Thursday, April 28, 2016

Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, CA 1192 Market Street, San Francisco, CA: Summer 1976 (plus Live FM Broadcasts Part X)

An ad for the six Grateful Dead appearances at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco from July 12-18, 1976
Given the number of venues where the Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia played many dozens of times, the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco should hardly loom large in their tour histories. And yet it does. Jerry Garcia played one show there in 1976, the Grateful Dead had a six night run and then there was a peculiar seven-show JGB reprise in 1988 and '89, and that was it. There are venues all over California, not to mention the rest of the country, where the Dead and Garcia played more runs over the various decades, yet the history of Garcia and the Dead at the Orpheum remains far more interesting. This post will look at the exact circumstances of Jerry Garcia's and the Grateful Dead's appearances at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

The Orpheum Theatre, at 1192 Market Street (at Hyde) in San Francisco, in 1931
Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, 1976
The Grateful Dead had "retired" from live performance after a five-night stand at Winterland in October, 1974. They were determined to simply record albums for their own label, and play around a little bit when the circumstances were right. Most rock fans, myself included, figured they were goners, but in fact the band did record Blues For Allah and play four shows in 1975. The Dead played wonderful, unfettered music in '75, but it was a dream that was not to endure. By 1976, Grateful Dead Records and Round Records had collapsed, the band's deal with United Artists had been cashed out, and the band members were broke. To fulfill their UA contract, they assigned Owsley to produce a live double-lp from the Winterland shows, taking care not to use any of the good jams.

Releasing an all-but-intentionally weak album was not unprecedented for the Grateful Dead, but it was a particularly risky strategy when they were trying to resurrect themselves as live performers on the national stage. By 1976, the Grateful Dead were looking like a band of old hippies. Sure, there were plenty of old hippies around, but the likes of the Jefferson Starship and Steve Miller Band had cleaned up their sound and were playing shorter songs you could hum. A poorly-recorded cover of Johnny Cash's "Big River" wasn't a ticket to high-rotation nationwide FM airplay.

Still, the Grateful Dead managed to make one shrewd and long-lasting move in 1976. Everyone knew that the Dead had a loyal audience, but truthfully, even the Dead didn't know how that would translate into ticket sales. How big a place could they really play, and how many cities would it be profitable to tour through? The band bypassed all that. In the booming rock market of 1976, playing a 12,000-capacity basketball arena and only selling 9,000 tickets would have been seen as a failure of sorts, and the Dead couldn't afford that in their comeback attempt.

So the Dead took a relatively unprecedented step. They took their four biggest East Coast markets, chose some 2000-seat theaters, and sold the tickets only by mail order. Up until this time, there had been only one rock concert mail-order-only effort that I know of, the Bob Dylan/Band tour in early 1974. Despite the clunkiness of mail order at the time, the hype surrounding mail order had allowed national promoter Bill Graham to emphasize how the Dylan/Band tour was an Event, not just another band on the road. The Dead shrewdly took the same tack, surely inspired by Graham, but executed by New Jersey promoter John Scher. The unique twist was that the band only offered tickets to fans currently on the Deadheads mailing list. They signed on with their most loyal promoters in each city, and made sure that there was an FM broadcast in each region. The band were replaying their 1971 strategy with Grateful Dead ("Skull And Roses"), and providing a "virtual" free concert in all those markets. No other major band would do that in 1976, or ever again.

The Steal Your Face album, released in June 1976, had an iconic cover, but little else of lasting value
Grateful Dead Summer Tour 1976
June 3-4 Paramount Theater, Portland, OR: Grateful Dead
The Dead opened with two shows out of town, in Portland, OR, perhaps their most loyal market. To my knowledge, these shows were not part of the mail order, but almost stealth warmup shows. Bill Graham Presents produced these shows.

June 9-12, 1976 Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA: Grateful Dead (Wednesday thru Saturday)
Broadcast: Saturday, June 12, 1976,WBCN-fm, Boston
The Boston Music Hall shows were promoted by Don Law, who had been producing the Dead in the Boston Area since the Boston Tea Party days back in the 1960s.

June 14-15 Beacon Theater, New York, NY: Grateful Dead (Monday-Tuesday)
June 18-19, 1976 Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ: Grateful Dead (Friday-Saturday)
Broadcast: Saturday, June 19, 1976, WNEW-fm, New York, WOUR-fm, Utica
The Dead had two key promoters in the New York Metro area. Howard Stein had promoted the band on the New York side of the Hudson, at Flushing Meadows, Capitol Theater in Port Chester, Gaelic Park and The Academy Of Music, among other venues. The Dead gave him two nights at the Beacon, but the weekend shows were reserved for John Scher at the Capitol Theaer in Passaic, NJ. Scher was the Dead's promoter on the New Jersey side of the Hudson, and he was organizing the East Coast leg of the tour. Scher got the prestige broadcast, but Stein's Monday and Tuesday bookings were no small thing, since the band would fill the Beacon on nights when it might usually be dark.

I am aware that the Passaic show was simulcast on Utica's WOUR as well as WNEW. I don't know if there were other simulcasts, in New York or elsewhere.

June 21-24, 1976 Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA: Grateful Dead (Monday-Thursday)
Broadcast: Thursday, June 24, 1976, WMMR-fm, Philadelphia
The Jerry Garcia Band had played the Tower a few times. The Dead's booking at the Tower was with the Electric Factory. It was a sort of peace offering, rekindling a profitable business relationship that had started in 1968, only to have it undermined by crew misbehavior in 1973. Once again, by playing Monday through Thursday, instead of the weekend, it made for an attractive booking for the Electric Factory. The Dead promptly returned to the Philly Spectrum the next Spring, and there were no more problems with the Electric Factory.

June 26, 1976 was the official release date of Steal Your Face. It is entirely possible that some record stores were already selling the album before that. Radio stations could have been playing it beforehand. but I'll bet only the sponsoring stations were really playing it.

June 26-29, 1976 Auditorium Theater, Chicago, IL: Grateful Dead (Saturday-Tuesday)
Broadcast: Tuesday, June 29, 1976,WXRT-fm, Chicago
The Chicago promoter was probably Aaron Russo, who had promoted the band back during the Electric Theater/Kinetic Playground days in the 1960s.

July 12-14, 16-18, 1976 Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead (Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday)
Broadcast: Sunday, July 18, 1976, KSAN-fm, San Francisco
The Grateful Dead shows at the Orpheum were produced by Bill Graham Presents. They were not part of the mail order. On the Sunday in June that tickets went on sale, there were huge lines at the BASS ticket outlets. The lines were magnified by the fact that the shows had reserved seats, long not a factor in Bay Area Dead shows. I managed to snag one ticket for Saturday, July 17. I was not a minute too soon.

The FM Broadcast was on the last night, Sunday, July 18. Graham did it up in style, giving everyone in the audience a glass of champagne, and surprising the band when he brought the curtain up with a toast from the audience. Pretty women in swimsuits, with banners that said "Miss Jerry," "Miss Bob" and so on, put roses on the band. Graham himself, not in a swimsuit, had a banner that said "Mr. Donna." The triumphal return to six nights of packed houses made the Dead's gamble pay off. The Grateful Dead were an event, instead of a washed up choogly hippie band.

The Kingfish album was released in March, 1976. It had some initial success, but it couldn't be sustained
Grateful Dead Member Finances, 1976
However, the Orpheum itself had been critical to the Dead's successful tour, but not in a way that was obvious at the time. In early 1976, although the Dead had produced a new studio album in 1975, and Phil Lesh and Owsley were putting together Steal Your Face, the Grateful Dead were a band in name only. Once Ron Rakow wrote himself a check for about $275,000 in April--which was most of the money they got for SYF--, Grateful Dead and Round Records were finished. The band had no label and no money.

