Jun 28, 2019

March 5, 1971: Oakland Auditorium Arena, Oakland, CA


(Most of this article is about the split within the Black Panthers: 
"The Black Panther Party is having an internal fight. Two main factions have appeared so far. They seem to divide rather neatly into what Eldridge [Cleaver] calls a right and a left wing. Each wing has its own leading personalities, its own center of operations, its own style, and its own view of tactics. 
The right wing appears to be led by Huey Newton and David Hilliard. Their headquarters are the national offices of the BPP in Oakland. Huey says we should exhaust all available means of struggle. That means: Don't go underground yet, our main task at this time is to educate the people. 
The national office wing has expelled the New York 21 for criticizing the Panthers and praising the Weathermen in an open letter. They have also expelled the entire Intercommunal Branch in Algiers, and they are waging a campaign of character assassination against Eldridge Cleaver. 
The left wing centers in the Intercommunal Branch headquarters in Algiers. They appear to be led by Eldridge... Their line tends more toward calling for armed struggle now and for going underground... They are calling for 'a purge from the bottom up.' ... 
[More details on the various accusations, excommunications, and arguments between the party leaders follow.]
There's all that stupid hassle about who is the real and only vanguard and whose trial is the important one. Childish games that waste energy and confuse people. One thing that makes this all very strange to us is that the Panthers don't communicate much to the white alternative culture... We haven't been able to communicate freely with them since Bobby [Seale] went to jail... 
We don't really know [why the dispute is going on], and we're left on the sidelines speculating. And yet, these people are supposed to be our revolutionary brothers and sisters." 
An accompanying article concludes, "We should express revolutionary solidarity with the Panthers... Don't choose sides.")

[ . . . ]
The only concrete event we have experienced directly in this whole thing so far was the Intercommunal Solidarity Day Party at the Oakland Auditorium last Friday night. Music by the Vanguards, the Lumpen (backed by the Freedom Messengers), and the Grateful Dead. Speech by Huey Newton. Kathleen Cleaver was scheduled to speak, but she stayed in Algeria.
[ . . . ]
Back to the party in Oakland. When we arrived at the auditorium, a huge crowd of mostly white people were out front trying to get in. Word was that the Panthers were searching everybody. Women on the right entrance, men through the left. Only a few Panthers were doing the searches so it was taking a long time. I left my wife in the middle of the crowd, pushed through to the ticket window, got tickets, pushed back to where she was, gave her one, then we separated for our separate entrances and met inside. It took us 45 minutes to get in.
As it turned out, the Panthers never asked anybody for tickets.
There were no cops in sight anywhere inside or outside the hall all evening.
The crowd was 20% black, 80% white. This is in Oakland where the Panthers started and where they now have their national headquarters. 
After the Vanguards and the Lumpen played, the little children were trotted out. They had uniforms on, like Catholic school kids, and black berets. They are students at the Huey P. Newton Intercommunal Youth Institute. They brought big bunches of red roses for Huey as a post-birthday gift. They sang a song about his glorious sayings, off-key. It was like Art Linkletter and like all that dull bullshit that communist establishments push: Chairman Mao visits the smiling tractor workers. Somebody (white) shouted, "Where's Mom, and Apple Pie?"
Then Huey came on. A standing ovation. This was a crucial time. The party is involved in a major split, they've accused Eldridge of murdering a fellow Panther and holding Kathleen captive, various major questions about decision making have been raised, plus this was a gala party which really focused on the speech by Huey. The event called for a major statement. 
Various Panthers came on stage before Huey and with him, but they came on like bodyguards, not like brothers. A friend pointed out that Big Man and Emory Douglas were not close to Huey on stage. Apparently we've arrived at the Kremlinology game. We know so little about where the Panthers are at that we have to try to deduce their policy and power structure from who stands near who on the platform.
Huey spoke hurriedly, in a fever, for about five minutes. He began by saying he and the Party were there because of the people, not because of themselves. Applause. The Panthers are against all forms of fascism, including sexual fascism. Big applause.
He said that the straight media was trying to make their disagreements seem like a split, but actually it was a time for Unity. He said the Panthers are a people's party and therefore they can't move ahead of the people, and go blow things up at this point. He said that he himself wasn't a good speaker. I'm a man of action, he said. Actions speak louder than words. He said, we can't talk in public about everything we're doing. His implication was that they were still for armed struggle, but they couldn't talk it up in public or they'd get busted or killed.
When he finished, the applause was good but not loud. It was not a major statement. Many blacks didn't applaud. The black man next to me didn't, and I asked him what Huey would have to say to move him. He didn't answer, so I tried again:
"It all seems so sad," I said.
"You quit listening halfway through," the man said. "It doesn't matter what he says. Like he says, actions speak louder than words."
Then the Grateful Dead played. The sound system made all the music sound like it was coming at you through a swimming pool full of water. When they began, a lot of whites jumped up and started dancing. Natural rhythm, oh yeah. Black people looked on rather amazed for a few minutes and then began to leave in droves.
[ . . . ]

(by Gisella E., from the San Francisco Good Times, 12 March 1971)

