Europe ‘72: France


Season 5, Episode 5

Archival interviews:

- Robert Hunter, by David Gans, Conversations with the Dead, 1977.

- Robert Hunter, by Steve Silberman, unpublished, 10/19/1992.

- Dennis “Wiz” Leonard, by Blair Jackson, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, 2011.

- Rosie McGee, by David Gans, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, 2015.

- Rosie McGee, Dancing With the Dead audiobook, 2013.

- Jon McIntire, by David Gans, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, 2011.

- Phil Lesh & Bob Weir, by David Gans & Marty Martinez, Grateful Dead Hour #369, 9/1995.

JESSE: Late on May Day 1972, the Grateful Dead arrived in France. They had been in Europe for exactly a month and had plenty of adventures and made some fantastic music. But in the course of the tour’s first 10 performances, they’d only caught two songs that would make it to the original Europe ‘72 triple-LP. That would change significantly when they got to Paris, where—in the comfortable confines of the Olympia Theatre—they found a welcoming crowd of heads and captured more than twice that: 5 live Dead recordings that virtually every head knows. But, to paraphrase the great music documentarian Marty DiBergi, they got more. A lot more.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Europe ‘72] (0:00-0:13) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: The Bozo bus and the Bolo bus took the two-day overland route from Hamburg to Paris with an overnight stop in Konigswinter. As always, we’re standing on the shoulders of heads, and specifically David Gans. This next bit of Bob Weir comes from David and Marty Martinez’s 1995 interview with him, and it’s followed by an interview David did with the Dead’s late manager Jon McIntire. Check out David’s books at

BOB WEIR [9/95]: We'd hit multiple and varied truckstops to the amazement and consternation of the locals.

JON McINTIRE [2011]: We had two buses — like 52 people. One of the things that I just remember… Rosie [McGee] wasn't there, because Rosie speaks French—born in Paris, speaks fluent French. But she must not have been there, because I remember a lot of times driving through France in these two buses, with 52 hippies… it'd be 4:00 in the afternoon, and we’d be really hungry. And when people like us are really hungry, it's, like, really not a good idea to let that hunger go on any longer because it'll burst out in ways that you're not really comfortable with. So we’d have to go to some little countryside French place and of course, all of France closes down between 2:30 and 7:00 for food… It's not like in this country where there are things that are open all the time and you can eat whenever. No, that doesn't happen in France; you eat when the meals are cooked there. So I would have to go in there with my small knowledge of French and try to talk them into serving 52 really weird-looking people who [would] be very grateful if they were fed at a time when no one is eating in the entire country. That happened a lot.

JESSE: The Grand Hotel in Paris was expecting a 37-piece orchestra. “The Beautiful Dead, Monsieur?” the desk clerk asked Rolling Stone writer Jerry Hopkins, who arrived before the band did. Hopkins met up with the Dead the next day at the crack of noon, a day off before their Paris debut. A number of details come from his great story, “The Beautiful Dead Hit Paris.”

Rosie McGee was along for the ride, sometimes assisting Sam Cutler, sometimes assisting the recording crew from Alembic, where she worked in the administration side back home. This is from her 2014 conversation with David Gans for the great book This Is All A Dream We Dreamed.  

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: At first, Sam had, in each hotel, he had a large suite, which he could use as his road office. They had to hand out per diems every day. This was a large group of people. At first I helped — I’d go to his suite in the morning and help hand out per diems. Because Frances Carr was with him, he didn’t really need my help. So after a while, I just went off and had fun whenever we weren’t in a French-speaking country.

SAM CUTLER: Rosie McGee — bless her, she helped a lot. She spoke perfect French. I didn’t speak French; a bit of French, but not much. I spoke Spanish, but we weren't in Spain, so that didn't help. I knew how to say “fuck off” in about 15 different languages. That sometimes came in handy.

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: Sam… kudos to him. He put together that whole tour: he tour-managed it, booked it, he fronted it, he road-managed it, and all of that. But my impression of Sam was that he was dismissive of the women; he frequently referred to us in a clump, as the old ladies. “Oh, it's just the old ladies, don't worry about it.” He never got to know me as an individual until maybe three years ago.

JESSE: But in France, Rosie had some jobs to do. This is from her cool audiobook, Dancing With the Dead.

ROSIE McGEE [Dancing With the Dead, Chapter 9]: The night before we were to arrive in France, I got to work. My first task was to write and produce a newsletter that would be helpful to my fellow travelers while they were in Paris. Using several current guidebooks for research, I wrote a short history of Paris sightseeing and restaurant tips within a short taxi ride or walking distance of the hotel, and some basic French phrases that might come in handy. When we got to the Paris hotel, I typed it up, and with the help of the hotel staff copied and assembled it late that night. Everyone had a copy under their door when they got up in the morning.

JESSE: As far as I can tell, the traveling party woke up to the first issue of the Bozos & Bolos News. It might have been the only issue. There were perhaps other in-tour documents, but none of them seem to have survived.

SAM CUTLER: We were producing a little kind of a daily—or every couple of days—little kind of handout thing that said ‘well, this has changed or that has changed.’

JESSE: Alan Trist of Ice Nine Publishing.

ALAN TRIST: I do remember it really started getting into gear in Paris. We stayed in a wonderful hotel in Paris, [the] Grand Hotel. The publication that was put out every day and sent around to us, I think the first one was in Paris. There were several — they sort of came and went, like leaves blowing in the wind. I kept none, you know? I wish I had. I don't even really have much memory of content. But I know that Hunter had quite a few of his jokes in there about hypnocracy, and Sam also had a lot of very important information about when the bus was leaving in the morning. He famously described his job as like herding cats. That certainly must have been the case. I was one of the cats most of the time.

JESSE: "Today is a free day," the Paris issue of the Bozos & Bolos News read. "In the evening, Kinney is hosting a dinner for all of us (and a few discreet press people) at a very fine restaurant located in the Bois de Boulogne (the city park, but what a park!). It is called La Grande Cascade, and holy shit, is it ever neat! You might even feel like dressing special for it, although you don't have to. It's just that kind of place..." There was plenty to do during their off day in Paris. The lighting crew couldn’t wait to get there. Ben Haller.

BEN HALLER: Candace and I, we bought a Eurail pass because they had so many days doing things, you didn't have to stay on the bus and the bus was kind of boring. And if you're in Germany and you can get to Paris three days early? Come on, baby!

JESSE: Alan Trist.

ALAN TRIST: We got very close with a couple of French filmmakers called Jean-Jacques Damiani and Daniel… I forget his last name. But they were really into that time period: they were trying to make films about the youth movements, [and] we later saw a lot of them because they came to California and hung out over a course of about 10 years in the ‘70s. Wherever they were in America, they’d come visit us. And they took us around Paris, they showed us places — the famous dinner of Warner Brothers in Luxembourg Gardens. They were so helpful in shepherding us around; I think that's the sense of family that we got in Paris in these people, the sense that these were really people you go be close with. They took us to another famous restaurant in Paris, I forget the name of that. And to walk down the Seine, past the bookstores, to Notre Dame. They were our tour guides in Paris.

JESSE: The Daniel, I think, is Daniel Schuster. There’s a distant photo of them in The Grateful Dead Family Album. The first day of sightseeing, the band struck out, as Garcia recounted to Jerry Hopkins. "Almost every place we went today was closed. The Louvre is closed Tuesdays. We went to Notre Dame and we saw that -- really boss, but we couldn't climb the tower. We went to the Cluny. We saw that. It was sacked by the Barbarians in the year 300, and before that it was a Roman bath. Flash flash. History everywhere you look. Far-out." As Mountain Girl remembers, they did make it back to the Louvre.

MOUNTAIN GIRL: We had a great time, we went around and did all kinds of stuff together. The museums were particularly high on our list. We went to the Louvre twice. That was fun, because you can only do a little bit at a time in there… It’s a little overwhelming. I remember looking at the wing of a museum that was all old instruments — that got Jerry, [he] liked that. We spent about an hour in there looking at antique instruments — really old, like 1,000 years old. It's really interesting, the history of music and musical instruments; we don't really have a history of that here in this country. But there, they've got it.

JESSE: I think MG is remembering the Musée de la musique.

BEN HALLER: It was fun to see all the cultural differences with the eating and everything. One night in Paris, Mountain and Jerry had gotten into an elevator, and Candace and I got in with them. Then this very elegant couple in a tuxedo and an evening dress and everything get in, and the husband looks at his wife — just not thinking, he says, “Honey, remind me, I got to get a haircut.” I had hair to my waist at that point. Mountain and Candace are giggling away, having a grand time. Mountain was always great. She was salt of the earth. She was wonderful.

JESSE: Keith and Donna Godchaux were having a pretty intense go of it in Europe, enjoying themselves, but also experiencing a bit of whiplash being thrown into the center of a traveling circus from which they’d very much been outsiders only 6 months earlier.

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: In Paris? Didn't we stay at the Grand Hotel? That was an amazing place. I remember Keith and I were such fish out of water. We were very close to the Louvre, and I was afraid to go outside. I was trying to navigate through like coming off a spaceship and landing on another planet. I was just afraid to do anything or go anywhere, and I wish I could turn back that clock and redo that.

JESSE: Dennis “Wiz” Leonard, from the great interview by Blair Jackson [for This Is All A Dream We Dreamed].

DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD [2011]: We had a great brunch in somebody's room on a day off of course, many. And then we took a walk over to the Olympia Theatre, the backstage door was down an alley.

JESSE: Depending on which off day they headed to the Olympia, the Dead crew may’ve encountered either the post-Jim Morrison Doors, who played the Olympia on Mayday, their only ever appearance in Paris, and following Morrison’s death there less than a year before. And on the 2nd of May, the Dead crew may’ve crossed paths with the Canterbury prog weirdos, The Soft Machine.

DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD [2011]: We're leaving to go back to the hotel, and Pig[pen] kind of straggles behind. It's this beautiful cobblestone alley, and I look back and there's Pig — he takes his hat off, throws it down on the ground and does a jig on it, and says: “Now I got some Paris dirt in my hat.”

JESSE: Pigpen wrote home to his parents from Paris. Unfortunately, this is the last of his letters that seems to have survived. There certainly could’ve been more. Thanks, Sully, for both reading these letters and preserving them. This and the rest of the Pigpen archive is in loving hands. You can check out parts of the collection in the Facebook group, the Cult of Ron McKernan.

SULLY: “Paris sure is mellow in spring-time, sidewalk cafes, motorbikes on the sidewalks parked, groups just peacefully hangin’ out outside a bistro, just like in the movies. It’s great, and we’re only here a few days. Oh forgot the famous French whores, they’re here, too.”

JESSE: Steve Parish on the other hand, took Paris by storm. Kind of almost literally. He had better luck at Notre Dame and the Louvre than his boss did. Take it away, Parish.

STEVE PARISH: Every day was a fucking crazy adventure, especially because, on days off, we took acid. Phil, Ram Rod and myself, the famous trip we made to Notre Dame — which was at that time fully intact, and just ancient. Ancient! And no guards hardly anywhere in the place, man. So we went in there in the afternoon, I'm [sitting] there looking at the mandala. We were so high, Phil was saying, “Look at this thing, guys,” and it was spinning. It was just, like, rotating so fast, and you couldn't stop staring at the stained glass window in there. Then I noticed a doorway over on the side here. So Ram Rod and I go over there, poking around, and we open the door and there's steps. There’s stone steps, man, on a spiral staircase, and the steps were so old that the middle of the steps were worn down by footprints going up to that room for centuries.

So we started walking — I just started walking, and we’re walking and walking and going up the spiral staircase. And then where are we? We’re on the roof of Notre Dame! Where the gargoyles are, right? Then, there’s this fucking built little thing in the middle of it. At that time, there was a thing in… I think it was in a Rolling Stones song or something, but it said “looking through glass darkly.” Then I understood what it meant — because in the old days, I’m talking about in the Middle Ages when they made glass, it wasn’t perfect like our glass now. It had imperfections in it, and it had a lot of soot in it, because they made it imperfectly with their heating apparatuses. It was basically sand that’s heated until it melts into glass. And so these carbon deposits were all through the windows on this roof. I’m peering in it, and then I see: there’s not only a bell—this is the bell room of fuckin’ Notre Dame—and there’s straw on the floor! This is where fucking Quasimodo slept, on that pile of straw up there, and that glass was there for all that time! Nobody changed those windows. I took Ram Rod in — god bless him, he only read a couple of pages of Tom Sawyer. So I’m telling him about Victor Hugo and Notre Dame, and writing this great novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on truth and stuff. I’m telling this story, and there’s the gargoyles. We’re so high, right, and so we lean over and put our arms… I tell him, “I feel just like Charles Lawton,” in the later version. My favorite version was Lon Chaney in the silent version of Hunchback. Jerry and I loved that; we used to watch it all the time. And I go, “Why was I not made of stone? Like the…” — you know, as he’s talking to the gargoyle.

Then we got spooked, man — we run down those stairs. He said, “Something’s gonna happen.” We go out, just me and Ram Rod, into the street. We’re walking through Paris, man, and we’ve been up on the roof looking at it, laid out from Notre Dame. you can imagine what that looked like from there.

So we go over to the Louvre now, and then we bust in there, all of a sudden. And there’s… because all those books that I read, I say, “Ram Rod, look! There’s Winged Victory, the statue with no arms and wings. And there’s the Venus de Milo!” We’re looking at all this stuff, we’re wandering around in there, and then we go down this long hallway, and there’s a tiny little easel with a small picture on it — a portrait down in the corner, on the second floor. So we walk over there, no one’s around and we’re looking at it. I go: “Holy fuck. This is the Mona Lisa.” It’s not as big as I thought. It’s not that big of a painting. So we’re looking at it, and we’re staring at it really high, man, and now I’m looking at Mona Lisa. She’s staring back at me and staring back at Ram Rod at the same time. We couldn’t figure it out. We tried to move. She’s following us, right? So we go, “Oh man, we’ve got to smoke a joint…” Because when we went to Europe, but we had to bring marijuana because we couldn’t go anywhere without marijuana. We weren’t just gonna smoke spliffs, which is what they had in Europe, okay? Hash, and tobacco. So we had a joint, a nice fatty, that we rolled that morning. So there’s a window right here — here’s the Mona Lisa, here’s this window. And it’s just what you’d call French doors. I open the latch, I swing ‘em open, there’s this dinky little balcony. We get out there and we light the joint up, and we’re smoking and breathing in the air of France, looking at the Opera House and all this stuff.

All of a sudden, I hear footsteps slamming around. I look out and here comes, down one hallway, every fucking gendarme the area’s running towards us, and in the other side is all of the museum guards comin’ the other way. I go, “What the fuck, man?” So they come running over to us, they go, “Monsieur! Monsieur! What have you done! What have you done!” I go, “What do you mean? What are you talking about?” He goes, “You can’t open these! You cannot open these! You cannot go out here!” “You stupid Americans!,” he calls us. And he pulls us off there. I go, “What’s the problem?” He goes, “Because the air of Paris will completely destroy this beautiful painting! Don’t you understand that?” And he closes the doors, and I said, “You think we’re stupid? In America, those would be locked, man, if it was that important. If it’s that important, why aren’t they locked?” So they just let us go, they were just shaking their heads. Shit like that was happening to us all the time, man.

JESSE: Farrrr out, Parish. In Paris, the band met up with another close friend — master tie-dye artist Courtneay Pollack. During our Skull & Roses Side B episode, we spoke with Courtenay about his stunning tie-dye mandalas that became amp covers for the Dead in 1971, and which the band were proudly flying all across Europe. In some ways, the Grateful Dead in 1971 and 1972 might be considered a traveling Courtenay Pollack art installation with additional live music. Welcome back, Courtenay.

COURTENAY POLLACK: I went under my own steam, and my arrangement was to meet up with the band during the tour. I actually got a ticket that would go anywhere in the world, and I went to England and visited my folks. Then I took off for Persia, which was, of course, Iran. But I went there like: Persia, the land of mandalas. these wonderful ceramics and tilework, all in the great mandalas. So that was my personal pursuit, and I fell into this great adventure with a guy I met off the plane. He introduced me to a friend of his — they were friends of the Shah. So we stayed up on the mesa, the palace mesa, one of these great mansions. They introduced me to one of their friends, they all went to university together. She and I became an item. While they were slogging it out doing the European tour, which was very successful, it was a great tour, they were essentially working and I was just having a ball: in exotic climes with these jetsetters. They all had their own jets, their own ranches with horses. They were serious jetsetters.

JESSE: But Courtenay had brought some work supplies, just in case, some dyes and cloth. And, indeed, the Grateful Dead tracked him down. And more specifically, Ram Rod tracked him down.

COURTENAY POLLACK: I understood that they were trying to reach me. We got a phone call through to Ram Rod, and they needed some more speaker covers to be replaced during the tour. So I actually made some while I was in Persia, and then mailed some out. Then I had some more for when I met them, I could put them off and that was quite nice. But there was enough stuff — there's enough color on the stage, so it wasn't a big deal.

JESSE: Courtenay went to install the last few pieces himself.

COURTENAY POLLACK: After a lot of escapades, we went to Europe, and then met up with the band in Paris. The band were gracious and hosted us — my guess, for a private party, just mostly just the band members.

JESSE: Mountain Girl.

MOUNTAIN GIRL: Warner Bros. — they were part and parcel of this from time to time. They'd show up and take us to dinner, how lovely.

JESSE: From Rosie McGee’s Dancing With the Dead.

ROSIE McGEE [Dancing With the Dead, Chapter 9]: Warner Brothers booked an entire restaurant, Le Pavillon de la Grande Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne, and treated us to a celebratory banquet. La Grande Cascade had been built next to a large waterfall as a hunting pavilion for Napoleon III sometime in the 1870s and had been turned into a restaurant for the 1900 World’s Fair. Its sumptuous interior was typical of La Belle Époque. The walls were covered with Italian marble. There was gilded ornamentation all around the room and at night, the illumination from the mini oversized crystal chandeliers was stunning.

JESSE: Alan Trist.

ALAN TRIST: There was a big restaurant in the middle of the gardens that Warner Bros. had hired for the occasion. And that was a slap-up feast no doubt. They were really trying to introduce us to French culinary culture, and they did a really good job. Before the tour, [Jon] McIntire had arranged for the band to have their suits made by Nudie, a famous Los Angeles dress and costume maker for the stars. They were very cool, but the band… it wasn't really their thing. I remember Garcia wore the jacket once with a pair of jeans. Bobby wore the suit onstage once. But at the Luxembourg Gardens, McIntire and Matthews both had their Nudie suits. They were dressed up, and I think Bobby was too. That was an odd, odd little thing to see. Maybe Cutler did? They never were much into them at the time, but obviously they’ve become kind of treasured mementos.

JESSE: Sightings of the band’s Nudie suits are rare. Garcia had worn the Nudie suit pants in London, so they were in his roadcase somewhere. Janet Furman.

JANET FURMAN: Warner Bros. Records threw a party for the band and the crew that was very, very lavish. I can't imagine what it must have cost, but there was caviar and pate and all kinds of French delicacies. Lots of beverages. I’m sure there was a lot of pot being smoked, a lot of carrying on. There [were] steaks with Bearnaise sauce. Had to have Bearnaise sauce.

JESSE: Unfortunately, Mountain Girl wasn’t feeling up to the occasion.