It goes largely unnoticed that between September 28, 1975 and May 28, 1976, when tour rehearsals began, there is no evidence that the Grateful Dead played together as a group. I would love to find some hint, but I don't think there is any. I think they didn't play. The last session I know of was at Ace's in August 1975, for material probably intended for a follow up to Blues For Allah, that nevertheless ended up on Jerry Garcia's Reflections.

In the Winter and Spring of 1976, both Garcia and Weir had new albums. Reflections and the Kingfish album had been released in February and March of that year, respectively, and both bands were touring across the country, making a stab for conventional rock stardom. Kingfish was broadcasting live concerts in a few cities, and even had a show recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, a syndicated nationwide radio program probably inspired by the Dead's 1971 Fall Tour.

March 11, 1976 Roxy Theater, Los Angeles, CA: Kingfish (early show)
Broadcast: KMET-fm, Los Angeles
The Kingfish album had been released in March 1976. United Artists did the traditional promotion for new bands, booking Kingfish at LA's most prestigious record company haunt, the Roxy Theater. The Roxy, at 9009 Sunset Boulevard, had been started by the owners of the Whisky-A-Go-Go, but it was more oriented towards the bar, as a place for industry people to hang out and drink on the record company tab. Kingfish was booked for four nights (March 10-13, Wednesday-Saturday).

On Thursday, March 11, the early show at the Roxy was broadcast on KMET-fm. UA would have subsidized the radio station by paying for the lost ad time (probably by purchasing future ads). Former KSAN-fm dj Thom O'Hair was the host.

March 27, 1976 Calderone Theater, Hempstead, NY: Kingfish (early show)
Broadcast: WKIR-fm, Hempstead, NY
Hempstead, NY, in Long Island, was the home base of WLIR-fm, a station which emphasized live broadcasts. Many WLIR broadcasts were from a club called My Father's Place in nearby Roslyn, but they also broadcast from a local studio (Ultrasonic) and sometimes from the Calderone Theater. The early show was broadcast on WLIR, apparently on a delayed basis.

April 3, 1976 Beacon Theater, New York, NY: Kingfish (early and late shows)
Broadcast: King Biscuit Flower Hour (nationally syndicated)
Howard Stein would have been the promoter of the Beacon show. I don't know the exact date of the broadcast, probably about a month or two later. If typical patterns were followed, Kingfish would have broadcast about 25 minutes or so, sharing the hour-long program with another rising band on tour (both the early and late shows were ultimately officially released in their entirety--see the Appendix).

With Garcia and Weir both constantly on tour, the Dead would hardly have had any chance to rehearse. But of course they really had nowhere to rehearse, either. The Garcia Band rehearsed (jammed, really) at Keith and Donna's in Stinson Beach, and Kingfish, if they rehearsed at all, would have used Ace's. The Dead had no money, and could not have afforded a real rehearsal space. At this time, 20 Front Street was just a warehouse used by the Garcia Band. No one called a Dead rehearsal, and in any case Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann had hardly played a live gig with anyone since the new year, nor had Mickey Hart (although Mickey was working on Diga). Lesh may have played occasional gigs with his bar band, Toulousse To Truck, but if they even happened, they were just jams. Kreutzmann had no band at that time, as far as I know.

On top of that, and perhaps most importantly, even if the band had decided to rehearse at Ace's or somewhere, they had no sound system. When the band was a permanent touring operation, they had gear set up in their rehearsal space. But for now, they had no sound system and no gear. Sure, the Garcia Band and Kingfish no doubt had some of the equipment, but that was split up between separate road crews, and probably in separate places. In order to make a June tour, the Dead not only needed to rehearse, they needed a location and a sound system, and they had no money for either.

May 21, 1976 Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia Band
The Grateful Dead's summer tour had been announced around May, to give everyone time to deal with the mail order. However, while Joel Selvin (in the SF Chronicle) may have indicated that the Dead would play the Bay Area afterwards, we still knew nothing about the details. Meanwhile, the Jerry Garcia Band had regularly been playing the Keystone Berkeley, and sometimes at other clubs around the Bay Area. Thus it was quite a surprise when the Jerry Garcia Band announced a concert at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, on May 21, 1976, There had never been a rock concert at the Orpheum, and indeed no one I knew had ever been there for any event whatsoever. To top it off, Garcia almost never played concerts, as opposed to clubs, and this wasn't even a Bill Graham Presents show.

The back story can now be seen, although it wasn't at all clear at the time. A few weeks after the May Orpheum gig, tickets went on sale for the six Grateful Dead concerts at the Orpheum in July, produced by BGP. So we thought that Garcia had been "trying out" the Orpheum for the Dead. That was true as far as it went. However, some years later we found out that the Dead rehearsed at the Orpheum for a week or so after the Garcia Band gig. There are photos and tapes to confirm it. There was even apparently professional video shot, probably on May 28. The wonderful Voodonola edit marks this as the July 12 '76 soundcheck, but I am going with May 28. When the Dead soundchecked on July 12, I doubt they set up a full movie lighting rig when they would have been trying to get their sound right on opening night (see the Appendix below). The audio tapes are from May 28-30, but there may have been more rehearsals than just those. Clearly the gear was left in place at the Orpheum after the JGB show. But that was still only half the story.



The Dead had no sound system and nowhere to rehearse. The Orpheum solved both those problems. The band rented a sound system, apparently from a Santa Barbara company, that was suitable for small theaters, and tried it out in the Orpheum in advance of the tour. Remember, without having a touring apparatus, Dan Healy and the rest of the crew would have had to put together all the pieces. Some of the "rehearsing" may have actually been for the crew to put the equipment together. The band could fake the music if they needed to, but the equipment had to be sorted out first.

However, the Dead had no money. So Garcia almost certainly had to play the Orpheum gig in order to get the money to put the gear in place. The May 21 show financed the rehearsals. Now, that was a great show, as you can hear from the 2001 release of the cd Don't Let Go. The Orpheum, though in a truly threatening neighborhood, was a wonderful venue once you were indoors. As I recall, although it wasn't a a BGP show, Bill Graham was present and wandering around. The actual promoters were a local outfit called "Carlos And Star Productions," who had many Grateful Dead connections. It seems that Carlos And Star financed the show, but hired Graham's production crew to run the stage, a common arrangement.

An ad for Hair at the Orpheum from the Stanford Daily on October 30, 1970, 
A Brief History of The Orpheum Theatre
The Dead needed to rehearse in a small theater with seats, not a big ice rink like Winterland. What was the story with the Orpheum?

The Orpheum Theatre was at 1192 Market Street, at 8th Street (which becomes Hyde Street), in the Tenderloin District. The Tenderloin was the city's theater district, just a ways from downtown. The Orpheum had opened in 1926, as the New Pantages Theatre. It had 2,203 seats. Originally it was a Vaudeville house, as Pantages was a Vaudeville chain. It was the fifth of Market Street's six great music palaces, another of which was the nearby Warfield, which had opened in 1922. Come the 1930s, the New Pantages was converted to a movie house, and so the Orpheum Theatre was just a movie palace up until about 1970 (for the complete story of The Orpheum, complete with pictures, of course you must go to Jerry Garcia's Brokendown Palaces ).

In 1970, however, the Orpheum again began to be used for theatrical presentations. Hair, the first 'Rock Musical" had had a brief, successful run at the Geary Theater, nearby on Market. Hair had been a hit on Broadway in New York, and now it had theatrical companies in many cities. Hair had an extended run at the Orpheum, which was larger than the Geary. A surviving program from 1972 lists future famed choreographer Kenny Ortega in a lead role. Ortega's was the first choreographer for The Tubes, a few years later, and he would ultimately go on to direct the High School Musical movies and many other Hollywood successes.

Although Hair was a musical, it had rock band backing, and McCune Sound is noted in the program for doing the sound. McCune Sound was well established in the San Francisco rock community, and indeed would provide a system for the Grateful Dead's one-off show at the Great American Music Hall in 1975. Since McCune would have provided a quality system for the Orpheum, there would have been a professional awareness that the Orpheum could work for rock bands.

I think the Orpheum showed some movies in between Hair presentations. However, by the mid-70s it appeared to have been closed. It would re-open in 1977 as a theater, however, for the San Francisco Civic Light Opera, so I think it must have been undergoing renovation. Bill Graham must have known all this, and that was why an empty theater in good shape was available for a week of Grateful Dead rehearsals and then a week of concerts a month later. The Orpheum was not in use, so it was available for the Dead as a testbed for their one-off small theater sound system. It is my recollection that a small piece of the Wall Of Sound was used at the Orpheum, I think the old vocal stack, but clearly the system had been designed for that tour alone.

Grateful Dead Touring, Fall 1976
Even though the Steal Your Face album got deservedly terrible reviews and tanked immediately, the mail-order Summer tour showed that the Grateful Dead were still an event. Using the Deadhead mailing list was the shape of things to come, even if that, too, was not clear at the time. From the music industry's point of view, the Dead's audience showed that they were ferociously loyal and indifferent to whatever record was currently released. That may seem obvious now, but it wasn't obvious then.

Clive Davis had always been interested in signing Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, and the band's 1976 summer had to make him more positive about it. A few weeks after The Orpheum shows, the Dead headlined two shows at small stadiums in the Northeast (Colt Stadium, Hartford, CT Aug 2 and Jersey City, NJ Aug 4) to apparently full houses. Their Fall tour included a number of larger venues throughout the Midwest, culminating with a pair of Oakland Stadium shows with The Who. The Dead were back as a touring act, whatever their status as a recording one.

The cue sheet for the DIR Productions King Biscuit Flower Hour 90-minute special featuring the Grateful Dead from the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. The concert was recorded July 18, and broadcast on November 28.
King Biscuit Flower Hour, November 28, 1976: The Grateful Dead At The Orpheum Theater, San Francisco, CA (July 18 1976)
For Thanksgiving Weekend, the King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcast an edited version of the KSAN Orpheum show (the broadcast, complete with commercials, is available on the Archive). At the time, for any Deadheads outside of San Francisco or the few cities where the Dead had broadcast in the Summer, this was a unique opportunity to hear live Grateful Dead, no small thing.

An ad for the BGP 76 New Year's shows (probably from the SF Chronicle), including the Grateful Dead and Santana at the Cow Palace and The Tubes at Berkeley Community Theater
December 31, 1976 Cow Palace, Daly City, CA: Grateful Dead/Santana/Soundhole
Broadcast: KSAN-fm, San Francisco
Arista had to be comfortable having bet on the Grateful Dead, since they must have helped finance the Dead's New Year's Eve broadcast from the Cow Palace. Remember, in 1976, the Dead had not yet released anything on Arista, so any record sales from the broadcast would accrue to Warners or UA. Arista was betting on the Dead's future here, not their past. Note also that when judged by record sales, Santana was a far bigger act than the Grateful Dead would ever be. However, in San Francisco on New Year's Eve, the Grateful Dead would always top the bill.

Orpheum Redux, 1988--and The Fillmore Returns
The Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, probably from the early 1970s (via JerryGarciasBrokendownPalaces)
The San Francisco Civic Light Opera took over the Orpheum Theatre for theatrical productions in 1977, but their venture folded by 1981. The Orpheum was taken over by the Shorenstein Hays Nederlander (SHN) organization, and they used the Orpheum as an outpost for touring Broadway shows. Despite the seedy Tenderloin neighborhood, the venture has been successful to this day, helped in no small part by the nearby Powell Street BART station. From 1976 until now, there have only been a few rock concerts at the Orpheum, mostly Jerry Garcia Band shows in 1988 and 1989.
May 7, 1988 Jerry Garcia Band--This was the night after the JGB show at the Fillmore Auditorium (May 6), where Howard Wales had made a surprise reappearance on a lengthy "Don't Let Go."
December 2-3, 1988 Jerry Garcia Band/Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman--The next night (December 4), Garcia, Weir and Wasserman played Neil Young's Bridge Benefit at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
January 27-28, 1989 Jerry Garcia Band
March 3-4, 1989 Jerry Garcia Band--Clarence Clemons sat in for the entire show on March 3.
When we understand why the Jerry Garcia Band, and pretty much only the Jerry Garcia Band, played the Orpheum Theatre during this window, we can see both the underlying economics of the JGB and the importance of Jerry Garcia to the operations of Bill Graham Presents.

Through much of the 1970s, the ever-expanding rock market in the Bay Area had followed the Fillmore model, where rising bands had played second or third on the bill to established headliners. By the 1980s, however, better employed and more knowledgeable rock fans preferred to see bands they liked as headliners rather than openers. Rock fans were much more likely to pay to see Weather Report or Robert Cray play a full show at the 2000-seat Warfield Theater rather than see a 40-minute set opening at the Oakland Coliseum. At the same time, headliners played longer and longer sets, and opening acts were not really part of the package at arenas. 

In late 1985, the old Fillmore Auditorium had re-opened as a rock venue. It was not run by the BGP organization, but they were on good terms, and Graham occasionally rented it out. The new Fillmore mostly booked younger, "Alternative" bands, along with some older groups who needed a crowd on their feet dancing. In a parallel development, Freddy Herrera and Bobby Corona's Keystone partnership had come to an end, and the three clubs were closing. Jerry Garcia, the mainstay of their bookings, had simply gotten too big for the clubs, and Bill Graham was finally going to take over booking most of the San Francisco Garcia shows. This left open the question of where Graham should book the Garcia Band in San Francisco. 

At the same time, the Warfield was scheduled to undergo another renovation in the 1988. BGP held no rock shows at the Warfield between March 31 and December 28, 1988. Graham, always planning ahead, seems to have arranged to rent the Orpheum as a proxy Warfield. The Shorenstein family were San Francisco real estate royalty, and Graham would have had many connections with them. Although the Orpheum had extended runs of touring Broadway shows (through the powerhouse Nederlander organization), there were always gaps in the schedule. By the mid-80s, touring Broadway shows had rock concert quality sound systems, so that was no problem, either.

The unavailability of the Warfield in 1988 was less of a problem for BGP than one might have thought, because at the same time they had taken over the operation of the Fillmore Auditorium. BGP arranged to hire the successful bookers of the Fillmore, so they kept the relationships with the cool Indie bands. Yet they were able to book some old-time BGP connections, like Ron Wood, Carlos Santana and Leon Russell, providing another layer of performers to appear. Meanwhile, over at the Orpheum, there were a few shows that weren't fits for the Fillmore, like Miriam Makeba/Hugh Masakela (Apr 15) and King Sunny Ade (June 17).

BGP booked two Jerry Garcia Band shows, May 6 '88 at the Fillmore, and May 7 at the Orpheum. One would have implicitly expected that the Fillmore Auditorium, historic, beautiful and sounding great, would become the post-Keystone home of the Jerry Garcia Band. Yet the balance of the year's JGB shows were at the Orpheum, not the Fillmore, and in fact the Jerry Garcia Band never played the Fillmore again. The Orpheum was the proxy for the Warfield, and the Warfield became the JGB's home court for the balance of Garcia's career.

Why not the Fillmore as the JGB's San Francisco home? The answer wasn't the venue, nor the sound, nor the vibe, but the bar. The Fillmore in 1988 had bars, but the main one was upstairs at the back of the auditorium. It was primarily designed for people to wait out opening acts that they did not like, since the stage was inaudible from there, and indeed often acoustic acts played in the bar while the bands played on stage. Indeed, I spent many a pleasant hour in the Fillmore bar in those days, waiting out some tedious Indie band until the likes of Graham Parker would come on stage.

