Apr 8, 2021

November 22, 1970: Middlesex County College, Edison NJ

What a Weekend: "Rhinoceros" and the Grateful Dead 
The "Grateful Dead" and "New Riders of the Purple Sage" drew a capacity crowd at this year's first rock concert. 
The enthusiastic crowd was out of their seats for the greater part of the electrifying five hour performance. 
Before the concert started I had the pleasure of sitting in on a rhap session [sic] with the stage hands, marshals, and the Dead themselves.  
When someone asked one of the Dead if he liked what he was doing (the "Dead" have changed their sound somewhat lately), he replied "If we didn't like what we were doing we wouldn't be doing it." 
As for how they choose what songs to play, he said, "We don't know what we are going to do until we get out there. We just do what we really can get into at the time." 
His answer to "How are you guys doing now?" was "We get by. We can pay the rent, ya know?" 
Finally he stood up and grabbing an attache case he said, "I better go see how things are going on stage." 
I spent the rest of the time waiting for the concert to begin by watching stage hands making last minute preparations, testing equipment, lights, etc... 

The first half of the program was "The New Riders of the Purple Sage." Their sound is basically country-western. However, the steel guitar, which is featured throughout most of the tunes, gives an added dimension to the style. It took a while for the crowd to get into it, but once they did, they seemed to have a lot of fun with it. 
The "Grateful Dead" put on a very well balanced show. Some of the numbers were fast with long, well performed guitar rides. They also played some new arrangements of old songs like the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin." And they played some light, slow blues numbers. 
I was especially pleased with the volume level of the instruments. It wasn't so loud that it left you deaf for the next two days. There was a good balance between the volume of the instruments and the volume of the vocals in all but a few songs. 
The audience and the band worked together to bring the performance to a very exciting conclusion. 
From the standpoint of the "Dead's" performance and the crowd's enjoyment, the concert was a great success. However, I fear that there are many elements connected with the concert that will almost surely upset the whole future concert scene at MCC. 
I am hinting at the abundance of drugs, bogus tickets, and people getting in free because they knew someone.
(by Marshall Reid, from Quo Vadis, December 2, 1970) 
Alas, no tape! 

Apr 7, 2021

February 21-22, 1969: Dream Bowl, Vallejo CA

The "Grateful Dead" will be heading the show at the Dream Bowl tonight and Saturday night. With them will be dancing, food and entertainment (a band, not a good time). 
For the "Dead," who have really lived up to their name in the last year or so, this will be their second appearance in Napa. 
With the addition of a new band member, and their relatively unknown second album, the "Dead" have been moving into different directions. But north, south, or whatever, they will always be great performers, as will be proved at the Dream Bowl tonight. 
[The rest of the article reviews a Steppenwolf concert in Santa Rosa.

(from the "Music Box" column, the Napa Valley Register, February 21, 1969) 

THE MUSIC BOX  [excerpt
Santana, who two weeks ago drew one of the largest crowds the Filmore has ever seen, will be appearing with Sanpaku tonight and tomorrow night at the Dream Bowl. 
Santana's music (almost all instrumental) is a blend of Cuban skins and hard rock to produce a sort of "early Ricky Riccardo, late Fidel Castro" sound. They are one of the hottest bands in the bay area, and everyone who goes, should have a ball. 

Last weekend at the Dream Bowl was a different story all together. Unfortunately the Grateful Dead seem to have misplaced much of their old sound, partially due to the saddening loss of Pig Pen (he got busted). A lot of people would be grateful if they were... 
The Amber Whine were really the highlight of the evening to the hometown crowd. They are by far the best band in town, and they should be going on to bigger things. 
The Music Box learned at this dance that the Dream Bowl plans to bring the Youngbloods, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and possibly Janis Joplin and her new thing, sometime in the near future. [ . . . ] 

IN THE CITY - Appearing nightly until Sunday at the Filmore will be the Grateful Dead (direct from the Dream Bowl) and the Sir Douglas Quintet. 

(from the Napa Valley Register, February 28, 1969) 

The highly successful music group "The Grateful Dead" performed at the Dream Bowl here Friday and Saturday nights along with "Dancing, Food and Entertainment," another group. 
According to the manager of the Grateful Dead, Jonathan Riester, the group is on the last leg of a 25 day tour of the East Coast. Next weekend the group will perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and then have a vacation. 
The group became really big four years ago, Riester said, and is one of the few groups to have made the big time and succeeded in retaining its integrity and remain "underground." He said "underground" meant living the life of an outlaw. 
Riester, who sports a cowboy hat and a moustache, said his group left its audience behind about a year ago with its second album, "Anthem of the Sun." 
"They did things that had never been done before on a record," he said, but added that their next album, which will be released soon, is more traditional and comprehensible. 
Lead guitar player Bob Weir feels that the group has a responsibility to its audience. Since most of the group's enjoyment derives from audience reaction, he said, it is important not to leave the audience too far behind. He doesn't want just a small part of the audience to understand what is taking place and the rest "to sit there with a question mark." 
Drummer Bob Kreutzer said the group doesn't really "understand" the music, they just play it.
A dozen people travel with the group, including seven musicians, three equipment men, one manager, and one engineer. The group uses three tons of equipment to produce its sound, valued in excess of $40,000. 
The other group playing, "Dancing, Food and Entertainment," operates out of Berkeley and has been together only nine months. Their name is confusing, admits member Dennis Reed, but he thinks this will catch on and be of help to them. They have not recorded yet but are looking forward to doing so. 
Reed said he gave up an education to be a musician and regards it as a career. Money is not something to get "hung up" over, but he needs it to survive. His group is concentrating on producing good music.

(by Gary Eisler, from the Napa Valley Register, March 1, 1969) 

See also: 

Apr 1, 2021

March 20, 1981: Jerry Garcia Interview


This week the Grateful Dead trucked back into Britain. In America they're more successful than ever – and even Jerry Garcia can't work out why. He'd rather see Gary Numan...

"Sit down in that corner," says the photographer. "Are you asking me or telling me?" murmurs the musician, innocuously. "Which corner?" He looks around the room, eyes twinkling with amusement. "That corner! On the floor! Jesus, do you think I'll be able to get up again?"
He sighs good naturedly and plonks onto the floor underneath a lamp, spreading his legs out.
"Hiyeee," he gestures, mildly embarrassed. "This is for what? New Musical Express... Yeah, I remember. That's pretty amazing. I don't remember much. Memory is the first thing to go."
He chuckles to himself, and then steels himself as the photographer snaps. A lump of cigarette ash has found a good home on his profoundly shapeless greasy green cord trousers. When he stands up the ash will drift to the floor and the bottom of his trousers will sadly fail to reach his ankles.
"Do you listen to much new music?" asks the writer as the camera clicks again.
"I haven't heard anything really new," the musician admits.
Within the last ten years?
"Well, within the last year. I'm a big Elvis Costello fan. I like Dire Straits, but that's to be expected – it's easy to see why I like them. And I like Gary Numan a lot."
You like Gary Numan!!
"Sure do," he earnestly announces.
Have you seen him in concert?
"No, but I would like to. I think his stuff is really interesting. I think he's got a real thing. I like people who have a real conviction about what they do. Convinced that they have something to say and a real way to say it."
You should meet up with Numan and do some work with him.
"Oh no! I'd be intimidated by him. Shit yeah...these guys all seem so much more together than I feel. I feel like someone who is constantly on the verge of losing it, of blowing it. I feel tremendously insecure. When I see people perform with such panache... I don't see how they do it. It takes tremendous nerve, tremendous balls.
"I admire those guys. I admire Elvis Costello for his amazing output. Goddamn, the guy is so fucking prolific. For me a good year is like writing three songs. Songs don't come easy to me."
To the musician's bafflement, he's led by the photographer to a well lit mirrored bathroom for more photos. He poses uncomfortably in front of a mirror. Does he know what a mirror is? It looks like maybe he doesn't. He doesn't look too secure.
"We celebrities are used to this shit," he mock-boasts when he catches the writer's eye. "The typical bathroom shot."

More than any other psychedelic era band, The Grateful Dead epitomised the hippie in rock'n'roll.
– The Rolling Stone Record Guide

This is a good Tuesday. The sun is shining. The rain is falling. The traffic is moving. The tape is whirring.
The day after Joe Jackson calls me arrogant and superior at Cabaret Futura, an hour and a half after fighting my way out of bed, I'm keeping a 4:30 date in a posh hotel room with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.
We mix something like Grundy and the Pistols, or sugar and whisky. He looks like a busker drowning in a puddle of bad luck; I still have traces of make-up from the night before not quite rubbed away.
Garcia, cheery features awash in a stiff black-silver brush of hair that doesn't have shape or beginning is a collection of curves straight out of one of those quaint Robert Crumb cartoons.
"Yeah, well, I'm certainly part of that Crumb world," he admits.
We find things to talk about. I ask him whether he could stop existing now and not mind too much.
"Yeah, I think so. I'm not crazy about life. I wouldn't want to live here for hundreds of years. There isn't that much I'm interested in. There isn't much that I think I'm going to see that I haven't already seen."
So what sort of things concern you?
"Music. Music and drugs."
Does that limited concern manifest itself as the gross indulgence I see in Grateful Dead music?
"Weeaaall, I don't know what you see..."
I see gross indulgence: perhaps because you're only concerned with music and drugs. He laughs.
"No, actually I am concerned with a few other things. But in terms of what is actually compelling me to stay on this earth, there's not really a whole lot there. I'm interested to see what it's all about. It seems as though an awful lot has happened in a very short while. More has happened in the past 150 years than happened in all the time before that...trillions of years. It seems we're zipping up towards a moment. I don't know what's coming. But having come this far I'm determined to be around for the turn of the millennium. If nothing else. Just cos it's so close. Shit, it's only twenty years away."
He raises his eyebrows a little cheekily. So I would presume, with that sort of attitude, that political force and the like is abstract for you?
"Oh, I think all that shit is bullshit. I think the doings of people is actually really small potatoes. Really! It's like a playground!"
What about the individual stress that pressures people?
"Even that."
What about murder?
"Well, murder may have some kharmic implications. I think the idea of death...I mean, everybody dies." Except the Grateful Dead, I dryly interrupt. Garcia is not thrown. "Well there it is! But death is something that everybody has to confront. Murder...I'm not interested in murdering anybody. If there's a crime, that might be it. I feel like this because I have a lot of respect for the biological effort that has gone into putting humans here.
"If I was going to take a life I would start with my own. I flashed once that maybe a nice way for the world to govern itself would be that everyone would be issued at about five years old with a weapon. It would be like a two-way weapon. If you wanted to murder someone they would vanish instantly – but you would too! It would give everyone the power to make once in their life a life or death decision involving some other person, and they would instantly pay for it. All the hotheads would be gone immediately. I can imagine things working that way. It's a little radical...I haven't been able to sell the idea yet."
It'd be very clean.
"Something that's undramatic and unglamorous."
Thinking of the bits and snatches of drippy Dead music I've run into during the year, I tell him that, incidentally, undramatic and unglamorous pretty well sums up Grateful Dead. If you're being kind. Would he agree?
"Oh, very much," he smiles. "Very much, yes."
Impressed by his lack of anger at my lack of awe, I gain in confidence. Are you into making money, Jerry?
"Fuck no! Money! What is it? That's not to say I'm not greedy, but for me having something to do is better than having something. Having things has never been much of a turn-on for me. Having something to do is much more interesting."
Would you ever cut your hair?
"Would I! I did it once...I do it every couple of years. I do it once in a while, but only because it gets in my way, not because of style or fashion. I don't grow it because I have something to say. It just grows!" He laughs affectionately.
What kind of things embarrass you?
"Performing embarrasses the hell out of me! Getting on stage in front of people, shit, that's embarrassing!" He squirms. "Terribly fucking embarrassing."
But you stay on a stage for up to FIVE bleeding hours.
"Yeah! It takes me that long to get used to it. No, maybe after twenty minutes I'm used to it. I've been embarrassed by other things, like naked girls jumping out of the audience and grabbing me... But it can't compete with the embarrassment of just being visible."
I stare intensely at Garcia. He looks like one of those Muppets they get doing rollicking C&W music on rickety porches with Crystal Gayle. I should have asked him if he would like to be a muppet, but I ask him if he would like to appear on the show.
"Huhuhuh... No. I'm not an actor."
You're a branch of showbiz.
"I prefer The Muppet Show to almost any other show. We've thought of it, actually. It's maybe the one show we'd be comfortable on."
He leans forward in his chair and laughs. I lean back in mine and join in.
"But it's constrictive as a format. I don't think I could fit in there. I don't think of myself as a professional performer. I just can't imagine what an audience would find interesting about my interacting with the Muppets."
But there is comedy in the music of the Grateful Dead, surely.
"Yeah! Sometimes it's funny."
Do people laugh? Or do they still hold you in awe?
"I don't know whether they laugh or not. I know that I laugh! Openly. It's very funny, sometimes. But I really don't know whether the audience laughs. I certainly don't hear great gales of laughter roaring back at me."
What kind of things do you find funny about life?
"All of it is kind of funny."
Humour seems to form the wrapping of your worldview.
"Sort of...but not superficially. My inner me is sort of characterised by like hollow mocking laughter. It's kind of like, well, everyone is the butt of the cosmic joke. The cosmic joke is – you're it! Oh! To me that is always very funny. The 'why me' situation. That's funny!"
There's been over a score of Grateful Dead LPs, none of them in any way essential. Do you have a quiet laugh at all those people who buy all those LPs?
"I have a lot of respect for them! I'm thankful...I'm thankful that anyone comes through the door to see us! Shit, hey, listen man it's been surprising to me that people haven't been walking out in droves ever since we started. Who knows why people like us..."

In their first beginning they were nothing spectacular, just another rock'n'roll band made up of suburban ex-folkies who, in '64 and '65, with Kennedy dead, the civil rights movement split into black and white, Vietnam taking over from Ban The Bomb, with The Beatles, Stones and Dylan, were finding out that the sit and pluck number had outrun its course.
– Rolling Stone, August 1969.
The Grateful Dead acid mythology has always been, for us, a joke.
– Jerry Garcia, March 1981

