“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 post is simply a short 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.
I haven't included radio shows that were just interviews with members of the Dead, though a few survive.
[Shows in brackets either came from collectors’ tapes or later broadcasts, 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.” This isn't really accurate – far from being available on early FM transmissions, the full 11/19/66 show did not surface until 1989. And it's 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! The show excerpt misdated "2/12/67" was played by the station at various times in the ‘70s, though, along with other excerpts from '60s rock bands in San Francisco, provided by Bill Graham and Bob Cohen.]
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.)
5/11/69 - this was broadcast live on KPRI, San Diego (and circulated on tapes misdated as "5/29/69"). I don't know if the broadcasts of the other bands on the bill survive. So far the tape of the radio broadcast is still our only source for the Dead's show.
Live/Dead - An early mix of the album by the Dead was played on KSAN in spring '69, and even reviewed in a couple college papers.
5/2/70 – the complete NRPS/Dead show was broadcast on KPFA in June 1970, probably from the Dead's own tapes.
[5/6/70 – was taped by WTBS, the MIT radio station, but I don’t know if it was broadcast. (It probably was, but I haven't heard any tape that seems to come from a 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.”]
7/70 - not a Dead show, but a Bob Weir acoustic set on KSAN, with Garcia on pedal steel and other guests.
8/30/70 – the “Calebration” KPIX-TV broadcast was also a quadraphonic simulcast on KSAN and KQED. (The mix seems to be the same on all of the circulating sources; as with 10/4/70 it's apparently only half of the mix.)
10/4/70 – a 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.”
[10/23/70 - Deadbase says this was broadcast on "WABX," but that was a radio station in Detroit so it seems pretty unlikely. The audience tape of this show was possibly broadcast on Georgetown's student radio station WGTB, Washington.]
[10/24/70 – Deadlists suggests that our recording might be FM, but there's no other evidence.]
11/21/70 – the Boston show apparently wasn’t broadcast, but Garcia & Weir later went into the WBCN-FM studio for a little impromptu 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 FM broadcast dropped out after the first few songs due to technical problems. 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.)
[2/18/71 - a complete audience tape of the NRPS/Dead show was broadcast on WGTB, Washington, a few days after the show.]
7/2/71 – most 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…)
Most cities on the tour received a broadcast, but a few were skipped: Columbus, Fort Worth, and oddly, Ann Arbor. The opening NRPS sets were broadcast in some cities, but not all.
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 – WABX, Detroit
10/26/71 – WCMF, Rochester
10/27/71 – WAER, Syracuse
10/29/71 - WNCR, Cleveland
10/30/71 – WEBN, Cincinnati
11/7/71 – KSFX, San Francisco
11/11/71 - WREK, Atlanta (not listed in Deadbase)
(11/12/71 - KEXL, San Antonio - broadcast not listed in Deadbase, unconfirmed.)
11/15/71 – ?, Austin (Listed in Deadbase & the Compendium as a radio broadcast; also, Weir greets radio listeners at the start of the show; but I couldn't identify the station.)
11/17/71 KRST, 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 – WBCN, Boston
12/5/71 – WNEW, New York
12/10/71 – KADI, St Louis
[12/15/71 – I'd thought this was a possible broadcast, but apparently not.]
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 official Dead FM broadcasts from '73/74. However, there was a pirate radio broadcast of 7/28/73 Watkins Glen by Concert Free Radio:
The 3/18/73 New Riders show at the Felt Forum (with the Dead guesting) was broadcast on WNEW, New York.
The 12/31/73 Allman Brothers show at the Cow Palace (with Garcia & Kreutzmann guesting) was broadcast on KSAN, San Francisco, and other stations nationwide.
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).
For the '76 comeback tour, the Dead once again arranged for a broadcast in most of the cities they played:
6/12/76 – WBCN, Boston; also WBRU, Providence & WHCN, Hartford
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 (An edited 90-minute selection was also broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour a few months later.)
12/31/76 – KSAN, San Francisco
There were only a few broadcasts in 1977:
4/27/77 – WNEW, New York (We also have the Capitol Theatre video of this show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U90Fnv_FpM4)
5/13/77 – WXRT, Chicago
9/3/77 – WNEW, New York
10/6/77 – An hour of selections from this show was broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour shortly after the show. The Dead apparently prepared the tape themselves, and the Terrapin Station encore from 3/20/77 was also included.
[12/31/77 wasn’t broadcast on FM, unlike previous New Year's shows; but we do happen to have Bill Graham’s video of this show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QccXzR_TPdo]
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIprIP2ADLE)
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”…
For more details on the Dead's early FM broadcasts, see this series of posts on Lost Live Dead: