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Saturday, October 25, 2014

JGB at Vassar: it was not meant to be



It's tough being Jerry. He won a poll at Vassar about who students would most like to see, but "Garcia … was only available in the middle of the week. It was also rumored that Grateful Dead fans were notorious for destroying concert halls and that the chapel would suffer the same fate. Since the committee felt that a concert would not do well in the middle of the week, the idea of a Jerry Garcia concert was abandoned." Carroll, Homer. 1976. Knocks & Swipes: Concert Blundering II. Vassar Miscellany News, November 5, 1976, p. 7.

3 comments:

  1. The part I find interesting is the theme that Grateful Dead fans ruined concert halls. There was a whiff of that at Stanford as well (cf a fraternity trying to book Robert Hunter and Roadhog in 1976 were told that the Dead were "banned" from campus). What halls did Dead fans ruin, or what were they accused of?

    Plenty of acts had crazy fans--Iggy Pop, Black Oak Arkansas, Aerosmith etc--but Deadheads were generally non-destructive. My suspicion is that a manager who had his own act told the Vassar crew that the Dead were destructive (and probably added that the Hells Angels came to every NY show), in order to get his own band hired.

    You can't google Vassar concerts very easily, since you just get references to Vassar Clements.

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  2. This is perhaps an area where more research is required: which concert halls actually suffered damage from deadheads, and which theaters (pre-'80s) banned the Dead for that reason.
    I think there were a couple college theaters in the fall '70 tour that were damaged by all the mad break-ins at Dead shows - McDonough at Georgetown U. 10/23/70 comes to mind, and they banned all rock concerts there shortly thereafter - also, there were bitter complaints about the overcrowding & poor security at SUNY 10/31/70 and Boston U. 11/21/70. But no, deadheads were not particularly destructive otherwise....

    I think there may be a couple other reasons here. This could be an early instance of deadhead stigma - seen by authorities as a mass of marauding ants, laying waste to everything around them.
    Or, "destroying concert halls" is code for: "they're all on drugs!" Even Hell's Angels might not strike as much fear into college administrators' hearts as the prospect of hundreds of stoned kids & dealers swarming around campus.

    But as far as this show goes, note that the official reason given is purely financial: a mid-week concert wouldn't make enough money. The "destructive" fans were but a rumor.

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  3. Yeah, I think the money was an excuse. The Dirty Fucking Hippies were the real problem.

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