MOUNTAIN GIRL: By the time we got to Paris, I was sick and couldn't eat anything. And we all went out to eat at some famous restaurant, wind-up on a table of like 25, and I could not eat a single bite. I was just like, “Oh, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me! I come all the way to Paris, to some beautiful fabulous place, and not be able to eat any food.” But everybody else thought it was great. They lined up a table with 25 chairs. God, everybody in the crew, sitting down, eating this wonderful meal. Even just sipping the wine was making me dizzy, just not feeling well. That happens when you’re traveling abroad. I was missing my kids… you know, that thing that you do, when you leave your children home with other people. The telephone works, but not that well.

ROSIE McGEE [Dancing With the Dead, Chapter 9]: Into this gorgeous setting came the hairy hoard from America, with me as translator-on-duty. I table-hopped quite a bit during the ordering phase of the meal, but generally, the experienced staff handled everything with practiced, casualness. We had a fabulous multicourse meal and the noise level rose as the bottles of fine wine were consumed.

JESSE: Ben Haller.

BEN HALLER: We ate one night in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, in a place called the Crystal Palais. And the road crew would sat and the band sat, and we had a great meal at this incredible restaurant. At the end of it, the waiters graciously come over and give us Cuban cigars. They turned us onto Cuban cigars… great. So the crewmembers, handed them all joints. As we drove away, we’re all smoking joints, and the guys say, “Can we get these curious little cigarettes going? What are these?” But they’re smoking and feeling good.

JESSE: I like Rosie’s version.

ROSIE McGEE [Dancing With the Dead, Chapter 9]: After dessert, there were liqueurs and, for some, cigars, and for just about everyone, our ubiquitous hash pipes. I believe it was Sonny Heard, one of the Oregon boys, who first offered a pipe to the maitre’d, who gamely and politely took a puff and then smiled. Heard encouraged him to take another and then pass it around to his staff. One of the waiters, a tall and elegant man who I'd gotten to know from numerous translations throughout the meal, leaned over and asked me, “Qu'est-ce que c'est?” — “What is it?” Knowing how much the French love the Hollywood concept of the Wild West, I said, “It's a special tobacco from America, smoked by the Indians as a way of expressing friendship.” “Indians? You mean…”—and he put two fingers behind his head to indicate feathers, and patted his mouth with his fingertips, as in war whoops— “that kind of Indians?” I laughed out loud and I said, “Mais oui, c’est ça!” When a pipe was offered to him a moment later, he took a hit, smiled at me and did the feather pantomime again. I almost fell under the table laughing.

JESSE: The cultural exchange went both ways.

BEN HALLER: We had an appreciation for Perrier, and I remember crews all over the world would come to me and say, “What is this stuff? I've been drinking it all night — I'm not high, I feel great.” You can’t drink Coca-Cola all night. They got in at 6 in the morning, and they’re probably not going to go home until 6 in the morning. They need to stay awake, they need to stay hydrated, and it probably wouldn’t be good to have two 12-packs of beer, right? So we turned the country onto Perrier and onto Heineken.

JESSE: In Paris, Jerry Garcia spoke extensively with the French critic, photographer, and Dead freak Alain Dister, who had lived in the Haight-Ashbury for a few years, around the time the Dead did. Dister passed away sadly in 2008, but wrote enthusiastically about the Dead in the French magazine Rock & Folk. In 2004, he published a French biography of the Dead titled, Grateful Dead : Une légende californienne.

Dister asked Garcia about whether or not it was important for audiences to understand the band’s lyrics. “I don't know if it’s that important or not. …  It's like, for me, listening to records by Edith Piaf... I don't understand the language. With African musicians and singers, I really like those things, but whether I understand them or not is another question. I’m a musician, so I'm more interested in the way they sound rather than by what they say.”

When Dister asked Garcia about the French underground scene, Garcia deferred from any observations about their current trip. He told Dister, “I don't believe this is the only time we’ll go to Europe. It's just the beginning here...  What I wanna do is come here and see what people are, what they do, what happens, I really am interested. It might take me the next five years to find all this by coming twice a year...  The important thing is to start to communicate, to spread, to open up. We could envisage a network, groups in each country, communicating with each other.”

Dister told the guitarist that some in the French underground held the Dead up as paragons of revolutionary culture. Garcia demurred, calling the band “evolutionary” rather than revolutionary, and talked a bit about freak politics. I’d love to read a proper translation of this interview by an actual French speaker.

Garcia hinted at what the Dead were planning next, telling the journalist, “We’re going to try to make our own records ourselves, without the help of the big companies. This will be an opportunity for us to make a new step in the freak economy. There is something fantastic like this, all over the West Coast: health foods. It's a freak industry. An industry of millions of dollars. It started when they started growing their own products. And now the big chains of Safeway-style stores have started distributing natural products, supplied by freaks.”

Heady stuff, and a topic for another day. But if you’d like to get a head start on reading on the revolutionary story of the freak health food industry, check out Joshua Clark Davis’s book, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs.

Olympia, Night 1

JESSE: On 3 May, it was time to get to work. Ben Haller.

BEN HALLER: We've played the Olympia as I recall, which is fabulous. Those old theaters, just having the most wonderful acoustics and you're walking around this history.

JESSE: Between the soundcheck and the gig, Pigpen wrote home. Please welcome back Sully, keeper of the Pigpen archives.

SULLY: “Just got back from the soundcheck/rehearsal, the hall sounds okay. Sold out both nights. However, there are inevitably people without tickets, sometimes hundreds, outside pig-baiting & trying to get in. The cops love to bust skulls & a lot use tear gas & carry machine guns. There’s a rumor afoot that the cops plant agitators inside the halls & out & use the excuse of left-wing extremists causing trouble to ‘disperse’ (what a cop-out) crowds by ‘any means they deem necessary’ & the kids don’t help, they come, knowing they can’t get in. It’s sort of a boulle (place to go & hang out) for them & every time the same thing happens. The kids smart of & try to get in & the cops, just wanting for an excuse, move in, why the hell don’t the kids without tickets just stay home or something? It’ll happen every time & they know it, the fools hang around a rock & roll show in hundreds & cops’ll come, eager to crack skulls.”

JESSE: You hear that kids, Pigpen says not to come to a show without a ticket. Garcia mentioned the same rumor about agitators to Rolling Stone, and on the anniversary of the May 3rd, 1968 student revolt, anything seemed possible. Philipe Sicard did have a ticket for the Olympia. In fact, both nights.

PHILIPE SICARD: There were a lot of police around. It was about four years after the ‘68 riots in Paris, so there were many, many police — not only because it was the Dead or because it was a rock performance, but because at the time there were many, many police everywhere.

JESSE: But it didn’t get in the way. Multiple reviews of the show mention the police presence outside, with the theater operators looking suspiciously at the hippie crowd. Once past the doors, though, it was apparently a much chiller scene. The late Jon McIntire, via our friend David Gans.

JON McINTIRE [2011]: The first time we played the Olympia in Paris, and the audiences in Paris, although they were Parisian and therefore spoke a different language, it was like the audiences in New York — the enthusiasm! They had already adopted us as their exciting partners. It was just thrilling, absolutely thrilling. And of course, it’s the Olympia which is Edith Piaf’s home. All the incredible things that have happened there over the 100 years, 150 years, however old that hall is. But it’s always kind of hard to attribute the music to what was going on that evening. There’s always this mystery about it, as to when it’s gonna click and when it’s not, and you can never tell. For instance, I would assume that being kind of a Francophile at the time, that the Olympia would have goosed them just the way it did. And the fact that it happened that way was—even though I expected it—was a surprise! Just because I thought it was going to be that way, doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way. Very high energy, and the kind of exciting energy like at the Fillmore East in New York. It was very similar to that, is what I found.

JESSE: Grateful Dead archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux.

DAVID LEMIEUX: It really does feel like a couple of Saturday Night shows in New York, and the band matches it. One thing I always found incredibly fascinating about Paris is they did “Good Lovin’” both times, both nights. They’re both remarkably different. One of them is jam-oriented — no Pigpen rap whatsoever. It's a jam-oriented version. It's similar—going back to the Fillmore East—in April ‘71, they did “Good Lovin’” twice also. One is jam-oriented, no rap, it’s great. And then one is rap-oriented. When I say rap-oriented, I’m talking Princeton [4/17/71]; I’m talking sold Brooklyn Bridge [for a] dollar-and-a-quarter; Pigpen, lip of the stage, engaged with those 2,000 people.

JESSE: Philipe Sicard had fallen in love with Live/Dead.

PHILIPE SICARD: The first time I saw them was at Olympia Theatre in Paris the next year. It was refurbished about 10 years ago, but it's the same spot near a very famous opera house in Paris. The Olympia Theatre is not a huge place. I think it can hold about 1,500 people, no more. But the sound of the auditorium [was] fantastic, because I had already been there to attend a concert by the Mothers of Invention in ‘68, and The Byrds just a few weeks before the Dead. It was not like in England or in the States, absolutely not. I don’t really like the music in France — didn’t like it then, at all. They were just trying to do the same as the Americans with American songs. It wasn’t genuine.

JESSE: The rest of the week featured shows by French acts Magma on 7 May and Dick Rivers on 9 May, plus Jerry Lee Lewis on 8 May, and British prog band East of Eden on 6 May. The Dead had crossed paths with Magma in France the year before, jamming with them at the Chateau in Herouville, but Magma were on their own more granular French tour & were out of town when the Dead played. Anyway, how do you say “let’s do this” in French?

AUDIO: “Bertha” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11, 5/3/72] (0:27-0:47) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

PHILIPE SICARD: I was with all my friends — we were about five, six people, we liked the Dead. Much [more] than like — we loved the Dead. There were Dead Heads already; not as many as in the States now, but there were some. All of the people I knew went to see the show were the heads — who were very happy, all of them. It was fantastic. It's really hard to describe, but it's a fantastic experience. I had such great moments, and it's really something I can’t forget. I was so high without any substances, you know? It was fantastic. I could have been disappointed, because I only knew them from records, and usually sometimes—it depends on what band—but it can be disappointing. This wasn’t disappointing. It was, for me, an incredible experience. It was pure bliss. It was bliss, all along.

