Oct 6, 2014

April 1972: Jerry Garcia Interview, Frankfurt

GRATEFUL DEAD IN EUROPE  (translated from German) 

It was probably the most unusual traveling company that has afflicted Europe in recent years: this refers to the 44 musicians, managers, roadies and friends of the "Grateful Dead" music-commune of San Francisco. Contrary to previous announcements of a European tour, this time it was reality; a myth went traveling, a myth that already in the ‘50s had its beginning. 
[ . . . ]  (History of the band omitted.)
After the "Dead" concert in Frankfurt we have asked Jerry Garcia some questions:
POP: Jerry, what is the life of a musician in San Francisco today? Has the music become more part of daily life?
JERRY: Yes, it is a creative community. At home I have [something] to do with music in some form every day. We are in a recording studio or playing in a bar [or] something with different musicians, under a variety of circumstances. It is very lively, enterprising. And the studio scene is now more in the hands of the musicians than anyone else.
POP: The newspapers always present you as a guru or hippie leader? What do you think about this?
JERRY: Everyone believes that now, and only because I talk a lot. I do not consider myself a leader. I want to be seen as a musician, everything else does not interest me, my normal role as a musician is apart from [being] a person. I am aware you like me as a musician, but the American youth do not need a leader.
POP: Was it perhaps the idea of the industry?
JERRY: Yes, exactly. The industry pricks someone out and makes him the leader. So it is.
POP: How do the "Grateful Dead" develop their music during a concert?
JERRY: Usually we start a gig with material that is very familiar to us, or is pretty simple. So we have enough time, about three quarters of an hour to review the situation on the stage, then we can plan further. A fine balance between the different instruments is very important for our music. On the other hand we have to adapt acoustically to our environment. Each performance is like a new beginning. Therefore, we use the first 45 minutes of a performance to warm up ourselves, and there we play fixed (arranged) material. The second half of a concert is typically for us more direct than the first. We now have everything in hand, everything is in order, the audience has responded to our trip; so we have a chance to develop. This really happens only in the second half.
POP: After Altamont you once said the "Dead" would play no festivals anymore. How do you feel about it today?
JERRY: If I had a chance to choose, I would prefer [them] small, manageable. We have never had much luck at festivals, and the things that we did earlier, love-ins in parks and so on, that corresponds to my idea of festivals much more. Festivals are advertising campaigns, a commercial thing, an unfortunate idea.
POP: That was not always so.
JERRY: No. It started with the first of these pay-the-money-see-the-festival trips which were set up, such as Monterey Pop. At the moment when an entrance fee was required, it was evil. This is my firm opinion.
POP: Why did the former European tours of the “Dead” always burst?
JERRY: First of all, we are a bunch of creative people, but no one says, tomorrow we go to Europe. Decisions are taken with us more through the power that springs from the group - and that takes time. The second is financial. We could never afford to drag 44 people across Europe. But since our record deal with Warner Brothers is about to expire and we have to make another two discs, they have paid us a big advance, with which we financed this tour. At the same time we will be using material from live recordings in Europe for a double LP.
POP: What do the "Dead" get per performance?
JERRY: Approximately 10,000 DM, but we bear all expenses ourselves.
POP: What will you do after the expiration of the contract with Warner Brothers?
JERRY: Something of our own, but nothing like Jefferson Airplane’s "Grunt." A private label is interesting only with its own distribution system. We have various ideas, and we have been negotiating with various people, but nothing is certain yet.


(from Pop magazine, August 1972) 

* * * 

Here is the German original: 

GRATEFUL DEAD IN EUROPA

Es war wohl die ungewoehnlichste Reisegesellschaft, die Europa in den letzten Jahren heimgesucht hat: Gemeint sind die 44 Musiker, Manager, Roadies und Freunde der “Grateful Dead” Musik-Kommune aus San Fransisco. Entgegen frueherer Ankuendigungen einer Europatournee wurde sie diesesmal Wirklichkeit; ein Mythos ging auf Reisen, ein Mythos, der bereits in den 50er Jahren seinen Anfang hatte. [ … ]
Nach dem “Dead”-Konzert in Frankfurt haben wir Jerry Garcia einige Fragen gestellt:
POP: Jerry, wie sieht das Leben eines Musikers in San Fransisco heute aus? Ist die Musik mehr Bestandteil des taeglichen Lebens geworden?
JERRY: Ja, es ist eine kreative Kommune. Zu Hause habe ich jeden Tag in irgendeiner Form mit Musik zu tun. Wir sind in einem Tonstudio oder spielen in einem Lokal, irgendeine Sache, mit verschiedenen Musikern, unter den verschiedensten Umstaenden. Es ist sehr lebendig, unter nehmungslustig. Und die Studio-Szene ist heute mehr in den Haenden der Musiker als von irgend jemand anderem.
POP: In den Zeitungen stellt man dich immer als Guru oder Hippie-leader hin? Wie stehst du dazu?
JERRY: Jeder glaubt das inzwischen, und nur deshalb, weil ich eine Menge rede. Ich betrachte mich nicht als Fuehrer. Ich moechte als Musiker gesehen werden, alles andere interessiert mich nicht, meine normale Rolle als Musiker ist die einer Nebenperson. Ich bin bekannt, man mag mich als Musiker, aber die amerikanische Jugend braucht keinen Fuehrer.
POP: War es vielleicht die Idee der Industrie?
JERRY: Ja, genau. Die Industrie piekt sich jemanden heraus und macht aus ihn den Fuehrer. So ist es.
POP: Wie entwickelt die “Grateful Dead” ihre Musik waehrend eines Konzerts?
JERRY: Normalerweise beginnen wir einen Auftritt mit Material, das uns sehr vertraut ist, oder ziemlich einfach ist. So haben wir genuegend Zeit, etwa eine Dreiviertelstunde, um die Lage auf der Buehne zu ueberblicken, dann koennen wir weiterplanen. Fuer unsere Musik ist eine feinausgewogene Balance zwischen den einzelnen Instrumenten sehr wichtig. Auf der anderen Seite muessen wir uns akustisch unserer Umgebung anpassen. Jeder Auftritt ist wie ein neuer Beginn. Deshalb benuetzen wir die ersten 45 Minuten eines Auftritts, um uns warmzuspielen, und da spielen wir festgelegtes Material. Die zweite Haelfte eines Konzerts, die typischer fuer uns ist als die erste, wird direkter. Wir haben jetzt alles in der Hand, alles ist in Ordnung, das Publikum hat sich auf unseren Trip eingestellt; da haben wir eine Chance, uns zu entwickeln. Das passiert wirklich erst in der zweiten Haelfte.
POP: Nach Altamont hast du einmal gesagt, die “Dead” wuerden auf keinem Festival mehr spielen. Wie denkst du heute darueber?
JERRY: Wenn ich eine Chance haette zu entscheiden, wuerde ich kleine, ueberschaubare bevorzugen. Wir hatten auf Festivals nie viel Glueck, und die Sachen, die wir frueher machten, Love-Ins in Parks und so, das entspricht meiner Idee von Festivals weitaus mehr. Festivals sind Werbefeldzuege, eine kommerzielle Sache, eine undglueckliche Idee.
POP: Das war nicht immer so.
JERRY: Nein. Es hat mit dem ersten dieser Zahlt-das-Geld-seht-das-Festival-Trip angefangen, der auf die Beine gestellt wurde, wie etwa Monterey Pop. In dem Augenblick, wo dafuer Eintritt verlangt wurde, wurde es uebel. Das ist eine feststehende Meinung von mir.
POP: Warum sind die frueheren Europatourneen der “Dead” immer geplatzt?
JERRY: Zuerst einmal sind wir ein Haufen kreativer Leute, aber keiner sagt, morgen fahren wir nach Europa. Entschluesse werden bei uns mehr durch die Kraft, die der Gruppe entspringt, gefasst – und das dauert. Der zweite ist finanzieller Art. Wir haben es uns nie leisten koennen, mit 44 Leuten quer durch Europa zu ziehen. Da aber unser Plattenvertrag bei Warner Brothers bald ablaeuft und wir noch 2 Platten machen muessen, haben sie uns eine Menge Vorschuss bezahlt, mit dem wir diese Tournee finanzieren. Gleichzeitig werden wir Material von Live-Aufnahmen in Europa fuer eine Doppel-LP verwenden.
POP: Was bekommt die “Dead” pro Auftritt?
JERRY: Ungefaehr 10000 DM, aber wir tragen alle Spesen selbst.
POP: Was werdet ihr nach dem Vertragsablauf bei Warner Brothers machen?
JERRY: Etwas Eigenes, aber nichts wie “Grunt” von Jefferson Airplane. Ein eigenes Label ist nur mit einem eigenen Vertriebssystem interessant. Wir haben verschiedene Ideen, und wir haben mit verschiedenen Leuten schon verhandelt, aber es steht noch nichts fest.