However, the financial lynchpin of the Keystones had been the ease of buying drinks while Garcia was playing. At the Keystone Berkeley, there was no real distinction between the barroom and the stage, and The Stone and Keystone Palo Alto had table service. The Orpheum had a better bar than the Fillmore, and it was larger (2203 vs around 1500), so it won out over the historic Fillmore. When the new, revised Warfield re-opened in early 1989, it had dramatically improved bar service downstairs and upstairs, and it was custom made to sell drinks to relaxed, employed JGB fans ready to spend an entire evening hanging with Jerry and John. 

Dave's Picks Volume 18, the Grateful Dead recorded at The Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco on Saturday, July 17, 1976 (released May 1, 2016)
Aftermath
The Warfield became the Jerry Garcia's San Francisco home, and ultimately Garcia played the club around 100 times, mostly after 1989. Yet it was the Orpheum which had provided proof-of-concept back in '88, just as the the theater had done back in 1976. The Orpheum itself has not held a rock concert that I am aware of after Garcia's performance on March 4 '89 (although I have not done a thorough study). It has undergone various renovations, and it is a hugely successful venue for traveling Broadway shows. Even the sleazy Tenderloin district has improved somewhat, and the Powell Street BART stop remains as a critical asset.

The Grateful Dead at The Orpheum is finally getting it's musical due, a few decades too late. The JGB Don't Let Go cd was released in 1998, and on May 1, 2016 the glorious show from Saturday, July 17, 1976 will be released as a Dave Pick's. I was there, and I can assure you it was a classic show. It was all the more so because no one knew what was going to happen. We had heard rumors that "Truckin'" and "China Cat" and the like were out of rotation, but there was no established network for finding out what the band had played elsewhere, much less getting the tapes.

Thus we were stunned to hear "Samson And Delilah," stunned to hear a noodly jam open the second set that turned into "Comes A Time," stunned to hear the entire second set done as a continuous medley, stunned to see "Eyes Of The World" wrapped by verses of  "The Other One," confused by Donna's non-appearance in the second set with no explanation, and stunned by the blazing, unexpected "Not Fade Away" as the second encore. The next night (Sunday July 18) was broadcast on KSAN, and we were treated to "Might As Well," "St. Stephen" and "The Wheel," and clearly a Brave New World of the Grateful Dead. Whatever you think of 1976 tapes now--your mileage may vary--at the time it seemed like everything was possible. Who was to think that the Grateful Dead would never grace the Orpheum stage again?
The cover of the 2001 release on Grateful Dead Records of Don't Let Go, the complete Jerry Garcia Band performance at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco on May 21, 1976

Appendix
There are a few details that are worth recapping here

The "July 12 1976" Orpheum Video
I have read believable but unconfirmed comments on line that the May 28, 1976 Orpheum rehearsal was professionally photographed and video taped (there was no such thing as amateur video at the time). This is not widely known or assumed, however. The great Voodonola has posted a video of the Grateful Dead at the Orpheum identified as a July 12, 1976 "soundcheck." Since it is clearly a rehearsal without an audience, this was a plausible assumption. However, for a number of reasons I do not think the hour-long video is from July 12. The video isn't casual, as there are bright stage lights and multiple cameraman, at least one of whom is on stage. Two points:
  • On July 12, the Dead were starting a high profile six-night run at a venue they had never played. I find it unlikely that they would set up significant equipment on a night when they were trying to nail down the sound
  • The numbers they play are mostly new or newly-arranged (like "Dancing In The Streets" done disco-style) and they sound unformed to me. During "Stella Blue," Garcia stops the band so he, Weir and Donna can go over some harmony arrangements. By July, the Dead had played 18 dates, and the material was far more hammered out.
I think United Artists was paying for some promotional video and photography in May, with the hopes of using it for some kind of publicity. It never saw the light of day, however. Does UA have anything else in their vaults (which would housed by Vivendi Universal Music Group, actually, since EMI they bought UA in '78, and the bankrupt EMI was sold to Vivendi in 2012)? For now, I am considering this "July 12" video to have come from May 28, 1976, until we get better information.

Kingfish KBFH show
Although Kingfish would have only broadcast about 25 minutes on the actual syndicated radio show, the King Biscuit people started a record label where they would release entire performances. Kingfish was one of the few bands to agree to license their material, so both the early and late shows from the Beacon were released in 1996 as Kingfish In Concert: King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents. It remains the most thorough and best capture of Bob Weir and Kingfish live in concert in their initial incarnation.

Incidentally, the syndicated King Biscuit show circulated their shows with specially made LPs or reel to reel tapes, which were sent to the radio stations. So that means there would be a "collectable" Kingfish KBFH LP from 1976, for those that seek out that sort of thing.

Robert Hunter and Roadhog at The Shady Grove
Back in 1976, there was still not much of a universe for Deadheads traveling to San Francisco for big runs of shows. But there were a few. The Dead must have had some awareness of this, since the one night of the week during the Orpheum run that they didn't play (Thursday June 15), Robert Hunter and Roadhog played at The Shady Grove in the Haight, not far down the street (if you took the 5 Fulton or 7 Haight bus). I believe there was a Jerry Moore audience tape. At the time, Hunter had not performed outside the Bay Area under his own name, and not at all outside of the West Coast, so seeing Hunter perform in person would have been exotic indeed.

KSAN Re-Broadcast
KSAN re-broadcast the Sunday, July 18 Orpheum show a number of times. For reasons that never made any sense to me, some of the later broadcasts included the songs in a different order. It may have had something to do with the King Biscuit Broadcast, as perhaps the master tape got re-edited somehow.

New Year's Eve 76 cd
Rhino Records released a 3-cd set of the New Year's Eve Cow Palace show from 1976. The Santana set from that night can be heard on Concert Vault.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bootleg Grateful Dead LPs, East and West (Hollywood Palladium August 6, 1971)

The Grateful Dead At The Hollywood Palladium lp, recorded on August 6, 1971. Like many Dead bootlegs available on the West Coast, it was a single album with a gatefold cover.
The Grateful Dead are renowned for their comfort with allowing their audiences to tape their shows. The Dead's policy is usually seen as a precursor to Internet culture, before the Internet was even a culture. Certainly, the Dead's willingness to let people tape their shows created a different kind of enthusiasm from their fans, the kind that made them travel hundreds of miles for days on end in order to catch as many shows as possible. The Dead's open-mindedness towards taping, probably stemming largely from Jerry Garcia's bluegrass days, rather unexpectedly was the key to their future success.

However, there is a contrary side to the story: the Grateful Dead may have felt they had little choice but to accept audience taping and encourage their free exchange. The taint associated with selling Grateful Dead tapes has caused most old-time Deadheads, particularly on the East Coast, to elide the historical fact that most of us first heard unreleased Grateful Dead music on bootleg lps. Though the sales associated with bootleg records were ultimately small, the most motivated and determined fans of any group sought them out. Bootleg lps played a big part in expanding the Grateful Dead's audience, particularly in East Coast cities.

It is a paradox that the Grateful Dead were a West Coast band who ultimately made their fortune on the East Coast. Yet Deadhead culture really took root in the East and headed West. That has nothing to do with the West Coast's love for the Grateful Dead; it's that in San Francisco, or even Oregon, there was the inevitable feeling that the Dead, or at least Jerry Garcia, would be back soon and we could see them again, For Grateful Dead fans in the East, the band only played once or twice a year in any given city, and didn't always return to the same town. Thus the traveling Deadhead caravans were born, first small and then large. Even before that, however, bootleg records played a huge part in encouraging fans that traveling to see the Dead was worthwhile, and that too was initially an Eastern phenomenon.

