GOOD OL' GRATEFUL DEADCAST
Season 5, Episode 4
- Dennis “Wiz” Leonard, by Blair Jackson, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, 2011.
- Jon McIntire, by Blair Jackson, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, 2011.
- Phil Lesh & Bob Weir, by David Gans & Marty Martinez, Grateful Dead Hour #369, 9/1995.
JESSE: On 20 April 1972, the Grateful Dead departed Copenhagen and crossed into West Germany for the first time, now two weeks into their Europe ‘72 tour with their full family and full set of recording gear. We’ll let Pigpen start us off today. Our friend Sully, a family friend to the McKernans, has preserved and generously shared the letters Pigpen wrote home to his parents during the tour. Letter #3 is dated “April 20, 1972, 8:15pm, 20:15 hrs German.” Here’s Sully to read some of it.
SULLY: “Hi y’all – In Hamburg, no trouble at all. They stamped our passports upon leaving Denmark, but didn’t entering Germany, didn’t even look on the bus. Room’s o.k, same ol’ European hotel room, little beds, pushable-together, no T.V., stupid radio (I disconnected mine), but good food. Fresh venison from the Black Forest, stroganoff, all sorts of goodies. I had asparagus & ham (ugh! bad choice!) but tasted others, good! Got some plain ol’ white ginseng root from Garcia, ought to be enough to last, & some red root from Alan, which I’m giving back.”
JESSE: We’ll get back to Pig’s letter momentarily. Alan Trist of Ice-9 Publishing was the Dead’s cosmic ambassador in Europe and had done advance work setting up the press.
ALAN TRIST: Germany was particularly interesting because there were a lot of people who knew the Dead’s music when we got there. There was a trend of fan outpouring to the Grateful Dead — those shows were massively sold out. You really got the sense that Germany was one of the parts of Europe that had taken up the call of the Dead, and of the West Coast music in general, very strongly. I think it's probably still true to this day; it was true before, with The Beatles. They learned to be the Beatles in Germany after all. So the association of West Coast music, of the music of the 60s with Germany — very strong. That was reflected when we were there. A lot of interesting people in the press world… I don't remember the names of the magazines they came out in. There was so much press in fact, in Germany, that Garcia got very tired of it. He said, “Alan, we’ve gotta turn down this press thing — it’s exhausting.” They would certainly give an afternoon’s worth in just about every city. They did a lot; they weren’t used to doing quite that much. So they did a lot of press.
JESSE: One of their very first stops in Germany was the local record company office in Hamburg. You may have seen some photos from this visit, with the band and members of their family standing on the street. Pigpen’s holding a pool cue, as if interrupted midgame. The Hamburg Image ran the photo with a caption, loosely translated, “Rock Commune Came On European Tour with All Their Baggage,” alongside a photo that included most of the band plus Frankie Weir, Susila Kreutzmann, Alan Trist, Rock Scully, crew chief Ramrod Shurtliff and his baby Rudso, also on the tour.
SULLY: “We drive to Bremen tomorrow to tape a TV show called ‘Beat Club’ which is shown all over. It’s sort of Germany’s American Bandstand but done a lot more tastefully, except there’s some law that says ya can’t dance in the studio, but we’ll get around it, & we have almost all the time we want, all afternoon & evening, so we can probably edit the tape & get the best performances for air-play.”
JESSE: If you’ve been involved with Grateful Dead tape or information trading for any length of time, you might know the name Uli Teute. Uli didn’t get to see the Dead in person on the Europe ‘72 tour, that would have to wait. As well as being a budding Dead Head, he was also a devoted viewer of the Beat-Club in those years.
ULI TEUTE: I live in southwest Germany in a town called Freiburg near the Black Forest. Very close to Switzerland, very close to France. So for me, it's like a two and a half hour trip by car to Frankfurt. It's two hours to Stuttgart. It's three and a half hours to Munich, because from me to Munich, there’s the Black Forest in the way. There’s no highway.
JESSE: If that’s not a metaphor for European Dead Head-dom, I’m not sure what is.
ULI TEUTE: In school, it was like five or six guys who went out every day. We had a radio station, which was pretty good in the afternoon. Sometimes, they played whole albums, and we could go into a nearby town and look for records. I don't remember who it was out of the five, but one of them came home with Skullfuck, and it was like… we were completely blown. And the next guy went into town and he came back with Vintage Dead. So the first two records I got introduced into the Grateful Dead was, like, listening to 18 minutes of “[In the] Midnight Hour” from ‘66, and Skullfuck. So I knew about the Grateful Dead — I knew about Jefferson Airplane, and we really got into this kind of music, but this is not very typical for Germany at all. I think we were kind of a special breed, because all our colleagues in school they were into Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heap. All those British hot rock combos that established themselves in the beginning of the ‘70s. We were kind of a dope smoking community — we’d hang out, like: “Oh, listen to the Jefferson Airplane. Sounds like psychedelic music.” That’s what we were after. We knew a lot, and I bought Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia, which was a book that was established in ‘69, and I bought that in ‘71. It was in English, but it didn’t matter: it mentioned all the bands I’d never heard about. So I was pretty much kind of introduced into the scene by reading books and by reading magazines. Also, they were in German, because I still had no access to American or English magazines at that time. And, of course, we had the Beat-Club.
AUDIO: “A Touch of Velvet” [Mood Mosaic] (0:37-0:58) - [YouTube]
JESSE: That was “A Touch of Velvet” by Mood Mosaic, the theme music for the Beat-Club for most of its history.
ULI TEUTE: Beat-Club was a big thing in Germany. That started out pretty early in ‘65, and it was really Beat music in the beginning. It was of course all black and white. But then when the hairs grew with the bands, and the colors came up on TV, the music started to change. They had really what you’d call progressive music. Before the Dead, they had Kraftwerk, they had CAN, they had all really extreme, strange stuff. My mom came in while I was watching Beat-Club and they had this crazy technique with the projectors behind the band; you can see they did this for all the bands. They had this amazing effect. My mother comes in — the music is something she doesn’t understand, and she looks at the screen and says, “Well, no wonder you must go crazy, with music and visuals like this.” And I know that’s exactly what we felt: it was one hour [of] music for us, and nobody else — our parents wouldn’t understand. It was too far out, especially in ‘70, ‘71, ‘72. It was the thing we discussed on Monday morning in school, because everybody had watched Beat-Club on Saturday afternoon. There [were] all these names we didn’t know before — we got a new idea of what to see, or what to buy or what records to look out [for].
JESSE: In 2014, the Grateful Dead’s Meet Up at the Movies event featured the band’s full 80-minute session from the Beat-Club. It wasn’t unheard of for a band to do an extended session even knowing only a small part would be used for the final show, and you can see the extended cuts for many acts on the official Beat-Club channel on YouTube. But, of course, the Dead still did it their way, setting up their own 16-track recording rig to capture it all. Grateful Dead archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux.
DAVID LEMIEUX: We actually cut quite a bit out of it between songs, because there was a lot of technical stuff going on — setting up cameras, setting up lights. So, oftentimes, there'd be five or seven minutes between songs of them doing nothing — like, not even tuning. But they did film it. When the camera would pan around during these long five, seven, 10-minute between-song technical setups, the camera would pan around the studio, and you'd see everyone. You’d see — there’s Alan Trist sitting on a road case, and there’s Sue Swanson sitting on a road case. So you get to see the whole Grateful Dead family of 60 people, and they’d all just be kind of sitting around, waiting for it, and then once the music would start… I don’t know if they’d dance, but they were there as a family. They were there as a team. It’s a big soundstage, similar to—going back to [The Beatles’] Get Back—the first soundstage where they recorded at Twickenham Studios. It’s a very similar soundstage to that, but with a blue screen and big TV lights. You can see MG there, and you can see Francis — they’re all there, and everybody that you see in the credits for Europe ‘72, they’re all kind of hanging out there, and it’s pretty cool. I remember you can see Wiz walking by with tape reels, labeling these big 14-inch tape boxes. It’s really neat, because it’s this German crew which I don’t think [spoke] English very well. The crew [was] probably small, 10 people maybe, and then the Dead, which is 50 people.
JESSE: Mountain Girl remembers the Beat Club. Welcome back, MG.
MOUNTAIN GIRL: I remember how uptight the engineers [were] that they had brought in to do this little blue screen. It was very frustrating as I recall; the band was supposed to follow very significant timings, so there [were] differences of method, I would say. I remember the band feeling really squeezed by the German engineer — they were really gettin’ squeezed. Because everybody… everything was incompatible. Right? Everything in Europe at that point did not match up with American: our electrical system, they're on a different system. Everything was a different kind of transistor or battery… it was just a little hard. I remember our gear guys just tearin’ their hair out. “Oh my god — what do we do now?” In the end, they would figure out compromises, and it would work. But it was tricky.
JESSE: If you have perfect pitch and the Beat-Club sounds a little off to you, here’s why. This is Dennis “Wiz” Leonard, from Blair Jackson’s 2011 interview. Thanks Blair, and check out Blair’s book with David Gans, This Is All A Dream We Dreamed.
DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD : At one point in the tour, I believe it was Beat-Club in Bremen, unbeknownst to anyone, the piano tuner—language barrier, of course—had tuned the piano to 441. And in order to get the organ to be in tune, we actually came up with the same scenario — ran the organ off of an amplifier with a variable frequency oscillator, and we returned the organ. It took a long time to get it started, but we actually did it. So the Beat-Club in Bremen was at 441..
