Friday, April 22, 2022

New Riders of The Purple Sage Tour History, May-August 1972 (NRPS '72 II)


New Riders Of The Purple Sage Tour History, May-August 1972 (NRPS II)

The music of Jerry Garcia casts a large shadow, if a shadow that is bright rather than dark. It is so large, however, and so bright, that it outshines many things around it. In the 21st century, the New Riders of The Purple Sage are best known as the vehicle through which Jerry Garcia created an opportunity to play pedal steel guitar as a sideman in 1970 and '71. When the demands of playing full-time with both the Grateful Dead and the New Riders became too gargantuan a task, Garcia stepped aside from the Riders. For most Deadheads, that's where the story ends.

Yet the story of the New Riders of The Purple Sage was only beginning. For obvious reasons, the Riders are always compared to the Dead, and like almost every other 20th century rock band, the Dead outshone NRPS by many orders of magnitude. Compared to all the other bands struggling to make it in the early 1970s, however, the New Riders of The Purple Sage were hugely successful. After their debut album with Garcia in late 1971, they released four more albums with Buddy Cage on pedal steel in 1972 and '73. The albums sold well--Panama Red eventually was certified Gold--and the New Riders were a popular concert attraction. 

On top of the Riders' undeniable success, they were also still part of the Grateful Dead's business operation in 1972. The Grateful Dead tour booking was handled by Sam Cutler, apparently working through a variety of talent agents. Cutler also had a key role in booking the New Riders, although they would have also worked directly with certain agents. So a review of the New Riders touring history in 1972 and '73 shows both what lessons Cutler had learned from the Dead's rise to success in 1970 and '71, and also provided an avenue for Cutler to expand his relationships with promoters who worked with the Grateful Dead. Thus the New Riders' touring schedule was both a do-over and a rehearsal for what had come before and what would come later for the Grateful Dead. 

This post will continue the series on the tour history of the New Riders of The Purple Sage in 1972 and '73, with a particular emphasis on how their saga was similar to and different from that of the Grateful Dead. These posts would not have been possible without the stellar research of fellow scholar David Kramer-Smyth, whose contributions have been both deep and broad. The prior post focused on the New Riders performance history from January to April, 1972. This post will focus on the New Riders performance history from May through August 1972. Anyone with additions, corrections, insights or just interesting speculation, please include them in the Comments. Flashbacks welcome.


New Riders of The Purple Sage Status Report, May 1972

Buddy Cage had debuted with the New Riders of The Purple Sage on November 11, 1971. Amazingly, his debut was broadcast live on FM radio, perhaps a unique occurrence in rock history. Throughout the Fall of 1971, the New Riders of The Purple Sage toured the country with the Grateful Dead, often broadcasting live on FM radio along with them. As far as I can tell, the NRPS album got a fair amount of FM radio airplay throughout the country. It reached #39 on the Billboard charts, fairly respectable for a debut album without a big AM hit single. Still, although the New Riders had scored a successful debut, they no longer had their most high-profile member. The absence of Jerry Garcia had provided freedom, but the New Riders were going to have to make it in 1972 flying under their own power.

Nonetheless, the New Riders were still part of the Grateful Dead family, and not just socially. Their manager had initially been Jon McIntire, who also managed the Dead. McIntire was the principal go-between for the record companies. Sam Cutler would have been the principal connection with the booking agents, as he was for the Grateful Dead. By representing multiple bands, Cutler had more to negotiate and thus more leverage with promoters and agents throughout the country. The Riders didn't have to worry about being left out of the mix--Cutler's principal assistant was Sally Mann Dryden, the drummer's wife (whom Cutler refers to now as "Mustang Sally," perhaps a reference to her 428ci Ford Mustang).

In January, 1972, the New Riders had recorded their second album Powerglide. Jerry Garcia had visited Wally Heider Studios for a day (January 17) and contributed banjo and piano(!) parts on three numbers, but Buddy Cage held down the pedal steel guitar chair. John Dawson wrote and sang lead on five of the songs, but Dave Torbert sang five (and wrote two) of them, and David Nelson sang a cover as well. The 1972 New Riders were more of a band than the earlier incarnation. The group had begun to perform outside of the Bay Area on their own, rather than just opening for the Grateful Dead as they had in 1971. In April 1972, they had toured the East Coast, promoting Powerglide, which was officially available in stores around April 15. The East Coast touring had ended May 2, and the New Riders then flew on to Europe.