Jesse Jarnow's book Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America (Da Capo Press, March 2016) is the first book that takes a close look at the underground economy surrounding the Grateful Dead, including bootleg albums
Heads
In the late 60s, cassette recorders had just gone commercial, and few people had them. In any case, there were almost no cassette recordings circulating, so even having one wouldn't have gotten you more unreleased music. Anyone who taped generally used a reel-to-reel recorder, not least because the new cassettes had terrible sound quality. Reel-to-reel recorders are inconvenient for casual listening, which is why almost all rock music consumers preferred records. A few dedicated tapers brought reel-to-reel decks into concerts--promoters did not yet have any reason to stop them--and started making Grateful Dead audience tapes. They shared these tapes with their hi-fi friends, and a few of them got the idea of making bootleg records.

The history of Grateful Dead bootlegs, particularly on the East Coast, has rarely been discussed and almost completely lost. A remarkable new book, however, brings this lost history to light in a richer context. Author Jesse Jarnow has written Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America (Da Capo Press March 2016). Jarnow's book takes a close look at the underground economies surrounding the Grateful Dead, and how they created a path to an alternative financial ecosystem in the 21st century. The story starts with the initially legal commerce in LSD, but when that goes under the radar, a thriving market in Grateful Dead bootleg records develops. Jarnow is the first person to actually look into who was making and selling these albums. I asked Jarnow, in a private email, when Grateful Dead bootlegs started appearing on the East Coast.
It seems like Dead bootleg LPs started popping up on the east coast in 1970 and 1971, probably after the Great White Wonder got written about in Rolling Stone in late 1969. But Dead bootlegs seemed to really start taking off in 1971, which is not coincidentally when the band themselves moved from being primarily an underground phenomenon into a band that played arenas in most parts of the country. I'm really fascinated by this period in Dead fandom, as the band was exploding but before the term "Deadhead" came into common use with the release of Skullfuck in October '71 and before all the Deadhead norms of tape-trading and folklore became fixed parts of the world around the band. When Dead freaks were Dead freaks 
Going by coverage in the [NYC underground newspaper] East Village Other, it seems like Dead bootlegs really exploded on the east coast the summer right before that. One show that was especially popular was from the KSAN broadcast of the October 4th, 1970 show at Winterland, the night Janis Joplin died. That sold especially well, since it came from an FM recording and sounded great, which was a pretty standard bootleg procedure even today with the new wave of bootleg LPs that have appeared with the so-called vinyl revival. Since the Dead and their friends really pioneered the act of live concert broadcasts (as you've pointed out!), you can maybe blame that aspect of bootlegging on them, too, sorta. A lot of the early bootlegs were totally white label, with no identifying information at all, so it's only later that we've been able to identify them.  
And the spring or summer of '71 was when Marty Weinberg put out his first bootleg LP, too. Marty was the inventor of really high quality Dead concert taping. He was a brainiac boy genius who went to Bronx High School of Science and was a teenage member of the Audio Engineering Society, among other cool things. But he'd sneak a mono Uher into the Fillmore East and position himself on Garcia side. His techniques were actually pretty different from what tapers developed later, but his tapes became legendary among east coast Deadheads. The guitarist in the earliest Dead cover band I know about (John Zias from Cavalry) told me Marty's tapes sounded dosed. But most of Marty's friends didn't own reel-to-reels, so he made an LP of his favorite jams from the fall of 1970, mostly from the Capitol Theater in Port Chester and some from the Fillmore East, and pressed up 500 copies, gave half away, and sold the other half. He never repressed it, but Marty's LP got play on New York radio stations, and he was invited to appear as a guest on Bob Fass's Radio Unnameable on WBAI, the hippest radio show in the city, where the Yippies first came together and Bob Dylan took calls on the air a few times.
Heads does a remarkable job of pulling together how the different strands of early Grateful Dead culture became a network. Most writers vaguely assert that Deadheads were some sort of "community," but Jarnow is the first to open the box and looks at the network diagram.

Bootleg Records In The 60s
The history of bootleg albums in the 1960s was murky but important. Most of the original bootlegs had plain white covers and very little information about the recordings. They featured the most popular artists, like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, and they were generally only available in small quantities in hip, non-chain record stores in big music cities like London, New York and Los Angeles. Nonetheless, for the lucky few who got their hands on those records, they were revelatory. Bob Dylan, the world's most popular rock solo artist, had released almost nothing between 1966 and 1968. Yet when a bootleg appeared that included the a dozen demos recorded with some Canadians in a basement near Woodstock, NY, of rough but powerful versions of unreleased songs, it was stunning. Rock fans had no idea that such a thing existed. The album, Great White Wonder, was reviewed in Rolling Stone.

No one really knows how many records Great White Wonder sold, and various exaggerations indicated it would have qualified as a gold record (250,000 units). The real number was probably 1/10th of that, but of course all the buyers were in big cities, so the records got a lot of attention. And since the albums weren't really legal, there was nothing to stop other bootleggers from bootlegging the original, so some more people would have bought inferior re-bootlegged copies, sometimes with different titles or cover art. An even more remarkable Dylan bootleg followed, under various titles like Royal Albert Hall and Play Fucking Loud. It was a stunning professional live recording of Bob Dylan and The Hawks in England in 1966, an eight-song masterpiece by young artists at the height of their powers. Typical of the bootlegger trade, the album suggested that it was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, when it fact it had been recorded at the Manchester Free Trade Hall a few days earlier on the tour. The deception helped protect the bootleggers source, who I believe remains mysterious to this day.

The history of bootleg records was a perpetual mystery, since the proprietors of these mysterious labels were both breaking the law as well as angering the artists they were bootlegging. Thus they had every reason to remain cryptical. Yet bootleg albums had a huge impact on rock fans in major cities, where these nondescript albums were available. They also had a huge impact on the record industry. Artists were concerned that they had no control over what was released, and were often bothered by sloppy, poorly recorded performances. Record companies, however, were terrified of disintermediation and their profitable control of distributing popular music. Many albums were released with the intent of forestalling or undermining existing bootlegs, including live Stones albums and Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes.

The veiled history of bootlegs was pierced somewhat with the 1996 book Bootleg: The Secret History Of The Other Recording History, by English author Clinton Heylin. Heylin, certainly rock music's leading archaeologist, ferreted out the identities of some of the main bootleggers of the 1960s, and he tells the fascinating tale of how certain records got made. Any rock fan should consider his book a must-read. However, Heylin cannot tell every tale, and his focus is more on (relatively) "major" bootleggers in London and Los Angeles. There were certain infamous bootleggers, and labels like Rubber Dubber, Trademark Of Quality and Swinging Pig take precedence in his story, as they should. The bootleg recordings that get the most attention and had the biggest influence were by artists like The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, and they are crucial parts of the tale. Heylin has little interest in the Grateful Dead, however, and in any case Dead bootlegs are peripheral to the history that he focuses on. Fortunately, however, Jarnow's indispensable book helps us close this gap.

Grateful Dead Bootleg Distribution-East Coast
By 1970, the Grateful Dead were beloved by their still relatively small but enthusiastic cohort of fans in Northern California. However, San Francisco-area Deadheads were used to regular Grateful Dead appearances every few months. In between, you could usually find a way to see the New Riders or Garcia/Saunders at some tiny joint, so NorCal Deadheads never worried about seeing more Dead shows, since they knew the next one would be coming up soon.

Things were different on the East Coast. Workingman's Dead, American Beauty and relentless touring had made the Dead a popular commodity in the Northeast. However, fans in Brooklyn, Cambridge or Princeton could not be certain when the Dead would return, nor if they would even play the same place they played before. Thus the routine of traveling to Dead shows began in the East, not the West. At the same time, newly minted East Coast Dead fans wanted more Grateful Dead music, any way they could get it. People with intact memories recall how they got that music--bootleg lps.

