I will always retain my fond memories of the 1973 concert that I went to at Watkins Glen, featuring the Band, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. This concert was a real treat for me and I saw plenty of love, peace, nudity, and drugs there. The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen went into the Guinness Book of World Records as being the “Largest audience at a pop festival”, having 600,000 people there in attendance. I drove there with 8 other dead heads in my station wagon and we went through the gate with an ounce of weed sitting on my dashboard, which did annoy me at first, but the concert was sold out, the gates were left open and we rolled by the parking lot attendants who just waved us through. Danny started singing, “I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin’ like listening to some Dead” a variation of The Band classic ‘The Weight’ and I knew that we were in for a good time. It was a two-day festival and we got there for the first day, which was called the sound test and all three groups performed, the Band came on first followed by the Allman Brothers but they only played a few songs. The Grateful Dead warmed up with two sets and their soundcheck was nearly two hours long. I got the best recording ever of Tennessee Jed, as it seemed like Garcia was singing directly into my tape deck. We camped out and went back the next day.
The stage was elevated so people in the back could see the groups, but this made it difficult for the people who were right in front of it. Some of them tried to make human pyramid chains so they could climb up higher to see what was going on. The stage crew responded by hosing everyone down that was in front of the stage. It was a real mess up front and the people who were covered in mud began to strip their clothes off. I was with Danny, Patty, and Irene and we were far enough back, to be out of the mud and have a good look at the stage. This Summer Jam was all about music, and all the bands did their best to entertain everyone. The Grateful Dead were up first, and they were really cooking that day.
The Grateful Dead kicked off with a jumping tune called ‘Bertha’. They played two sets and some of the songs that I still remember after 45 years are ‘Truckin’, ‘Sugar Magnolia’, ‘China Cat Sunflower’, ‘Eyes of the World’, and they closed with Merle Haggard’s ‘Sing Me Back Home’. One of the naked mud people wondered over by us and Danny nudged me as said that we had to protect our girls from this a-hole. This guy was a real piece of work, and not only was he naked and covered in mud, but he had a snake wrapped around his neck which made him look like he was part of the snake cult of Asclepius and he was definitely creeping Danny out, because we were all tripping. This may have not even been the worst part as you could tell that this dude was having a bad trip or he was fucked up on something, as his face was all contorted and he kept on drooling. I considered the mud dude to be totally undesirable, so I grabbed him by his arm and slung him back to the front of the stage where he belonged.
Danny and the girls all smiled at me and everything was good for us again, now that this filthy, creepy dude was gone disappearing into the crowd of mud people. The Band followed the Dead, but a huge thunderstorm forced them off stage and that is when we went back to our campsite. When the rain let up, the Band went back on and finished their set and they were followed by the Allman Brothers. The concert ended with the Allman Brothers doing several encores ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Mountain Jam’ and Grateful Dead joining in on the last song ‘Johnny B. Goode’.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver #263 – Concert hosted by Michael.