The New Riders of The Purple Sage, May-August 1972
John Dawson-vocals, rhythm guitar
Buddy Cage-pedal steel guitar (ex-Great Speckled Bird and Anne Murray)
David Nelson-lead guitar, vocals (ex-New Delhi River Band)
Dave Torbert-bass, vocals (ex-New Delhi River Band, Horses)
Spencer Dryden-drums (ex-Jefferson Airplane)
The restored Palace Theater, at 100 E. Main St in Waterbury, CT

May 1 1972 Palace Theatre Waterbury CT New Riders of The Purple Sage/Henry Gross Produced by Web LTD
(Monday)
Web LTD had booked the New Riders for the "Folk Festival" shows in Virginia back on April 8, and they also booked a Monday night at a now-legendary venue called the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. Waterbury is between Hartford (33 miles to the Northeast) and New York City (77 miles to the Southwest). It had (and has) a population of around 110,000. In the first half of the 20th century, it was a thriving industrial city. From the 60s onward, however, Waterbury underwent a severe economic decline. As a rock peculiarity, however, Waterbury had a large movie theater from its glory days, and easy freeway access from larger areas. The Palace Theater, at 100 E. Main Street in downtown, had been built in 1922. By the early 1970s, it wasn't apparently in great shape, but it had a capacity of a few thousand and fantastic acoustics. It went from being an oversized movie house to a destination rock concert venue.

In the early 1970s, bands figured out that in order to make touring profitable, they had to play as many nights as possible with reasonably short trips in between. If a band on a road had, for example, a lucrative weekend booking in Manhattan, and another the next weekend in Boston, they had to do something in between that paid. A night or two at a place like Waterbury was perfect. It was just far enough from major cities that it didn't tread on the major bookings, and attracted fans who wouldn't (or couldn't) go to a big-city show. FM radio was everywhere, anyway, and there were plenty of kids in the suburbs who wanted to see the bands that played Manhattan or Boston. Whoever owned the aging Palace Theater would have been happy to rent it out profitably, unconcerned if some hippies might raise a little ruckus. All the good touring bands of the 1970s played the Palace in Waterbury, some of them many times.

I doubt the New Riders sold that many tickets on a Monday night, but on the road it may not have mattered. If they covered their expenses, then it was better than just spending the night in a hotel. Sam Cutler, meanwhile, would have learned about the Palace, and the Dead would return in September.

May 2, 1972 Academy Of Music, New York, NY: New Riders of The Purple Sage/Alex Taylor/Tranquility (Tuesday-8:00 and 11:30 pm)
The Academy of Music, at 126 E.14th Street, had opened as a movie theater in 1922 (taking its name from the Opera House that had been across the street in the 19th century). The 3000-seat venue had been used intermittently for rock concerts in the 1960s, but had mostly been a movie theater. Promoter Howard Stein (1945-2007) had been putting on shows at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, just outside the City, in 1970 and '71. When the Fillmore East closed in June, 1971, Stein took over the The Academy of Music. Stein had been promoting rock shows in the New York area throughout the 1960s. The Academy of Music would change its name to the Palladium in 1976. In the 1980s, Stein would move away from the rock concert business and into the nightclub business, opening some legendary New York discos. Back in '71, however, Stein was a key promoter filling the void left by Bill Graham's departure.

In March of 1972, the Grateful Dead had played six shows in seven nights at the The Academy of Music (Hot Tuna filled in the other night), a legendary event in Deadhead history. In this case, the New Riders provided a kind of encore to the six sold-out Dead shows in March.

The English band Tranquility, label mates (on Epic), opened the show. In the middle of the bill was Alex Taylor, the older brother of James. Alex had a more bluesy sound than James, and he just released Dinnertime, his second album on Capricorn. Since Capricorn was the Allman Brothers label, it's not surprising to see other fellow travelers on the record, like Chuck Leavell, Tommy Talton and Jaimoe.

Following their Northeastern tour, the New Riders of The Purple Sage headed off to England and Europe, including hooking up with the Grateful Dead for the end of their epic Europe '72 tour.

