May 72 .The Bickershaw Festival .
all our muddy friends
spake the announcer as the Dead launched into "Truckin'"
- the start of a mammoth 245 minute show that was to feature great
versions of "Dark Star "and "The Other One" as
well as lengthy Pigpen workouts on "Good Lovin'" and "
Lovelight " . It also introduced many heads to the new songs
-" Ramble On Rose" and "Tennessee Jed "and was
notable for the degree of interaction that the band members had with
the audience, perhaps due to the adverse circumstances in which we
all found oursleves. .
:Truckin', Sugaree, Mr.
Charlie, Deal (all of those who taped the show
insist this number was not played), Beat It on Down
The Line, He's Gone, Chinatown Shuffle, China Cat Sunflower > I Know
You Rider, Black Throated Wind. Next Time You See Me. Playin' . Tennessee
Jed. Good Lovin', Casey Jones.
Greatest Story Ever Told ,
Big Boss Man, Ramble On Rose, Jack Straw. Dark Star > Drums > Other
One > Sing Me Back Home. Sugar Magnolia. Lovelight > Going Down The
Road Feeling Bad > Not Fade Away. E : One More Saturday Night.
(order uncertain )
available on the tape circuits.
The whole show exists as a Soundboard tape , according
to the late and surely great Dick Latvala,
keeper of the Dead vaults. When I e-mailed him about the Bickershaw
sets Dick was kind enough to answer a few questions . He did not
say whether the soundboard tapes were eight or two track .
I asked him if there was
any chance of the show emerging as a Dicks Picks , but he nixed the
idea." Its a long way down the line for release ", he said
"there are a lot more shows that are better that I want to release
we now have a goodly portion of the missing first set released in pristine
quality on the recent UK 72 four Cd set. These tracks
were included :
Story Ever Told
In The Band
On Your Lovelight
Down The Road Feeling Bad
on the photo to see a larger version
This is a real tribute
to the quality of the music played at Bickershaw as it comprises a hefty
chunk of the four disc set , which had heavy competition in the form
of the formidable Lyceum shows .
Of course now the
whole thing is available officially which just goes to show that if
you can survive long enough the music industry will eventually , possibly,
just might , out of the goodness of their hearts of course ( and cos
they need the money ) fufill your dreams ..
Are you aware that the 16-track 'official' recordings made by the Dead
of their entire 1972 Eurpean tour have now been released as part of
a box set? This includes their performance at Bickershaw (confirming
your set list to be correct in its omission of Deal).
I'm still working my way through the concerts and haven't yet reached
Wigan but, given the quality of the music so far and my memory of the
day, I'm pretty sure it will be something special. Rhino will also release
the individual concert as a stand-alone sometime soon.
That Sunday was one of the highlights of my life. I aready loved the
band but had been disappointed by their performance at the Hollywood
Festival 2 years earlier. At Bickershaw they played their socks off
and yes, with the 20-minute break between sets and the pauses for re-tuning
(necessitated by the cold weather and the on-stage heaters), they were
there for 5 hours. The new release contains 3 hours 58 minutes of music
(and a little banter).
recordings of Bickershaw - both the audience and sbd version -have been
consistently on my most listened list since I aquired them 15 years
or so ago. I listen to the show not only because it was my first Live
Grateful Dead experience, but also because its one of a series of fine
European shows and is typical of the Dead at one of their most potent
periods. I maintain that Europe 72 was THE peak time in the early 70s
.There are some great 71 and 73 shows but they don't cut it quite the
same for me as the summer 72 shows and perhaps the show in Fall 72 in
Oregon . Certainly the Europe bash saw the Dead became the ultimate
Psychedelic/country/jazz/blues band , a strange hybrid of many musics
whose vastly wide repertoire was unlike that of any other band in the
world. No one else was this diverse. Bickershaw saw the Dead at damn
well near their best on occasions and certainly the second part of the
show is at fever pitch throughout.
there are also many high points in the first set as well , including
the fiesty version of Playing and a triumphant twenty minute
Good Lovin' delivered by Pigpen . Its worth noting that
the first set ended with the multitude (including several hundred villagers
had entered the site for free when the security goons had decamped earlier
on ) grooving, bopping , flailing , drumming and singing along to the
chorus of ' Casey Jones " .