JESSE: You can’t see it because, you know, podcast, but one of my favorite moments is when Bob Weir puts bunny ears behind the German studio engineer’s clapperboard, just before Weir introduces the band.
BOB WEIR [4/21/72]: Ladies and gentlemen….the Grrrrrrrrrateful Dead!
JESSE: And they were off. Later, Robert Hunter would remember of the Beat-Club, “I realized what they needed was people dancing, but there was only me, so I piled onto the studio floor and danced my proverbial ass off. The music picked right up.”
MOUNTAIN GIRL: He and I… he and I both did that. But they didn't want us in the studio. That was the thing — the vibes were just kind of, “Get those people out of here.” I think Bob may have stuck it out longer than I did. But we were trying to bring a little bit of life in there. It was pretty sterile.
JESSE: You can’t see Hunter and MG dancing, but it’s still extremely fun to watch.
DAVID LEMIEUX: So we've got all this footage of what they would do in these long breaks: they'd sit down, they’d drink a Coke. But I remember watching them called Donna Jean up to sing on “Playing in the Band.”
BOB WEIR [4/21/72]: Donna, you wanna sing on this one? It’s “The [Main] Ten” [the early name for “Playing in the Band”]
JESSE: And not just “Playing in the Band,” but two full versions of “Playing in the Band” with jams. The Beat-Club session has some of the best close up footage of the 1972 improvising.
DAVID LEMIEUX: When they're doing the drum solo after “Truckin’” and they're about to go into “The Other One” — during the drum solo, the band really lays back, physically. They stand behind Billy, they let him have his space. He does his three or four minute drum solo, and they’re watching — they’re listening and watching, and yet they’re still having a sip of their Coke, having a cigarette for Jerry. But they're listening and watching. And then when Billy starts up with getting into the rhythm and the beat of “The Other One,” they all start getting ready, and they're all kind of tuned up and ready to go. I hate to use the analogy to say it's like going to battle, but it's a presented unified front, where they all come forward at once: Phil, with the rumbling intro; Bobby, attacks his guitar, like hits the chord; and Jerry… it’s really amazing to see.
JESSE: For the actual broadcast a month later, the band were only allotted one song, with the band’s album covers flashing behind them courtesy of the blue screen chroma key.
AUDIO: “One More Saturday Night” [Beat-Club original audio] (0:00-0:28)
JESSE: “One More Saturday Night” was recorded during the sessions for Bob Weir’s solo album Ace that February, but released as a standalone Grateful Dead single in the European countries where the tour traveled. And, for once, the Dead promoted their new single.
DAVID LEMIEUX: They needed a song to tour Europe with… you’ve gotta have a single, right? And the only thing they had in the can—typical Grateful Dead, not even a Grateful Dead song—it was a solo song. We all know that Ace was a Dead album, but it was Bob’s solo record, and I think that’s fascinating. The Grateful Dead, they're touring behind a Bob Weir solo song. So it's pretty typical. That’s what I love about the Dead — it’s always a little different, and yet it always works exactly well for them.
JESSE: The episode on which the Dead appeared was overstuffed, and the Dead were right in the middle of a stacked bill, as it were. Before them, Pacific Gas & Electric and the Kinks each got one song, then three by Chuck Berry. After the Dead, there was one by the post-Jim Morrison Doors and two by the Rolling Stones, getting ready to launch their own 1972 tour just as the episode aired a month later.
ULI TEUTE: It was broadcast by the time the tour was over. On the 27th of May, the Grateful Dead were gone. The Grateful Dead themselves didn't impress me a lot. They followed Chuck Berry on this TV program, which was pretty odd. First, you have Chuck Berry, and he plays “Let It Rock” which I, at that point, didn’t know. I knew the song by Chuck Berry, but I didn’t know it was covered by Jerry. I had no clue about it. But there you have Chuck Berry in his best rock and roll colorful outfit, doing the Duck Walk. And after that, the Grateful Dead come in, I expected something at least like “Casey Jones.” And they do a fucking rock and roll number. I mean, this is no follow-up to Chuck Berry — he could do that much better. And it was just “One More Saturday Night,” and I was really bored. I didn't like it at all.
It watered down in ‘72. The last one was in December, it was only the Osmonds. That was a far cry from seeing CAN or Kraftwerk …. I remember we kept on saying: “What? The Osmonds, in the whole show? Only the Osmonds? No, I’m going to switch it off, I don’t want this.” I remember they had Johnny Cash at one point for a whole show, which wasn't to my interest.
JESSE: But, despite not being too into “One More Saturday Night,” Uli was committed to the Dead.
ULI TEUTE: I started trading tapes in ‘77 after a very strange incident. The Jefferson Starship came over to Germany, and they were supposed to play at the Loreley Open-air [Theatre], but that never happened because Grace Slick turned into Grace Slick and a riot followed and they burned down the stage… you might have heard about that. If not, there are enough web pages to read about this disaster. But before the stage was burned down, there was this guy, a hawker, and he hawked a magazine I’d never heard about. It had some Grace Slick picture on the front, so I bought it, and it was called Relix. Then, I completely flipped, when I came to the last page and saw the classifieds. It took me a while to understand what these guys are asking for: “Have 200 hours, need more.” What the fuck you talking about? By that time, I already had tape myself. My claim to fame is the Neil Young show from ‘76 in Heidelberg, which is my master that circulates. So I had some things, and some bootlegs. And I tried to connect with some of these American guys that had advertised in Relix. At the same time, Rockpalast is on the German television, and the first Rockpalast is also broadcast by the radio. So we could make really nice tapes, and that gave me a start into a trading circle.
One guy here in Germany, he was like five years older than me. And he had the most outrageous Grateful Dead collection I've ever seen. He had all the shitty tapes nobody had, all the shitty audience tapes from ‘68 and ‘69 and ‘70; all the first copies of Flushing Meadows, 7/11 and 7/12/69. He was in Dusseldorf ‘72 too, and he took me under his wings. And he told me about the Koletzo Brothers.
JESSE: The Koletzo Brothers, Volker and Hartmut, legendary German Dead Heads. I first learned of them through Carol Latvala, former partner of the late Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala. Volker and Hartmut visited Dick and Carol in Hawaii in the ‘70s. According to lore, they did the whole Europe ‘72 tour. Uli’s friend told him about them.
ULI TEUTE: He told me way back in like ‘79, ‘80, when I first went up to see him in Marburg, about these two brothers — but he had lost contact by then. But he said that there was a rumor that they had even gone as far as working for the Grateful Dead, as roadies or something… which, but I can't prove that.
JESSE: Hartut, Volker, or anybody who knows anything about them, please get in touch with us via stories.dead.net. Uli and his friend Volkmar have provided endless help to the Deadcast over the past two years with a private collection they maintain of Grateful Dead photographs.
ULI TEUTE: We got into this idea: Hey, we could just collect as many pictures as we find, and then we find dates. And the more pictures we have, the easier it becomes to date them. And thus we went like crazy through all sources in the Internet, also through books we had at home.
JESSE: Focusing on the years 1965 to 1975, they can date photos by guitars, clothing and, of course, the ever-popular facial hair forensics.
ULI TEUTE: The beard comes and goes. If you could run it through a pocket-sized movie, it would be amazing.
JESSE: One aspect that they track is the band’s equipment, especially Jerry Garcia’s guitars. On the Europe ‘72 tour, Garcia was exclusively playing an Alembic modified Stratocaster given to him by Graham Nash. Garcia had made it his main guitar in late 1971 and, in early 1972, began to affix stickers to the pickguard and body.
ULI TEUTE: There was a “Truckin’” one with this Robert Crumb “[Keep on] Truckin’” figure. That was in front of the guitar on the left side, and on the right side — was it the New York Department police?
JESSE: The R. Crumb sticker had appeared on the guitar at the March shows at the Academy in New York, as had one other.
SAM CUTLER: I gave him the Harley Davidson sticker.
JESSE: Thanks, Sam Cutler. And, perfectly for Uli and Volkmar’s project, a new sticker appears on Garcia’s guitar at the Beat-Club.
ULI TEUTE: Then in Bremen in the Beat-Club, he suddenly pops up with his Pillhuhn. Pillhuhn was a German cartoon figure which showed up in a magazine. In times when people had to watch TV, they bought magazines where they’d find the TV programs, right? In one of those German TV magazines, this guy, the character of Pillhuhn, had a comic. I don't know why. The music magazine Musikexpress put up a sticker in their magazine. They always put up a sticker in the middle of the mag, so when you go to the centerfold, there was always a sticker. And I do vividly remember: “Oh! The Pillhuhn.” And then, a month later, I watched the Beat-Club, and I can’t believe it: I look at Jerry’s guitar, and I see the Pillhuhn. “Oh, I know where they got this one from!” I’m sure that when they came to the Beat-Club, they were kind of in a dressing room and they were given music magazines or something, to spend some time. That’s how I’m pretty sure he got it.
