I am sick of hearing promoter Bill Graham and the Grateful Dead organization (and The Times) whine about the group’s precarious concert future because of the actions of some of its fans. Where does their responsibility lie?
In 1989 the Grateful Dead grossed nearly $30 million in concert ticket sales alone!
Having been to many shows, I know, as the promoters do, what impact 20,000-plus Deadheads can have on the environment and communities. Why aren’t they better prepared?
May I suggest that they provide portable toilets, garbage bags, trash cans and dumpsters; have more help available to assist in parking and the overflow crowding; employ the concert-goers to help clean up, separate and recycle the cans and bottles (maybe for an incentive of free concert tickets); have some tickets on sale at the concert site; stand up and be responsible for promoting the shows and stop scapegoating.
JOHN I. SCURICH, Laguna Niguel
At The Times’ request , Graham has responded to Scurich’s letter:
1. Cleanup: Portable toilets, garbage bags and dumpsters are provided at all events. No other group responds to the ecological needs at a concert as the Grateful Dead fans do. All of the fans, and I do mean all, participate in cleanup--voluntarily. To quote the Telluride, Colo., mayor, after 10,000 Grateful Dead fans were there for a weekend, “They left this town cleaner than the way they found it.”
2. Parking: On occasion we must count on facility personnel to be responsible for the bulk of parking. Until such time as experience prevails, there will be occasions at newly found facilities when there will be some confusion and delays.
3. Crowding: Never as producers would we sell tickets beyond the number allocated to us by the facility operators. On occasion, some people wish more room for dancing or, in the case of outdoor venues, will bring blankets and spread out. If there are a few dozen of these, you can imagine what happens to the available space.
4. Trash separation: Already being done, by the concert-goers.
5. On selling tickets at the site: Once a show is sold out, we inform people through the media and say not to come. If we were to offer tickets at the site, we would be unable to control the number of people who would come. This is the single most difficult aspect of control at the concerts. It is the non-ticket-holding fan who creates the most problems by hanging around. Often these individuals hold parties nearby. They play music loudly, leave refuse, urinate and defecate and generally create a situation that brings the neighborhood down on the Grateful Dead organization.
I appreciate the reader’s concern, and should he wish more insight, I wouldn’t mind him joining me for a day during the preparation for a Grateful Dead event.
BILL GRAHAM, Bill Graham Presents, San Francisco