August 20, 2009

A Short Guide to 1970 Audience Tapes

1970 is one of my favorite Dead years, and it is THE year of the audience tape - I think more shows survive on audience-only recordings from this year than any other, thanks to the release of Live Dead, and many shows being played in New York and northeastern colleges where a deadhead scene sprouted and a taping scene would quickly grow. Most of them are great shows - sadly, the same is not true of the recordings....BUT, some should not be missed, and here's some pointers to a few of the big ones:

11-8-70 is perhaps the most famous audience tape of the year, practically the entire show a highlight, from the oldies medleys to the Garcia ballads to the classic Dark Star>Dancin' in the Streets -
- but fewer people talk about the shows from the 5th & 6th. This is a sad oversight! The recordings are almost as good, and the shows are incredible.
11-5-70 is just wonderful, super jamming, with a set that goes like this: Truckin>Other One>Dark Star>St Stephen>Not Fade Away>Goin Down the Road (with Pig playing harmonica)>Not Fade Away>Lovelight. Yes, one of the last shows where they played The Other One and Dark Star back-to-back! Check out the reviews here:

11-6-70 is awesome - the second set goes like this: Good Lovin>Main Ten jam>Good Lovin>Alligator>JAM>Not Fade Away>Goin Down the Road>Not Fade Away>CAUTION!>Lovelight. Lots of Pigpen here, and it's so good it's unreal -

From the September Fillmore East run, 9-17-70 often gets left behind because the Fillmore crew apparently didn't tape this one, so we just have one audience recording - fortunately it's a good one for the Fillmore (which usually did not produce good aud tapes, in fact most sound horrible). Nice acoustic set, and a classic second set of Dark Star w/ a Tighten Up jam>St Stephen>Good Lovin' -

6-24-70 is also another special show from the Capitol Theater. After STARTING the late set with a Not Fade Away>Easy Wind, they go into Dark Star>Attics>Dark Star>Sugar Magnolia>Dark Star>St Stephen>China>Rider, which is played perfectly.

From early in the year, the late show on 3-21-70 is also particularly sweet. The audience is extremely rowdy, but thankfully, this is one of the best-sounding aud tapes of the year, as the band plays everything wonderfully.
They start out with a great Dancin' in the Streets and Easy Wind; the crowd gets very unruly in the acoustic set. Check out the Not Fade Away (with St Stephen and China Cat jams), and the Midnight Hour!
The early show is also nice and mellow, with an unusual setlist that includes Walkin' the Dog, a standalone Death Don't, and the surprising medley He Was a Friend of Mine>Viola Lee>The Seven>Cumberland Blues.

Aside from these obvious highlights, I'd also like to point out a few lesser-known tapes.

2-11-70 is actually one of the more famous shows of course; but for years many people didn't realize there was also an audience recording of this show - although it's long been available, apparently it didn't circulate too widely, since there was already a soundboard. It first appeared as a patch in the Dark Star; finally this year the whole tape finally turned up on the Archive, and turned out to be perhaps the best Fillmore East audience recording. This show has one of the first great Not Fade Aways, and of course the big jam in which all the guests can clearly be heard:

The Fillmore West shows of the year are generally not as exciting as the Fillmore East shows (aside from some extraordinary moments in the April and June runs, and the unique Eleven>Caution jam from 2-5-70) - but I think 2-8-70 is a very fine show. The circulating soundboard portion catches the end of Dark Star to the middle of Lovelight, but the aud tape sounds quite good and has it all; it's a typically lovely Star from early '70. (The whole SBD might be in the vault, since they used Smokestack on the box set.)
The Fillmore West shows of August 18 & 19 were also caught on audience recordings which are OK for the time but not outstanding; the shows are decent, I'd probably give the edge to 8-18 due to the Man's World, Dancing, and the acoustic set, but the second night is comparable, with David Crosby playing.

3-7-70 is a strong, high-energy show; if you haven't heard of it, it's because it's a noisy, incomplete aud tape with some terrible cuts - either the taper just didn't bring enough tape, or he was too wiped out to change the reels! (A lot of 1970 recordings suffer from this problem - some sadly cut out before the electric set even starts.) But although it's just an incomplete portion of a jam, I highly recommend you listen to just the five mind-blowing minutes of Not Fade Away here!

6-13-70 is a joyous, high-energy show, perhaps the earliest tape where the audience recording sounds better than the soundboard! I really like the sound on this one - unfortunately, only the SBD is available on the Archive, but if you can find the aud version, check it out.

10-23-70 is another great audience recording from the fall, with really deep sound; I don't think the show is too remarkable, but it does have one of the earliest Goin' Down the Roads. (The only surviving earlier ones were October 10 & 11 - the 10th just an instrumental part - but those are very poor recordings.)