NRPS on stage at Bickershaw Festival, Wigan, GB May 7 '72

May 7, 1972 Bickershaw Festival, Wigan, England: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Country Joe McDonald/Brinsley Schwarz (Sunday)
In the early 70s, Europe and the UK still had rock festivals on the Woodstock model, with masses of people gathering on a muddy farm for several days and music 24/7 . Wigan, in the Greater Manchester area, was the only major multi-day festival with camping in the Northwest of England during this period. Of course, it rained constantly and everything fell apart. The Grateful Dead were the headliners on Sunday, the third and final day of the Festival. According to David Nelson (via Jesse Jarnow), the New Riders were not originally on the Bickershaw bill. Sam Cutler and his associate Chesley Millikin, however, were able to wrangle the band into the lineup. Both Cutler and Millikin were veterans of the 60s London rock scene, so they would have known how to make things happen.

The Dead had kicked off their epic Europe '72 tour back on April 7 with two shows in London, followed by one in Newcastle (April 11). They had since played nine shows in Denmark, West Germany and Paris, before returning to England for Bickershaw. The New Riders flew over from the East Coast to make their European debut opening for the Dead. The Riders came on after Country Joe. Brinsley Schwarz--a truly great band fronted by Nick Lowe--had played before Joe. 

By Sunday, organization was chaotic. New Riders office Admin Michelle McFee had flown over from California to join the tour, but was unable to find her way backstage. A veteran concertgoer herself, she made her way through the muddy crowd to get near the stage, and shouted at the band until they recognized her. The saga of the Bickershaw Festival is too much for me to summarize, but stories abound on the website. For a useful overview of the entire 3-day Bickershaw festival, see the DJT blog post here.

May 9, 1972 Old Refectory, University College, London, UK: New Riders of The Purple Sage (Tuesday)
The history of the New Riders of The Purple Sage '72 European tour has been entirely obscure up until now. A few events have been noted,  but always in the context of the storied Grateful Dead '72 tour. In fact, the Riders were only briefly involved with the Dead on tour, but that is often the only thread we can pull. David Kramer-Smyth has rescued some dates from obscurity, and there are clearly stories to tell, yet we have little to go on.

An e-tree listing indicates a tape of a New Riders show at the Old Refectory at University College in London, the Tuesday after Bickershaw. UCL (as it is known) was established in 1826, and has been a London institution ever since. The Old Refectory, just opposite the Jeremy Bentham Room, seems to have been the original cafe at UCL. It is between Gower and Gordon Streets. Gordon Street is the site of the Bartlett School of Architecture, founded in 1841. The Bartlett seems to about a 1/4 mile from the Old Refectory.

My father graduated from the Bartlett School in the late 1940s, so he probably found time to make it over to the Old Refectory--probably just called "The Refectory" then--for some tea or eggs. He would come to California in the 1950s, and meet a teacher at Peninsula School in Menlo Park (who may have taught John Dawson), thus leading to--among other things--this blog. 

May 12, 1972 Main Hall, Surrey University, Guildford, London, UK; New Riders of The Purple Sage/Colin Scott (Friday)
Surrey University was officially established in 1966. located in Battersea Park, on the Thames River just opposite Chelsea. Its roots, however, go back to the Battersea College of Technology, founded 1891. The University has expanded substantially since then, so I do not know the size or location of "The Main Hall," although it could very well be extant.

May 13 1972 Main Hall Kingston Polytechnic, Kingston, UK: New Riders of The Purple Sage/Rab Noakes (Saturday)
A ticket survives from the Saturday night show at Kingston Poly. The Institute had been founded in 1899, and was located in Southwest London, at Kingston-Upon-Thames. There were apparently regular shows at the venue. For those not familiar with London, the different shows at colleges around greater London would not at all have drawn on the same pools of fans. Based on David Kramer-Smyth's research, a tape may exist of this show. 

Scottish singer/songwriter Rab Noakes released his self-titled second album in 1972, on A&M Records (his 1970 debut Have You Seen The Lights, had been released on Decca in 1970).

May 14, 1972 Essex Arts Festival, Dance Hall, Essex University, Essex UK: New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Dr John (Sunday)
The indefatigable David Kramer-Smyth found a note about this show in the April 1, 1972 issue of Record Mirror (see page 6).