The Grateful Dead have been meandering along for 16 years. My opinion is that it is absurd and disastrous that they still exist as a recording company. They're a kind of intricately patterned, mystical American supergroup equivalent of Status Quo, with a sliding reputation that's caught up in the outer limits of various 20th Century American myths, and they're renowned for 15-minute 'songs' and five-hour sets. They streak the face of rock'n'roll like blood sometimes streaks sick.
They co-sponsored Altamont; hired the Hells Angels. They've wandered the world generously scattering their music, like seed. They were one of the first groups to introduce the huge sound systems and complicated light shows into rock. They were one of those groups that switched the emphasis of rock away from 'style' towards 'experience'. They were "true explorers into the infinite recession that acid opened up," stars in Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. They didn't do 'gigs' – they did Acid Tests. "Thousands of people, man," Garcia said in 1969, "all helplessly stoned, all finding themselves in a roomful of other thousands of people, none of whom any of them were afraid of. It was magic, far out beautiful magic."
In the '60s the group were a family: a flowing freedom psychedelic musical experience. Sounds mediaeval. Maybe there was a weird transcendentalist drive that fitted into the formlessness and restlessness of the times, but the innocent adventure transformed easily into rock production, big business, a slimy perpetual motion. The Dead sifted into the '70s, splintered, came together and just grew and grew as if they couldn't help it. "The Dead, we all know, is bigger than all of us," said a group member 12 years ago.
They've emerged out of the '70s wastelands as '80s superstars: it's a familiar nightmare.
"We're not big big," Garcia points out with a little chuckle, "but we have our platinum and gold discs."
Instead of just disappearing into small clubs of lost America, the Dead became pop stars for the new American age. Their audience is teenage and indiscriminately enthusiastic.
What this stands for is depressing. That they are successful, celebrated, adored; that they've inevitably failed to fundamentally alter their synthesis of musical idioms; that they are unglamorous and undramatic; all this encapsulates the steady status quo of rock and roll music.
In 1980 the Grateful Dead were one of the biggest live acts in America. I'm told this by a Dead helper who sits discreetly in the background as Garcia and I chat. Perhaps he wants me to realise the immensity of what I'm confronting: the super-ness of this limp tramp sat opposite me. "For the last five years the Dead have been one of the top five drawing acts in America," he intones. "Last year they were in the top three with Wings and the Who."
"So that's what we are!" smirks Garcia.
What does this mean, I scoff. My heated irrationality bumps into Garcia's sheer reasonableness.
"It means that a substantial amount of people, at least in America, are willing to come to our shows – when anything might happen. They're not expecting to see hits, they're expecting to see what's going to happen, and they realise that the show is attached to the moment. It's not a repeatable experience. It's not going to be the same show from night to night."
I think the Grateful Dead mood, relaxed, reasonable, contained, is wrong for the times: it doesn't seem to be the type of music the youth of America should be getting involved with.
"Well, who's to say? Are you qualified to say what they should be getting into?"
Less than most people, I lie. But American youth, teenagers consuming pop music for the first time, don't seem to get or even want youth music. They seem listlessly satisfied with what's offered and channelled to them. Grateful Dead music is not young music.
"No. We're not."
I don't think the Dead mood, the acceptance, is a good stimulation for American teenagers. I think it anaesthetises their energy. It's a typical self-perpetuating American rock music.
"Well...I don't think so. Maybe! You'd have to ask them all! I know that our audiences get off and they come back. Our audience is a contemporary audience. That is to say they are the kids of today. How could they be anything else but?"
I still think it's sad they're throwing themselves at something that's nailed to the '60s.
"I'll admit that it's pretty remarkable for people as old as us to look out at an audience that are 16, 17-year-old kids. But their experiences are attached to today, and so are we. We're no more nailed to the '60s than anybody else. We're not celebrating an era that no longer exists. We're here and now partaking in what's going on.
"Part of our whole trip has been to open up some kind of sensitivity towards what it is that the audience are there for. Somehow it works. I don't know why it works – but the audience does. The Deadheads know. They know why we work! I'm the wrong person to ask on that level of experience. 
"I do think it's strange we've got such a young audience, but on the other hand I think anyone can appreciate a certain amount of expertise. There's something you gain from doing something for 16 years with a great deal of determination without having to define it in any hard-edged way. We never say this is exactly what we're going to do, we've never enclosed ourselves, musically or any other way. It's an open-ended experience for us. So as far as the idea of change, time and fashion, everything changing, we're part of the flow for sure.
"Music at its finest addresses something that I think is universal. Whatever is great about all the music that has ever existed remains great. The music of Beethoven and Bach...anything that is great and uplifting and speaks the Universal. That is ideally what we would be trying to go for."
At the moment American youth seem astonishingly passive. When you emerged there was the spirit of participation and adventure. People were rummaging around. There's little of that now. Despite your popularity, the universal music you speak of aspiring to, essentially you're just a part of perpetuation of bland, blanketing myths. Does that disappoint you?
"Well, it's a certain kind of disappointment. The world changes very slowly."
But surely it's turned against you.
"Not really."
Why not? Aren't you disappointed the way America has turned out?
"Naah! I didn't have any expectations. I started out without expectations. It's a trick. That's all. If you start out expecting to fail and expecting the worst then anything that happens is an improvement over that. So that's the kind of head I go into it with. In the '60s I wasn't imagining the world was going to be a beautiful and better place, y'know..."
But is Dead music a celebration of life?
"At its best moments it can be something like that. It's kind of hard to put into words. I don't really know exactly what it is. I just know that subjectively speaking there are special moments that make it feel that after being in the Grateful Dead all of this time...we're just starting."
I gasp. Garcia concentrates.
"We're just starting to get ourselves together in a lot of ways, to start to do what we hope to do."
Does it disappoint you that after those 16 years and what you've struggled and soared through, people like me can be disrespectful of you: think you are rusty, crusty, dusty and fusty?
I just get the last -usty out and Garcia exclaims: "No! I don't give a damn. I would be afraid if everybody in the world liked us. The responsibility. I don't want to be responsible for leading the march to wherever. Fuck that. It's already been done and the world hates it. Humans hate it."
Wasn't that leading the march thing your '60s attitude?
"Fuck, no! Hell! For me the whole combination of music and the psychedelic experience taught me to fear power. I mean fear it and hate it. In those times there were lunatics that were constantly trying to nail the Grateful Dead up as being the vanguard of some power trip. It was always the same thing. It was basically Hitler, y'know?"
As a creative body of sorts, can you feel comfortable within the present political and cultural context in America?
"Oh yeah. There's a lot of space for me. A lot of room. I enjoy America when America is involved in tension, y'know, I prefer a tense America. I prefer conflict. When there are difficulties going on, I like that vitality, that kind of energy. Like in the '70s it was dull, there was nothing to get mad about, nothing to get excited about, nothing to celebrate. I can live in that environment pretty successfully as well. But I prefer a little tension in the air."
You talk of tension and vitality, but I feel none of this in your music. It's dull; there's no celebration. To me it's a stream of nothing.
"Well...in a way that is what it is. I don't know what your exposure to our music has been but our music is not what our records are. If you see us play live you'll see that what we do is a different sort of thing. I think it'll be evident...it's tough to talk about...our music is attached to the moment in which it happens. The moment. It's very much that. It's more jazz in that sense. It's not art music. It's not form music. Things like records are a little artificial for us."
Have you ever made a decent record?
"I don't think so."
I think your music is dead dull – how would you sell it to me? Where's the turn-on?
"I wouldn't try to sell it to you. If you think it's dull maybe it is. Yeah, I could find things to agree with. For me our records are a series of failures. I see them in terms of what they might have been, or what I'd wished they'd been and what they weren't."
So why make records?
"Well, because it's one of the things you can do when you're a musician. What is there? When you're a musician you perform and what? Make records. It's a way to conserve music. But records are not really appropriate to what the Grateful Dead does. Time alone is a big enemy of ours. On an album a short Grateful Dead song is seven or eight minutes."
"I don't know! I suppose at the beginning we were playing for a dance audience, not a listening audience, and when you play for a dancing audience you don't want them to stop, and they don't want to stop either. In those days people got real high and they danced all night. So three minutes of dancing is not enough. Fifteen minutes is really a bit more like it, for people to stretch out."
Have you heard of the Fire Engines, I say, a little ambitiously. Well, they play 15-minute sets.
"Fifteen! Phew!"
It's an injection of sheer tonic.
"Yup," grins Garcia, tight-lipped. 
They're violent, tense, joyous, changeable, it's an uplifting celebration – all the things you're saying to me are there in your music and which I can't get out.
Garcia pours carefully articulated reason onto my glorious fury. "For me music is a full range of experience. In music there is room for space, there's room for quietness, for sorrow, violence."
I do agree. We still seem to be talking about different things though.
"It's not my desire to say there is only this or that. For me it's a full range of experiences, and within that it includes things like boredom. Sometimes boredom is what is happening in life, that's what it's about sometimes. Sometimes the tension between boredom and discovery is like an interesting thing. The idea of noodling around aimlessly for 15 minutes, and we are notorious for that, but then hitting on some rich vein of something that we may never have got to any other way, and that's the reward. I want there to be a complete vertical experience. I want it to be the full range."

I've been into music so long that I'm dripping with it: it's all I ever expect to do.
– Jerry Garcia, August 1969
I'm surprised at our success. I can easily relate to the days when we outnumbered the
audience. In my mind that isn't long ago. And it wasn't that different. I'd enjoy it whether we
were obscure or hugely successful. Shit, I would pay to play music.
– Jerry Garcia, March 1981

Garcia is cheery; mordant and ironic at times. His intelligence is quick and precise. He and the Grateful Dead seem to wash along in the mysterious tide of change without changing too much. It all changes and nothing much seems to change.
In 1979 a Rolling Stone reporter noted that Garcia looked you right in the eye and smiled encouragement. In 1981 Garcia looks you right in the eye and smiles encouragement. He noted that Garcia, however complex, was entirely open and unenigmatic. I could say the same today. In 1979 though, Rolling Stone was convinced Jerry Garcia had clear and inspired ideas. In 1981 I'm convinced that Garcia is a man in love with his instrument who's pretty lucky how his mind's turned out. Despite the resonance in Garcia's conversation, the Grateful Dead seem to stand for the essential dowdiness of life.
Would you want to grow up like the Grateful Dead? As a force of change the Dead seem...dead. As a 'love draw' they're so alive if I think about it too much it aches.
Come on, Jerry, youth, rebellion, I don't want to be like the past, like you...pop is quick, a confrontation, flash...you're being consumed by millions of Americans and you're tastelessss!
Garcia chuckles, shoves a leg underneath his body and looks me in the eye with genial firmness. "First of all I don't think of myself as an adult. An adult is someone who's made up their mind. When I go through airports the people who have their thing together, who are clean, well-groomed, who have tailored clothes, who have their whole material thing together, these people are adults. They've made their decision to follow those routines. Brush their teeth regularly and all that.
"If you get to that stage all you get is rock solid boredom. With no surprises, when you're pretty sure that your best years are behind you. I run into people who are 24, 25, who are into that bag and I feel tremendously intimidated by them. I feel they're adults."
American youth seems to be adult at 15.
"It's just a phase. It'll pass. The next group of people will dislike that so intensely and so thoroughly that they'll fight through."
That will include the resentment and antipathy towards the Grateful Dead that I think should exist now.
"If it does, it does."
So if you're not an adult, what are you?
"I would say that I was part of a prolonged adolescence. I think our whole scene is that."
Moving towards what?
"Middling adolescence!" He laughs. I switch the tape off.
"Yeah, that's far enough!"