11-20-70 is also one of the better audience recordings, with the band loud and clear; the show is strong, but the real treat comes at the end when Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady join the band for a series of rocking jams that are well worth hearing!

12-28-70 is basically just like an early '71 show and is a much-praised AUD - the show's not that strong, but Pigpen has a couple highlights with Smokestack Lightning and Good Lovin'.

While I'm at it, I'll also say a few words about inferior-sounding shows that I happen to like...

4-24-70 is a recording that will definitely tax the ears of most people; in addition, the end-of-show jam is horribly lost as the reel runs out. But those who can tune their ears will be rewarded by one of the strongest Dark Stars of the year, and the last Eleven -

Only masochists can endure 5-8-70....the taper apparently put his mic on stage, in front of the bass amp, so it is horribly distorted and you have to "imagine" the music. Nevertheless - what a setlist! - Dark Star>Dancing, Good Lovin' - this was clearly one of the best shows. (5-3-70 might have been an interesting show too, but the recording is an atrocity.)
5-7-70 is much more listenable, but is still a tinny/muddy-sounding tape recorded inside a gym. Stomping show, though, full of wonders for those with patient ears, including a stretched-out magical Lovelight with several intertwined thematic jams, as they often did that year.

I mentioned the poor-sounding audience tapes usually made in the Fillmore East, and the July run provides three good examples. 7-11-70 seems like a great show, with an extended Not Fade Away and Viola Lee that seem to go on forever, but is unfortunately buried beneath a noisy crowd and distant echo. 7-12-70 is one of my favorite shows of the year; though the recording is equally lousy, the Man's World and Other One>Uncle>Other One>Dancing are especially tremendous. 7-10-70 does sound slightly better, and shows the band going nuts with medleys: Alligator>drums>Other One>Attics of My Life>Other One>Cryptical>Cosmic Charlie, then a Good Lovin'>China>Rider>Good Lovin'!

11-11-70 is a wild, long show, with the first La Bamba in Good Lovin (I don't think they repeated this for 17 years!), and an hour-long series of jams with Jack Casady & Jorma Kaukonen; unfortunately the recording is pretty poor.

11-29-70 is not such a bad recording although it doesn't really soothe the ears either, I'd say above-average for 1970 with a loud, energetic band. It's a strong show, and particularly worth checking out for the 20-minute Good Lovin with a Pigpen rap, one of the first ones that showed where they would take this tune in 1971.

And with November, this era of the audience tape comes to an end....the band started taping themselves again in December in their California shows (where there weren't as many tapers as in the east), and in 1971 audience tapes become rather scarce, and mostly of really bad quality; the situation would stay that way until 1973. Interestingly, by December '70 their "1971 sound" was well in place, with sets composed mostly of short rocking songs and not much improvisation outside of The Other One and Good Lovin.....but that's another story.......

Finally, I'll mention some other Fillmore West shows where the soundboard reels are badly cut or missing pieces, and we're fortunate to have complete audience tapes for those shows! 4-12-70 in particular is an exceptional recording of a great show. The Archive copies are patched together from the SBD and AUD sources - the full audience tapes are not on the Archive. (SBD is the first 8 tracks) (only 7 tracks from AUD) (AUD patches here & there)

Although early audience tapes might be disappointingly few and poor-quality compared to later years, we should remember that taping was not easy in those days - most tapers did not have good equipment, and the band was not taper-friendly at all. One old taper says, "In those days, audience taping was a clandestine affair, attempted with really piss poor equipment smuggled in backpacks or under coats--and often the mics were kept hidden in the same places. Fingers felt the cassettes or reels for time (watches helped), and there was no taper section, so what you heard was what you got." Taping could be risky, too! On the 5-16-70 recording we can hear Sam Cutler shutting the tapers down; and during the 12-31-70 show, the band directed a spotlight to a microphone:
"There's bootleggers among us! Let's find out who these people are - follow the cords from those microphones folks - turn that spotlight out there on that microphone - aha, it's going down - Underground Records, Incorporated - find this one for $10 - you oughta put it in a brown paper bag." (As a result, the tapers only got the first few songs of the show - they probably had to turn over the reel in their deck.)
Of course the band's attitudes were inconsistent - everyone remembers the moment during 8-6-71 when Weir helpfully tells the tapers to move back in order to get a better recording! But that was an unusual exception.

This is one story (from the new 3/19/73 first-set AUD) that helps explain why there aren't more good AUDs from the early years:"This was recorded by Dan H. using Adam G.'s microphone. Dan was very close to stage. About halfway through the show,one of the band members (I believe Bobby or Phil) pointed to Dan and a member of the Dead's crew came into the audience, grabbed the mic and cut the cord. He would only give the mic back if Dan handed over the tapes. Dan handed him all his blanks and what was in the machine at the time, as well as one or two with music on them. He managed to keep this one and the NRPS opener."

