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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

GD: November 11, 1970, 46th Street Rock Palace, Brooklyn, NY

From a website on forgotten NY places, which links over to, I found this really neat recollection of the GD's November 11, 1970 show at the 46th Street Rock Palace in Brooklyn, NY.

This was possibly one of the weirdest shows I ever saw (but enjoyable nevertheless). It took place on a Weds about 2:30 in the aft (if memory serves). I'd heard it promoted on wnew-fm the day before, so I rounded up at least 10 of my regular deadhead friends and we went to what turned out to be a giant, ornate, old movie palace behind the el in Brooklyn. The theater was basically deserted. We sat in the third row. (I think the band just wanted to rehearse in a big theater(?) because Phil would put down his bass and run around the auditorium, apparently doing sound checks.) Anyway, we were literally half of the audience until a few songs in when a whole group of senior citizens (at least 20) filed in and sat a few rows behind us (not your usual dead crowd!). The 10+ of us noticed them, but didn't know what to make of their presence, so we just carried on as usual (if you know what I mean). Bur for years I wondered what drew them to see the dead? A few years ago, still wondering, I told this story to a dead head who grew up in Brooklyn and he knew the answer. They were from a local senior citizen home and they were on an outing. They had no idea what they were walking into, but the theater had a package deal with the home to get them out and about, and that must have been one of the days they were scheduled to go to that theater to see a movie. They didn't come to see the dead, (but I wonder what they made of them). By the way, the show was pretty good. It must have been because the old folks stayed for the whole thing (or else, weird as it must have been to them, it was better than going back to the home). -Reg the Veg
**update 20150815 to cross reference LIA's post, posting text of a Variety review (see reference below) and LIA's usual amazing commentary.

Jeff. 1970c. Concert Reviews: Grateful Dead. Variety 261 (November 25, 1970): 43. Text and commentary at, consulted 8/15/2015. [xxx] re: gd 1970-11-11


  1. One wonders if it was an additional show or open rehearsal. Certainly the size of the audience doesn't fit with the recollection at wherein a poster notes "I attended a Greatful {sic] Dead concert on 11/11/1970 held in the 46th St. theater. While not on any mood enhancing drugs, I have little recall for the content of the concert. What I do recall is the theater. It had a blue domed ceiling. There were Grecian statues between columns around the orchestra section of the theater. There may have been clouds painted on the ceiling. I also recall that the combined sound of the band and the trains rumbling outside made plaster dust fall from the ceiling. I left the show early - the house was oversold, the noise was too much and I was convinced the building would collapse. It didn't. " (posted by P.S. 152 on Nov 7, 2004 at 7:46am). The same poster posted on Sep 26th, 2005 "The night the Dead played was truly remarkable. The house was packed and people stood "armpit to armpit!" There was a sense of awe and excitement that the Greatful {sic] Dead had come to Brooklyn and to Boropark no less! Garcia's piercing solos, the visceral base riffs and the songs we all knew... oh what an affirmation. We were part of a bigger world and the world knew we were here. Our ears rang for a week afterwards. Then it was a good thing. Now we call it tinnitus. "
    Doesn't sound like the show the Forgotten NY poster describes.
    Granted, the Cinema Treasures poster refers to to "the night the Dead played", whereas both Deadlists and the poster on the Dead's own site ( list 4 shows. Still, that could just be the turn of phrase of the Cinema Treasures poster about the one night that he saw...
    Certainly the noise on the audience tape of 11/11/70 suggests more than 30 (two-thirds of whom were geriatric!) in the audience :-)

  2. @ Jelly9666: The first night was a Wednesday. I went Friday and Saturday. People that were at the first show told me it was half empty, and I couldn't believe it but it was true. No one at that time went to a Wednesday concert, we all had school or jobs! And yes it was packed the final 2 nights. Saturday was a sellout, so a pal and I snuck in (broke in with a crowbar on a boarded window to the top room actually, found the crowbar on the roof!)A line of people followed us up the old rotting fire escape, so the ushers that busted us two had to let us all in. I recall the greasers going nuts when Pigpen sang Lovelight! The mezzanine was a drug emporium, freaks hanging out passing dosed bottles of juice and reefers. Somebody opened the door off the stage and let people in so it got *real* crowded. Decades later I met the guy who opened the door, on the West coast at a friends place. The ushers were in shock, no one knew how to deal with it! LOL

  3. Here's a ticket stub for the 12th..."Grateful Dead/Hot Tuna" is hand-written on the reverse.

  4. This is an interesting story to be sure, but like the first commenter, I don't believe it's true.
    1) We have several accounts of this run - while the Wed/Thurs shows weren't packed, there were at least a couple hundred people attending.
    2) There were no afternoon shows that we know of, only one each night, probably at 8:00. (This story sounds like possibly just a soundcheck, though.)
    3) The Rock Palace was no longer a movie theater - it was exclusively doing rock shows. The idea that it had any kind of "package deal" with a local senior citizens' home to attend shows is ludicrous.
    That said, it's possible this person & a few others sat in on a soundcheck, which people could do sometimes in 1970. (For instance, we have a tape of the 11/6/70 soundcheck.) He describes the theater correctly, and mentions they heard about the shows on WNEW FM, which is an interesting detail since one of the WNEW DJs, Alison Steele ("the Nightbird"), was the announcer for the shows.

    The comments here add some valuable authentic memories of the shows.
    I'm intrigued by the ticket with "Hot Tuna" written on the back - as far as we know, they dropped in on the 11th but not later nights - possibly the person who wrote on the ticket remembered the wrong date. We do have at least one detailed memory of the 12th which doesn't mention Hot Tuna at all:


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