* * *


The Black Panthers' Revolutionary Intercommunal Day of Solidarity and Post-birthday Celebration for Huey P. Newton Friday night just had to be a dynamite downer for just about everyone concerned.
First, for those who came to the Oakland Auditorium Arena to get the word from the Supreme Servant of the People on the, by then, glaringly visible and rapidly widening rift in the Black Panther Party, there was little cause for cheer.
Next, for those aficionados who had come for a fabulous evening of rock by the Lumpen and the Dead, there was hardly more than a brief taste in a sullen bad vibes environment.
And finally, if Huey's Oakland backers had hoped for a massive outpouring of the troops in a show of solidarity with the Black Panther Party Minister of Defense, they just had to be a little down in the mouth.
For the Arena which has an official capacity of 6,500 was hardly more than half full by the time the last person had entered (after Huey had finished talking). There were about 800 blacks in the hall.
Most of the people there must have been waiting for the Word, but a strong percentage were at least equally there to dig the Grateful Dead.
To illustrate the culture point - a BARB staffer who hitched to the auditorium got a lift on Telly in a lifestyle van that took him right to the Auditorium. The driver, a young bearded longhaired freak, said he was going there "to hear the Dead." Asked what he thought about the Panther split, he said he hadn't been aware of it.
Further on he picked up two chicanos who were on their way to the celebration all the way from Sacramento. They were wearing all the right buttons - Los Siete, Free Bobby, Free Angela, and an old Free Huey button.
But they didn't know anything about any "split" either. And they said happy and clear they were on their way "to hear the Dead." The Dead had played in Sac the night before and had announced they would be at Huey's party the next night, so the kids thought they'd dig 'em two nights in a row.
The time was announced for 7 PM, but the doors didn't open till 10 to 8. Meanwhile, the crowd passed the time greeting old friends and toking; and some groups got in a few right on revolutionary cheers and chants.
BARB got to talking to an ex-Scanlan's staffer, and woddya think? He said he was there to dig the Lumpen! To top it all, a sallow white kid who was listening cut in, "Me, I'm here for the Dead." And after a pause, "D'ya think Eldridge'll be here?"
When BARB finally got in after a friendly feline frisking ("That thing between my legs is not a gun."), Vanguard and Freedom were rocking, followed by the Lumpen. Elaine Brown mc'd with no mention or reference of the heavy charges of murder she had laid on Eldridge Cleaver in the Panther Paper out the day before.
In between sets by the Lumpen, Charles Brunson read some revolutionary messages that were rendered unintelligible by the speaker system. A little later, fifteen Panther kids from the Huey P. Newton educational Institute filed out, each bearing a bouquet of blood red roses. The kids ranged in age from about 5 to 15. They were dressed in black pants or skirts, blue chambray shirts, and black berets. They piped out a special birthday song for Huey, and sounded just like any other group of kids with changing voices.
Then Elaine Brown announced Huey's arrival. "The first time he's ever been to his own birthday party," she said, "since the party was founded."
The scene was in sharp contrast to his first birthday party in 1967 after he was jailed in October for offing a pig. Then, it was indeed a show of solidarity, with Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael (soon after ousted) joining forces with the burgeoning Panthers.
And the honkys in the audience were a sprinkling in a sea of blacks. The Arena was full. Black Panthers were resplendent in their black leatherjacket uniforms. Discipline was tight and tough.
Last Friday night, the Panthers could be best described as being in non-uniformed disarray.
After the brief introduction, Huey hurried on from stage right twirling a silver-tipped swagger stick over his head. Six men nested him protectively throughout his brief appearance. One of them was Masai Hewitt. Nobody could affirm whether David Hilliard was anywhere around.
Huey spoke for less than ten minutes during which the Man's technology treacherously thwarted the Power of the People. That fuckin' speaker system made it almost impossible to understand Huey as he raced through his speech.
After he finished and rushed off stage left, underground reporters scurried after one another comparing notes. They could have saved their breath cause it's all in this week's Black Panther paper.
"I'm not here because of the Black Panther Party," Huey led off. "I'm here because of the Power of the People."
"I would like to say tonight," he continued, "that the Black Panther Party stands against all forms of fascism, including sexual fascism. That we are against all kinds of chauvinism, including racial chauvinism; we're against sexual chauvinism, national chauvinism. We're intercommunalists."
"I never made any speeches, you see, because I'm not a very eloquent man," Huey explained.
He asked that the party be judged by its actions and its contribution rather than its media image; and he emphasized the fact that the Party was subordinate to the people.
"We can't free political prisoners," Huey pointed out, "only the people can free political prisoners. And a people who are not free cannot free their prisoners, cannot free the prisoners that fascism makes."
Huey spoke about "lifting the consciousness of the people" and "exhausting every possible tactic," but he reminded his listeners, "there are many things we will not discuss in public."
The Friday before Huey was on a TV talk show and Eldridge Cleaver was cut in and spoke out against Hilliard and Huey on the same program. Huey said he would respond later through the party paper.
To date there has been no direct answer to Eldridge's charges although Eldridge has been denounced as a male chauvinist and accused of the murder of a black brother. Huey's birthday could be classed as a philosophical answer.
In his talk, Huey advised, "what kind of action you will take depends upon the particular set of conditions" and acknowledged "that the Party and the world today, is under turmoil."
But Huey was not dismayed by this. In fact, he said "this is very good. We have always welcomed all forms of contradictions." From the contradictions, he said, "We hope to have a qualitative leap. If this leap eliminates some of us, then, of course, we'll weep for that. But," he told his listeners, "We must not stop the Revolution."
He pooh-poohed "the news media that has attempted to discredit the Party by saying that it's over."
After Huey had left the stage, the Grateful Dead entered. Ken Kesey and Paul Krassner were seen coming down the middle aisle. Kesey told BARB that he and the Dead had had to wait until Huey's speech was over until they could enter the auditorium.
While the Dead set up, a good many of the white culture freaks moved up and occupied the space between the seats and the stage. Most of the blacks and the white power freaks filed out of the auditorium, having heard what they came to hear.
A little over a thousand were left, including a sprinkling of blacks. A fight broke out between a group of five black-leatherjacketed blacks and some whites sitting in front of the stage, but it was cooled by a Panther who was still hanging around. The blacks had been trying to keep the aisles clear, apparently not realizing that the arena was practically empty.
Earlier that evening, BARB saw a fracas between two Panthers and a black in the hallway. The black was hurled outside through a glass door and escaped. Someone reported to BARB that on the opposite side of the auditorium there was blood on the steps.
The Dead managed to get in a really good set and had everybody bobbing up and down with good vibes up until the time they were forced to stop by the 11 o'clock closing deadline.
It wasn't as much as everybody had hoped for; but, at least, it ended on a good note.

(from the Berkeley Barb, 12 March 1971)

* * *


Huey Newton, leader of the seriously divided Black Panther Party, made only brief mention of the feud between himself and Eldridge Cleaver last night at an Oakland rally celebrating his birthday.
The event was more notable for its tight security than for its gaiety - the party got underway two hours late because Black Panther guards searched every one of the 4000 persons who attended.
The majority of the crowd was white.
When Newton finally strode onto the stage, sporting the swagger stick he says symbolizes his leadership of the party, he was surrounded by a bodyguard of Panthers. The crowd rose in unison, raised their clenched fists in salute and chanted,"Power to the people!"
In his hurried speech, he failed to mention Cleaver by name, but there was an allusion clearly aimed at the exiled Panther information minister.
"The Black Panther Party," he said, "stands against all forms of fascism, including sexual fascism. We're against sexual chauvinism."
The audience cheered the oblique, sarcastic reference to Cleaver. The Black Panther newspaper, controlled by Newton, charged earlier in the week that Cleaver is holding his wife, Kathleen, a virtual prisoner in Algiers, that he beats her up and that he killed a man who was having an affair with her, charges Kathleen denied during a telephone conversation with The Examiner.
In his ten minute speech, he also told the crowd in Oakland Arena:
"The party and the world today is in a turmoil. There are many things that we will not discuss in public. We cannot get together by substituting verbal expressions for unity. Words will not start the revolution - only action."
Mrs. Cleaver had been billed as one of the featured speakers at the rally, which was advertised as a "revolutionary intercommunal day of solidarity," but she made her position clear in a telephone interview with The Examiner this week.
She said she would not attend the benefit, to which a $2.50 admission was charged, because she did not want to associate with "the low life Oakland clique."
About the only light notes in the otherwise gloomy celebration were provided by The Grateful Dead rock group and The Lumpen, a Black Panther rock band. Photographers, and anyone with a tape recorder, were barred.

(from the San Francisco Examiner, 6 March 1971) 

No tape available. 

See also:

Jun 27, 2019

March 20, 1971: Fieldhouse, University of Iowa, Iowa City


The Committee on University Entertainment (C.U.E.) - the group that arranges all concerts at the University of Iowa - has been charged with catering to the musical desires of the Greek population on campus.
Greg Page, A2, Steve Stroeber, A2, Reed Prior, A4, and Mike Reynolds, all from Des Moines, maintain that their attempts to "improve the concerts at U. of I. have been thwarted by C.U.E."
"It started in the fall when the four of us decided we wanted to do something about the quality of the concerts," related Page.
[ . . . ]
"We figured 'what the hell', we'd promote a concert by ourselves and try to get 'Grateful Dead' and Steve Miller, Reynolds interjected. "We had to go to a Mr. Wockenfuss (Director of Auditoria) and see about getting space in the Fieldhouse. He asked us to work with C.U.E. and we told him we didn't want to. He insisted, so we decided that Grateful Dead-Steve Miller was more important than our egos, and we got in touch with Bert Thompson, president of C.U.E."
Stroeber began, "Bert told us that all groups brought here had to be OK'd by the C.U.E. executive board. We went to a meeting at the board and it became obvious that we weren't going to get the Dead. They were all pretty naive about music, one chick wanted to know if they could get Blind Faith. God, Blind Faith hasn't been together for a year and a half. It's obvious that they don't know music."
"Yeah," said Reynolds. "Grand Funk is what happened to our Dead-Miller plans."
"You see," Prior went on, "it's a classic example of getting screwed by the system. The Greeks control C.U.E. and C.U.E. controls the concerts. As long as it's set up this way the rest of us will have to put up with Neil Diamond."
[ . . . ]
[Bert Thompson, president of C.U.E.] said that the board tries to base its decisions on a group's popularity and financial drawing power. "In short, our decisions are based on whatever we think the majority of the students want. We got Havens for those that like folk, Grand Funk for the hard rock fans, and Diamond for those that like him.
"Based on the financial success of the concerts, I'd say the board was doing a good job in picking what the student wants," he said.
[ . . . ]
Another complaint has been that an outside promoter cannot hold concerts at the university without working through C.U.E. And C.U.E. doesn't want to work with outside promoters, Thompson said.
"First of all, the Field House is the property of the athletic department and they've loaned it for concerts - a total of six times - all to C.U.E."
"Secondly, it would be cutting our own throat. A promoter comes in, promotes a concert, gets around 80 per cent of the profits and we get 20 per cent. We aren't in it to make money, but by the same token we need money to put on more concerts - at lower prices - for the students."
[ . . . ]
[The article points out that most of the C.U.E. executive board are Greeks. "But the point is that Greeks are the only people that apply for these positions." The article asks if the committee members are qualified to pick good groups.]
Does being qualified to do a specific job, such as publicity director, necessarily qualify a person to pick rock and roll performers? "Well, who else is going to pick them?" asked [Sarah Holm, chairman of the publicity committee]. "We aren't paid and it's only reasonable that we get some reward for our efforts. Getting to pick the performers is a privilege that we all earn." [ . . . ]
"When we pick a group for a big concert, we want to be sure that the group we pick will be a large-drawing act," said [Mark Stoloda, co-chairman of the promotion committee].
But Page seemed to have the last word.
"If C.U.E. is sincere when they say they want to get groups that will guarantee a large financial draw, they will be interested in this: the group we wanted them to get, The Grateful Dead, sold out at their recent St. Louis concert at six and five dollars a seat."

(by Don Pugsley, from the Daily Iowan, 12 January 1971)

* * * 

A Chat With a Booking Agent --

"Bob Bonis speaking."
"Ah, Mr. Bonis, my name is Don Pugsley. I'm a reporter for the Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa student newspaper. Are you the booking agent for the rock and roll group The Grateful Dead?"
"Among others, yes, I am."
"Oh, wow, good. Listen. I'm trying to do an article on the feasibility of the Dead doing a concert at the U. of I. You see, I'm trying to convince the people that promote concerts here that the Dead are the group they want to book. But before I can do that I have to find out if the group is available on one of the two dates that the local promoters have open. What's the word on, um, either April 17 or March 20 of this year?"
"Oddly enough, we're wide open for March 20. The Dead will be in Chicago on March 19 and Milwaukee on the 21st, so a March 20 set in Iowa City would certainly fit in with our plans."
"Oh yeah? Wow. Well ah, ooh, how much do they cost?"
"Let's see, the 20th comes under the Friday-Saturday contract stipulation, so they'll want $10,000 guaranteed against 60 to 65 per cent of the gross."
"O.K. Now, what about the possibilities of getting the Steve Miller Blues band in combination with the Dead?"
"I really don't think that would be wise, Don, because the Dead put on a three - three and a half hour show. First they come out and play acoustical instruments for an hour. Then Garcia, the lead guitarist, switches to pedal steel and they form a sub group that calls themselves the Riders of the Purple Sage. The Riders play, in their own style, an hour of country-western type music. Then the Dead come back and play electric music for one, one and a half, once in a while, two hours, depending on audience reaction. The concert is entitled 'An Evening with the Grateful Dead.'"
"Mr. Bonis, one of the problems with the local people is fear of getting a group that won't have a financial draw at the university. Could I get a quote from you regarding the way the Dead relate to a Midwestern university audience."
"Real well, real well. We approved this tour just last Friday and we've already booked at Michigan State and we're talking to the University of Minnesota, Indiana University, and the University of Illinois. As a matter of fact, the last two schools want the date you mentioned - the 20th."
"Well, it sounds really fine, Mr. Bonis, really fine. I just hope I can get the people here to act before the Dead get booked elsewhere."
"Good luck, bye now."
"Thanks, goodbye."
The Grateful Dead contract asks for $2,500 and 5 to 10 per cent less than Grand Funk Railroad. They will play almost three times as long.
Make no mistake. The Dead do not appear on stage in snappy silk outfits; they do not gyrate and sweat; they do not treat their instruments as electrified phalli. They will play tight, well-organized music.
Tuesday, Bert Thompson, president of the Committee on University Entertainment (C.U.E.), was quoted as saying that he and C.U.E. were always open for suggestions regarding possible groups. A Grateful Dead concert would be very nice.

(by Don Pugsley, from the Daily Iowan, 13 January 1971)

* * *


"We haven't decided anything for sure, but we've picked four groups for the March 20 concert, and we will try to book the group on which we get the most feedback," said Bert Thompson, president of the Committee on University Education. [ . . . ]
The groups being considered are Grateful Dead, The Who, Santana, and Ten Years After.
Thompson went on to say that any one wishing to express an opinion regarding a group should call [C.U.E.].
C.U.E. members indicated that they feel that perhaps the Grateful Dead is not as popular as some local groups maintain. It was the feeling that prompted the request for phone calls.
[ . . . ]
Thompson emphasized that as yet C.U.E. has made no choice on a group.
"We only hope that our ultimate decision will be in keeping with C.U.E.'s goal to please the largest number of students," he said.

(by Don Pugsley, from the Daily Iowan, 14 January 1971)

* * *

From the Daily Iowan, 2/23/71:

Tickets for the Grateful Dead concert to be given on March 20 will go on sale at 6 a.m. Saturday at the Union Box Office. [ . . . ] 
Reserved tickets will be $3.50 and $3 each, with general admission ticket prices at $2.50 ... There will be a limit of ten tickets per person.