Thanks to Uli Teute.

Oct 2, 2014

April 29, 1972: Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany

This review is a rough translation from German: 

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD
The Californian rock group “Greatful Dead” in Hamburg

This concert by the Greatful Dead was fabulous, extraordinary, and decidedly outstanding overall . . . But strangely, the evening began very harmlessly, almost tame. Whoever had the image of the group firmly in mind, expecting something externally sensational, or at least picturesque, found himself disappointed. First of all he experienced self-evidently clever music.
Without airs and without delay, there a handful of musicians shows what they can do, and that is a lot. They provide an almost encyclopedic overview: this is available on the American pop, rock, country and blues scene. They perform it, and above all, they perform it as a group. This is not [often] experienced – [as] we have also more frequently [seen] in the glut of rock concerts in the past few weeks than the more sophisticated music-lover is fond of. Here is not a soloist in front of accompanying slaves, here all play music together. A technical system which, though it is not quiet, also remains clear in fortissimo, helps to make a vocal network of amazing balance and plausibility audible. Here everyone knows his role, and especially the new pianist Keith Godcheaux asserts himself [as] the most energetic in this otherwise rather guitar-heavy world. He gives the interplay color. He knows which country melodies to keep in rural trot with evenly pulsating eighths, when to give moderate blues themes pride and size with consistent hammered triplets.
In this first part of the concert he is a little reminiscent of Leon Russell in the Joe Cocker documentary “Mad Dogs and English Men.” Also he is musically always the lord of the overview, the heart of the action and a master in ability, finally taking the piano once again back to the pianist and placing chords so that they shine, glisten and thereby dynamically propel the piece forward. 
Of course, [there] are also the two guitarists, top guru Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir . . . and how Garcia's coyote-like howling guitar phrases and Godcheaux’s piano interjections complement each other, contrasting with each other, that is already a treat in itself. But the dominant impression is: The Group. Turned on with the effortless naturalness of the world, they, a bunch of young, young-at-heart professionals, between styles, make traditions to the present day. The simple happiness of the hillbilly era . . . they have equally on the pan as the new excursion into the countryside, which is so beautifully called “Green Rock.” They have already grown up with the rock and roll of Chuck Berry’s time. They easily heat [up] with the summoning shortcuts of the gospel church, make the simple basic rhythmic patterns of soul music subservient, and also dominate the blues at all paces. From the depths of the past they bring with a sure grip the country blues, in which everything is [an] archaic shape, is more spoken than sung, the irregular periods subordinate to the words’ meaning, and someone repeatedly grabs the harmonica. They also follow the blues’ development to urban districts, to Chicago, to Kansas City, to all geographic and idiomatic landscapes of this music.
Whoever listens closely, also hears how they constantly ask the old blues questions: “Will you miss me when I’m gone?”; how they constantly express the old blues certainties: “The sun will shine in my back door someday.” All this performed, without ever being didactic here, always as if they not only play, but also play in the beautiful old sense; for dancing of course, and for suburban bopping. Something Californian, hard to define, is located above each bar. The progressive is placated by urbanity. A clear blue sky also stretches over the underground, and to make music of this kind and to give themselves always seemed a little to me like a transatlantic response to the Swiss: “Be modern, but remain tasteful.”
This first part provoked respect and admiring astonishment. The very great enthusiasm had yet to come, because the musicians walked without risk along the narrow ridges that separate professionalism from the routine. This was different after the break.
Inspiration was joined to ability. The artists ventured successfully into the regions of free music, played a far-reaching free-jazz improvisation in which they now suddenly withdrew the sound of uncomplicated sunniness completely and together created a twenty-minute piece, whose sounds seemed carefully to listen to themselves. The muted colors set the tone, memories of the Gary Burton Quartet with Larry Coryell were alive in listeners. Here also was something peculiarly arranged, rhapsodically filling space, although here too complying with the freedom from the limits of tonality. Tempos, moods and rhythms change, but the virtue [is that] individual improvisations do not degenerate into soloists going it alone, but rather are more like threads emerging briefly in a fabric – it remains as the fixed laws of cadence and key. The Greatful Dead know that freedom is not fun without rules of the game, and then when the breathing and flowing solidifies into simple rock rhythms, and after long expressions [of] purely instrumental brilliance the vocal begins again, a refined simple melody strikes up, this pop-melody has its very specific and compelling function in a large sequence. The text quote: "Down by the riverside" speaks for itself.
The Greatful Dead are happiest when they are allowed to return back to simplicity and hard-won innocence.
The concert lasted four hours. The applause did not end. The rock-lovers of Hamburg stood on the chairs.

(by Werner Burkhardt, from the Muenchner Feuilleton (Munich), 5 May 1972)


There is also an older picture of Garcia with the caption: 
Jerry Garcia, spirit and music director of the Californian rock group Greatful Dead, currently on tour in Europe (see our report from Hamburg). The group plays in Munich on May 18. 

* * * 

Here is the original German article: 