The writer puts his tape recorder away. The photographer gets his equipment ready.
The musician shakes his head as he recalls bits of the interview. "Fifteen-minute sets!" he marvels. "If I had to pay £8 for a 15-minute set I'd trip out... The economics of it, I would feel so guilty. Even if I did a 45-minute show so packed with emotion and intensity and everything it needed to have I would still feel like, God it ain't fucking worth it. I don't want to burn anybody. People have to work to get their little money... The best experiences I've had as an audience member is when I've seen a performer get excited and inspired and go over their time. Forget about time...forget about time and then you can think hey! An hour and a half has gone by and it seems like ten minutes! That's the stuff!"
The photographer scans the room looking for likely places the musician can pose. The musician stands looking a little lost near the window. The writer says to him that 45 minutes of his music seems to go on for two years.
"Well, have a nice rest!"
The whisky musician and sugar writer laugh, loudly. They'll never see each other again.

(by Paul Morley, from the New Musical Express, March 28, 1981) 

Photo: David Corio

Dec 25, 2020

December 5, 1971 letter

Monday morning after the best 
fucking Dead concert I have 
been lucky enough to be a part of.!?! 
Man, I can't help but feel that you made a mistake in deciding to do your homework instead of seeing something like what went down last night here in N.Y.C. at the FELT FORUM for a total of 6 SIX tripped hours. 
The concert hall, acoustically is the best I have ever experienced. There couldn't have been more than 3,000 people present - and it was sold out. The place is excessively plush, modern, almost sterile, but no matter where you sit the sound is good and loud and you have at least a decent, relatively unobstructed view of the events. 
I went with Tom, Gary, and my good brother Jacques. Our seats were in the last row near the middle. We split downstairs right after the RIDERS set which went from about 8 pm to 9:30 pm. The RIDERS no longer feature Jerry on the pedal steel. Instead there's some thin guy with very long silky brown hair - I think he's even better than Garcia at the pedal. Torbert, on bass, has grown a small mustache - BIG SHIT! MARMADUKE now plays a white Fender solid body. Dryden is still plugging away on drums. They've got several new songs which are good - extensions on their original style. Dawson's voice was fading faster and faster during the entire set - he was squeaking bad. Oh well, what followed from 10 pm to 2 am was enough to erase any feelings of disappointment. 
The concert was carried live in full by Wnew FM. Throughout the evening the DEAD were very aware of the fact. BILL GRAHAM introduced the band - "Keith Godswell on keyboard, Bill Kreutzman on drums, the oldest old timer I know - Pig Pen, on the organ, the youthful cowboy, Bob Weir, on rhythm guitar, and the master, Jerry Garcia, on lead guitar...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 
The applause was UNBELIEVABLY LOUD AND FERVENT and lasted SO LONG! The fact that the DEAD were playing to a sell out NYC crowd and especially the fact that whoever wanted to within a 100 mile radius could tune into the tripped atmosphere made this concert perhaps the greatest there will ever be. They started with BERTHA and during the next four hours played tunes like DARK STAR, PLAYIN' IN THE BAND, RAILROAD BLUES, CHINA CAT, FANNY RAE, UNCLE CHARLEY TOLD ME SO, NOT FADE AWAY MEDLEY, BOBBY MCGEE, ME & MY UNCLE, CASEY JONES, UNCLE JOHN'S BAND, SUGAR MAGNOLIA, BIG BOSS MAN, TRUCKIN', AND MORE, MORE......................................................
About 2/3 of the way thru the set I ran into a friend of mine from EXETER who had graduated from EXETER a year ahead of me, gone to NYU and moonlighted on weekends as a FILLMORE usher. There he was behind the police lines, backstage with a pass. I found out that they had run out of passes, and were using black tape around the wrist as a new pass. This trick plus some very heavy doses of BS, con rapping got me past two guards and a DEAD personnel BOUNCER. I eventually wound up right next to the stage. When the concert was over I wandered over to the stairs leading off the stage and ENCOUNTERED JERRY GARCIA, PHIL LESH, BOB WEIR, AND BILL KREUTZMAN gathered together in a kind of conference, discussing the concert hall and the sound as they heard it thru the onstage monitors. My mind! Somehow, whereas in the past when I encountered the DEAD I was speechless, this time I had ease in talking. I eavesdropped on their conference and when Garcia queried as to the sound in the aisles I said that I had been in the last row and the sound was loud and crisp. They seemed dubious of this, saying it sounded fuzzy and distorted with annoying static. I somehow drew Garcia away for about 5 minutes and began by asking him what address I could use that would assure me that they would actually see and read what I sent. He said the DEAD HEADS address was the one. I asked if he had learned anything that he didn't already know from the mail they had received at that address. He said that the feedback was excellent. He felt that the image people had formed from their records and concerts came generally very close to what he felt the Grateful Dead stood for, and in essence were. "Man, the people just simply feel that what we do is groovy, and it is." I asked him if he could put his name down on paper for me - he did. I said "You guys are just the hardest working band of musicians I know of, that's all...." As he handed me back my pen, he said "Naw, what we do is easy, it's fun. It usually takes us about an hour to warm up, and then another hour to break thru all the bullshit, and then if we're lucky we can get in 15 minutes of real music." Garcia has charisma! 
Behind GARCIA, sitting casually on the steps leading to the stage, was BOB WEIR. His silky dark brown thin hair tied in the usual pony tail, wearing leather cowboy boots, very tight brown levi style cords, and a deep blue T shirt with the figure of Mr. Peanuts embroidered on it in orange. There is something weird about Mr. Weir, if you know what I mean. He looks like the archetypal, eternally youthful, totally together, creative, intense, mind blowing guitarist that he is. His gaze, which wanders at will on the people around him, is open and warm, but concentrated and direct. He is smooth and powerful. I began rapping with him for the first time in my life - I had had the [chance] to rap with WEIR before, but had never been able to get it together to rap with him. I asked him if he'd mind putting his name down on paper for me. He did. Then I asked him if there was an address that would guarantee me that he'd read it. He said that if I put on the letter BOB WEIR / DEAD HEADS / P.O. BOX 1073 / SAN RAFAEL / CALIFORNIA he'd be sure to read it..... I asked him if it was true that he lived on a ranch and raised bulls. He said that ending a few months ago the DEAD had lived on a ranch for about a year and had raised horses. I asked if that was where the photo of the DEAD sitting on lumps of hay in front of a barn was taken. He said no that was at Mickey's farm. I asked what Hart was doing these days. WEIR said that he and Hart were producing records out of HART's 16 track recording studio. I asked him if there was ever such a thing as MICKEY HART AND THE HEART BEATS and he said yeah, for a while a few months ago. My final question was about the rumored movie with the DEAD and the AIRPLANE on the STARSHIP theme. He said that it has and will continue to be a real possibility and is something they definitely would like to do. 
I finally split............................................................................ 
My mind!................................................................................
Tonight and tomorrow night I return for more of those blissful melodies. I'm trying to get a good tape recorder together in order to tape the next 2 nights. If successful I will be able to offer you for a small fee a nice addition to your record and tape collection. 
I also listened to a rap between Bill Graham and some freaks. Some punk pseudo hipster was castigating Graham for having closed the Fillmore. Bill said "Listen kid, all you kids want is a machine in which you place a nickel and in return you get happiness, a fantasy world. If you tried to run the Fillmore it would cost you 420,000 dollars and you wouldn't last a day and a half." He said later that he was leaving the USA for good trying to get somewhere quiet and peaceful, was planning to move to Switzerland within the next six months. Had no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Said once, before he started producing gigs, he used to be a very good waiter. 
Things are going well for me. I currently plan to stick at this job until the end of JULY 1972 at which point I will take a month off and travel to CAL and TEXAS if you guys [...] are still hanging your hats out there in the desert sands. [...] 
peace, happiness, and creative inner growth during the sacred season of CHRIST'S birth....................... 
your piscean friend, 
Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also: 