JESSE: Pillhuhn, which translates literally to “Pill Chicken,” depicts a chicken emerging out of a pill. The sticker lasted on Garcia’s guitar over the course of the summer and fall tours. We’ll get back to the conversation about stickers in a few episodes. There’s a pretty loud postscript to the Beat-Club, as recounted by Bill Kretuzmann in his memoir Deal.
“We decided to play a full set for the cameras, and we also decided to take acid for it,” he wrote. “We took something else too; I don’t recall the specifics, all I know is that it got us unbelievably high. Our hotel that night was in an old classic building and I’m guessing that maybe they had to rebuild or repair some of it after the bombings. After the show, we were in one of those collective moods where we were all just fucking around … For some reason, for me, that translated into punching a mirror in the elevator on the way to my room. Well, that wasn’t a very good thing to do. The mirror was an old antique. It survived the bombings … but not Bill Kreutzmann bombed on acid.” Over to tour manager Sam Cutler.
SAM CUTLER: Billy Kreutzmann walked into the Hotel Berlin in Hamburg. The only thing in the whole hotel that had survived the bombing of Hamburg, which was ferocious in the Second World War, which was a little oak mirror, a pretty little mirror that was in the elevator. And a very stoned and probably quite drunk Kreutzmann walked into the elevator, saw his reflection in his mirror, and punched it. So, there went the mirror, with this delicate oak frame — the last remaining artifact from the original Hotel Berlin. So they called me up, the manager. I had to go down to the manager’s office, a woman. “You people, you people are barbarians!” “Oh, really? Why, what’s going on?” “Oh…” And then she told me all about Billy, destroyed this mirror. I think it was Healy, but somebody on the 18th floor, while I was talking to the manager and keep her cool, decided to lob their television out the window. As I was talking to the manager, outside a window, a television smashed, with the ferocity of a bomb.
AUDIO: [television explodes]
SAM CUTLER: So that was it: “You have to go! I’m calling the riot squad!” Which he did — the Hamburg riot squad came, and we were all escorted out of the hotel. I had to find another hotel for fucking 50 people, like, pronto… which wasn’t [easy], given that we’d just been thrown out of the Hotel Berlin.
JESSE: In other memories, it was only a telephone thrown out the window, and the retribution was a stolen acoustic guitar, not an outright relocation. During their stay in Hamburg, the band visited the Musikhalle, the venue where they were to perform the next week, and Phil Lesh had a most peculiar experience.
This is from Phil Lesh’s memoir Searching For the Sound, published by Little Brown and Co.: ”[The venue] is home of the NDR Symphony Orchestra and the Hamburg Philharmonic; one of those bands is rehearsing excerpts from Carmen in the hall. I decide to cruise around outside the auditorium. I’m in the foyer, reading a plaque about favorite son Johannes Brahms returning in triumph to his hometown, and M.G. comes rushing down the balcony stairs—“Phil! Come here! You’ve got to see this!” What? What? I follow her up to the balcony, where Jerry, Bob, and a couple of roadies are standing open-mouthed and pointing toward the stage. At first all I see is the forest, not the trees—an orchestra playing—but then Jer says, “The cellist!” I look down at the solo cellist—and he is me. Same face, same hair (only shorter), same build; when they break and he stands up—the same gait, the same posture—I’m flabbergasted. I had read, of course, that everyone has a double somewhere, but I’d always thought of that as a folk legend—until I saw mine. I decide that I must come face to face with him somehow—so I run downstairs to the backstage area. Having left my bell-bottoms and paisley period behind, I’m now dressed like an American cowboy—boots, jeans, checked shirt, Levi’s jacket—everything but the hat. You can imagine the thoughts running through the minds of this man’s colleagues, their heads snapping around in double takes as I pass through them. Backstage, another entire orchestra is rehearsing in a huge room; the other musicians are dispersing. I never found this guy, but oh, how I wanted to shake his hand and find out his name. Could it have been Lesch? Lösch?”
Perhaps an enterprising Grateful Dead scholar can find the names of the cellists for the NDR Symphony Orchestra and the Hamburg Philharmonic! The band had 10 days in Germany. Counting the Beat-Club, they had 4 engagements in 4 different cities. It was a lot of time on the Bozo and Bolo buses. Donna Jean Godchaux-Mackay.
DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX-MACKAY: I had never been to Europe. It was quite fascinating on every level. Number one, I'm in this band, and trying to get my bearings around that. And then in Europe to boot. It was a heavy scene for me, but it was wonderful. I loved every minute of it, and being on that bus was one of the funniest things in the world. Somebody would yell out, “Castle on the left!” “Castle on the right!” On the Autobahn, just traveling through Europe and castles… not, like, mansions, castles everywhere.
JESSE: Mountain Girl.
MOUNTAIN GIRL: One bus was the Bolos, and our bus was the Bozos, and there was some competition. I don’t quite know what kind anymore. It was just part of the fun.
JESSE: Dennis “Wiz” Leonard was a Bolo.
DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD : We had Sven as our driver. He didn’t speak a word of English and somehow Mick, the Bozo bus driver, and Sven would have breakfast in the morning. Seemingly having conversation, but I don’t know what the fuck they were talking about.
JESSE: Steve Parish.
STEVE PARISH: Most of the time I was on the Bozo bus. That was me and Jerry and Kidd [Candelario]. Hunter would go back and forth sometimes. But it became pretty much that people stayed with the bus that they felt comfortable in. You see, the one bus that was the Bozo bus, we had a British driver — Mick was his name. And the Bolo bus had [a driver who] was from Denmark. A Danish driver named Sven. And so as soon as people on that one learned that “hurtigere” was the Danish word for “faster,” that’s all they yelled at old Sven, all day long: “Hurtigere! Hurtigere! Hurtigere!” I found that tiring, actually, to ride on their bus. I went on it a couple times. But it was the Bozo bus I liked. We had a lot more pot blowin’ on that bus, and we’re drinking wine as we went to the wine country.
JESSE: This is from David Gans and Marty Martinez’s great interview with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh from 1995. Thanks guys.
BOB WEIR [9/95]: You get on one bus. And you travel all day long on this one bus, and everybody runs out of their stash because we're going across borders and stuff like that. So we had to keep it kind of down. And then these rumors would pop up: “Hey, they got stash on the other bus.” So yeah, there were raids.
PHIL LESH [9/95]: I must have been asleep…
JESSE: And then southwest from Hamburg to Dusseldorf. Archivist David Lemieux.
DAVID LEMIEUX: Dusseldorf was the first complete show release from Europe ‘72: Rockin’ the Rhein [with the Grateful Dead]. It's a start-to-finish magnificent show. We were going to do a complete Europe ‘72 show, we knew it was going to be a “Dark Star” show — that was our criteria. Because Hundred Year Hall as the previous one had “The Other One,” [so] we wanted it to be a “Dark Star”... so that limited [it] down to half the shows. Then, from there, it became… I certainly won’t say an easy choice. But Dusseldorf was the one that kept coming up to the top of the heap as really magnificent. The Dead meant business. To me, the tour peaked several times. It peaked in Wembley, it peaked at the Lyceum, beginning and end. And throughout, it peaked several times as well. But I do think that little German run—particularly Dusseldorf, and Frankfurt—is one peak.
JESSE: That’s a lotta peaks, dude. Of all of the band’s stops on the European continent, western Germany probably had the largest homegrown musical scene of its own, pushing psychedelia into new phases. Kosmische music, cosmic music, sometimes referred to as Krautrock, but that was always pretty impolite. From right there in Dusseldorf there was Kraftwerk.
AUDIO: “Klingklang” [Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk 2] (15:43-16:13) - [Spotify]
JESSE: That was “Klingkang” from 1972’s Kraftwerk 2. And Kraftwerk begat Neu! This is “Hallogallo” from their 1972 debut, which came out only a month before the Dead pulled into town..
AUDIO: “Hallogallo” [Neu!, Neu!] (3:55-4:25) - [Spotify]
JESSE: In nearby Cologne, there was CAN. Here they are in 1975 from their recent Live in Stuttgart release, jamming on a familiar 4-note descending theme.
AUDIO: “Zwei” [CAN, Live in Stuttgart 1975] (3:53-4:23) - [Bandcamp]
JESSE: All three bands were influenced by the rock music coming out of America’s West Coast. And members of the German scene were well-represented when the Dead showed up in Dusseldorf. Karl Bartos, who would soon join Kraftwerk, was there. And CAN keyboardist Irmin Schmift told music writer and Dead freak Piotr Orlov that the CAN gang had attended as well.There were a lot of similarities between the Dead and CAN, especially. One was a love of psychedelics, and it’s hard to not imagine them tripping at the Rheinhalle. But the Dead’s appearances in Germany had an unusual effect on CAN. Please welcome CAN’s longtime sound engineer and producer, Rene Tinner.
RENE TINNER: As a kid, I bought the American import Anthem of the Sun, and I smoked joints heavily and listened to that record over and over again. It helped me a lot.
JESSE: Rene didn’t attend the Dusseldorf show, and didn’t start working for CAN until 1973, but helped manifest the Dead’s influence when the band asked him to build them their very own sound system.
RENE TINNER: I got the inspiration from a picture in the paper of their equipment setup on one of those concerts they had in Germany. It inspired my colleague and me to take up that spirit, having a Wall of Sound behind the band.
