Apr 15, 2021

April 15, 1971: Allegheny College, Meadville, PA

Grateful Dead is more than just a rock group. To say the least, it's a social phenomenon, and for many, a way of life. The Dead held a leading role in the development of the Haight-Ashbury freak district in San Francisco, and originated the San Francisco sound which has come to be called Acid Rock. In this, they led the way for other West Coast acid bands, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Country Joe and the Fish, to name a few. Jefferson Airplane was the group most directly influenced by the Dead, and on many of their albums, the Airplane claims Jerry Garcia (lead guitarist and leader of the Dead) as their musical and spiritual advisor. 
The Dead brought many new innovations to the stilted rock world (at that time entirely dominated by the Beatles and Top 40 radio), which have now come to be almost social institutions among the drug culture. It was the Dead and Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters who originated light shows and mixed media (sight and sound) concerts, and today the term "rock and roll" goes hand and hand with strobe lights, oildrop projectors, and weird subconsciousness movies. All these effects can be traced back to the Dead and the acid tests. Everyone, sometime, should see the Dead or the Airplane in concert with the Joshua Light Show. It must be seen to be believed. 
Another concept attributed to the Dead and the Frisco bands is the free concert. These were originally concerts put on in Golden Gate Park by the Dead, the Airplane, Quicksilver, and Big Brother, where the Haight-Ashbury freak population came together to drop (before LSD was declared a dangerous drug and made illegal) and to make love. This custom was greatly exploited and termed various names, among these, Love-In, Grope-In, Freak Out, etc. In spite of this (and their popularity) the Dead still does a great many free concerts, and unlike most other bands who have made good, haven't sold out to the dollar sign. 
The term "hippie" was first coined to describe the acid bands and the Haight-Ashbury community, and in many respects, the Dead are responsible for many aspects of the freak culture. Communal living, although by no matter of means a new idea, was made popular in our time by these San Francisco society drop-outs. The present freak appearance, beads, bells, headbands, shoulder length hair, and sandals, was developed in the early days of the Haight-Ashbury scene. The use of hallucinogenic drugs (specifically marijuana and LSD) was also brought out into the open in our time by the early Frisco freaks. Jerry Garcia and Ken Kesey were doing acid back in 1959, long before Timothy Leary ever stuck his foot in it. We should all be familiar with the stories of the early days of Haight-Ashbury, when the Dead and the other local bands would play during the week at the Fillmore, the Avalon, or the Carousel, and then do free concerts on the weekends, with an occasional acid test or small outdoor festival thrown in. The acid tests were marked by free, all-night music, bizarre light shows, and electric beverages (liquids containing vast quantities of acid), and naturally enough, the Dead was the official band for the acid tests, conceived and put on by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. (If you are interested in this and haven't read it, you should read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe.) The acid tests had a great influence over a later social phenomenon, the rock festival. 
Those of us who subscribe to the freak image owe a vote of thanks to the Grateful Dead. They were there at the beginning. They helped start it all. Their music says very little politically, and even less spiritually to aid the movement, and they seldom put on airs about the great "rock revolution", but they have had more influence on our society than any other band, except of course for the Beatles, mainly because they gave us an example to follow. In short, we are living a life style that was or- [line missing] the early Haight-Ashbury community. 
On the other hand, we should not overlook their prominence as musicians. It's true when you think of Grateful Dead, you first think of their social influence, but you must also keep in mind the great sphere of influence they have had over rock music. 
To begin, they were the originators of the Acid Rock sound. This form of music is characterized by many allusions to drugs, and also the fact that the musicians usually play while stoned, so the music reflects this feeling. Other bands, some of which I have already mentioned, followed this path to recognition, and for a little while, Acid Rock was even played on commercial radio (the song White Rabbit is a good example of this). 
Also, the Dead started some new trends in the instrumentation of rock and roll. The Dead was the first group to experiment in using two guitars, both playing leads at the same time. Before this, it had mostly been one guitarist doing the solos and the other one just playing chords to back him up. They were also, probably, the first group to use more than one drummer, and so create a type of rhythm section. Besides their two drummers, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, they also have the infamous Pigpen, who switches off between conga and organ. Many other groups have followed suit, Santana being the most notable. 
As musicians, they are of the highest quality and they are probably the tightest rock band you're likely to hear. In an article in Down Beat, a very reputable (but dull) jazz-oriented magazine, the Grateful Dead was called, "The best fuckin' rock band in this country." In a recent Rolling Stone interview, David Crosby said of the Dead's bass player, Phil Lesh, "Phil Lesh is probably the best string musician of our generation", although many critics feel he ranks second to Jack Cassidy. And even in Time magazine, in an article published in the summer of 1967, it was said that Jerry Garcia and Jorma Kaukonen were the two best guitarists in all of rock. 
Probably the biggest change brought about by the Dead and the other Acid Rock bands, was that they took the best of rock music off of Top 40 radio, and put it on the Underground, to use the newspeak of the day. This was their most meaningful contribution. 
The Dead did a concert in Cleveland last Saturday at Public Hall. Unfortunately, this reporter arrived too late to get tickets, as they had sold out two hours earlier, and therefore could only get as close as the lobby to listen until I (along with a number of other so-called "gate crashers") was ejected by the police into the cold night air. All I can do is to pass on reports of the people who were inside. All said the concert was fantastic, incredible would be a better word, with the Dead playing alone for 3 1/2 hours and leaving the audience totally hypnotized by the end of the concert.
(by Rich Arthurs, from the Campus (Allegheny College), October 20, 1970) 
* * *  


