Thursday, December 5, 2013

Roosevelt Stadium, Danforth Ave and NJ Rte 1 [NJ440], Jersey City, NJ 1972-76 (Jersey City Story)

The Grateful Dead first came to fame or infamy in the city of San Francisco. The band's second big stronghold was the Borough and island of Manhattan. The Dead played many shows in Manhattan from the Summer of '67 onwards, at the Cafe Au Go Go, Fillmore East and numerous other venues. Manhattan is America's media capital, and bands who are an underground sensation in Manhattan rapidly become underground legends throughout the country. Yet the story of rock music from the 60s to the 70s was a story of moving from the city to the suburbs. Despite the fact that every Manhattan Dead show was enthusiastically attended in the early 70s, the Grateful Dead did not play Manhattan from March 1972 through June 1976.

From 1971 onwards, the Grateful Dead became a significantly more popular concert attraction. Although the details varied from city to city, in general the larger venues that the band played were farther away from the hip bohemian downtown psychedelic ballrooms where the band had played in the 60s. Whether the Dead were playing college basketball gymnasiums or Civic Auditoriums, the venues were larger and somewhat more respectable. In many ways, the performance history of the Grateful Dead tracks the history of the rock concert business in general. The Grateful Dead were there at the beginning, and were instrumental in creating the "Fillmore Circuit" that grew hand-in-hand with FM radio in the late 60s. When the rock concert business expanded into the suburbs in the 1970s, the Grateful Dead were a big part of that as well.

As Grateful Dead concerts became larger and more profitable events after 1972, the Grateful Dead stopped playing Manhattan. After a seven night run at the Academy Of Music in March 1972, the band did not play the island until June of 1976. Yet all around the Tri-City area, in Connecticut, Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey, the Dead were bigger than ever. This unremarked dynamic of 70s concert promotion stemmed from the fact that rock bands made their name in the city, but they made their money from kids in the suburbs. If the suburbanites couldn't come to the city, the bands had to come to them.

Jersey City, New Jersey is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island are just off of Jersey City, directly across from the World Trade Center, but JC gets no respect from New York. For most of the last 150 years, Jersey City was just a railroad town, as several major railroad lines brought freight and passengers into the Port of New York from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and points South and West. Jersey City was a noisy, working town, with little cultural heritage, unhip and full of immigrants. And yet Jersey City played a critical role in the rise of the Grateful Dead in their prime, and so the tale of Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City is a microcosm of the story of how the Grateful Dead went from being a 60s underground band to a major concert attraction.

Between July 18, 1972 and August 4, 1976, the Grateful Dead played 8 shows in Jersey City. These were the nearest shows to Manhattan from March 28, 1972 (their last show at the Academy Of Music) through June 14, 1976 (the first show at The Beacon). Five of the shows were at Roosevelt Stadium, whose baseball capacity of about 24,000 was one of the largest venues the Grateful Dead had headlined up until that time. Jersey City could draw already established fans from New York, while expanding the audience of teenagers in suburban New Jersey. More importantly, the promoter for the Jersey City shows was John Scher, who would go on to have a critical role in bringing the Grateful Dead to the country in later decades. Without unheralded Jersey City, however, the whole saga of the Grateful Dead in the Northeast would have unfolded in a very different way.

A map of Railroads serving the Port Of New York ca. 1900. More railroads came into Jersey City and its nearby towns than into New York city proper.
The Fillmore East
Bill Graham had initially dominated the rock market in New York with the Fillmore East. Fillmore East contracts had a typical clause that any band playing there was not allowed to play an advertised show within a certain number of days and miles of the booking. Thus if a band like the Grateful Dead were booked at Fillmore East, they would not be allowed to advertise a show within 50 miles and 20 days of the Fillmore East show. This was a standard contract for the day (and probably still is), but it had a significant effect on the rock market in the surrounding suburbs.

50 miles from New York covers an awful lot of people. Thus what few Grateful Dead concerts there had been in New Jersey up until 1972 had tended to be junior college dances that were not actually advertised off campus. The April 17, 1971 Princeton University show at Dillon Gym, just inside the 50 mile limit,  for example, was a campus event that was not really promoted to outsiders. The effect of the Fillmore East was such that there were hardly any significant rock concerts in New Jersey in the 1960s. New Jersey rock fans, and there were plenty, had to choose between going to New York or Philadelphia to see their favorite bands. In many cases, New Jersey teenagers chose Philadelphia, partially accounting for the huge success of The Electric Factory promotions at places like The Spectrum.

People who do not live or work in New York simply assume that anyone in New Jersey (or Long Island or Connecticut) who wants to see something in New York can simply take the train. In the case of rock concerts, particularly back in the day, that was not always the case. Certainly, New York has  public transit that is the envy of other American metropolitan areas. However, the purpose of the far-flung network of trains and subways was and is to get people to and from work, mostly in Manhattan. Although the subways run all night, the commuter trains were much thinner on the weekend, and they generally stopped at midnight. The early show at Fillmore East was viable for teenagers from Long Island, as they could get back to Penn Station by midnight, but on the whole nighttime rock concerts in New York City weren't really accessible from the suburbs by rail.

It may seem like an obvious point, but it's worth noting that the Grateful Dead audience in the early 70s was very young. Sure, a loyal clump of fans had been seeing the band in Manhattan since '67, but even they were hardly over 25. Most of the new Dead fans in 1972 or so, like fans of all rock bands, were 21 or younger, in many cases a lot younger. New Jersey teenagers could usually get access to their parents' car, but parents were not necessarily sanguine about a carload of kids going into Manhattan until three in the morning. Thus Philadelphia was often an easier option, even if it was farther than Manhattan from many parts of New Jersey. The Spectrum was on the edge of Philadelphia, with a huge parking lot, and didn't require navigating the city in order to get there. John Scher's first innovation was taking advantage of Jersey City's convenient location and easy access to both Manhattan and the Jersey suburbs.

Jersey City, NJ
Jersey City is a world away from Manhattan, but still right next door. Jersey City and its nearby sister, Hoboken, are on a Peninsula bounded by the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers. Newark is just across the Hackensack, a few miles to the West. In 1908, a subway tunnel was built from Jersey City to Manhattan. The Hudson Tube is now the backbone of the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) Train lines. With direct trains to the World Trade Center, Greenwich Village and Penn Station, commuting to and from Jersey City is like living in a lost New York Borough, even though that is never acknowledged by New Yorkers.

Jersey City is also home to the Holland Tunnel, which opened in 1929, so Jersey City's connection to Manhattan has been fluid and intimate since long before World War 2. At the same time, although stuck out on a narrow strip of land, by the 1960s Jersey City became far more accessible to the rest of New Jersey thanks to the New Jersey Turnpike. Thus Jersey City was near Manhattan, with its own subway access, yet was still accessible to much of the population of suburban New Jersey. Jersey City had seen its commercial peak come and go by the 1960s, and it was definitely on the downward slide. What that meant, however, was that existing venues were available for rent, even to dubious hippie endeavors.

Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ (1937-82)
Roosevelt Stadium had been built in 1937 at Droyer's Point,  on the edge of Jersey City that was farthest from Manhattan. It had a baseball capacity of 24,000. From 1937-50 it was home to the highest level New York Giants farm team, the Jersey Giants of the International (AAA) League. Jackie Robinson's "professional" (white organized baseball) debut was on April 18, 1946, when the Brooklyn Dodgers top farm team, the Montreal Royals, opened their season on the road against the Jersey Giants. Over the years, Roosevelt Stadium had hosted heavyweight fights, high school and college football games and other events, along with minor league baseball.

However, minor league baseball declined after the 1950s, and Roosevelt Stadium did not have a minor league team after 1961. Once fans could watch New York major league baseball teams on TV, the appeal of a minor league team shrank. There were occasional special events, such as NASL soccer games, but by and large the stadium was unused during the Summer. Roosevelt Stadium was a civic facility, so I presume that by 1972 they were pleased when John Scher came along and offered to book a series of concerts throughout the Summer.

John Scher himself was only in his 20s, but once Bill Graham closed the Fillmore East, it became possible to book groups in New Jersey. Scher had started to book smaller shows at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, not far from Jersey City. The John Scher story is a great rock story, but too long to tell here. Although in his early 20s in 1971, Scher had recognized his moment:
Decisiveness has been a hallmark of Scher’s career and one of the cornerstones of his success. The Fillmore closed in June ’71; by December, Scher began his 18-year run at the Capitol Theatre. The 3,000-seat former vaudeville house in downtown Passaic — which was showing porn flicks before Scher and partner Al Hayward took it over — became a near-mandatory stop for touring acts, and demonstrated that New Jersey could stand on its own as a major pop market.
Scher also booked shows at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Hamilton, near Trenton. Roosevelt Stadium was old and crumbling, but that also meant that Jersey City was presumably unconcerned about what a bunch of hippies might do to it.

Roosevelt Stadium had a capacity of 24,000 for baseball. Since fans were allowed on the playing field as well, the total capacity had to be in the range of 35-40,000 for general admission rock shows. From the point of view of a concert promoter, this meant that a successful booking could sell a lot of tickets, a far different situation than the fixed profit/loss ratio of a theater with reserved seats. Roosevelt was far larger than any venue that the Grateful Dead had headlined in the New York metro area. Furthermore, its size meant that everybody who wanted to go could not only get a ticket, they could bring their brother, their girlfriend and their roommate as well. As the Dead became a larger and larger draw in New York, the availability of tickets at the Roosevelt was one of the factors that got so many New Jersey teenagers "on the bus."

Village Voice July 6, 1972. The "Surprise Group" at the State Fairgrounds was The Allman Brothers

July 18, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: The Grateful Dead
The July 18, 1972 Grateful Dead show at Roosevelt Stadium was different than Dead shows that had come before. The Dead had typically played several nights in a row at smaller theaters like The Academy Of Music or Fillmore East. They had also played a few Summer outdoor shows, at places like Flushing Pavilion and Gaelic Park (in the Bronx). Yet here the band was in a space between the suburbs and the city, in a place accessible to both, on a Tuesday night.

Despite the fact that Roosevelt Stadium was a rundown facility in a city that was in decline, it had two things that set it apart from metropolitan venues: it was near two major New Jersey roads and it had 10,000 parking spaces. Roosevelt Stadium was at the intersection of New Jersey Route 440 (formerly NJ Route 1) and Danforth Avenue. NJ440 links the New Jersey Turnpike Extension (Exits 14-14C) to the Pulaski Skwyay. The Pulaski Skyway has been immortalized in the opening credits of The Sopranos, and it dates back to 1932. The Skyway links US Routes 1 and 9 to the Holland Tunnel, and was thus a key transit point linking New Jersey and Manhattan by automobile. Pretty much all of the populated parts of New Jersey have easy access to the Turnpike, Route 1 or Route 9, so getting to Roosevelt Stadium would have been a breeze.

Even today, in the era of GPS and Google Maps, many people will not attend an event where the directions are not easy and the parking is not straightforward. This was doubly true when navigation was just off of a gas station map. Add in the fact that many of the people attending the Roosevelt Stadium were teenagers or college students driving family cars who needed explicit or implicit permission for the trip, and the fact that directions to Roosevelt Stadium from anywhere in New Jersey were easy, had to have made a big difference. The ease of parking must have been reassuring too, not least because Jersey City had a "dangerous" (read: predominantly poor and black) reputation, and a large parking lot suggested no unpleasant circulating in sketchy neighborhoods, looking for parking.

As for Manhattanites, they too would generally have had to drive to Roosevelt Stadium. The PATH Train did not go anywhere near the stadium, although I suppose many people could have taken the train over and tried to hitchhike. In any case, the journey from Manhattan to Roosevelt Stadium on a Tuesday night would have been short, so cramming as many people as possible into a VW Microbus would not have been a big deal. Still, the transportation footprint of Roosevelt Stadium meant that it was ideally placed to encourage carloads of aspiring New Jersey Deadheads to expand upon the already extant Deadhead communities in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

By all accounts, the Roosevelt Stadium show on July 18, 1972 was a big success. I have no idea what the attendance actually was, but my impression is that there was a fair sized crowd without the venue being remotely sold out, so despite the state of the facility there was probably plenty of room to dance and hang out. The show was the first New York Metro area show without Pigpen. In those days, news traveled slowly, and no one realized that Pig was seriously ill and might never play with the band again. According to legend, Bob Dylan attended the July '72 Roosevelt show as well. Dylan was also reputed to have attended the April 27, 1971 show at Fillmore East with the Dead and the Beach Boys, but like all things Bob that is hard to nail down.

September 19, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: The Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage plus "Surprises and Special Guests"
We don't have to know any of the details of the Grateful Dead's July '72 appearance at Roosevelt Stadium to know that it was a success. The proof of its success was that John Scher re-booked the Grateful Dead a few months later. Given the timing, the September 19 show must have been arranged almost immediately after the July show. September 19, 1972, was a Tuesday, a surprising date given that school had probably already started for much of the potential audience. Nonetheless, once the school year began, Roosevelt Stadium would have been in use for High School and College Football games on Friday nights.

In any case, Roosevelt was probably an after thought--the Dead were playing weekend shows in Boston (Sep 15-16), Philadelphia (Sep 21) and Waterbury, CT (Sep 23), and Roosevelt fit nicely in between. The rent for the stadium was probably quite low on a Tuesday night, Scher did not need a huge crowd to have a profitable performance. This was fortunate, since the weather did not cooperate, and it was apparently a rainy, overcast day. Nonetheless, the show was more than just the Dead with an opening set by the New Riders. The show was scheduled for"6 pm to ?", and it was billed as "Another Dead Party."  As for the special guest, well, someone on the Archive recalls it, anyway:
This was the only time I know of that the Riders performed Death & Destruction. Yeah they started to do in the 90's but back in the 70's only time. Great sets. . . blue for the Riders, red for the Dead. Mind over matter swami between sets. On a bed of nails with cindar blocks piled on his chest

Village Voice August 17, 1972. Stan Fox and Doug Smith presented the Grateful Dead for three nights at the Stanley Theater, at 2928 Hudson Blvd (now JFK) and Pavonia Ave, near the Journal Square PATH Station
September 26-28, 1972 Stanley Theater, Jersey City, NJ: The Grateful Dead
Initially it seemed paradoxical to me that John Scher would book a stadium concert for the Grateful Dead on the edge of Jersey City on Tuesday, September 19, while a different promoter had the Dead for three nights in old theater near downtown, just a week later. Even the typical practice of not allowing competing shows in the same area seems to have been ignored, since both shows were advertised in the Village Voice at the same time. A closer analysis, however, reveals a key fact: even though the Stanley Theater and Roosevelt Stadium were just two miles apart, as a result of transit patterns, they were intended to attract completely different audiences.

The Stanley Theater, a 4300-seat movie theater built in 1928 at 2928 Hudson Boulevard (now John F. Kennedy Blvd), was the second largest movie theater on the East Coast behind Radio City Music Hall. By 1971, however, it had fallen into disrepair. Some promoters started renting it for rock concerts in 1972, and it was immediately successful. The theater apparently sounded great, and it was old enough that the owners were unconcerned about the risk of damage. More importantly, the Stanley Theater was one block away from the Journal Square PATH stop. As a practical matter, this made the Stanley Theater easily accessible from Manhattan, and therefore any Deadhead in New York with subway access could get to the Stanley. In contrast, the theater was in the center of the business district with no dedicated parking, so it was daunting and confusing to anyone coming from the suburbs.

I do not know about ticket sales for the three Stanley Theater shows, but with all of Manhattan and Brooklyn to draw from, even on a weeknight ticket sales were probably pretty good (based on the tapes, they definitely played well). The Stanley would have made an excellent winter home for Manhattan Deadheads, but the theater was flooded sometime in the Winter of 1973. Although the theater remained open for a few more years, there were no more rock concerts there, and the Dead had to look elsewhere to perform in the New York area.

July 31-August 1, 1973, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: The Grateful Dead/The Band
The Grateful Dead returned to Roosevelt Stadium on a Tuesday and a Wednesday in the Summer of '73. This time, it was a certified big deal. The previous weekend, the Dead had joined The Allman Brothers and The Band at Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse, performing at what was at the time the largest rock concert in history. As far as I know, the Dead played to pretty large houses at Roosevelt Stadium a few days later, and those two New Jersey shows were probably the biggest shows the Grateful Dead had headlined up until that time.

By 1973, the Grateful Dead were in their performing prime. All the college and High School students who had seen the Dead the previous Summer were on the bus now, and they indeed brought their friends, as well as their new girlfriend and their current roommate, and the crew of New Jersey Deadheads only got larger. The Grateful Dead played two tremendous shows at Roosevelt Stadium in 1973, supported by The Band. Over time, it turned out that performances by The Band were relatively rare, so most everyone who went to those shows must have looked back on them fondly. The poster just says "Rte 440," a clear indication that the audience was expected to drive to the show, and that Roosevelt Stadium was easy to find.

August 6, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: The Grateful Dead
By 1974, the Grateful Dead were bigger than ever, and their show at Roosevelt Stadium was probably like an annual event. If I recall correctly, the show was originally scheduled for August 2, but got rained out. The show was rescheduled for Sunday, August 6. In between, the Dead had played two shows in Philadelphia. Probably a fair number of New Jerseyans went to all three shows. 

June 14-15, 1976 Beacon Theater, New York, NY: The Grateful Dead
June 17-18-19, 1976 Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ: The Grateful Dead
Things had changed after 1976. The Grateful Dead had temporarily retired after October 1974, so there were no Roosevelt Stadium shows in 1975. Various Jerry Garcia ensembles had played numerous shows in Manhattan, New York City and New Jersey, particularly at John Scher's home base, the Capitol Theater in Passaic, and Kingfish had played an outdoor show in New Jersey as well. When the Dead returned to touring, their first Eastern tours was in relatively small theaters, with tickets sold exclusively to Deadheads. Thus the Dead made their return to Manhattan, this time well uptown, at The Beacon (2124 Broadway at 74th St).

All the shows sold out instantly, and the buzz made the Dead's return an Event, rather than just another rock concert. The effect was magnified by FM broadcasts from every city on the tour. Transit issues had little to do with the shows at the Beacon and the Capitol--hard core Heads got the tickets, and got to the shows by whatever means necessary.

August 4, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ
Nonetheless, after their historic tour where they played multiple nights at smaller theaters, the Grateful Dead played two East Coast stadium shows. The Dead needed cash, and the fact was their were numerous Deadheads who had not had the opportunity to see the band at the smaller theaters. Besides Roosevelt Stadium, which was on a Wednesday, the Dead played Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT (Deadlists shows "Colt Park," but Dillon Stadium is part of Colt Park). Although the Dead's history in Connecticut was not as dense as in New Jersey, a similar dynamic had played out there as well. Connecticut had a large suburban audience who wanted to see the Dead, and Dillon Stadium shows in '72, '74 and '76 still drew a fair number of fans from New York City proper (update: thanks to a loyal Correspondent, here are some great photos from that day)

1977-78 The Jersey City Indians and The Jersey City A's
Roosevelt Stadium had hosted other shows in the mid-70s besides the Dead. Although the facility wasn't great, the location was central, there was great parking and there was no minor league baseball team using the facility, so most Summer dates were available. This changed in 1977 when Jersey City hosted the Jersey City Indians, a AA franchise in the Eastern League. In 1978, the affiliation changed, and they became the Jersey City A's. Future Hall-Of-Famer Rickey Henderson was part of the last group of professional baseball players who played at the stadium where Jackie Robinson had made his organized baseball debut.

With so many dates booked by the baseball teams in 1977 and '78, there wasn't any room for rock shows. Whether John Scher would have booked them there is an open question. By 1977, the Grateful Dead were a substantial draw in New Jersey. On September 3, 1977, the Grateful Dead headlined an epic show at Englishtown Raceway Park, a drag strip in Englishtown, NJ, to over 100,000 fans. The next year, on September 2, 1978, the Dead headlined a show at Giants Stadium, the new football stadium in East Rutherford. Neither Englishtown nor East Rutherford had any meaningful public transit access--everybody who came drove, and I have to think a huge proportion of the fans were from New Jersey.

Without John Scher and Roosevelt Stadium, the idea that a New Jersey Summer highlight was a Grateful Dead concert would not have happened. Sure, the Dead would still have been extraordinarily popular, and they would have played somewhere, but it was Roosevelt Stadium made it a New Jersey thing. For all the decay of Roosevelt, it meant that there were no concerns from the city about anything a bunch of hippies might do to the place. For another, the easy parking and simple directions made it simple when the Dead's fans were still young, because it meant that their parents would let them take the family car. And the easy ticket meant that if you had a good time, the next year you could invite all your friends, and they could get a ticket, and the cycle would start over with all their friends. New Jersey has been the premier stronghold of East Coast Deadheads ever since.

Stadium Pizzeria. in Jersey City, NJ, at the Stadium Plaza Shopping Center, in the old parking lot of Roosevelt Stadium, in September 2012. It is the last trace of the stadium, as a gated housing development was built on the site.
Roosevelt Stadium continued to decline, and after 1982 Jersey City decided to close it. The stadium was torn down in 1985. Jersey City itself declined, with its ports and industries moving to Newark Bay, Bayonne and other places. The city was a decaying hulk of rotting train tracks and empty ports, a sad marker of when Jersey City had had six railroads loading and unloading cargo into the Port Of New York every day.

Yet, miraculously, during the financial boom of the 1990s, Wall Street discovered Jersey City. New York has the most expensive real estate of any American city, and space is at a premium. Crumbling Jersey City was in sight of the World Trade Center, and had direct subway connections to both Wall Street and Midtown. By the beginning of the 21st, Jersey City's unused harbors were filled in, its train tracks torn up, and gleaming high rises were full of Wall Street back offices and condos with the people who worked in them. Downtown Jersey City became another Brooklyn, and little sister Hoboken next door turned into a groovy Alternative Music mecca. The old Stanley Theater was fully refurbished, even if it mostly presented Latin Music shows.

At the other end of town, Droyer's Point, the site of Roosevelt Stadium, became a Gated Community called Society Hill. No trace remained of the ballpark, where Jackie Robinson, Jerry Garcia and Rickey Henderson played. There is a mall next to the Society Hill development, and only the anachronistic name "Stadium Plaza Shopping Center" hints at its prior life. The Stadium Pizzeria is the last unassuming link to Roosevelt Stadium, next to a Dollar Store, in the parking lot where the Grateful Dead conquered New Jersey.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

April 17-19, 1970, Family Dog On The Great Highway: New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Charlie Musselwhite/Mickey Hart And The Heartbeats with Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck (Lost And Found Dead)

A flyer for the acoustic Grateful Dead show at the Family Dog On The Great Highway, on the weekend of Apri 17-19, 1970.
A blog that focuses on recontextualizing the history of obscure Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia performances generally depends on nostalgic curiosity and the incurable persistence of readers, since those without at least one or the other will find it hard to read thousands of words about a concert that took place 40 or so years ago. The concerts I write about it are typically only represented by curious fragments, like an advertisement in an old paper or an unverifiable comment in another blog. The weekend of performances by the acoustic Grateful Dead at the Family Dog On The Great Highway on April 17, 18 and 19, 1970 used to fall into this category. We had a poster and some songlists, and nothing else, and no idea if the shows were long or short or how many fans showed up.

The unexpected discovery and forthcoming release of the complete 80-minute, mostly acoustic performance by the Grateful Dead from April 18, 1970 has changed all that. Apparently discovered by Mountain Girl herself, in an old box of Jerry Garcia's personal effects, the recording makes the mysterious into a firm and real thing. We still don't know about attendance and crowd reaction, but the purpose of the shows can be discerned with some certainty. The existing setlists had suggested that these shows were warmups for the series of performances known as An Evening With The Grateful Dead that would commence on May 1, 1970. There seems no doubt of this now, and the existing tape and setlists give us a picture of what was planned and what really happened in the subsequent months on the road. This post will, as usual, put the April 1970 shows at The Family Dog by the acoustic Grateful Dead in their contemporary context, but soon you will actually be able to listen to some of the actual music from that weekend while you think about it.

Ralph Gleason's Ad Lib column from the April 17, 1970 SF Chronicle. Lots of good music that weekend.
Mickey Hart And The Heartbeats And Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck
The most peculiar aspect of the Grateful Dead's show at the Family Dog was the billing of the band. The name Mickey Hart And The Hartbeats had only been used a little bit at the Matrix in early 1969. At least one tape from 1969 (August 28) was labeled "Hartbeats" but there is no guarantee or even evidence that the name was used in publicity for the show, as there may have been no such publicity for that Thursday night event. So, perhaps, a few connected Dead Freaks recognized the name, but it would have been somewhat misleading since the music played had nothing to do with the electric jamming that the Hartbeats had usually played.

Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck was a "new" name that had not been used before, so it was probably included as a sort of joke. At the time, few Dead fans knew that Weir's nickname was "Ace," so it would have been an in-joke at that. The New Riders Of The Purple Sage had opened a few Dead shows in the Bay Area, and played some low key gigs in the Fall of 1969 at the Matrix and other places, but they would have been largely unknown as well. I am reliably told that a two-song proto-New Riders demo ("Garden Of Eden" and "Superman," ultimately released on the Relix lp Before Time Began) was played on KSAN, so fans may have had a little idea of what the Riders sounded like, but they too were still a mystery.

The important factor here was actually Bill Graham and The Fillmore West. The Dead were the headliners at the Fillmore West on the weekend of April 9-12, 1970. Their contract with Graham would have stipulated that the Dead could not play an advertised show within a certain distance and time of the Fillmore West shows. Since the Family Dog shows were just the next weekend, any advance publicity for the event could not mention the Dead by name. Thus only various locutions on the poster  could indicate that the members of the Grateful Dead would be present and playing, even if the format wasn't certain. I think the cryptical reference to "Bobby Ace" was a way of indicating that Weir would be present as well, a departure from the Hartbeats format at the Matrix.

Of course, it appears that the Grateful Dead had no intention of doing their regular couple of hours of electric madness, so it was very much in their interests not to be billed as "The Grateful Dead." However, the restriction of the Fillmore West contract--which was standard--meant pretty much that the Dead couldn't be named. Now, if they had been named (for example, if the poster had said "featuring Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead), Graham wasn't going to have canceled the Fillmore West concerts, but Bill had ways of making people miserable. The Dead were quite broke in 1970, and needed the money they made from Fillmore West and East, so they wouldn't have been looking to make waves. All in all, using cryptical pseudonyms fulfilled the band's obligations as well as not giving the false impression that the show was going to end with "Dark Star">"St. Stephen">"Lovelight."

An Evening With The Grateful Dead
Starting on May 1, 1970, at Alfred College in Alfred, NY, the Grateful Dead billed most of their shows as An Evening With The Grateful Dead. In this format, the show opened with an acoustic set featuring Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia on acoustic guitars, Phil Lesh on bass and one or two of the drummers, sometimes joined by Pigpen playing harmonica, or by John Dawson and David Nelson singing harmonies. This set was followed by a New Riders set with Garcia on pedal steel and Hart on drums, and then two full electric Grateful Dead sets followed that. Deadheads are most familiar with this format from the famous broadcast of the second show of the tour, on May 2, 1970 at Harpur College in Binghampton, NY (now SUNY Binghamton). The show was recorded and broadcast in its entirety a few weeks later on KPFA in Berkeley and some other Pacifica stations (WBAI-fm in New York, for sure). The show was made into various bootleg lps, was widely circulated as a tape, and finally released as Dick's Pick's Volume 8.

At the time, typical rock concerts had two or three acts, if not more. Headliners would typically play no longer than an hour. So for the Dead to be the only act at a five or six hour event where they were performing on stage for something like four hours was truly unprecedented. The Dead's economic thinking at the time was that by providing a whole evening's entertainment, they could ask for higher fees, since the promoter did not have to supply an opening act. We don't really know if that was what actually happened, but certainly the Dead helped initiate a trend in rock music that enticed fans with a long concert by the headliners in place of a multi-act show.

However, in order to fulfill their goal of a four hour Grateful Dead concert with three different configurations, the band had to whip the pieces into shape. There was no problem with the electric Grateful Dead, as they were battle tested and road ready. The acoustic configuration and the New Riders were a different matter, however. The acoustic portion of the show, in particular, had very little precedent. For a few shows in December 1969 and January and February 1970, and not even all of them, Garcia and Weir had played some duets on acoustic guitars. Once or twice, Pigpen was even induced into playing a song or two. Apparently, however, both Garcia and Weir were unhappy with the amplification of acoustic instruments and the somewhat indifferent experiment had been dropped by the end of February of 1970.

Nonetheless, by April the Dead knew that their next album, Workingman's Dead, was going to be a distinctly more folkie record. Thus in the Spring of 1970 the band seems to have taken up the cue that Garcia had gotten from seeing the English band Pentangle open for the Dead at Fillmore West the previous year (February 27-March 2, 1969). Pentangle featured two acoustic guitars and a rhythm section, and with a good sound system it created a nice feel in concert. Thus the Dead's new folkie lineup featured Garcia and Weir on acoustic guitars, Phil Lesh on bass and either Bill Kreutzmann or Mickey Hart on drums (perhaps both--does anyone really know or recall who played drums for the acoustic '70 Dead shows?). Pigpen sometimes helped out on upright piano or harmonica, and David Nelson and John Dawson added some harmonies on some country gospel material.

However, almost none of the acoustic Dead material had been performed in front of an audience in that format. Many of the Workingman's Dead songs had been done in various electric configurations, and Garcia and Weir had done some covers as a duo, but the full acoustic band format was new. Although there was no publicity about it, the Dead obviously planned the three shows at the Family Dog in order to try out the "Acoustic Dead" format. I think it was particularly important for the group to actually play in a small concert hall, rather than a nightclub, because otherwise they couldn't test out their equipment. Amplifying acoustic instruments was a tricky business in those days, and the crew basically had one weekend to get it right. That may have been an even more important factor than the band's acoustic performances itself.

The setlists for the weekend have always been known, thanks to a long-ago Deadhead named Judy Dawson (no relation to John "Marmaduke" Dawson as far as I know). I believe Dennis McNally discovered her. In any case, she wrote down setlists for the shows she attended, including very obscure events like this one. The unexpected discovery of the April 18, 1970 confirms her accuracy.

It seems clear that the music the band played on the three nights indicates what they expected to play in their acoustic sets. In typical Grateful Dead fashion, some songs remained staples of the acoustic set, some "went electric" fairly quickly like "I Know You Rider" and others, like "Cathy's Clown" simply disappeared. The most interesting lost material is the several numbers by Pigpen on Saturday (April 18) and Sunday (April 19). Members of the Dead often talked about Pig's facility as a solo performer, and they must have hoped to share that with the world. However, after April 19, Pigpen has no major role in the acoustic show, never playing anywhere near six songs by himself. I have to also note that he plays no songs on April 17--was he even there?--and the Dead must have really had to push him onstage.

An ad for Mandrakes from The Berkeley Tribe, a local underground paper. Lots of cool bands playing Mandrake's that week.
The New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Of course, the New Riders played this weekend also. I am fairly certain that April 17, 1970 was Dave Torbert's debut as the New Riders bass player. The Riders had played a fair number of shows through December 1969, and then simply stopped playing. A few shows were booked, but the March 1970 ones were canceled. It is possible they played a benefit in Berkeley on January 19, 1970, but we haven't been able to confirm that. The apparent reason for the dearth of New Riders shows was that Phil Lesh was no longer interested in being their bass player. Sometime-temporary-bassist Bob Matthews would have been too busy making Workingman's Dead, so the Riders seem not to have gigged at all for the Winter of 1970.

Jerry Garcia and Mountain Girl lived in Larkspur in the beginning of 1970, just across the creek from Janis Joplin. John Dawson lived in a house across the street from them. Robert Hunter stayed with Garcia, as did David Nelson, so Nelson, Dawson and Garcia hung out plenty. Thus the New Riders continued to exist even if they did not perform. When Nelson and Dawson brought back Torbert, their old pal from the New Delhi River Band, the Riders were good to go. However, they too needed to work on material, and they played a few other shows besides. The New Riders played Tuesday and Wednesday (April 21-22) at Mandrake's in Berkeley, and then one more show the next week at Peninsula School on Tuesday, April 28. There is a tape from the Matrix purportedly from April 30, but JGMF thinks the music is from June, and I find it implausible that the Riders and their equipment were playing a show the night before a show in a part of New York State far from a major airport.

Nonetheless, Torbert had at least six shows to figure out performing with the New Riders. The Family Dog shows would have been a good test of the equipment, and the six shows would have given him a chance to work with Garcia, Hart and Dawson (Torbert had played plenty with Nelson). Many people, not least of all me, hope that there might be a New Riders show amongst any lost Family Dog artifacts, but I don't think there are any.

Most of our Dead tapes from the 1968-70 period come from Owsley, and bless him for that. Owsley was the soundman for the Family Dog in the Spring of 1970, since he could no longer travel with the Dead after the February bust in New Orleans. I'm sure Owsley taped the April 18 Dead set, and I fervently hope that April 17 and April 19 are around somewhere. However, the truth is that I think that Owsley didn't like the New Riders. I think the two early New Riders tapes that circulate (August 6 '69 from the Matrix and Sep 18 '69 from Cotati) come from Owsley, and I don't think there are any others. Owsley would have been free to tape anything of Garcia's that he wanted to during the '69-70 period, and the complete absence of any other New Riders tapes suggests to me that he didn't particularly like the band at the time.

I think Owsley liked jazz, rock and roll and folk music, but I don't think he was a big fan of country music. I actually have a reliable eyewitness who recalls Owsley attending a show at Mandrake's (she was a waitress there, and knew who Owsley was), but he doesn't seemed to have stayed around that night, much less taped it. We have dates for New Riders performances throughout the balance of 1969, but we know exactly nothing about those shows after September 18 (the Cotati tape). When the Dead went on tour in May, Bob Matthews was inclined to tape the Riders if he could, as he was a former band member (of sorts) and liked the music, but I don't think Owsley like the band until later.

Charlie Musselwhite's Takin' My Time lp (Arhoolie 1056), recorded live in the studio at Sierra Sound in Berkeley in January and February 1971, with guitarist Robben Ford
Charlie Musselwhite
One thing that has been consistently absent from any discussion of the Dead's shows at The Family Dog in April of 1970 was any contemplation as to why Charlie Musselwhite was on the bill. Now, Musselwhite was a fine blues harmonica player and singer,  and a popular local club draw. Born in Mississippi in 1944, he learned music growing up in Memphis, and moved to Chicago in the late '50s, where he learned harmonica from the blues masters themselves. Musselwhite, along with Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield and a few others, was one of the core of younger white musicians in Chicago who played blues in both white folk clubs and black blues joints.

Musselwhite was a successful blues musician in Chicago, and in 1967 he released the excellent Stand Back album on Vanguard. The story goes that he was offered a month's work in San Francisco in August 1967, so he took a month off from his day job and stayed for 30 years. Although that is mostly true, it is also true that Musselwhite recognized that he would be one of the best blues players in San Francisco, whereas in Chicago he was just another harmonica player. In any case, Musselwhite gigged around regularly, playing all the clubs as well as the Fillmore and the Avalon. It remains to ponder, however, why Musselwhite was on the bill at all.

Although the Dead were famous or infamous in 1970, they weren't hugely popular like the Airplane. Thus the ability of a "psuedo-Dead" to fill three nights at the Family Dog after four nights at the Fillmore West and one at Winterland (April 15) may have been in question. Its not that Musselwhite himself would draw so many fans, since he could be seen regularly around the Bay Area. I think his presence was more of a guarantee that there would be something fun and danceable, no matter what the Dead did.

Given the naming on the poster, it's entirely possible that the Dead just said to Chet Helms "bill us as Mickey And The Heartbeats and Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom and we'll come and have some fun." Helms may have had no idea what he was going to get, and indeed maybe he might have had reason to expect some spacey Hartbeats power noodling. If so, it would have made for a better evening to have some hard-rocking blues as a counterpoint to non-linear jams, but in fact that was not the case. Still, if the Dead were playing acoustic, and the New Riders played country, Musselwhite may have provided a nice contrast in any case.

Musselwhite always had good bands. By January of 1971, he had Ukiah, CA guitarist Robben Ford as his primary counterpoint. I do not know if Ford had joined Musselwhite's band as early as April 1970, but its distinctly possible. Ford's work with Musselwhite can be heard on the Arhoolie album Takin' My Time (recorded January and February 1971 at Sierra Sound in Berkeley). It gives a good idea of what Musselwhite's group would have sounded like those nights, even if Ford had not yet joined.

One other interesting feature of The Family Dog On The Great Highway was that it had two stages, on opposite ends of the hall. This was how the venue could manage to have five or six bands booked on one night, since one band could be playing while the next one was setting up. Thus it's very possible that the New Riders played, and then Musselwhite played on a stage on the opposite side of the room. This would have allowed the Dead to change over their set at their leisure while Musselwhite performed. Unless we can find an actual eyewitness, we'll still have to wonder if that's how the show was run.

The Family Dog On The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
Chet Helms had been instrumental in defining the modern rock concert as we know it today. Bill Graham, however, had a firmer grip on the economics of the modern rock concert, and as a result Graham's Fillmore empire had broadened and expanded while The Family Dog had foundered. Helms had given up his lease on the Avalon Ballroom in December 1968, beset by a variety of financial woes. Helms had returned to the concert business in June 1969, opening the new Family Dog in the former Edgewood Ballrom, at a former amusement park called Playland At The Beach, on 660 Great Highway.

The Great Highway runs along the ocean, and that is why the venue was sometimes referred to as "the Edge Of The Western World." Local rock fans just called the Family Dog On The Great Highway "Playland," since that is what it had been before (and the sign may still have been there). Playland was in the Ocean Beach neighborhood, very far from downtown and the Haight Ashbury. It's a fine neighborhood, in fact, but it's in a quite distant part of the city, distant even from the suburbs. As a result, the Family Dog On The Great Highway never really caught on as a financially viable alternative to the Fillmore West, despite presenting some fine music.

In spite of the shoestring nature of the operation, Helms' many connections to the original Haight Ashbury scene made his venue a great place to try things out. The Jefferson Airplane played some unannounced, stealth shows that sold out instantly (Sep 6 '69 and Jan 31-Feb 1 '70), and a KQED TV special with the Airplane, Dead and Santana was filmed on February 4, 1970. The Playland ballroom held about 1500, whereas the Fillmore West held around 2500 (although more may have been packed in on occasion). The Grateful Dead in particular had close connections to the Family Dog.

At one point, around January 1970, Grateful Dead manager Lenny Hart was looking to merge the Dead's operation with the Family Dog. Seemingly, the Dead would have become the house band, and Chet Helms would have booked other bands when the Dead were on the road. History might have been different indeed had the deal been consummated. However, although Chet Helms had a deserved reputation for not being an efficient businessman, he was no crook. When Lenny Hart refused to show Helms the Dead's account books, he knew something was up and called off the plan.

Helms was right to call off the merger, and the Dead were right to fire Lenny Hart, not least since he had stolen $150,000 from them. Yet just as a stopped clock is still right twice a day, the move to the Family Dog may still have been a good move, though I can't fault either the Dead or Helms for not going forward. Here the Dead were, a week after headlining the Fillmore West, free to try out their new configuration for the weekend. After the April shows, the Dead never played again at the Family Dog On The Great Highway, as they simply got too big, and the Dog faded away entirely by mid-Summer. It's a fortunate break indeed that Jerry inadvertently hung on to a final relic from that weekend, a lost world that can just barely be seen from this vantage point, if you squint really hard.

Appendix; Setlists (per Judy Dawson, via Deadlists)
Friday, April 17, 1970
Don't Ease Me In ; Long Black Limousine ; Monkey And The Engineer ; Deep Elem Blues ; Candyman > Cumberland Blues ; Me And My Uncle ; Mama Tried ; Cathy's Clown ; Wake Up Little Susie ; New Speedway Boogie ; Friend Of The Devil ; Black Peter ; Uncle John's Band

Saturday, April 18, 1970

Don't Ease Me In ; Silver Threads And Golden Needle ; Friend Of The Devil ; Deep Elem Blues ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Candyman > Cumberland Blues ; New Speedway Boogie ; Me And My Uncle ; Mama Tried ; Katie Mae ; The Rub ; Roberta ; Walk Down The Street ; Flood

Sunday, April 19, 1970
I Know You Rider ; Friend Of The Devil ; Candyman ; Sawmill ; Deep Elem Blues ; The Rub ; Katie Mae ; Roberta ; Big Breasa ; She's Mine ; Cumberland Blues ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Mama Tried ; Me And My Uncle ; The Race Is On ; Uncle John's Band

Thursday, October 3, 2013

May 7-9, 1968, The Electric Circus, 23 St. Mark's Place, New York, NY: The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead first came to underground prominence in San Francisco, but their next conquest was Manhattan. Although the Grateful Dead did not sell a lot of records until 1970, and did not become a significant concert attraction until that time, Manhattan took a shine to them early. New York City Deadheads, from Brooklyn and Queens as well as Manhattan, were among the first to make visits by the Grateful Dead an occasion to attend every single show. San Franciscans could afford to be casual, because the Dead would always return home, but Manhattan seems to have been the first place where fans were determined to go to every single show in town. Thus it is no surprise that there were legendary 60s Dead shows from Manhattan, most notably at The Fillmore East, but also at the Cafe Au Go Go, in Central Park, and at Flushing Meadows, among other places.

Yet the Grateful Dead played six largely forgotten shows in three nights in Manhattan, on the weekend of May 7, 8 and 9, 1968. All six shows were likely packed, and yet the shows are thoroughly forgotten. Part of the reason for this, of course, is that no tapes endure from those shows, and in this century that often causes Dead shows to drift into the darkness. Yet given the number of people who must have attended the shows, it is surprising how little references there are to the shows at Manhattan's now largely forgotten Electric Circus. There is enough evidence to be certain that the shows occurred, and yet the Electric Circus has become invisible in the 60s Grateful Dead narrative, a very rare state for any Dead shows in Manhattan. This post will look at what can be retrieved from the Grateful Dead's weekend at the Electric Circus, and attempt to look at the club itself, in order to try and sketch a picture of what the Dead's show may have been like.

Outside The Electric Circus on October 31, 1967 (from the Village Voice)
The Grateful Dead, Spring 1968
In the Spring of 1968, the Grateful Dead were finishing recording Anthem Of The Sun. By April, they were working on the final mixdown, so they spent a week in Miami, working at Criteria Studios in Miami. It's not clear if they accomplished anything at Criteria, but they did play seven shows that week, six at Thee Image and one free one at Graynolds Park. This was followed by the Dead's debut at Philadelphia's Electric Factory on April 27 and 28, and then a swing up to New York. Since the Dead did not have shows until the next weekend at the Electric Circus, they found time to play free shows at Columbia University on Wednesday (May 3) and Central Park on Thursday (May 5). A band who came to town and played two high-profile free shows loomed large in hip New York City, and those events seemed to have completely overshadowed the Electric Circus shows.

Although the Dead probably got paid decently at the Electric Circus, it was not a first-tier venue. Sly had played there, but at the time Sly And The Family Stone would have been completely unknown on the East Coast. Often, the Electric Circus didn't even mention the names of their bands in their weekly ads in the Village Voice, so it may seem like a strange choice for the Dead to have played there. After all, the premier rock venue on the East Coast was only a few blocks away from 23 St. Marks Place--why didn't the Grateful Dead play the newly-opened Fillmore East, nearby at 105 2nd Avenue (at 6th Street)?

Touring rock bands generally book their shows 60 to 90 days in advance. Bill Graham had opened the Fillmore East on March 8, 1968. Back in early '68, the Grateful Dead and the other San Francisco rock bands were running the Carousel Ballroom, and they were one of Bill Graham's principal competitors back in San Francisco. The Dead would have booked their Eastern tour in February or March, and they weren't very likely to get a call from Bill Graham at the time. But there weren't a lot of good rock gigs in Manhattan in 1968, either, so the Dead found themselves playing two shows a night for three evenings at the Electric Circus.

The Grateful Dead debuted at the Fillmore East shortly after the Electric Circus shows, on June 14-15, 1968. By that time, the Dead's enterprise at the Carousel was doomed, and Bill Graham was on the verge of taking over the lease, soon to rename it the Fillmore West. Granted, the Dead's June Fillmore East shows would have to have been billed before the Carousel collapsed, but by April or May the writing would have been on the wall for the Carousel. In any case, with Summer coming on, even if the Carousel might have survived--some thought it would--Bill Graham and the Grateful Dead needed each other on the East Coast. Thus the legend of the Grateful Dead at Fillmore East has rightly been remembered as the Dead playing at their Eastern Division "Home Court," but the result has been that the Electric Circus was written out of the Dead's history. As Graham and the Dead became the only permanent institutions from San Francisco's 60s, both sides seemed to have preferred to forget the time they wouldn't play nice.

Francine Azzaria (Frankie Weir)
One lasting impact of the Electric Circus shows was having Francine "Frankie" Azzaria get on the bus with the band. Frankie ended up moving in with Bob Weir in the 70s, taking his last name, and she was very much a part of the family. She worked in the Dead's Travel Agency in the early 70s, and she also sang in the obscure band James And The Mercedes, who opened for Kingfish a few times around 1975. McNally describes her arrival into the band's orbit:
Frankie [Azzaria] was the woman Weir had in mind when singing "Sugar Magnolia"...Funny, bawdy, a high-energy dancer, Frankie had been a finalist on American Bandstand and worked at the Peppermint Lounge in New York, then on the TV shows Hullabaloo and Shindig. Following her first Grateful Dead show in 1968, she ended the night at a jam with Mickey. Afterward, she and Mickey walked around Washington Square. and Hart persuaded her to run away with the Grateful Dead. They had not kissed, or even touched. She went home to bed, and was awakened the next morning by Ram Rod, Jackson and Hagen, who were there to pick and give her a ride in the truck to the next show, in Virginia..."[they said] 'Hey look lady, you're either coming or you're not'...I got into the truck and we drove away." (McNally p.359)
The last show of the Eastern tour was in Virginia Beach on May 11, so Frankie's meeting with Mickey Hart clearly was at the Electric Circus. Wherever the jam was that Mickey attended, Washington Square was over in the West Village (at 5th Avenue), so all the geography fits. Of course, Frankie left with Hart, yet she ended up with Weir, but then, it was the 60s.
A publicity photo from The Electric Circus
The Electric Circus--What Was It?
Given the paucity of detail for what should I have been a high profile memory, I have attempted to reconstruct a little of the history of the Electric Circus, in an effort to consider what the event must have been like. My principal source for the first rock incarnations of 23 St. Marks Place owe a lot to Richie Unterberger's excellent White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day By Day (2009: Jawbone Press). My principal source for information about The Electric Circus itself is the indispensable blog for New York 60s venues, It's All The Streets You Crossed.

April 1-30, 1966, The Dom, New York, NY: The Exploding Plastic Inevitable with The Velvet Underground
The Dom had been a Polish hall, and "Dom" means "home" in Polish, so the building was known as The Dom. The Dom had a long history, which I won't go into here. In early 1966, however, the first floor ballroom in The Dom was rented by Andy Warhol's crew, for a unique sort of "environment" called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The event included an elaborate light show, performance art and music by an unknown band called The Velvet Underground. Although The Exploding Plastic Inevitable grew out of the same cultural firmament that had created The Trips Festival, in many ways it was quite the opposite, edgy and self-conscious where The Trips Festival and The Fillmore were relaxed and liberating.

In any case, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable took New York by storm. The Velvet Underground, themselves a unique and fascinating group, became the new underground Greenwich Village rock sensation, long before they had even recorded. After the April engagement, the EPI performance, with the Velvet Underground, went on to tour various places, most famously with The Mothers Of Invention. The West Coast was not really ready for them (although the "feud" between Lou Reed and Frank Zappa was probably invented for the press), and the tour was not a success. By the time The Velvet Underground had returned to New York, however, expecting to return to The Dom, they found that Warhol had lost control of the building.

An ad from the March 30, 1967 Village Voice, for what appears to be the last shows at The Balloon Farm
The Balloon Farm
According to Richie Unterberger, 23 St. Marks Place had been taken over by Bob Dylan's manager Albert Grossman. The always-shrewd Grossman, no doubt having noticed how well the Paul Butterfield Blues Band were doing at the Fillmore, seems to have looked to start his own venue. Apparently, the Balloon Farm was at the same address as The Dom, but on the second floor rather than the first. "The Dom" remained as the name of the restaurant on the first floor.

While various nascent psychedelic bands played The Balloon Farm, the Velvets actually played every weekend between September 16 and October 16, 1966, further confirming their legendary status in Greenwich Village. The Balloon Farm never really caught on, and it ground to a halt by April 1, 1967. Nonetheless, the East Village was clearly still where the action was, just as it had been during the Folk Boom, because it was so accessible by subway and rail from both the city and the surrounding suburbs.

An ad for the opening of the Electric Circus, from the June 29, 1967 Village Voice
The Electric Circus
Sometime in the Spring of 1967, the lease on 23 St. Marks Place was transferred to Jerry Brandt, a former William Morris agent turned impresario. Brandt attempted to merge the innovations of Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable with the Trips Festival inspirations of the Fillmore. It was completely over the top, of course, but that is New York's stock in trade. San Francisco was very hip in the middle of 1967, so there was a definite nod to the city at the beginning. For the first several weeks of the Electric Circus, refugees from the Bay Area's Renaissance Faires juggled and promenaded for the souped-up masses.

The Electric Circus was mainly a nightclub, open 7 nights a week. There were bands every night, but mostly a house band played for at least a week, and possibly weeks, at a time. The Circus had taken over both the 1st and 2nd floor ballrooms of 23 St. Marks, so it encompassed both prior incarnations, as The Dom had been on the 1st floor, and The Balloon Farm on the 2nd. Still, there were periodically name bands, such as Sly And The Family Stone, who played the club on the weekend of August 29-31, 1967.

Nonetheless, initially at least, The Electric Circus was a popular nightclub in New York. I discovered an obscure but fascinating book, self-published in 1988, called Crying Out Loud. Author Sean Hutchinson had been the bass player in a late 60s band called Far Cry, who released one album on Vanguard Apostolic Records in 1969.  Among the many fascinating insights into the fringes of the late 60s rock industry are some vivid descriptions of Far Cry's stint as the house band at the Electric Circus. He sets the scene:
Midway down St. Mark's Place [E. 8th St],  against a backdrop of leather shops, boutiques, head stores and other psychedelic squalor stood the Electric Circus, which was the site of Far Cry's new nightly job. Outside, faded flower children went to seed against the dirty pavement. Inside, in a black, womblike, chamber, the big beat pounded out, wrapped in a multi-media, strobelit, amplified frenzy.
On hot summer nights the Electric Circus would thunder until the wee hours, hosting a thousand hyperactive teenagers from the Bronx or New Jersey. They, it seemed, could dance for hours, tireless in the swelter of drugs and heat (p.140).

Are these teenagers from the Bronx or New Jersey? Given the bright light of the room, I suspect that this photo was somewhat staged for the cameras
Far Cry played The Electric Circus for much of the Summer of '69. Hutchinson:
On weekends, the place was like the stockyards. By early evening the street outside would be teeming with a waiting throng, all dressed in suitable hippie attire. Boots and bell bottom jeans with army surplus jackets proved to be a popular mode at that time--one that was suitable, with variations, for both male and female. Few women wore skirts or dresses those days; functionality was in, while femininity, with all its sexist connotations, was out.
At nine pm, The Electric Circus would open, and from then on until closing some five hours later the room would be filled to the bursting point. Packed in shoulder to shoulder, the crowd continued to boogie despite the congestion, wriggling in the semi-darkness with sweaty and determined fervor. At the back of the cavernous hall was a sort of grotto, walls upholstered with small upholstered cells, and while they were hardly comfortable, these spots were just the place to catch one's breath, grope with one's partner, or simply swallow a few pep pills before rejoining the fray.
All night long the din was incessant, live music instantly supplanted by recorded offerings; to the band members it appeared that the crowd did not bother to distinguish between the two. Four shows a night was hard work, but such was the musician's crucible, and we hammered our hardest with every set.
By two A.M. the revels would be ended in exhaustion. The band would play a final barrage while the audience stumbled out, shell shocked with ears ringing...The Electric Circus was silent at last. The "Ultimate Legal Entertainment Experience" was over for another evening (pp.140-141).

Inside at the Electric Circus

Far Cry wasn't that great a band, but they played wild, free-form type music: a reviewer suggests "imagine Blood Sweat & Tears locked in a closet with Captain Beefheart and John Cipollina." So primal 1968 Grateful Dead, with a raging "Alligator>Caution" jam, would probably have fit right in with the Electric Circus. Back in '68, some places weren't ready for the Grateful Dead, their feedback, extended jamming and their careening sense of musical danger. Greenwich Village was ready, however, since musical madness seemed to be on the menu every weekend regardless of who was booked.

One commenter on the Archive does seem to have seen the Dead at The Electric Circus, and he had an amusing memory
Of note--footnote--to historians: The Electric Circus had an unofficial policy of letting people in free if they were barefoot. Sort of a hip statement. We found a spot under a stoop where we would hide ours--until one night after a Hendrix show they were gone. Well worth the loss of a cheap pair of sneakers, however.
A recent online article had some interesting memories from musicians who played the Electric Circus. The most interesting comment comes from avant-garde composer Morton Subotnick
Don Buchla designed the whole sound system. The sub-woofers were huge, they were actually attached to the floor so you could feel the vibration of the sub-woofer. And of course people were moving, so once everybody moved together with that, it was pretty impressive.
Don Buchla was a legendary California synthesizer pioneer, intimately connected to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Buchla, for example, built the sound system for the Prankster's famous bus. I wonder if the Dead hitched up their sound system to Buchla's PA? You'd have to think Phil Lesh would have enjoyed playing through giant sub-woofers located in the floor, and the crowd would surely have felt every Phil-bomb.

It may be that many of the people attending had little idea who was actually playing, nor did they actually care. In any case, The Electric Circus rarely booked name bands, and with the Fillmore East just a few blocks away, there was no way the Dead were going to play there again. New York is fashionable, and things happen fast, but they end fast too. The Electric Circus had a pretty good run, but it faded away around 1971. Jerry Brandt had sold the club around 1969--I'm not sure to who--and went on to manage a singer named Jobriath (google him yourself), and then opened a club called The Erotic Circus, which I think became Plato's Retreat, another legendary club well outside the subject matter of this blog.

The Afterlife Of The Electric Circus
The Electric Circus had its moment, and then New York moved on. Nobody thought about it much for the next few decades. I only thought about it when I tried to figure it out as a rock venue, which turns out to have been only a slight part of its legacy. Yet one characteristic of New York is that it is full of writers and artists who lend their talents to enshrining the city they know in their own imaginations. 

Lacking a tape of the Grateful Dead's 1968 Electric Circus shows, we can only imagine what their performances might have been like. But we have some help, something to play a soundtrack over. The Electric Circus seems to have been memorialized on screen at least twice. In the 1968 Clint Eastwood movie Coogan's Bluff, where a rural Arizona detective has to recapture a fugitive in New York, Eastwood looks for a suspect's girlfriend in a hip New York nightclub.  The film's Pigeon Toed Orange Peel Club was shot at The Electric Circus. See for yourself on YouTube (by the way, the white guy called "Omega" is supposedly future New Rider bassist Skip Battin).

For a more modern version, in Season 6 of Mad Men, some characters go the Electric Circus.

Although it's hard to be certain about filmed recreations, it does suggest that even if the Dead played well at The Electric Circus, it may not have mattered that much to the patrons. Of course, that may very well suggest that the band was free to play whatever they wanted, and the music may have been really special, even if no one was in a state to remember it. 

After 1971, 23 St. Mark's Place was too small to be a rock concert venue. Supposedly the building was relatively intact, if somewhat run down, until about 2002, when it was substantially remodeled. It looks nice today, although it is just a typical condo/apartment development, with retail and restaurants on the ground floor. There's no hint of the Velvet Underground, The Grateful Dead and thousands of teenagers from around the Tri-City area, rocking it out until the early morning hours.
23 St Marks Place, New York, NY, the former site of The Electric Circus, in May 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grateful Dead Live FM Broadcasts 1970 (FM Broadcasts III)

The David Singer flyer for the Dead/Airplane shows on October 4 and 5, 1970. The Sunday, October 4 show was broadcast on KSAN-fm and KQED-fm to provide a true Quadrophonic mix
The Grateful Dead have been influential to the music industry in ways that are not always self-evident. One way in which the Dead have had a huge influence on the music industry was their enthusiasm for live FM broadcasts of their concerts. In the early 1970s, the Dead's willingness to broadcast their performances free over the airwaves was in complete opposition to music business orthodoxy. Very rapidly, however, as the Dead started to sell records without benefit of a hit, the industry started to take notice. Live FM broadcasts became a staple of rock radio by the mid-70s, and they laid the groundwork for the explosion of music available on the internet, however distant that future might have been.

In the first installment of this series, I described the very earliest live FM broadcasts of rock shows. The first show broadcast, to my knowledge, was the HALO Benefit at Winterland on May 30, 1967. I remain alone in asserting that the Dead did not play that show, even though they were billed, but the show was unquestionably broadcast, as KMPX-fm's Tom Donahue can be heard as the host on a circulating Quicksilver tape. In any case, the Grateful Dead and Country Joe and The Fish broadcast live from the Carousel Ballroom on February 14, 1968, and the resulting copies were foundational for Grateful Dead tape collectors over the years. There were a few other early experiments, including a live broadcast on Berkeley's KPFA-fm from the Avalon Ballroom on April 6, 1969, and a set from San Diego on KPRI-fm (106.5) on May 11, 1969.

For my second installment, I analyzed how many of the Grateful Dead tapes from the 1960s that circulated in the 1970s and 80s were broadcast on San Francisco's KSAN-fm in the 1970s, although they were not in fact actually broadcast during the 60s. Now, in this post, I am going to look all four of the Grateful Dead's live broadcasts in 1970, an unscheduled guest appearance by Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman and a brief acoustic performance. During this period, we can see the Grateful Dead experimenting with different ways of getting their music heard. None of the circumstances of any of the 1970 broadcasts were ever duplicated, but it makes a good case study on how the Grateful Dead determined the best way to promote their music to their own benefit.

[update] As always, Commenters have made tremendous additions and corrections to the blog. Thanks to cryptdev, LIA, runonguiness, DavMar77 and everyone else. I have interpolated the key points into the blog, but the Comment thread--as always--is worth reading in its entirety.

Workingman's Dead was released in June, 1970, although FM radio stations had been playing tracks earlier than that
The Grateful Dead, 1970
The Grateful Dead surprised the music industry, and perhaps themselves, by making 1970 the year that they went from being infamous to successful. As the year began, Live/Dead had just been released (in November, 1969), and it got its share of airplay, as FM rock radio had become popular throughout the country. A concert industry had developed beyond the Fillmores and a few big cities, so the Dead had more opportunities to play live. As more people heard the Dead in person, particularly in colleges, more of them got on the bus, and few ever got off.

It was fortunate that the Dead were willing to take advantage of the burgeoning concert circuit, since they were effectively broke. The Dead had spent an inordinate amount of money in 1968 and '69 making Aoxomoxoa, so they weren't getting much from Warner Brothers. In the meantime, they had discovered that manager Lenny Hart was stealing from them, so he had been summarily fired in February of 1970. Sam Cutler took over as tour manager, and the Dead evolved a strategy of playing as much as possible, thus building up their audience while they made money the only way available to them.

However, despite or perhaps because of their difficult financial situation, the Dead managed to record and release two iconic albums during 1970, making them accessible to a much wider audience than ever before. Workingman's Dead (June 1970) and American Beauty (November 1970) were hugely popular on FM radio. Even though no one song was a true hit, for many people, tracks like "Friend Of The Devil" or "Casey Jones" were the first Dead songs they heard, and it made the band all the more attractive as a concert attraction.

Nonetheless, the Dead did not let either their financial difficulties or the chance for conventional success stand in the way of innovative ideas. The Grateful Dead continued to experiment with FM radio broadcasts throughout 1970. I do not think they had a specific plan in mind. In their prime, however, the Dead would assent to any idea that seemed interesting or untried. Looking backwards at their FM broadcasts from that year, we can see the ways in which the band determined how to make FM radio broadcasts into a tool that would allow the band to succeed on their own terms.

May 2, 1970 Gymnasium, Harpur College, Binghamton, NY
Broadcast: June 1970, probably June 21, KPFA-fm Berkeley
The first and most important Grateful Dead FM broadcast of 1970 was one of their most legendary, the broadcast of the May 2, 1970 show at Harpur College (now SUNY Binghamton). The entire show was recorded and broadcast on KPFA-fm in Berkeley, and apparently on WBAI-fm in New York. As far as I know, the show was not broadcast live, but was broadcast on a Sunday night some weeks later. I believe the date of the broadcast was June 21, 1970. The show was the source for numerous bootleg lps, and it was one of the first widely available circulating tapes, so the Binghamton show was widely heard even before it was released in 1997 as Dick's Picks Volume 8.

The Harpur College broadcast is rightly legendary--four hours of music, including an acoustic set, a New Riders set and two crushing electric sets. The acoustic set and the New Riders sound familiar to us now, but in 1970 they would have been fabulous, unexpected delights. Whenever exactly the show was broadcast, Workingman's Dead would have just been released, or just about to have been, and the New Riders were little more than a rumor. Most rock shows featured an hour-long performance by the headliner, if that. Four hours on stage, and a wide range of music that had barely been heard on record, was completely unthinkable.

Yet to my knowledge, for all the interviews with the Grateful Dead over the years, no one has ever pursued how the KPFA broadcast came about. Was it the Dead's idea? Was it KPFA's? I highly doubt it was Warner Brothers' idea--the idea of giving away music for free must have been anathema to them. Yet given the legendary status of the broadcast, why wasn't it repeated? Why didn't the Dead do it every year? We can only speculate, but given what we know of what the Dead did with FM broadcasts in the future, we can make some interesting inferences.

KPFA had a significant if now somewhat forgotten role in promoting live rock music in the Bay Area in the 1960s. Every Sunday night, KPFA would broadcast an hour long live concert from a recent show at the Fillmore West or Family Dog. Although I think most or all of the tapes were broadcast in mono, the tapes were the source of many of the cleanest board tapes from the 1969 era, particularly from lesser known bands. I do not have a list of those broadcasts, and I don't know if anyone does. However, I think KPFA Sunday night shows were the source of many circulating 1969 Grateful Dead soundboards, before they were superseded by the originals.  KPFA had also broadcast the April 6, 1969 show from the Avalon, with the Dead, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and AUM, so they were very supportive of the Grateful Dead's live FM adventures.

[update] cryptdev was an earwitness, and he has plenty of valuable insights (or inears?)
The KPFA broadcast series was called "Stays Fresh Longer" and indeed consisted of one live broadcast every Sunday night at, if I remember correctly, 10 PM. I religiously taped these shows in 1970 and shows included the following:
Miles Davis Fillmore West 4/10/70
Youngbloods - Pepperland 1/71
Joe Cocker Fillmore West 4/26/70
Sons of Champlin 10/24/69
Aum 4/30/69
HP Lovecraft from the New Orleans House in 1969
and of course the Dead 5/2/70 show
According to some very vague but plausible rumors, much of the technical support for KPFA's early forays into live FM rock broadcasts were provided by one Owsley Stanley. Stanley was known as a familiar sight in Berkeley folk and rock clubs, and indeed his first Berkeley residence (on Berkeley Way and McGee Street, according to legend), would not have been far from the KPFA studios. In the Spring of 1970, the very same Mr. Stanley would have been prevented from traveling with the Grateful Dead thanks to getting busted on Bourbon Street in February, so he might have been available to help with a broadcast of a complete Grateful Dead show. [update] cryptdev:
I remember the regular emcee of the show saying that the Dead had provided the tape of the Harpur show for Broadcast. Since this was just before Bear was incarcerated, it is indeed possible that he contributed the tape. 
Whatever the role of mysterious ursine characters, the KPFA broadcast set the table for future Grateful Dead FM broadcasts, even though that future would not be seen for another nineteen months. The key difference between the Binghamton show and its predecessors was that the Grateful Dead's show was broadcast in its entirety. The previous stabs at Grateful Dead broadcasts had included complete sets, but never both sets, much less three Grateful Dead sets and one New Riders set. Without question, amongst bands that had made records, the Grateful Dead were playing the longest concerts in rock music, and here they were broadcasting every note.

Deadheads have always treated as an afterthought the fact that the New Riders of The Purple Sage set was broadcast as well as the Dead. In June, 1970, when the tape was broadcast, Workingman's Dead would have just been released. Most FM stations would have already been playing the album for some weeks, so regular radio listeners would have heard songs like "Uncle John's Band" and "Casey Jones," and thus even in places where the album was not available Deadheads would have had some consciousness that the band was no longer all-psychedelic, all the time.

Yet the New Riders were a new thing. It was unthinkable in 1970 rock that a genuine rock star would play live with an opening act, generally eschewing the spotlight. Nobody but the Dead were broadcasting live FM shows, anyway, save for some out-of-the-way experiments. The concept that a bona fide guitar hero would play a different instrument in an opening act and then broadcast it on the radio was unprecedented. Warner Brothers must have had an apoplectic fit. Still, as far as 1970 went, hearing the Dead live on the radio, for those lucky enough, or hearing a tape, for those so equipped, must have been a revelation, and they barely seem to have noticed the New Riders.

Numerous bootleg lps were produced from the KPFA broadcast--yet another subject--and I can assure you that even in 1974, when I first got my hands on such items, the acoustic "I Know You Rider" and blazing electric "Dancing In The Streets" absolutely spun my head around. I know I wasn't the only one. Bootleg lps had a much bigger role in spreading the word about the Dead in the early 70s than anyone wants to concede today. There was even a New Riders bootleg from the show, though it's impossible to determine if it came out before the first NRPS album.

July ? 1970, "KSAN studios": Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, John Cipollina, others
broadcast: July ?, 1970, KSAN-fm, San Francisco, CA
[update] This tape has floated around for years, and its provenance and dating is uncertain. However, crypdev recalls hearing it on KSAN around July 1970, and that sounds plausible. Why it was recorded for broadcast isn't clear. The existing tape is Weir singing a few country numbers, backed by Garcia on pedal steel and other musicians. Garcia's voice can be heard, and the others are supposedly John Cipollina and Pete Sears. If Pete Sears was in town, it was because he was playing the Fillmore West with Silver Metre (July 18-22), but there's no guarantee that it's him. Crypt recalls
another curiosity not mentioned was the 7/70 broadcast of Garcia/Weir/Sears/Cipollina at KSAN studios. This has circulated with a variety of dates, some suggesting that it was Bill Champlin rather than Pete Sears playing keys. I tuned in to this just as it was wrapping up, and heard the players announced. Garcia and Weir also said they would drop by the next night to play some more. I was glued to my radio the next evening, tape deck poised, but they never showed.

KSAN didn't really have studios where a band could play. I assume they were actually using Pacific High Recorders, on 60 Brady Street, soon to become Alembic Studios. In any case, no members of the Dead ever participated in a KSAN broadcast that was this informal ever again.

August 23 (?), 1970 KCBS-tv Studios, San Francisco, CA
Broadcast:  August 30, 1970 KQED-tv and KQED-fm, San Francisco
For their next broadcast experiment, the Grateful Dead went in the opposite direction of the KPFA adventure, and performed just five songs in the KQED-tv KPIX-tv television studios, with the music simulcast on KQED-fm. This performance is generally listed as "August 30, 1970," because that was the date of the broadcast, but JGMF has demonstrated definitively that the show was actually taped prior to August 28, even if we aren't sure of the precise date.The show was some sort of weekly (or occasional) show called Calebration.

Given the paucity of professionally shot video from this era, it's interesting to see the Dead perform in a properly lit environment, and the performances aren't bad. But it's still a kind of lifeless TV show, limited to half an hour, and nothing like the real thing. It's no surprise that the Grateful Dead didn't repeat this experiment. However, I think the Calebration show was an indicator that the Dead were experimenting with different venues and mediums for getting their music heard, beyond the existing confines of rock touring, FM radio and record sales.

[update] I was wrong. The show was filmed at KPIX-tv studios, and broadcast on KPIX (Channel 5-CBS affiliate), with FM on KSAN and another commercial station. Cryptdev:
There were only two Calebration broadcasts. The first one comprised sets by Boz Scaggs and Linda Ronstadt, and the second was the Dead, followed by R&B singer Swamp Dogg, and then by Quicksilver - each played about 30 minutes. All were clearly recorded in the same studio, but it was NOT KQED. I believe the show was broadcast on KCBS, with the FM feeds at KSAN and another commercial station. The broadcasts included advertisements which would not have been broadcast on public TV or radio.
According to one commenter on the Archives, Calebration was a regular show that was actually broadcast on two FM stations simultaneously, to create a Quadrophonic sound mix. I can't confirm that, but since that is what KQED did a few months later at Winterland, it sounds plausible. In any case, for all of the progressive vibe, short-form television shows were not conducive to Grateful Dead music, so the band seems to have moved on, never to repeat the experiment. They did go on to perform more extensive live shows on television on various occasions, but I am not aware of another effort to shoehorn the Grateful Dead into a standard-length television format.

October 4, 1970 Winterland
Broadcast: October 4, 1970, KSAN-fm and KQED-fm, San Francisco (Quadrophonic), KQED-tv
The October 4, 1970 Winterland show was a major event, featuring broadcasts of complete performances by three of San Francisco's most legendary bands. Not only was the Winterland show broadcast live on KQED-tv, the audio was broadcast in true Quadrophonic, with a feed to two separate radio stations (KSAN-fm and KQED-fm) mixed together. Many people recall rigging up two stereos in their room to get the full quadrophonic effect while they watched the TV with the sound turned down.

KQED-tv (Channel 9) was San Francisco's Public Television (PBS) station, and it was a pretty hip and forward looking organization. Through a connection with Ralph Gleason, KQED had regularly broadcast San Francisco rock bands on TV shows, from as early as 1967. Among many other things, KQED would produce Sesame Street (it debuted on November 9, 1969) which included sub rosa participation from many members of the San Francisco rock scene, including Grace Slick.

KQED also had an FM station, and while it did not play rock, the station was willing to use the FM band to simulcast TV shows. From that point of view, KQED was as open minded and forward looking a station as the Grateful Dead could have asked for.
Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service had booked Winterland for two nights, Sunday October 4 and Monday October 5. Bill Graham held the lease on Winterland, and the bands would have hired his crew to run the shows, but BGP would not have been the promoter of the event. All three bands played one extended set each. To my knowledge, all three headline bands were broadcast, and there were between set interviews as well, so it was a true audio verite broadcast.

The October 4 show was a major event, but it was a major event that was overshadowed by the tragic death of Janis Joplin in a hotel room a few hundred miles to the South that very afternoon. My general understanding is that people at home had heard the news that Janis Joplin had died, but initially backstage interviews suggested that her friends in the bands had no idea. Rightly or wrongly, people could not help but feel that Janis should have been in the hall at Winterland with her friends, rather than alone in a hotel room in Hollywood, and it added to the sadness of any memories of the event. Fans and band members rarely mention the event except to lament Janis's passing.

There has never been another live remote Quadrophonic FM broadcast, to my knowledge. There may have been a few experiments before, if the Commenter who said that the Calebration show did it regularly (which seems plausible), but I am aware of none after October 4. Any tapes that endure are almost certainly from one feed or the other, and thus the true effect of the mix can never be recaptured. Notwithstanding that Quadrophonic never caught on--it was the "Surround Sound" of its time, and an early effort by the music industry to find a rock-friendly sound format that would generate highly profitable sales, an end not fully achieved until the Compact Disk--any FM Quad broadcast required not one but two stations, and outside of San Francisco that was a problematic proposition indeed.

One crucial factor to consider with respect to live FM broadcasts on commercial stations is the financing of any broadcasts. FM rock stations (higher than 92.0, anyway) were businesses, and hip or not, they could only afford to broadcast hours of live rock if it was paid for. In order for the Grateful Dead or anyone else to broadcast a live concert on KSAN, someone had to pick up the cost of the advertising that would be lost by a continuous broadcast. For a lengthy multi-act show, or even any Grateful Dead concert, broadcast on the top FM rock station in a major market, this could turn into real money.

KSAN, among many other innovations, pioneered sponsored live broadcasts, as local hi-fi retailers Pacific Stereo often presented the station's "Live Weekend" broadcasts, with ads before and after each set. However, I don't believe that major bands would have tolerated a sponsor at the time, even a "cool" one like Pacific Stereo. I presume that the record companies of the bands footed that bill. My guess is that RCA (Airplane), Warners (Grateful Dead) and Capitol (Quicksilver) committed themselves to a certain dollar amount of ads over the next 30 days, or some similar arrangement, rather than strictly laying out cash.

I do not believe any video from the show has survived either.  A few old heads have fond memories of seeing a show live on TV with true Quadrophonic sound, but like a light show, it's here and then it's gone. By all accounts, the subsequent Monday night show (October 5) was depressing and unmemorable, so the fact that there was no tape doesn't seem a great loss.

[update] cryptdev clarifies some details
You are correct that all three bands were broadcast for the 10/4/70 broadcast, which was on KSAN and KQED FM. The Dead's set was underway when the broadcast started. I have never heard verification of whether Hot Tuna or the New Riders played beforehand - neither set was broadcast.
November 22, 1970 WBCN-fm studios, Boston, MA Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Duane Allman
Broadcast: November 22, 1970, WBCN-fm, Boston, MA
On Saturday, November 21, 1970, the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band The New Riders of The Purple Sage and a chimp act (with some very unsettled chimpanzees) played Sargent's Gym at Boston University. Just down the road apiece, The Allman Brothers Band were headlining at the Boston Tea Party (thanks to various Commenters for catching my error). Some time shortly after the show, Jerry Garcia, Duane Allman, Bob Weir and Pigpen visited the WBCN-fm studios and hung out with the dj live and on the air. They were invited to perform acoustically in the studio, but there were only two guitars. Garcia and Weir played a little together, and Duane and Weir played as well. Pigpen declined to perform, apparently. They played about twenty minutes, and tapes circulate. It's very enjoyable, but very casual, with a lot of chatter.

KMPX-fm in San Francisco had drawn up the blueprint for FM rock stations when it began in February of 1967. Stations in other cities soon followed. Boston, always hip thanks to a huge population of college students, joined the party with WBCN on March 15, 1968. Initially, WBCN broadcast from a room above the stage at the Boston Tea Party. On occasion, the bands playing the Tea Party could be heard behind the dj (to give you a comparison, imagine if KSAN-fm had broadcast from a room at the Fillmore). WBCN's legendary all-night dj, The Woofah Goofuh, had his own band, The Hallucinations, who often played The Tea Party themselves. Later, The Woofah Goofuh went on to become better known as Peter Wolf, lead singer of the hugely popular J. Geils Band. By 1970, the Tea Party had moved to the site of the old Ark, and WBCN had moved too, but they were both still central to the Boston rock scene.

Throughout the 1970s, there have been numerous instances of touring rock musicians having been invited into the dj booth and encouraged to play a few songs in an acoustic configuration. Some stations, such as WHFS-fm in Bethesda, MD, made a practice of this, and some great tapes have come from such sessions (there are some great Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt tapes from WHFS, for example). However, Garcia and Weir--and for that matter Duane Allman--seemed to have had little interest in doing this again. I'm not aware of another instance where Garcia, Weir or Duane played an acoustic number live on the air from the dj booth. So the peculiar event at WBCN seems to be another instance of the Dead getting in early on another way of playing their music to people, and choosing to pass on it afterwards.

December 27, 1970 KPPC-fm studios, Pasadena, CA: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, John Dawson and David Nelson
broadcast: December 27, 1970, KPPC-fm
[update] On the weekend of December 26-28, 1970, the Grateful Dead played three shows at the El Monte Legion Stadium, which was actually an indoor arena. El Monte is East of Los Angeles, 15 miles west and a world away from downtown LA, halfway to Pomona. It apparently wasn't Grateful Dead territory in those days, and Garcia, Weir and two New Riders appeared on KPPC on Sunday morning in an effort to encourage listeners to come down and see the shows on Sunday and Monday nights.

KPPC-fm had originally been started by "Big Daddy" Tom Donahue as a sister station to KMPX in San Francisco. I don't know if there was still a financial connection to Donahue, but KPPC was a hip LA station. The foursome called themselves "the Sunday Quartet" and played some bluegrass gospel material. Appearing in this fashion was somewhat different than the casual appearance in Boston, in that Garcia and company had a plan, and some music appropriate to a cramped radio booth. However, this experiment, too, was never repeated.
(thanks to numerous Commenters for reminding me about this one)

An ad for upcoming Bill Graham Presents shows from the December 20, 1970, SF Chronicle, including the Grateful Dead at Winterland on New Year's Eve
December 31, 1970 Winterland
Broadcast: December 31, 1970, KQED-tv, KSAN-fm (four songs only), San Francisco
For the New Year's Eve 1970 show, the Grateful Dead tried a more modest broadcast approach. The Grateful Dead set on New Year's Eve was actually broadcast live on KQED-tv, but only the first four songs were broadcast live and in stereo on KSAN. There was no quadrophonic broadcast on a second station.

It may seem strange that the show was broadcast on TV and yet not on FM radio, but the idea of broadcasting concerts in their entirety was still in its infancy, and the Dead had not yet figured out the optimal way to broadcast themselves. No other band was even close to doing such things, so the Dead were on their own as far as TV and FM broadcasts went. As far as I know, there is no surviving trace of the KQED-tv New Year's Eve broadcast. Given the mania for YouTube clips, it may be surprising that there are not even any memories of the broadcast (that I am aware of), but its important to remember the technology of the time. Televison, circa 1970, had tinny sound on little grainy screens, and many or most people watched on black-and-white sets. A live Grateful Dead broadcast doesn't seem that great in that context, certainly not without FM stereo accompaniment.

The driver for the TV only New Year's show was the economics underlying KQED. Back in those days, public television stations were well funded and selected their own programming. Big city stations like KQED also produced their own shows. A pre-soundboard FM from the KQED show preserved the music, so we can at least discern a little bit about the timing. Since (per Deadlists) the KQED station ID occurs mid-set, right before "Sugar Magnolia," it seems that the Dead came onstage around 11:00pm and played until 1:00am or so. On New Year's Eve, particularly in 1970, KQED would not have had a big night, so broadcasting a rock show from Winterland was a reasonable proposition. Obviously, someone in senior management at KQED was sympathetic to the Grateful Dead, since they broadcast them three times in 1970.

KSAN only broadcast the first four songs, about twenty minutes or so of music. Twenty minutes was a typical set between ads in those days, so KSAN would not have needed to be compensated for any lost ad time. By the next year, Warner Brothers and the Grateful Dead had a plan for promoting the band with live FM broadcasts, and it would have a significant affect on the Dead's career and the music industry in general, but that was still 10 months away.

In many ways, the Dead's interesting yet tentative broadcast efforts on New Year's Eve in 1970 were typical of that year's show in general. As I have discussed elsewhere, the circumstances leading up to the Dead's New Year's Eve were peculiar, as Bill Graham had temporarily lost his lease on Winterland, and at the same time the band had not yet figured out a format for New Year's. Throughout the 1970s the band pieced together what became the "traditional" Grateful Dead New Years, but it did not become fixed more or less in stone until the end of the decade.

Crypt clarifies the situation a little further:
The 12/31/70 show was also an attempt at a quadrophonic broadcast, with KSAN and KQED both participating. At that point, remote broadcasts required phone line connections between the broadcast studio and the venue, and these went terribly wrong right at the start of the Dead's set. The first few minutes of Truckin' were broadcast clearly, and then cut out. When I was at home taping, I frantically switched between the two stations, as KQED had a lower quality version of the feed for awhile, and then cut out. Since the audio was such a disaster, the radio stations bailed after Big RR Blues. Hot Tuna played earlier, and their set was broadcast, with a few audio glitches. As noted, the Dead's set was broadcast in its entirety on KQED-TV, and I got verification from David Lemieux at one point that neither the 10/4/70 nor the 12/31/70 video remains in either the GD or KQED vaults.

In 1970, the Grateful Dead tried a number of different approaches to live performance broadcasts of their shows, none of which were actually repeated. They broadcast an entire "Evening With The Grateful Dead" on a tape-delay basis, they did a casual radio special, they did a 30-minute TV special, they did a multi-band Quadraphonic-with-TV show, a few of them played acoustic in the dj booth and finally they did a live TV broadcast with a brief FM teaser. It seems plain in retrospect, and probably even at the time, that a live broadcast of a complete show in FM stereo on the city's leading rock station was the preferred solution, but that cost money and the Dead didn't have any. However, by the end of the year, the Dead had released a couple of albums that had started to sell, and Warner Brothers was beginning to think of them as something other than hip loss leaders. 1971 would be the year when the Grateful Dead set the template for live FM rock broadcasts, when Warners was looking to promote their live album, and that story will be the subject of the next installment.