SELIG SIND DIESE TOTEN
Die kalifornische Rockgruppe “Greatful Dead” in Hamburg

Fabelhaft ist diese Konzert der Greatful Dead gewesen, aussergewoehnlich und ganz entschieden alles ueberragend, was dieser rockreiche Fruehling an Gastspielen geboten hat. Doch seltsam: Sehr harmlos, beinahe zahm hat der Abend begonnen. Wer, das Image der Gruppe fest im Auge, etwas ausserlich Sensationelles, zumindest doch Pittoreskes erwartet hatte, sah sich enttauscht. Er erlebte zunaechst einmal Musik von gescheiter Selbstverstaendlichkeit.  
Ohne Allueren und ohne Verspaetung zeigt da eine Handvoll Musiker, was sie kann, und das ist eine Menge. Beinahe enzyklopaedisch vermitteln sie einen Ueberblick: Das gibt es auf der amerikanischen Pop-, Rock-, Country- und Blues-Szene. Sie fuehren es vor, und vor allem fuehren sie es als Gruppe vor. Hier steht nicht – und auch das haben wir bei der Schwemme von Rock-Konzerten in den vergangenen Wochen haeufiger, als dem anspruchsvolleren Musik-freund lieb ist – erlebt: Hier steht nicht ein Solist vor Begleitsklaven, hier musizieren alle gemeinsam. Eine technische Anlage, die zwar nicht leise ist, aber auch im Fortissimo durchsichtig bleibt, hilft, ein Stimmgeflecht von erstaunlicher Ausgewogenheit und Plausibilitaet hoerbar zu machen. Hier kennt jeder seine Rolle, und vor allem der neue Pianist Keith Godcheaux setzt sich in dieser doch sonst eher gitarrenlastigen Welt auf das energischste durch. Er gibt dem Interplay Farbe. Er weiss, welche Country-Melodien man durch gleichmaessig pulsierende Achtel im laendlichen Trab halten, wann man gemaessigteren Blues-Themen durch konsequentes Triolenhaemmern Stolz und Groesse verleihen muss.  
Ein wenig erinnert er in diesem ersten Konzertteil an Leon Russell in dem Joe-Cocker-Dokumentarfilm “Mad Dogs and English Men”. Auch er ist musikalisch immer der Herr des Ueberblicks, das Herz des Geschehens und ein Meister in der Faehigkeit, das Klavier endlich einmal wieder zum Pianistischen herzunehmen und Akkorde so zu legen, dass sie leuchten, gleissen und dabei das Stueck dynamisch vorankatapultieren.
Natuerlich stehen auch die beiden Gitarristen, Oberguru Jerry Garcia und Bob Weir, ihren toten Mann, und wie Garcias coyotenhaft heulende Gitarrenphrasen und Godcheauxs Pianoeinwuerfe sich ergaenzen, miteinander kontrastieren, das ist schon ein Genuss fuer sich. Doch der beherrschender Eindruck ist: Die Gruppe. Mit der unangestrengtesten Selbstverstaendlichkeit von der Welt schaltet sie, ein Haufen junger, junggebliebener Profis, zwischen den Stilen, macht sie Traditionen zur Gegenwart. Das schlichte Glueck aus der Hillbilly-Zeit von Anno dunnemals haben sie genauso auf der Pfanne wie die neuen Exkursion ins Laendliche, die man so schoen “Green Rock” nennt. Mit dem Rock and Roll aus der Chuck-Berry-Zeit sind sie ohnehin gross geworden. Muehelos heizen sie ein mit den Beschwoerungskuerzeln aus der Gospel-Kirche, machen sich die simplen rhythmischen Grundmuster der Soul-Musik dienstbar, und auch den Blues beherrschen sie in allen Gangarten. Aus den Tiefen der Vergangenheit holen sie mit sicherem Griff den Country-Blues, in dem alles archaisch eckig ist, eher gesprochen als gesungen wird, die unregelmaessigen Perioden sich dem Wortsinn unterordnen und immer wieder jemand zur Mundharmonika greift. Sie folgen der Blues-Entwicklung aber auch in staedtische Bezirke, nach Chicago, nach Kansas City, in alle geographischen und idiomatischen Landschaften dieser Musik.
Wer genau zuhoert, der hoert auch, wie sie staendig die alten Blues-Fragen stellen: “Wirst du mich auch vermissen, wenn ich weg bin?”; wie sie staendig die alten Blues-Gewissheiten aeussern: “Die Sonne wird auch bei mir einmal zur Hintertuer hereinscheinen.” All das fuehren sie vor, ohne je lehrhaft dabei zu werden, immer so, als ob sie nicht nur spielen, sondern im schoenen alten Sinn auch aufspielen; zum Tanz natuerlich und zum Vorstadtschwoof. Etwas schwer definierbar Kalifornisches liegt ueber jedem Takt. Das Progressive wird durch Urbanitaet gesaenftigt. Ein strahlend blauer Himmerl spannt sich auch ueber den Underground, und ein wenig ist mir diese Art zu musizieren und sich zu geben immer wie eine transatlantische Antwort auf schweizerisches Wesen erschienen: “Modern sein, aber geschmackvoll bleiben.”
Hochachtung und bewunderndes Staunen rief dieser erste Teil hervor. Die ganz grosse Begeisterung blieb noch aus, weil die Musikanten denn doch allzu risikolos auf dem schmalen Grate wandelten, der die Professionalitaet von der Routine trennt. Das wurde nach der Pause anders.
Zum Koennen gesellte sich die Inspiration. Die Kuenstler wagten sich erfolgreich in die Bezirke der freien Musik, spielten eine weit ausgreifende Free-Jazz-Improvisation, in der sie nun ploetzlich den Ton unkomplizierter Sonnigkeit vollkommen zuruecknahmen und Zwanzig-Minuten-Stuecke gemeinsam schufen, deren Klaenge sich bedachtsam selbst nachzuhorchen schienen. Die gedeckten Farben gaben den Ton an, Erinnerungen an das Gary-Burton-Quartet mit Larry Coryell wurden im Hoerer lebendig. Auch hier herrschte etwas eigentuemlich Vermitteltes rhapsodisch Raumgreifendes, obgleich hier wie dort die Freiheit vor den Grenzen der Tonalitaet einhaelt. Tempi, Stimmungen und Rhythmen wechseln, aber die Tugend, Einzelimprovisationen nicht zu solistischen Alleingaengen ausarten, sondern eher wie Faeden in einem Gewebe kurz hervortreten zu lassen – sie bleibt bestehen wie die festen Gesetze von Kadenz und Tonart. Die Greatful Dead wissen, dass Freiheit ohne Spielregeln keinen Spass macht, und wenn dann das Atmen und Fliessen sich zu schlichten Rock-Rhythmen verfestigt und nach langen Aeusserungen rein instrumentaler Brillanz die Singstimme wieder einsetzt, eine raffiniert einfache Melodie anstimmt, hat diese Pop-Melodie ihre ganz bestimmte und bezwingende Funktion in einem grossen Formablauf. Das Textzitat: “Down by the riverside” spricht fuer sich.
Am gluecklichsten sind die Greatful Dead, wenn sie zu Einfachheit und zur schwer errungenen Unschuld zurueckkehren duerfen.
Vier Stunden dauerte das Konzert. Der Beifall wollte nicht enden. Die Hamburger Rock-Freunde standen auf den Stuehlen.
WERNER BURKHARDT

Jerry Garcia, Spiritus und Musicus rector der kalifornischen Rock-Gruppe Greatful Dead, die zur Zeit auf Tournee in Europa ist (siehe unseren Bericht aus Hamburg). In Muenchen spielt die Gruppe am 18 Mai.


Here is a film from Gary Burton & Larry Coryell's performance in Berlin, 1967, mentioned in the review:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7BKXtMCuRM

And here is a sample of the Joe Cocker/Leon Russell concert film from 1970, also mentioned:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5rMauzx5f4

 
Thanks to Uli Teute.

Sep 18, 2014

April 26, 1972: Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt

HOUSE MUSIC 

The "Grateful Dead" in the Jahrhunderthalle

This concert of the "Grateful Dead" should be an experiment of total communication. This group, their first European tour completed, endeavors to be affected as little as possible by commercial wear and tear and instead operates by the realization and internalization of the postulates of the adolescent underground movement, in private life as on stage. So they live in an approximately 50-member commune, which took the trip across the Atlantic together to make the performances of the six musical communards a common group experience. Taking this background into account, it becomes clear that what is probably best described as "Folk Rock" in classifying the music of the Grateful Dead carries a mainly programmatic character. It is part of privacy, the everyday life of the community, and at the same time, letting the public participate in this life style.
The Grateful Dead dispensed with an opening act. For them the concert hall is substituted for the domestic hearth, where the music is part of a common experience and any artificial stylizations renounced. Here the music transmits certain content not by its own means, but essentially by the context in which it takes place. So their resources are limited and restricted to a stereotyped, formal structure leaving little scope. Simple, catchy melodies, a country & western impact in the voicing of the three guitars, plus a Leon Russell sound on the piano - this physiognomy could, depending, support the new "folk songs." Phrased bluntly, this music, which excels by nothing original nor by technical complexity, must be described simply as bad, as there is absolutely nothing in it to describe or explain, if you are not absorbing the communicative effect an intrinsic value attaches to.
The overflowing Jahrhunderthalle at any rate was attuned from the beginning, thunderous applause everywhere, but it is well to remember that by far the largest percentage of visitors were Americans, for whom it’s been well-known for many years living in large communes has become a matter of course. One European lacked understanding and empathy with the commune-style, hence discomfort arose when after several hours there was still the same house music on stage in front of him. The advantages of the Grateful Dead are without doubt on non-musical territory, their music is for only one medium among many.
CSR

(unknown newspaper, May 5, 1972) 

Thanks to Uli Teute.

* * * 

This has been translated from German. Here is the original German article. 


HAUSMUSIK
Die "Grateful Dead" in der Jahrhunderthalle

FRANKFURT-HOCHST. Ein Experiment der totalen Kommunikation sollte dieses Konzert der "Grateful Dead" sein. Diese Gruppe, die ihre erste Europatournee absolviert, bemueht sich, vom kommerziellen Verschleiss so wenig wie moeglich betroffen zu werden und statt dessen die Verwirklichung und Verinnerlichung der Postulate der jugendlichen Untergrunt-Bewegung im Privatleben wie auf der Buehne zu betreiben. So lebt sie in einer etwa 50 Mitglieder [??] Kommune, die geschlossen die Reise ueber den Atlantik antrat, um die Auftritte der sechs musikalischen Kommunarden ein gemeinsames Gruppenerlebnis werden zu lassen. Beruecksichtigt man diesen Hintergrund, wird es einsichtig, dass die wohl am besten als "Folk Rock" zu klassifizierende Musik der Grateful Dead ueberwiegend programmatischen Charakter traegt. Sie ist ein Bestandteil der Privatsphaere, des alltaeglichen Lebens der Kommune, und zugleich dazu da, die Allgemeinheit an diesem Leben stil teilhaben zu lassen.
Grateful Dead verzichtet auf eine Vorgruppe. Die Konzerthalle wird fuer sie zum Stellvertreter des heimischen Herdes, an dem das Musizieren Teil einer Gemeinsamkeitserfahrung ist und jeglichen artifiziellen Stilisierungen entsagt. Hier uebermittelt die Musik bestimmte Inhalte nicht durch eigene Mittel, sondern im wesentlichen durch den Rahmen, in dem sie stattfindet. Also sind ihre Mittel begrenzt und beschraenken sich auf ein stereotypes, wenig Spielraum lassendes Formalgeruest. Einfache, eingaengige Melodien, Country & Western Einschlag in der Stimmfuehrung der drei Gitarren, dazu einheimelnder Leon Russell-Sound am Klavier - diese Physiognomie koennte, sollte es je welche geben, die neuen "Volkslieder" tragen. Ueberspitzt formuliert, musste diese Musik, die sich durch nichts Originelles noch durch technische Kompliziertheit hervortut, schlichtweg als schlecht bezeichnet werden, es gibt an ihr auch gar nichts zu beschreiben oder zu erklaeren, wenn man nicht dem absorbierenden kommunikativen Effekt einen Eigenwert beimisst.
Die uebervolle Jahrhunderthalle jedenfalls war von Anfang an eingestimmt, tosender Applaus allenthalben, nur gilt es wohl zu bedenken, dass weitaus der groesste Prozentsatz der Besucher Amerikaner waren, fuer die bekanntlich bereits seit Jahren das Leben in Grosskommunen zu einer gewissen Selbstverstaendlichkeit geworden ist. Einem Europaer fehlt auch das Verstaendnis und das Sich Einfuehlen in den Kommune-Stil, daher entstand auch Unbehaglichkeit, als nach mehreren Stunden immer noch dieselbe Hausmusik auf der Buehne vor sich ging. Die Vorteile der Grateful Dead liegen ohne Zweifel auf aussermusikalischem Gebiet, ihre Musik ist fuer sie nur ein Medium unter vielen.
CSR

