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Early Tapers, the United Dead Freaks of America, and the Dawn of Relix

by Jesse Jarnow on April 15, 2014

Sam Cutler sweeps out of the backstage area in a purposeful huff. The Grateful Dead’s mustachioed road manager is under direct orders from the band and makes a beeline for the front of the venue. It’s a pleasant late-summer Thursday and 20,000 concertgoers are starting to file into what passes for public space in the Bronx in 1971, a long expanse of ill-kept grass bound on one side by a train yard and called Gaelic Park. Neighborhood kids are staking claims on the parked cars along 240th Street where they might watch the show, scattering during the last notes as attendees return to freshly dented roofs and hoods. Locals know not to park there.

By the time Cutler gets to the front of the venue, he’s got a phalanx of security guards with him. The Grateful Dead hate busting people, but enough is enough. Cutler knows it, Jerry knows it, and almost everybody probably knows it. Everybody, that is, except the dudes standing out front selling bootleg records.

Cutler and the goon squad descend on the LP slinging longhairs and Cutler—in the crisp British accent of a classic rock road manager—informs them that Garcia told him personally, “We want you guys to go outside and liberate those bootlegs.” Which is exactly what happens. Cutler grabs two dozen LPs from the nearest seller and starts passing them to the assembled crowd. They surround three other dealers and confiscate 120 more copies of various live Dead pressings, though they will return many before the night is over.

“GRATEFUL DEAD PIG BACKLASH” pops the headline in the East Village Other the next week, the pseudonymous Basho Katzenjammer calling out the band in a full- page hastily-typed screed accompanied by an ominous caricature of Garcia, Phil Lesh glaring with dark, dark eyes behind him. Katzenjammer accuses the Dead of being part of “the same old reactionary establishment that we’re all ripping off. It is only recently that the Dead have even become successful enough to rip off, Katzenjammer reasons in a bit of circular logic increasingly indicative of the radical Yippie faction using the Other as a platform. The proof, of course, is that Dead bootleg LPs are selling like goddamn hot cakes in New York, moving around 500 copies a month.

Until 1971, Katzenjammer suggests, the Dead needed the money too badly themselves. But “that was last year that they needed the bread,” he writes, allowing “and most of the year preceding as well.” Even he recognizes that there’s something different about the Dead this year. They’re big business now. There are 20,000 people at Gaelic Park, after all. The bootleggers, meanwhile, simply “give the eager little music freak what he wants.” It’s the People’s Music, they feel, and—as the People—they should be entitled to a few bucks from it.

The live Dead records have been showing up in a serious way this season, supplementing the late-1969 release Live/Dead. Hot on the heels of the twin best-sellers of American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead, there’s a self-titled disc from an FM broadcast of a not-that-interesting night at Winterland the previous October, and one called Ain’t It Crazy recorded at the Manhattan Center in the spring. The week after Gaelic Park, Rolling Stone will report on the availability of bootlegs outside of the Dead’s August show at the Hollywood Palladium, itself soon appearing on illegal wax via the infamous Trade Mark of Quality label.

Bootlegs have been a hot trend in the boiling cauldron of the hippie underground since TMQ’s 1969 liberation of Bob Dylan’s basement-recorded demos in a plain, unmarked sleeve and known as the Great White Wonder. In some quarters, they’re simply known as “undergrounds”—the name for the broad subterranean network of interconnected heads reapplied from a vague place to a specific object filled with music.

The Dead have good reason to worry, too. Lately, there’s even some unauthorized Jerry getting heavy air on New York’s heppest radio stations, including repeated play on WBAI’s Radio Unnameable, the underground FM switchboard where Bob Dylan sometimes took calls and the Yippies first gathered.

One night, host Bob Fass reports that Wavy Gravy is lying on the floor, listening to the live Dead, feeling the vibes.

But while it’s pressed on vinyl, available for sale outside Gaelic Park, and sure looks like an underground, what Bob Fass has is different. It’s better, cooler, and far, far more dangerous.

If the Dead stare out into the crowd from the Gaelic Park stage, then they probably don’t see Marty Weinberg. He doesn’t get caught. That’s not his style. The Bronx native holds his microphone level to his chest, reel- to-reel slung over his shoulder, sucking in every precious note. Though he just turned 19 a few days before, Marty’s been taping the Dead since Central Park back in ‘68, when he was a 15-year-old junior at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. Since then, he’s accumulated hours and hours and hours of Dead music, taped in very high fidelity on gear recommended to him by senior members of the Audio Engineering Society, of which Marty was already a student member and active volunteer in good standing.

Boy genius Marty Weinberg, in fact, is the first person to figure out how to properly record the Grateful Dead from the audience: where to stand, how to avoid detection and how to make bitchin’ sounding reels. Marty is a head, part of the Manhattan area mind-matrix reading the East Village Other and Rat Subterranean News and tuned into WBAI’s Radio Unnameable, the new freeform radio station WFMU out of New Jersey, or some frequency from the deeper cosmos.

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Fully enjoyed that bit of background! Bless you freaks!