AUDIO: “Sugaree” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11, 5/3/72] (1:23-1:49) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

PHILIPE SICARD: It was a revelation. It was like it was another band — not the Dead I knew. It was the Dead, I recognized the people, the musicians. It was a little strange that there was a new musician, Keith Godchaux. I didn't know him at all. So I expected the five founders of the Grateful Dead, and there was Keith Godchaux. I was surprised because it was so good. It was richer.

AUDIO: “Sugaree” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11, 5/3/72] (5:02-5:29) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

PHILIPE SICARD: They played some old tunes I knew from records, but not that many — just “China Cat Sunflower,” and of course “Dark Star” and “The Other One.” There were so many new, new songs, which were great. I loved [them] right away, like “He’s Gone” or “Black-Throated Wind,” “Jack Straw,” those things. I liked them very much. It was the first time I’d heard them.

JESSE: And in the case of both new and old songs, Philipe heard versions that made it to Europe ‘72.

“China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider”

JESSE: If you know one Grateful Dead segue, it might well be “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider,” and if you only know one “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider,” it equally might be the Europe ‘72 version. You can call it “China”/”Rider” if you want to sound like a Dead Head, but reducing it to two words with a silent segue notation erases perhaps the most important part — the transition. As my friend Rob Mitchum who co-hosts the 36 From the Vault podcast once put it, “I'd be happy living my life in the space between ‘China Cat Sunflower’ and ‘I Know You Rider.’” And, appropriate for the Paris version on Europe ‘72, like all of Gaul, it’s divided into three parts.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Aoxomoxoa] (0:07-0:37) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: The band debuted the song in early 1968 and released it on Aoxomoxoa in 1969. But the lyrics had been written in 1967, one of three poems Robert Hunter sent to Garcia from New Mexico that transformed their deep friendship into a deep working relationship as songwriting partners. Though “China Cat Sunflower” itself was written in several other locales.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Aoxomoxoa] (0:59-1:29) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Maybe someday we’ll get to annotate the lyrics, but today we’ll just offer Robert Hunter’s story about how he wrote them. Our good buddy Steve Silberman recently uncovered an amazing 1992 interview he conducted with Hunter, and we’ll surely find other windows in which to share parts, but Hunter discussed both the skill set and circumstances under which he wrote “China Cat Sunflower.” Thank you for this Steve.

ROBERT HUNTER [10/19/92]: I am able to translate people's scat; I hear English in it. It's almost as though I write down what I hear underneath that. I hear the intention. I don't work that way a lot… I would work more that way, happily, if more people were to give me scats. It’s a talent like the [Rubik’s] Cube — it’s something you can do or you can’t do. It comes easily to me, which might be why I like language poetry. I can tell from the rhythms, or lack of rhythms, the disjunctures and the end stoppages. I know what they’re avoiding saying, or the meaning that they would like to not be having comes rushing through to me. I can read this stuff.

STEVE SILBERMAN [10/19/92]: The text behind the text.

ROBERT HUNTER [10/19/92]: Yeah. I understand dogs; I can talk to babies. A cat dictated “China Cat Sunflower” to me.

STEVE SILBERMAN [10/19/92]: How did that happen?

ROBERT HUNTER [10/19/92]: It was just sittin’ on my stomach, purring away and saying this stuff. It was easy to just write it down. I guess it’s plagiarism.

JESSE: Yes, Robert Hunter did just say that a cat dictated “China Cat Sunflower” to him. While we thank David Gans for digitizing that last tape, we also thank him for this next clip, from his own 1977 interview with Hunter, getting further into the mechanics of what Steve later defined in Skeleton Key as Cat Dictation.

ROBERT HUNTER [1977]: The germ of it came in Mexico — in Jocotopec, staying on Lake Chapala. I don't think any of the words for it came exactly; the rhythms for it came there, I was writing things to these rhythms subsequently in Palo Alto. I put some of the rhythms into these images. I had a cat sitting on my belly at one point — it was in a rather hypersensitive state, and [I] followed the cat out to… I believe it was Neptune, but I'm not sure. There were rainbows across Neptune, and cats marching across this rainbow. I remember that. And this cat was just taking me [to] all these cat places. So there's some essence of that in it. I’ll write [that] I wrote part of the song in Mexico and part of it on Neptune.

JESSE: No doubt, my dude. Back in the ‘90s, Hunter posted the original handwritten lyric draft for “China Cat Sunflower” on his website. And on the same sheet of paper, just below it, the original poem for what became “The Eleven.” They’re unquestionably some of Hunter’s most psychedelic lyrics, one of the only songs from that period to survive nearly the entirety of the band’s career. In part that’s probably because of the jam they figured out for the song. Bob Weir plays the song’s dominant lick, though he’s said that Garcia wrote it. The jam became one of the first Dead jams where Weir would contribute co-leads along with Garcia, a perfect example of his not-quite-rhythm guitar playing. When they debuted “China Cat Sunflower” in 1968, it always segued into “The Eleven.” But once “The Eleven” settled into a nearly monogamous relationship with “St. Stephen,” the Dead seemed determined to find a new destination for “China Cat Sunflower,” learning how to jam on the song while attempting to make the jam transition into something else. A few times each, they tried “Doin’ That Rag,” “High Time,” and “Morning Dew.” Nothing stuck until the fall of that year. This version of the transition, from November 8th, 1969 at the Fillmore Auditorium on Dick’s Picks 16 is pretty enthused.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Dick’s Picks 16, 11/8/69] (3:18-3:38) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: That sense of elation is palpable, and the “I Know You Rider” payoff is an early draft of what most post-1969 Dead Heads might recognize.

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Dick’s Picks 16, 11/8/69] (0:11-0:31) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: By 1972, they had it down, and played it most nights of the Europe tour, seemingly determined to capture it. The version from Paris is take #8. To talk about what makes that payoff so powerful, please welcome back musicologist Shaugn O’Donnell, taking dictation from Frankie the Cat.

SHAUGN O’DONNELL: When you're coming out of the final verse, you're doing the same old move to D, the dominant of your G Mixolydian that you were in. You could just go back: it could be another post-verse lead that then takes you right back. You're on D already, and then there's a moment where you realize: no, we're not going back.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Europe ‘72] (3:26-3:56) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

SHAUGN O’DONNELL: Now if you know the tune, of course, you're already ready for it to not go back. You've already heard this pairing a bunch of times. But still, harmonically, it could just return the same old way. So through sheer force of will, they're not going back. As soon as they're not going back, even though [they] don't go somewhere new, you're like: Oh, we're off, and we're going somewhere.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Europe ‘72] (3:57-4:24) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

SHAUGN O’DONNELL: That's really hard to pull off convincingly, to not stagnate. They roll into a thing where we're moving, but we haven't gone anywhere in terms of the sort of pitch content, the harmony. So we sit on this D—or D7—for a while, and everybody is just doing sort of unstable D7-ish things. So it feels like a jam, but not harmonically. It’s a one-chord jam. You have to make that convincingly sound like it arrived somewhere. To say that there’s some moment [as a] music analyst, it’s like “Oh, they did this, and they use this chord progression, and suddenly they were there.” It’s not a case of that: you kind of get there through little incremental changes. So the bass and drums kind of slip into the pulse of “Rider” long before we get there. Bob does a few familiar riffs, the most notable one would be those high triads he does, where he does C to D, back and forth.

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Europe ‘72] (4:26-4:56) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

SHAUGN O’DONNELL: It feels like a clear marker: “Oh, we’ve arrived.” But there’s still a fair amount of music after that where we don’t actually arrive yet. So it’s really just like a landmark — “Oh, we’re almost there. We’re getting there.” It’s a little bit of role reversal, since Bob is taking the control for that whole passage. Then, Jerry kicks in a little before “Rider” comes, and it's like: “Oh, things are returning to normal in some way.”

AUDIO: “China Cat Sunflower” [Europe ‘72] (5:01-5:20) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

SHAUGN O’DONNELL: We had this destabilization — everyone was doing something a little different. Then he takes over leading the way and then that's when they finally kick into it. But it's still on a D chord. The groove has to change; they could have just changed the groove, so to reinterpreting a chord like that happens fairly commonly in music, but usually it's, Okay, we’re just gonna reinterpret it and go. The thing that’s different here is they reinterpret it and say, “We’re gonna live in this crack between the two songs for a while.” You have this sense of onward motion the whole time: you’re moving, but you’re going around the block.

JESSE: At least until the song changes.

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Europe ‘72] (0:20-0:50) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: And now the Grateful Dead are playing “I Know You Rider.” It was a song the Dead had been playing for a long time, one of the very first folk numbers they electrified as The Warlocks. It features on the oldest tape of the band, the Autumn Records demo under the name The Emergency Crew in 1965, now on Birth of the Dead. Back then, it was a little fast.

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [11/3/65] (0:07-0:37) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: And that’s more or less how it sounded in the electric versions on tape between 1965 and the summer of 1967 when it disappeared for two years before meeting “China Cat.” But before we go any further, let’s talk about where “I Know You Rider” really comes from. It’s listed everywhere as a “traditional” song, and while there’s a chance it’s actually that, the song’s history is far more complex. This is the earliest recorded version.

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Tossi Aaron, Tossi Sings Folk Songs and Ballads] (0:04-0:35) - [YouTube]

JESSE: If that doesn’t sound like a version from the dawn of recording back in the early 20th century, it’s because it’s not. The first officially released version of “I Know You Rider” was recorded in 1960 by Tossi Aaron. Though it would explode into the folk world, in some senses it was in part a new song.

The song first appears in the 1934 edition of John Lomax’s American Ballads and Folk Songs under the title “Woman Blue” prefaced with the note, “An 18-year-old black girl, in prison for murder, sang the tune and the first stanza of these blues.” This is followed by a transcribed melody and lyrics, and then a number of other verses collected elsewhere, some of which turn up in the Dead version, some of which don’t. Many of the songs that Alan and John Lomax found during their decades of song collecting showed up in multiple variants, or have since emerged from other song collectors or sets of recordings. This is not the case with “Woman Blue.”

