Inside Stories

There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert

by Capitol Theatre co-founder Al Hayward

My first experience producing the Grateful Dead was memorable, even though I was producing Rod Stewart in Syracuse at the time. Just before Rod was to go on in Syracuse I received a call from John. He was very upset. It seems that he received a call from the Passaic police complaining that there were about 1000 kids camped out in front of the Capitol Theatre.

Dumbfounded, I asked John, “What are the kids doing? The Dead aren’t going to play until tomorrow night”. I learned afterward that the Deadheads followed the band throughout the country and it was normal for them to camp out the night before the show. What was happing at the Capitol was not unusual, but just as surprising to John and me as to the Passaic police.

I also remember a time when John and I produced the Dead at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ. They showed up with about 40 friends, wives, girlfriends, etc. The band requested dinner for about 45 people before they would go on. I sent one of my helpers to a diner in Jersey City near the Stadium.  He walked in and ordered dinner-to-go for 45 people. You can imagine the skepticism with which this stoned-out looking hippie-type was greeted—until he showed them my cash. We got 45 dinners-to-go in hurry!

Producing the Dead in concert is an experience I will never forget!!!