* * *

Tenting in the Old Ticket Line --

An eight-man group, labeling themselves the Hot Box Federation (H.B.F.), began camping out at the Union Tuesday [2/23] to insure that they got front row seats at the upcoming March 20 Grateful Dead concert.
Tickets went on sale at 6 a.m. this morning. [2/27]
H.B.F. president, identifying himself Wednesday as Dr. Linoleum Bernoulie, explains that the organization is a group of Rock and Roll supporters.
H.B.F. members boast attendance at more than 400 concerts, ownership of an 800-pound record collection, and possession of an R'n'R concert ticket stub display that covers four walls.
"We are..." continues Bernoulie, narrowing his eyes, nodding slowly and pausing to heighten the impact of his impending statement, "Hard Core."
Bernoulie drinks from his Ripple bottle, eases back, lapses into glassy-eyed contemplation, then leans forward and in hushed tones confesses, "Actually, I've never seen the Grateful Dead in person. But, I've tried to make up for this by playing the Dead's first album, the side with Viola Lee Blues on it, every day since I bought it four years ago."
Another member of the outfit, calling himself Chicago Howard, relates that he saw the Dead in Chicago and, slowly smacking a clenched fist in an opposite palm, goes on the record stating, "The Grateful Dead is the best group in Rock and Roll. And I've seen every band that ever played."
[ . . . ] Howard quietly asserts, "But you know, CUE [the Committee for University Entertainment] is pushing things too far. What they should have done was get rid of the reserved seats, throw out the chairs, and let everyone in on the ground floor for a general admission charge. Now, that would make for a knock-out concert."
Dr. Bernoulie and Chicago Howard, joined with those like them, faced many hardships during their wait for the beginning of ticket sales. They spent their nights sleeping behind the bushes, in the snow and mud, outside the Union. Their diet consisted of burgers from the Wheel Room Cafeteria, washed down with smuggled Ripple. Their reward will be front row seats on March 20.
"And you know," says Bernoulie, playing absent-mindedly with a small glassine bag, "we think it's worth it."

(by Don Pugsley, from the Daily Iowan, 27 February 1971)

Photo caption: Willing to weather the dead of winter, these two members of a group grateful for any chance to see live rock camped, the past few days, outside the Iowa Memorial Union, waiting for Saturday morning and the opening of the box office. The concert they were waiting for is the Grateful Dead, which plays Iowa City Saturday, March 20.

* * *


Twenty uniformed, professional ushers have been hired to assist student ushers at Saturday's Grateful Dead concert. The ushers . . . have been acquired to enforce seating arrangements and to thwart any attempts by individuals to bolt for the stage.
"At the last concert," said James Wockenfuss, Director of Auditoria, "large numbers of people ran to the front of the stage. This violated both Iowa City's fire regulations and the front row patrons' ability to see." [ . . . ]
"These ushers," continued Wockenfuss, "will help enforce the fire regulations by keeping the center aisle . . . clear. If we do not do this, people who control the Fieldhouse (Recreation Board) will not let us use it for further concerts."
Wockenfuss said that the ushers "were not designed to force any confrontations with the students."
"I'm sure students realize that in a large gathering such as this, people cannot be allowed to move around indiscriminately," he reasoned.
"We are only trying to insure future concerts," added Wockenfuss.

(from the Daily Iowan, 19 March 1971) 

* * *


At first it seemed like a prison benefit. Every light in the house was on to its full capacity. Anyone standing was questioned as to the whereabouts of his or her chair. When the music started, octogenarians in zoot suits and baseball caps stood in front of the stage, arms crossed, their eyes patrolling the crowd for any indications of someone having a good time.
Somewhere midway into the first group's (The New Riders of the Purple Sage) third number, the much anticipated confrontation began. The fans bolted in, the ushers bolted out, and the patrons in the front two rows folded their chairs and passed them off the floor. After occupying the stage front, the liberators revealed large stashes of reefers (marijuana cigarettes), and proceeded to start stoking some while throwing the others on stage.
At half time, a University official made a last ditch "get tough" effort at intimidating the crowd. The crowd would not be intimidated and the university gave in, requesting only that "the chairs be stacked neatly in the back."
About this time the Dead came on stage and launched into their first song, "Trucking," making it evident through Garcia's stinging riffs that the Dead were going to get it on. In the crowd individuals were losing it big, with some people's psyches raging out of control. A semi-(he still had his shorts on) flipped out individual crawled on stage and managed to stab Bob Wier's hand with a house key before being spirited away by the bouncers. In spite of the crowd's rowdy behavior, the band seemed to be enjoying itself as it countered each new outrageous action with more Rock and Roll.
The Dead sang the better songs of the night in the second set. "Sugar Magnolia" was done so well that at its finish both Garcia and Wier were smiling uncontrollably. The best-played song, of course, was "Turn On Your Love Light." Garcia and Wier pushed the crowd higher and higher before ending with a guitar crescendo that had everyone, including their own sound people, screaming and shouting.
In the aftermath, it seems as if university officials are the most disturbed about the marijuana smoked Saturday night. The Fieldhouse had negligible damage (they had to replace the Fieldhouse floor after the Grand Funk concert), and although the final receipts aren't in, the Dead concert seems to be a financial success. The word is now that the concerts will go on, but only the more subdued acts will be booked. The kind that keep people in their seats.

(by Don Pugsley, from the Daily Iowan, 24 March 1971)

Thanks to Dave Davis.


For more from the Daily Iowan, see:

Jun 25, 2019

April 10, 1971: F&M College, Lancaster, PA


The Franklin and Marshall College gym was filled to the brim last Saturday night. There were hundreds of ticketless, anxious people waiting outside all night in hopes of being let in. There were thousands inside totally losing it over the Grateful Dead's music. Yes, the Dead were in town.
The show all began with a sub-group of the Dead called The New Riders of the Purple Sage. The New Riders are a light country band cruising through an hour set of good time down home music. The crowd just loved their version of Billie Joe Royal's "Down in the Boondocks" and the Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." Jerry Garcia was the man of the evening, playing a pedal steel for the New Riders and laying down some licks that would make some big time cowboys shake in their boots.
Then just as everyone's backsides could no longer stand the pain of wooden bleachers, we were given a break while the Dead got set up.
The equipment was simple. The home made PA system with about a dozen high frequency horns came through beautifully. They really cared how they sounded. All their amps were small, one stacked on top of another, and the sounds were clean and mellow.
When they came on everyone was jumping around dancing and singing and clapping and getting it on. They did a lot from their last two albums, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, including their first number, "Casey Jones" (with some mighty fine lines).
Garcia switched to lead guitar for the Dead, and lead guitar he did play. He is definitely one of the most accomplished musicians around. Also I might congratulate Bob Weir who played second lead guitar and rhythm guitar. I've never seen two guitarists work closer "live." I'm told that Cippolina and Duncan of old "Quicksilver" were on top, but since that split I think it's Garcia and Weir all the way.
They played a few lengthy sets and quite a few people got upset at the space allowed between numbers. The Dead took their time and I'm sure you'll agree it was worth the wait. They came back on with "Truckin'" and won over again.
In the last set, definitely their best, they jammed and jammed on every song. The music was so fine. They ended almost five continuous hours of playing with many people's favorite Dead song, "Uncles John's Band." It was tremendous, all full of harmonies and guitar and peace of mind. The Grateful Dead made everyone happy.
There were no interviews because some people in charge were too concerned for themselves rather than the public or the Dead, but I didn't mind because I was off with the Grateful Dead and that's a fine place to be.