A truly magic ending
to the first epic set.
Jules ©. Contact him to obtain a copy
of the photo (minus the filter ) .
Sbd recordings of most of set two are freely available
and there are various audience recordings of the whole show in circulation
, the sound varies on these from distant , to good, to very good quality
- depending on the source.The sbd -which begins at Dark Star and continues
to the end of the show- is of excellent quality . A poor to average
quality SBD of part of set one exists - but only about 45 mins
worth and in the wrong order.I prefer the aud tape of the first set
to this version ,as Phil is overwhelmingly loud and distorted , theres
lots of hiss and it sounds drekky to say the least.
audience tapes also capture moments that do not exist on the soundboard
.There were fireworks set off during Dark
Star and everyone on the aud tape can be heard going "whooooo",
a truly magic moment .As I write this I have the vision of the fireworks
going off above the stage, for once the sky was clear and crisp (although
it was still cold ) and the band onstage were framed beautifully by
the exploding starshells. I just wish there was a photo of that moment
, so you could all get a good idea of what those of us who were there
saw on the night . The aud tape is worth getting just for this moment
alone, a little piece of history preserved forever and which you cannot
hear on the soundboard .
least four tapers were present at the Festival. Three were British .
One - ( Bob C ) has this to say about his recording....
what its worth I*did* tape the new riders and the dead; the new riders
tape screwed up; cheap c 60's; and I missed the first part of the
dead . I got the dark star/other one including the oohs and ahs but
the quality of my boot is probably not as good as any others. I actually
took 2 tape decks; one was the cassete for the dead and the other
that 1 7/8s reel to reel that I did beefheart and other stuff on ;
can't remember why I took 2 now ...............
Simon P's tape is the
only complete version that I have come across so far. Another guy ,Chris
J , also taped all of the show and the New Riders but has misplaced
part of it. Quality of both these versions would be rated as fairly
good to just listenable . Deadbase lists Deal as being played but all
the tapers contest this hotly, as they are positive they recorded the
entire show and it was NOT played.
other taper , whose aud tape is of good quality and whose identity
is unknown to us, obviously had to have had a good postition and
quality equipment to have made such a good audience recording
in such foul conditions . I'm sure a complete recording exists
from this source, but I've only ever managed to pick up the edited
version which is minus Casey Jones , Mr Charlie and Truckin'.
I sourced it from a guy in the mid west who said he got it direct
from a friend who had a huge collection and who let him tape whatever
he wanted . This gentleman unfortunately disappeared
off the radar so we can't now find the original source.
The tapes he had were obviously an edit to fit most of
the show onto two C90 Cassettes as they were in the wrong order
and missing the three tracks above.
good news is that all of these versions of the show
have now been brought together , worked over digitally and are
now being disseminated amongst the taper community. You can read
the details of how this was achieved Here
with heads backstage
this gig i was one of only a very few (were you one?) who got
over the fence ,went backstage and met Jerry sitting on the
back step of a truck. Inside other members of the band were
checking equipment. Security said to Jerry that they would remove
us, but Jerry said let them stay and we (5/6?) remained and
spent a while talking to him. I remember him asking me about
a pink (i don't believe it now!) cardigan Iwas wearing with
GD and NRPS knitted into it in another colour (red?). Anyway
we were allowed to stay and when the Dead performed i positioned
myself under the stage on a plank a few feet off the ground.
The show was great.
Taper speaks !
been bugging the taper . SP , to let us all know about the equipment
he used and how he went about taping the Dead for many months and at
long last he's responded with his recollections of the show.
cant remember when Bickershaw was first announced. I saw the
Dead the first night at Wembley and dont remember thinking then
Id be seeing them again so soon afterwards. Maybe, like the
Lyceum gigs, it was announced whilst the tour was in progress. The
papers were full of the Dead playing for up to nine hours, doing a
run through their entire back catalogue and the organisers confirmed
theyd leave it open-ended to let the Dead play as long as they
wanted. My friend Carl and I were at University in Manchester so it
was only a short trip for us to get to Wigan. Id already taped
the Dead at Wembley - yep, Im afraid it was probably me that
unleashed that shitty recording on the trading community. Id
only bought the machine (a small mono Philips portable cassette recorder
with whatever cheap mike came with it) on the day of the show so had
no time to experiment with it. Despite having good seats about 20
rows back, we had a security guy standing right next to us so I kept
the mike down on my lap, not realising how indistinct the recording
would turn out. Naively, I assumed that whatever my ears heard would
also get picked up by the mike. Anyway, I decided to try and make
a better job of it at Bickershaw.
been to the Hollywood and Bath festivals in 1970, I was disappointed
when we reached the festival site. Probably the rain didnt help
but the whole atmosphere was bad it felt like (and probably
was) an industrial wasteland. From somewhere we commandeered a huge
plastic sheet which, when it rained, we could sit on and pull up,
over, and around ourselves, leaving a small hole at the front to look
through and point the mike out of. Apart from when the Dead were on,
it just seemed to rain most of the time. Being a student, and a newcomer
to taping, I didnt have, and couldnt afford, many tapes,
so Id gone with enough to tape about 10 hours (although with
the unlikely possibility that the Dead would actually play for 9 hours,
I wanted to save as much as I could for them). I did manage to tape
bits of other acts mainly ones I thought my brother might like
as he hadnt been able to make it to the Festival. So I had some
parts of Hawkwind, Country Joe, Wishbone Ash and bits of Stackridge
and Jonathon Kelly. When the Dead came on, I hadnt learned to
just leave the tape rolling so I switched off and on between songs,
thus missing all stage talk except the Happy Birthday bit. Sadly,
only my tapes of the Dead remain - shortly after the festival I taped
over the other music.
the New Riders although not as much as Id expected to. Id
bought Powerglide that day somewhere on the festival site. And then
the Dead. At least the rain had stopped and I think for once we stood
up to watch. The whole festival area by now looked like a disaster
area, with silhouettes moving through the mud against a backdrop of
flickering fires. It was getting cold once the sun went down and,
even from a distance, you could see the vapours being spewed out by
the heater cannon on stage. Deadbase shows them as having played "Deal"
during the first set but, until someone comes up with a tape that
proves me wrong, I know they didnt. Although I was switching
my recorder off between songs, I know I didnt miss any (whereas
at Wembley, I knew Id missed the encore when I ran out of tape).
It was a far more mellow show than at Wembley and they took their
time, easing into it gently. I was astonished and delighted to get
both Dark Star and The Other One in the same show. Am I imagining
it or were the words of Casey Jones flashed up on a screen with a
bouncing ball tracking them? Im sure that the screen was used
at another point but there memory deserts me.
A wonderful set from the Dead what was it- 5 hours? Certainly
the tapes run for more than 4 and a half. On balance I enjoyed the
festival, but it doesnt hold the same memories for me that Hollywood
and Bath in 1970 do."
Dead SPEAK !
The boys took the opportunity to interact with the crowd on quite
a few occasions during the show. Here's a transcript of what they said
It On Down The Line.
"Hey there's some sunlight over there for all you people "
"Lets hear it for the sunlight "( cheers from audience)
"I understand that that bill they were trying to push through the
legistlature here was defeated "
"Which one , the one about sunshine ? ".
"the night assemblies bill. It was defeated last night.
(cheers ) it ,means that you guys can go ahead and have all
the festivals you want ..... if you can do something about the goddamn
(The night assemblies bill was essentially
an attempt to outlaw festivals , but it fortunately was chucked out
by parliament in a rare show of common sense)
The crowd make requests
for Sugar Magnolia and other songs
: "listen , up here thats all quite unintelligable".
On hearing crowd
requests for St Stephen.