Dec 3, 2020

December 5, 1971: Felt Forum, NYC

The Grateful Dead were back in N.Y. last week, meaning kids standing at and on seats for more than five hours. Also, typical of Dead concerts, the shows were sold out, four at Felt Forum this time, and the young crowd was grooving to the music, rather than causing any serious problems. The four concerts running Dec. 4-7 grossed about $80,000 at a $5.50 top in the 4,700-seat hall. 
Graham, promoting his first N.Y. show since his Fillmore East closed in June, was roundly cheered when he reached the microphone to introduce the New Riders. The group, whose first LP is out on Columbia, were heavier than previously and sounded more like the Dead. Country sounds, a trademark of the unit, were virtually absent except for Buddy Cage on guitar replacing the Dead's Jerry Garcia. 
Garcia was very much in evidence at lead guitar with the Dead, who added a member, Keith Godchaux, at grand piano, which was not heard often because of weak miking. Lights, sometimes flashing, spelled out "Grateful Dead" above the stage. Dancehall mirror globes intermittently reflected spotlights.
(by Kirb., from Variety, 15 December 1971) 

* * * 
NEW YORK -- The Grateful Dead recently made New York radio history as their December 5th Felt Forum concert was stereo simulcast over WNEW-FM radio. While the evening with the Dead recalled the live broadcast of the Fillmore East's closing night, this marked the first time in New York that an individual rock group was honored with an entire evening of prime radio time devoted to its live music. Under the auspices of WNEW Program Director Scott Muni and Music Director Mike Klemfner, the Warner Bros. recording artists played for a listening audience that Muni estimated to be close to 5,000,000 from 8 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. 
In an effort to accommodate their legions of loyal fans, the Dead, who recently received a gold record for the two record "Grateful Dead" album, have been working closely with radio stations across the country so that their sell-out concerts can be heard by anyone with an FM radio. And to insure the high quality that is associated with the Grateful Dead, the band has been traveling with their regular engineer Bob Matthews, who has been supervising all the radio broadcasts. 
The Dead's stereo tour has encompassed three phases. Phase One saw the group broadcasting throughout the Midwest, with concerts in Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, simulcast in stereo. Phase Two covered the Southwest with stereo transmissions from Dead concerts in Albuquerque, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The New York WNEW-FM concert was the second one during Phase Three of the Dead's new concept of radio promotion, with the first show in the series broadcast in Boston over WBCN. 

(from Record World, ? December 1971)
* * * 
Last Sunday night, WNEW-FM broadcasted the Grateful Dead concert live from the Felt Forum. The broadcasting of live concerts is a rare occurrence for New York radio stations, probably due to the fact it's such a good idea. As Bill Graham said Sunday night, from the Forum, live concerts satisfy all. The Dead can play to a small audience (that is if you call 5,000 people small), and yet everyone else can hear them at home. 
The people who handled the technical end of the event did an excellent job. Only Scott Muni, WNEW disc jockey covering the concert, ruined things with his AM-radio voice. Listening with headphones was fantastic. Sound-wise, I could almost believe I was there. At home though, you lose all the electricity in the air that exists between the group's playing and the audience's reaction. 
Listening at home has its advantages, the refrigerator and bathroom being so accessible. I certainly took the Dead's suggestion to get something to eat while they tuned up for the next song. 
I saw them Tuesday night at the Forum, the last of a four-night stand. [Dec.7] They were incredible. Then again, I am extremely biased, since I don't think the Dead could ever play a bad song. 
Though their new album leaves something to be desired, they sang from it both nights - "Me and My Uncle," "Playing in the Band," "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad," and "Not Fade Away." Luckily they played them with the long breaks in which you forget exactly what it was they'd started out playing in the beginning. Pig Pen seemed in much better form Tuesday night than Sunday. "Big Boss Man" had the real tough and gritty Pig Pen spirit. As a matter of fact, in the second half of the concert, the Dead played a lot of good loving music. They also did a beautiful job with "Brokedown Palace," singing it soft and sweet. 
It's a shame that they held the concert in the Felt Forum. Due to union laws it's always a problem when a group wants to play longer and can't. At about 1:30 a.m. the Dead went off, but came back to play "Saturday Night." 
Somehow the Forum looks too new to be comfortable. I guess they need some more Dead concerts to break in the seats.

(by Anne Mendlowitz, from the Observation Post (CCNY student paper), 10 December 1971) 

* * * 

The Grateful Dead, who practically invented the free rock concert, played for perhaps their largest audience at their last sell-out concert in New York. And it didn't cost the audience a cent. 
The Dead were at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum for a four-night stand, and it didn't take long to sell every seat in the 5,000-seat hall. So the Dead, Warner Brothers, and the Garden management agreed to permit a live broadcast on the final night of the festivities. 
With the rock audience expanding rapidly and the facilities for rock concerts growing ever more impersonal, the live radio concert is about to reach the popularity it once had, back in the 30s when big bands were sending it out to you live and direct from high atop the Squeedunk Hotel. 
For artists like the Dead, this type of radio show is ideally suited. It exposes them to a much larger group of potential record buyers. The radio audience hears them at their best, with the feedback of the concert-hall crowd egging them ever onward on their fantastic musical journeys. And the excitement stimulated the sit-at-homes to be present the next time the band is in town. 
But in many ways, I'd prefer the comfort of my living room. I saw the Dead lay down a fantastic set at the Forum, and I saw them from the best seats in the house - front row center. The following evening, WNEW stereo was sending it right into my home, and there was a lot more room for dancing and fewer rent-a-cops. Didn't see a one. There was also no New York fire commissioner telling the people around me to stay out of the aisles. There was no one ripping off my seat. And no one claiming I was ripping off his seat. And, admittedly, a lot less excitement of an extra-musical nature, like suicidal stage-rushers and 14-year-olds who think the way to listen to the Dead is to be zonked out. 
Listening at home through a good stereo set usually offers finer sound quality than a top concert-hall seat, especially with an amplified rock band. The speakers, generally set up at the wings of the stage and aimed straight back, are geared to send that sound soaring up to the rear balconies, so the sound level is naturally much, much higher up front. So with the speakers on the wings, the concertgoer with a top seat front and center in the orchestra is really in a hole between two sound sources. Middle-distance orchestra is best. Naturally, on the radio, it's all balanced by the time it's broadcast if the engineers know what they're doing. 
The Dead's manager, Rock Scully, told the New York audience that live broadcasts have been arranged in several cities on the current tour only if the concerts are sold out, apparently. That at least protects the promoter and the group. 
One protection can't be offered, however. That's the threat of bootleg recordings of the concerts. For example, most music freaks in the New York area now have five hours of magnificent tapes of the Grateful Dead. Most of them will never do more with these tapes than play them for themselves and friends. But be assured that a few ripoff artists were taking those sounds off the air and will be duplicating them in tape or disc versions, without a cent going to the artists or the radio station or the record company that did it as a freebie.

(by Jon Clemens, "Pop Scene" columnist, from the Commonwealth Reporter (Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin), 17 December 1971) 