That is, there is a greater than average chance that “I Know You Rider” is not a traditional song at all, but written in a recognizable way by an unnamed Black woman at Parchman Farm in Mississippi or Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, either by the woman who sang it to the Lomaxes or someone else nearby. I corresponded with Todd Harvey at the Library of Congress, who notes “the repertoire of the Parchman women’s penitentiary is barely known. The song could have been common currency around that camp just as ‘Rosie’ was in the men’s camp.”

So that’s our theory: “Woman Blue,” aka “I Know You Rider,” was written in a fundamental way by an unnamed Black woman in a prison camp in the early 1930s and sung for John and Alan Lomax of the Library of Congress in the summer of 1933 by her or someone who probably knew her. Though they would become famed for their field recordings, they’d only—just the month before—acquired a 315-pound recording machine and disc-cutter that required another 75-pound battery to operate. No recording of “Woman Blue” survives however. Probably, it was taken down the even more old school way — with Alan Lomax himself capturing the words on paper with his transcription of the melody.

After the Lomaxes published it in 1934, though, it was nearly another quarter-century before the song was heard from again. During that thick, heady period of folk song collecting that also contained two separate folk song booms, the song-form of “I Know You Rider” didn’t surface. It was in the mid-1950s, though, that a collegiate folk singer named Bob Coltman found it in the Lomax book. “I resurrected and debuted the song,” he wrote. “I followed the tune given in Lomax, roughly but not exactly, changed the song from a woman’s to a man’s point of viewpoint, dropped two verses, and was its first arranger.” Coltman spread the tune from there, but it made one more important evolution before it got to the version we know. In the summer of 1958, Bob Coltman taught the song to Harry Tuft. Please welcome from the Denver Folklore Center, Harry Tuft.

HARRY TUFT: Bob Coltman, who took the words out of a Lomax book, added a melody from another source, and then gave it to me in this way [begins to sing and play guitar]:

I know you rider, gonna miss me when I’m gone

I know you rider/gonna miss me when I’m gone

gonna miss your woman, rollin’ in your arms/well I…

So that’s the song that I sang when sitting around Dick Weissman’s apartment in, oh, maybe the summer of 1960, when Dick was working with John Phillips and Scott McKenzie to start the Journeymen. There were a number of songs that I sang that John liked. He liked this one a lot, but John had that gift of arrangement. So from that very simple straightforward one, he just added a few chords that really made all the difference. It’s the fact that he added those chords to what is now the way the song is sung today, that is really the proof that this was sort of the lineage of “I Know You Rider.” He added… came out like this [begins to sing and play guitar]:

I lay down last night, trying to get my rest

I lay down last night/trying to get my rest

my mind kept ramblin’ like wild geese in the West.

JESSE: Yes, the reprehensible John Philips, later of the Mamas and the Papas, also credited with writing “Me & My Uncle” & who we discussed in our Side C episode of our Skull & Roses season. Oy, fuckin’ John Phillips. Philips never recorded the song, nor took credit for it, but by 1963 it sounded pretty familiar.

AUDIO: “Rider” [Kingston Trio, Sunny Side] (0:12-0:40) - [Spotify]

[fades into:]

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Europe ‘72] (2:09-2:31) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Back in San Francisco after the tour, the band whittled it down to three versions of the “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” combination—Copenhagen, Hamburg and Paris—and picked Paris. Garcia, Weir, and Lesh overdubbed entirely new vocals on July 13th at Alembic, with Garcia apparently making another pass on August 8th. Though Donna didn’t sing on “Rider” during the tour, she’s on the studio track sheet, sharing track 12 with Weir with the parenthetical “acapella.” Maybe she’s in the mix here?

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Europe ‘72] (4:20-4:50) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: “Rider” had a few lives in the Dead’s repertoire. In 1970, just after they’d attached it to “China Cat Sunflower,” it became part of the band’s acoustic sets, like this one from Harpur College, May 2nd, 1970, on Dick’s Picks 8.

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Dick’s Picks 8, 5/2/70] (0:49-1:16) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: While adjacent to Judy Henske’s arrangement and vibe, it still used the John Phillips melody. Besides the 1970 acoustic sets and the versions that led to Europe ‘72, in 1973 and 1974, the band migrated the so-called “Feelin’ Groovy” jam into the transition—sometimes called the “Uncle John’s” jam, but those are different chords—making for a number of extra jammy segue. This one from June 26th, 1974, on Dick’s Picks 12, where it was labeled “Mind Left Body Jam” with some perfectly inscrutable Latvalian logic.

AUDIO: “Mind Left Body Jam” [Dick’s Picks 12, 6/26/74] (1:17-1:39) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

AUDIO: “I Know You Rider” [Dick’s Picks 12, 6/26/74] (0:00-0:17) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: And so “China”/”Rider” lived happily ever after for the most part, a constant in the repertoire nearly every year through 1995. It wasn’t only the song they caught during that first set on the first night in Paris.

“Tennessee Jed”

AUDIO: “Tennessee Jed” [Europe ‘72] (0:00-0:18) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Despite its title, lyrics, and pretty much everything about it, “Tennessee Jed” is in some ways the most European song on Europe ‘72. This is from David Gans’s wonderful 1977 interview with lyricist Robert Hunter, published in David’s great book Conversations With the Dead. Thanks for this, David.

ROBERT HUNTER [1977]: It was Barcelona. I keep thinking it was Madrid, but it was Barcelona. Christie and I were out until all hours drinking vino tinto. We were staggering back to our hotel that night [and] there's this church, this little alleyway [with] a very, very high church building on either side of it, so that's kept very cavernous. Any sound you make walking down the street just resonates and resonates. There's this guy walking ahead of us, playing mouth harp. [makes twanging sounds]. I was good and drunk and started: “Fell four flights and broke my spine[more twanging sounds]—”Honey, come quick with the iodine.” And it was so out of place in Barcelona at 2 o’clock, this guy walking half a block down. I just made the verses up when I got back to the hotel room. I just jotted them down like that. That’s how that happened. [laughs] It’s a good place to write a country song. It had that feeling of whatever, a country feeling, or whatever kind of thing it had… it was just so absurd in the context of Barcelona like that, that it became realer than real.

I wrote a good deal there. I wrote [begins to sing the lyrics for “Children’s Lament”]—“Won’t you sing Melinda, won’t you sing for me”—like that. Lookin’ down into the street in Barcelona while the rain was falling. It was just really lovely. Good experience.

JESSE: Now that you’ve heard that description, try not to hear the twang of the jaw harp in the song’s main guitar riff that echoes every line.

AUDIO: “Tennessee Jed” [Europe ‘72] (0:18-0:48) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: As we well know here at the Deadcast, Robert Hunter was deeply studied in the American folkways, pulling out references to songs and movies and pop culture ephemera. But was he tuned into this when he was 4 years old?

AUDIO: “Tennessee Stops Wagon” [Tennessee Jed radio show] (0:03-0:33)

JESSE: It’s entirely possible he was. “Tennessee Jed Hits Target,” assessed a representative from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in the trade publication Radio Showmanship, declaring Tennessee Jed to be the #2 children’s radio show in the New York area. Starring Elton Britt, who played and yodeled the role of Tennessee Jed, it aired on 25 stations nationwide, perhaps including one in listening range of young Robert Hunter. Or maybe Hunter was referencing the ‘60s midwestern food franchise, Tennessee Jed’s Open Pit Barbecue. Jury’s out, really. But that’s an incredibly American folk lineage indeed — from white bread-sponsored yodeling children’s radio cowboy to barbecue joint namesake to stoned slow-motion boogie.

AUDIO: “Tennessee Jed” [Europe ‘72] (1:57-2:26) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Our buddy Blair Jackson once asked Garcia about the roots of the original songs on Europe ‘72, like “Ramble On Rose” and “Tennessee Jed.” Garcia told him, “I haven’t the slightest idea. They just come out of my mind. Sometimes I think, ‘Yeah, this is kind of like a record I once heard somewhere,’ but I never find “em! The rhythms come from my background in rhythm and blues more than anything else. But they also come from a kind of rhythmically hip country and western style—like Jerry Reed and people like that. Memphis more than Nashville. Some of the old California country and western stuff—old Buck Owens—had some nifty rhythmic ideas in it, as opposed to the old 4/4 stuff, just plunking away. ‘Tennessee Jed’ is a cop from that world, although not consciously and it’s not from any specific tune. Just the feel.”

AUDIO: “Love’s Gonna Live Here” [Buck Owens, Together Again/My Heart Skips A Beat] (0:47-1:07) - [Spotify]

JESSE: That was Don Rich’s solo on “Love’s Gonna Live Here [Again]” by Buck Owens. If you can imagine Robert Hunter extrapolating a set of lyrics from a cat’s meows, imagine Jerry Garcia deriving a songwriting style from the guitar breaks of early ‘60s country music. When “Tennessee Jed” debuted in the fall of ‘71, it was a few clicks faster than how it settled for the album take. This is from Chicago, October 22nd, 1971, from Dave’s Picks 3.

AUDIO: “Tennessee Jed” [Dave’s Picks 3, 10/22/71] (0:43-1:14)

JESSE: The Paris version they used on the album was take #8. Other contenders were versions from Empire Pool and Amsterdam. Garcia, Lesh, and Weir did their overdubs back home at Alembic on July 11th, 1972, Garcia leaving his original vocal on the tape, too.

When David Crosby called the Grateful Dead’s music, “electric dixieland,” I don’t know if he was literally thinking of “Tennessee Jed,” but it’s how I hear it. And, after the Europe ‘72 version, it kept slowing down, and the electric Dixieland gets more prominent, with more and more rhythmic space opened for everyone to happily bounce and tootle together, like this version from Eugene, January 22, 1978, now Dave’s Picks 23.