Sep 16, 2014

Spring 1972: Weir & Kreutzmann Interview

THE LEGEND OF THE DEAD

Although the Grateful Dead are a rock band, they've almost been turned into an institution, a way of life over the years since they came together in the mid sixties.
The Dead's drummer is a young man named Bill Kreutzman, who's been Gratefully dead now for six years. "The Dead is just some kind of contact that we try to make with an audience of people," he began explaining before he stopped to think. "When you're inside it's a hard thing to say."
I'd been hearing the legend of The Dead for a few years before meeting them. At first it'd been a name which was lumped together with Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Seeds, Moby Grape, Buffalo Springfield and Love and sent to England in a package marked Flower Power. Then Tom Wolfe immortalised them in his fine report on the birth of acid culture The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. The Kool Aid was a soft drink to which the acid was added at a giant rock ball where the Dead provided the Electric. Garcia's current 'old lady' is one of the book's heroines — Mountain Girl.
The rest of the Dead's importance had been revealed and explained to me by young Californians to whom they've been father figures of some sort. The Airplane and The Dead seemed to form two-thirds of an earthly trinity who'd come along to replace the Holy Trinity. It's never really been what they've said that's made them so important to many young Americans, but...you know man...it's like...The Dead! The medium becomes the message!

For this reason it's very hard to talk to the band about what 'they're saying'. "We're not preachers" they kept telling me. Then on the other hand they'd emphasise, "we just play rock 'n' roll." Both Bob Weir and Jerry explained that as musicians they really had no qualifications to expound theories on spiritual and moral issues. They would have agreed that a factory-hand has just as much right to express his views to the world as has a labourer who happens to work with a machine called a guitar. "Apparently for some reason, people think that musicians have some authority," said Bob. "It's just the way it's come about. They must think that as his playing makes me feel good then his talking must make me feel good too. I think that if I was left to my wits as a politician, I'd fail drastically — we all would. All we really do is play."
When they actually take to the boards the last statement begins to show its truth. The only words that seem to matter are those which are projected on the screen behind them — Welcome To The Grateful Dead. Then the music begins to pound out. Garcia's guitar soars high and the legend becomes life. When they played at Wembley recently, it seemed as though people were applauding the mythology rather than the reality. The music never seemed to get off the ground, and the crowd reacted mostly to the pure fast rock numbers which were few and far between. It was an evening of anticlimaxes, but the crowd seemed to be enjoying a collective orgasm. Again, it was the fact that the Dead were more than a group. They were the message without words.

Bill explained the beginnings of the band: "I've been in the Dead for around six years now. Me and Jerry were both teaching in a music store in Palo Alto and we just got together as a group. Our first gigs were in small pizza bars in the area. We were playing rock 'n' roll mostly I suppose." Although they've 'come a long way' since those days, both Jerry and Bill still frequent the small bars and play their music there. "I like the small bars where you get no response at all," said Jerry chuckling. "It frees you tremendously when no-one cares what you're playing. I go there to satisfy a kind of perverse curiosity. I like those bar scenes!"
As the band grew up and entered the publicised era of their lives, they all moved into the same house in San Francisco — 710 Ashbury. It became one of the most famous homes on the West Coast, but now things are different. "It didn't fall apart, it just grew apart," explained Bill. "A lot of us got small ranches and things. Instead of going out and feeling the concrete under our feet, we wanted to be able to take a gun and shoot tin cans from our back doors. A lot of us had learned a lot and had grown up."

One subject that seems to go hand in hand with any mention of Grateful Dead Culture is acid. When in England the hotel room was buzzing with the mention of the magic chemical, and an official-looking hash pipe was passed around constantly. The Dead's lyricist, Bob Hunter, was one of the first people to experiment with LSD during a hospital experiment before it was registered as a dangerous drug. Around the same time the whole of the band took part in some of the original West Coast 'happenings', where acid was the latest thing to hit the avant-garde.
Bob Weir was careful to explain that they never tried to play or record while tripping out. "One thing acid may do for a musician," he explained, "is that he may drop his inhibitions and it will help stimulate his creativity. I don't know whether it has anything to do with the music, but I think it does enhance the player's enjoyment of what he's doing." Although Bob felt that someone on a trip may well feel he's reaching great heights of musical creativity, a recording of the event when played back to the player would only prove that the feeling was totally subjective. Similar experiments with artists have come up with the same result.
Later on in our conversation Bob happened to make mention of what he termed 'psychedelic derelicts' — people who'd been permanently damaged by acid. As he and the Dead appear to encourage the use of a drug that has damaged so many, and are idolised by the same people, I asked him what he felt when he came across these 'derelicts'. "I'm sorry to see it," he said. "I try to set an example of some sort of temperance. I believe that as a group we exhibit a certain amount of temperance." I suggested that one man's temperance might be another man's damage, and he agreed. Fortunately the members of the Grateful Dead are a strong set of personalities and have been able to control their use of psychedelics. There's no room in the record business for a derelict.
At one time it seemed as though acid was looked upon as the new Messiah — coming to us in an age of spiritual emptiness to 'feed our heads' and thereby change the world. John Lennon, who now openly supports the I.R.A. was singing All You Need Is Love. Something went wrong in between though. "Yes, something did go wrong," admitted Bob. "I think it can be partly attributed to the U.S. clampdown on marijuana. When this happened people began dealing meths and smack. It took up less space, anyway, and was much harder to police." As to the Grateful Dead's position in all this: "The only thing worth doing is playing music — not preaching drugs. I would caution anyone who was considering dope to be careful in any case."

Playing music: "If there's such a thing as religion in my life it's playing," said Bob. "We try to have the most diverse range of music possible. The soft rock era is not over for us, nor did it really begin. It's always been there." The Dead began getting into softer sounds around the same time that Crosby, Stills and Nash put out their superb first album. Garcia and Stills and Nash and Weir and Crosby are interchangeable members of the L.A. music scene and play regularly on each other's albums. "It more or less boils down to physical proximity," said Bob. The fact that the Dead softened up after C,S&N's first album was through direct influence. "What happened there," explained Bob, "is that Crosby and Stills were hanging in and around San Francisco and we were amazed how they sung together.
"Because of that we realised we'd been neglecting one side of our music and that was singing in harmony together. So we decided to develop our vocal harmonies and that whole side of our presentation." These developments became two albums: Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. On these ventures, Garcia was often to forsake his familiar lead guitar sound for the unique countrified sound of his ZB custom pedal steel guitar. However, for the Dead this was just one gear that their music had to be driven in for a while. There's no real direction but just a progression through the many moods that music is able to express. Bill put it this way: "We want to try and drive this car with 10,000 gears and so far we've only used about twenty. That's twenty different styles of music."
Every concert that they perform is recorded so that the band can all listen to and criticise their own music. "This is not done on 16-track but on 2-track stereo." Bill told me. "Then we listen to the tapes and scrutinise what we've been playing. Sometimes we surprise ourselves at what we've played!" Bill drew a parallel with what they're doing to American football teams who watch instant replays so that they can improve their performances. "We listen to see how we can correct ourselves. Maybe we listen and the whole feeling of our performance has been wrong. It never hurts us to play it back. Not only do we learn about playing, but also about recording techniques."
The Grateful Dead's criterion for a performance? "If it gets you off when you play it back — that's good," said Bill. "That's really what the Dead are about — good old ‘getting it off.’" Plenty of people got off on their music at the Empire Pool, Wembley and the scenes they created were not far removed from those a few weeks earlier when T. Rex was the attraction.

(by Steve Turner, from Beat Instrumental, June 1972)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com 

Sep 14, 2014

May 1972: Lyceum, London

THE HISTORY OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD [excerpts]

. . . The month of May [1970] saw the Grateful Dead play an historic set at the Hollywood Festival, held at Finney Green near Newcastle-under-Lyme, and the British press were unanimous in their appraisal of the band's performance. Good old Mac Garry (in ZigZag 13) said that they were "totally magnificent", and Dick Lawson in Frendz No.8 went completely bonkers over it all, describing their set as "the most ecstatic exploratory music ever witnessed in England".