* * * 

The latest argument for closed circuit musical events is a big corrugated box up in the record library of WNEW-FM. It's filled with hundreds and hundreds of letters, some of them several pages long, all from listeners expressing their ecstasy over WNEW-FM's live six hour broadcast from the Felt Forum last Dec. 5. The event? A concert by the New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Grateful Dead. 
There's one letter from a postmaster, there's one letter from a priest, there's one letter on WPLJ stationery and another under the letterhead of WCBS-FM. They come from as far as Bridgeton, N.J. in one direction, and Bridgeport, Conn., in another. There's not one dissent among them, or as WNEW-FM director Scott Muni says, "Not one line that came in asking, 'How come you spent six hours doing that?'" 
In Scott's words, the broadcast was "a magnificent success, a huge, huge plus for the station. That's how good it was. Once anyone listened, they had to stay listening, because the sound was better than any recorded album and a live concert without commercials has to be intriguing." What's even more intriguing now is that Scott estimates that his normal Sunday night listening audience, which he claims to be a million, more than tripled for the live broadcast. 
Of course it had to be The Grateful Dead, those six (they've added a piano player) madmen who are only just discovering how great they are. The Dead used to be a house band for acid freaks. Now their audience has become too big to fit in that house. It's really a vicious circle. The more successful they've become, the mellower they've gotten. The mellower they get, the more successful they become. The Dead seem to be coping with it fine. I wonder how the acid freaks are making out. 
This is not to compare the broadcast from the Felt Forum as an event, mind you, it's something like the Concert for Bangla Desh. But put it up against the live simulcast of the closing of the Fillmore East and you see the difference between gimmickry and significance. The Dead could have filled the main room in the Garden easy as spit; four sold-out nights in the Felt Forum with a capacity of 5000 a night equals 20,000. Probably they could have gone clean with two shows in the Garden. But they wanted the intimacy of a smaller house. Moreover, they wanted that live broadcast. 
"Well, you know," says Jerry Garcia, "we've always been into free concerts and the broadcast was kind of a free concert without any hassles. Ever since Altamont everything has been so sticky when you try to do a free show. With us, the whole trip is to make music available." 
And so this tour for the Dead, as manager Rock Scully explains it, has been in smaller, more comfortable, more pleasurable halls, rather than in larger, more profitable, and acoustically poorer halls. And the Dead have arranged for live broadcasts in each city they've been able to. There was one on KQRS-FM in Minneapolis, another on WGCD-FM in Chicago, another on WABX-FM in Detroit, still another on WNCR-FM in Cleveland and another on WEVN in Cincinnati and a simulcast on WHFM and WNBR-FM in Syracuse. 
The Dead decided on the broadcasts after a bunch of kids were maced by guards on the fourth-floor landing of a fire escape during a concert in Boston. "We got sick and tired of being considered by the hall heat as a security risk to the point where our friends were getting tossed out on their backs," Rock says. Or as Jerry adds, "It's kind of like we never wanted to be bait for a trap where you go to have a good night with The Grateful Dead and end up getting gassed." 
The Felt Forum broadcast wasn't arranged until four days before the concert. It costs $2500 for Madison Square Garden to plug the radio in, another $1500 for the union, and $4000 to buy the time on WNEW-FM. Warner Brothers, the Dead's label, put up $4000 and Clive Davis, who has the New Riders under contract, committed Columbia to the other $4000. 
Over the radio, the mix was superb. With even a chintzy stereo set you felt as if you were on stage, right in the middle of the instruments and able to hear each one. Right in the middle of the instruments and as if the musicians playing them knew you were there. It was an inspired performance. 
The point being that we're not going to have any more Woodstocks for a long time. No one is going to allow a half-million kids to get together in one place in this social climate. Still the need and the desire to be communicants at an event keeps growing stronger (that's one of the reasons why the concert for Bangla Desh album may sell even better than three million; the buyers are willing to accept the feeling of having been there any way they can). In other words, if we're cut off from joining in an event with one another physically, then the only way to do it is electronically. Somebody's going to have to try closed-circuit TV for music.

(by Alfred Aronowitz, from the "Pop Scene" column, New York Post, 21 December 1971) 

* * * 
When the Grateful Dead played a concert at the Felt Forum Dec. 5, they entertained a dancing, cheering crowd of up to 3 million persons, even though the Forum itself only has seating space for 5,000. 
The rest of the audience was tuned into a local radio station, where they heard the entire concert broadcast, live and uninterrupted, from 8 p.m. Sunday to 2 a.m. Monday. 
Live coverage has brought sports events, parades, and even beauty pageants to the American public for years, but in the world of rock music, it is still experimental. The problem of getting concert music to fans plagues some performers, and, for the last three months, the Dead have been seeking a solution in live broadcasting. 
Like most musicians, the Dead prefer small halls to huge stadiums and auditoriums. The smaller spots tend to have better sound and are more personal; artists feel more relaxed and perform better. And the noise and energy of 20,000 screaming, stomping fans, although excellent additions to the heavy beat of some groups, can ruin the softer melodies of the Dead and all but obliterate the intricate musical work of the band's star guitarist, Jerry Garcia. 
But according to John MacIntire, the Dead's road manager, a small hall can cause problems - "like riots." The group's last concert at Boston's Music Hall led to a battle ending in broken heads, overturned police cars, and people hanging from fire escapes they'd climbed to try and break into the theater. After, an appalled Garcia said he was "tired of being the bait," the spark that set off injuries. 
As a result, live radio pickups were arranged for each concert on the tour, and Scott Muni, program director of WNEW-[FM] was approached about doing the broadcast locally from the Forum. 
Muni agreed, but union troubles and the telephone strike kept plans up in the air, but finally, arrangements were completed and the Sunday night concert was selected for airing. "It was a hassle from the beginning," said the station's music director, Mike Klenfner. "But worth it," added Muni. 
The program began with a set by the Dead's country-oriented companion group, the New Riders of the Purple Sage; the Dead then came on for four hours and 15 minutes of music, taking only one 15-minute break. 
The Forum crowd loved it. So, apparently, did the radio audience. The quality of the broadcast, which drew compliments even from rival stations, and the uninterrupted show kept listeners cemented to their sets until it was all over. 
The late arrangements kept the show from being well-publicized, but the concert sold out for all four nights from just one newspaper ad, and word of mouth seemed enough for the radio listeners. 
Two days later, after letters and call were totaled, WNEW estimated the audience at 500,000 - by the next day, the estimate was 3 million. 
For the Dead, at least, broadcasting is successful. Promoter Bill Graham considers radio pickups "a wonderful way" of mixing popular groups with fans. In San Francisco, where Fillmore West concerts were carried for years, live concerts and simulcasting (a TV station carries the picture, stereo FM radio the sound) are familiar ideas. 
It is far from general practice, however, and one problem is the musicians themselves. Small halls and simulcasts are not financially rewarding - a band makes more money at one show in Madison Square Garden than four at the Forum, and, as Graham says, a "majority of groups are more interested in making money" than in acoustics. 
Broadcasts are considered risky by performers who feel the concert gate will be hurt or that tapes made from the broadcasts will deter fans from buying albums (although one listener wrote WNEW to say he was so impressed he went out and bought every Dead album he could find). 
And the cost is frustratingly high. Warner and Columbia Records, who handle the Dead and the Riders respectively, picked up most of the tab for the radio show, with the bands contributing and the station donating the time. The union and phone costs were estimated at $10,000, not counting lost advertising. Multiplied by the number of cities on a tour, it comes to a lot of money for a new promotional idea. 
But the Dead plan to keep giving radio broadcasts and would like to add cable TV simulcasts, and even now tell listeners when to start their tape recorders as they play on, entertaining fans all night. Some people really believe music should be free.

(by Mark Arnold, from the "Night Owl Reporter" column, New York Daily News, 18 December 1971) 
* * *  
And for a wider radio context: 


For more than a year now, major-market radio stations - FM outlets, for the most part - have put their records back on the shelf for several hours every few months to broadcast live music from clubs, concert halls, and recording studios. The practice has grown, to the delight of audiences who appreciate the opportunity to hear more live music than their pocketbooks or ticket availability will allow. It may have reached a new peak during the holiday season past.
The relatively low cost of producing such live programming - an hour concert will cost about $800 or $900 (excluding talent fees, which are rarely a consideration) - has attracted many record companies to sponsor these concerts themselves. And the high audience appeal is drawing others. One such radio concert - by the Grateful Dead Dec. 5 on WNEW-FM New York - was heard by more than three million listeners, according to Scott Muni, WNEW's program director.
Techniques for financing and production of the concerts vary. Record companies may approach radio stations with a package in order to gain exposure for new acts. Buddah Records has tried this approach with Exuma and Buzzy Linhart, for example; it contracted WKTK-FM Baltimore to broadcast a concert from the Baltimore Civic Center on Jan. 22.
In other instances, radio stations have negotiated with artists only and produced concerts in recording studios with small invited audiences. Sometimes the record company is offered some or all of the sponsorship of these concerts after the arrangements for studio time and telephone lines are completed and paid for by the station. In the case of the WMMR-FM Philadelphia concert featuring Brewer and Shipley on Dec. 14, Buddah had only to pick up the tab for the artists' time and expenses. On the other hand, when WPLJ-FM New York broadcast a live concert from the A&R recording studio in New York, the 7-Up Co. sponsored all of it.
The Grateful Dead is one of those groups that can sell out concert halls with alarming speed. But the Dead object to playing the larger halls needed to accommodate their growing audience; the loss in intimacy and inferior - to their ears - sound systems do not suit them, according to John McIntire of the Dead management. On their last tour, in an attempt to bring their music to a larger audience, the group asked stations to carry their concert in each of the markets they played during the tour.
During a 10-week period, ending on New Year's Eve, the Grateful Dead played 15 live radio concerts across the country. In each market, the costs were shared jointly by Warner Bros. Records (the Dead's recording company), Columbia Records (the recording company for the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who travel with the Dead), and the Dead themselves.
WNEW-FM had two special holiday broadcasts, a presentation of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass," and a taped concert of Led Zeppelin, obtained from the BBC. WNEW has contracted with the BBC for a series of concerts in 1972, including the Faces with Rod Stewart, the Rolling Stones, and the Who.
Other holiday live concerts included two by WBCN-FM Boston with Livingston Taylor and Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen; KDAY-AM Santa Monica, Calif., with Cheech and Chong and Helen Reddy; WLIR-FM Garden City, N.Y., with Buzzy Linhart and McKendrie Spring; and KSAN-FM San Francisco broadcast a Christmas party with Boz Scaggs as well as the New Year's Eve Grateful Dead concert.

