. The bulk of the emphasis is in radio time buys on the top 40 level throughout the country, with $50,000 being spent directly from Burbank headquarters of the company, and another $50,000 coming from Warner's distributors. The distributors are also matching funds with major retailers for a co-op ad campaign, which is set to break during the final week in July for maximum impact across the country.
Warner Bros. Records also bought a billboard on the Sunset Strip, and the largest outdoor advertising space in San Francisco, home of the Dead, a billboard above the Fillmore West. This is the first time a record company has used the latter space to advertise.
Additionally, Warner Bros. has set an extensive space advertising program. National ads are being placed in trade magazines, underground news media, and mid-road consumer publications. The company is merchandising the album with Grateful Dead posters, stickers, and buttons.

(from Cashbox, 25 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Billboard 7/25/70 ad - see http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2009/12/gd-1970-caravan-of-love-tour.html

Fillmore West, early August 1970
"Tour blank concert poster for a proposed Warner Brothers-sponsored series of (canceled) free concerts to be held over the summer of 1970, featuring the Grateful Dead, along with Crazy Horse (without Neil Young) and Sal Valentino... Since the tour was canceled (it actually sort-of morphed into the 1970 "Medicine Ball Caravan" tour, with different participants), most of the posters were remaindered and never made it out of the print shop."

1 comment:

  1. An edited version of Uncle John's Band was also released as a single, omitting the dreaded "goddamn" so it would be safe for AM airplay, and it got to #69 on the Billboard chart.
    But Garcia complained to Creem in November '70, "I gave them instructions on how to properly edit it, and they garbled it so completely and we didn’t get a chance to hear it until way late, and it was…oh fuck, what an atrocity."

    Workingman's Dead reached #27 on the Billboard pop-album chart. Per McNally, "Promotion was difficult, since Garcia and Weir refused to do a radio promo tour for no particular reason other than they didn't feel like it. Hunter and [Jon] McIntire substituted, which was effective only to a point... Hunter also toured radio stations." (p.369)
    Hunter talked about this a bit in a 1988 interview with David Gans:
    "WBCN [in Boston] used to be a real big Dead station, as I recall. I remember, I was going around promoting Workingman's Dead... I said, 'I'd like to go out on the road and this'd be fun to do. Give me the record, I'll go on out and promote it.' Did a lot of radio interviews, but they said, fine, but don't play the record! [This was before the release date.] I got into BCN, and I was doing an interview right around 10 or 11:00 at night. They twisted my arm, and I said OK, I'll let you play one tune. The first notes of Uncle John's Band began, and lightning struck the station, and we went off the air. [When] we got back on again, I said 'No way!' So BCN almost got a scoop on Uncle John's Band."
    Hunter also remembered visiting a radio station where the DJ "took out the record and showed me Casey Jones, and there was a nail scratch across Casey Jones. And he said, 'The program director did this. He said we are not to play this, because the word 'cocaine' is used in it, and the word's coming from the FCC that if any of this kind of stuff is going on, we stand in danger of losing our licenses.' I went, 'Oops, that's where my hits go...'" (Conversations with the Dead p.280)

    Joe Smith talked about the Dead's resistance to Warners' promotional efforts in his 1971 Rolling Stone interview:
    "The boys...were doing to do a promotion tour with an album, it was gonna cost us $35,000, they were gonna do free concerts across the United States, they were gonna map out the cities, we were gonna provide the funds, the promotional help and so forth, loud speaker systems in parks, all set up, I had allocated that money, I had bought my company on it, I had taken $35,000 on it, and then they never did it. It all fell apart. Then subsequently with the next album, the plan was the band, the family, everybody involved with the family was going out to promote this themselves. I think there were 12 people supposed to leave. The first day eight did not show. We were waiting at the plane, promotion people were waiting, and that kinda petered out and fizzled."
    http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2015/03/july-1971-joe-smith-interview.html (see also McNally p.410 for a similar story)
    Meanwhile, Garcia was complaining in interviews that Warner Brothers was "incompetent": "They have terrible distribution and they don't sell records...I don't think they know how to do it."