The biggest gig of the Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72 tour, their largest ever overseas show, & one of our biggest Deadcasts yet, reconstructing the legendary Bickershaw Festival mudbath with enraptured audience members including an extended conversation with Elvis Costello.
Europe ‘72: Bickershaw Festival supplementary notes
by Jesse Jarnow
The Grateful Dead’s appearance at the Bickershaw Festival in the north of England was the largest show on the Europe ‘72 tour and the biggest gig the band ever played overseas. The Dead headlined a spectacular lineup that included Captain Beefheart, Dr. John, the Kinks, Annette Peacock, Paul Bley, Maynard Ferguson, Donovan, the Incredible String Band, the Kinks, the Flamin’ Groovies, Country Joe McDonald, and more. Though the festival was a financial bomb and the weather was miserable, many had a perfectly amazing time, as reports attest.
One fan in attendance was teenager D.P. MacManus, the songwriter who would soon change his name to Elvis Costello, solidifying what’s become a lifelong (if sometimes hidden) connection to the Grateful Dead’s music. It was a true honor to speak with him about his experience, and we here at the Deadcast most heartily recommend The Boy Named If, the latest album from Elvis Costello & the Imposters. In 1989, when Costello hosted the birthday party for Mill Valley’s Village Music at the local club Sweetwater, Garcia ducked in for a jam, documented on a lovely video. And in 1991, Jerry and Elvis sat together for a joint conversation and appeared on the cover of the late, lamented Musician magazine.
One fan not in attendance at Bickershaw was the science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, who shared the cover with the Dead on the newest issue of the British underground publication Frendz and also spoke with us for this episode. As editor of the publication New Worlds, he helped nurture sci-fi’s so-called New Wave, helping to liberate the genre in arguably a similar way that the Dead helped open the possibilities of rock music. His is the subject of a chapter (and a frequent reference point) in the new book Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, via PM Press, also the publishers of Moorcock’s latest work.
The Bickershaw Festival was also the European debut for the New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Dead spin-off band that had featured Jerry Garcia on pedal steel until the previous fall, replaced by Buddy Cage. Deadcast pal Corry Arnold has assembled the first complete chronology of the New Riders’ European adventures.
As always, we are thankful for some interviews borrowed from friends, this episode including a cool Blair Jackson conversation with recordist Dennis “Wiz” Leonard that first appeared in This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, co-written by Blair and David Gans. Thanks Blair!
This is a great podcast and I wish it could be made into a full documentary! Wonderful history and I had no idea Elvis Costello loved the Dead so much and was actually at that show. Fantastic job! Thanks.
And please fix the spelling for Peter Luttner, you have is as Kittner.
As soon as Jesse mentioned Hawkwind I was like, "Oh please let him interview Michael Moorcock!!" I was so happy when it came true. Two of my favorite things in life have just been combined. Thank you so much for this!!