(by Ray Eicher, from the York Daily Record (PA), 17 April 1971)


* * *

Some background to the show:

October 30, 1970:

In an interview on Tuesday, Ashok Sikand, president of the SUB [Student Union Board]...projected future SUB concert success. . . .
SUB is currently working on groups for next semester. Sikand suggested that, "If students are interested in a group which they do not think we are giving serious consideration to, they are encouraged to submit petitions.
"Students have approached me on the possibility of booking the Grateful Dead," Sikand continued. "The promoter and myself believe the concert to be a financial risk, because of projected lack of support from the student body. Over 1000 signatures disavowed this belief, and as a result, the SUB is now giving the act serious consideration for the second semester."
(from Naomi Kaneda, "SUB Lists Shows in First Semester," F&M College Reporter 10/30/70)


January 12, 1971:


Ashok Sikand, president of the SUB, has announced that the Grateful Dead have been signed for March 6. As a result of changes in SUB policy, Sikand is confident that this concert will not be subject to the irresponsibilities that followed the bomb scare at the James Taylor concert.
According to Sikand, the crowding of the lines "was the most dangerous situation I have witnessed at any concert here." He admitted that during the rush to get back into the Gym, three girls were trampled underfoot, and numerous barricades were broken.
"The situation came about because we could not open the doors at the time we had planned. This, in turn, was caused by the fact that the performers were having trouble with their sound tests," Sikand related.
The same situation occurred at the Laura Nyro and Santana concerts, when these performers' equipment checks were running late. SUB policy is to open the doors early to eliminate competition for seats, but this is impossible when the performers are making sound tests. The result is an unwieldy line of ticket holders. In a meeting with the Security department, members of the SUB came to the conclusion that the only solution to the problem is in forcing the performers to complete their testing on time. Sikand noted, however, that this is often difficult to accomplish because of the simple fact that a time provision in the contract is not easily obtainable.
"Schools like F and M have less bargaining power, especially with big-name groups. In my negotiations with the Dead, I have had considerable difficulty in getting them to agree to a time provision," Sikand added.
Sikand emphasized that the SUB and the College must make sure not to allow the situation which happened at the Taylor concert to happen again. "Bomb scares are something we must live with," he explained ruefully, "but the dangers that were caused by irresponsible behavior must be eliminated."
"Should a repeat of the Taylor concert happening ever occur again, the future of concerts at F and M will be in jeopardy," Sikand warned.
The SUB is working on a standardized procedure for evacuating the Gym in emergencies. He noted that there were complaints from people who held tickets but were discouraged from returning to their seats after the bomb scare. In answer to these, Sikand said that the SUB made an effort to get everybody who was outside the Gym back into their seats, disregarding the fact of whether they had  ticket or not.
[ . . . ]

(by Jimi Weiner, from the F&M College Reporter, 1/12/71) 


February 2, 1971:


The Grateful Dead will appear at F and M on Saturday, April 10. According to Ashok Sikand, chairman of SUB, the Dead cancelled their contract for March 6 because of a rescheduling of their Eastern tour. All of the group's March dates were cancelled.
In an effort to clear the air over the difficulties in obtaining the Dead and other performers for appearances here, Sikand explained that SUB always looks into acquiring the "standard top acts" for concerts. But, he noted that the business of signing rock groups is a "funky one," that a contract with a rock group is "not like one with IBM."
In reference to the Dead, the SUB chairman pointed out the great amount of "hassling" that SUB had gone through in trying to reschedule the group. He commented that the student organization had made more than the usual effort to schedule the Grateful Dead. This, Sikand said, was because of the great student demand for the concert which resulted in a petition containing over a thousand signatures requesting the Dead.
In order to avert recurrences of the chaos at the James Taylor concert, SUB is trying to insert a time clause in all contracts. This would mean that, at the scheduled time of the concert, the doors would open regardless of whether the group was "ready" or not. Noting that the type of situation that arose at the Taylor concert could become very dangerous, Sikand said he hoped this policy would be initiated as soon as possible.
[ . . . ]

(by Steve Israel, from the F&M College Reporter 2/2/71)


March 12, 1971 article.

April 2, 1971:


The Grateful Dead, California's children, will be appearing at F and M next Saturday night at 8:00 in Mayser Center.
To say anything about the Dead is to repeat the history of rock music itself. But not only have they been one of the major forces behind the development of music, they are the symbols of the West Coast counter-culture, the first acid-freaks who gathered with Ken Kesey to perform the first "electric Kool-Aid acid tests."
Says member Phil Lesh: "The Grateful Dead is trying to save the world. We are trying to make things groovier for everybody so more people can feel better more often, to advance the trip, to get higher, however you want to say it..."
And the Dead indeed make people feel good. Notorious for the amount of time they stay on stage, they once gathered at the Fillmore with the Airplane and elements of Traffic and Procol Harum and produced one of the most spontaneous, most far out concerts seen recently.
More noteworthy lately, however, has been the group's radical shift in music styles and their as yet not-too-clearly understood role in the Altamont disaster.
The Dead have guaranteed a three-hour concert. It will depend on the audience reaction they witness whether they'll want to stay all night. Bad vibes, like the ones that have been consistently recognized during F and M concerts, will quickly put an end to the magic of the Dead...this is only fair warning.
Ashok Sikand, president of the SUB, has stated that it is advisable for students to purchase their tickets by the end of the day as they are not expected to last past today.

(from the F&M College Reporter 4/2/71)


April 6, 1971:


Grateful Dead...Grateful Dead...Ggggrratttefulll Deeeeaaad...it just keeps rolling off your tongue and you keep saying it over and over and you remember the magic that happened the last time you saw them. What a great band! Those guys, they just reach on down and swallow you and you don't know what happened.
Around 1965, each of the people who eventually got together to form the Dead had reached the end of the road as far as rock experience. They were just drifting around, lost, not really able to concentrate on the music that was currently going around.
Until they met Ken Kesey, that is. As they describe it, they were able to explore the things that had never been open to anyone else before. They started playing at the Acid Tests down at Kesey's place in La Honda and suddenly there was so much for them to find out! "And we'd be playing, or, when we were playing we were playing. When we weren't, we'd be doing some other stuff. There were no sets, sometimes we'd get up and play for two hours, three hours, sometimes we'd play for ten minutes and all freak out and split... It wasn't a gig, it was the Acid Tests where anything was OK."
You really can't understand what and why the Grateful Dead play unless you realize that music is "like Yoga" to them. They live, breathe, and do everything else with music, and Jerry Garcia admits that it's the only thing that really makes any difference to them. "Nobody has to fool around with musty old scores, weird notation, and scholarship bullshit, you can just go into a record store and pick a century, pick a country, pick anything, and dig it, make it part of you, add it to the stuff you carry around, and see that it's all music," says Garcia.
There's no apparent reason why the Dead can't make it successfully in the commercial field. They are basically what Michael Lydon calls "hard rock/white R and B, slightly freaked - not very different from Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater, or the Sir Douglas Quintet." But things have changed a lot since the Acid Tests. Instead of spontaneous freaking out by a lot of people who don't know what is going on, and are part of the Acid Test experience entirely, the Tests have reverted to a mass television show, where you sit in a chair and watch a light show flashed up on a screen behind the musicians, you know, so you can see the musicians and watch the light show at the same time. It's the whole production side of it, the contracts, the ticket hustling, the reversion to old order shows that the Dead have found incomprehensible and definitely not part of their trip at all.
They never were much good at business. The summer of 1969 saw the Dead with $60,000 in unpaid bills on their hands and their dealings in the rock business world uniformly disastrous.
They could put out five or six [top]-selling singles within a week and maybe they know that. But what the promoters and most of the public don't understand is that the Dead can never accept the confining and intolerably choking atmosphere of made-to-order music - though their last two albums have really proven otherwise.
In a way, maybe the Dead feel that sometimes; too often in fact, they don't get what they expect on stage. The audience doesn't quite let them be themselves; they ask for imitations, they demand a certain order to the performance. Better to try and make the earth stop turning. No, the Dead will [act] unnatural only up to a certain point and then they will sadly realize that this was just another disappointment. Like the time they played at Portland: the crowd is not really asking for what the Dead want to give, but the only thing they can give. "We'll be back, folks," says Jerry, "we'll be back after a break." Bob Weir laughs as he hears Jerry's announcement. "It's really something when you have to lie to get off the stage."