Since the Dead taping underground took hold in the mid-70s with the mantra that all music should be exchanged freely, we forget why that demand arose. Prior to the mass acceptance of cassette decks, people bought bootleg records. That meant neither the Dead nor Warner Brothers was benefitting from the proceeds of those records. Since most of the bootleg purchasers became tape collectors a few years later, everyone politely writes out that part of their own history. Jarnow's research and his book capture this lost era, and a critical era it was. Without the seed of bootleg Dead albums, there would have been no underground tape network, and the entire psychedelic underground economy would have taken on a different tone entirely. Jarnow tells us about where  budding Dead fans could find the bootlegs:
At some record stores, probably, where the record buyer had a connection. I'm sure a lot of distribution was out of suitcases and car trunks, but there wasn't really any firm distribution system, so it was pretty spotty. In New York, I know, they were sometimes sold outside of shows. Gary Lambert told me he told me saw his first bootleg for sale across the street from the Fillmore East on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. Another father of Grateful Dead taping, Jerry Moore, was apparently inspired to start taping because he heard about a certain bootleg LP dealer who worked on a certain corner in Greenwich Village and trekked down there from the Bronx only to discover that the guy wasn't there that day, and Jerry was so annoyed that he started taping shows himself.  
Another place to get bootlegs was through the mail. One place I know about was Dead In Words, which was the first Grateful Dead fanzine, based out of North Carolina, predating Dead Relix by a year or so. They were a spinoff of a few different bootleg LP-oriented publications, one devoted to Dylan and one devoted to the Beatles. They were also the source of the first live Dead acquired by Dick Latvala, who went on to become the preeminent Grateful Dead tape trader, and organize and run the band's tape vault. Eventually, Jerry Moore and Les Kippel founded Dead Relix tape club, getting covered in Rolling Stone in 1973 and putting out the first issue of their magazine in late 1974, and began to permanently implant the notion of free tape trading in a national way. 
Even Jarnow's unique research cannot determine how many Grateful Dead bootleggers--in the vinyl sense--there really were.
I really have no way to estimate either of those numbers! Documentation was so spotty that it's hard to figure out who was making what or when. Sometimes, it seems like they were made by Deadheads, but many times the song titles are off, or whatever, and they obviously weren't. Bootlegs are an under-appreciated form of Deadhead folk art, too, if you find the right ones. I love finding white label bootlegs with illustrations and track listings filled in by the previous owners. This site has a preliminary catalog, but release dates are pretty murky: http://deadboots.qwattro.com/ 
Were there any connections between the bootleggers, or were they just solo operators?
Both. When I interviewed Marty Weinberg, he said he never saw anybody else selling bootleg LPs outside shows, even though that was definitely happening at a few of the shows he was at. Specifically the East Village Other article I mentioned before seems to indicate that there was a faction connected to the Yippies that were making bootlegs on the east coast, so surely those people knew one another. Beyond that, I don't really know. That article is here, with more of LightIntoAshes excellent annotations in the comments: http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/11/august-26-1971-bootleg-battle.html
Jarnow's unique take on original vinyl Grateful Dead bootlegs is just one of many remarkable insights that arise from Heads. Rather than just settle for oft-told tales and old journalism, Jarnow has tracked down a remarkable number of original participants, and not just in making bootlegs. The premise of Heads is the Grateful Dead were the fulcrum of an underground economy, first with LSD, then bootleg albums, then tapes, then t-shirts and then the psychedelic flea market of the "Shakedown Street" parking lot. Jarnow ably navigates the reader through this completely uncharted territory. I cannot recommend the book enough, and it sorts many Grateful Dead and Deadhead truisms into various kinds of fact and fiction. Heads is an indispensable book for any serious Deadhead.

World's Indoor Records, in downtown Palo Alto (405 Kipling at Lytton), where I got my first bootleg albums. The featured album in the ad is by Jimi Hendrix.
Grateful Dead Bootlegs In Northern California
The story in the West seemed to be somewhat different. However, without a California Jarnow, we are left only with me, to tell what parts of the story I can figure out. I was a bootleg lp consumer in the early 1970s, and I too can vouch that at the time I had no other avenues for finding unauthorized Grateful Dead releases. Sure, when I got to college I met some people, and I started to burrow into the network, but initially I was on my own. Mysterious albums with a hand drawn cover, or sometimes just a blank white sleeve, were my only entree into a new, secret world.

A high school friend had some Bob Dylan bootlegs that had purchased by an older sibling. The bootleg later officially released as Bob Dylan Live 1966 (intentionally mistakenly "released" as Royal Albert Hall) exploded my understanding of Dylan. I couldn't help but think--do any other artists have mysterious recordings like this?

Heylin details some of the cryptical genesis of American bootleg albums, and some of the key players were based in Southern California. Two of the key figures are called "Dub" and "Ken" by Heylin (since it has been twenty years, I think their real names are now accessible on the Internet). Dub and Ken had produced the infamous Great White Wonder bootleg. Dub was responsible for the Rolling Stones bootleg LiveR Than You'll Ever Be, recorded at the late show on November 9, 1969 at the Oakland Coliseum, when the Stones used the Dead's PA. At the end of 1969, Dub and Ken teamed up to make the first true bootleg "label," Trademark Of Quality (known as TMQ). Trademark Of Quality consistently put out high quality recordings by a variety of groups, and they were indeed a trademark of quality in the nebulous universe of bootlegging.

After I had seen my friend's Dylan bootlegs, I started keeping my eyes open, and I finally found some in Palo Alto and Berkeley record stores around early 1974. Palo Alto had one independent record store, and the bootlegs would show up in the "Imports" section. Obviously they weren't imported from England, but it gave the proprietor a little deniability. Meanwhile, the biggest and best independent record store in Berkeley, Rasputin's, put the bootlegs in the "used" section. In many cases, they were obviously not used, but again, it provided a layer of deniability. Typically these bootlegs cost around $3.00, at a time when new lps were $4 or $5. So they were attractive propositions.

The difficult part with bootlegs, particularly Grateful Dead bootlegs, was trying to figure out what was on them. Any "album cover art" were often just hand-drawn, and usually said something like "Grateful Dead Live," so that wasn't much use. Sometimes there was a list of songs, but that didn't always help--what was the Grateful Dead song "We Can Share?" You could guess that it was "Jack Straw," but then what was "Only Love Can Fill" or "I Wash My Hands?" So there was an element of risk in buying any bootleg, which of course added to their mysterious allure. There must have been other places to get bootlegs, like Flea Markets (sometimes called "Swap Meets"), but I didn't know of any at the time. Certainly I had never seen bootleg Dead lps for sale outside of a Bill Graham Dead show, that was for sure.

The Grateful Dead Live At Fillmore West
There was one bootleg Grateful Dead album that was relatively regularly available, and it even had a cover and somewhat accurate songlists to go with its excellent recording quality. It's no surprise to find out decades later that this bootleg was a Grateful Dead release on Trademark Of Quality. The double-lp set was just about the complete recording of the Grateful Dead's performance at the closing of Fillmore West on July 2, 1971 (which I have written about at length). In the case of TMQ, it was sourced from the KMET-fm simulcast, rather than the KSAN/KSFX broadcast, but it was high quality. It also had a weird, spacey cover, and remains one of, if not the, best known bootleg Dead albums. For me personally, it was monumental: an alternative universe of different songs and different versions, well-recorded and with accurate sourcing. The table was being set for what I wanted from cassette trading before I even really knew what a cassette was.

However, there were numerous other Grateful Dead bootlegs, far less revealing in the details. They were a series of archaeological runes, mysterious talismans of a hidden world, with few clues as to their real nature, The Dead bootlegs seemed to fall into two categories. One category were albums with blank white covers, perhaps with a stenciled title and a few songs listed on the label. The other category was albums with a sort of compressed gatefold cover, even if it was a single album. Nonetheless, the "gatefold" albums had titles, artwork and photographs. Looking at them today, I can see that the photographs were probably all from the same film roll in 1971, but of course I couldn't know that at the time. I preferred the "gatefold" albums, because they had more information on the cover, and that was a better bet for a teenager on a budget. From what I can piece together today, the "gatefold" Grateful Dead bootlegs were a West Coast phenomenon. At the very least, the gatefold Grateful Dead albums were manufactured separately from any other bootleg lps that were circulating, as no other bands had albums configured that way.