"One of the biggest problems involved in setting up big name band concerts at Allegheny seems to be that of getting around the unknown factors," reports John Frick, College Union manager. Price changes, contract troubles, and other problems continually present problems to those involved in getting the groups here. 
Most students will remember the survey of band preferences passed out during the first term. Of the six most popular groups on this survey, only Richie Havens and the Steve Miller Band were available, and both on the same night. The Steve Miller Band was chosen and will appear in the David Mead Field House on Friday, February 13. The tickets will be priced at $3.00 for students and $4.00 for non-students. 
There was also a possibility of getting the Grateful Dead to appear this term. It is still possible that they could make it between now and March. The college union has signed a contract with the Dead, and as of now it is in their hands. It is now completely up to the Grateful Dead whether or not they will appear. However, the outlook is doubtful. Twenty-nine other schools are in this same position with the Grateful Dead. 
In the past, our bargaining power was weakened by a lack of an adequate public address system of the type requested by groups such as the Steve Miller Band and the Grateful Dead. This has been cleared up by the purchase of an $1800 system by ASG. 
Any concerts third term depend upon the success of the February 13 concert. If everything goes smoothly with the Steve Miller appearance, there could possibly be a large concert and two smaller ones in the spring. 
One big problem that is always encountered at Allegheny is that there is only seating for 2,000 in the field house. Most of the bigger groups set a minimum fee against 60% of the gate. With a drawing of only 2,000 they can't expect to make any more than the minimum. In order to get 2,000 for the Steve Miller Concert publicity has been set up in Cleveland, Erie, Pittsburgh, and other schools in the newspapers and on the radio. [ . . . ] 

(by Kip Bodi, from the Campus, January 12, 1971)

* * * 

Although plagued by sound system difficulties, the College Union-sponsored Steve Miller Band concert Saturday night was a financial success. 
"Success" means that the Union did not lose as much money on the concert as it had expected. Because of this, two more concerts are currently being planned for the spring, one probably by the Grateful Dead. 
About 1750 people paid $5700 to see the Steve Miller Band. 
According to CU Director Joseph Casale, this is about $700 more than was needed to assure at least one more concert this academic year. Negotiations for the Grateful Dead, one of the early San Francisco rock groups, are almost complete for a concert April 1. 
Although the contract has not yet been signed, the CU has been assured by the Dead's agent that it will be. Unless the Dead concert is a financial disaster, another prominent rock group not yet decided on, will be signed for later in the spring. 
James Dellon, who supervised the sound system for the Miller concert, said that the difficulties were caused by the group's late arrival. "Because they came in late and the audience was already there and we had to get the show on, we had not opportunity for a sound rehearsal," Dellon said. "Microphones were badly placed in relation to amplifiers and we had no chance to check levels and the placement of mikes." 
Dellon said the difficulties could not be attributed to the new equipment - Voice of the Theater speakers and new microphones. [ . . . ] 
Part of the Steve Miller [financial] success may be attributable to increased advertising. Not only was the concert well publicized on campus, but on Pittsburgh and Cleveland radio stations and several local college newspapers as well. [ . . . ]

(by James Cowden, from the Campus, February 16, 1971) 