AUDIO: “Tennessee Jed” [Dave’s Picks 23, 1/22/78] (7:12-7:48)

JESSE: And it gets slower from there. Salt to taste! It was a particularly Garcia-esque groove, one blessed by the legendary drummer and vocalist Levon Helm, the first song on his final album Electric Dirt, from 2009.

AUDIO: “Tennessee Jed” [Levon Helm, Electric Dirt] (0:42-1:13) - [Spotify]

JESSE: Back to Paris, 1972!

PHILIPE SICARD: It was something organic. At times I couldn't say, “Who’s this song from? Is it Jerry’s, is it Weir’s?” It was impossible; sometimes, it was just a mix. It was a whole thing — it was organic. I was really in love with the texture of the sounds.

AUDIO: “Sing Me Back Home” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11, 5/3/72] (1:26-1:56) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: The Dead played Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” a few times in 1971, but this was the first time with Donna Jean Godchaux. Out in the tape truck, Wiz noted on the tape box, “Sing Me Back Home is worthy.” Several versions would be pulled for album consideration.

PHILIPE SICARD: It was strange because at the end of the first set, this first night on the 3rd, after the played “Casey Jones” just before the intermission, people then thought [it] was the ending. I remember Bob Weir was telling them, “It's just 20 minutes, we're going to be back and it's intermission.”

[audience applauds excitedly]

BOB WEIR [5/3/72]: Intermission! Intermission!

[audience applauds in unison, as if encouraging an encore]

PHILIPE SICARD: But people didn’t understand. [chuckles] They didn't understand him, so they were leaving the theater. Then they understood afterwards, that was just the intermission. Fortunately for them…

JESSE: Fortunately! The second set on the first night in Paris included a monster hour-long “Truckin’”/“[The] Other One”/“Wharf Rat” sequence with “Me & Bobby McGee” inside. Though the version of “Truckin’”on Europe ‘72 is from London at the end of the tour, the Paris version was the only version highlighted on mixes made at the tour’s end. It’s pretty tight.

AUDIO: “Truckin’” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11, 5/3/72] (5:35-6:05) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: And the second set also included another classic Dead track featured on Europe ‘72.

“Jack Straw”

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Europe ‘72] (0:00-0:30) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: “Jack Straw” debuted in the fall of 1971 alongside “Tennessee Jed” and the other new original songs destined for Europe ‘72. The story of two outlaws on the run and discovering their own morality—and mortality—continued on in the mode Robert Hunter discovered circa Workingman’s Dead. Over the course of 1971, Bob Weir and Robert Hunter had a much-ballyhooed creative falling-out. In one version, Hunter couldn’t stand what Weir did to “Sugar Magnolia,” which was discussed in our American Beauty season, but they kept working together after that — at least long enough to have another battle over the song that became “One More Saturday Night,” with Hunter removing his name from the credits. So it was that “Jack Straw” became the last Hunter/Weir collaboration for some 20 years, and some of the tweaks might be Weir’s. We’ve posted links at dead-dot-net-slash-deadcast to both Hunter’s original handwritten lyrics and Alex Allan’s close look at the song. There was one change in the song’s presentation that did alter it in a revealing way.

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 10, 4/29/72] (0:51-1:10) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: That was the Hamburg version of “Jack Straw,” just a few days before the album take. You may notice that Bob Weir takes both of the vocals in the song’s B section. The same is true on the version from the second night in Paris. At the vocal overdub sessions over the summer, Jerry Garcia added his lines.

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Europe ‘72] (0:53-1:22) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Six days later in Amsterdam, Garcia began singing his parts live, with a few stumbles, and Weir occasionally forgetting that Garcia had taken over some lines.

BOB WEIR [5/10/72]: This next number, you get the pleasure of watching me blank out and sing Garcia’s part…

JESSE: The two vocal parts seem to represent the dialogue of two different characters — Garcia singing the part of Shannon, and Weir singing the part of Jack Straw himself. Weir, Garcia, and Lesh did a vocal overdub session at Alembic on July 12th, and then wiped those for another session on August 7th. On July 10th, before the vocal work began, Weir added an additional track of guitar to the mix, taking up the space where the new lead vocal track would often go. As such, all the vocals on the box set are overdubs, with Weir, Garcia, and Lesh harmonizing in the same room where they recorded Workingman’s Dead. Sounds great!

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Europe ‘72] (3:55-4:25) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: A few years after the song’s release on Europe ‘72, there were a few more changes. One small, one large. During the spring of ‘74, Weir and Garcia added a little harmonized guitar intro that stuck around. Like this.

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Dave’s Picks 34, 6/23/74] (0:00-0:06)

JESSE: That was from June 23, 1974 in Miami, now Dave’s Picks 34, a few days after the intro’s debut. And Weir did change a lyric occasionally to reference their new label boss, Clive Davis, like this one from the Philadelphia Spectrum in ‘79, Road Trips Vol 1, No.1.

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Road Trips Vol. 1 No. 1, 11/6/79] (1:34-1:45) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: “Used to play for silver, now we play for Clive” didn’t last too long, only a bit in 1979 and 1980, with a few versions where Weir sang “used to play for acid, now we play for Clive.” Makes for some fun folklore. The bigger change came after the band returned to the road in the later ‘70s with Mickey Hart back in tow on a second drum kit. From there, “Jack Straw” evolved from a minimalist psychedelic Spaghetti western to a full on shoot-’em-up Hollywood blockbuster. This is from October 10th, 1980 at the Warfield in San Francisco, released on the expanded Dead Set with a little extra Garcia juice and double drummer thunder.

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Dead Set expanded edition, 10/10/80] (4:58-5:26) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Which is a good deal more intense than how they did it in Paris in ‘72. Here’s the entirety of that jam peak.

AUDIO: “Jack Straw” [Europe ‘72] (3:45-4:06) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

PHILIPE SICARD: There were seats only — there [was] no space for dancing at all. I’ve never been to many rock shows in France; more in England and the States, but not in France. Usually, people are seated, especially in a theater like Olympia. But people were very exalting, as you can hear on the series of those shows. People are really getting mad at the end.

AUDIO: “One More Saturday Night” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 11, 5/3/72] (3:31-3:45) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Almost every night was Saturday in the spring of ‘72, this particular one falling on a Wednesday. The band received a telegram at the Grand Hotel the next day from a fan named Mark Princi, which has survived in the Grateful Dead Archives. It read, in its entirety: “You are the best thing to hit Paris since of Joan of fucking Arc. Love and thanks.” I’ve laughed over this telegram for years and sad that I was only recently able to locate Mark Princi online, and a few months too late. Mark apparently passed away around Thanksgiving of 2021. Much love to his family and friends. We’ve linked to a colorful obituary at

Olympia, Night 2

JESSE: The second night at the Olympia would become legendary, too. According to the Rolling Stone report, the cops scaled back their presence considerably. In fact, the Dead would catch another Europe ‘72 song, but it was legendary for other reasons. Let’s start with Steve Parish, just recovered from his big trip to and at the Louvre.

STEVE PARISH: We're at the Olympia Theatre now. We set up and I’m sittin’ on the drum riser, smoking a joint, a big fat bomber. I’m dropping this knife into the stage, right there where I’m sitting on the edge of our riser. Boom, boom, and I pull it out, and there’s the two shiny shoes of the gendarme — I knew right away it’s a cop, no question. I look up the big trousers. And then he’s standing there with a machine gun — French cops! In those days, they brought machine guns. They had these briefcase machine guns… so cool. But they all were carrying them at the fuckin’ concert. I say, “Why are you guys carrying these machine guns?” They said, “Riot — riot.” They thought anything to do with rock and roll was a riot. So anyway, he’s lookin’ at the knife. I got the knife in one hand—that’s a felony in the United States at the time—and a joint in the other. That was eight years in San Quentin. I’m going, “Oh man, I’m fucked, man.” He goes, “Monsieur, monsieur, your cigarette? No, no, no, no.” I thought, oh shit, I’d better put it out. He didn’t even know that it was marijuana! He thought… god, have you ever smelled a Gauloises or fuckin’ Gitanes, French cigarettes? They smell like stinkweed, man. So he didn’t even care! He thought I was smoking some kind of cigarette! He didn’t even care about that. He didn’t give a fuck about the knife [either]. He pointed to a sign, and because I’d spent about 10 minutes in French class without cutting it, I knew what he meant up there [on] the sign: “No smoking.” So I said, “Okay, man. I ain’t gonna smoke anymore. Don’t worry.”

JESSE: But the night took another turn. There are a few accounts of the blow-out that ensued. Let’s start with Donna Jean. Hey Donna!

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: That was in Paris at the Olympia Theatre. What had happened was [as a result of] the acid we were taking from Owsley — we were in Europe for quite a while, so it got less and less strong, because it was older.

JESSE: Though Owsley was in jail, his LSD supply continued to fuel the Dead.

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: I was sometimes taking 15 hits at a time. It was just normal — normal-normal. And then I did realize that Owsley had brought in a new batch, and I took 15-something hits... And it was fresh. [chuckles]

STEVE PARISH: Owsley was in prison, so it befell Ram Rod to get our stash of psychedelics together. Ram Rod, bless his heart, was trying to make the right backup for us in liquid form. It was 10 times stronger than what we took at home. So at home, you took either one drop or two, and that was a pretty considerable, a major dose of acid. Here in Europe, we couldn’t figure out why we were getting so fucked up. And everybody was on it, man; everybody was taking it there. It was because it was 10 times stronger. So these massive LSD experiences were happening too.

JESSE: Alan Trist of Ice Nine Publishing was along for this ride.

ALAN TRIST: I do remember in Paris at the gig. I think we were all a little bit high on that gig, Paris — seeing things through special eyes. I do remember watching Keith, for hours, play the piano. It was an extraordinary experience. We were all quite out there, and Keith was really expressing his music through his whole body. He had a large frame.

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: I found myself underneath Keith’s piano—which was the 9-foot Steinway—just grooving to the Grateful Dead. “Oh, man!” I was just in this world, listening to the Grateful Dead. “God, this is great!” Then, when I remembered that I was in the band, somehow I got up and did it.