JESSE: Based on the descriptions, it’s very possible the photo in question was from the band’s 1974 appearance in Munich, but it might not. The engineers in CAN had no contact with the Dead, and didn’t know much about the Alembic system itself, but they did their best to replicate it.
RENE TINNER: We just practically glued any loudspeaker we could find in the studio and mounted it on wood, construction. We had no boxes, nothing on the back — just all these speakers behind the band, no boxes really. Just loudspeakers mounted one to each other. Most of those speakers were pretty shitty speakers, apart from a few JBLs, I cannot even say what it was. I doubt it was in the same quality as the Dead’s. I cannot say because I didn't hear. But the inspiration came from having many speakers behind the band.
JESSE: In doing so, they accidentally discovered the principle that was driving the development of the Alembic PA.
RENE TINNER: We had a normal kind of PA on top of it. So this arrangement on the stage was more or less just for the band. And of course, the audience which was close to the stage.
JESSE: “As above, so below,” was the alchemical principle behind the Wall of Sound — it should sound exactly the same to the band and audience, which is exactly what happened when CAN stacked up their speakers.
RENE TINNER: The band was so relieved with the introduction of the system, because there [were] never any monitor problems anymore. The system sounded like… all the speakers on the stage, they reproduce everything. Drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and vocal.
JESSE: Bear would be proud. Well, maybe. It was the band’s system for the rest of their live career, and you can see CAN’s imitation of the Dead’s sound system illustrated on the front of their great recent archival releases.
RENE TINNER: They used it until they stopped playing live, until I guess ‘77, ‘78.
JESSE: But that’s all a bit in the future. Still, how else to explain CAN’s song “One More Night” on Ege Bamyasi, released in fall of 1972, not long after the Dead passed through?
AUDIO: “One More Night” [CAN, Ege Bamyasi] (1:28-1:42) - [Spotify]
JESSE: Rock and roll had well permeated West Germany by 1972, but the Dead were different. Please welcome German Dead Head, Hagen Glas.
HAGEN GLAS: Around the end of 1970 or the beginning of 1971, Radio Luxembourg played—I guess it's must be from the Live[/Dead]—they played something and they told a bit of the band: it's a special band, it's not only the music, it's more community and family-like. This really pleased me and the music they were playing with it. I said, “Oh, wow, whoa.” So I got this album Live/Dead. I got hooked by this album. It’s also the time when I got in contact with LSD. I had a friend who had some, it was sugar, dropped in sugar. We would listen at the home of my father, outside in the wood, and we could put the speakers outside, and we’d drop some acid while Live/Dead played.
HAGEN GLAS: And after that, what do we hear next? There was the album Tommy of The Who.
AUDIO: “Overture” [The Who, Tommy] (3:21-3:40) - [Spotify]
AUDIO: [record scratches]
HAGEN GLAS: We put it on and… it didn't work that way. [laughs] So again, we repeated the Live/Dead album.
HAGEN GLAS: When they came [in] ‘72 to Dusseldorf, I lived in Cologne there and studied at the university. Then a friend of mine, his girlfriend and my girlfriend, we drove in separate cars to Dusseldorf to the show. You know this Rockin’ the Rhein with the Grateful Dead? There’s a picture of the Rhinehalle and there are some cars standing there. It might be [one of ours], but I can’t verify it. The cars that were standing there, a small French car in red — my friend had a French car. [It] may be [one of] these cars in the photo, but I can’t read the license plate. It just might be a fantasy, but it gives the impression of what cars we drove at the time.
That tour, ‘72, they had the focus to play in special locations — like in Amsterdam at Concertgebouw, where they expected good acoustics.
JESSE: In the case of the Rheinhalle, not just acoustics, but just a far-out setting. The Rheinhalle was built in 1926, not for music, but as a planeterium. By the 1950s, there was jazz there, and by the 1960s, rock. There’ve been plenty of Grateful Dead laser light shows and I once saw Mickey Hart play The Beam in the Hayden Planetarium in New York which was totally awesome, but I think the 24 April 1972 show was the only time the Dead played in an actual planetarium. I’m a little sad that there don’t seem to be any photos of the band performing under the full splendor of the Rheinhalle’s dome. [post-episode correction: Hagen says that in the ‘70s, the planetarium dome was covered over by a drop ceiling of some sort. Bummer.]
HAGEN GLAS: Before we went, we smoked some hash, and rolled a joint with some hash within… really stoned. They had seats, they put chairs, and they only do it when there are not so many people expected I guess. So the room is filled when you put in chairs and everybody sits down.
HAGEN GLAS: The German audience is, what would you say… a little bit stiff? You can’t compare it with a U.S. audience. It’s not the party kind of people, coming there to party and dance. No. It was more like a cultural event. It is a bit strange to sit down during a Grateful Dead concert. But a few people, after a while, got into the groove and kept on dancing. I saw a guy with a tape recorder, not a cassette tape, but a tape recorder. He had a mic and was taping it. I always wanted to find out who it is.
AUDIO:”Truckin’” [4/24/72, audience tape] (0:23-0:38)
HAGEN GLAS: One guy from the audience stepped up and he danced on the stage. It was an improvisation part, and he danced over by Garcia. And it was Pigpen who stepped in between the dancer and Jerry, and pushed him away so that he didn’t disturb Jerry during his guitar playing. It was obvious to see it. It was strange to see, because Pigpen at that time was already pretty small. He was not anymore the guy he used to be in older days. He was not that big as the dancer. But he did it — not the roadie or something. No, Pigpen did it. He took responsibility. And this picture still sticks in my mind.
JESSE: It was truly a different age, when you could wander onto the stage at a Grateful Dead show and not get tossed as long as you weren’t getting in the way.
HAGEN GLAS: If he hadn't approached Garcia, it wouldn't have been a problem.
JESSE: On the tape box, “Tennessee Jed” earned a star rating from the heads in the Alembic recording truck, as archivist David Lemieux points out.
DAVID LEMIEUX: If you look at Rockin’ the Rhein, underneath the CD trays, we reprinted the tape box. So you can see them under there, from the Dusseldorf show. And from Dusseldorf, the “Tennessee Jed,” the second song of the night, got one star, which means it’s exceptional. And then you’ve got “Don’t Expect No Help at All,” crossed out, “Chinatown Shuffle.”
DAVID LEMIEUX: Casey Jones has a little train beside it. Then down low you’ve got “Dark Star,” so he drew a dark star. Nice skull up there on the right.
JESSE: One of my favorite parts of this show is the totally wild “Good Lovin’” jam where the band goes all noisy and strange under Pigpen.
JESSE: By the time the tour got to Germany, the jams were getting longer. In the recording truck, Alembic thought they had a way to make sure they didn’t miss anything. This is Wiz, talking to Blair Jackson in 2011.
DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD : I came up with this thing, and it was a discussion I had with Garcia mainly, and the other guys subscribed. Below Garcia’s wedge was a little wood board with three porcelain light sockets on it — a green, a yellow and a red. We’d light green once we were rolling, and the idea was I would light the yellow light when we were worried that we were going to run out of tape and it was like, “Can you guys wind it down?” They never fuckin’ did of course. Garcia said, “Yeah, man, sure, we could try that out.” The very first time I lit the yellow light—there was a little 13-inch TV in the truck, and I light the yellow light, and I’m looking at the TV to see if I can see the light and see a reaction from Jerry. I see him look down, and he looks straight at the camera which was off-stage right. Smiles that impish magical smile, and nods “No.” [laughs] Nice try. That was the last time we used the lights.
JESSE: But, of course, if you’re the Grateful Dead, and you’re playing in a planetarium, there’s really only one song to play, and it came in the second set.
JESSE: Please welcome back Dark Starologist, Graeme Boone.
GRAEME BOONE: Jerry, right away, is very heartfelt — almost mournful. The pace just gets slower as they dig into the music.
JESSE: The jam takes a pretty marvelous turn for the weird.
GRAEME BOONE: Jerry going right through, Phil starting to get loud and growly. Jerry, bending; Bob, bending notes, really loud, really dramatic — getting really scattered. Kind of a funky thing from Keith, interesting boogie flourishes. Listen to Bob playing high notes, way above Jerry. Total chromaticism. And it starts to melt… that beautiful tremolo from Keith. This total strangeness — a distorted riff from Jerry, totally blown out. Normally, that would end the jam, but here, we’re in the middle of it.
JESSE: There aren’t many easter eggs on Grateful Dead live releases, but this “Dark Star” has one.
DAVID LEMIEUX: On “Dark Star” from Dusseldorf on the original album, not on the remix for the box set, Jeffrey [Norman], he sent it to me and I listened to it that night to give him my notes the next day. This is Dusseldorf I’m talking about, 2004. He actually sent me home with a CD, because we were working in the same building. And on [the lyric] “searchlight casting,” if you listen to “searchlight casting” on the Dusseldorf Rockin’ the Rhein version, you’ll hear an echo of “casting.” It’ll go, “searchlight casting”—[simulates echo]— “casting…”
DAVID LEMIEUX: It’ll be this little echo and Jeffrey put that in. It was not… there were no special effects; they weren't messing with the sound. Jeffrey just thought in his mixing that that would be cool, and then I busted him on it the next day. I said, “Dude, I’ve never heard you do that.” He goes, “What do you think? Should I get rid of it?” I said, “No, you should keep it, it’s very subtle.” You really gotta know what you’re listening for. So, oftentimes, I’ll be randomly listening to a “Dark Star,” and even when I’m listening on a walk or in my studio and I hear “searchlight casting,” I whisper to myself “casting,” and I put this echo to it. And then I’ll text Jeffrey: “Searchlight casting… (casting).”
