Friday, June 1, 2012

Deadhead misbehavior at L.A. Coliseum June 1, 1991.

Haven't written about this until now, twenty-one years later.

Saturday, June 1, 1991, was a beautiful sunny day in Downtown Los Angeles.

I bought a walk-up ticket for $25.00 to sit in the upper rows of the Los Angeles Coliseum to see The Grateful Dead (for what was to be the first of three Dead shows for me).

The opening act on that tour was South African musician Johnny Clegg and his then-band Savuka.

After an interval, the Dead came out by mid-afternoon.

The late, legendary-and-controversial Bay Area-based promoter Bill Graham took center stage to warn the audience that no one was to leave their seats and go down to the field.  In retrospect, this seemed a bit unusual since I remember at least field seating for the previous Coliseum shows I attended (the 1988 Amnesty International concert and the 1989 Who reunion tour also known as "The Who On Ice").  But that's what Graham said--and apparently what the Coliseum wanted.

But certain Deadheads in the crowd seemed to think Graham denied them a Divine Right.  So about a song or two into the Dead's first set, a lot of people ran down the aisles onto the field.  I saw a security guard trying to hold people back and he was knocked backwards from the first-row entrance by the force of the crowd.

I watched all of this from the opposite stands--as I heard an audience member near me say under his breath that Bill can't make the audience stay seated because it was a GRATEFUL DEAD show and the crowd should do what it wants to do.

Being a relatively young man of thirty-one, I quickly focused on the show and put aside the stupid behavior of asinine, ferociously selfish people who thought they were Misunderstood Heroes rather than genuine rebels of the recent Occupy Wall Street//Egypt/Syria movements.

And, in the end, I'm wondering if the Deadheads realized they handed a victory to the Man.

The Grateful Dead never again played a show at the Los Angeles Coliseum in their four remaining years before the death of Jerry Garcia.

UPDATE 6/2: Here's streaming audio of the concert, plus comments from those who were there relating to the Incident discussed in the post.

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