Perhaps the most widely seen and best example of these West Coast gatefold Dead bootlegs was an album usually called "Hollywood Palladium." It had fairly good and accurate credits on the cover, and it was cool stuff indeed. The show was recorded at the Hollywood Palladium on August 6, 1971. The album featured a great version of "St. Stephen." To me, it was fascinating to hear a classic performance from Live/Dead done without the organ, which had seemed so essential to the original release. On top of that, there was a blazing version of Otis Redding's "Hard To Handle," far superior to the version released on Bear's Choice (and I had only bought the album after Bear's Choice--it must have been revelatory to those who discovered it beforehand).

Even more fascinating was a between song onstage comment from Bob Weir, telling a taper that his microphones were too close to the stage, and that it would harm the recording. Here was a member of the Grateful Dead casually acknowledging the bootlegger's craft and giving advice. Whatever Weir's intentions, it seemed like a Grateful Dead benediction of bootleggers. According to legend, the taper to whom Weir was referring to was not actually the source of the famous audience tape, but a different one entirely, but of course we didn't know that while playing the lp over and over in our bedrooms. The show was ultimately released as Road Trips Vol 1, #3, but for those of us of a certain age the Palladium show was about "St. Stephen" and "Hard To Handle," and we wore it out.

The Grateful Dead Hollywood Palladium I (TMOQ 71064), which may be the original "release" of the Hollywood Palladium show from August 6, 1971. I myself have not heard this lp.
The Hollywood Palladium album was released with numerous covers, and its impossible to say whether they were all from one bootlegger. More likely, the bootleg got re-bootlegged, an occupational hazard of the industry. Nonetheless, some evidence suggests that the first version of the album may have been a Trademark Of Quality (aka "Ken") production. This would make sense, as quality audience tapes were a distinguishing characteristic. If the Palladium show was initially a TMQ production, it does put West Coast Grateful Dead bootlegs, at least, more in the mainstream of California bootlegging in the early 70s.

There were other bootlegs, of course. Many of these were just different versions of existing tapes, such as the July 2 '71 Fillmore West show or the nationwide broadcast on Pacifica Radio (KPFA, WBAI, etc) of the May 2 '70 Binghamton show. It was always frustrating to get a white-covered bootleg, only to find out that the distinctive version of "Dancing In The Street" was the one I already had. There were upsides, however--for many decades, the only reason I knew that the Pacifica broadcast had included the New Riders was because I had a poor quality bootleg of the Riders set.

There were New Riders bootlegs, too, with the distinctive gatefolds. I had one from Binghamton, another from New Year's Eve 1971 and a great one from the Dead's guest appearance at Felt Forum with NRPS on March 18 '73, broadcast on WNEW-fm. A double lp with the Riders, featuring an acoustic gospel set with Jerry on banjo, guest appearances by Weir, Keith and Donna, Garcia and Ramblin Jack Elliott was another glimpse into a secret world of revelations. I only had the slightest hint that there was a world of tapers, but I was ready for it when it presented itself to me.

The Amazing Kornyfone Record Label (TAKRL) and Make Believe Ballroom
Back in the mid-70s, I had no real clue about "West Coast Bootlegs" and "East Coast Bootlegs." They were just strange records I found in record stores. Still, there were patterns. Here and there I even recognized some familiar "labels." Certainly, it was my only source of non-authorized music, so besides Dead bootlegs, I also had bootlegs by other groups. Around early 1975, I started to notice a significant new player in the bootleg record stores: mysterious albums with white covers but paper inserts, all indicating something called The Amazing Kornyfone Record Label.

TAKRL, as it was known, was everything I ever wanted in a bootleg label. According to Heylin, TAKRL (and some associated labels) was the brainchild of "Ken" from TMQ, based out of Southern California. But TAKRL records had everything I craved:
  • TAKRL albums were from great source tapes, either FM or board
  • TAKRL albums had detailed and accurate notes that indicated where the recordings were actually from
  • TAKRL albums focused on the coolest and most intriguing music around, not just retread live tapes of popular groups grinding out their big hits 
Among the many great TAKRL albums that I or my friends had was the Bob Dylan Blood On The Tracks outtakes, which was a true revelation on the scale of "Royal Albert Hall." There was a Buffalo Springfield album of outtakes that included a long version of "Bluebird," among other delights. There were also some great Little Feat live bootlegs, reputedly mixed by Lowell George himself. Mind you, at the time, Little Feat could barely fill a nightclub, but they were hip and cool. There were also TAKRL bootlegs for Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars at the Santa Monica Civic, at the time a very exotic UK act not popular in the States.

But my favorite TAKRL album fell into my hands late in 1975. I have written at length about the Grateful Dead's performance on August 13, 1975 at the Great American Music Hall. A few weeks later, all but the final set was broadcast on KSAN, KMET (in Los Angeles) and WNEW (in New York), and possibly other cities. It was electrifying to hear the Grateful Dead's return live in my suburban bedroom, right before I went off to college. But by the end of the year, a glorious TAKRL bootleg appeared at Rasputin's, a beautifully mastered double lp set of the GAMH show called Make Believe Ballroom. By this time, I had met people in the dorms with tapes and I knew there was another universe, but I couldn't access it yet. But Make Believe Ballroom allowed me to play the set I had heard on the radio over and over, and that was what asked for. I know for a fact that Make Believe Ballroom was much beloved by many nascent Deadheads, and was surely the source of a lot of early trading material back in the day.

Throughout the later 70s, there continued to be bootlegs, but cassette tapes seemed to be taking over for Deadheads. I had my own cassette deck within a few years, and didn't need to accumulate bootlegs anymore. The West Coast bootleggers with their gatefold covers had completely faded away, Jarnow has explained what happened to the Easterners, and Ken and TAKRL also went under the radar (per Heylin) in the later '70s. There was still some bootleg action, particularly around Bruce Springsteen, but Grateful Dead world moved to tapes. "Everyone" agreed that live Dead tapes shouldn't be sold, but everyone conveniently forgot that the prohibition came from the bootleg lps that had kicked the scene off in the beginning.

Bootleg lps are a limited medium, unfair to the artists and unfair to the copyright holders, since they are too expensive to duplicate at the copier's expense. So I'm not a person who thinks that anybody should be able to sell another person's creative output without permission, at least within the confines of modern copyright law. Most Deadheads probably agree with me. Yet those of us of a certain age recall when there was no trading network, and we didn't have cassette decks anyway, and the lure of a mysterious white album with a hand-drawn paper cover was the gateway to a magical world that had no other portal. Even if we don't acknowledge it now.
The Hollwyood Palladium, at 6215 Sunset Boulevard, as it appeared in the early 70s
Appendix 1: Hollywood Palladium August 6, 1971: Grateful Dead/New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Rowan Brothers
California is a huge, prosperous state, and there are actual several Californias. The San Francisco Bay Area, home of the Grateful Dead, may as well have been a completely different state than greater Los Angeles. They were 400 miles apart, with different weather and different economies. In fact, in the 1960s and 70s, the Grateful Dead were not particularly popular in Southern California. Now, to be clear, there was a huge population in Los Angeles, and a huge rock concert market went with it. The Dead certainly played there share of gigs in LA, and most of them were well attended. However, the same could be said of almost every other touring rock act. Relative to population, the Dead were no big deal in LA.