JESSE: Graeme is a fan of the vocal delivery on this version as well, sometimes overlooked amid all the jamming.
GRAEME BOONE: Slow, intense, mournful chorus from Jerry and the band. You can feel the heaviness of feeling, and the tag leading us back to… right away, that interesting mixture of an A and an E minor chord. Phil, right in on the strong bass, and Jerry immediately hitting a high arpeggio. Keith, beautiful flourishes, complimenting Jerry’s playing. Now we get into that wah pedal…
HAGEN GLAS: I must confess, there was a part of the show—and I don’t know which part it was—that definitely was an improvisational part. Maybe it was during the “Dark Star” that I really wanted to pass out… zoned [out]. I closed my eyes and drifted away. When they came back, I came back.
GRAEME BOONE: Now we're getting into a super intense jam, where Jerry is playing these super-fast chromatic notes — little fragments pushing the music, and you can hear Keith joining him. Phil, all over the place; Bill, all over the place. Jerry's wah-wah gets louder and louder and more growly, increasingly feral. Almost a violent music, hissing and snarling. The whip of that wah-wah pedal just making a mash out of your mind. No notes, pure snarling. Keith, so often a pianist, you can hear him playing clear notes. Listen to the scattered craziness: Bob, rubbing the strings; Jerry going at it; nice wash, chromatic sounds from Keith. And then suddenly, Phil, out of nowhere, a ninth chord on A. Changes it up. Keith is looking like he wants to play “Wharf Rat” — but they’re not out of it yet.
JESSE: Are they ever?
GRAEME BOONE: Jerry in the middle of a super intense jam, still going, still searching. Music is totally not in a key — chromatics all over the place from Bob, from Keith. But Bob is developing this riff… where’s this gonna go? Jerry still into the chromatic wailing, but…. And we just hop into “Me and My Uncle.” Jerry slips from that chromatic intensity into sort of a jazzy country blues riffing with the same pace and energy and speed.
JESSE: But even after an hour-long “Dark Star” into “Me and My Uncle” back into “Dark Star” into “Wharf Rat” into “Sugar Magnolia,” the Dead were far from done.
HAGEN GLAS: It was three sets. Somewhere you can read only about two sets, but it was three sets.
[4/24/72 Dusseldorf audience applauds]
PHIL LESH [4/24/72]: Uh, folks, we’re gonna take another short break and come back and play a little longer for you in a few minutes, so...
BOB WEIR [4/24/72]: We’ve gotta rest up… we’ll be right back.
PHIL LESH [4/24/72]: Zehn minuten.
GERMAN ANNOUNCER [4/24/72]: Ja jetzt ab zehn minuten noch pause dann machen wir weiter.
HAGEN GLAS: After the second set, some people left and I thought, “Well, where are they going?” I thought maybe they didn’t like the music or something like that. Later, I found out it was the time of [departure for] the last public transportation from there in the city.
JESSE: Granted, the third set was only another 40 minutes, but hey, 3rd set.
AUDIO: “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” [Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 8,
JESSE: But Germany was a weird place, as Mountain Girl remembers.
MOUNTAIN GIRL: Then we were on our way to Germany, see… not as much fun. It wasn’t the vibe in the street, it was the vibe at the venue. The people who were in charge at the venue. [mock German accent] vat is dis? you’d hear them off in the corners talking to each other — ugh, I wanna retire! There were a few issues there with the engineering crews at the venues. We just didn’t all see eye to eye about how things should be. It was very frustrating for the crew. They had a tough time, and there was a language barrier and a lot of other things. The voltage was weird. [laughs] It was weird! They’re on a different system, so it made things tricky.
JESSE: Steve Parish.
STEVE PARISH: We got into a couple of scraps in Germany a lot, with the crews there. They just didn't take us seriously. They weren't used to seeing rock and roll gear like ours — so heavy, and so much of it. “Why do you need all this stuff?” Everything else was just a couple of hands.
JESSE: Sometimes Europe fought back. Lighting director Candace Brightman.
CANDACE BRIGHTMAN: The union crew in Europe didn't… they hated the idea of working for a woman. They all speak English; they make it very clear that they could understand. They stole all my tools, which are labeled “Candace,” and then for years afterwards, people would say they would run into my tools doing uni gigs in Europe. They were really terrible.
JESSE: The lighting system was pretty small in those days, as Wiz remembers.
DENNIS “WIZ” LEONARD : The recording truck was also the lighting truck. We’d pack everything up and put the protection covers on a few hampers, the three light trees that Candace had. Three trees with about eight or 12 par cans on each. That and a follow spot.
JESSE: Meanwhile, the band’s crew had started collecting knives. Sounds promising.
STEVE PARISH: We bought them everywhere we could because they were illegal in America, man. So every country starting from England and France, buying switchblades and springer knives, and in Germany they got better and better. So we already had some, and we would do this thing, if somebody was fucking with somebody here: “Blades!” And everybody would flick their switchblades. And fucking just shut everybody up. They stopped, immediately, what they were doing. We were doing that a lot that day, because the union was fighting with Candace a lot.
JESSE: Ben Haller of the lighting crew.
BEN HALLER: They all bought switchblades in Germany. We go down in the lobby and every roadie’s sitting there going [makes switchblade sound] with their switchblade.
SULLY: “Bought a great knife in Cologne. It’s made in Germany with Solingen steel. Carry it in a sheather, the blade’s about 4 ½ - 5” long, but then will also fold out of the handle (stag-horn) & lock at about 10-11”, not a switchblade, & legal on the streets. Everyone (not really) carries knives of one sort or another.”
JESSE: Ben Haller was working for Candace Brightman on the lighting. But, as a veteran of the Fillmore East, he moved around the crew as needed.
BEN HALLER: I helped to work out the transformers situation. I was really good at that. I got along very well with Dan Healy.
JESSE: Dan Healy had rejoined the band’s crew to handle the transformer needs in Europe. One reason Ben and Dan may’ve gotten along so famously is what went down during one of the nights in Germany.
BEN HALLER: When you're in Germany, you need to go “up the gabelstapler,” and “down the gabelstapler,” “bring in the gabelstapler.” Gabel is fork, stapler is the man who runs. If you’re doing a tour in Germany: bring the forklift, lift the thing up, take the thing down, you know. So, everybody's walking sort of on eggshells. You’re not quite sure who this person is and what they’re gonna say, and what they’re gonna deny you or not deny you, or let you have, to tell you it works. They would pretend, as I say, to not be able to speak English. We were in Germany somewhere, and I understand a few languages a little bit. So I heard them say, “Well, it’s midnight, we’re gonna turn the power off”—the owner of the building and everything—“we’re gonna turn the power off.” But in Germany, for whatever reason, the big electric panels have a latch on them, and I had a padlock. I put my own padlock on them so they couldn’t turn off the power. At which point [they said]: “You goddamn motherfucker! You cocksucking son of a bitch!” They spoke perfect English.
JESSE: Another night, another classic Dead show in West Germany. In 1995, the 26 April show in Frankfurt became the first music released from the Europe ‘72 tour since the Europe ‘72 album itself. Robert Hunter himself wrote liner notes. Here’s what he wrote in part.
“That run from Hamburg to Munich in two buses. Castles along the Rhine. Black Forest at night where werewolves roam. Bombed out ruins of old Heidelberg University. U.S. - Brit. post-war retaliatory blitz of gemutlich Germany, ancient before ever those snot nosed killers transformed high romance to schmaltz and wrecked the language for poets for generations to come. Too many lies had been told in it, concepts of the heart and the very words to say them expropriated for purposes of rape. We had lies of our own to tell, but not hateful ones. Told them with music. Had come to save the world but, starting in Germany, began to realize worlds cannot be saved. All are tentative. So we learned to dance on graves and be glad. None recover, they are just replaced. In 1972 the German Nation was still in shock, only halfway between then and now. We had Vietnam. All were crazy. None were sane. Hausfrauen at dawn, trying to scrub their patches of sidewalk free of blame, look up to see busloads of the Dead with red rubber noses waving, laughing. Register nothing. Continue scrubbing. Siehst du de Toten? Only the children see.”
Alembic crew member Janet Furman got a particular view of the Dead’s fame.
JANET FURMAN: There was a bus that took us mid-morning — took the crew over, not the band members. They got to go later in a limo. But we would go over in a bus and spend the day setting up equipment and doing sound checks and getting everything ready. I would mainly be in our recording truck getting ready to record. There was one time when we were in Germany, I forget exactly which city it was; it might even be in the one that had the Hundred Year Hall. But I overslept in the hotel, and I missed the crew bus that left mid-morning. I knew the venue was all the way across town and, of course, I didn't know my way around, didn't speak German, was in a panic about how am I going to get there. I’ve got work to do and I didn’t want to screw it up. I was frantically running through the halls of the hotel trying to find somebody who might be in the same predicament, and maybe we could get there together. So I ran into Jerry Garcia. He said, “Oh, don’t worry, you can go with me.” So we had a leisurely breakfast, and then a stretch limousine pulled up. Jerry and I got in, drove to the venue. When we got there, there was a line of people all the way around the city block, waiting to get in — this is like 11 in the morning, and the show was in the evening. These people were gonna be out there all day. They were very anxious to get in, and they were very eager to see who was in a stretch limo. So we pull up backstage — it was a mob scene. Remember those scenes in A Hard Day’s Night, of the Beatles trying to get in and out of their venues? It was like that. Of course, all the attention was focused on Jerry, but I was there in the phalanx of cops cleared away through the crowd for us to go in. It was Jerry and me, and I felt like I was a rockstar too. So that was a moment that I’ll never forget.
JESSE: Thanks to the magic of David Gans, we have the voice of the Dead’s late manager. This is from an interview conducted for the book This Is All A Dream We Dreamed.
JON McINTIRE : They were playing in some rooms that had… well, for instance, I think it's called the Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt, which was a modern concert hall with a concert organ built in, et cetera. A beautiful hall with absolutely magnificent acoustics. Of course, it’s meant for symphony orchestras, so I believe, for instance, in that hall, there was a recognition of the nuances that stepped [things] up — that was pumped up. I do believe that the spectacular acoustics of that hall, and the wisdom with which it was built, did affect them. I believe they were able to hear themselves better than they normally could. I remember Phil’s enthusiasm about that hall. Phil was talking about the Jarhunderthalle, and he was totally stoked on it. He knew exactly what was happening there was right down his alley.
SULLY: “Built by some big company on their 100th birthday."
JESSE: Opened in 1963, Jahrhunderthalle commemorated the centennial of the German chemical company Hoechst. Here’s Bob Weir and Phil Lesh remembered it to David Gans and Marty Martinez in 1995.
BOB WEIR [9/95]: Hundred Year Hall, or Jarhunderthalle, is an interesting place. It looks like a regular concert hall, but absolutely nothing… it’s entirely made out of plastic. It looks like it’s made out of wood and velvet and stuff like that, but it is entirely made out of plastic. I guess they intended to prove a point of some sort when they were building. It’s a great-sounding hall too.
PHIL LESH [9/95]: It was amazing.
BOB WEIR [9/95]: I think about 3,500 [capacity], is not that small that's —
PHIL LESH [9/95]: The audience, actually, was mostly servicemen from the Wiesbaden air bases, which are right around Frankfurt.
JESSE: The weird bassist is right. There were many servicemen in the audience. Here’s how Pigpen described it to his parents in a letter home written 2 days after the show.
SULLY: “The reception was pretty good, excellent from the servicemen, the town’s loaded with them. There’s an armed forces radio-TV setup here, one channel each, haven’t seen the TV but the radio plays all rock, C&W, soul, 24 hours & the commercial messages don’t exist like in the States. It’s all announcements (military) & advice on how not to get fleeced by the local hooker, crook, mugger, con-man, etc. But it’s good to hear music again, even for just a couple days.”
JESSE: We spoke with Eric Alden, one of the servicemen in the audience.
ERIC ALDEN: I was a draftee, and I was in the Army. I got over there maybe 10 days before this thing; I got over there in April. I got stationed at this base in Darmstadt, Germany. I remember when I first got there some of the guys were talking about going to the Dead show, and they had tickets. It was pretty cool, but I didn’t know these guys real well. They were Dead Heads — I mean, some of them were more casual fans, some of them were into other bands, and some of them were very, very much Dead Heads. People there in the Army listen to lots of music. Enlisted men in the Army then spent all their money on: big stereos and music and substances. We pretty much owned a lot of vinyl, and the barracks rooms that I was in were all like eight guys or something to a room. People would pool their stereos together and power up real big-time in their album collections. So you would have a heck of a lot of good current music available at all times. So we would simply sit around listening to music constantly in the evenings.
It was either the day of the show, or the day before — one of them, this guy, Mike Baxter—I owe him big time in my life—comes up to me. He says, “Hey, one of the people canceled out and we’ve got this group of tickets. Do you want this ticket?” I said, “Well, shit. Yeah, you know, sure, I do.” So we piled in a car and drove off to Frankfurt, which was about a 45-minute drive, and pulled into this little place. It was the only show I ever saw in Jarhunderthalle.
JESSE: The counterculture initially found its home in neighborhoods of different cities, like San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury and New York’s East Village, but its population was global. And its population included those in the military, both conscripted and volunteer. There’d been servicemen in the audience in Denmark and again in Germany, and it was a cultural force that worked around the whole of the Dead’s Europe ‘72 tour, which we’ll revisit in a few episodes. If you can’t wait, check out Michael Kramer’s wonderful book, The Republic of Rock.
ERIC ALDEN: I remember being outside waiting for it to open up, and people passing around bottles of wine and pipes full of hash. I remember that. I don’t think it sat maybe more than 2,000 people; it didn’t feel that way. These guys had two blocks of tickets, and I got the worst ticket of the bunch. I was in the seventh row. They had the fifth row, and the seventh row. I sat down, and the band came out. There wasn’t any warm-up act or anything — it went right to the Dead.
JESSE: Can’t beat a “Bertha” opener, the first song on the newest album, Skull and Roses. It opened eight shows on the Europe tour, more than any other. This Frankfurt show is one of my all-time favorites, a go-to if I’m in a Deady mood but not sure what Dead to listen to.
ERIC ALDEN: The audience was primarily American, or at least the area where I was, there were some Air Force guys behind us, there was us. I don't remember a lot of German-speaking [people] there. There were other concerts that I went to where there were people speaking German there. But it didn’t seem that way at that concert. It was a very American crowd.
JESSE: Early in the first set, you can hear the soldiers talking to each other, shouting out their hometowns, using the free airspace of a Dead concert to connect.
[Soldiers in the audience shout out their hometowns: “California!” “Brooklyn!”]
AUDIO: “Black Throated Wind” [4/26/72] (6:17-6:40)
JESSE: Shout out to the gentleman from Brooklyn. As Steve Parish remembers, not everybody in the Frankfurt audience were servicemen, though.
STEVE PARISH: Everybody in the audience was high in America, so they would be people that would get so high. Until we figured out a couple of security measures—putting up ways to stop them from jumping on stage with barricades and things like that—we had to grab a lot of people that were very high, trying to run around on stage and take their clothes off. You’d see ‘em stripping down in the audience and running toward the stage, doing this strip tease, and you knew they were coming up there. They would usually try to hug Jerry or grab Pigpen or something. So we had to hold back — people, even little girls, were strong with adrenaline. We’d be careful, we never hurt anybody. But they were powerful. We were strong too. This one night, we’re playing in Frankfurt, and it was mostly an audience of American soldiers I thought, as it had been in a couple of other places in Germany at that time. A lot of guys were still waiting to be in… you got sent to southeast Asia or to Germany. So it was a lot of American servicemen coming to the show. In this Jarhunderthalle, the Hundred Year Hall, this all concrete place, and everybody was sitting at attention out there. The show is blasting away, but they’re not standing or dancing or crowding the aisles like they do in America or at a lot of other shows. So, all of a sudden, I see this guy — I can’t believe my eyes, a long-haired guy. He’s coming running down the middle aisle, totally naked. I go, “Oh, no! Oh, here he comes, man!” And he jumps up on stage. So me and Kidd grab him, and we’ve got him by a wrist and an ankle. This guy was sweating: he was dripping wet with sweat. It was like holding a greased pig. He was definitely a German, he didn’t speak a word of English. He had himself an experience I guess. He’s fighting with us, every which way. We just carry him out to the back door, which is right behind this curtain behind the stage. And we open the door, and just let him go in the night. He ran out there, naked. I wonder where he went that night…
JESSE: Lest you think Parish is making up stories for our benefit, if you point your computer to a 1996 Usenet thread titled “Favorite naked guy at show” you’ll find a memory of Frankfurt ‘72 posted by a user named Mark, who writes, “a very hairy man also streaked the stage at one point while the boys were tuning. He looked like a character from an R. Crumb comic strip, as I recall.” Using Mark’s coordinates, that the incident happened during a tuning break, I think the moment is on tape just after “Big Railroad Blues.” You can hear some uneasy rumbling in the crowd, and—just off-mic—Bob Weir notes, “be gentle with him.”
BOB WEIR [4/26/72]: Be gentle with him! Nah, nah, nah — don’t let him out here…
[band tunes; audience lightly applauds]
JESSE: Deadheads truly are the same everywhere. A few days later, Garcia observed to a Rolling Stone reporter, “Everywhere we've been, the audiences have been Grateful Dead audiences. We've had the German equivalent of the guy who gets up on the stage and takes his clothes off. We've had the English freakout, the Danish freakout.” Naked Frankfurt Dude, if you’re out there, hit us up at stories.dead.net. We’d love to hear about your experience. In the first set, “Jack Straw” received a 3-star rating in the recording truck.
ERIC ALDEN: Keith Godchaux was essentially new to the band. Donna wasn't even really a full member of the band. She came out during “Playing in the Band” and picked up a microphone. So you're sitting there watching the show, and all of a sudden this lady comes walking out over by the piano, walks around and picks up a microphone. And she was really, really hot that night. I mean, she was wailing. She was terrific. Frankly, it was the best I ever saw her I thought. I’m not saying that I saw her where she was ever bad, but she was really exceptional that night.
