Cohorts of heads.

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Cohorts of heads.

Postby phreaker » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:17 am

I don't intend for this to get drawn out into a long discussion, I just want to have an idea of how many people showed up for concerts at the Deads prime? not just on the board, but the actuall attendance.
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Postby LazyLightnin » Sat Mar 03, 2007 10:41 am

enough that they had to "take a step back"
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Postby FretfulDave » Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:27 am

I saw the Dead mostly in the Spectrum in Philadelphia. That was from the early eighties through the end. venue holds 18,000 for sports events so if you include the floor maybe in the low 20s. Almost always sold out.

In the mid to late seventies, there was the '77 summers end concert at Raceway Park, Englishtowm NJ. There were 150,000 there. And three bands.

Capitol Theater in Passaic NJ, couple shows in the mid seventies. capacity 3200. that was sweet.

Lehigh U in Bethlehem Pa. in mid 80s. around 1200 which should have been excellent but the seating situation sucked.

Most of my others were outside and I have no idea how many people but undoubtably over 10000. Also one or two shows in other Spectrum sized facilities.

So even as they got more popular, the venues and sizes varied a lot until the mid eighties when the whole thing started to get really large and the parking lots would be hundreds if not thousands of additional folk that did not actually go to the shows. Then it became only the biggest venues and stadium type stuff.

I'm sure there are a few folks in the forum that can provide alot more info. I did not go to that many shows. Only 23 (at least the ones that I remember). Kind of a once a year guy, maybe twice. This over my 19 years of following them.

They were interesting times.

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Postby Billbbill » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:35 pm

I'm not sure I totally understand the question but I'll follow daves lead. Saw the boys about 70 or so times between '81 and '92 and only one or two post '92 before jerry's untimely demise.

Never ventured further west than Alpine Valley (unfortunately) so mostly east coast. Saw most of my shows at MSG, Brendan Burn and Nassau although went up to Portland ME a few of times, Worcester, Hartford, New Haven, Giants Stadium, RFK, Niagara, Syracuse, Buffalo, SPAC, Cincinati, Philly, and on down south to Hampton, Richmond and more.

As far as the deads prime goes I assume you mean popularity wise? Otherwise it's a tossup depending on you 'era preference'. As I got older (and a real job etc.) my attendance slowed down.

Most definitely some of the best times. At times pretty strange but quite an atmosphere to grow up in and (as corny as it sounds) learn many life lessons.
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Postby phreaker » Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:26 pm

Yeah, my question was unclear. I was in a hurry.

What I meant was how many people would show up show up for a Dead show when they were in the height of their attendance.

I thought maybe some people would be confused, and didn't want anyone to think I was talking about how many people here on the boards would go to a show.

But how many people would show up towards the latter part of the touring days? from footage I've seen, and stories I've heard, it's uncomprehendable for me. I've been to Wakarusa, and that seemed HUGE when there were really only about 15 or 16k.
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Postby boxorain » Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:30 pm

My first show as at Calaveras County Fairgrounds, August 87, with Santana. Since that day, I tried to attend every show out west (farthest east was Denver). Probably saw 75 or so, last show I went to was in 94.

Cal Expo, Shoreline, Oakland, Eugene, Cal State Dominguiz, Laguna Seca, are the ones I remember most, even caught a couple New Years Shows (89 & 90).

Like the others, not sure if this was "prime time", but there sure were some smokin, out of this worlds shows.

The Halloween show right after Bill Graham died, was definitely the trippiest time I ever saw!
The future's here...
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Postby Billbbill » Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:29 pm

I think when one got into the touring scene would largely be a function of when they got into the band. Maybe what your fishing for is why some folk got into the scene?

I'm afraid that's a road best least traveled. (if the way that dead posers thread panned out is any indication)

Or maybe that's not what you mean, in which case...never mind.

As far as numbers go it's hard to say. For instance if the dead played 2 dates at Giants Stadium that would be roughly equivalent to 8 - 10 dates at MSG, Brendan Burn and Nassau combined. And then you'd have to somehow account for those who saw multiple shows.