Per Record Mirror, the Essex Arts Festival took place from May 7-14, and included a number of San Francisco acts: Quicksilver Messenger Service (May 8), Country Joe McDonald (May 12) and finally the New Riders. The University of Essex had been established in 1963. A mere 10 year-history was common for a lot of American colleges and State Universities, but for England that was pretty much the day before yesterday.

May 18 1972 Zoom, Frankfurt, West Germany New Riders of The Purple Sage presented by Lippman-Rav-Zoom (Thursday) {source poster}
By the next week, the New Riders had gotten over to the continent. A poster for the Zoom club shows the band's booking for Thursday night. What they did in between, whether they played any gigs or just hung out in London is completely unknown. 

May 20 1972 Paradiso, Amsterdam NL New Riders of The Purple Sage/Strrrriptoneel (Saturday)
The Paradiso was a legendary, indeed infamous, Amsterdam rock club. The Riders appeared on the schedule for Saturday night. The Paradiso is near Der Melkweg, another legendary Amsterdam venue.


May 21, 1972 Germersheim, Pfalz, West Germany: British Rock Meeting 2 Festival-  The Faces/Kinks/ Family/Rory Gallagher/Country Joe McDonald/Savoy Brown/Status Quo/Beggar's Opera/Sam Apple Pie/Nazareth/Uriah Heep/Frumpy/Ekseption/Amon Düül 2/New Riders of the Purple Sage/Billy Joel/Spencer Davis Group/East of Eden/Lindisfarne/Jerusalem/Max Merrit (Sunday)--NRPS were no shows
The Second British Rock Meeting was a 2-day rock festival. Above is the second poster made for the festival, which had been moved from Mannheim to Germersheim, West Germany. The prior day (May 20) saw performances from Pink Floyd, Humble Pie, Curved Air and many other bands.  The Doors were just a trio at this point, since of course Jim Morrison was not available.  Curved Air has released their performance at the festival on CD.

According to an online source, the US Army initially supported the organization of rock festivals in the Rhine-Main area, including the 2nd British Rock Meeting. The soldiers made ​​an average of 50 to 70 percent of festivalgoers. Jesse Jarnow, as part of his Deadcast research, spoke with a Canadian who attended the British rock meeting. Much of the audience were GIs, who were very good at helping everyone set up temporary shelters. The New Riders, however, were no-shows. At 70s rock festivals, no-shows and last-minute substitutions were common. Most likely transit difficulties caused the problem. 

May 22, 1972 Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam, NL: Rock Circus- Pink Floyd/Donovan/Gene Clark/Spencer Davis and Sneaky Pete/Dr. John The Night Tripper/Tom Paxton/Buddy Miles/Memphis Slim/The New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Pacific Gas & Electric/Sgt. Peppers Band/Het Gewestelijk Orkest (Monday) 
I don't exactly know what Columbia's booking strategy was for the European New Riders' tour. In the States, the goal was to enhance FM airplay, but European radio didn't work the same way. The Riders played some UK college gigs, some "underground" clubs and were part of the bill on some big festivals. Was this a sound strategy? Who can say? Clearly, opening for the Dead and playing West German TV (Beat Club, below) were the key gigs, and the rest may have just been filler. Remember, however, the costs of this tour would have been deducted from future New Riders royalties, so the band was paying for it.

Jesse Jarnow did determine that the New Riders played this festival, and even left on the early ferry, because they had to get back to the UK for the London gig with the Dead. This information came from the festival light crew, who were the recipients of the New Riders' extra hash. The lighting crew made a visit to the Van Gogh Museum before catching a later ferry.


May 23-26, 1972 The Strand Lyceum, London, England: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage 
(Tuesday-Friday)
The Grateful Dead concluded their Europe '72 tour with a 4-night stand at the Strand Lyceum. The New Riders opened all four shows, as far as I know. The Lyceum, originally opened in 1834, only had a capacity of 2,100. The Riders weren't "needed" to sell the tickets, but this was clearly intended as a Central London showcase for both bands by Warner Brothers and Columbia.