"We done forgot St Stephen, I mean we forgot it .We can't
play it anymore, we don't know how, water under the bridge We
may someday. We may reconstruct it , listen to the record to
cop our licks. (cynical band laughter)"
The band then
play Truckin' ,they did not resurrect
St Stephen again until 6-9-76
note from Wombat about the photos of Jerry sitting in the truck
featured on this page.
b&w photo with Garcia sitting on the back of the truck is
actually the Rolling Stones Mobile and my mate Soapy is clearly
seen amongst the crowd - my wife thinks that I'm in there too
but I think that I was too stoned to care.
photo was taken whilst the New Riders were playing and the tapes
were rolling - it was probably still 8-track then before the upgrade
to 16-track so that would solve the question you asked of Dick
seventh of May is Bill Kreutzmann's birthday.Weir informed the crowd
thus before the band played Good Lovin':
"Folks we got ourselves a birthday boy with us tonight
, its our drummer Billy and I'd like to thank you and ask you to join
in helping me and all of us all to wish him a great day and happy
birthday to Billy." ( band plays shambolic Happy birthday tune
whilst crowd sings along , at finish , huge cheer )
Before China Cat
got a slight technical problem here, which will no doubt be ironed
out in mere seconds.
Weir: In the meantime , you can all
huddle a bit closer together for warmth . cause you're gonna need
ON ROSE, the band comment on the stink from the dozens
of fires .
Unknown band member:
"What's on fire"
"I don't know what you're burning out there ,but it
Phil? "It must
be my shorts "
band member : "Hi
"Everybody's burning their old socks ( laughter) and its
disgraceful, disgraceful . "
Pig ?: to the crowd- "Howdy
"( cheers )
"Listen. Is everybody cold "
Weir; (in wonder )
'far out !"
accounts of the Dead's show
At some point during the set a guy ran on stage and threw his arms
around Kreutzmann . This may have been Playing In The Band, because
after this song Weir can be heard to say
In the Cold Rain & Mud.
a scanner darkly".
Somewhat vague shot of the band taken from BC's
8mm film of the festival. Note Tie die PA stacks .
excitement, the sights, the sounds, the sex, the drugs, the smells,
the cold, the mud and the "You are Lobby Ludd and I claim
my £5" toilet paper
(hard) supplied by Virgin Records (it ran
out early Friday evening)
The Sunday had dawned cold but dry, the rain
had been intermittent but heavy over the weekend. In the early afternoon
Country Joe McDonald, only armed with an acoustic guitar, tried to
keep us entertained for what seemed like hours ..."Gimme an F"..."2,4,6,8".
Meanwhile the 'quippies' were slowly building the Deads' P.A., carefully
matching the tie-dyed front cloths. The high board (novelty)
diver had released several hundred thousand gallons of water from
his tank at the front of the stage (which was on a little mound),
the mud was now knee deep. Eventually The New Riders of the Purple
Sage took to the stage for a rocking set that sent the sound of pedal
steel soaring high over the crowd.
Then it was time...
A large yellow backcloth with a giant Stealy
in the middle was unfurled and billowed in the wind... suddenly everybody's
dreams came true, I remember the band playing "Dark Star" as the sun
sank into the murky haze...
it was all a dream we dreamed one afternoon, long ago.
this a Garcia I see before me ?"
muted shot from BC'S film of the festival.
dead's "live in europe, '72" album shows the crowd scene in front of
the stage and two
of our group is just in the left side of the
in the following link, the top four heads
in the back and to the right is us - i'm not sure if that ugly guy
on the far left is me (*i hope not!:) but i can see jimmy stephan
and dewy bunnell's face is the one bisected at the far right hand
corner. Dewey is also in "america" and got us onstage
- then he left after one or two songs and left us there - we eventually
settled right behind phil lesh's position. I never heard him
play before but after standing next to his amp all night, i
couldn't get his rhythm out of my bones the whole ride back to london
(which made the cramped trip back pleasant!)
the record, i think i was standing outside the picture's frame, to the
right - that other guys too ugly for me (i'm ugly but not like that:)
A very detailed account of
the Deads show can be seen here at Mike
Plumbley's IOW Fest site .
Phil had small
LED's on his guitar neck to see his fret points better in the dark
(i don't know how common that is but i thought it was pretty neat!).
Ex Bickershaw vets in Brighton UK can be contacted