Even the pop weeklies, most of whom had previously dismissed the Dead as an over-rated hype, had to admit that here was a band who literally commanded respect simply through their style, their approach and the nature of their music. What they gave in return on that day at Hollywood was three hours of non-stop quality music that apparently left a large proportion of the audience in a state of speechless wonder. After countless rumours of impending visits (notably a projected free 'West Coast' concert in Hyde Park), they'd finally made it, and for the lucky people who saw them the myth became reality. I'm quite sure, though, that on that occasion they frustrated many more people than they satisfied, mainly because they went straight back to America without playing any other dates, but also because the general consensus of opinion within the band was that they didn't feel they'd played well at all! How difficult it must be for those present at Hollywood to imagine them playing any better is a thought that I don't care to burden my brain with! . . . 

. . . The band consider themselves to be unclassifiable and without limitations insofar as they're not a blues band or a country band or an experimental band or even a rock'n'roll band, but "a group of musicians with lots of possibilities". In live performance they'll assume all of these styles and many more besides, so the fact that they might start off with 'Me and My Uncle', flow straight into 'Dark Star', and then come down to finish off with 'Johnny B.Goode', should really come as no surprise. Those of you who saw them on their last visit here will know exactly what I mean. . . . 

. . . [In 1972] I was fortunate enough to be able to see them four times, twice at Wembley Pool and twice at the Lyceum, London, and it's quite possible that I haven't been the same since.

Most of the great West Coast bands to emerge during the late sixties have, over the years, received the dubious pleasures of a vast overblown reputation almost entirely created by the news media that puts them in a situation where they've got totally unrealistic expectations to live up to whenever they visit this country to play. The Doors and the Airplane were both superb on their initial appearances over here, but as their reputations spiralled, they were obviously past their peak and are now no longer the important bands they once were. The Doors are excused for obvious reasons, but the sort of rut that the Airplane are currently in saddens me greatly.

The Steve Miller Band, too, impressed me very much when they finally made it here, and Spirit, Love, Country Joe, and even Janis Joplin all managed to justify to some degree the publicity that preceded them. The most enigmatic band of all, however, the one and only Quicksilver Messenger Service, we of course never got a chance to see, and almost definitely never will. But the Grateful Dead…well they had a staggering aura and mystique about them. Their brief visit to the Hollywood Festival gave us a substantial appetiser, but now it was time for the real thing, the "acid test". To be quite honest, I was profoundly affected by everything I heard and saw. Not only did they surpass the enormous hopes I had of them, but they proceeded to set completely new standards of excellence right there before our very eyes, and to see and feel it happening was just bloody magic.

It was hard enough on that first night at Wembley coming to terms with the fact that there they were, less than fifty yards away, but by the time they were halfway into an unforgettable version of 'Uncle John's Band' on the last night I saw them at the Lyceum, I had this strange feeling that I'd known them all my life. Perhaps the most satisfying concert however was the previous night when I swear that very few bands could have possibly achieved in their entire careers what the Dead did in five hours. A list of the songs they played would be irrelevant, and anyway it's far too long, but every concert was structured and paced to include every conceivable musical form within their scope, and when it was all over it made me feel really good right down inside.

Furthermore, I was given irrevocable proof to support my theory that Phil Lesh is a genius beyond all shadow of a doubt. He was pushing out endless boulder-like notes that formed the base and cornerstone of the whole sound…beautiful imaginative riffs during tightly-arranged numbers, and when they stretched out, veering off the road to God knows where, it was pure counterpoint at its very best. I'll never forget one particular instance where the band had worked themselves into a piece that trained students of the game would probably describe as "electric chamber music", and Lesh was completely and utterly in control of the whole thing, crouched next to his amp and playing his bass high up on the neck gradually stabilising all the many different melodies and rhythms flying around him, and then leading them off somewhere else completely. Phil Lesh at the height of his creativity — that's not an experience you treat lightly. But there was so much more to marvel at and enjoy as well. Keith Godchaux, for one, his piano work adding yet another intricate layer to an already rich texture of sound, and it was a nice surprise, too, to see Bob Weir fronting the band, taking most of the lead vocals and leaving Jerry Garcia half-way in the background but with his guiding hand ever present.

Now if there are any of you out there who are not confirmed Dead-heads (and may the ghost of 'St Stephen' have mercy on you), you're probably thinking that everything I've just said is a load of euphoric bullshit written under the influence of an extract from some exotic species of flora. I must admit that that's what I would probably think as well, but you've got to believe me. Everything you've read is the absolute clear-headed truth, and there's no hype or exaggeration there at all, because I know they wouldn't want or need it. They're the only band to have ever provoked such a reaction in me before, and I confidently expect no other band ever will. . . . 

. . . Every concert on the tour was recorded by Alembic Sound and the best performances were released on a triple album Europe '72 (3WX 2668) that came out here in December last year. Commercially it was a great success, becoming their second gold album, but critically it received very mixed reviews. A lot of so-called critics both here and in the States took to playing that stupid and vicious little game that most of them seem to take great delight in from time to time, i.e. build up a band's reputation to a peak with a series of condescending reviews and articles and then proceed to mercilessly slag them whenever the opportunity arrives.

Andrew Weiner in Cream magazine for instance asks the soul-searching question – "Is this some kind of joke?" – and then in the space of a few columns takes it upon himself to display his complete ignorance and lack of understanding of what the Dead are all about. And he wasn't the only one either. Several smart-arse yanks, one of whom claims to fall asleep every time he goes to one of their concerts, found the whole thing insufferable. Well, what a shame! All I can say is that it's their loss on all counts, and if it means they wouldn't want review copies of all future Dead LPs then bloody good job too. They don't deserve 'em. On the other hand there were people like the guy from Melody Maker and many others who saw the album as the next natural step in the band's development – a live LP structured in the same way as their concerts, perfectly balanced and containing a suitable mixture of songs old and new. It truthfully represents the Grateful Dead at that time they were over here — nothing more, nothing less — and as such I treasure it. To be completely fair, though, I think that anybody not totally immersed in the band and their music could probably find reasonable grounds for criticism, but nothing I read was anywhere near being constructive or even objective. Regardless though, it of course remains an essential buy for all Dead-heads. Enough said. . . .

(by Andy Childs, from ZigZag, December 1973)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

May 23, 1972: Lyceum, London

I saw the first night of the Dead's four concerts at the London Lyceum last Thursday, where they were ever so good for ever so long. What we got and wot a lot we got (almost four hours of nonstop performance) was virtually a musical history of the group's progress from Garcia's humble jug band origins to his band's more countrified approach today.
It has been becoming increasingly obvious that the old format whereby a band played a fifty-minute spot of their best-known numbers was becoming tiresome and uninspired but the Dead have taken things to the other extreme.
Somehow it seems that there is no beginning or end to their programme and their approach is relaxed to the point of becoming languid.
What they do is often impeccable and their musicians – like bass player Phil Lesh and Garcia himself - play with a refinement in which there is more discretion than valour.
It is a good band which has knit together with the kind of intuitive playing which one would expect from six years on the road but on Thursday they seldom smacked me between the ears even with their more ebullient Chuck Berry-inspired rock and rollers.
It seems pointless to refer to any particular song because they played almost everything which has ever been associated with them and they played it well. Bob Weir is a far better vocalist live than I had expected.
Their reception was excellent from an audience who appreciated every move and cheered all the better-known songs. I can imagine that there are occasions and atmosphere which really 'charge' the Dead with some kind of special magic but it was not conjured on Thursday – perhaps one other night – perhaps you can have too much of a good thing?
The New Riders of the Purple Sage were the support band and they did their job well – easy listening, good time and right down the middle country band in which Buddy Cage excels on pedal guitar and John Dawson handles his own songs with care. Their new album title Powerglide sums them up well.

(by Keith Altham, from the New Musical Express, June 3, 1972)

Sep 13, 2014

May 1972: Bob Weir Interview

DEAD GRATEFUL

Perhaps more than anything else the recent appearances of the Grateful Dead in this country at Wembley and Bickershaw and more currently the Lyceum, have served to illustrate just how significant and underrated is this powerful West Coast musical commune.
They are one of the few bands who are truly and brilliantly reflective of the times and experience through which they have passed since their emergence in San Francisco in 1966 at the height of flower-power-love and acid syndrome through to the more recent relaxed country style which has stemmed from Garcia's return to his jug band roots.
The Dead were the first really definitive acid-rock band in the days when the stuff was still legal and their first album "Anthem of The Sun" was considered to be [the] "Tripper's Bedside Companion"... [The] freak attraction they might have had was underlined by the solid blues roots of their musicians and their intuitive feel.
You could tell just by listening to Garcia's guitar work that he had never had a lesson in his life but he knew how to listen to and relate what he heard into his own style which spawned little classics like 'Viola Lee Blues.'
If this tour has done nothing else, it must have spurred a few people to go out and seek the Dead's albums both past, present and future. Some of their most recent and finest material has come from their live albums of course, and talking to guitarist Bob Weir shortly after the run across Europe on Monday he revealed why.
"I think we've all begun to feel that the group was becoming a little too clinical in the studio," he said. "There are certain obvious benefits to be derived from live recording once you can afford the cost of undertaking to tote the equipment around. (The Dead [ . . . ] equipment with them to cope with that problem).
"You get a little spark or inspiration on playing before the right audience at the right time which you might never achieve in a studio. This is the reason we have recorded all our concerts on this trip.
"I'd say the Wembley concert was probably the best we had done in this country - almost 80 per cent - up until the Lyceum. Bickershaw was something of a disappointment simply because of the frustration of playing in those conditions.
"The people were great - they were even determined to get off, wading around knee deep in mud and frozen in three days of rain, but it was all a bit forced.
"We had those huge calor gas heaters on stage and they were not doing us any good either - the smell was getting to us and the heat was actually altering the molecular structure of the strings causing us to go out of tune. I was pleased when they broke down and we were able to play in a naturally frozen condition.
"Perhaps one of the most satisfying things from our point of view on this trip had been the addition of our pianist Keith Godchaux - he has filled a gap in the band which always needed filling and we had almost given up hope of being able to.
"It might seem that he has a very natural and rhythmic feel which comes easy but in fact it is the result of a lot of work and intuitive play on his part.
"We auditioned scores of pianists before we found Keith and the fact that we finally managed to turn up someone who has fitted so well [into] the band is nothing short of miraculous to me. He was previously a session musician in San Francisco and before that he did a lot of session work in bars!"
With the Dead you can pick your style, Country-Blues or what they call "Spaced Music" of which "Dark Star" is a good example, and get off on your own particular style - they do them all well and their stage presentation is a good cross section of all those influences. My own choice is "Ripple" off American Beauty Rose and the Working Man's Dead album. You pays your money and you takes your choice with the People's band.
Coming shortly at this theatre for your future enjoyment is Bob Weir's solo album "Ace" (an old nickname) on which he has written all the material himself with the assistance of lyricist John Barlow and Dave Torbert of the New Riders. String and brass arrangements an added attraction.

(by Keith Altham, from the New Musical Express, May 27, 1972)

Thanks to Uli Teute.

Sep 11, 2014

May 5-7, 1972: Bickershaw Festival

BICKERSHAW FESTIVAL

Bickershaw, a sleepy little Northern town, had certainly never seen anything like it before. Coronation St. had been invaded by the day glow kids and what fun they all had. Despite promises by the promoters of a flat, well drained site, too little sun and too much rain reduced the ground to one large mud pack – and it stayed that way for the entire festival.
On all sides one was treated to the sight of muddied stoned hippies negotiating their way across the site. Needless to say there were many casualties.
This was in fact, the worst aspect of an enjoyable festival. The Bickershaw Festival, financed by three Manchester business men, and run by Jeremy Beadle, local whizz kid, was the usual mixture of good and bad. The local farmer went to milk his cows and found they were all dry, some one had got there before him
On the credit side there were plenty of facilities for the freaks – large dormitory tents dotted around the site, some firewood and polythene, plus a range of entertainment aside from the music, which included the Electric Cinema tent, theatre groups, an aerial display with six bi-planes, fireworks plus assorted high divers, fire eaters, acrobats and high wire bikers. So on that level it was possible to have a fairly comfortable time despite the rain.

Whatever happened to Dion?

Biggest bummer of the weekend was the security force, yes, those deformed thugs who managed to turn Weeley into a scenario for a gangland movie were out in force and generally making their presence felt. If you're going to have a paying festival you need security but is it really necessary to hire a bunch of illiterate gangsters whose only answer to any question is "do you want a smack in the head mate?" One guy even admitted that he couldn't tell whether a pass was valid or not as he couldn't read... There were numerous incidents, especially around the stage, of people being beaten up and harassed, which is something you don't need.
The organisers were greedy, a fact made obvious when it came to concessions. There were at least two cases of concessionaires being overcharged by at least 100 pounds. The exclusive hamburger concession was sold to at least three people: one guy was forced to raise his prices from 20p to 30p when a gang of heavies from another hamburger consortium threatened him. In addition to that there were at least twenty food tents on the site, a trifle unnecessary for 30,000 people.
Despite many rumours the local police were cool. According to Release there were about 30 drug busts, a few drunk and disorderlys, and unknown charges against 18 Hells Angels who were busted on the way there. There were hundreds of uniformed police out to deal with traffic and any emergencies and probably half a dozen drug squad officers wandering around the site. The only good thing about the busts was that the police had set up an instant legal aid and analysis system, which meant that all those arrested were dealt with immediately and did not have to come back to court at a later date to have their case heard. The average fine was about 20 pounds although three people were remanded for psychiatric reports. The only large police operation came when 100 uniformed guys went through the site looking for a lost three year old child. No doubt they caused a few cases of acute paranoia but there were no busts. Unfortunately Release's relationship with the police was better than with the promoters, whose cheque for their fee for their services bounced. Add to that the fact that they had no electricity provided, and food vouchers for their staff of volunteers and doctors failed to materialize, and all this despite the fact that Release had offered some of the festival promoters the use of a bad trip tent to get their heads together. However, the White Panthers liberated a number of crates of beer, juice and other useful items to keep the wheels oiled. Thanks lads.
Aside from these hassles was the music which was generally of very high quality despite a somewhat ineffective PA. The stage, designed by Ian Knight of Roundhouse fame, cost 9000 pounds to build and was probably one of the most effective yet, reducing band changeover time to a minimum. On either side of the stage there were large platforms backed by screens so most people who wanted could get a fairly close look at the bands. On the screens there were light shows and close-ups of the bands in action, an advantage if you were sitting a fair way back. The local people flocked on the site to see the hippies at play and were by most accounts very friendly; the Frendz staff even had a drunken knees-up with a bunch of them during the last few numbers of The Dead's first set, and it was a toss up as to who was screaming for more louder when they'd finished playing. Power to the jam butty!
Bickershaw was not the bummer it might have been. Jeremy Beadle has announced that they lost 60,000 pounds. Underground press hacks wandered the crowd in a suitably damaged condition. Many were to be seen looking for earthworms in the ground – at least I presume that's what they were doing.
But the people got it on. Hippies have a remarkable talent for surviving in all weathers, under all conditions and still enjoying themselves, which is the only reason that things stayed together. Video freaks got good tape of the Dead and others – more of that in future issues.