There is a photo of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and members of the New Riders strumming acoustic guitars at a Private Chapel in St. John's Jerusalem House in Sutton-at-Hone in Kent, about an hour from the Lyceum. The timing suggests it must have been during the stretch at the Lyceum. I have no idea how the bands got there or what they might have been doing in Kent.

May 29, 1972 [TV Studio], Beat Club, Bremen, Germany: New Riders of The Purple Sage (Monday)
Beat Club was a West German public television show that broadcast weekly live performances of touring rock bands. It is one of the best sources of professionally-filmed and recorded live rock music from 1965-72. Many of the episodes can be found on YouTube and elsewhere. The New Riders played for about a half-hour, probably the first live video of the post-Garcia lineup. Staying a few extra days in Europe and flying over from London would have been well worth it for Columbia Records. Of course, the additional expenses would have been charged against the Riders' future royalties. We have not been able to find any European Riders' dates after Beat Club, so it probably ended the European leg.

The Grateful Dead had played on Beat Club back on April 21. 

June 4-5, 1972 Carnegie Hall, New York, NY: New Riders of The Purple Sage /Eric Andersen (Sunday-Monday) Presented by Ardee Productions & Ron Delsener
The New Riders returned to the United States from Europe, but played some high profile Manhattan shows before returning home. On Sunday and Monday, the band played no less than Carnegie Hall. The Carnegie Hall facility actually has two auditoriums. Stern Hall, the main auditorium, seats 2,800. The smaller Zankel Hall seats 1000. I'm assuming that the Riders played their two nights at Zankel.

Producer Ron Delsener was a major New York Metropolitan area promoter well into the 21st century, but he did not work much with the Grateful Dead. There's no direct conclusion to draw from that, except to note that the relationships built by the likes of Larry Magid (in Philadelphia) and John Scher were forged early in the 70s and continued on into the 1990s.


Opening act Eric Andersen was a veteran singer-songwriter, recently signed to Columbia Records. Blue River, his Columbia debut, had been released in February 1972. It was Andersen's 9th album. He had released 6 albums on Vanguard (1965-69), dating back to his Greenwich Village folk days, followed by two 1969 Warner Brothers albums. Since that time, Andersen had moved to Mill Valley, CA, and was Bob Weir's next-door neighbor. In late '72, Weir would ask Andersen to help him finish the lyrics to "Weather Report Part I." So despite the different musical history, Andersen was part of the Marin rock scene, and regularly toured with the New Riders as their opening act. On some occasions, he would join them for some encore performances. One of the Carnegie performances by Andersen and the New Riders was favorably reviewed in Cash Box (see p.28).

June 7, 1972 Central Park Bandshell, New York, NY: New Riders of The Purple Sage (Wednesday) presented by WNEW radio
In 1967 and '68, the Grateful Dead had played a number of free concerts in Manhattan that attracted a lot of attention, crucial since they were not being played on the radio. The New Riders had even played a free concert in Central Park in May, 1970, although it went almost unnoticed at the time. So it was pretty logical that the New Riders would follow the Grateful Dead playbook of giving as many curious fans a taste of the live New Riders for free. The New Riders would go on to become a very successful concert attraction in and around New York Metro for several more years, so the strategy clearly worked.

When the Dead had first come to Manhattan in June, 1967 free concerts were a stealthy underground thing. By '72, the free concerts were in Central Park, sponsored by the biggest FM station in the city (for a photo from Central Park, see here).


June 17, 1972 Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage (Saturday) Pacific Presentations
The Grateful Dead and the New Riders had returned from their mutual European adventures. They played a Saturday night show at the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl was quite large, and also quite suburban. Located at 2301 North Highland, the outdoor bowl had opened in the 1920s and could seat as many as 17,500. The LA Philharmonic regularly played there. The prohibition against too much noise was probably lifted somewhat by the early 70s, but the show still started at 7:00pm, so that it would not run too late. The Hollywood Bowl show was Ron "Pigpen" McKernan's last show with the Dead. He played organ on a few numbers, but was unable to sing.