(A review in the same issue calls the Steve Miller concert "a big disappointment...nothing exceptional." "The set began an hour and a half late as a result of bad weather conditions... The poor quality of the P.A. system was the ruination of the concert...the sound was for the most part lost in the buzzing of the P.A. Some of the technical difficulties were the result of poor planning...mikes had to be scrounged up from all over the campus, some of very dubious quality. But, poor planning aside, the operation of the system was worse than inadequate." Not only that, but "the group simply wasn't tight." 
But an editorial in the Feb. 19 issue hoped for "a new era of better musical groups being brought to campus." It noted that the audience of 1750 was "large by Allegheny standards... Increased advertising, which succeeded for the Miller concert, and an end to sound system difficulties will be essential if Allegheny is to continue to draw sizable numbers of people from Pittsburgh, Erie, Cleveland, and western New York... Living in Meadville isn't easy for many students. The College Union is to be commended for doing a fine job to make life here better.")

* * * 


The upcoming Grateful Dead concert could be the last big concert at Allegheny. 
According to Tom Wells, the new student manager of the College Union, Meadville's Fire Marshall and District Attorney Paul D. Shafer are upset over widespread smoking at the Steve Miller Band Concert February 13. 
There are city and state ordinances prohibiting smoking of any kind at public gatherings. 
"If people aren't cool about the smoking at the Dead concert, the Fire Marshall will shut the concert down, and ban all further shows," Wells said yesterday. 
The Grateful Dead concert is tentatively set for Thursday, April 15. Tickets, at $3 each for students, will go on sale at the beginning of next term. 

(from the Campus, March 2, 1971)

* * *
After much uncertainty, final arrangements have been made for what CU Manager Tom Wells calls "the biggest CU event this term" - the April 15 Grateful Dead concert. 
"There are no problems," Wells said. "We have a confirmed telegram from the Dead and they will definitely be here the 15th. The only way the concert will be shut down is if there is smoking of any kind." 
Wells promised that, unlike last term's Steve Miller concert, the Dead performance will encounter no sound problems, since the group is bringing its own equipment and sound men. 
Wells went to pains to emphasize the importance of an "orderly" audience at the concert, a point also stressed by Meadville District Attorney Shafer (see story on this page). 
"I cannot stress enough the importance of good crowd behavior," Wells said. "If there's any kind of trouble at the Dead concert, it will be the last concert at Allegheny because the Administration will cut off the concert fund. If there are no slip-ups it should really be a good concert because they have signed to play for 3 hours." 
Wells also announced a tentative schedule of other CU activities, including a series of Coffeehouses in the South Lounge of the College Union [ . . . ], a Paul Newman film festival near the end of May, and a film of The Cream's last concert.
Meadville District Attorney Paul D. Shafer would like Allegheny students - and other fans of the Grateful Dead - to keep in mind that a section of the City Fire Code prohibits smoking in gymnasiums. 
And while Shafer emphasizes that the purpose of his warning is to eliminate the danger of a fire hazard at the April 15 Dead concert in the David Mead Field House, he also suggests that a strictly-enforced no-smoking rule will be the easiest way to prevent marijuana smoking. 
The College Union's February 13 Steve Miller Concert was reportedly the scene of widespread "grass" smoking, although some spectators heightened their enjoyment of the music with "treats" not covered by a no-smoking rule - such as various hallucinogens and marijuana-treated "Alice B. Toklas" brownies. 
Shafer said enforcement of the no-smoking rule will be "up to the college." Additional Meadville City Police will be supplied only at the request of the college, the District Attorney said, although he added that it is usual for off-duty police to be requested for such functions. 
Shafer acknowledged that he had heard rumors of marijuana smoking at the Miller concert, but said none had been confirmed since, to his knowledge, no prosecutions were made. 
Not only rumors about the Miller concert but reports of smoking at other events in the Field House, including basketball games, prompted Shafer to ask the college to strictly enforce the no-smoking rule, he said.
Picture caption: The Grateful Dead are set to appear at Allegheny April 15, after much suspense. What college and CU officials hope will not appear at the concert is smoke - from tobacco cigarettes or the other kind. Extra police may enforce the no-smoking rule. 

(from the Campus, April 6, 1971) 

From the April 13 issue: 

THE GRATEFUL DEAD are set to appear here April 15. CU manager Tom Wells says ticket sales at the college have been "great," but that off-campus sales are lagging. Meanwhile, campus security chief Edward Humphrey greeted rumors that a Hell's Angel brigade might accompany the Dead with the dare, "Let them come - we'll be ready for them." Student bouncers for [the] concert - who must pay their own way - got instructions on security last night as well as some Grateful Dead white t-shirts which will identify them to the crowd.