There are lots of stories from '70-74 of the Dead's crew stopping every recording they saw - cutting cords, confiscating tapes, smashing tapedecks, etc. Bear was very hostile to tapers, and the rest of the crew shared his attitude. As he said, "I wasn't in favor of tapers....I didn't tolerate it. [The first time] was in '69, we caught a guy in the Hollywood Palladium with a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and we said, 'That's not cool, you don't have permission to do that.' We confiscated the tapes."
A couple more examples, from later years:
Les Kippel, at Waterbury 9/23/72: "We were in the hotel room listening to our tape, when there was a knock at the door and Owsley barged in. He ran over to the tape machine - 'You cannot record the shows!' And he took the tape out of the machine and barged out of the room."
Rob Bertrando, at Santa Barbara 5/25/74: "My machine & tapes were confiscated, so no good tapes remain of that show. Ramrod came off the stage, ran to the mikes, and held a knife to the cables saying, 'Turn over the equipment or I cut your cords.'"
Jerry Moore was also busted at the Boston 6/28/74 show but managed to switch reels in the argument and handed over some blank reels - this was a trick the experienced tapers learned. Les Kippel was one taper who was organized enough to have separate people bring the tapedeck, microphones, and tapes: "We'd sit in a cluster, and friends would always protect the person who was taping.... If an usher or crew member started approaching us, we'd immediately yank the tape out and put in a phony tape. Usually the only thing they'd do was take the tape, cut the microphone cable, or take the batteries."

So in the pre-'74 days it's worth remembering that for every AUD we have, there were probably two or three more attempts that either failed, got busted, or turned out to be such poor quality they were hardly worth hearing - or, worse, were made by tapers who never traded or copied their tapes. Until after '72 or so, the idea of finding "Dead traders" was pretty much science-fiction for most people, so a lot of early tapes disappeared since they couldn't be distributed. What we have are a few lucky survivals, and it's no coincidence that most of the well-circulated AUDs were made by just a few people who happened to be at the center of some trading ring.


  1. A note -
    I changed my mind about 6-13-70, when I relistened to it. The show is great, but the AUD isn't. Now I wish the whole thing was in SBD.... I was probably just so blown away when I heard the AUD tape I didn't even notice the sound anymore... (Helped that my tape was sped-up, too.) At any rate, the Archive file does have the New Speedway jam (with piano) and the very jammed-out (but sadly cut) Lovelight from the AUD.

  2. Another anti-taping story (from 11/20/73) -
    "I was sitting with a little cassette tape recorder in about the 20th row for the sound check. No one else in the audience. After playing for about half an hour Kreutzman stands up from his drum kit, points at me and says 'the kid's got a mike!' Next thing I know Parrish, a big roadie, is chasing me around the coliseum with a plastic Fred Flinstone club. He catches me, grabs my recorder but hands it back when I tell him I borrowed it. I head backstage as the band is coming off and tell Jerry that I already own all their albums and just wanted to tape for my own pleasure. He says 'sure, that's what they all say' and storms off. In this era they were not real happy about bootlegs..."

  3. Another anti-taping story! This time from 12/2/73 - a new source that catches only the first few songs:
    "The sound is pretty clear, so it appears the taper was again seated close to the stage. Eventually, he was spotted by Sam Cutler, who is heard on the tape yanking the mic down and stopping the recording." (Just like 5/16/70...)

    Fortunately, there was another taper in the audience that night who captured the whole show. (I think there are two complete AUD sources for 12/1/73, as well.)
    By '73, sometimes multiple tapers could be found at shows...for instance, for the 5/25/74 show mentioned above where Bertrando got busted, a new complete, good-sounding audience source has just emerged. The taper had actually buried his tapedeck inside the stadium the night before the show!

  4. And a couple more anecdotes...
    A more complete version of the Waterbury '72 story (told a few years later) -
    "The Dead's roadies, men of much muscle, enjoyed themselves cracking skulls, stealing tapes, cutting microphone cables, and so on... In Waterbury, Conn., in September of 1972, we were hanging out in our room at the local Holiday Inn, where the Dead were also staying. We were listening, of course, to Dead tapes. Bear was roaming down the hall, when he heard the strains of music. He steamrollered his way in, made off with a set of tapes, informed us that we would never get away with taping, told us that we'd be stopped, and let us know that our tapes were shit anyway compared to his! For a short time thereafter, hassles were truly intense. Still, for every one of us they've caught, twenty have never been bothered. Like the starfish, cut us and we multiply. Maybe the roadies have gotten tired of fighting us, but lately we've rarely gotten hassled."

    Of course, all was not unanimous within the Dead camp. Les Kippel tells about how a group of tapers were listening to the Dead's Woodstock '69 show when the Dead visited Florida in June 1974:
    "Word got to Phil Lesh that this tape was around, and he made a bee-line to the room of the person who had the tape. He sat there transfixed, not moving, and then became animated and couldn't control his excitement. He turned to the people in the room and said, 'I must have a copy of this tape.' Naturally, everyone was thrilled. 'But,' he continued, 'don't bother recording the music. I only want the talking!'"

  5. According to Dennis McNally in an interview with Katie Harvey, the band's early anti-taping policy was not really consistent, and not really determined by the band:
    'From night to night, tapers were not sure if they would be allowed to tape; often it depended on the specific taper, crewmember, and moment... The band did not want to police their audience, so the decision regarding taping resided with the crew. "Since it wasn’t required for [the band] to deal with it, they didn’t really think about it, [so] the policy varied…from night to night.”'

    Taper Jimmy Warburton tells the story of having his tapes taken by a Dead roadie at the 7/31/74 show. (His earlier attempt at taping the 6/28/74 show was foiled when his mike wire was cut.) "I went up to Danny Rifkin...the manager for the Dead, and I explained to him what happened. He goes, 'Oh, we told that guy to stop doing that,' and he brought a box of tapes out and he says, 'Hey, take what's yours.'"

    Louis Falanga tells a less heartening story, that when he was taping one of the Winterland '74 'farewell' shows, Ramrod stormed over, cut his wire, and demanded his tapes. Thinking fast, Falanga said, "Hey, this guy's trying to steal my tape recorder!" and while the crowd around them booed and said, "Get out of here man," Falanga was able to switch reels in the commotion and give Ramrod a blank tape.

    Most of these stories come from '73/74; though it's evident that the Dead crew was doing their best to stop tapers in their tracks, by then so many tapers were swarming to shows, that almost every show got captured on an audience tape anyway.
    The Dead outfit tired of this losing struggle, which is a big reason why, when they returned to touring in '76 and faced a forest of microphone stands, they switched to a more hands-off policy on tapers.

  6. A new 1970 audience tape has surfaced! - from 10/17/70 Cleveland. It's a good show in pretty good sound, and I've written a new post on it.

    Someday I will have to revise this post.

  7. Freddie Fier and I were sitting in the first row center at the Boston Music hall 6-12-76.
    Donna Godawful was giving us the evil eye because on each side of us was a D1000e mic sticking up on a cane, and we made about thee best audience tape ever from there.
    But it was a super WBCN b'cast
    It was fun seeing her be a little peeved.
    seeing how her caterwawling gave us many fits of anger in previous years.
    the roadie who attacked me on June 28 73 and july 31 74 was, the now deceased Sonny Hurd... who got blown away at his doorstep later by someone who he had pissed off I betcha.
    Anyways it was fun.
    Rob Berger has most of my 500 reels now...anything you need is buried in there somewhere.
    Still Taping but Americana alt country now.
    Jimmy Warburton of Holyland Pirates Gmail

  8. Even Donna glared at tapers? My goodness...

    Buddy Cage once called Sonny Heard "one of the larger, meaner GD roadies." Which, in that crowd, must have been saying something - and he was probably not a sight any taper wanted to see coming at them!

    Taper Monte Barry wrote of the 7/31/73 show:
    "I taped FOB on July 31. My mic was mounted on a 10-foot pole that night. A huge Hell's Angel security dude was dispatched by GD from backstage to go into the audience and confiscate my tapes during the last song. He was gigantic - approx 6' 6" / 250 pounds and ripped body, wearing Hell's Angels colors, long hair and beard. I was an itty-bitty 5' 7" / 130-pound hippie, and I was caught red-handed taping. He politely asked me for my tape. I ejected the cassette from my tape deck and I surrendered just this one tape to him. He said "thank you" to me. Then he departed and headed backstage. My friend Jimmy Watson followed him backstage. Jimmy was back 5 minutes later with my tape!"

    1. I chased Sonny Boy Heard out of the crowd swinging the cane with the mic on it....7-31-74 the crowd parted like the red sea. The Deads 75 hiatus came about as a way to dump a few of the crew. ie Heard.

  9. On the subject of the 5/8/70 Dark Star I was wondering if you had any info in regards to a vault copy of the show or is that awful audience tape believed to be the only record of that show we have available.

    That version of Dark Star along with 2/11,9/19 and 10/11 are my favorites from that year.As horrible as that recording is,if you listen with a little patience and imagination you can get a feel for what the performance was about.

    It cut's in on Jer strumming on the theme,then Jer plays nice stacked repeaters ringing out on the theme licks ->1:15 1st verse ->2:15 full band ominous space,rushes of percussion,scary guitar plucks,deep resonant bass -> insect swarm vibe ->4:00 Phil throb,Jer crashes and thrashes,rowdy percussion -> alien space/sci-fi movie music with an oddly jazz like feel ->6:00 Jer plays pretty,real out style space licks,music is full-on space drone/throb,excellent pluck/scrape carrying on->pleasant sing-song Jer against foghorn blast, space bass->8:00 beautiful Asian like space pluck -> odd pretty shuffle,sort of on theme ->10:00 Jer plays crying leads on theme with an edgy tone against punk like Phil bass ->band dances around Tighten Up theme,nice Jer ringers ->12:00 real pretty runs on Tighten Up theme,Weir counters nicely->good strummed runs,tone rings out,jazz feel again ->14:00 Jer cooks on theme,band is swinging->16:00 full-on UJB theme,Jer on top ->loose space ->18:04.

    I really like this Star and consider it to be a fairly unique take on the song,it shares some similarities with the 10/11 version in that they both touch on an Asian feel (more pronounced in the 10/11 version),and both have that throb/ percussive space feel,Phil's approach on both seem to be in a similar vein.

    Any feelings on this version of the Star LIA ? Only respond to this post if you have some free time to waste,as I know that you are a busy person and would not want you to feel obligated to respond,I have the luxury of ample free time.

  10. I always reply to Dark Star queries!

    The awful 5/8/70 audience tape is indeed the only record of the show. If an SBD tape was made, it was lost or hasn't surfaced, and is not in the Vault.

    Charlie Miller talked about the tape:
    It was "given to me by a Steve Kimock fan who happened to be the taper for 5/8/70. He was sitting on the side of the stage with his deck. (He also gave me his aud masters to both GD and NRPS sets to 10/27/71. I never did anything with those.) As for starting the tape at Dark Star, well, things were different back then and he taped over one of the tapes with the Live Dead album. So the one tape I circulated was all that the taper had left. He also lost some of the tapes which is why there is only one, but the one that is left is the one we want."

    Unfortunately the recording was an ill-fated combination of poor equipment & poor location. This was likely one of the best shows of May '70, and our intrepid taper stuck his mike up onstage right in front of the amps.... The band's volume overwhelmed his poor equipment. (There's lots of tape crackling - poor brand - and even in the moments of silence, there's still a loud whine & rumble from the tape - like a dictation machine!) Alas, stage-taping worked on 5-3-69, but didn't work here. (If only Weir had told him to move back!)

    Sonically extreme, it's like having all the amps turned up to 11 in a wall of distortion, in which we can only make out a fraction of the sound. The music still cuts through, though, and I find it a very rewarding tape. In a way, the poor quality partly enhances it, since you have to imagine what it "really" sounded like through the murk. The Dead sound particularly powerful on this tape.
    Collector Matt Vernon also likes it - he wrote: "The quality of this recording is at the low end of auds, but the music is incredible... Despite the distortion and overload, I found myself giving this a repeat listen for a few days."

    My impression was that this Dark Star is not unusually adventurous, but it's very smoothly done with all the sections flowing naturally, and the Feelin' Groovy is a very relaxing finish.
    The space section is tremendous; and the transitions from chaos to melodic uplift work well as they slowly build up to a familiar theme - the final shift to Feelin' Groovy sounds especially satisfying. And the sudden transition to Dancing in the Streets is unique (shared only with 11/8/70).
    There's a particularly triumphant feeling to the playing tonight. (Heck, just the first 20 seconds of Dark Star are awesome - I could play that intro over & over. Wish we knew what came before that!) The audience is really digging it; they applaud periodically throughout the jams.

    The comparison to 10/11/70 is telling, since that was a wild & energetic Star, in similarly poor sound (tho not quite as bad), so it doesn't get as much praise as it should.
    I would call 4/24/70 another unsung but fantastic Dark Star. (5/15/70, for example, is much more mild, quiet & restrained than these other Stars.)

  11. By the way - I've long been thinking about redoing this post, separating the "anti-taping" stories from the 1970 guide & making them their own post. It's really two different topics.

    I've been hesitant to do that, though, because it feels like cheating the reader - making a "new" post just by re-posting what I've already written.
    It may still be worth doing for form's sake, though.

  12. I've gone into much more detail about Marty Weinberg's tapes in a new post:

  13. That 5/8/70 is one sick Dark Star. Is there hope of a board tape? Maybe it's at Owsley's house.

    1. I believe all Owsley's Dead tapes were turned over to the Dead Vault; in any case he didn't tape that tour (Bob Matthews taped at least some of it).
      But there is still some small hope that more tapes from this period are being kept somewhere, like the '69/70 Owsley reels that were recently returned to the Vault - crew members at that time could pretty much help themselves to the tapes, and some may have them still. The 5/8/70 SBD reels could be moldering in a damp basement as we speak!

    2. By the way, new unknown AUDs like 10/17/70 and Jim Cooper's Fillmore/Port Chester tapes can still surface sometimes as well. One lady on said she taped 11/23/70 and still had it, but didn't reply to queries. One guy on the Archive said he taped 5/9/70, but the tape was distorted and, the last time he saw it, was shedding oxide. This is the kind of thing that makes me tear my hair out, but what can you do.

  14. Just a note to myself (there's no post this comment really belongs to) -
    I'm intrigued that in summer '73, Garcia had Kidd Candelario make AUD tapes of some shows alongside the SBDs. Examples that have surfaced: (Boswell/Smith have also just uploaded a new transfer)
    It's likely others were taped this way as well.
    Sample text notes include "Recorded by Kidd at the soundboard," and "Reels dubbed in 1979 by Will Boswell from Jerry Garcia's personal collection. Original recording made by the sound crew at the soundboard."
    I don't think anyone has discussed these tapes - they're excellent recordings, as you might expect - but it's curious why Garcia would want AUD tapes made of the shows just then. Maybe it was a way for him to check the actual PA sound (which the SBD tapes don't reflect). Bear had made a couple AUD tapes back in fall '72, but I think that was just because he was having problems with the recording equipment - in these '73 shows, Kidd was rolling AUD & SBD tapes at the same time.

  15. I remember reading there were also June 1976 shows taped from the audience by the Dead's crew that came into circulation recently.

    1. Good point! Actually a big chunk of the June '76 tour crew-AUD tapes came into circulation:
      Text notes: "The tape was recorded by a Grateful Dead crew member. The tape was labeled "For Danny" (they were made for Dan Healy)." "Show was recorded by a band crew member with mics placed at soundboard."

      Healy said in later years that AUD tapes were useful to help him judge how good the room sound was. My guess is that was the purpose of these tapes...

  16. I'd like to ask you, if May 7, 1970 was the only time Workingman's Dead was performed in its entirety? And yes, this post completely ruins the myth about the GD's taping-friendly policy, I understand that they started allowing people recording their shows "not of the good life". As a historian, I feel bad for that.

    1. Now that you mention it, yes, it was the only show in which all the songs on Workingman's Dead were played, by sheer accident.
      For that matter, the only other Dead show at which any post-Anthem studio album was played in its entirety was 8/13/75 (Blues for Allah). Of course that was a record release party, so it was a special exception.
      You'd think Anthem of the Sun would have been completely covered at lots of shows in '68 - but on our tapes, only a couple of the winter '68 shows have all the songs, and only on 2/14/68 are they all played consecutively, as on the album. (This is kind of cheating, though, since part of 2/14/68 WAS the album.)

      As a historian & Dead fan, I certainly wish Owsley had not gone to prison in 1970, right at one of the band's peaks. His loss is ours.

  17. Any idea of the when, why and how GD went from cutting mic cords to encouraging taping? Fans seem so resptecful of the rules now (taping section, no profiting) and GD are always held up as establishing that culture. It was suprising to hear these stories from the early 70's. Thanks. JB

    1. The turning point was 1976. The band and their roadies had waged a constant and more or less losing struggle against tapers from 1969-74, pretty much believing in the policy that audience tapes = bootlegs, theft, etc. They could be inconsistent, though, with Weir & Lesh at least sometimes supporting a few tapers. They must also have been aware that they were fighting a growing portion of their own audience, and they got tired of acting like cops at their shows. So when they came back in '76, it was a hands-off policy with taping not encouraged, but tolerated. By then, tapes were gradually becoming a big part of deadhead culture, which the band started to recognize. (Tapers founded Relix magazine, for instance, and spread the Dead gospel as effectively as the official albums did.) There were periods after that when Healy or the band got annoyed at tapers spoiling the show for those around them, but in 1984 the tapers' section was created in an attempt to give them their own area.
      It's not always recognized how much of deadhead culture was created by the fans, not the band. Open taping, free tape trading, archives of all the Dead's soundboard tapes available online - these things came into being against the band's wishes, but they gradually adjusted and eventually accepted.

    2. Wow. Fascinating. Thanks for this detail. Any pointers for places I can go for further reading on this?
      The idea of taping is a totally foreign concept here in Australia. Poses some interesting legal questions on who has greater rights - the band that encourages taping or the venue who has standard rules. Unfortunately GD or Phish etc never toured Downunder (yet) to test it out. Ive just decided Im gonna write a copyright law university essay on this so all pointers welcome.

    3. Well, there used to be a grad thesis by Katie Harvey called "Embalming the Grateful Dead" that covered the history of Dead taping & collecting - it was available to read online but seems to have been taken down.
      Possibly your university library has access to a full copy:

      But you can also look for the Deadhead's Taping Compendiums - the first two volumes cover the years in question, and have a lot of details & interviews from Dead tapers about how it evolved. By the late '70s the band permitted taping, but venues still prohibited it, so tapers still had to sneak their gear in.