You can be sure that they were still very well attended and I'd say since Touch of Grey they were still making in roads of sorts into a portion of the mainstream...for better or for worse.
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Postby phpbb » Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:28 am

When I first attended shows in the late 80's, I was able to walk up the day of the show and buy a ticket at the box office, not to mention camping in the parking lot of the show. Once that gig was up, I started trying to get mail order tickets, and the first two tours I got denied, but was able to get them by calling in the day or two after the sale date. Once I got on the GDTS mail order list, I was able to always get tickets via GDTS, and never had to worry about waiting in line. I had the same experience when I started getting tapers tickets. First couple of tours they said No. Then, I got my first tapers tickets, and never was denied again.

I really never cared about the straglers in the parking lot (when they were not affecting things), but everything for me changed at the Meadowland shows where Adam Katz was killed. After that, it seemed the clamp down was steadily getting worse and worse. First the camping, then the security, then the merchandise cops, then checking your tickets to get to the lot, etc,etc,etc.

For me, it was about going to see the Grateful Dead, and everything else was a fun secondary event. When it was manageable, you could get tickets at the venue, but when it got larger, I played by the rules, got my tickets as early as possible and never went to a show without a ticket. I never could understand driving to a show to sit in a parking lot without ever seeing the band.

And when I got to a show, I always tried to find the most quality seat. For a show like Vegas, I could not understand sitting in the last row of the back bowl, my friends loved it, but I always had to be in front of the repeaters, and usually a lot closer than that.

I got to travel coast to coast - I have driven i-80 from New York to San Francisco seeing the dead along the way. but I always had a ticket to where I was going.

The incomprehensibleness of the size of the shows for me was the Vegas shows and the buckeye lake shows. There were so many people there it was insane.
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Postby kruston » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:58 am

If I understand you correctly, and it appears that not everyone that's replied does, you want to know how many people would attend any given Dead concert. Not "how many have you been to."

In '87 the Dead did two sets and Dylan did one set at Giants stadium in New Jersey and set an attendance record for that stadium - 71,598.
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Postby Shaggy » Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:38 pm

During the years in which they were in their creative and performing prime they were still playing halls and not always filling them out. The Europe of 72 tour saw them play at what you might call the next level down from the top, in terms of large concert venues for that era.

The height of the ticket rush would have been in 87 and at various points in the 90's.

They were and still are a cult in many regards, just a very large and far reaching one!
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Postby phreaker » Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:15 pm

kruston wrote:If I understand you correctly, and it appears that not everyone that's replied does, you want to know how many people would attend any given Dead concert. Not "how many have you been to."

In '87 the Dead did two sets and Dylan did one set at Giants stadium in New Jersey and set an attendance record for that stadium - 71,598.


yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

I'm not sure why I couldnt have worded that question correctly.
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Postby Chief5959 » Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:32 pm

GD played for 650,000 at Watkins Geln along with the Band and the Allmans. Most of their solo shows in the early 70's in NY were either at the Academy of Music (around 2500) or at the Felt Fourm (6000). There were outdoor shows at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City which I think held about 20,000.
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Postby mutant_dan » Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:48 am

I think there were over 250,000 at the Bill Graham memorial at the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park in the early 90's (1991?).

That's the largest 'home town' crowd I have ever seen..
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Postby Django » Mon Mar 05, 2007 12:09 pm

My two cents...
I saw shows in the mid 70's where 3000 seat auditoriums were'nt sold out. In the mid 80's, the time I started to feel the swell of the crowds was at Alpine Valley, where exiting through the gates elicited the Cow moos and cool heads prevailed to lessen the crush. And that was around 30,000. The mid-90s? I wouldn't guess as I wasn't there.
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Postby tigerstrat » Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:42 pm

phreaker wrote:Yeah, my question was unclear. I was in a hurry.

What I meant was how many people would show up show up for a Dead show when they were in the height of their attendance.


About twice as many as there were tickets available for the show! Put it this way: They regularly FILLED football stadia!(40,000-80,000)

When I saw their FREE concert tribute for Bill Graham on 11/3/91, the police estimates of the crowd that showed up in Golden Gate park was around 300,000...(course, that included other acts, notably Santana and a reunion of CSN&Y)
"There, in huge black letters, was 'The Grateful Dead'. It just... cancelled my mind out."-Garcia
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