Wednesday, December 2, 2009

November 15, 1970 Armory, Albany, NY The Grateful Dead (bomb threat)

The AP Wire story from the Monday, October 16, 1970 edition of the Edwardsville (IL) Intelligencer is worth repeating in its entirety.
Rock Group Skips Concert After Bomb Threat Sunday
Albany, N.Y. (AP)
An acid-rock concert turned sour Sunday evening for some 4,000 young people when a bomb scare forced them out onto cold, rainy streets and the featured performers disappeared before playing a note.
George Frieje of Zebra Enterprises, the local promoters of the concert, said The Grateful Dead, an eight-piece rock band, failed to return to the Armory where the concert was being held after police searched for a bomb that a caller claimed was hidden in the building.
Frieje said that the performers had received a $10,000 guarantee before the show started. He said that other performers kept the showing until 2am today, but that 4,000 people had paid $5 each to hear "The Dead" until 4am.
Let's recap what we have here:
  • A hitherto unknown Grateful Dead show at an Armory in Albany on Sunday, November 15, 1970
  • A bomb threat that cleared the building
  • The Dead never returned to the building after a police search, after having been paid
Good times, good times.

The Dead had just finished a 4-night run at the 46th Street Rock Palace in Brooklyn from November 11 thru 14 (Wednesday thru Saturday). They returned to New York to play a gig on the fly at the Fillmore East on Monday, May 16, 1970 with Hot Tuna (the Fillmore East was usually dark on Mondays, and this gig was added at the last minute).

Does anyone know who the other performers were? I'll bet there's a great story behind this, and I bet no one will ever tell it.

P.S. Incidentally, why are the Dead being referred to as an "eight-piece band?" I realize its probably just a meaningless mistake, but its more fun to think that Jack and Jorma were band members for the night.


  1. chicago transit authority,buddy miles exress.saw dead hanging around.then,bomb threat.let back in. buddy miles announces the dead are gone during his set. very strange!

  2. George is my close friend and their manager called in the bomb threat due to the fact they were so jacked up they couldn't perform...for more info write me at corpconsulteratgmaildotcom.....have a good one...he got screwed on the deal and really liked the band...what a let down, he felt terrible for all the people that had traveled hundreds of miles just to see the dead perform, even offered refunds but hardly anyone kept their ticket stub...

  3. Guys, I will have to correct my statement above as to who called in the threat, speculation aside I was wrong in being able to blame their manager as that was not proven but it would be hard to imagine who else would have had the motive to do so when the band was hammered, and couldn't come out to perform. I am passing this information on to George so he can come on here and state it like it was in complete truth as he was present and was the promoter to this event. This was a warm up for the Fillmore event as they had six concerts planned at that time including the fillmore concert.

  4. Buddy Miles (and band - Electric something-or-other) performed at the concert. He was the one who told the audience, somewhere in the middle of his set, "Y'know... the dead ain't here..." but no one seemed to care at that point in time...

  5. I was there at that concert and remember the extrodinary show Miles put on before giving us the bad news. The crowd DID go wild before evacuating the building, throwing chairs, screaming and hollering and in general trashing the place. The scene was like a riot with people being all squeezed in. I had all I could do to get out of there with my life....lost my shoes. Buddy Miles outdid himself that night but naturally, the Ded-Heds were disappointed,...and mad. I hoped the ded thanked Miles well for the good show he did give their fans.....

  6. Pacific Gas & Electric was the other band on the bill (with Buddy Miles and the Grateful Dead). I wonder why the New Riders of the Purple Sage wasn't scheduled to play.

    There was an advertisement for this show printed in the Albany Student Press, the State University newspaper. The ad appeared on the same page as a review of the recent Derek & The Dominoes/Eric Clapton concert (10/30/70) at the University Gymnasium.

  7. Barry, thanks for the detail about P,G & E. I have to think that with three acts on the bill, the promoter didn't need a fourth one, so he didn't want to pay an extra several hundred dollars for the then-completely-unknown NRPS.

  8. Here is a link to an ad for the show.

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  10. The bill was:

    - Pacific Gas & Electric
    - Frampton's Camel ( yes, that Frampton, a few years before he hit it big)
    - Buddy Miles Express

    By the time Buddy informed the crowd that the Grateful Dead had "split" the show had been in progress for about four hours already. If the Dead had taken the stage at that point it would indeed have turned into a marathon show.
    And yes, there was disappointment at their decision to "split".

  11. Malcolm, thanks for this. Wouldn't Frampton have been in Humble PIe? Frampton's Camel wasn't until about 72-73. The Pie were still scrambling in those days, so third on the bill makes sense.

    P,G and E was an SF blues rock band, not bad as I recall.

  12. Wow, good point. I just Wiki-ed him and you're right Frampton's Camel didn't emerge until 1973. Oops......I guess it must've' been another show.....Sorry... : (

  13. Just picked up the poster from this show. The "Greatful Dead" (sic) lettering at the top is a paste-over that was added on after the Dead were booked to replace Delaney & Bonnie.

  14. There was a great review of the show in the Albany Student Press:

  15. I was at the concert. After PG&E played, the security people announced that everyone had to leave the building. We were sitting near a side exit, so we went out that way. It was an alley on the side of the building. At the end of the alley we saw Jerry Garcia and a roadie leaning against a limo. My buddy and I went over and shared a joint with them. While we were there, their manager came over and said they were getting bomb threats every few minutes, and they were going to cancel the rest of the show. All of the Dead piled into the limo and drove off. A few minutes later they started letting people back in. Buddy Miles played and everyone was eagerly waiting for the Dead. We knew they were gone, but we thought maybe they had come back. No such luck.

  16. I was at this show. Buddy Miles (wearing a New York Rangers jersey) and his group did a heroic job in trying to give the crowd its money's worth but when it became known that the Dead had skipped out things got ugly fast.

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  20. I was at this show. I remember waiting in the rain outside of the Armory and getting good seats. Of course I didn't get good seats coming back after the bomb scare, but that didn't turn out to be the biggest disappointment. Didn't like the damage done by angry concertgoers. What I don't see mentioned here is that the following week Traffic was booked at the Washington Avenue Armory and guess what? Somebody called in a bomb scare. My buddy and I refused to leave; we told the authorities that just like the week before, there was no bomb. Kept our seats. Love Traffic. Was months before I managed to see the Dead.

    1. Rich, thanks for this comment. An amazing detail about Traffic the next week.