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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The mystery of the Jerry Garcia Band 11/28/77 ticket stubs

I just don't know what to make of this.

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, are five unique ticket stubs for a Jerry Garcia show at SUNY Stony Brook (Gym) on November 28, 1977.  There is another stub linked to the Jerry Site which is distinct from these five.

So, unless we have six beautifully-concocted fakes, it certainly seems the people had tickets for a Jerry Garcia show on this date at this location. The stubs are torn and so they appear to have been honored and used.

Here's the kicker: there is simply no other evidence that this show happened on this date. It happened on December 9th. How do we know this?

First, there are multiple eyewitness accounts.

Second, there are ticket stubs:

Third, there is a delightful recording, which, after pitch-correcting, shows this to be a typically fun and hot late 1977 JGB east coast tour show.

Fourth, there is loads of evidence from the SUNY Stony Brook Statesman (happily, online!) that the show happened on 12/9, and none whatsoever that points to 11/28.

a) For ex ante evidence, there is a piece from 10/28 that describes a ticketing snafu, whereby Ticketron was able to sell tickets before the SUNY Student Box Office could (1). The article clearly states that the show is scheduled for December 9th.

b) For more ex ante evidence, ads published in the Statesman (I think ... not sure why I didn't note the publication info) that span the 11/28 and 12/9 dates show nothing happening on 11/28, and the Garcia show on 12/9:

c) For ex post evidence, there is a show review (2).

Fifth, if you look again at the scans of the 11/28/77 tickets, you'll see the middle one on the left has handwritten "Dec. 9" under the date.

So, what are we to make of the 11/28 ticket stubs?

H1: reschedule. The Jerry Site has worked under the reasonable assumption that there was a reschedule.But there is simply no evidence for this.Given the coverage in the Statesman, this would have been all over the paper. Eyewitnesses also say it just wasn't so. So I think we can reject this possibility.

H2: the "11/28" stubs are counterfeits. Pro: don't these stubs look like GDP design? Should they look like that? Cons: The scans certainly have a lot of verisimilitude. Why would someone go through all the trouble of making such realistic fakes (of objects that just aren't worth that much, anyway!), only to get the date wrong?  I suppose it could give the sense of rarity or something, but this just doesn't seem likely. Not impossible, just highly unlikely.

H3: the date mis-printed. Note that the ones that are correctly dated are Ticketron tickets, while the "11/28" ones have the different style. The Neilssen piece (1) indicates at least that there was separate ticketing from the campus and from Ticketron. Maybe the student activities group putting the show on put some stoner in charge of getting the tickets together, and he/she just goofed.

I don't really know. I kind of lean to H3, but just can't bring myself to think that such an error would have slipped through the cracks.We'd really need some folks who were there, preferably involved, to weigh in. So please send your Stony Brook alums here to clear up the mystery!

(1) Tom Neilssen, "Ticketron Gets Garcia Tickets Before Campus," Statesman (SUNY Stony Brook), October 28, 1977, p. 3.
(2) Mitchell Alkon, "Garcia Is Alive Without the Dead," Statesman (SUNY Stony Brook), December 14, 1977, p.9


  1. This is pretty neat.

    Here's my theory. Remember we are talking about Mainframe computers, circa 1977 here. I think Ticketron somehow created tickets with the wrong date--not hard to do, and really not hard to do when no one grasped the concept of QA Testing. Alternately, maybe they were created as a test (I have a funny story about this, but it involves the stock Exchange and its too long).

    Having created the tickets, they ripped them, to insure they couldn't be either used or refunded. Someone saved them, and lo and behold they moved from "memento" to "artifact."

    Just a theory. Still a great mystery.

  2. Corry342:

    The Ticketron tickets bear the correct date, the fancy printed tix are misdated;

    however, Your theory about the tix being destroyed after a misprint or test print makes sense.


  3. I should have mentioned that I was a Stony Brook student at the time, and was first in line for tickets when they went on sale at the Student Union. I will have to track down my 1st Row Center stub.

    I just contacted a friend and fellow alumni, and he has his stub and indicates it is yellow, and bears the 11/28 date, though we both know very well that it was a 12/9 show.

    His ticket is for a reserved seat as well.

    This disproves the theory that the 11/28 tix were not genuine and used for admittance on the night of 12/9.

  4. aikox2, that is interesting that your friend's ticket was labeled 11/28 and was honored. That certainly makes the simple misprint theory seem more likely, though Corry342's idea of a batch of test- or mis-printed tickets having survived also made sense to me.

    I bet we could figure out who was the head of the Student Activities Board from the Statesman (or otherwise) and work back toward those might have been involved with the printing of the tickets to see if they can shed any light.

  5. Boy, we're leaving no turn unstoned!

    I seem to recall that in Days of Yore tickets looked different if they were purchased from the University box office as opposed to civilian (BASS/Ticketron) outlets. Perhaps the mis-dated ones are from one place, like the University Box Office?

    Its hard to recall in these days of barcodes, scanners and online 24/7 databases, but printing 1000 tickets in color may have taken a day to prepare and print, and if the date was wrong, it may have been too late to do anything about it. Also, in the days before spreadsheets (Lotus Notes didn't appear until the 1980s) there may have been no good way to "reprint" tickets without completely demolishing any accounting. Of course now it could be fixed with three clicks of a mouse.

    Given that we know the tickets were valid, my current guess is that one vendor or location (like the SUNY SB Box Office) printed tickets with the wrong date, but they had to be honored or else the problems would have been larger.

    Great stuff.

  6. hey JGMF,

    Great blog, have really been enjoying your's and Corry's.
    I recently was turned onto these scans of grateful dead memorabilia and in them is a tentative JGB tour schedule which lists 11/28/77 as a Stonybrook date.
    Click photos - click gratefuldead and then check page 3

    Looks like possibly it was originally scheduled for 11/28 and then changed?

    keep up the good work!

  7. That is really interesting. I am shocked that the Statesman shows no evidence for this. Maybe it all happened over the summer or something, and by the time the kids came back in the fall the new date was in place and not worth fussing about.

    Thanks for sharing and for the kind words!

  8. The most likely answer is as bRad implies: it was originally scheduled for 11/28 and mail order tickets were printed. The date was changed to 12/9 and the 11/28 tickets were honored at the door.

  9. I finally dug out my box of stubs that had been buried for the past 11 years.

    My stub is yellow. The scans of the blue stubs are for GA seats, mine was 2nd row reserved. My stub does not show the date, but it does state Monday. 12/9/77 was a Friday, 11/28/77 was a Monday.

    I have a digital image of my stub. If anyone would like me to upload it somewhere, just point me.

    The show was most definitely on Friday, 12/9/77.

    I was a student living on campus at the time of this show. I don't remember the show having been rescheduled, but I was taking more chemicals than classes at the time ; )

  10. Very cool, thanks for digging those out! Can you please email them to me at jgmfblog at gmail dot com? Thanks again.


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