The Hollywood Palladium had been built in 1940, and had a concert capacity of between 4000 and 7500, depending on configuration. The Palladium was located at 6215 Sunset Boulevard, in Hollywood proper, as opposed to the Whisky-A-Go-Go and other places, farther West on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, outside the city limits. The Palladium was used for many famous TV shows and broadcasts, including the Lawrence Welk show, which broadcast from there during the 1961-70 period. The Emmy and the Grammy awards were also broadcast from the Palladium (JerryGarciasBrokendownPalaces has a more thorough look at the history of The Hollywood Palladium).

Pinnacle, the first major concert promoter in Los Angeles for Fillmore type bands had operated out of The Shrine in Los Angeles, at 32nd and Figueroa. Its successor, Scenic Sounds, had moved to the Rose Palace in Pasadena in 1969. By 1971, the promoters had moved to the Hollywood Palladium, using the name Pacific Presentations. The exact corporate history of the promoters is a bit murky, but generally speaking they represented the same people, and the Dead had played the Shrine and the Rose Palace, so it's no surprise they played the Hollywood Palladium as well. Back in the 60s, the Hollywood Palladium would have been too large and too prestigious for rock bands to play there, but by the early 70s rock concerts were the biggest live attractions, so it's no surprise that rock bands were booked. For a great overview of the Hollwyood Palladium's history, complete with pictures and a good list of 70s rock concerts, check out the truly impressive page on the GoGo's site (and just to be clear, I saw the Go-Gos back in November 1981 at the Market Street Cinema in San Francisco, and they rocked the house hard, ok?).


A ticket for the Grateful Dead concert at the Hollywood Palladium on August 6, 1971. "Dance" indicates that there would be no seats on the floor.
Initially, tickets were sold for the Friday, August 6 show. Once that show sold out (or at least came close), another show was added for Thursday, August 5. Obviously, both shows were booked in advance, but it was a common practice for the Dead in the early 70s to sell out one night before the next night was added. I don't know how many tickets the Palladium was configured for, but according to a review of the concert (from Variety, via Deadsources), it was around 4,000.
Yet Winterland was 5,400, and the Dead had booked two nights in Winterland back in May (although one was canceled). Los Angeles, despite its larger population, was no sure thing for the Dead. In the end, of course, they did fine, but fashion conscious LA has always been a tricky market.

An interesting detail that has surfaced from the ever-fascinating Deadsources blog was a reference that at least one bootleg was hawked outside the show:
A Rolling Stone article on the New Riders (in the 9/2/71 issue) mentions that at the Hollywood Palladium shows in August 1971, "outside the Palladium the Dead were being accorded the honor of having a bootleg LP of theirs peddled."
This probably stopped shortly afterwards, since Warner Brothers (and every other label) was right down the road, and would not have countenanced it. Certainly I'm not aware of it happening at any Bill Graham shows in San Francisco--he didn't like anyone selling anything outside of shows--but I guess it wasn't impossible. The Grateful Dead returned to the Hollywood Palladium for two shows the next year (September 9-10, 1972), but after that the band moved on to larger spaces. The Palladium was used for intermittent concerts throughout the 70s, but ultimately "went disco" about 1978.

Appendix 2: Some Bootleg Mysteries
Here are a few of the bootleg Grateful Dead lps that I have. They are presented here as exemplars of the curious archaeology surrounding them at the time. Anyone with any knowledge, memories (real or imagined) or clever speculation about any of them, please Comment.
"Western" Bootlegs
A Dead bootleg called Box Of Rain, consisting of various tracks from 1970 and '71.

A Dead bootleg called The Cowboy's Dead, with material from the May 2 '70 show, broadcast on Pacifica radio. The lyrics to "The Other One" are handprinted on the front of the gatefold cover

An exotic bootleg from the May 2 '70 show broadcast on Pacifica. Side 1 was the "acoustic Dead," but side 2 was the New Riders with Garcia. The quality was terrible, but for decades it was the only proof I had that the NRPS set had actually been broadcast.

A Dead bootleg called Dire Wolf, The material was from the Fillmore East in April 1971

The back cover of a "Warlocks" bootleg. Side 1 is the "Emergency Crew" demo (Golden State Recorders Nov 3 '65), and side 2 is the Fall 66 demos with "Caution" etc. However, the cover says "May 3, 1965, Los Angeles, CA" which is completely wrong. I got this album about 1977 in Rasputin's in Berkeley.


The label to the Warlocks bootleg appears to be from an old Jimmy Reed album. There is no connection between the songs listed on the label and the album itself. This may have been a sort of security issue, to create deniability

Nights Of The Living Dead
The front cover of the bootleg Nights Of The Living Dead

The back cover to the bootleg Nights Of The Living Dead. The material is typical live 1970-71 material, except for the last track (#6, "Jet To The Promised Land")
The music on the above bootlegs are mere curiosities now, as we have all the material in better and more accessible formats. Nonetheless, I would love to know the stories behind each of them, whatever they were. Far and away the most intriguing story has to be the last one, Nights Of The Living Dead. All of the albums have what is now conventionally available material. Indeed, once I started accumulating tapes in the late 1970s, I rapidly superseded anything on my bootlegs. Of course, it took a few decades to catch up to the complete NRPS set from Binghamton, but that was a Riders issue, not a Dead one. One mystery remained, and indeed remains a peculiarity to this day.

All but one of the tracks on Nights Of The Living Dead were typical circulating material from 1970-71. The last track, however, was a poorly sourced studio version of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," but sung by Jerry Garcia rather than Bob Weir. As I accumulated more and more tapes, I kept waiting for the Jerry-sung version of "Promised Land" to turn up, but it never did. Until 2005, when it turned up on Rare Cuts And Oddities, an archival album of old Owsley tapes which featured the band performing forgotten songs, mostly in rehearsal.

So with all the bootleggers using the same easily circulated material from FM broadcasts or Fillmore shows, one guy had access to an Owsley tape. And he only bootlegged one track? This is as true a mystery as we are going to find. Who got the tape from Owsley, or an intermediary, and why did they only include one song amidst an album of conventional live tracks? Unlike every other bootleg I purchased, there was some important connection behind Nights Of The Living Dead, and I would be very interested to find out what it was.

"Eastern" Bootlegs
Dark Star is an Eastern bootleg, purchased at Rasputin's in Berkeley, probably in early 1974 or '75 (for $2.00). It was an FM broadcast from Fall 71, with a great "Dark Star">"Me And My Uncle"
The Dark Star bootleg included what appears to have been a late 71 "Dark Star," with Keith Godchaux on piano. At this juncture, I have no interest in figuring out which show it was, but keep in mind that back in the mid-70s, it was literally impossible. There was no Deadbase, no Deadlists, no list of shows, much less setlists--we couldn't even guess what it was. Unlike the Western "gatefold" albums, it had a conventional white cover with a pasted-on sheet.

This album had a blank white cover, no title. The label says Mother Records, with the song titles. The material was from the July 2 '71 Fillmore West broadcast

This album too had no title, just a blank white cover. The label said T.H.C. Productions. The song titles were "best guess,"--"Got No Chance Of Losing This Time," "King Bee" and "Going Down The Road."
Some other albums had white covers that told nothing, not even a pasted cover sheet. Only the labels said anything, and they were intentionally cryptic. The music on these two albums whose labels are posted above is just from the Fillmore West July 2 '71 show. I have no idea whether these were widely circulated bootlegs somewhere, or just a tiny press run from some freak. Anyone who has any ideas, or amusing speculation, should mention it in the Comments.
This album isn't mine. It's a re-bootleg of the Hollywood Palladium bootleg, called Out West
Bootleg lps were often re-bootlegged. It's not like the bootleggers could sue. Sometimes, the liner notes were better. In the case of the Hollywood Palladium bootleg "released" as Out West, I can assure you it wasn't a West Coast bootleg. No Californian, Southern or Northern, would ever call a Dead show in California "out West." They weren't "out West," they were from the West. So someone from further East had to have named the bootleg.