JESSE: So where in the show did this happen? Let’s not think too hard about it, but Donna didn’t have too many vocal slots yet. She sang on the show-opening “Greatest Story Ever Told” and a few tunes near the end of the night, but I’d bet this is the song Donna had to get out from under the piano to sing.

AUDIO: “Playing in the Band” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (1:36-1:50) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: To this day, I don't know how I got up and got to the microphone and sang. I don't know. Somehow, I did get up there and finished the concert. But that was an eye-opener for me. [laughs]

JESSE: She was, and is, a total pro.

AUDIO: “Playing in the Band” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (2:02-2:19) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Courtneay Pollack didn’t have that problem. He came with his own supply.

COURTENAY POLLACK: I liked the Clearlight, which is the window pane, the original window pane. They’re about an ⅛-inch square, clear little panes. There were 200 mics each. Super. I’ve never had anything as good. I was friends with the creator of the Clearlight, so I used to trade him — a mandala for 1000 hits.

JESSE: Good exchange rate!

COURTENAY POLLACK: I went to Persia, I had some nice clothes that my girlfriend at the time had hand-made for me. They were beautiful, velvets and silks. I looked like a million bucks, with long hair. Of course, I was an object of curiosity in Persia. I had no money to speak of, but I had 1000 hits of Clearlight on me. [chuckles] I was able to get around just fine, thank you very much. I had it in a rose patch on the back of my pants that I was wearing.

JESSE: No matter where you got your acid, or didn’t, this was one of those nights, and not just on stage. Philipe Sicard went back for the second show.

PHILIPE SICARD: My favorite was the 4th because of “Dark Star.” For me, “Dark Star” is the best. I was in a special state, as if I was really high. Not only because it was the Dead, but because when they began to play it, it was a whole trip. I was so happy. I remember I was in love with an English woman who was in London who had seen the Dead before me, because she was at the second Wembley gig on April 8. She told me, “Oh, Jerry Garcia is a genius.” She wasn’t that attracted to pop music or rock or whatever; she was more into classical music. But she told me that she liked Garcia very much — “He played so well.” I remember during “Dark Star” on the 4th, the second night, I thought of my loved one in London — I thought it was the apex of my life. I thought I was in paradise, really. It’s really hard to… it was something big. Something big in my heart, in my soul.

JESSE: As I said, it was one of those nights.

AUDIO: “Dark Star (I) [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (0:00-0:12) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Please welcome back Graeme Boone.

GRAEME BOONE: Listen to Bob's soft vamping — beautiful voicings, and then Jerry takes off on his solo. Hitting high A, and then we're away from the “Dark Star” progression. Beautiful, exploratory moment.

JESSE: This is a long and dreamy “Dark Star” filled with long and dreamy episodes. I’ll note that, like me, and probably like you, Graeme doesn’t really like when people chomp over the music either, but I love having Graeme point out the changing constellations of “Dark Star” in real time. Plus, you can always listen later on without all our chomping via compact disc, cassette tape, your local streaming service, or even the World Wide Web. Back to Graeme.

GRAEME BOONE: In the middle of a really active, spacey jam, listen to that rolling sound of Keith’s piano playing, picked up by Jerry with some rolling riffs. Seems like we might be in the key of D major — but what’s interesting, for me, is the way they settle in different places. But then they keep going. Jerry, getting to a riff that starts to drive the jam. You can hear the different guys responding to what Jerry’s doing. Wonderful responses from Bill. Jerry takes off from there; Phil, super active; beautiful chords from Bob. Glorious. So much energy, but so free at the same time.

JESSE: One of my favorite things about this “Dark Star” is the drum break, and more specifically why it’s almost inaccurate to call it a drum break. The band is just floating through freeness and dissolve into a segment of Billy Kreutzmann, the so-called Gang of One, playing solo. And if you can call it a drum solo, it’s one of the chiller drum solos in rock.

AUDIO: “Dark Star (I)” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (19:03-19:21) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

AUDIO: “Drums” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (0:00-0:24) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: And it doesn’t get much flashier from there. I like this moment in the second part of the jam where Lesh leads the band into the so-called “Feelin’ Groovy” theme, Garcia perhaps suggests it’s time to slide back into “Dark Star.”

AUDIO: “Dark Star (II)” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (9:50-10:20) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: But then Weir casts the deciding vote and they soar into a great “Feelin’ Groovy” jam. This is from a little bit later, with almost a slight flavor of “The Eleven.”

AUDIO: “Dark Star (II)” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (11:02-11:32) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

“Sugar Magnolia”

JESSE: In fact, if you acquired the 2012 Record Store Day release of this “Dark Star,” you can flip directly to Europe ‘72, Side D to hear what happens next.

AUDIO: “Sugar Magnolia” [Europe ‘72] (0:00-0:24) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: In the midst of the Paris chaos, they managed to track the version of “Sugar Magnolia” that began Side D of Europe ‘72. You can hear the last few notes of “Dark Star.” The song had changed a good deal since its appearance on American Beauty two years earlier.

AUDIO: “Sugar Magnolia” [American Beauty] (0:00-0:30) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: Over the course of two years of performances, the band smoothed Weir’s Cajun-influenced groove into a powerful set closer. We went pretty deep into the writing and long evolution of “Sugar Magnolia” in our episode during the American Beauty season, and we’ll refer you back there for the nitty gritty of how the “Sunshine Daydream” coda emerged as a piece of music of its own, especially after Jerry Garcia added a wah-wah pedal to his arsenal. On the Europe ‘72 version, you can hear Donna Jean singing during the song’s finale.

AUDIO: “Sugar Magnolia” [Europe ‘72] (5:10-5:40) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]

JESSE: But, like Garcia’s “Jack Straw” vocal, that’s a post-tour addition. On August 4th, back at Alembic, Weir added a new guitar part, unusual for the album. On August 7th, Weir, Garcia, and Lesh overdubbed new vocals. On August 8th, an uncredited member of the band added maracas, and Donna Jean added her own vocal part. From then on, she sang on the live versions of the song as well.

AUDIO: “One More Saturday Night” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 12, 5/4/72] (3:56-4:39) - [Spotify] [YouTube]

BOB WEIR [5/4/72]: Thank you, goodnight.

JESSE: One more Wednesday night. But it was far from over. Steve Parish.

STEVE PARISH: The fucking union crew didn't want to talk to Candace. She got in a tiff with them, as usual, and they didn't want to take orders from a woman. They were very angry, and so as soon as the band stopped playing… this is a night we all pick to take a lot of acid. I don't think Ben and Candace did, but we did — the crew guys, Ram Rod, myself, Jackson, Kidd. Yeah, we were pretty high.

JESSE: Alan Trist.

ALAN TRIST: The load out was particularly interesting. I remember Rex Jackson was all over the place. But we managed it.

STEVE PARISH: We still hadn't figured out the LSD mystery, and we’re high as a kite, man. The whole crew. The band leaves, they’re done with the show at the beautiful Olympia Theatre, which was really a rough load-in. And now, the union decides to fuck with us. They shut the lights off in the building, and they drop the truss, the lighting truss, right on our cables, man — pinning everything to the floor. A fuckin’ heavy truss, and then they split. I grab this one Frenchman, I go, “Where are you going man?” All he starts doing is fucking around with his hair, playing games and telling me about Candace yelling at them. And they split and left us in the dark, man. I’m talking about [a] cobblestone way to load out. So now, we sat down in the front row, myself Jackson, Kidd, and Sonny Heard. We’re staring at the gear and we didn’t know what to fucking do. We’re so high, and these fucking big trusses are there. We must have sat there for about a half hour, if not longer. I don’t know, man — I just snapped, and I stood up and I said, “No, these guys are not getting the better of me.” One at a time, I took every cable out; I unplugged it from the amp; I snaked it through, underneath this fucking truss; and got it out, one at a time, rolled ‘em up, man; made a pile. The guys were just sitting there watching me, until one by one at a time, they got up. Once I had all the cables out from under that truss, we had to lift everything over that, and take them down a dark alleyway of cobblestones. We had one flashlight in the truck, and we loaded that truck, man, ‘til the end. It took us hours, man. Finally, people started helping, one at a time, but not everybody.


JESSE: The trucks were loaded and ready to roll to the next show, two and a half hours north to Lille, near the Belgian border, but there was yet another twist. The band’s original itinerary had this show listed at the Lille Opera House, but the gig was actually rescheduled nearby, which brings me to a side note. Before I try to pronounce the location of the show, I’d like to offer a blanket apology to all speakers of French, German, Dutch, Danish, Swiss, and English for any words, or proper names that I may have mangled during this trans-Continental season of the Deadcast — especially if you were a guest and the mangling involved your name. With that in mind, the Dead’s 5 May show was rescheduled from the Lille Opera House to the Rotunda in the adjoining town, Faches-Thumesnil, just outside Lille. It would have taken place on the seventh anniversary of the very first Warlocks show in 1965, not that probably any of the guys remembered that — and not that the gig happened. This is from David Gans and Marty Martinez’s great 1995 interview with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: It started the night before in Paris, where a couple of communists decided that everybody should be able to go to the show for free.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: This is when we were playing in the Olympia Theatre in Paris, which held 1500 people, if that. Maybe more like eight [hundred].

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Now, he decided this in stark ignorance of the economics of the matter. He got shown the door too. That didn't pretty up his mindset any. So he decided what he was going to do was piss in that gas tank of our diesel.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Actually, he didn't do that until after the show, when we went back to the hotel.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Oh yeah, oh yeah, that’s right.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Rex and Sonny and I are on a balcony —

BOB WEIR [9/95]: And we poured in —

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Somebody, I don't remember who, poured… no, not a bucket of water — chocolate ice cream, on his mauve velvet jacket.

DAVID GANS  [9/95]: This is one well-dressed communist!

PHIL LESH [9/95]: A communist wearing a mauve velvet jacket. It was very, very chic.