* * *  
Unlike the previous concerts this year, Thursday's Grateful Dead show started on time, with Garcia's country band, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who soon proved themselves worthy of traveling with the Dead. New Riders worked for the most part within a traditional country and western structure, but this was set apart from most C and W by Garcia's unique style of playing pedal steel guitar. Indeed, Garcia seemed to carry the band; yet the other members were also fine musicians in their own right. Of special interest is the fact that Spencer Dryden, formerly with Jefferson Airplane, played drums for the New Riders. The down-home country feel of the New Riders seemed to come across well to the audience, and a number of people said that they enjoyed the New Riders more than the Dead. 
Then the Dead made a very tasteful entrance with no show of flamboyance such as a dynamic introduction by some celebrity (the custom for popular groups nowadays). The first half of the Dead's act mostly comprised numbers such as "Beat It On Down the Line" and "I Know You Rider", as well as some traditional country tunes like "Mama Tried" and Woody Guthrie's "Going Down the Road (Ain't Gonna Be Treated This Way)", which they tampered with somewhat to fit their style of country rock. The band played strong from the outset of the concert, needing no time whatsoever to get into their music. The audience seemed to be impressed first by the superb musicianship which the Dead displayed and second by their warm easy going stage presence. Jerry Garcia proved himself to be a master over the audience as well as a master of his instrument, and by the end of the first set the audience was on its feet begging for more. 
"A break people, you know, a break." On this typical Garcian thought the lights were turned on and an amazing number of people (and smoke?) was revealed. To move, one had to be nearly as agile as Garcia's fingers over the pedal steel. The results, however, weren't half as gratifying. There wasn't any fresh air or resemblance of space throughout the entire gym complex. Uniforms were everywhere giving an extremely paranoid tinge to an already extremely unpleasant atmosphere. An excellent summation of the mess was the one bathroom available for the masses. It seems that in a four and a half hour period nobody's bladder was supposed to be filled. 
The lights dimmed and people crammed back together to hear the Dead's second set. From here on in, things didn't seem to go right for the Dead or the audience. It can't quite be pinpointed, but things seemed to get a little boring and tiring. Songs seemed formulated. Start with a Garcia or Weir vocal; add a Lesh, Weir and Garcia harmony; now work into a Garcia guitar lick; and finally bring it all together for a smooth ending. Despite this rather tedious pattern, credit should be given to the Dead. Garcia showed amazing mastery of the guitar as did Weir. Phil Lesh proved himself not only as an able composer but also as an agile bass player with a unique style. Finally, Kreutzmann did some exceptionally good drum work. Some of the prominent numbers that were subjected to this paradox of tedious excellence included "Sugar Magnolia," "Truckin!" and "Casey Jones." The last of this group was interesting in its finish, due to Weir's wobbling body snapping rigid and his wailing, "Casey Jones you better watch your speed." Another notable was Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good" which the Dead managed to put across very well, to end the show. Reaction to the second set ranged from "Boy, if I could only move," to "Garcia is incredible," to "Did we already hear this?" and finally, to Weir's taking a good stiff hit of whiskey! 
Another major disappointment of the concert was that the Dead's second drummer, Mickey Hart, was not with them. This absence tended to limit the group's scope of material, as they didn't do any numbers of "Anthem of the Sun," "AOXOMOXOZ," or "Live Dead." It also detracted from the fullness of the percussion section, which reached its greatest point technically on the aforementioned albums. Although Bill Kreutzmann is probably the finest drummer in rock, he can't alone attain the fullness that the group had previously with two drummers. 
All in all, the concert was very good. Aside from the concert's being a financial success, the two bands combined to turn out about four hours of excellent music, which is sure to go down as the high point of the term. There were disappointments, though. It has been said that Grateful Dead is probably the best rock and roll band in the world, but you can never be sure because no no one has ever really seen them get it off. After Thursday's concert, we began to see some truth to this statement. The Dead has such an unlimited potential that they always seem to let you down, even though they always put on a fantastic show.
(by Rich Arthurs & Tom Kosbob, from the Campus, April 20, 1971) 

(Picture caption, April 16 issue - "Jerry Garcia pumps the pedalsteel for his own group, the Riders of the Purple Stage, switching to lead guitar later in last evening's concert. Garcia maneuvered the Grateful Dead through an astounding spectrum of electric, country and blues.")

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: