February 25, 2011

Grateful Dead FM Broadcasts

“If you’re sitting at home next to your radio, you’re hearing the music faster than you are if you’re in the hall.” – Jerry Garcia, 11/7/71

This will be a short post! It’s simply a reference list of the Dead's shows broadcast on FM radio up through the ‘70s.

The Dead’s first involvement with FM radio came very early on – while he was attending UC Berkeley, Phil Lesh was a volunteer engineer at Berkeley’s KPFA station. On one of his first meetings with Garcia in winter 1962, he asked Garcia to record a demo for the station’s Midnight Special folk show. Garcia wound up playing a full radio show of solo folk tunes, called The Long Black Veil.

In July 1964 a Mother McCree’s show was recorded for the “Live from the Top of the Tangent” program on Stanford’s KZSU-FM station. (This is the source of our Mother McCree’s tape.).

Later on, the Dead were present almost at the birth of ‘underground’ FM rock shows, when DJs cast aside the commercial-radio format and played whatever they felt like. Tom Donahue was one of the founders of this freeform FM revolution – a DJ and promoter who wore many hats in the SF music scene, he had been the owner of Autumn Records (for which the Dead recorded a demo in 1965), and he had also helped persuade Joe Smith to sign the Dead to Warner Brothers, taking Smith to an Avalon show in summer 1966.
Tom Donahue’s first KMPX show was April 7, 1967 – this is an example of one of his early shows:
In the last week of April, he invited Garcia and Lesh to play their own selection of tunes on his show:
A year later, the KMPX workers went on strike, which led to the founding of the KSAN rock station – more details on the strike (for which the Dead played a couple benefits) are here:
(Later on, Tom Donahue was also one of the planners of the canceled Wild West Festival in summer ’69, and the mind behind the 1970 Medicine Ball Caravan, which the Dead decided to pull out of.)

Late in 1968, KZSU radio producers Michael Wanger & Vance Frost came across the 1964 Mother McCree’s tape and were inspired to make a radio documentary on the Grateful Dead’s history. Tom Donahue gave them the go-ahead, and the show was broadcast by KSAN on June 8, 1969.
This documentary was some months in the making - interviews took place in December 1968, and Rock Scully provided the producers with some live material from 1966. A couple McCree’s songs were used in the documentary. They also used three songs from the 7/3/66 Fillmore concert – Sittin’ on Top of the World, Big Boss Man, and Viola Lee Blues.

So here’s the list of the Dead’s broadcasted shows up to 1978. This list is probably incomplete since I may have missed a few, so corrections or additions are welcome.
Obviously, the majority of FM broadcasts from the early period come from the fall '71 tour. Up until then, the Dead’s live presence on FM radio was very sporadic; and after that, there were hardly any shows played on the air until 1976, when the Dead arranged a few more broadcasts for their 'comeback' tour.

It's trickier than you might think finding which shows were originally broadcast on FM, since so many shows first came into circulation through David Gans' radio show - so usually when you see an FM source for a tape, it came from him.
And from as early as 1971, there is an ‘alternate history’ of intrepid DJs independently broadcasting shows on their own as SBD tapes of the Dead started leaking out. While I’m sure these broadcasts weren’t Dead-approved, they were a great boon to tape collectors, and I’ve listed a couple early examples of these.

[Broadcasts in brackets either came from collectors’ tapes or are unverified.]

[11/19/66 – the “It Crawled Out of the Vaults of KSAN” compilation includes this as a show that was “partially broadcast” by KSAN. The notes claim, “KSAN often recorded sets at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium and created production reels for local FM transmission, [which] primarily featured edited highlights.” I can’t verify that 11/19/66 was one of these – far from being available on early FM transmissions, the full show did not surface until 1989. I find it highly doubtful that KSAN played any of the ‘66/67 sets at the time, as the station did not exist or play rock music until May 1968! Possibly the show excerpt misdated ‘2/12/67’ was played by the station at some point in the ‘70s, though. ]
2/14/68 – Country Joe’s set and the Dead’s second set were broadcast live in stereo by KMPX and KPFA. (The occasion for the broadcast was the “official” opening of the Carousel.)
[10/12/68 - was broadcast incomplete by KSAN in the mid-'70s as "10/13/68", which was the only source until the ‘90s, when Latvala found the end of the show in the Vault.]
4/6/69 - broadcast live on KPFA, Berkeley. (The FM broadcast is still our only source for this show, I believe.)

[5/2/70 – part of the show was broadcast on FM sometime in '71.]
[5/6/70 – was taped by the MIT radio station, but I don’t know if it was broadcast. The band allowed a radio engineer to record from their SBD feed, in quite a contrast to their usual taping policy that year… The band had also just met Ned Lagin, then an MIT student, who says he got a tape of this show soon afterward.]
[5/15/70 – Deadlists says: “Around 4 hours of this show [from the Fillmore crew tapes] were broadcast by KPFA Berkeley in 1971…6/21/71 may be the date of the broadcast.”]
8/30/70 – the “Calebration” KQED-TV broadcast was also simulcast on FM. (The mix seems to be the same on all sources.)
10/4/70 – another KQED-TV broadcast, with a live quadraphonic simulcast on KQED and KSAN. The video has never circulated; the KSAN FM broadcast is the source for our tapes (and was also the source for one of the most famous early Dead bootlegs in 1971). Deadlists notes, “There is also about 2:30 of 'interview' between a KSAN DJ and Pigpen, who injured his fingers playing tambourine because the crew didn't manage to bring his organ along to the gig.”
[10/24/70 – Deadlists suggests that our recording might be FM.]
11/21/70 – the Boston show apparently wasn’t broadcast, but Garcia & Weir later went into the WBCN-FM studio for a little acoustic set with Duane Allman.
12/27/70 – another acoustic set and interview with Garcia, Weir, and the New Riders on KPPC-FM, Pasadena. This appearance was to promote the Dead’s Legion Stadium, El Monte shows, so the boys play a Christmasy quartet of acoustic songs that they’d actually stopped doing live!
12/31/70 – another KQED-TV broadcast, also partly simulcast live by KSAN. No video circulates. (The circulating tape seems to be a combination of an incomplete AUD tape and an incomplete KQED tape, and perhaps a third AUD or FM source for the poorer-sounding songs.)
7/2/71 – many of the Closing of Fillmore West bands were broadcast on FM, as well as being filmed. (Footage not used in the Fillmore movie was scrapped.) The Dead’s show was broadcast on KSFX and KSAN in San Francisco and on KMET in Los Angeles.

Warner Brothers paid for the broadcast of one show per city in the fall ’71 tour to promote the Dead’s new live album. (It seems to have worked, as the album went gold. The band themselves apparently refused to do any other kind of promotion…)
10/19/71 – KQRS, Minneapolis (There’s also a short preshow interview with Garcia.)
10/21/71 – WGLD, Chicago (tapes broadcast on 10/22)
10/23/71 – WRDX, Detroit
10/26/71 – WCMF, Rochester
10/27/71 – WAER, Syracuse
10/29/71 - ?, Cleveland
10/30/71 – WEBN, Cincinnati
11/7/71 – KSFX, San Francisco
11/12/71 - ?, San Antonio
11/15/71 – WREK, Austin
11/17/71 ?, Albuquerque (This is one of the lesser-sounding FM tapes of this tour, and the only one that hasn’t yet been replaced by a clean source.)
11/20/71 – KMET, Los Angeles
12/2/71 – WGBH, Boston
12/5/71 – WNEW, New York
12/10/71 – KADI, St Louis
[12/15/71 – possible FM broadcast, but not confirmed]
12/31/71 – KSAN, San Francisco

4/14/72 - Radio Copenhagen
5/16/72 - Radio Luxembourg
12/31/72 - KSAN, San Francisco

I don't recall any FM broadcasts from '73/74.

3/23/75 – KIOI, San Francisco (There’s also a preshow interview with Garcia.)
8/13/75 – An edited 90-minute tape was broadcast on 9/1/75 by the Metromedia Network (and was used for the Make Believe Ballroom bootleg).

6/12/76 – WBCN, Boston
6/19/76 – WNEW, New York; also WOUR, Utica
6/24/76 – WMMR, Philadelphia
6/29/76 – WXRT, Chicago
7/18/76 – KSAN, San Francisco
12/31/76 – KSAN, San Francisco
4/27/77 – WNEW, New York (We also have a video of this show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMyaTJF_pLg )
5/13/77 – WXRT, Chicago
9/3/77 – WNEW, New York
10/6/77 – An hour of this show was broadcast on the King Biscuit Flour Hour; don't know when.
12/31/77 wasn’t broadcast on FM; but we do happen to have Bill Graham’s video of this show:
11/24/78 – a nationwide live broadcast; WNEW, WBCN and several other stations simulcasted this show. (And of course, the broadcast became the For Dead Heads Only bootleg.) There were also some band interviews in the break. Weir asks radio listeners to lean over and kiss their radios… (We also have a video of this show; here’s the soundcheck: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJP7BKzu32M )
12/31/78 – simulcast on KQED-TV and KSAN.

