Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Grateful Dead at MIT, 5/6/70

Description: Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student, Jeffrey Miller, lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. On publication, the image was retouched to remove the fencepost above Vecchio's head.
Source: © 1970 Valley News-Dispatch
Date: 1970-05-04
Author: John Paul Filo, who was a journalism student at Kent State University at the time

40 years ago the Grateful Dead were booked to play a concert at MIT. Then tragedy struck at Kent State, four students protesting the US invasion of Cambodia were struck down by the soldiers of the Ohio National Guard. For more information read Wiki "Kent State Shootings".

Like most other colleges and universities across the country, the MIT students' response was to close down the school by a strike.

Because Kresgee was not available for the concert, and when the Dead saw hundreds of students milling about in the yard, they decided to "jam". A reel to reel tape recorder took the feed off the sound board, the impromptu concert was recorded.

Some years later, Eli Polonsky, now host of "60's/70's Lost and Found" on WMBR , Tuesdays noon-2pm discovered the tape in the WMBR vaults and contacted David Gans, host/producer of the Grateful Dead Hour. David subsequently restored, mastered and turned the recording into digital format.

The Grateful Dead at MIT, 5/6/70 will be broadcast tonight starting at 8pm PDT on the mother station, KPFA, Berkley. Check TGDH listings for other stations and times.


The basic information was correct, Eli supplies the details.

The Dead were scheduled to play a paid concert the next night (5-7-70) in MIT's DuPont Gym, which they did, but they were in the area the day before, saw the massive student strike in front of the student center, and decided to spontaneously set up on Kresge Plaza in front of the student center and play a free concert for the rally crowd. MIT radio station WTBS (now WMBR) was set up with a direct mono high-fidelity feed to record the strike rally on reel-to-reel, and ended up with a soundboard tape of this impromptu (but legendary) Dead concert. The digitzed version (by David Gans) of that original reel is what will be played tonight on KPFA. at 11 PM EDT for us east coasters.

- Eli Polonsky

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