(by Jimi Weiner, from the F&M College Reporter 4/6/71) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:

Jun 21, 2019

April 25, 1971: Fillmore East


'And as we stand on the edge of eternal darkness, let our chant fill the void that others may know: IN THE LAND OF THE NIGHT, THE SHIP OF THE SUN IS DRAWN BY THE GRATEFUL DEAD.'-- Jaxon in Slow Death No. 2

No doubt the above quotation, warning of the apocalyptic consequences of too much of the Grateful Dead, will have no effect whatsoever on the bona fide Dead freak. The Dead are such a powerful band, that when they start rocking, there's just no telling what might happen out in the audience. I've often seen overenthusiastic fans physically ejected from Dead concerts at the Fillmore. Dead crowds are invariably on something; if it's acid, they usually pass over into the dimension described in the opening quote; if they've taken ups, they just never stop shaking their ass.
There are rumors to the effect that the Dead have sold out to the merchandisers of rock, that they're no longer the rocking, freewheeling outfit they once were. Some folks, pointing to the way the uninformed masses have picked up on "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty" (after having overlooked "Anthem of the Sun," "Aoxamoaxa" and all those other spaced ditties), have given the Dead up for dead and gone home to wear out the grooves on "Dark Star."
Well, come my friends. No true Dead fan should desert at a time like this.
True, the Dead have changed. Last Sunday night, Phil Lesh, hunching ghoulishly over the tiny body of his bass, bouncing riffs with Garcia, taunted the packed house with, "Where were all you 'Dark Star' fans two years ago when we did it all the time? Tough luck, kiddies."
And there is one other change in the Dead that most people know about. The change is called The New Riders of the Purple Sage. The Riders probably have a lot to do with the rumor that the Dead have gone completely country, but they are really just an extension of Jerry Garcia's multi-faceted talents, and should be considered as a corollary to, instead of an addition to the Dead.
Even though Jerry plays steel guitar with them, they aren't actually his band. The Riders had been lurking around San Francisco for several years, playing country music. When Garcia began moving in that musical direction himself, he started playing with them in his spare time. It worked out so well that the Riders have been added to the Dead show. And they're really a fine band in their own right, even though they probably wouldn't have made it without Garcia.
The new group's main function is to pave the way for the Dead. The Riders are so good a curtain raiser, that when the Dead come on and prove themselves to be even better, you really begin to appreciate their talents. The moment the Dead kick off their segment with "Truckin'", the audience is up and boogying.
My only complaint about Sunday's concert is that it didn't include enough songs from their latest album, which contains some of the best individual numbers the Dead have ever done. They didn't do "Attics of My Life" or "Ripple", and a lot of people seemed disappointed. But the Dead came across with so many other rockers, that even the "Ripple" lovers in the crowd could forgive them. Included were very fine versions of "Me and Bobby McGee", "Hard to Handle" (on which Pig Pen massacred the vocals), "I Second That Emotion" and "Sweet Magnolia." Pig Pen also handled the vocal chores on "Good Lovin'" served up as only the Dead know how.
But the number that really brought the house crashing down around all those stoned people was "Casey Jones." For five minutes, they wouldn't stop cheering.
When it was all officially over, the crowd refused to leave. That's usual practice at the Fillmore. What is unusual is for the Dead to give an encore. But on Sunday night they did, wrapping it all up with "Uncle John's Band." Still, no one was ready to leave, but Garcia was exhausted from picking and plucking for five hours. So finally the crowd groped its way out on to the street.

(by Vernon Gibbs, from the Columbia Daily Spectator, 29 April 1971)


Jun 19, 2019

December 31, 1971: Winterland


The Grateful Dead can do no wrong with an audience and they usually don't. This year's New Year Celebrations at Winterland were no exception. The hardcore fans all turned out from their Marin hideaways, from the Haight, and one gentleman came all the way from New York. "I've just travelled three thousand miles to be here tonight," he said as he was turned away from the stage door by a conscientious rent-a-pig who was scrupulously checking everyone's story.
Consequently after an hour-long wait I caught the end of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who did an admirable job of filling in the time until the stars of the show were to appear, though their overall sound seemed somewhat weak in comparison to their excellent album. The lack of Garcia on steel guitar made an obvious difference and the vocals were murky, but the crowd was all with them and the acid and the energy was building up.
But first a tableaux had to be enacted: Bill Graham the sponsor, seated in a wheelchair, with long robes, silver hair and beard and transistor radio to ear, waving a wand, was wheeled down the centre aisle to the stage where a big clock beat out the seconds to midnight. His acting talents shined thru as he vainly clutched the hands of the clock, trying symbolically to hold back the coming of the New Year, but as midnight struck he fell to his knees and two rather mature looking new babes burst from the clock and began to throw bottles of champagne to the audience. The customary balloons descended, the pretty lights came on, a gigantic skeleton was lowered over the stage, and the stars of the show at last launched into "Dancing in the Streets" as the babes, by this time disrobed, cavorted about the stage merrily bringing in the New Year.
The energy was released, and everyone settled back for a four hour musical excursion with the smiling face of Garcia at the controls. All those songs we know and love so well, some old stuff some new, and some rock and roll. "It's always been 1956," Bob Weir said. Everybody peaked and a number of individuals near the front had visible psychedelic orgasms during one of the Dead's masterful musical climaxes.
Meanwhile, back outside there were the voyeurs, watching the freak show being enacted around the stage door. The guy just sitting on the cold pavement staring blankly, trying to get "it" together. A rent-a-pig understated, "All these crazy kids, half of them stoned on acid, we had to throw out two nudies this evening." (Law enforced voyeurism.) It's OK to watch the nudies on the stage, acting out freedom, but don't try to actually be that freedom.
And back inside, the Dead were well into their penultimate number, "Not Fade Away," more orgasms. But it did fade away, and visibly tired the Dead split the stage to the sound of thousands of hand and feet making known their loud approval. Winterland's plaster cracked and they came back for the inevitable encore of 'Casey Jones.'
And after the encore it was the end. Quite suddenly. The place that had been hot, heavy, and sweaty was quickly vacated. The doors that the rent-a-pigs had been zealously guarding all evening were now thrown open and the inmates picked up their coats, pieced together their dispersed heads, and made it out into the 4 am night cold. Helping up their shell-shocked friends on the way. Stepping over the empty coke cans, the discarded popcorn bags, and those lonely souls, sitting far away, lost in some musical mandala.
Strange paradox, the Dead preaching their message inside and the rent-a-pigs preaching theirs outside. As Mr. Graham was saying to an interrogator on this very subject..."I've had a beautiful evening, but if you don't split, I'll kick your fucking head in!"

(by Allan Stephanson, from the San Francisco Good Times, 14 January 1972)


December 31, 1970: Winterland

Bill Graham moved in a sideway crablope from the front of the stage to the midway point of amplifiers, picked up two empty beer cans and a crushed cup, and put them in the trash barrel. Then he put his finger to his forehead at the exact spot where his wires crossed and completed his anxieties by shortcircuiting himself. He was the prime mover attacked by his army; it was New Year's Eve at Winterland and the Grateful Dead were catering. Don't eat anything - I'd been advised - don't drink anything either, not even beer, unless you wipe the can. They doctor the edges!
Backstage: long interleading rooms ending in the one with the sloped ceiling and the toilets. Two men were sniffing coke; we watched them, disguised our watching with a sophisticated cool. The tall, elegant man turned toward us, held out the small delicately inlaid wooden bottle, the tiny golden spoon with its pile of pale dreams. We bent low and drew it into our nostrils. So many people, Deirdre, butterfly lady, and I flew through the spiraling nest, across the empty theatre floor and up to the balcony where the sound of men being devoured by a buzz saw came loudly through the men's room door. Two men came out. My God, I said! Who's being dismembered in there? They looked at me and moved past. "It's the juicer," the girl next to me said, and pointed toward the organic food concession.
We leapt and flew in front of the giant mirror in the ladies' room. Deirdre's butterfly was captured by a stork and she said I looked very very small. Robert was in the slope room with Sal and the band - Stone Ground. They were to have opened the show at 8:30, were now suddenly scheduled to play after the Dead at 2:30 am next year. They were wound up with nowhere to fly.
The costumed people who paraded the fur-lined halls were dressed in velvet with Rhinestone messages. "Beware - I am the new life." They sparkled and radiated around the giant fires. "All the queens are here," the bishop told me as he wiped his venison fingers on his marmoset hem; "it's the final first reunion of a continuing resurrection, nothing said," he crossed himself. "Janis and Jimi are with the angels now," he paused, and then, "Weren't they always!" I evaporated him with a wave of my fingers and went to find out what was happening in the trenches.
There were TV cameras on stage, eating up the life for a two city quadraphonic simulcast. The cameraman did a tap dance zoom. A blonde girl in the front of the audience turned on her hair which flung round and round until she rose straight to the ceiling, where she remained for the rest of the concert. I saw lots of famous people; their faces rose and swelled in front of me. I knew them all though their names remain mystery. We stood together by the food trays, waiting. I wiped the top of a coke can I drew up from a deep pool of water and ice. The woman next to me nursed her tie-dye baby. I held the baby in an eye lock, its pupils grew and grew and were of an amazing blue; they were the earth seen from the moon on which I stood. "Food will come," said the woman in silken flames pasting velvet on her arms. People undulated in the dim green tunnel, searching faces, smiling smiling, all an intensity to be relived.
I pasted my Fillmore West bumpersticker stage pass around my upper thigh. I sat on the backstage bleachers, the probe beams of the spotlights shuttering my eyes, then swung away to allow me the audience which twirled under the strobe light with the rhythm of sea anemones. I moved again through lace and leather, feather, silk and fur. Food, haunch of beef and dangerous looking sweetmeats, baked potatoes, smiling faces pressed toward me, a forest of skin, opening mouths, golden, golden, radiance, an organic Fellini.
It is almost midnight; Bill Graham ushers in three people from an Hadassah meeting. mother? father? sister? Guides them to a box on stage where they sit brave and composed, not every son can be a doctor. Two men in white togas are hoisted to the top of the stage on little hoist seats and sway above us. The giant screen over the stage shows a clockface where before the projected permutations of dye and oil and water billowed and glowed. A burst of light! Another! We held our breath, the strobe light bounced shatters of light from the giant turning mirror ball. Drums! Firecrackers! The men are descending from their high ride, throwing flower petals on the audience. They have leapt into the aisle in front; they are freaking out! Spurting champagne on the audience, they are taking off their clothes! They are naked and glistening with wine; they are holding their arms up. They are in spasm! The band is driving death away! It's 1971!
Earlier, a naked man had leapt onstage from the audience and into the waiting arms of two guards and Bill Graham. "It's all organic!" she shrieked as they carried him past. "I am the Messiah, we are all the Messiah," and then as he vanished through the crowd forever. "It's all organic from now on!"
Back in the tunnel I hold an envelope in my hand; everyone is holding an envelope. (No one saw who handed them out.) I open the envelope; inside is a beautiful card with a glowing colored mandala. At the center of the Mandala, neatly stuck on with Scotch tape, an orange tab - "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, from the Sunshine Family!"
The slope room is hissing, keasy! I rush to the tank, we all rush, sucked into its spewing nozzle. The man with the suede jacket gets the nipple deep within his mouth, binds his arms round the tank and hangs there. We wait, torn between compassion and greed; has he od'd? He slips to the floor, another mouth sucks; bodies glide down, the floor is strewn, a baby sleeps under a shelf, an empty bottle by his face, his face, the faces on the floor, it all slips away.
Sitting high on a shelf with the Light man, looking down on the floor at the pie man, and the rock band, it's Stone Ground! Deirdre is dancing with a fancy man, the ladies are singing with the rock band, the band is playing like a demon, and I think I'm flying but I'm only dreaming, but it's all right, ma - 'cause it's 1971.

(by Liza Williams, from the Los Angeles Free Press, 8 January 1971)

Jun 18, 2019

November 21, 1970: Boston University

Boston University's student union isn't having any problem presenting rock artists. On Nov. 22, the union's Social Council will have the The Grateful Dead performing in Sargent gym for a sell-out audience of 2000. And since the Dead won't agree to appear for less than five hours - and sometimes go for as long as 10 - the council has made the performance an affair for BU students only, so that the city's closing-hour ordinance won't apply.