June 28 1972 Met Center, Bloomington, MN: The Byrds/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Eric Andersen (Thursday) canceled
Throughout the Summer of '72, the New Riders had numerous concerts booked, mostly with other acts on Columbia Records. A number of them were canceled, in itself not significant, as tour schedules often changed for any number of reasons. As a result, however, it's hard to figure out how many gigs the Riders really played. Are we missing a bunch of shows, or did the band just play some random bookings where they were getting good FM airplay? Either scenario is possible, but I'm more inclined to think that the band just flew out to play a show when the money made sense, rather than grind it out on a tour bus.

David Kramer-Smyth found ads for numerous shows in the Summer of ' 72 where the New Riders were booked to open for The Byrds. The Byrds were also on Columbia, and while not the best-sellling band they had been in the 1960s, they were still popular and were actually a much better live band than previously. Booking the New Riders with the Byrds made perfect sense. According to Christopher Hjort's definitive Byrds chronology So You Wanna Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star (2008: Jawbone Press), however, all the Summer Byrds shows were canceled. The Byrds did not have a drummer (Gene Parsons had quit), and the band took a break. Byrds' bassist Skip Battin would actually end up replacing Dave Torbert in the New Riders in early 1974, but they don't seem to have met out on the road this Summer.



June 30, 1972 Memorial Auditorium, Kansas City, KS (New Riders of The Purple Sage/Loggins & Messina (Friday) Good Karma Productions Presents
The New Riders were headlining in Kansas City, Kansas on Saturday night. I suspect that this meant that they were getting good FM airplay on a KC radio station. The opening band was a new Columbia act, Kenny Loggins. His debut album had been produced by former Buffalo Springfield and Poco guitarist Jim Messina, which was why it was billed as Kenny Loggins Band with Jim Messina. Loggins' album Sittin' In had been released in November, 1971 and was starting to get some good airplay. Messina had taken on a much larger role than he had initially anticipated, so his name had been added to the album in order to attract attention (a strategy that worked very well). 

By the time of their second record, the "accidental duo" of Loggins & Messina was on their way to mega-stardom, ultimately selling 16 million albums. In the Summer of '72, however, they were still an opening act, and they played a very peculiar role in Grateful Dead history. Betty Cantor was at the show, presumably working the soundboard for the New Riders as a hired hand, on behalf of Alembic Sound, who were her actual employers. Betty being Betty, and all, recorded Loggins & Messina's opening set. Loggins played a slowed down version of "Friend Of The Devil," and Betty eventually played it for Jerry Garcia, who liked the slow version so much that he brought the song back in that fashion a few years later (I wrote about this exchange at great length elsewhere). 

Good Karma Productions was a Kansas City-based management team associated with Brewer & Shipley, among other acts.

July 2 1972 Bosse Field Freedom Festival, Evansville, IN: Ike & Tina Turner/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Edgar Winter/Dr. John/Cactus/Black Oak Arkansas/Spirit/Country Joe McDonald/Howlin ' Wolf/Herd/Gandalf (Sunday)
After various rock festival debacles in 1970, most famously Altamont, promoters tried to shift festival events to more permanent facilities. The Bosse Field Freedom Festival was held at a minor league ballpark in Evansville, IN. Bosse Field had been opened back in 1915, and had a baseball capacity of around 6,000. At the time, the Evansville Triplets were the AAA franchise of the Milwaukee Brewers (in the American Association). By using the outfield for General Admission, the promoters drew around 30,000 to the all day event. An interesting summary of the day's events mentions:

Outside, a riot erupted when the promoters, who had promised free admittance after 9 p.m., changed their minds. It was a strange policy to announce in the first place because it would obviously lead to a crowd of people gathering, happy to turn up for the last couple of hours and pay nothing for the pleasure. And then to say, actually no, you’re not getting in, well it was bad ju ju all round, baby.

One of [the promoters], Bob Alexander said of the Bosse Field show which had pulled in 30,000 people “I made the most money that I'd ever made in my life at that point by doing that event. I don't remember exactly how much we made because it was so long ago, but I remember that I took my whole family down to Montego Bay, Jamaica, after it was over, and I had a real ball.”

The promoters went on to produce the infamous Labor Day '72 Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival, in Griffin, IN, a notorious disaster. 

July 4 Spirit of 76 Festival, Illinois--canceled 

The Ritz, at 3430 N. Illinois St in Indianapolis as it appeared in 2004


July 5 1972 Ritz Theater, Indianapolis, IN: New Riders of The Purple Sage [2 shows] (Wednesday)
The Ritz Theater, at 3430 N. Illinois Street in Indianapolis, had opened in 1927. It had a movie capacity of 1400 seats. In June 1970, the seats were removed and it was turned into a rock concert venue called Middle Earth. In January 1972, the name reverted to the Ritz, but the venue closed by the end of the year. The building remained intact in the 21st century.

July 7 1972 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL:  New Riders of The Purple Sage/Fabulous Rhinestones (Friday) Jan Winn Productions
The Aragon Ballroom, at 1106 W. Lawrence in Uptown Chicago, had opened as a Big Band showcase in 1926. After various incarnations, it became the Cheetah Club in 1966, and then in 1968 became a leading rock venue. It competed with the Kinetic Playground, the Syndrome and other halls. It had stopped putting on rock shows in 1970. In 1972, the Aragon re-opened as a rock venue. The show was reviewed in the July 10 Chicago Tribune. The reviewer praised the New Riders, but wasn't happy with the sound at the Aragon

The Fabulous Rhinestones opened the show. Chicago guitarist Kal David (ex-Illinois Speed Press) was the main songwriter, but the band had actually formed in San Francisco. Members included bassist Harvey Brooks (ex-Electric Flag), organist Marty Grebb (another Chicagoan, ex-Buckinghams) and drummer Gregg Thomas (ex-Mint Tattoo). The band had moved to Woodstock, NY, and would ultimately release three albums. Still, they weren't a local band, despite some Chicago connections, another sign of how the early 70s concert industry hamstrung opportunities for local bands to get heard.

July 9 1972 Edgewater Park, Edgewater OH: James Gang/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Buffy St Marie/Raspberries/Tony Joe White/Brewer&Shipley/Brownsville Station/Lobo/Country Joe McDonald (Sunday 12-8 pm) Spirit of ‘72 WIXY Free Festival
This seems to be a free event sponsored by WIXY 1260 AM in Cleveland. Edgewater is a Cleveland district near Lake Erie (apparently photos of the event can be found on Facebook).

We may be missing a Saturday night (July 8) New Riders show in the area.



July 10, 1972 Minneapolis Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN: New Riders of The Purple Sage/Dr Hook and The Medicine Show/Fanny (Monday)
A Monday night show in Minneapolis makes sense if you realize that the New Riders were already in the Midwest, and that they had booked a Tuesday night show in Madison, WI (even though it apparently was canceled--see below). The Minneapolis Auditorium had been built in 1927, and had a capacity of 10,000. It had originally mainly been a hockey arena, but after 1967 it had been superseded by the Met Center. I doubt that the full capacity of the arena was in use on a weeknight, so I assume some sections were roped off.

Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show was another rising Columbia band with a countrified hippie edge. Nashville producer Shel Silverstein had engaged the band as a vehicle for his songwriting. The band had released their debut album in February1972, and the Silverstein song "Sylvia's Mother" had become a big hit in the Spring. Note that the New Riders are listed with the song "I Don't Need No Doctor," from Powerglide. While not a hit single, the mention suggests that fans may recognize it from FM radio. 

Fanny were an "All-Girl" group on Reprise. They had just released their third album Fanny Hill in February. While they were treated as a gimmick (not surprisingly), all four of the women in Fanny were good musicians, particularly sisters June (guitar) and Jean Millington (bass).

July 11 1972 Dane County Coliseum Madison Wisconsin: New Riders of The Purple Sage/Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show/Fanny (Tuesday) canceled
The timeline suggests that the New Riders spent July and early August of 1972 recording their next album. Columbia would release Gypsy Cowboy in December 1972.

