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.

21 comments:

  1. I got turned on to Grateful Dead bootlegs in the form of CD's --- in a small hole-in-the-wall record store in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong beginning in 1993. It was amazing how many this little Chinese cat had, and also quite amusing to have to guess which songs the cryptic titles referred to.

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  2. Beautiful work as usual. I agree wholeheartedly about the value of Heads, and I'm still in the middle of it.

    Perhaps the Bear sourced track came out through Marty Weinberg? Or some similar other connection Bear made on the down low?

    Bootleg LPs were still in use among some collectors in the mid 80s, when I got on the bus, though perhaps more as signifiers of "old school" status as anything else. I had a couple remarkable lysergic evenings with them at "Dead-Ins" (to adopt Dick's classic turn of phrase) held at older heads' houses starting in mid 85. The one with the greatest impact was selections from Stonybrook 10/30/70, correctly labeled as such, centered around the China rider and Stephen/NFA sequences, hilariously titled COZMIK MESSENGER and featuring a Bozo shot of Weir with the Groucho glasses from 72 - a classic bootleg mashup of on point and random material. I'll always have very fond formative memories of it.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. Bootlegs are definitely nostalgic old school artifacts. I still have mine, and haven't listened to them in decades.

      I don't think that Nights Of The Living Dead was a Weinberg album. Clearly, there was an Owsley connect, but since we don't know who created the record, it's a blank as to what the connection might have been. I wonder if Owsley knew? I doubt he would have approved.

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  3. What a great post, long overdue. Thanks. I had most of these bootlegs and was a big collector of these b.t (before tapes). The jerrypig cover was illustrated by the wonderful artist William Stout and word was that Jerry was not real happy with it. Stout was a great underground Los Angeles artist whose early Leaves and Seeds reviews sometimes showed up in the L.A. Free Press. Stout was a brilliant artist and letterer and I remember discussing this cover with him in the early days of comic con.

    The other cover that always floored me was one that had a graphic victorian depiction of a woman in coitus with a dog. I forget the exact show but the illustration was pretty grotesque. Most of these disks had serious speed issues and some were simply unlistenable from an audio standpoint..

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  4. Ah, I remember the days of bootleg records with completely random labels of different artists on the records, handmade covers, made-up song titles, totally wrong dates... Still, finding one was a prize - at the time I had no other sources, hadn't even heard of tape trades - and by then there were bootleg guides published that listed what the actual contents were.

    For those signed up on Lossless Legs, a number of Grateful Dead bootleg records were uploaded by Doinker (some of them mentioned in this post) - it was kind of a community project to figure out where the tracks were actually from. (A few of the tape sources actually still haven't been duplicated online to this day.)
    http://shnflac.net/torrents.php?search=doinker&category=13&project=0&kind=0&types=0&active=0&options=1

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  5. ..the famous marty weinberg boot was uploaded on on lossless legs by doinker as well.. ( not that he knew)

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  6. Note that the Hollywood Palladium bootleg titled "Out West" is a double album, while the "At the Hollywood Palladium" boot featuring the same material is a single LP. So "Out West" is either a more complete version, or it adds material from another show. (I'm not up for doing the legwork to figure that out right now.)

    For some reason, the bootleg outfit known as "TradeMark Of Quality" (TMOQ) used a Gilbert Shelton-style cartoon portrait of a hog wearing sunglasses, and the pig snout also makes appearances in as part of the caricatures found as cover art of other TMOQ bootlegs.

    fwiw, bootleg LP records were often mastered from tapes that were off-speed. (ex. the GD Felt Forum '71 LP with Garcia wearing his embroidered Nudie skeleton jacket, which is recorded fast- and the playing is jacked up as it is; the TMOQ release Rotoscope Down, by Steely Dan, which is a bit slow iirc). A turntable with a pitch control dial can provide a noticeable improvement if the speed is adjusted. Sound quality problems were of course often present in bootleg LPs, but the pitch/tempo problem is one that can be remedied.
    (fwiw: also serious tape wow on Rotoscope Down, and a nasty speed-up glitch during Reelin' In The Years. But the playing is hair-raising, and the vocals are terrific by everyone- Fagen, Becker, and McDonald.)

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  7. minor minutia edit note: the "Rotoscope Down" LP is actually TAKRL, not TMOQ.

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    1. 'Rotoscope Down"--was that the Steely Dan FM broadcast of March 20 '74? I got that (on a cassette) about 1980, I couldn't believe that a live band that good had stopped touring.

