Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

GD: July 4, 1974, Titan Stadium, Oshkosh, WI (CXL)

A mention in the Chicago Tribune of June 20, 1974 (1) notes that tickets are still available for the GD's July 4th show at 10,000 seat Titan Stadium in Oshkosh, WI. I had though Corry had written this up over at Lost Live Dead, but I don't see it there so I thought I'd at least put down a marker.

This would have been a reasonable time for Jerry et al. to swing through Wisconsin, having ended the GD June tour in the northeast Nice easy stop to make on the way back home. A very perceptive local account (Branigan 1974) explains that the GD had dropped out of a prospective "July 4th superconcert" in Columbus, OH, with The Band and Eric Clapton, potentially dropping them into the laps of some industrious young Oshkosh promoters, who had been chasing Three Dog Night.

Campus and athletic department officials approved the event, and it was ticketed:


Tickets were going quickly: 15,000 tickets sold over 11 days in Chicago alone, thousands more in other upper midwest towns. Attendance expectations rose to 30,000, and apparently the good burghers of Oshkosh got worried about lots of Dirty Fucking Hippies coming to town. Bratigan (1974) gives some great color. Local homeowners threatened to block an awaiting rezoning petition that would have held up some university athletic facilities -- how that's kicking 'em where it hurts! The local Kiwanas worried about the impact on their annual bratfest and fireworks beerbash. "We don't have enough brat for 30,000 hippies and us too!", said one local.

The university caved. Those town-gown relations can be very delicate. Apparently an alternative venue, the Loft golf course and nightclub in Fitchburg, was selected, agreed, and advertised at some point, but that one, too, was blocked when a local neighbor sued to stop the show. According to (3), "on the eve of the Fourth of July, the promoter [Zoom Productions of Chicago] apparently decided to abandon the whole idea." A column (2) the day of the show says that "Today's Grateful Dead concert ... has been postponed until Saturday [ed: July 6th] at 2 p.m. and relocated at [sic] the Ridgewood Trace Park in Madison." This doesn't seem to have happened, either.

In the end, Bratigan reports that "The Grateful Dead spent four wonderful days and nights in the Pioneer Inn" watching the lightning, victims of "a complicated dance of politics and home-grown fear". We know that Jerry was in NYC playing with Merl on the 1st-2nd-3rd (see Corry, nick), and I doubt the band was stuck in Oshkosh (though the roadies, quippies, and bag-men might have been). But who knows?

By way of unhappy postscripts to this saga, later we get reports (4, see left) that the GD is suing the promoters .

(1) Gold, Aaron. Tower Ticker. Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1974, p. B2.
(2) Gold, Aaron. Tower Ticker. Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1974, p. C2.
(3) Boxoffice, July 22, 1974, p. 49, via
(4) "Grateful Dead Seeks Damages," Billboard, v87 n1, January 4, 1975, p. 3 (via Google Books).
(5)  Branigan, Brian. 1974. A Dead 4th of July. Unknown publication (WI).

1 comment:

  1. "when a Grateful Dead gig scheduled for Wednesday [sic] in Oshkosh fell through, the group [JGMS] decided to stay on [at the Bottom Line in NYC] another night [July 3rd]. The added show was announced after the Tuesday [7/2] set, a line formed at the box office at 9 a.m. the next morning [7/3], and 400 tickets were sold in 25 minutes, with hundreds more potential patrons turned away. Who says the underground doesn't exist anymore?" Mayer 1974.


!Thank you for joining the conversation!