JESSE: Ben Haller of the lighting crew found a particularly excellent way to prank the band.
BEN HALLER: At the Fillmore, there were drunks that would yell out “Alvin,” or “Boogie,” or “Dark Star,” whatever. Quite often, they got this stuff wrong and everything. So I'm figuring out my own prank. So I call out — what's that great Jefferson Airplane song? “White Rabbit.” So I yell out, “‘White Rabbit!’” I do it a couple times, and then I wait for calm. I’m pretty loud.
JESSE: Unbeknownst to Ben, but knownst to us, Ben’s prank was building on a longstanding band joke. Here’s one example, from May 15th, 1970 at the Fillmore East.
FILLMORE EAST AUDIENCE MEMBER [5/15/70]: Hey, Garcia!
JERRY GARCIA [5/15/70]: What?
BOB WEIR [5/15/70]: “Hey Garcia, play ‘White Rabbit!’”
JESSE: Thank you Weir, that’s… very helpful. Here’s a succinct explanation, recorded August 15th, 1971 at the Berkeley Community Theater.
PHIL LESH [8/15/71]: There was a guy in New Orleans.
PIGPEN [8/15/71]: “Play ‘White Rabbit,’ goddammit! Play ‘White Rabbit!’”
BOB WEIR [8/15/71]: He was drunk on beer and he was hollering that all afternoon…
PIGPEN [8/15/71]: Oughta be hogtied.
JESSE: So, every now and again, if you’re listening to tapes from the era, and the crowd starts making requests, you can often hear a band member, just off-mic, proclaiming, “PLAYWHITERABBITGODDAMMIT.”
BEN HALLER: I realized in Denmark, I would talk to some of the Danish group and try to you know—[puts on mock Danish accent]—“‘White Rabbit!’” I start yelling for it in Denmark. Then I’d yell for it in Germany and France and stuff. I actually got Phil to start the bass for “White Rabbit” a couple of times. I was told later that the band was actually nervously having meetings, going, “They don’t understand us in Europe.”
JESSE: With that in mind, consider how Ben’s prank unfolded before the second set in Frankfurt.
PHIL LESH [4/26/72]: Whoever you are, Mr. White Rabbit, we’ll identify you yet… this guy’s been following us around for five years.
BOB WEIR [4/26/72]: The Alligator Man…
PHIL LESH [4/26/72]: The White Rabbit Man.
BOB WEIR [4/26/72]: The White Rabbit Man?
PHIL LESH [4/26/72]: Yeah…
JESSE: The Alligator Man is someone different. Ever thus to Pranksters, Lesh.
ERIC ALDEN: It was a super show. I was just blown away. There were songs that [I was] familiar with, there were songs I wasn't; there were songs that I was familiar with from places other than the Dead, from other people playing them. It was terrific, and I was just completely, completely blown away. And I became a Dead Head instantly and spent the rest of my time in Germany listening.
JESSE: The second set in Frankfurt was—and is—some serious business of izness. In his liner notes for Hundred Year Hall, lyricist Robert Hunter narrated the heart of it. We’ll let him do so here, though I’ll be standing in for him. Thanks as always, Bob.
JESSE: “Truckin’,” still new enough in '72 that Bobby hasn't got all his entrances down by heart, is full of thunder juice. GD signature tune of the time, the audience is familiar enough with it to think about getting involved after engaging the band in a standoff first set. Or maybe it's not their choice - the monster is out of the box now, per usual, and is perfectly capable of sweeping things along without a by your leave.”
JESSE: “The tune breaks up into sprung clockwork but Billy the K hangs in there, not letting things end. Oh Oh, drum solo, settling into an unmistakable beat.”
JESSE: “Phil thrums his first cue line for The Other One and the room begins to rock back and forth.”
JESSE: “Suddenly the band decides to go back and inspect that busted clock for a minute. Tension, release, tension, release. Drop back now and again, or you got nowhere to go. Bands that don't learn that might sell more records but drop by the wayside.”
JESSE: “Now occurs what makes this recording worth adding to your collection. Moments of gentle sweetness, repose. Jerry conversing idly with Phil, wondering if it was worthwhile to wake up today, inventing reasons it might have been. Believing them, provisionally. Suddenly a streetscene in wind blown San Francisco. Clouds gather.”
JESSE: It was this version of “The Other One” that won over Phil Lesh when an edited version of the show was released in 1995 as Hundred Year Hall. This is from the great interview with David Gans and Marty Martinez.
PHIL LESH [9/95]: This “[The] Other One” — the jam out of “The Other One” on the second disc is a thing that… I just didn’t even believe when I heard it. I still have trouble believing that we actually played that.
PHIL LESH [9/95]: To me, it's just the spirit of the whole thing. The way it just turns on a dime, it goes to so many different places. That was the one of the things that we used to like to do the most, was to go as many different places in a jam as we could — just throw everything in. And this is a prime example of that kind of thinking.
JESSE: Back to Robert Hunter. “Weir tells a story in words of his own, sketch about a Spanish lady and a rose. Jerry tries a scale inimicable with the key and Phil follows him into the forest as percussion all but suspends until Billy decides to practice a little rudimental drumming on his own, off to the side, while Phil and Jerry consider the alchemy of scales.”
JESSE: “After awhile only an uninsistent but understood sense of tempo indicates this to be a piece of music in any sense this audience might comprehend. Jerry is considering E. 52cnd Street in the '50's while Phil has meandered down to Basin Street. Bobby is pasting decal ducks on the blue tiled wall of a shower. Keith awakens once in awhile, but mostly dreams silent on the keys.”
JESSE: “Now just Phil and Jerry make sound, a meditation of the face of Germany, our witness to this place in time. Then somebody discovers the knobs of his amplifier, twiddles them up and down, letting the guitar play itself as a Bauhaus era Paul Klee drawing constructs itself on the stage. Weimar has entered the hall. The Treaty of Versailles. Very tough to live with. Anger and economic disruption. Expressionist dismay. The rise of the right wing. Speed over the rest. Run the clock very fast.”
JESSE: “Tumble into the present with momentum the band agrees not to prevent - fly over Berlin, over the Wall - then circle west and follow the Rhine, whizz of the bus wheels down the Autobahn. Reintroduction of the theme of the song, rhythm following suit a few bars on as a nonchalant other one strolls out of the piece, steps lengthening until he, she or it is covering eight feet at a stride. ‘The bus came by and I got on.’”
JESSE: “A hushed moment, energy of the piece fully discharged, discovers applause from these newly convinced Deadheads, but this is not a time for clapping. “Comes A Time” emerges gently with the admonition: ‘gotta make it somehow on the dreams you still believe.’”
JESSE: Written in late 1971, “Comes A Time” was debuted in the same period as the rest of the new originals that became part of the Europe ‘72 album, and the band’s tapes shows that the song was very much in consideration. This version of “Comes A Time” was included on the band’s post-tour mixes, and then prepared for overdubbing, though the track sheets show no sign of that happening. It’s a great version, though.
JESSE: And now more Robert Hunter — “What the people of this land need to consider more and everybody damn well knows it, at least for the moment. The ballad ends with, again, little space for acknowledgement from the audience, stepping on its own tail and striding into a glittering “Sugar Magnolia.” American Summer Music, Sunshine Daydream of Ass kickin' rock and roll with love and promises.”
JESSE: Thanks, Hunter. But the set is hardly over. After wrapping up a sequence of music that lasted over an hour, Lesh slashes into one of the Dead’s most beloved rave-ups. The crowd is psyched.
JESSE: “Turn On Your Lovelight” begets a wild sequence of jamming. Pigpen’s not in the mood to go all out, so it turns into a gnarly jam that channels the primal Dead with some cool co-leads by Weir.
JESSE: Garcia lands the band into a quiet epilogue.
JESSE: And we end up in this passage with the band playing “Not Fade Away” and “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” at the same time.
JESSE: From the 1995 interview with David Gans and Marty Martinez.
PHIL LESH [9/95]: That's the stuff that we dream about. That's the stuff that we aim for. That's the stuff that's the most fun to do. And it's the most magical, and it's the stuff that nobody… you can never predict what’s going to happen. Although there are some factors that are involved. For instance, with only one drummer, we could turn on it faster: we could shift gears rhythmically differently than we do with two. You’re heavier and going faster with two drummers, it’s hard to change directions. It’s like a car or an airplane, the heavier and bigger it is.
BOB WEIR [9/95]: Bigger engine is faster, but it doesn't turn on a dime.
PHIL LESH [9/95]: Yeah, so that was a particular thing we could do with tempo. The thing about it was it wasn't only one direction that we could go faster; sometimes, it was both at the same time. Those moments are true goosebumps.
JESSE: And this in turn leads to another moment in this jam that’s perhaps just as perfect, but might not be as obvious — because after pulling it off in Frankfurt, the band did it roughly another few dozen times over the next decade and change. Jerry Garcia had been using an instrumental version of “We Bid You Goodnight” to cue song transitions since 1968, and they’d tried a rough draft of this sequence, but in Frankfurt, it bonded and became the perfect no-fuss path into “One More Saturday Night.”
JESSE: Just one more Wednesday night in Frankfurt. It certainly made Eric Alden a Dead Head.