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    2. That's the era. Pretty sure that's the source. It's plain from the auditory ambience that they're performing in a rehearsal studio, not a live gig- also, there are only a handful of people applauding when the songs end, in close proximity to the band.
      I've read from several sources over the years that Steely Dan only did one live concert tour in the 1970s consisting of a handful of gigs, and Fagen and Becker weren't happy with the experience- iirc, there might have been some band politics involved, related to some of the other players in the ensemble, who was singing what song, who took the solos, etc. That, and/or other complications, kept Steely Dan away from the stage in that era. Steely Dan never really got it together as an actual stable band, as the studio records show- it was more like Don and Walter, and dozens of A-list studio players.
      But on the evidence of Rotoscope Down, it would have been awesome if that collection of players had stayed together and toured. The playing is hair-raising on that record. "Pretzel Logic" is over the top meta, from back when meta was only a prefix. A song about a guy who dreams of being a cool stage performer but can't pull it off- but there's Michael McDonald, nailing the vocal at the bridge (as expected), with Donald Fagen nailing the vocal as hard as McDonald is (which is not expected), while Skunk Baxter cuts the blues to ribbons. "Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago..." meanwhile they're laying down the sheer IRONY of that line in capitals, grinning all the way to their wisdom teeth in the here and now. Not shoe-gazing music at all, at all.
      And the rest of the record is nearly as good. Recorded with the mikes up up close, at full meter-pegging saturation- which, in balance, given the circumstances, is much preferable to the pristine-clean signature sonics of studio Dan records. Distortion, wow, and all. It's a hot recording.
      There's one other Steely Dan bootleg title that I recall reading about. Things being what they are in the realm of gray-market apocrypha, it may or may not be the same material as Rotoscope.
      Other than that, the only live 1970s era Dan recording I know of is a live version of "Bodhisattva" that's found on the B-side of one of their singles. From a Santa Monica Civic Center gig, and beginning with a full minute of botched introduction by some down-home chitlin' circuit sounding MC, blitzed to the point where he doesn't remember the name of the band he's supposed to introduce, ogling the girls in the audience and bluffing on until someone audibly stage-whispers "Steely Dan" to him. Whereupon the band counts off and hurtles into one of the all-time warp speed jump blues jams of, yes, evar.
      If you haven't heard it, track it down.

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  8. The "Dark Star" bootleg featuring Dark Star>>Me&My Uncle>>Dark Star is from the Felt Forum, 12-05-1971. Which eventually resolves into "Sittin' On Top of the World", on complete tapes.
    It...some of the music in that excursion is pretty strange, that's all.

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    1. Thanks for this, it makes sense that it came from a WNEW bnroadcast

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    2. You're speaking of the Dark Star bootleg that has side A - Me and Bobby McGee, Bertha, Big Boss Man and Side B listed as Dark Star and Me & My Uncle, correct? I saw it at a shop and wasn't sure if I wanted to shell out for it...

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  9. A Correspondent writes in to say that he purchased a vinyl Jerry Garcia Band bootleg, recorded in Boston on Dec 1 '76. The album was titled Grateful Dead Featuring Jerry Garcia, but it was JGB. This is the only sighting of a vinyl JGB bootleg that I am aware of (I know there were cd bootlegs later).

    The JGB boot was purchased in Overland Park, KS (near KC) in the early 80s.

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  10. To go along with the so-called vinyl revival, there's actually a *new* Garcia/Saunders bootleg (not quite JGB), issued just last year by two different labels, from the 1972 KSAN session:
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Jerry-Garcia-Band-Live-At-KSAN-Pacific-High-Studio-1972/release/8291679
    https://www.discogs.com/Jerry-Garcia-John-Kahn-Bill-Kreutzmann-Merl-Saunders-Pacific-High-Studio-San-Francisco-CA-06-02-72/release/7660565

    There's also a new Old & In the Way boot:
    https://www.discogs.com/Jerry-Garcia-Old-In-The-Way-Live-At-The-Record-Plant-Sausalito-California-April-21st-1973/release/7988058

    There's also a recent Italian pressing of the Oregon State Penitentiary '82 show.

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    1. "new" Vinyl bootlegs--a strange world we live in.

      It has always surprised me that the Feb '72 KSAN JGMS show was never officially released.

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  12. Great article. Thank you for your work. Apart from collecting tapes in the 80's I started buying bootleg cd's in the early 90's from Second Coming records on Thompson St, and about 3 other stores in Greenwich village. Very expensive at $20 a disc. Quality was not great either but the novelty of having them on CD was great. Some notable titles were "Thank you uncle bobo," the winterland NYE show from 1978, which was sped up to fit it onto 3 cd's, The Springfield creamery benefit, which was actually a pretty good one, and From Egypt, with love which was an atrocious one as well. There was the unsurpassed masters series which contained outtakes. One had the 1973 Wake of the flood stuff. Since torrenting shn or flac files came into existence, most of these bootlegs have turned up on various Torrent tracker sites. In any case these cd's were a waste of money but it was fun collecting them.

    Live dead & vintage dead are 2 bootleg vynil albums I'm familiar with. Bob even refers to Vintage Dead at a Manhattan Center show in April '71 when he says, "And now folks, coming to you straight from the grooves of Vintage Dead, here it is..." And the band breaks into a great Midnight Hour, which by that time was a rarity.

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    1. There was also an early one called historic dead, if memory serves, on Satwa Records. Liquor bottle on the cover, It was around here somewhere...

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  13. I have a few GD bootlegs and I seem to enjoy collecting those on a different level than other records. Usually shows are recorded officially or not at all and are then lost to those who were not there. It is nice to be able to pick one of these up and hear something you haven't heard before.

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  14. Long story but I recently came across some magnetic tapes labeled "Grateful Dead at the Hollywood Palladium" (I have two of these; One states Side 1: Morning Dew and the other states Side 1: St. Steven- so they are different), "C, S, N, Y (at SanDiego)", "Hot Tuna Live at the Closing of the Fillmore", and a couple of other reels that I cant quite make out the writing on the box....They are all in Scotch Magnetic Tape 203 boxes....in great condition....I am unsure as to where to turn with these. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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