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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reading Notes: “Dead Awaken: New Albums, Label, Tour,” Rolling Stone 163 (June 20, 1974), p. 28.

“Dead Awaken: New Albums, Label, Tour,” Rolling Stone 163 (June 20, 1974), p. 28.

This unsigned, one-column thing datelined from San Rafael is chock full of tidbits. I'll just throw them out and comment on them ad seriatim.

Gives 5/24/74 release date for Rum Runners and Garcia [Compliments], 6/21 for GD’s Mars Hotel.

I have Compliments out on Friday 6/21/74 and Mars Hotel on 6/27,  but those dates are not reliably sourced. Anyone have good solid dates?

“’Round Records,’ said Ron Rakow, head of both labels, ‘is a separate entity. Grateful Dead Records was designed to distribute just Dead product. We did this for maximum safety for the Dead.’ In other words, minimum risk.”

So the GD forced Garcia to create Round for his solo projects? (See my post on Garcia and Round here.)  That is a *very* interesting angle. (And the possibility that a bunch of them might go on to sink the label with their non-selling "product" would not be without irony.) Makes me think ...
Rakow: “Even a Garcia album is more high-risk than a Grateful Dead record. Some of the Dead don’t want a risk. Garcia likes risks, likes worries, so he can always be on the edge.”

Same theme as above, but this is very interesting to me. One thing it shows is how committed Garcia was to the GD. Even though the GD couldn't exist without him, they felt strong (and perhaps ungenerous?) enough to get him to shoulder his own risk *in addition to* radically lessening their own (on the GD side). I originally wrote "with friends like these ...", but having slept on it I guess I understand. If everyone but Jerry thought Rakow was a snake, and that seems clearly to have been the case, then it seems they were ensuring risk against Rakow, not against Jerry. Probably wise.
“[Rakow:] ’When Garcia wanted to do his LP, he and I got together with Jon McIntyre [sic] (the Dead’s manager) and Anton Round, an old rich guy I don’t know much about.’ … And another label was born.”
Does anyone know anything about Anton Round? I just looked through McNally's LST and didn't see him, which is surprising given how comprehensive McNally is (through the hiatus, anyway). Might this have been either a nom de guerre of Rakow, like his criminal alter ego? Or maybe some sort of associate of Rakow?

Anyway, lots of random bits and pieces floating around ...

1 comment:

  1. I think Anton Round was just a joke. McGanahan Skjellefetti's landlord, so to speak. Warner Brothers was named after the owners, after all.

    There's another side to Garcia taking the risk for financing Round Records, however. I think that in the early 70s, when the Dead started to have a little success selling records, they discovered what other bands knew: the songwriters make the money. Mechanical royalties for Garcia and Hunter from their hit albums made Garcia richer than the rest of the band.

    So while it's true that Garcia was committed to the band, it may not be so simple as to say the band was "ungenerous." It's fair for Phil and the drummers to think that they were a necessary part of the Dead's success, but record company serfdom rewarded the songwriters, not the band members. So Garcia's success gave him the financial wherewithal to take on some risk that the non-songwriters couldn't share.

    In this respect, a band is like a marriage, if an odd six-way one.


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