Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Interview With Dennis McNally, About New Europe 72 Box Set

 This is a short interview I did through an e-mail conversation with Dennis McNally, longtime publicist and historian for the Grateful Dead, some info from his view about the highly anticipated release of the Europe 72 Box Set, which is easily the Group's biggest undertaking, containing 22 full shows performed on the Europe 72 Tour, in a format of 73 HDCD CDs, with the first 7,200 versions in a fancy trunk with extras and personalization's and the rest after that are music only, the 73 CDs in Digipak packaging. Also, there is being released a Europe 72 -Part 2, which contains songs not on the original Album.

1. Dennis,your book about the Grateful Dead is the one I go to when I want to find something out, it's like the
textbook of The Grateful Dead, you were there, as publicist alot and also as Historian, moreover, you were there, from the beginning. How excited are you about this release of the Whole Europe 72 Tour, Twenty Two Shows, Seventy Three CDs?

It's unquestionably, overall, the best tour in the band's history.  And of course it was recorded in 16 track, so now what you're going to hear is the best possible version... so yes, I'm excited/impressed/very pleased that Rhino pulled the trigger on this.

2. This original 3 record set of "Europe 72" turned myself and many others on to the Grateful Dead. Back Then, Did the Organization think that this recording which they had put so much into would turn out to be as big and influential as it  was?

  By the time of Europe '72, the band had already put out six albums.  Though Workingman's Dead and American Beauty had done well, their overall experience with the record business had been mostly a little disappointing, even though they recognized that Warner Bros. had actually treated them pretty well.  So, no, I doubt very much that they had any wild expectations of the results of Europe '72.

3. Just to keep this short, any special memory of the tour, that you would like to share?

 I'm lazy - I'm going to give you the story as I wrote it in the book....

"It was during their second and last night in Paris that the most hilarious adventure of the tour began.  A young Frenchman approached the band at the theater and began arguing about their lack of political consciousness.  To Kreutzmann, it seemed "obvious he wanted free tickets."  They put him off, and he moved his harangue to Cutler and Rex Jackson, getting no satisfaction.  When everyone returned to the hotel, he took up a position in front, bracing every member of the tour party as they came in or out. He was wearing a velvet jacket, which caught their eye, and when they eventually concluded he'd become a bore, Rex dumped ice cream on the jacket he was so proud of, and the Dead all had a good laugh and went to bed.  While they slept, Monsieur la Politiquehad his revenge, introducing a foreign substance into the equipment truck's gas tank.
         The next day they were scheduled to play Lille, a very political college town.  The buses and one truck arrived, their equipment truck did not.  No amps,no show.  The promoter was not able to offer instant refunds -- according to some memories, he was unable to offer refunds at all.  Sensing trouble,the streetwise Garcia decided that honor did not require going to the hall, and along with Kreutzmann, elected to stay at the hotel.  "You guys are nuts" was his analysis.  Phil and Bobby went out on the stage and talked to the audience, but "Pasde musique" was about the best they could muster, even after Weir's five years of high school French. "It quickly became my job to explain to a crowd of irate Frenchmen just exactly this -- no show tonight, sorry about that.  I got three or four sentences off before the crowd became very surly."
         Ushered offstage into the dressing room, Lesh, Weir, Rosie, and a few others suddenly realized they were in deep shit. The audience was furious, convinced of American perfidy, and though no one was thinking in terms of death, Weir thought "they woulda thumped us good and proper."   The door to the dressing room had a window, and they covered it with newspapers and considered their options.  Other than being thumped, there was only one: climb down the drainpipe to the top of the truck, jump down on the hood,then to the ground, and run run run for the bus, which was waiting with the engine idling.  The furious Frenchmen began to pound on the door, and as the hinges started to creak, Dead family members began going out the window.  A gentleman to the end, Weir's main worry, as he thought about it later, was getting the interpreter, Rosie McGee, and photographer,Mary Ann Mayer, down the drainpipe. That accomplished, he turned to the promoter, promised they'd make up the show, dropped a rose on the sill, and scooted down the pipe like the part monkey he was.  He was on the roof of the truck when he heard the door give way, and he hit the ground running for "what physicists called the absolute elsewhere, in a big hurry."  A couple of hours later, after wrapping themselves around some good Bordeaux, it was all pretty funny, but it had been a near thing." 

From Dennis McNally's Book "A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of The Grateful Dead"
(available on Amazon and where fine books are sold"

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