The Music

Friday's musical entertainment was pretty tepid apart from our old mates Hawkwind (Dikmik gets the Frendz nomination for spaced oddity of the festival) while Nik "Thunder Rider" Turner ties with Dr John and Zoot Horn Rollo for the best dressed freak who blew a cosmic note or two. Otherwise the poor sods in the audience had to content themselves with anything from miserable folkies like Jonathon Kelly to the equally feeble Wishbone Ash. However, if you could stay awake during all this mediocrity, it was worth it all just for a glimpse of the immaculate Dr Jon Creaux and his nine piece band. Here is a real showman, dressed in white top hat and tails, his beard studded with silver pins, throwing Gris Gris glitter everywhere. He made Leon Russell look like Edmundo Ross. The Doctor took his band, complete with horn section, hotshite drummer and two little yummy gospel wailers – through the tightest changes imaginable, playing lead guitar on the stuff like 'Walk on Guilded Splinters' and unbelievable piano on the rest including 'Twilight Zone', 'Glowing' and a great selection of R&B killers like 'Let the Good Times Roll' and 'Iko Iko'. It was all good show biz voodoo, but don't think he isn't capable of the real thing.
Saturday saw a morning of jazz which Frendz' intrepid rock and roll reporter slept through. I awoke to hear Maynard Ferguson blowing his paunch out on 'MacArthur Park' and promptly fell asleep. An afternoon of folk failed to inspire me – Linda Lewis did her usual cutesy act, the Incredibles were a trifle too precious for my liking, whilst Donovan did a "Greatest Hits" act which was nice. He might also be very precious but at least he's professional about it. Rock appeared in the form of boogie beast Captain Beyond, a new American band who play the same old licks over and over and go nowhere fast. Tell ya, these guys are so hip they even do a 25 minute drum solo. Sam Apple Pie were a surprisingly good rock and roll band, while Cheech and Chong gave the kids some light comedy relief. Family played their usual set – a few hot licks and broken mike-stands, while the Kinks disappointed. Ray Davies – more effeminate and camp than ever (camp in the Noel Coward rather than the Alice Cooper sense) as well as being pissed as a newt – led what was essentially a mediocre live rock band through a boring set. Doing numbers like the 'Banana Boat Song' and 'Baby Face' didn't help matters much either and an encore of 'Hootchie Cootchie Man' was nothing short of farcical.
But never fear, The Flaming Groovies were on next laying out some cool assed jive. These boys are real gone – they sat around the stage before their performance drinking whisky, clicking their fingers, talkin' jive. When they hit the stage, the magical connection was lit. Young girls wept, policemen handed in their badges and joined the church, and some evil bikers staged a mini Altamont down the front of the stage while the Groovies bopped through 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', 'Nervous Breakdown', Lou Reed's 'Sweet Jane', 'Teenage Head', a couple of newies like 'Slow Death' and 'Shake The Joint' just like a juke box with balls.
After the gig, the bass player fell the full length of the steps to the stage, watched by the entire Frendz staff who were busy getting reacquainted with Captain Beefheart. Our fave rave got us all on the stage and played his usual total bizarro mind-fuck of a set. Superlatives defied us all so we promptly crashed out after the set, snarfing N.P. and dropping pork pies.
Sunday saw us up and raring to go. A fine set by the Brinsleys didn't stop the rain pouring down, but still sent out them good vibes we hippies are prone to talk about in elitist circles.
Country Joe was good, no more, no less and he left the stage for the New Riders of the Purple Sage who played a two hour set packed with goodies. Buddy Cage on pedal steel and Spencer Dryden on drums really stood out but this is a unit, now totally independent of the Grateful Dead's assistance. Nice harmonies, nice music, nice songs, what more could you ask for?
The Dead, that's what.
When Garcia and chums took the stage, the whole thing became a real festival. Everything was together and the Dead played for five hours, maybe more. Fireworks exploded, freaks danced and the band went through every change conceivable. A beautiful 'Dark Star' and a sizzling Pigpen work out on 'Good Lovin'' might be considered stand outs but really it was all music flowing like river. At 1am the Frendz collective slid off the planks, fell into the truck and hit the road south whistling 'Casey Jones' and snorting boiled sweets.

(by Nick Kent, from Frendz, June 1972) 

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/bick-frendz.html 

* * *

A preshow interview with Jerry Garcia:

Q: Jerry Garcia - pouring with rain up here - what does the site look toward tonight?
Garcia: Well, muddy, of course, cold.
Q: You still going to play?
Garcia: Oh yeah, I think we're gonna play, yeah.
Q: Now, thousands of these people are streaming into tents and things, and a lot of people want to put restrictions on festivals in this country, as to the size and magnitude of mass festivals. Do you think festivals like this should have rules?
Garcia: Umm.... Well, that presupposes that I think that there should be festivals.
Q: This is the second festival you've played in this country, the first one being the Hollywood Festival two years ago.
Garcia: That's right.
Q: Now, that was quite a good festival.
Garcia: Compared to this one, yeah. (laughter) What you can do for a thing like rain or cold is like questionable, you know, what can you really do, not really much.
Q: And also the facilities for several thousand people out there, I mean the toilets are terrible, the size of the sea of mud, and also they've made complaints about the garbage out there.
Garcia: Of course, right, right. Well, that has to do with being able to -- the promoters should see that they have a responsibility to try to keep the site as reasonable as possible and so provide lots of opportunities for people to throw things away and clean up and that --
Q: Do you think they've failed abysmally?
Garcia: Well, I haven't been here enough to really determine. In my mind, most of the people I think are, you know, sort of accepting what's going on; I mean, it doesn't seem to me that anybody is really super uptight; but like I say, I'm not really 100 percent in touch with the whole thing, you know, so I can only give you my own fleeting impressions.
Q: Now, you're going onstage later on this evening, now you're apparently going to play for several hours, or you're planning to.
Garcia: We're hoping to, yeah
Q:  Even despite the rain?
Garcia: Well, yeah.
Q: It still feels good?
Garcia: Yeah. I mean, we would not not play under any circumstances, because we've already agreed that we would play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0vAqnq1vW0

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Muther Grumble also did a short article on the Bickershaw Festival in their June 1972 issue, "The Great Western Rip Off":

The site, near Wigan, can only be described as a mud bath. OK so the organisers couldn't control the rain, but what about the pond in the middle of the site which they said would be fenced off and never was? Still, mud and rain soon dries and washes off and I think that's the way most other people thought about it.
Anyway, the music was good all weekend - and so were Joe's lights, notably during Hawkwind's set on Friday. There were good performances from 'Captain Beefheart', 'Dr John', and 'Country Joe' who put life back into the crowd with nice music and a long 'fuck Nixon' chant. He was followed by a nice set from 'New Riders of Purple Sage', and then along came 'The Grateful Dead' who played really excellent sounds for 5½ hours that I can only describe as Far Out!
A good firework display was put on as the 'Dead' played. Other big commercial attractions were the giant video screens each side of the stage, circus acts and an aerial display no less. The screens were certainly welcome as they meant that people could at least see the stage without getting squashed at the front. It's a shame they don't work during the day.... The circus acts, although good, were obviously an extravagant extra. I would like to add that 'Time Out' did a good job with their information points...
The organisers have since complained that they lost money due to the large amount of people who got in for nothing. Shucks!

http://www.muthergrumble.co.uk/issue06/mg0628.htm 

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Melody Maker ran a long, detailed multi-page article on the Bickershaw Festival in their 5/13/72 issue, "The Day The Music Drowned." Here is an excerpt, the festival's conclusion with the Dead:

...As Sunday progressed, many people finally cracked, and made for home. But a core of some 15,000 took everything Mother Nature offered, and stayed for Grateful Dead, and got what they'd been waiting for - because the Dead blew a bigger storm...
...[During Country Joe's set] the Dead's equipment was set up. Despite his attempts, there was still a delay before the New Riders of the Purple Sage began playing. . . . While the stage area pulsated with attempts at organisation . . . the Jesus people took over the singing.
For a few moments the New Riders stood bemused and bewildered, uncertain how best to gain the initiative. Eventually they jerked into a few jagged guitar chords, and finally they gained enough ground to launch into operation without alienating the masses.
They began with attractive country flavoured numbers, clean instrumentals and Budd Cage effectively damping down the pedal steel and then breaking out with long metallic phrases. Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough variation in their music. The set became a fog of similar songs, distorted vocals and introspective jams. Although their opening numbers were refreshing, it was a relief when they got off the stage.

With America not being on, there was only one group left. It was obvious which one. The Grateful Dead's American road crew had virtually taken over the stage.
For a full half hour or more, the Dead played up to their name. They were dead. The festival seemed to be about to end on a marathon anti-climax. Changes began to happen around sunset.
The Grateful Dead slowly took a hold on themselves and their audience responded. They were playing a succession of short sharp numbers, very much the rock side of the group. Garcia picked out a whiplash lead and stared around the stage with owlish blankness.
Dusk approached and the light show behind the group flickered with subtle distortions of a fairground. It switched onto scenes of a steam train for "Casey Jones," and the music was really getting strong.
Just time for a quick half time and the Dead were back into the music. They were hardly recognisable as the same group that opened the show. Somehow their longer numbers like "Dark Star" and "Turn On Your Love Light" gave the impression that they were playing in competition with each other, but listen carefully to each instrument in turn.
The deep rumblings of Phil Lesh's bass chords and Bill Kreutzmann's drumming, the cutting guitar rhythms of Bob Weir, and most dramatically of all, Garcia's superb lead. The weird little phrases he played, with their bell tone and uncertain symmetry. The vital flames of feedback, beautifully controlled. 
The purple spotlights focused on Garcia, "Dark Star" rebounded from atmospherics into its culminating rhythm, making the recording on the "Live Dead" album sound feeble in comparison.
Incredibly, at one point the security web around the Dead folded. A figure rushed across the stage, evading roadies. He threw his arms around Kreutzmann, forcing the drummer to stop playing. In his few seconds of struggle he apparently got across to Kreutzmann that he meant to die that night. Kreutzmann nodded and smiled sympathetically and returned to his stool. The frantic saboteur disappeared behind security.
Around midnight the Dead had been playing for about four hours, give or take one or two breaks. Rock returned as they began the final hour. A female friend came on occasionally to reinforce the vocals, and Pig Pen crept forward from his organ to belt out a few songs.
Eventually they came to "Not Fade Away" and Weir all but threw his voice away on it. An encore, and one final fling with "Johnny B. Goode."
It had been a sensational set, a worthy antidote to a weekend of mud.

http://www.gdao.org/items/show/829502
The Grateful Dead Archive Online has a scan of the full article: "Melody Maker (May 13, 1972): "The Day the Music Drowned", report on the Bickershaw Festival by Roy Hollingworth, Andrew Means, Chris Welch."

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This site has a number of links about the Bickershaw festival: 

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/bickershaw-menu.html 

From the Grateful Dead section in the festival programme:

"You are part of the Grateful Dead and so is that guy next to you straining to get a look at your programme because he couldn't afford to buy one. Share it because you need each other as much as the Dead need each other and need your participation. "That's the ideal situation, everybody should be in the band."  . . .
They grew in the days of legal and pure acid when the west coast was rubbing out signs and dividing lines and walking on the high waters of altruism and love. They played the Trips Festival, the Acid Tests and the Golden Gate Park Be-In and became actively involved in most of the things that were going down, taking them up and away. In 1968 they helped run the Carousel with the Airplane and some friends until the pressures of fuzz and finance forced a close down. Later Bill Graham moved in and renamed it the Fillmore West.
The Dead have been through busts, debts, and beatific bummers and have come out trucking when others have slipped back into old habits, been co-opted or just plain lost faith. Intangible and mysterious lines consorted to once again limit the boundaries, to divert that free consciousness back into seats with numbers watched over by a hierarchy of men with greedy wallets and uniforms who never really felt what was happening.
What's that sound? "Paranoia strikes deep," sung the Buffalo Springfield, and bombs, bad vibes and smoke screens have filled the air, but the Dead, sometimes distant, sometimes near, are still there with a good trip flying from their speakers, showing that the typical daydream can be its own creator and can channel its energy in positive directions.

Setting up the evening before their two night stint at London's Wembley Pool, someone called up to the stage, "Jerry, would you be happier if this barrier was nearer the stage?" To which that famed string picker replied, "We don't need no barriers man, nobody's going to attack us."
At the sound checks they eased through "Hully Gully," "You Win Again," and foolishly I thought that I was getting a sneak preview of the following night's concert. No way, the three and a half hour set on Friday took you through so many delightful changes that you had no idea where it would come from next. My head dropped off altogether when they slipped Marty Robbins' El Paso somewhere into The Other One. Wait til they do Not Fade Away, someone confided to a friend on Saturday night, as the Dead inched their way in little rushes through the disparate house lights and the formality of a slightly straitjacketed environment. Well that friend could still be waiting cos they never faded away but took you to see and hear other sights beyond the Dark Star... They often work within frameworks and call upon references but the number of directions they can take are infinite..."

Audience members generally remember how cold and wet they were, but there are a few memories of the Dead playing:

"I saw the Dead the first night at Wembley and don’t remember thinking then I’d be seeing them again so soon afterwards. Maybe, like the Lyceum gigs, it was announced whilst the tour was in progress. The papers were full of the Dead playing for up to nine hours, doing a run through their entire back catalogue, and the organisers confirmed they’d leave it open-ended to let the Dead play as long as they wanted...
I was disappointed when we reached the festival site. Probably the rain didn’t help but the whole atmosphere was bad – it felt like (and probably was) an industrial wasteland. From somewhere we commandeered a huge plastic sheet which, when it rained, we could sit on and pull up, over, and around ourselves, leaving a small hole at the front to look through... Apart from when the Dead were on, it just seemed to rain most of the time...
And then the Dead. At least the rain had stopped, and I think for once we stood up to watch. The whole festival area by now looked like a disaster area, with silhouettes moving through the mud against a backdrop of flickering fires. It was getting cold once the sun went down and, even from a distance, you could see the vapours being spewed out by the heater cannon on stage...
It was a far more mellow show than at Wembley and they took their time, easing into it gently. I was astonished and delighted to get both Dark Star and The Other One in the same show. Am I imagining it or were the words of Casey Jones flashed up on a screen with a bouncing ball tracking them?"

"A large yellow backcloth with a giant Stealie in the middle was unfurled and billowed in the wind... I remember the band playing Dark Star as the sun sank into the murky haze..."

"By this time most of the fences were down, the security was non existent and the villagers were in the festival grounds watching the good old Grateful Dead and seemingly liking a lot of it too. The first set finished with a rollicking Casey Jones, and the assembled multitude erupted in a spasm of chorus singing and dancing, villagers and all. The weak evening sun highlighted the whole weird mix. Frizzy haired freaks in the crowd playing soaking wet, tuneless hand drums next to flat capped miners, women in the traditional northern housewife's headgear of curlers and headscarves and their kids in prams all singing and leaping and becoming one in a flat out good old bacchanalian romp that would have done the ancient Greeks proud.
There was the inevitable break and then the Dead came back and launched into the stellar stuff, first a warm up with a few rockers like Jack Straw and Greatest Story and then into the REAL pudding - DARK STAR, followed by The Other One - both seriously out there versions and as the fireworks and the video screens got worked up nicely in the gloom, it finally cleared enough so the entire second set was free of rain."

"There were fireworks set off during Dark Star and everyone on the aud tape can be heard going "whooooo," a truly magic moment... I have the vision of the fireworks going off above the stage, for once the sky was clear and crisp (although it was still cold) and the band onstage were framed beautifully by the exploding starshells."


* * *


From Nick Kent's 2010 autobiography, Apathy for the Devil: 

"...Another  'magic band' from America's West Coast who'd adopted LSD as a means to break down existing musical barriers and create a more wide-open sonic sensibility were San Francisco's Grateful Dead. Ever since 1967 they'd been fondly recognised as psychedelic-rock pioneers and all-purpose community-minded righteous hippie dudes by John Peel's lank-haired listeners throughout the British Isles, but they'd only ever managed to play one concert in England to date, at a festival in Staffordshire in the early summer of 1970. In early '72, though, the group and their record company Warner Bros. bankrolled an extended gig-playing trek through Europe that included a short tour of England. In late March, they and their extremely large 'extended family' moved into a swank Kensington hotel in anticipation of the shows and duly became my third interviewees.
In stark contrast to their reputation as championship-level LSD-gobblers, they seemed a pretty down-to-earth bunch when confronted one-on-one. They dressed like rodeo cowboys and talked like mature overseas students checking out foreign culture. The drugs had yet to bend their brains into some inexplicable agenda like Beefheart's bunch. Their music may have been further fuelled by a healthy desire to embrace utter weirdness, but none of them was weird per se. Jerry Garcia in particular was totally exasperated by their image and reputation and the way it constantly impinged on his privacy. Every acid casualty in Christendom wanted to corral him into some 'deeply meaningful' conversation and he'd simply had enough of indulging all these damaged people. Hippies the world over looked up to him as though he were some deity or oracle, but Garcia was really just an intelligent, well-read druggie with a deeply cynical streak who felt increasingly ill at ease with the role he'd been straitjacketed into by late-sixties bohemian culture. In time it would get so intolerable that he would withdraw from society in general by compulsively smoking high-grade Persian heroin. This in turn would prove fatal: after twenty years of addiction, the drug would end up hastening his death in 1995.
At the same time, he was one of the most singularly gifted musicians of the latter half of the twentieth century. The Grateful Dead were an odd bunch in that they were always being called a rock band but they couldn't play straight-ahead rock 'n' roll to save their lives. They'd started out instead as a jug band before branching out into folk and electric blues and playing long jazz-influenced jams whenever the mood struck. By the end of the sixties they'd even morphed into a credible country-and-western outfit. By 1972 they meandered between these various musical genres, performing sets that rarely ran for less than three hours in length; there were - inevitably - valleys and peaks. You'd sit there for what seemed like an eternity watching them noodle away on stage silently praying that they'd actually finish the song and put it out of its misery. But then - all of a sudden - the group would take off into the psychedelic stratosphere and Garcia would step forward to the lip of the stage and begin navigating his way to that enchanted region where the sagebrush meets the stars. Cosmic American music: Gram Parsons coined the phrase but it was the Grateful Dead who best embodied the concept even though - after 1972 - they began slipping into a long befuddling decline...
The Dead turned up to play at a three-day festival held in the Northern town of Bickershaw during the first weekend in May '72. The event's shady promoters had envisaged it as a grand unveiling of the whole West Coast live rock experience to the John Peel demographic, but it soon degenerated into a sort of mud-caked psychedelic concentration camp filled with miserable-looking young people on dodgy hallucinogenics being lashed by torrential wind and rain and being sold inedible food. The Dead performed splendidly  [. . . .] but there was no getting around the fact that the whole ugly debacle was destined to be acid rock's last hurrah here in the British Isles. A relentless downpouring of bad weather, bad facilities, bad drugs and (mostly) bad music; it had worked like a charm three years ago at Woodstock but it wasn't working anymore.
Mind you, I had a great time. A bunch of Frendz collaborators had hired a large van we could all sleep in and had succeeded in getting VIP passes, so we were always close to the action and safe from the inclement storms raging over the bedraggled spectators..."