GRATEFUL DEAD: New release. 76 (14CD Ltd Box Set)

76 (14CD Ltd Box Set)

5 Show, 14CD Limited Edition/1000 only.

The Grateful Dead managed to make one shrewd and long-lasting move in 1976. Everyone knew that the Dead had a loyal audience, but truthfully, even the Dead didn't know how that would translate into ticket sales. How big a place could they really play, and how many cities would it be profitable to tour through? The band bypassed all that. In the booming rock market of 1976, playing a 12,000-capacity basketball arena and only selling 9,000 tickets would have been seen as a failure of sorts, and the Dead couldn't afford that in their comeback attempt.

So the Dead took a relatively unprecedented step. They took their four biggest East Coast markets, chose some 2000-seat theaters, and sold the tickets only by mail order. Up until this time, there had been only one rock concert mail-order-only effort that I know of, the Bob Dylan/Band tour in early 1974. Despite the clunkiness of mail order at the time, the hype surrounding mail order had allowed national promoter Bill Graham to emphasize how the Dylan/Band tour was an Event, not just another band on the road.

The Dead shrewdly took the same tack, surely inspired by Graham, but executed by New Jersey promoter John Scher. The unique twist was that the band only offered tickets to fans currently on the Deadheads mailing list. They signed on with their most loyal promoters in each city, and made sure that there was an FM broadcast in each region. The band were replaying their 1971 strategy with Grateful Dead ("Skull And Roses"), and providing a "virtual" free concert in all those markets. No other major band would do that in 1976, or ever again.