ERIC ALDEN: I saw the Dead quite a number of times — maybe 25 or 30 times. And I started to wonder: was that really that good a show? Or was it just because it was my first show, and I was so blown away by the Dead? I had this kind of creeping question in the back of my mind, because I’m saying: “Man, it still, to my day, seems like it was a really good show.” And then one day, I’m driving along and I’m listening to the radio and the guy goes… he’s playing… I can’t remember what the song was, but I knew it was a different version that I wasn’t familiar with. And then he goes: “That’s from the new Hundred Year Hall release.” I’m like — well, fuck, Hundred Year Hall has to be Jarhunderthalle.
DAVID LEMIEUX: It was a time when they were specifically requested by the record company to do two CDs. This was right after Jerry died. I think they were also hypercritical, for the same reason that Dick’s Picks Vol. 2 was only one CD. I asked Dick, “Why didn’t you use the first set? Why didn’t you include the first set?” He said, “It wasn’t as good. It didn’t match up to how good the second set was.” So with Hundred Year Hall, the thing we found in mixing the whole show is that everything was that good quality of what ended up on the album. There’s some of my favorite versions of a lot of songs.
JESSE: Europe ‘72, man. Pigpen checked in with his parents the next morning from the Parkhotel Frankfurt.
SULLY: “Howdy Folks - Here we are in Frankfurt ‘n still alive & kickin’ with no trouble at all. We played last night at Jahrhunderthalle. … Today’s a day off, no travel, sound-check, gig, nothin’, so I’m catchin’ up on letters. … Some of the guys went to Heidelberg to visit a mountain but I’m sittin’ this one out. Off-days usually turn into journeys anyhow & I’ve had enough unnecessary buses for today thank you.”
JESSE: Rosie McGee remembers this off-day in her wonderful photo memoir, Dancing With the Dead.
ROSIE McGEE [Dancing With the Dead, Chapter 9]: After a walking tour of the lovely university town of Heidelberg, Germany, a small group of us drove across the river to a well-known overlook where we could see Heidelberg in all its glory. As I recall, the group included Phil, Alan Trist, Robert Hunter, a local host and me. We then drove further up the hill to the Heilengenberg, a deeply forested park where we got out and went for a walk. While it was beautiful, it was also kind of creepy, and I was reminded of the story of Hansel and Gretel. We encountered the moss covered ruins of St. Michael's monastery, built in the 9th century and abandoned just after 1500. While the others walked ahead, Hunter and I stayed a few extra minutes, but the vibes in that place were weird, and we hurried on to catch up with the others. What we didn't know was that the monastery was finally abandoned when the last three remaining monks died in their beds, when part of the steeple collapsed on top of them. At the top of the hill, we got to the main attraction that our host was eager for us to see. The Thingstätte is a huge amphitheater built by the Nazis in 1935, using forced labor. While it was a classic setting with unbelievable acoustics, it was too easy to imagine its cold and unadorned stage filled with a perfectly regimented SS cadre participating in the rallies that were regularly held there. Add to that image the weeds that covered the entire hillside, and we didn't stay there long either. I found out later that the stage had been built on top of an important celebration site for the Celts who lived there around 300 BC. There was certainly a lot of history on that one hill.
JESSE: One bit of resonance with St. Michael’s Monastery was St. Michael’s Alley, the coffee shop in Palo Alto where Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter met 11 years earlier. Another bit of history on the hill is St. Stephen’s Monastery, from the 11th century. Check out the Daily Dose on the Dead’s social media on April 27th for a photo from the band’s trip to the tower built from the ruins of St. Stephen’s Monastery.
SULLY: “Drive back to Hamburg tomorrow, 10-12 hours, play 29th, leave Hamburg for Paris 30th (1 day early), 2-day drive-with over-night stop in Konigswinter, 1 free day in Paris instead of (ugh) Hamburg.”
“Nervous energy runnin’ a bit high among all & a lot of tension headaches, sore necks, backs, etc. Once in a while (if lucky) I can con one of the secretaries or old ladies into a back rub. Most all the hotels have mineral bath stuff with vitamins & things, good to soak in, what with all the jingle-jangle of the road. My efforts to stop smoking seem to be failing miserably, gotta be in a more relaxed environment I guess. … “
“By the time we hit Paris we’ll be past the half-way mark. I’ve written one complete song & have words & arrangement for another, play my new guitar all the time, & am learning little goodies, nothing you’d notice right off, but subtle & helpful.”
JESSE: In Hamburg, the band performed at the Musikhalle, where Phil Lesh had encountered his doppelganger earlier in the week. Uli Dohrmann was there.
ULI DOHRMANN: Hamburg is a little harbor town like San Francisco — very open for everything in the world. So that’s a good atmosphere, good town. Hamburg has a ferry to England, and a lot of contact between England and Hamburg. We have a lot of clubs in Hamburg, especially in our red light district, St. Pauli, and a few music halls. A lot of English groups come, so we have a lot of music press here.
JESSE: The music scene had continued after the Beatles’ 1960-1962 heyday.
ULI DOHRMANN: We love groups like Spooky Tooth. They play a long time here at The Star-Club in Hamburg.
AUDIO: “Sunshine Help Me” [Spooky Tooth, It’s All About] (0:51-1:20) - [Spotify]
JESSE: That was “Sunshine Help Me” by Spooky Tooth. The second biggest city in Germany after Berlin, the Dead’s Hamburg debut was another classic. Archivist David Lemieux.
DAVID LEMIEUX: Hamburg is great. I mean, we're talking apples and apples. When we did Dusseldorf Rockin’ the Rhein, Hamburg was given consideration. It's another “Dark Star” show; it's right in that peak between Dusseldorf and Paris, which is basically a 10-day peak. It wasn’t Dusseldorf, and it opens with “Playing in the Band.” And you think, okay, this is something.
DAVID LEMIEUX: “Playing in the Band” is a good first set closer, something when you've had an hour and a half of warming up. To open a show, it didn’t have the same depth as some of the other versions on the tour. I noticed that immediately. I wanted to love that “Playing in the Band” so much, but I didn’t. I do love it, but not — and they played it every night, and twice in Bremen. It didn't hold up to some of the better “Playing in the Band”s on the tour. And the rest of the show kind of felt that same way to me. The “Dark Star” is magnificent; it's not as good as Dusseldorf.
ULI DOHRMANN: There are around 2,000 people in the audience, so it’s a very old hall with balconies. Nice to see and hear from the balconies too. Behind the stage, there is a very old organ in that room, and it makes a good atmosphere. I sat in the middle, so I had a good view. 18 or 20, not in the front, more in the back. The atmosphere is not typical for a concert in the United States, where Dead Heads can dance and things like that, and smoke. You can’t smoke in the Musikhalle because of the old furniture. It’s not okay to smoke dope or things like that.
JESSE: Of course, it’s still the ‘72 Dead. Nothing from the night made the final cut for Europe ‘72, but when the Dead made their mixes at the end of the tour, a few performances got in the running, including a 3 -star “Mr. Charlie.”
ULI DOHRMANN: I waited for Pigpen’s songs, because he [doesn’t have] the best voice, but he has a voice that matches very [well] to the music, a blues voice. But he looked a little bit ill and lost a lot of weight. He had a wonderful personality — the way he smiled and the way he sings. I think he’s a little bit of a melancholic person, but very friendly. Like a real hippie.
JESSE: And “China Cat Sunflower”/”I Know You Rider,” the last take before the album version, earned a hearty 3.5 stars.
JESSE: And to every other Dead show in Europe ‘72, a “Dark Star.”
JESSE: Graeme Boone, popping us into the first “Dark Star” jam.
GRAEME BOONE: So in a free jam, you can hear Bill laying down a really nice beat, but the measure is free. It’s floating. Then, all of a sudden, “Feelin’ Groovy” — one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. So sweet, after that free jam.
JESSE: The post-verse jam in this “Dark Star” has a beautiful example of the Dead starting from nothing and—to quote Sun Ra—turning nothing inside-out.
GREAME BOONE: Totally open music — lots of space, all kinds of jabs and pops and sparks. Jerry on that wah-wah pedal. It’s a jungle of sound, an electric outer space jungle. Jerry’s still playing, sounds like banjo picking, hits you in the higher range, keening and intense. Really active Bill, but then Phil’s coming in with this bass riff. You heard this in Wembley on the 8th of April, same thing — D minor jamming a funky riff on the bass. Some people call this a Caution Stop jam. Jerry with some really bluesy riffs, really fast. Bluesy funk riffing on D minor.
JESSE: We talked to Chris Jones about seeing the Dead at Empire Pool. He was ready for more.
CHRIS JONES: We were desperate to get releases back then from the Grateful Dead — get some of their live stuff. We had Skull Fuck, which was a really great album, but it wasn’t as good as Live/Dead when that came out. Live/Dead really blew me away. But then I bought my first bootleg, and this was one which… well, I call it Mr. Natural. It just said “The Grateful Dead Live.” It was from Hamburg, which of course I hadn’t been to. It was a fairly muddy thing, and they sort of got all the wrong names for things, like “Weir’s Song, and “Manolito” was “He’s Gone.” “The Jumper” — you heard the Grateful Dead do “The Jumper”? Yeah, it’s “Jack Straw.” Where did he get The Jumper from? God only knows.
JESSE: These days, the tapes are much better. See you in Paris.