To wrap up, this page collects a few of the Dead’s early radio ads (there’s a more complete list on page 214 of the Taping Compendium) – especially notable are the Carousel ad from 1968 (“I lost it at the Carousel - I haven’t been the same since - I’ve really been transformed - I’ve got to go, even if it means risking my sanity”), the “Port Chester apology” from Dec ’70, and the Aoxomoxoa ad in which What’s Become of the Baby is rated a “98” for its “danceable beat and catchy lyrics”…


  1. Great compilation LIA. A few additional notes:

    Through Workingman's Dead, the Dead had a tradition of bringing in their albums for broadcast on KSAN (and initially KMPX) long before they were released commercially. Anthem of the Sun was given to them well over a month before it was released, as was Workingman's Dead (most of which was broadcast along with a documentary on Altamont around April, 1970). Live/Dead was given out even earlier. I taped a rough mix of it off the radio in roughly May, 1969, and it was broadcast again right after the Wanger GD special aired, which i believe was in June, 1969. The album finally came out in November. I do not believe Aoxomoxoa was broadcast much before its official release.

    5/2/70 was broadcast in its entirety (including the entire NRPS set) on a radio show on Sunday nights on KPFA entitled "Stays Fresh Longer" which was the source of many other live show tapes from that era that circulate. The broadcast was quite soon after the show date, probably June or July, 1970.

    8/30/70 was, like 10/4/70 and 12/31/70, done as a quadraphonic broadcast on two FM stations, synched to the TV broadcast. For some time, I had tapes of both halves of the broadcasts of 10/4/70 and 8/30/70, but the inferior halves of both shows were discarded long before the technology existed to mix them down at home).

    12/31/70 was set up as another TV/dual FM broadcast, but was plagued by failures of the phone lines to the stations from Winterland. The first several songs cut in and out, and the FM portions of the broadcast were abandoned entirely after the first eight songs.

    The 1977 KBFH Broadcast was mostly from 10/6/77, but also included the Terrapin encore from 3/20/77.

  2. LIA, this is an amazing piece of research. A couple of remarks:

    Are you sure that the 9/3/77 show was broadcast live on WNEW? I had thought it was a King Biscuit Flour Hour show. I know that at least one hour (the last 60 minutes) was re-broadcast on KBFH, but I had always assumed it was a re-broadcast of an earlier, complete show. Was it actually a WNEW show and not KBFH? I'm sure that WNEW ran KBFH, so that may confuse the issue.

    I actually heard the New Mexico 77 KBFH broadcast the first time around. It was a few months after the show, but definitely '77. They announced that the show had been mixed by Jerry Garcia. For the "encore" (between the last two sets of commercials), KBFH broadcast "Terrapin" from Winterland on March 20, 1977 (they were specific about it). I assume this was because Terrapin Station was their current album

  3. Thanks for the comments, cryptdev! Good to hear from a dedicated radio taper of the time... It's interesting to hear that they were broadcasting their albums significantly before release (and if you're right about Live Dead, several months before, which raises a few questions about when the mixing was done).

    Corry, both the Taping Compendium and comments on the Archive said that WNEW broadcasted all of 9/3/77 (except the encore), though it may not have been live.

    I had assumed the 10/6/77 broadcast was a random hack job to squeeze the show into an hour; but the Dead presumably would have to be involved in order to include the 3/20/77 Terrapin from their tapes.

    As someone who didn't have any tapes from these early broadcasts, I'm at a disadvantage in listing what was broadcast & when in the '70s! I just go by the stray fragments of info that are 'in print', as it were. The early playing of shows like 10/12/68, 5/2/70 and 5/15/70 suggests that there's a whole 'underground history' of Dead radio shows that has yet to be written.

  4. The mix of the tape that KSAN played in the spring of Live Dead was significantly different than that of the released version, so it seems probable that what they gave the station initially was a rough mix. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any copies of the 'rough mix' that survive.

  5. Owsley Stanley, aka Bear died today. RIP

    It will be interesting to see if this effects the status of his tapes. I know he refused to release or share them with the public. I wonder if his estate will maintain the same grip on them in the future?

  6. I also wonder what will become of his tapes. There could be any number of Carousel '68 shows, bands that opened for the Dead in '69, etc... My hope is that we'll start seeing more releases from these now.

    Unless, of course, his family decides to toss all those musty old tapes onto a bonfire....

  7. I would hope not, for their sake and ours. I imagine they will be able to provide income to his heirs by parting with those recordings, which the Europe 72 box proved has substantial demand ready to swoop up whatever is there.

  8. If you're thinking of Bear's tapes of Dead shows, I'm not sure he had any that weren't in the Vault already. Though it's possible. The Dead have released quite a number of shows recorded by him (like the Big Rock Pow Wow shows last year), so I don't think there was a barrier there.
    What concerns me more is all the other bands he taped - many of whom might be rather obscure today, but we don't even have a list of his recordings.

    He said on his website (many years ago):
    "I have a lot of tapes stored in the Dead's tape vault. Virtually every band that played on the same bill with the Grateful Dead during my years as soundman, and who did not bring their own soundman, was recorded. I would be very interested in working with any of the bands concerned to see if the tapes represent anything worth releasing. I will post the list once it is OCR'ed (a big job!)."
    Of course no list was ever posted...

  9. On a totally unrelated note to bear, but is there any chance you might do a write up this year on Mickey and Lenny Hart? It is one topic I'm very interested in and I haven't found any good information on.

    If it's not on your priority list, do you know which books or websites have a solid reading on the build up to 2/70 (when Lenny split) and 2/18/71?

    Thanks again


  10. I wasn't thinking of writing a post on Mickey & Lenny...for one, I'd rather stick to the music; and also, there aren't that many details on Mickey between 2/70 and 2/71. The topic by itself doesn't interest me that much!

    But the best overall account is in Dennis McNally's book Long Strange Trip. (Much of the story is also in the "Illustrated Trip" book, in brief timeline fashion.)
    Phil's book Searching for the Sound and Mickey's book Drumming at the Edge of Magic also have some details.

  11. That makes sense. I guess I kind of see those events as a part of the music (the financial impact on the band, He's Gone, why Mickey left, his musical career in between 2/18/71 and 1975, etc, etc.) but your response definitely puts the distastefullness of it in context.

    I figured McNally's book would have something, but I wasn't interested in reading the whole thing just to dumpster dive on that one event. Oh well.

  12. It's not that it's distasteful, just that writing a post on Lenny wouldn't be very interesting for me!

    McNally's book is rather disorganized, but fortunately there's an index!
    You can trace much of the story there:
    p.223-4 - early Mickey/Lenny history
    305-308 - Lenny becomes manager; Mickey's ranch
    338, 341 - Lenny's financial perfidy
    360-363 - Lenny makes his getaway
    392 - Mickey leaves the Dead
    407 - Lenny arrested (July '71)
    437-438 - Mickey's solo albums
    478 - Mickey comes back
    486 - Lenny dies (Feb '75)

  13. Another early radio broadcast!

    The 5/11/69 San Diego show with Santana (which has circulated in OK quality as 5/29/69) actually comes from a radio taping.
    One of the reviewers comments, "It was broadcast live on KPRI 106.5 San Diego," and a radio announcer can briefly be heard cutting in a couple times to mention Canned Heat (who were also playing that show, most likely the headliners).

  14. I can't verify this (yet) but I'd bet the Cleveland show 10/29/71 was broadcast on WNCR, which was the progressive FM station at that time.

  15. The 12/2/71 concert at the Boston Music Hall was broadcast on WBCN, noted on the original tape.

  16. The 6/12/76 show was hosted by WBCN, but also went out simulcast to WBRU Providence and WHCN Hartford.

  17. An audience tape of 2/18/71 surfaced recently which, according to the notes, "was broadcast on WGTB-FM in Washington DC a couple days after the show." This is surprising to hear (both the location and source are odd), but it indicates that from pretty early on, Dead shows were being played "unofficially" on FM radio. As cryptdev noted above, 5/2/70 was broadcast in its entirety on KPFA (Berkeley) in June 1970, very shortly after the show, as part of a Sunday night series regularly playing tapes of live shows. (The show may also have been broadcast on WBAI in New York.) In the '70s, KSAN (in San Francisco) also played a number of parts of '60s recordings that hadn't been broadcast at the time, a couple of them mentioned in this list. Also note the KPFA broadcast of 5/15/70 in 1971, among other possible broadcasts. Taper Marty Weinberg mentioned in an interview that WNEW in NYC played his bootleg compilation of Dead recordings frequently after he left it at the station. There are probably other "underground" broadcasts from the early years that have been forgotten - if you lived in the right city, you could hear more Dead shows on FM radio than just the official broadcasts.
    See also the Lost Live Dead history of Dead FM broadcasts: