Saturday, February 27, 2016

"The Little Cash Cow" - JGB, Early 1980

Last weekend's post "On the Bus with the Garcia Band" looked at the November-December 1983 JGB tour's extensive ground travel - everything was by bus, 3,000 miles on the road in a few weeks in the eastern time zone. Commenter Nick asked a great question comparing that tour with earlier ones, pointing out Ozzie Ahlers's recollections of limos and such on the early 1980 tour. In comments, I noted that that one had been a multimodal affair:
2/13 fly commercial DC-Albany
2/14 drive 165 mi. to Boston
2/16 drive 140 mi. to New Haven
2/17 charter plane to Syracuse
2/20 fly commercial to Hartford
2/21 fly commercial to Newark
2/23 drive 90 mi. to Philly
2/24 drive 110 mi. to Long Island
2/26 drive 180 mi. to Provy
2/27 drive 180 mi. back to NYC
Nick raises the question of whether the later tour maybe just wasn't generating the same amount of cash, so that the bus was a budget-conscious choice. (Corry offers an alternative hypothesis.)

I'd love to be able to compare the money on the two tours, but I lack the '83 piece. I can lay out the '80 piece, and it is quite impressive. Somewhere I have Dennis McNally calling the Garcia Band a "little cash cow", and the numbers affirm.
Table xxx. Jerry Garcia Band Touring Revenues, February-March 1980
In 2015 dollars, that's just over $571k for three weeks' work, not bad.

The last column may also be of interest. $19k (1980$) cash out on the road would have bought Our Hero a lot of cigarettes and chili dogs.


  1. I just check this because the thought the $6,500 ticket revenue in Providence 2-26-80 looked light, but according to the chart below it looks like $6.50 times 1,000 seats makes good math. I forgot how lucky we were as late as 1980 in New England to see Jerry in a 1,000 seat or less theater for two full sets for $6! Note that Robert Hunter and Comfort opened these shows and performed Tiger Rose and Promontory Rider with the Jerry Garcia Band, the only time I ever saw Hunter and Jerry song together. gratefulseconds.blogspot I don't recall why I don't remember seeing the Boston show earlier in the month. I'll ask my pal Rick Sullivan who used to score me Rhode Island tickets from 1977-1981 before we both moved to SF

    1. David has embedded very interesting point here, although it may not be obvious. It is my thesis that while the Grateful Dead's music moved (in effect) from West to East, Deadheads tended to move from East to West. From the late 70s to the mid-80s, a large number of pretty serious Deadheads moved from other parts of the country to Northern California, with the Dead as the principal attraction (the weather and economy did not hurt, I should add).

      It was the East Coasters who traveled to shows, Westerners weren't so inclined, since we knew the Dead would be back in a few months, and we could go the Keystone as we chose. But once the Easterners were out West, not only did they travel more--Portland, LA, Colorado, etc--but they became a point of contact for their friends back East.

    2. I would say about 75% that the reason I moved to Berkeley in December 1980 after college was to see a lot of Dead shows in the Bay Area specifically. And I know a lot of other East Coast Deadheads moved here as well (Rick S, Michael and Juliet, Ralphie, Craig, Kirko and the list goes on)

  2. McNally in 1994: "Jerry's classic! Jerry spends it faster than he can make it. And he makes the most because he's got the Garcia Band, and that's a little cash cow. But on that level, he's still a beatnik. He still basically regards having a lot of money in the bank as a sin and he makes sure he doesn't sin. He spends it faster than he makes it." I have relocated this quote, now only accessible AFAIK through the Wayback Machine, at


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