By stever - 04/15/14

Nice work Les, Jerry and Marty! How can I get my hands on some of these vinyl pieces? I’d also like some 74-76’ Dead Relix copies.
Great article! Thanks .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

By Joe Seehusen - 04/15/14

I knew Jerry Moore very well. His tapes are his legacy. It’s because of him I started taping. My first show wasn’t the Grateful Dead however, it was Bachman Turner Overdrive @ The Sunshine Inn, Asbury Park 1973. ( Bob Seger’s band Bullit opened). Didn’t use a reel to reel but still have a pretty decent. After that, taping seemed natural.  Who doesn’t want to come home and listen to the show you’ve just seen. Miss you Jerry!

By Kenny bagel - 04/15/14

Wasn’t it ‘Radio Unmentionable’?

By Pat Adams - 04/15/14

On a daily basis, I drive by all these places mentioned in the Bronx and I don’t see any other DeadHead stickers on other cars. Pretty cool history. I love that fellow Dead Freaks are still keeping the band in society all these years later thanks in part to the hard work born of love for this band, like Marty. I write a Dead blog and I don’t get anything but joy out of it.

By PotvinRocks - 04/15/14

The days before a tapers section were fun!  I recall sneaking my Nak 550 into the first Saratoga show as a casserole, nicely baked, and surrounded by ice!  Many a deck got in under a wheel-chair, with mic poles attached as iv drip stands…..  Miss those days!

By old-man dead - 04/15/14

I got into tape trading thru a Relix ad when I was in junior high school.  My friend’s older brother had turned us onto the Grateful Dead that summer and left behind a Relix magazine.  I was astounded to find a tape trade address of a guy in my small Oklahoma town!  I called him up and then it all started.  Now, all these years later, I tape nearly every show I attend.

By Matt N - 04/15/14

I too knew Jerry Moore monte Dym bob Alpson contributing writers for Relix les if you read this I thank you for fronting me GD products among other things to sell at aquaduct flea market without your help I would never finished college became a doctor. An artist and crackhead. Love you weir in Ringe 1978 I promoted. U helped

By Joel - 04/15/14

I bought my first Dead bootleg album—with one of those Baron Wolman shots of Jerry in ‘69 on the cover—outside that Gaelic Park show. It was like manna from Heaven for an 18-year-old with no tapes and seriously craving MORE live Dead…

By blairjackson - 04/15/14

This is a crucial and forgotten part of the history of The Grateful Dead. I got some Dead bootlegs in 1974 (on the West Coast) and they pried my mind wide open. Bootleg records whetted the appetite for the tape trading explosion for what was to follow.

By corrycorry2005 - 04/15/14

yes, i also knew jerry moore, i had the great honor of driving jerry to many shows .jerry as real NYer ,he did not have a drivers licence .i think i diver jerry from 79 -81 .i lived in sheepshead bay and drove carnise to relix head quarters {HEHE} Also many late night eating at “69 bayard” talking dolby b or c or no dolby ..Last time i saw jerry was in the bath room of the ritz .zero /kingfish 1986….he never missed .its gerat hs is getting this tribute but you know, he would not show up if we had aparty for him .rip jm.

By R.kabir chalfin - 04/15/14

yes, i also knew jerry moore, i had the great honor of driving jerry to many shows .jerry as real NYer ,he did not have a drivers licence .i think i diver jerry from 79 -81 .i drove jerry m to canarsie brooklyn to relix head quarters {HEHE} Also many late night eating at “69 bayard” talking dolby b or c or no dolby ..Last time i saw jerry was in the bath room of the ritz .zero /kingfish 1986….he never missed .its great hs is getting this tribute but you know, he would not show up if we had aparty for him .rip jm.

By R.kabir chalfin - 04/15/14

“Not that interesting a night at Winterland?” What, just the night that Janis Joplin died? Pigpen sang his heart out on Good Lovin. The Uncle John’s Band is one for the ages. The Sugar Magnolia is short & sweet & features Jerry’s wah-wah. Ridiculous how time and access just jades people. Back then that was all we had.

By M. Lind-Hanson - 04/16/14

really don’t know how share these pics Monte Dym Robert Hunter Jerry Moore Bob Alpson Joel Wateres plus others

By joel - 04/16/14


By joel - 04/16/14

I bought Marty’s Uher from him in late 1971 and used it to record the Dead, OAINTW, Jerry, along with Santana, Allman Bros., Count Basie, Mahavishnu Orch., Lionel Hampton, and others. Pushed the sonics with raised mics at Watkins Glen and Jersey City. Those were all great sounds.

By NEM - 04/16/14

Thank you to all the tapers who have made my life so blessed! I remember meeting Jerry Moore in 1984 San Francisco at a tapers party. These tapers were royalty! Like the James Bond’s of rock and roll! Oh the stories of getting gear into shows! They would have you mesmerized by the stories… tapers were true super heroes! Like robin hood…. fighting the man and bringing the music to the people! Good stuff! Thanks guys and gals!    d

By Julian - 04/17/14

“fighting the man and bringing the music to the people! “

The man being the Dead?

By Tom - 04/17/14


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