Dec 10, 2015

January 1971: Touring & Recording Plans

From the Music Capitals of the World
San Francisco

The New Riders of the Purple Sage, country offspring of the Grateful Dead, are mixing their first album, "New Riders of the Purple Sage," to be released March 15. The New Riders and the Dead travel to the University of California, Eugene, Ore., Vancouver, and Seattle later this month. Then they'll take three weeks off and come back to San Francisco to develop new material. February 18-21 the two groups will be in Port Chester, N.Y. The first three weeks in March will be spent on a Midwestern tour being set up now by Bill Graham and Warner Bros. During the first week in April the group will tour the East Coast with dates in New York, Boston, and possibly Washington. In June, the entire Dead Family (some 50 people) goes to Europe for a one month tour. They have rented six barges, each capable of carrying 15 people, and will travel where they can by water. One of the barges is a sound stage and the bands will play as they travel down the canals of England and Holland. Tour also includes dates in France, Sweden and Germany, and the entire trip will be filmed for release as a full-length feature.

Jerry Garcia is starting to think about doing his own album, and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann (the group's two drummers) are recording an album in the new studio in Mickey's barn. Pigpen is also working on his own album. All will be on Warner Bros.

Jefferson Airplane is finishing up their final album for RCA under the terms of their existing contract. Album should be out in February. Hot Tuna has one more album to do for RCA and will start work on that soon.

(from Billboard, 23 January 1971)


  1. This news article was written in mid-January 1971. It's mainly of interest to read about the plans for the Europe tour of June '71 that didn't happen. I don't know if planning ever went farther than this, but at some point the Dead bailed out - Garcia told Rock magazine in spring '72, "We had a European tour kind of sketched out this time last year, but the timing was poor. What happened was we’d been out on the road for two months and our plan was to then go to Europe, but we were so exhausted and we were on sort of a downhill...the way things work with our music is that we can only play certain material for so long and then we get bored with what we’re doing. It’s important to us to be able to take a break for maybe a month or two, come back to it fresh, rehearse, get new material together – then the music has some vitality. But if we try and play the same material too continually it just starts getting lame...and we start getting bored with it... When it came time for a final decision – ‘are we going to go, are we not going to go? Oh, let’s not go because we just don’t feel right'... We weren’t ready to come." (Jon McIntire, on the other hand, said it was because they couldn't get the money to afford the tour, until Warners agreed to finance the '72 trip.)

    The Dead did periodically take breaks to refresh themselves and rehearse new music - for instance, they'd cancelled a scheduled Port Chester run in December '70, and (as this article states) took a few weeks off in Jan/Feb '71 to develop new material, which they did. Another break in summer '71 was just as productive.

    Note that other shows could be cancelled as well - from the shows listed here, the Vancouver BC date (1/23/71) apparently wasn't played, and they ended up not playing in Washington DC in April '71 either.

    The recording news is also of interest. Garcia's already thinking about a solo album - he wouldn't get an advance from Warners, though, until June (when he bought a new house), so he put off any recording ideas til the summer. Pigpen was always said to be "working on his own album," but never actually did much. Nothing is said of a Weir solo album - as of Feb '71 he only had two new songs that he'd laboriously cobbled together using some of Mickey's riffs, and it would take him another year to build up more songs.
    Most interesting, Mickey and Bill are recording an album in Mickey's new studio! An earlier Billboard (11/7/70) had announced that Mickey's barn studio was being built that month, and the drummers were planning to record "a percussion concept" for Douglas Records - so apparently it got underway quickly. I've never seen a reference to this in the Dead books, probably because their work together promptly ended when Mickey went on his hiatus in Feb '71. Kreutzmann's book says that he told Mickey to leave the band "and it really strained our relationship." So it's notable that Bill does not play on Mickey's Rolling Thunder album, which was recorded over the next year and included the other Dead members and just about every other musician Mickey could round up.
    As an aside, the drummers' album in progress is said to "be on Warner Bros," which seems unremarkable til you remember that the previous Billboard article had said it would be on Douglas Records. Possibly a small slip - or possibly Alan Douglas had already washed his hands of Mickey Hart?

  2. The San Francisco Examiner also briefly reported on the Dead's planned Europe '71 tour that month:

    "Music Machine: Grateful Dead takes to the water in June. The group will tour Britain and Holland aboard six barges, one rigged as a sound stage, with a camera crew on hand to capture all of it on film for a full-length movie. The barge cruise is one leg of a lengthy European tour for the entire Dead entourage, numbering around 60." (from Tom Campbell's "On the Scene" column, 1/23/71)