    4. Before Jerry Moore died...he told Katie she should speak with me...we had a few long phone conversations on Taping ,and she also had a formal affair which was not my type of GD get together....I hate getting all dressed up for those we didn't meet....But my life long hobby of collecting Jerry's music was a reaction to the pirate in my soul... it became an obsession and I watched many years roll by while watching the wheels go around...much more listening went on in the pre-digital ages.
      Getting ready to relocate my collection anyone have a warm safe location for the reels? Thinking of Southern USA ..but could be anywhere where we can visit them.

    5. Taper Rob Bertrando once wrote:
      "Through '76 and '77 the crew (except for Healy) was very taper unfriendly, and would often wander through the crowd confiscating equipment (which they were very nice about returning after the show). Even in the taper-friendly years, they would do that to tapers they found FOB (in front of the soundboard, rather than the official Tapers' Section).
      At 6-4-76, my gear was taken during the first set, but at the set break Healy took me backstage, got my stuff back, and set me up in the sound booth to record the second set. At 2-27-77, Menke, Reinhardt and I were recording on 3 decks with one set of mics; the crew came out and took Bob and Reinhardt's stuff, but inexplicably left them with the mics. I was a row behind and was surreptitiously handed the plug end of the mic cables to plug in and keep recording, but that's why the beginning of St. Stephen is missing...
      By later in 1978 the crew had pretty much given up on trying to stop audience taping; even by June '77 things had subsided to the point that we could sometimes get full-size AC powered reel decks in to tape... (On occasion we did get reel-to-reel in for taping, like June '77 Winterland, again courtesy of Dan Healy.)"

      Sometimes Bertrando heard about other people taping on "cheap mono cassette recorders," though those recordings were probably "lost to the ages," but felt that the best recordings made it into circulation.
      "I doubt there are any good quality audience tapes from the early days that are not circulating, simply because those of us who were interested in making good quality tapes sooner or later (usually sooner) hooked up with others of similar interests."

  18. I was down at the local record store today--Recycled Records on Adams Street in Springfield Illinois--and they had a collection of 100 cassette tapes from the soundboard of Grateful Dead shows in the early 70s. The asking is $1.00 per Maxwell 90 min tape.

  19. Sonny Hurd also cut my mic wire in Boston on 6-28-74....had to repair it to get the Springfield Show on 6-30-74...I was a solo mobile unit (mic on cane) at the general admission dance show. Loose connection sorta ruined the tape at crucial junctures. So when I saw the big red p#@&*k at Dillon Stadium on 7-31-74 robbing my bag....I was already pissed from Boston ...and he ran away scared of what I may do with the cane ( see Ginger Baker justice).

    1. Sonny Heard running from a taper? That would have been a sight!

    2. yes the crowd opened up like the red sea. His running is fresh in my memory.

  20. A new copy of 5/7/70 has come out which comes from a different audience recording than was circulating!
    There are some audience patches from the previous AUD (along with the whole NRPS set), but otherwise the new copy sounds quite different and is a huge upgrade in the electric set.

    In the acoustic set, the new recording is more distant & echoey than the old source.
    But in the electric set, the new recording is a LOT less tinny & muffled, and sounds much closer - almost more like a SBD tape in places. A giant improvement, you can hear everything more clearly.

    It's rare to find two audience tapers at one show in 1970 (aside from the Fillmore East & Capitol Theater). I attribute this to the audience of engineers at MIT - capturing a soundboard recording of the May 6 free show, then documenting the next night's show as well. The Dead themselves apparently didn't tape either show, or any show that week from May 3-10.

  21. From Peter Simon's 1975 interview with Garcia:

    Q: The incredible underground tape library that is traveling the you feel ripped off by that?
    JG: Not particularly, I don't feel ripped off by it, I think it's OK, if people like it, they can certainly keep doing it. I don't have any desire to control people, what they're doing.
    Q: Some artists get freaked by people who would bother to tape their concerts, and they actually stop people from doing it all the time.
    JG: Yeah, our guys have done that too, guys have freaked out, "whoa, we can't have that going on," but I don't know, it doesn't really matter to me that much...and there's something to be said for being able to record an experience that you liked, or being able to obtain a recording of it. Really, we have all that stuff - our own collection of tapes of many, many performances. I would love to see all that stuff somehow put into a form that we could put it out and have it be real inexpensive so people could get at it if they want it... My responsibility toward the notes is over after I've played them - at that point I don't care where they go...
    Q: I have my own collection which is maybe 50 hours' worth of music -
    JG: God, amazing.
    Q: And I hook up with people in New York and people out here who have tapes and we share them, and so many people get off on -
    JG: Well that's the thing, if people get off, that's what's good - it doesn't matter whether we make a profit on other people's getting off, that's not why we do it in the first place - that's the way I feel about it.
    The interview aired on Simon's radio show, and was filled with excerpts from great-sounding audience tapes in his collection.

  22. I don't think the presumption that early tapers were bootleggers was an unfair one, even if many or most of them were not. No one I knew in my fairly wide circle of Deadhead friends had a reel-to-reel in the early to mid-70s. Cassettes weren't really around yet for music; they were used for dictation in these crappy mono rectangular machines (which I suppose some people used for taping, crappy as the quality was, but I don't know anyone who would listen to music on one of those decks instead of a stereo). So aside from the band's official releases, bootlegs were the only other source via which one could listen to the Dead. Those bootlegs were obviously sold for a profit -- a profit off of the band.

    1. True, I think the band were somewhat justified in thinking that anyone taping their shows must be making a bootleg.
      The irony is that most early Dead bootlegs came from radio broadcasts or leaked soundboard tapes - few Dead audience recordings were made into bootlegs.
      A good overview of early Dead bootleg history:

    2. we never sold them... it was our code.

  23. Anyone know if Katie Harvey's thesis is still available out there in the world of electrons? The Scribd link is dead.

    1. I think that was the only place it was available online. It was written as a master's thesis at Tufts University, so never actually "published" otherwise.

  24. Katie should have interviewed Claudette Gardel PHD from tufts an early trading partner of mine.

  25. I really enjoyed reading this page. I like this blog in general but I'm a bit of a kook for early audience tapes. I occasionally sneak some on the radio in my town. It's amusing sometimes to read criticisms of some audience tapes when those of us who listen to louder bands would have loved to have so many good quality early shows to pick from. I've interviewed a few people over the years, and sometimes er talk tapes, but I have yet to shake anything new out anyone's tree, as it were...

  26. Back in the early '80's, Relix had an article about a 1974 struggle between the roadies and the tapers. As I remember the article, the roadie took the tape away, but the taper had given him a blank tape. Then the taper went to Rakow and said "I want my tape back". So then Rakow has to deal with the hassle of finding it and retrieving it. Then when the taper gets it back, he tells Ron, "By the way, that tape was blank!" and Rakow got all pissed off. It was strange to read this because it didn't match what was clearly a tolerance by the band of taping by that time. Would like to know who wrote that article if anyone remembers it and has a Relix archive. Probably would have been around '83-'85.

    1. I don't know which Relix issue that was in. But, from the other stories I've seen, I know 1974 was not exactly a "tolerant" year for Dead tapers; they still faced plenty of abuse from the roadies. What I don't know is whether (some members of) the band/management still had a policy of pursuing tapers, or if the band was hands-off and individual roadies got to harass tapers if they had the time & inclination. I don't think there was a specific time in the '70s when the band OK'd taping, more that the numbers of tapers kept growing until they couldn't all be hunted down anymore, and the Dead admitted defeat...this was after the hiatus.

  27. Been re-reading all the excellent blogs on this site. Just to add to the anti-taping conversation, I recorded the Dead in the UK on 72-04-07, 72-05-07, all the 74 Ally Pally shows and all the 81 Rainbow shows. The only time I got hassled was the first night at the Rainbow in March 81. The door security found my deck at the bottom of my rucksack and frog-marched me to the cloakroom where I was made to check my rucksack in. The gorilla returned to the doors while I wandered around the auditorium (a fabulous old theatre). After about 10 minutes, I checked my rucksack back out and went and set up in the centre of the floor. Partway through the first set, I saw another taper over to the side getting busted and someone else walking over towards me. I lowered my mic to head height and discreetly moved back a bit, recording all the time. It was fine after that. I guess it was the theatre security rather than the Dead's crew doing the busting.

    I experienced a different side of the coin years later, when I went to the Wembley 90 shows. I'd decided not to tape because I knew there would be any number of high-quality recordings around. On the second night, we had good seats in the centre near the desk. When we got there, our seats were taken by a bunch of tapers (American gentlemen, I'm afraid) who basically told us to 'fcuk off' when we showed them our tickets. I don't remember how now but we managed to find a couple of decent seats not far away.

  28. Bear breaking into a hotel room and stealing memorabilia is basically what they finally got OJ on, wasn't it?

    I put Embalming the Dead going missing up there with a missing low grade Fillmore East AUD tape. Really wish that was still available, hard to believe it's just vanished.

    1. It might not be a missing 1970 Fillmore East tape, but try this:

    2. Somehow I didn't see this reply from a year ago, I was even starting to write another plea. Thanks!

  29. Great to have a newly found AUD tape of 2/5/70 surface - a lot more complete and a little better-sounding than the fragment of it that circulated before. Should be up on the Archive before long. The Dark Star>Other One>Alligator was previously unknown, and fortunately sounds pristine!

    The unknown taper is said to purportedly be "a Fillmore West employee" - whatever the case, I wonder if he was the same taper as the decent-sounding 2/8/70. Deadlists notes: "The AUD tape of 2/8/70 usually circulates as 2 90-minute cassettes with filler from 2/5/70." (There was also an AUD tape of 2/7/70, but it's plagued by bad bass distortion.)