(from Broadcasting magazine, 10 January 1972) 
See also: 

For Jon McIntire's response to "the threat of bootlegs," see: 

December 1971: Jerry Garcia/Jon McIntire Interview, Boston

Bent over with a dramatic curve to his lithe body, Miles Davis was dotted with blotches of sweat as he fiercely emitted notes from his trumpet. Miles was getting it on with one elegantly shod foot perched on his wah-wah pedal. 
We were ringside at the Jazz Workshop digging Miles when Columbia promo man Ed Hynes pointed to his watch, which registered 10:30 pm. Not daring to look back at the volatile Miles, we slipped out of the club and walked to Ed's car. 
"The Dead are due in at Logan, at 11 pm, on a direct flight from San Francisco," Ed commented. As we drove to the airport, we followed John Garabedian's van. John, a life-long Dead fan, was until recently, program director of WMEX.
Traveling with the Dead is the second act, New Riders of the Purple Sage. They record for Columbia and Ed made no bones about the fact that his company is attempting to lure the Dead away from Warner Brothers when their contract expires in a year and a half. 
Parking at the airport, we walked casually through the cavernous buildings. Eventually, we encountered the advance members of the Dead party. 
Greeting Dead road-manager Dick Cutler, Ed asked how many were in their party. "Thirty two," was the staggering reply. We just about dropped as Garabedian tried to figure out how many would fit in his van. 
In a few moments the Dead appeared with their entourage including wives, managers, accountants, roadies and the rest. Later, John Macentire, a Dead manager, explained that this was the big trip of the year, including Boston and New York, and that they decided to bring along the wives. 
"It has gotten to be a very large business," he explained. "We maintain a business office, accountants and all that, just so that the band has the freedom to do their thing." 
As the Dead crowded about the luggage pick-up area, John Garabedian singled out Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist, and engaged him in conversation. 
In past interviews with the Dead, I have always been impressed by their vast intelligence and sophistication. Not just another rock band, they qualify as real, dyed-in-the-wool intellectuals, who toss off references to obscure philosophers freely, quote in Greek and Latin and are expert in esoteric French cinema. 
With an interest in Top-40 radio, Garabedian got off on the wrong track with Garcia by asking why the Dead didn't have a hit single. 
"We could care less about that," Garcia replied. "Deciding to do that would be decidedly weird to do." John answered. "Well, it needs to be done (have a hit single)." In a testy mood, Garcia snipped back, "Hitler probably thought that, too, the trip is the same, it's a power trip." A bit timidly, John said, "What can be done then?," to which Garcia retorted, "You tell me." 
Having been in the air for some six hours, the Dead were tired and short on patience for the standard interviews. Their arrival at Logan had been kept as quiet as a military secret to avoid hysteria. 
The conversation might have just ended there, had I not snapped on my tape recorder. I started on safe footing, asking Garcia if he planned any more specialized albums such as his recent "Hooteroll," in which he accompanied organist Howard Wales. 
"Yes, I just cut an album with a dude named Merle Saunders, an older cat from California. I did a lot of studio work on his album as well as the group Lamb. The Hooteroll album was never supposed to feature me, it was Howard's album, but that's just the way certain companies approach the product trip. I don't think of it that way." 
Commenting that many people had felt that the recent live album was a return to the old Dead sound, before "American Beauty" and "Workingman's Dead," Garcia retorted, "That's because everybody's taking the albums as if they represent a sequential development." 
"All kinds of music exist simultaneously for us," he replied. "We do an album say every six months and there is a misleading trip happening there like the passage of time means development. It's just what we've been doing all along, but not how we've made our records. 
"In my opinion, we're past "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty." We've done that and now we're into something else. I just made a solo album which will be out in January. I play everything but the drums on the album" (shades of Paul McCartney).
Later, Dead manager John Mcentire was heard to comment that, "We were always a great live band, but had trouble getting it down on records. Workingman's Dead was our first, really well-made album and it really brought greater attention to the band." 
For several years, the Dead used two drummers, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman. Last year, Hart was fired because of financial squabbles.
"Mickey has a number of projects going which we may participate in if we want to," Garcia said. "He doesn't want to travel, however, and besides it's too weird having two drummers. It's a huge limitation as they are restricted to what they can play together and they both have different styles of drumming." 
Until recently, Jerry Garcia has been playing pedal-steel guitar with the New Riders of the Purple Sage. He only started the instrument late in life and only played half the strings. It was, however, a familiar feature of the Riders set to see Garcia on pedal steel. 
"I don't play pedal steel anymore," Garcia said. "I just gave it up, I'm not interested in the instrument anymore. This doesn't mean that I'm not interested in country music, it's just that I'm not going to try being a pedal steel guitarist anymore. Besides, the New Riders have a pedal steel player named Buddy Cage who's much better." 
He observed that it has become fashionable for rock-critics to put down the Dead by saying that you have to sit through hours of average music to get a few brilliant passages. 
"That's if you're there for brilliant passages," Garcia said. "I read all that stuff they say about us and it's all true, it's a matter of opinion. People can think whatever they like. But they go to our concerts for different reasons. Some people go just to see us mess up. Some go for the high moments and if we don't get them they're disappointed..." 
Later John Macentire added that, "For years the Dead got nothing but great reviews. Then we became big enough and we started to get the knocks. I like that better because for a long time we were considered a sacred cow. Actually, bad reviews are often more interesting and they give us things to think about. On a lay back night the Dead are really something to think about..." 
With the Dead and the New Riders on stage, the Music Hall seemed to convey a vintage San Francisco atmosphere. The Riders opened with a strong, hour-long set and then the Dead came out for a 2 1/2 hour set. 
As usual in all Dead concerts, there was a festive atmosphere as kids danced on their seats and attempted to crowd around the stage. Some of the older Dead freaks faded after a few hours, but the devout stayed to the bitter end. 
On the second night of their engagement, the concert was broadcast live on station WBCN-FM. Asked if this didn't invite bootlegging, John Macentire replied, "To the contrary. The Dead always did a lot of free concerts and benefits. Now we are into doing frequent live broadcasts. It is a new thing with us, a new way of promoting the group. But if 30,000 people hear the concert on radio and can record it themselves on tape, then there are 30,000 people that the Rubber Dubber ain't going to sell bootlegs to. In all, I know of some 12 Dead bootlegs, and none are worth having. The engineering is terrible except for one bootleg which was distributed free to 30,000 people in New York. They edited the tracks from several performances and that was boss."

(by Charles Giuliano, from the Boston Herald, 19 December 1971) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Dec 2, 2020

December 1, 1971: Music Hall, Boston


Last night at the Music Hall Theater, the Grateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage fell flat on their collective country-western, rock and roll faces in one of the most evenly bland concerts since Crosby/Nash last warm-milked their way into Boston. 
The New Riders of the Purple Sage were the first course served up to the sellout (both tonight and last night) audience. They specialize in country rock, and heavy on the country-western, please. 
The first number was "Truckstop." Pedal steel wailing, nasal voices whining, this truck driver lament never should have been let in from the cold. A bar and grill dirge called "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Music" followed, and I began to wonder about all the great things that had been said about this group. Finally, with a slight change of material, a rock-roll transfusion and a prayer, things started to pick up. There were still a few country duds, but Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou, Goodbye Heart," Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," and Johnny Otis's "Hand Jive" sounded surprisingly fresh with the group's country arrangement. 
That was that for the New Riders. Around half-past nine, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, et al, wandered on stage. 
Hoping for an event, expecting a great concert, I was all set for their first number, which turned out to be "Truckin'" from "Workingmen's Dead," one of their better albums. A fairly good opener, I awaited more. "Sugar Lee," sung and guitared by Jerry Garcia, aroused me to such adjectives as "boring" and "monotonous," as did the next three undistinguished unnamed numbers. 
Although it was nearing the time I would have to leave, I decided to stick it out for a few more songs, figuring it couldn't get much worse, and fortunately I was right. 
A song that appeared to be called "Ain't It Crazy" was a relief from the heavy country flavor of the night with a distinct bluesy roll to it. "Tennessee" proved to be fair and "El Paso" (Marty Robbins's best known cowboy song) succeeded where the Riders' rock-roll had earlier. 
There was undoubtedly more, as the Dead are infamous for the great length of their concerts, but luckily I had to leave. It had been disappointing listening to their reputation, and I hope they start playing up to it real soon.
(by Michael Nicholson, from the Boston Globe, 2 December 1971) 
* * * 
Anyone who attended the first concert of the Grateful Dead's two-night stand at the Music Hall last week and then heard the next evening's performance "live" over WBCN-FM has to wonder why he shelled out six bucks to see the real thing. The radio version - with good stereo separation - was superb, while hearing the Dead in person was, by comparison, like listening to music while inside a barrel. And - unlike most Dead concerts and WBCN "live" broadcasts - it started on time. 

On the bill with the Grateful Dead were the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who evolved from the Dead and at one time included three of its members (Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart). The band is now comprised of all non-Dead folks, but still uses the same San Francisco offices as its better-known counterpart and has toured exclusively with them. "All our exposure has been at the hands of the Grateful Dead, and I can't deny that we've used it to gain notoriety," New Riders' lead singer John Dawson told us here. He added that the band had plans to go it alone in the near future. Hmmm.
(by Nathan Cobb, from the Boston Globe, 12 December 1971)
Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also: 

Nov 25, 2020

December 9-10, 1971: Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO


Going to a rock concert with a narcotics-drug abuse officer is like going to Purgatory with the Pope. Even now, I'm not sure why I went. Curiosity, I guess. Maybe I just wanted to see 5,000 kids high on marijuana or perhaps I hoped to chance upon someone dropping acid. Whatever, I went. The group was the Grateful Dead, six musicians who, I should report, are very much alive and playing as a unit. Loudly. The noise made it difficult to determine whether one would prefer to be dead or grateful. Or both. 
When the officer and I arrived at the St. Louis theater where the concert was being held, it didn't take long to realize this was sure-enough pandemonium. Kids were running in every direction, police were frantically trying to keep order, and debris was everywhere. 
And that was just the outside of the theater. Inside, things were much worse. 
The first thing I noticed was that I was the only person in the entire theater wearing a tie. Toward the end of the evening I did spot another man wearing one - he was an 80-year-old janitor wearing a leather bow tie. The second thing I noticed was that I was about 25 years older than anyone else, that I wasn't wearing levis, that I didn't need a shave or a haircut, that my shoes were shined, and I wasn't wearing either beads or a knapsack. Outside of those few minor details, I felt very much at ease. 
As we made our way to our seats, which were positioned so that we could watch almost everything in the theater, I said to my friend, "Gee, this place smells like a tent out of Arabian nights." 
"Dope," the officer said tersely. I started to take exception when I realized he meant the odor was marijuana. Fearing I might get high myself, I tried not to breathe. With my sinuses I was soon gasping for breath and decided it was better to die of pot than become the first case in medical history of self-asphyxiation. 
Turning my attention to the stage, where the Grateful Dead were holding forth, I was soon tapping my feet along with the rest of the audience. I wasn't sure what they were playing (in fact, I didn't catch two successive words in any song during the entire evening) but the music was something like they play at the Grand Ol' Opry, only faster and without Minnie Pearl Bailey. It was pretty good. I even caught myself starting to clap my hands with the kids. 
Turning to a young girl sitting next to me, I ventured, "Say they're pretty good!" I figured I ought to establish some contact with the natives before they charged me with being over-aged and took me to their chief. "Far out," she replied. "Yeah, man," I replied, trying to get into the vernacular. "Say, what is this, a bust?" she said belligerently. "Far out," I said, thereby effectively ending my efforts to establish contact with the natives. 
As the concert wore on, I found myself becoming enamored with the music, rather taken with the cheering, appreciative audience. My friend left me at one point to confer with another narcotics officer and I suddenly felt very much alone among 5,000 cheering, clapping, smoking young boys and girls who were jumping around to music that was just on the other side of ear-splitting. I felt relieved when my friend returned, uncomfortable when he tapped on the shoulder a young man getting ready to light a joint, relieved when the youngster put the joint away, uncomfortable when the group he was with turned around to stare intently, relieved when they only smiled instead of beating us to death with chains. 
By now the concert had been going on for five hours. The Grateful Dead were still very much alive, the audience was as enthusiastic as ever, and only the narcotics officers, the police and myself appeared to be very dead. "When can we go?" I asked desperately about 12:30. "Had enough?" my friend asked, smiling. I nodded. 
Outside, the air was cool, damp and smelled of industrial waste. But it was still good. "Bet you've never seen anything like that before," my friend said. 
"Yes, I have, but not all in one place. I'd have to combine a state Legion convention, halftime at a Missouri football game, and dollar-day at a discount store to get one rock concert." 
"Far out," my friend answered. 
"Right on," I said as we laughed. 
Just then an establishment-type couple (the man was even wearing a tie) looked at us suspiciously, then belligerently. As they passed, I heard the man say to his wife, "Dope." 

(by Jack Stapleton, from the "Missouriana" column, the Stanberry Headlight (MO), 30 December 1971)

Fall 1970: Garcia Interview at the Matrix

The Grateful Dead is the complete integration of music and musician. The one is of the other, just as it works the other way around. 
"You know how the music sounds now?" Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist of the Dead is speaking. "You know how it sounds now? That's the way we're living now. That's a little holograph of our life. That's what we're saying, if we're saying anything." 
The new music Garcia refers to is represented by the semi-acoustic work on their last album, "Workingman's Dead." A distinct departure from previous offerings, it features some fine vocal harmonies with the emphasis on songs and away from the long electronic improvisations that were their trademark. 
The Dead's legendary loose structure has grown more complex, if no less loose. Garcia is playing pedal steel guitar regularly with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a rollicking country band (as is Dead drummer Mickey Hart). Further, he is about to record an album with local organist Howard Wales in a small combo. This particular night at The Matrix he was to join Merl Saunders, a black keyboard man who has played with Miles Davis among others, in what Garcia calls "the Monday night band." 
What this, along with the musical meanderings of other Dead, has done is to broaden the musical perspective of the band immeasurably. Give it more universality, as Garcia tells it. 
To him, the music is developed from or by the strong interpersonal relationships within the group. "It's all ideas we've evolved through contact with each other all this time. We've been a little independent structure growing in some direction completely sideways to everybody else." 
It is this bond and the music that comes from it that leads to what Garcia terms the "Dead mystique." "The world I live in doesn't have any Grateful Dead. I'm not into the mystique in terms of it coming to me and my being impressed by it. Because it's about me and us." 
Though the album has sold moderately well, it is by no means a smash. "Our success is highly over-touted," says Garcia. The Dead are steadily coming out of debt, but are still far more in than out. "Those realities (of money) were never particularly hard to us, that's why we were $80,000 in debt." 
The Grateful Dead won their wings, so to speak, at Ken Kesey's Acid Tests (made famous by Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test), where they were the band. Today, when the psychedelic revolution seems to have taken a more violent turn, both Weir and Garcia disavow any relationship to the violence. "Violent people are all on the same side," was Garcia's comment. 
Violence, he feels, gets all the attention of the media and so it becomes what people believe in. "All the things that were going on in Acid Test days are still going on. Only much farther out and much more subtle. It's for damn sure that no one's going to be talking about it, because that's what happened last time." 
Free concerts, something very close and dear to that Dead mystique, have taken on a different perspective for them too. The Grateful Dead may have invented the free concert in the park ideal that eventually led up to Woodstock, but now the situation has gotten out of hand. "That whole free music scene is a completely faulty viewpoint of what's going on in music or what music really is." Garcia is especially articulate about this. "Free, to us, was always a reciprocal trip. We were free to do it or not. When we were free to do it or not, we sometimes chose to do it. 
"Now the thing about free music as defined by the Woodstock Nation trip is let's make it free. But music isn't free. Everyone of those musicians who plays music has paid for that fucking music with his life. 
"The word free is sadly overworked. Nothing is really free. Money is a symbol of a certain kind of energy exchange that most people are too lame to ever be able to come to in their own terms in some groovy way." 
Somewhere about this point the manager of the club called out to Jerry and made a strumming motion with his hand. It was time to go on. 
A bit later, the combo was cooking. Bob Weir was leaning back near the wall enjoying the music. Garcia was playing out of every imaginable bag. First sounding like Steve Cropper, playing tight rhythmic chords, and then, almost out of nowhere, a little belch of feedback and some freaky, spaced out run. He was just picking anything and articulating. 

(by Joel Selvin, from the Music section, Earth magazine, January 1971)