July 30 1972 Pine Knob Music Theater, Pine Knob MI: The Byrds/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Eric Andersen (Sunday) canceled
July 31 1972 Arie Crown Theater,  Chicago IL: The Byrds/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Eric Andersen
(Monday)  Howard Stein Productions canceled
August 2 1972 Sports Arena, Atlanta, GA: The Byrds/New Riders of The Purple Sage
(Wednesday) canceled
August 4 1972 Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa, FL: The Byrds/New Riders of The Purple Sage
(Friday) canceled
August 5 1972 Sportatorium, Fort Lauderdale FL The Byrds/New Riders of The Purple Sage
(Saturday) canceled

August 23, 1972 Balboa Park Bowl, San Diego, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage/Wishbone Ash (Wednesday) 2 & 8pm shows
The New Riders headlined a pair of shows at San Diego's Balboa Park Bowl on a Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to a peculiarity of Airline regulation, it cost around $20 to fly from San Francisco to San Diego, so it made sense for the band to play a one-off. Now called the Starlight Bowl (at 2005 Pan American Plaza), the 4300-capacity arena had been constructed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Wishbone Ash was an English band who had just released their third album, Phoenix. Wishbone Ash had a twin-guitar lineup and a unique approach. They were great live and very influential.

August 24, 1972  Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage (Thursday)
The Grateful Dead played four nights at the Berkeley Community Theater (August 21, 22, 24 and 25). The Dead did not need help to sell tickets, nor was there any financial benefit for the promoter if the crowd came early, since there were no concessions for sale. Nonetheless, the New Riders opened on Thursday night anyway. 


August 27, 1972 Renaissance Fairgrounds, Veneta, OR: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage
(Sunday)
On Sunday, the Grateful Dead headlined the legendary "Springfield Creamery Benefit" at the Renaissance Fairgrounds in Veneta, OR, near Springfield. The entire event was filmed and recorded, released many years later as the movie Sunshine Daydream. There is a little footage of the New Riders live, and the entire New Riders set was released in 2004 as the archival cd Field Trip.

The New Riders were advertised for a show with John Lee Hooker in Vancouver on August 27, but that was superseded by Oregon. The New Riders would go on to play Vancouver in October. 

New Riders of The Purple Sage Status Report, September 1972
The New Riders of The Purple Sage had begun 1972 by touring without their most famous member, as Jerry Garcia had been replaced by Buddy Cage at the end of 1971. Their second album Powerglide had been released in April, however, and had done just about as well as their debut. The New Riders had toured the East Coast with some seriousness in the Spring, and had even joined the Grateful Dead in Europe.

Performances were somewhat intermittent in the Summer of 1972, due to a number of shows that were canceled when the Byrds were unavailable to headline. Nonetheless, Columbia was clearly behind the band, as the New Riders had begun recording their third album in the Summer. For the fall, the New Riders were going to tour the Northeast and elsewhere, building on their Grateful Dead association but trying to stand on their own two feet.


3 comments:

  1. When you reach 1978, hit me up. Great memories of 7/28/78 @ Nanuet Theater In The Round... just down the street Frank Wakefield was on the bill at The Red Rail and we headed straight there after. Empty when we walked in, it wasn't too long before Marmaduke and Nelson arrived, and not too long after that that we were passing joints back and forth w/ them up on the stage playing among other things, Panama Red. Memorable night at the RR, after which a buddy and I drove straight to the Berkshire Mountain Bluegrass Fest somewhere around Kingston (I think).

    https://frobbi.org/slides/berkshire1980/index.html

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  2. I was amused when I read "The Bowl was quite large, and also quite suburban." I guess... but I'd say it differently. The L.A. Urban Area includes a lot of undeveloped land, notably in the Santa Monica Mountains, which separate the main basin from the San Fernando Valley. The Bowl is in the Hollywood Hills, which is the east end of the Mountains. It has many homes close to it. But what you see from inside the Bowl are hills covered with chaparral, and the Hollywood Sign in the distance. So, in a way, it is both urban and rural!

    Per Wikipedia, the two people charged with finding a performance site, "selected a natural amphitheater, a shaded canyon and popular picnic spot known as 'Daisy Dell' in Bolton Canyon which was chosen for its natural acoustics and its proximity to downtown Hollywood." It was a bit of a problem to get to it for concerts because of traffic; in recent years, I've ridden a custom bus from a Federal building parking lot much further west in L.A. And now, I learn, it is about a mile "from the Hollywood/Highland Metro Rail station. It is adjacent to U.S. Route 101 [the Hollywood Freeway]."

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    Replies
    1. Anon, thanks for the eyewitness account. I do know that there were regular noise complaints from local residents at Hollywood Bowl, so it was "suburban" in that sense. It sounds like it was more rural than i realized.

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