MARTY MARTINEZ  [9/95]: Bourgeois communist? Is that…

PHIL LESH [9/95]: It’s not a contradiction of terms apparently, in France. Yeah, I mean… the sky’s the limit.

JESSE: And Rosie McGee.

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: After we had two nights or three nights in Paris at the Olympia Theatre, the next gig was in Lille, which is an industrial town how many miles north of Paris; I don't remember how far it is. During the night, or at the last Olympia gig, there was a Frenchman outside our hotel after the gig, yelling up at the windows about that the concert should have been free. He was very upset, screaming and yelling and whatever. So Rex Jackson was eating ice cream in his hotel room, and the windows did open — and he dropped ice cream on the guy. The guy had a very fancy velvet jacket, which is legendary now. That really upset him so badly.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: After the chocolate ice cream came down on his jacket, I think he got a little… miffed.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: It ticked him off a bit.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: That was I think the final trigger that caused him to a) piss in our tank and b) put water in the diesel fuel tanks of our trucks, so that our equipment couldn’t go anywhere.

SAM CUTLER: So he went out and he pissed in the fuel tank of the truck. That was his Parisien method of complaining about his treatment. The truck was driving the next day—we were playing in Lille in northern France—and of course, he got halfway there and when we got through the petrol and got to the piss, those trucks don’t run on piss. So that broke down.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: And so then the next morning, everybody got up the truck, headed out of town for us, bright and early. We all got up and got on the bus and headed to Lille, right by the Belgian border. Well, the truck made it eight miles out of Paris, and it broke down. That was that, and that was that. But we didn’t know this.

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: Somebody had put, I believe, sugar in the gas tank, and it was not a mystery who had done it, to their thinking. The truck wouldn't run, but by the time they discovered this, the band, including me, had already taken off for Lille.

JESSE: In the venue was a room full of fans, most of them waiting to see their first Dead show. Please welcome to the Deadcast, Daniel Duchene.

DANIEL DUCHENE: We were three three friends, great fans of the Dead. So we bought tickets for Faches-Thumesnil, for the concert that was planned for 5th May of ‘72. Philipe’s father [took] us by car.

JESSE: The Bozo bus at least made it to the hotel in Lille, and by then, knew what happened to the truck. Jerry Garcia stayed behind, but some of his bandmates pressed on to the venue anyway.

DANIEL DUCHENE: The concert was planned on eight or 9 PM. So we were in the hall, and we waited for hours because the band was not there! [chuckles]

BOB WEIR [9/95]: We arrived at the hall in Lille to a mob of irate Frenchmen, shouting —

PHIL LESH [9/95]: “Power to the People!” “We shall overcome!” [laughs]

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Anti-American stuff. …

SAM CUTLER: The equipment truck never arrived. So we had to cancel it, and there was almost a riot.

JESSE: One of the trucks made it, though — with the recording gear and the lighting system. This is from Blair Jackson’s great interview with Dennis “Wiz” Lenoard. Check out Blair’s book, Garcia: An American Life.

DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD [2011]: We got there, and it was crazy. The carpet was down; the carpet lived in the recording truck as well. The carpet, the snake was in the venue, the lights were up… and that's it, man.

JESSE: Lighting director Candace Brightman.

CANDACE BRIGHTMAN: ​​Ben and I set up. We had everything… we had the whole lighting system up, and the audience came in — no band. No band showed up. These people weren’t… they weren’t a Grateful Dead [kind of crowd]. They’re like, “Hey! We’ve waited long enough.” They were about to be violent.

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: There was an audience, the place was full. And there was no equipment. There [weren’t] cell phones and all of that; the communication wasn’t there. Maybe they were able to get a hold of somebody and say, “Hey, we had to go get another truck,” or “We’re not gonna be able to get there.” For a while, they didn’t know — the equipment just wasn’t there, and the gig had started, or the time for the gig had passed, and the audience was getting restless. So they were going to cancel the gig, and Phil — I think it was Phil and Bobby went out. Why they didn’t ask me to go and speak French for them is a mystery, unless they were thinking to protect me from the rowdy locals. I don’t know…. The audience was pretty pissed off.

DANIEL DUCHENE: We waited till midnight or 1 AM. We were very frustrated.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Since it was deemed that my French was the best in the crew, the best in the group, I was awarded the onerous —

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Single honor… [chuckles] of explaining it to a howling mob!

BOB WEIR [9/95]: — opportunity to go out and tell a howling mob: “Hey folks, no show tonight!” [laughs] And not only that…

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Pas de musique!

CANDACE BRIGHTMAN: Ben and I had to strike the gear while looking like we were setting up gear, which I don't know how we did, but we did that. We would bring things out from backstage, and then I'd take away part of the lighting. So they were sitting in a room with a bunch of weird shit on the stage that had nothing to do with the Grateful Dead.

JESSE: Courtenay Pollack and his girlfriend were there.

COURTENAY POLLACK: None of our crew spoke fluent French. So they sent my girlfriend out — she spoke English, Persian and French, because she was French, Swiss and Persian heritage. So she went out, brave as you please, with this wonderful cultured accent because she came from a highly cultured family, and told the crowd — which, they’d been waiting a long time for the music to start and, of course, it was not going to start. She got out there and [told] them that they weren’t going to have a concert: they could redeem their tickets, get their money back or apply it to the next gig elsewhere. Meanwhile, she stepped out there on stage, a very self-confident person, announces to the angry crowd that there won’t be a concert, the equipment didn’t show up.

DANIEL DUCHENE: Around one hour, some musicians or roadies, announced that the trucks of the band couldn't arrive in Faches because someone had put sugar in the tanks of the trucks. Sabotage! In Paris, I guess!

SAM CUTLER: We promised everyone, “We’ll come back; we'll play a free concert, please don't burn the fucking place down!” The French were well upset.

DANIEL DUCHENE: But they also announced that the band would come back in Lille at another date. So we heard about the comeback without believing it too much, what we heard.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: The guy hadn't bolted with the money. He just… I don't think he could get it that night to give them their money, their money back for their tickets. But I think he later gave them back—

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Ah, great.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Because if he hadn't done that, we wouldn't have gone back to play. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: There was a bunch of chaos. We barricaded ourselves in the dressing room, and the audience was getting more restless. I think a promoter came out and said what we'd said, nobody believed it. It seemed like we were going to get in some really bad trouble.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: They didn't take it real well.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: So we retreated!

BOB WEIR [9/95]: We adjourned rather quickly to the dressing room, and we spent about 30 seconds in there wondering, what the sound hell are we gonna do now?

PHIL LESH [9/95]: [in a mock-fearful tone] “Do we have to go back out there and talk to them again?”

COURTENAY POLLACK: So, right after she made the announcement and the grumblings started turning into a roar and a surge towards the stage, I grabbed Victoria and Patricia, Victoria’s sister, and we hightailed it. I had parked my car — we’d gone to England and bought a Bentley. That was the kind of car she liked to drive around it. We hightailed it out ahead of the angry crowds. We had a shortcut to the highway because we were backstage.

JESSE: Daniel remembers the situation being a little less fraught.

DANIEL DUCHENE: I don't feel the angriness for this evening. The audience was not very angry, but very frustrated — they wait[ed] for hours without any information. But they were not very angry: that was the Grateful Dead audience. They just weren’t angry people. But they were frustrated and tired.

JESSE: Daniel’s friend Phillipe offers some evidence of the chaos, though. He emails, “People were very angry, but no fight. The windows of the exit doors of the Rotonda were blown out under the pressure of people who wanted to leave. They had been closed to prevent people from getting in during the concert. I think nobody was hurt. Some cops came.” [sighs] Thank you Phillipe and Daniel. That gives some excellent context to the Dead family’s memory of events. Rosie McGee.  

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: So we went one by one into the bathroom of the dressing room, and out the window and down a pipe to… I think it was the top of a truck parked right below there. So it wasn’t very long of a drop. Somehow, we all just got out the window.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Meanwhile, the door was starting to go ‘thump…’‘thump…’ thump…’ bulging a little bit. We could see that was going to hold for only about a minute and a half. We had one avenue of escape, and that was out the window and down a drain pipe — just sort of climbing, holding onto a drain pipe down three stories.

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Actually, it was only a story and a half, Bob.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Really?

PHIL LESH [9/95]: You could have jumped it.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Really…

PHIL LESH [9/95]: But it would have hurt when you landed.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: Yeah, we would have had a lot of broken ankles…

CANDACE BRIGHTMAN: As we were leaving that gig, we had to go out the dressing room window because it got to be kind of a riot situation. It got scary. Not for me of course, but it got scary. I remember Phil was going out the dressing room window, and he said, “Women and musicians first!” And that’s who went out first. We scrambled out of there.

JESSE: Donna Jean.

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: It probably was Rex Jackson that hoisted me out of the window. I can't remember if it was a dressing room or a bathroom, but I got hoisted out the window with a lot of other [of] the band and crew and everything. I don't remember anything after that, but I remember that — getting through that window.

SAM CUTLER: I lowered Donna Jean out of the window of the dressing room, which was on the first floor. And the equipment guys, I was holding her by the hands lowering her down, and the equipment guys grabbed her underneath.

COURTENAY POLLACK: Meanwhile, the band and everybody else that's in the hot seat, they’re all clambering onto a helicopter and taking off…

JESSE: Well, more like a Bolo bus than a helicopter.

BOB WEIR [9/95]: So we were out of there: out the back window, down the drain pipe and —

PHIL LESH [9/95]: Runnin’ for the bus…

BOB WEIR [9/95]: A quick sprint for the bus. We left a little rose on the windowsill there.

ROSIE McGEE [2014]: And the bus was revved up, just waiting for us. We ran like hell, got on the bus and bailed out of town.

JESSE: And so are we. See you next time.

AUDIO: “Sugar Magnolia” [Europe ‘72] (6:35-7:05) - [] [Spotify] [YouTube]