(from the Boston Record-American, 13 November 1970) 

* * * 


A well-equipped costume to cover Grateful Dead concerts should include a crash helmet, can of mace, Batman utility-belt holding a three-day supply of brown rice, roach clips, grappling irons, and Dr. Scholl's Zino pads.
The Grateful Dead are not just a rock band. They represent a gestalt of everything that is at once insane yet creative about the youth cultural explosion that broke out like a rash in San Francisco's Height Ashbury in the rockin' mid-sixties.
Grateful Dead fans will not be denied. Even the knowledge that the concert at BU last week was sold out within three hours failed to discourage the hopes of non-ticket holders.
Every ploy was used to gain entry. Pushing and shoving, gate crashing, counterfeit tickets, tall tales, and phony press credentials were all part of the game for harried BU marshals and their security allies.
One imaginative lassie even fabricated an elaborate fetish "God's Eye" staff which she tried to hand-deliver as her ticket-of-leave. The staff got in, but the bearer was tossed back into the milling masses.
The Grateful Dead are greeted with maximum pandemonium every time they play in Boston. There have been legendary appearances at the Boston Tea Party, including one bizarre New Years Eve with a cocktail party catered by Stanislaus Owsley and friends.
Last summer, a date at Harvard Stadium was canceled because of legal hassles which seem to constantly follow the Dead as the night the day.
At BU, while the youngsters trickled in and sat down on the floor of the gym, the Dead waited impassively behind their barricades.
Catching an opening, I waded in on Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist and writer for the Dead.
As always, Garcia was a study in casual dress. His simple jeans were stuck unceremoniously into his boots and a denim workshirt struggled over his potty midriff.
An ear to ear infectious smile is endemic to his responses as he peers through aviator glasses. Under a shaggy full beard and kinky black hair flecked with white, Jerry cuts the affable natural appearance of an R. Crumb Mr. Natural character impersonating Santa Claus.
"What happened to Tom Constanten?" I said, peering at Garcia for reaction. The remark proved too abrupt and Garcia parried with a one-liner before my Buddha smile affirmed that I was a good-guy despite the black ribbon pinned to my jacket that read cryptically "Dead Press."
"The former organist for the Dead is now writing his own compositions," answered Garcia. He went on to describe Tom Constanten's work with Jim Byers and Joe McCord on a mime play called "Tarot."
"Tarot" will open off-Broadway in New York some time in early December, and Jerry will play guitar for the first two weeks of the engagement.
The Dead have just released a new album for Warner Brothers called "American Beauty." It continues along in the vein of their last release, "Workingman's Dead."
Jerry described their current recording interests. "We're really into songs now. We all have gotten into singing, so we look for songs. We can't find them, so I write them, then we have all these songs, so it's natural to put them on a record."
We pointed out that the Dead have been quite productive of late. "Yeah, we're really in a good period and have been just putting out albums. We expect to be back in the studio again by March with a new release in the Spring."
Currently, Jerry is busy making guest recording spots with people like Grace Slick and Paul Kantner as well as David Crosby and San Francisco groups like Lamb.
Asked if the Dead were touring much, Garcia thought a moment and answered, "Well, sort of maybe not too much..." and then added, "It seems that we tour a lot because we only come to the East Coast and have played Boston a lot."
Actually, Jerry confessed his disenchantment with the club-and-college circuit. "There is usually such bad sound at these college dates and the clubs have gotten really grubby. I would like to book more concert halls like Boston Symphony; I really would like to hear us in legitimate concert halls. It gets to be a drag to try to make beautiful music when all you get back is some ugly sound, it's bound to affect your performance."
Pointing out the symptoms of the decline and fall of rock music, Garcia countered, "That has never really affected us. We've always been outside the pop scene."
On new music, "Sure we take in everything simultaneously like country music and jazz and all that at once. Some of the new guys like John McLaughlin are interesting, but if I had those kind of chops I would want to do something different with it..."
A mad scramble of gate crashers, with police and marshals in hot pursuit, cut short our conversation. I hopped behind a barricade for safety, like a fleet-footed Spaniard scrambling for a balcony during the running of the bulls at Pamplona.
Things settled down with the crashers filing out the four corners of the crowded gym.
The Dead "roadies" strutted about exhibiting the latest in leather pants and flashy jewelry. Everybody tried to look important and terribly official.
The chimpanzees were first on stage setting a bizarre but appropriately carnival atmosphere. The Riders of the Purple Sage followed, with Jerry Garcia sitting in on pedal steel guitar and Mickey Hart of the Dead playing drums.
Purple Sage included the country guitar and vocals of Marmaduke on lead, with David Torbert, bass, and David Nelson on second lead guitar. Their country-inflected rocking harmonies had everybody standing and stomping.
Pandemonium erupted at 9:30 when the full complement of Grateful Dead began what was to be a marathon concert of some five hours duration, which seemed to build in musical frenzy.
The multifarious interests of the group rapidly became apparent as they slipped easily from Country to Blues and hard-rock.
Garcia is one of the few absolute musical geniuses in rock today. He has mastered every idiom of the guitar, and each time we hear the Dead they seem to become progressively more phenomenal.
Their overwhelming presence on stage is barely alluded to in their recorded work. The power of the Dead comes from their ability to improvise and grow in intensity through the contagious rapport they build with an audience. As the fans went wild the Dead crackled with their most brilliant performance in this area to date.
Bob Weir, with his hair pulled back in a long pony tail, handled the major portion of the lead vocals, while backing Garcia on guitar.
The interplay between Garcia and Bob Weir supply the major part of the infectious excitement of their performance.
Smack in the middle between Garcia and Weir, Phil Lesh cements the guitars together with sensitive, ever-changing bass work. Occasionally, he fills out on three-part harmony.
Much of the rocking propulsion of the Dead comes from the interplay between dual drummers, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman. Occasionally the band parts at the bridge to leave them battling through a drum-duet.
Pigpen is more of an institution with the Dead than a regularly-contributing part of their music. He does a lead vocal now and then with a touch of harp. Mostly he hovers about the stage talking to groupies, adjusting his feathered cowboy-hat and downing bud.
After several hours of continual music, the BU gym was one mass of gyrating, dancing, whooping and hollering youngsters.
Piercing through the darkness, Garcia's guitar seemed to coil like a cobra about the delicate lead vocals of Bob Weir. Garcia is just phenomenal.
But old rock critics never die, they just slowly fade away. And at 1 [a.m.] we did.

(by Charles Giuliano, from the Boston Herald, 29 November 1970)

* * *


A Boston University security guard was injured and five young persons arrested in a melee following a rock festival at the university's Sargent gymnasium last night.
Campus police said trouble erupted when thousands of rock lovers couldn't get into the auditorium because someone had sold counterfeit tickets.
With so many tickets - real and bogus - sold, the gymnasium was filled to capacity with the overflow crowd backing up into Commonwealth Ave. The gym holds 1800.
Those who couldn't get in to see the "Grateful Dead" rock group became irate and charged the doors. A security guard, Christian Pina ... was injured in the onslaught.
Police said Pina arrested two persons and took them to the police box at Commonwealth Ave. and B.U. Bridge. They said he was followed there by a crowd of about 100 where he was attacked while phoning for help.
Reinforcements arrived from nearby police stations and barged into the fray. Fifty members of the Boston Police Tactic Force assumed standby alert in a parking lot near B.U.
Within a short time, the mob was dispersed. Christian was taken to Beth Israel Hospital where he was treated and released.
The five who were arrested ... were charged with various offenses, including attempting to rescue a prisoner, inciting a riot, possession of marijuana, being a disorderly person, and assault and battery on a police officer.

(from the Boston Record-American, 22 November 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis

Alas, no tape! 

See also: