By David Gans

Part 2 of a January 2008 interview with Jerry Moore, one of the pioneers of Grateful Dead concert taping and a co-founder of Relix magazine, interviewed in New York City in January of 2008.

David Gans: Tell me a couple of good stories about smuggling your gear.

Jerry Moore: I used to do things like wrap it up, package it, address it to myself. I went with blatant in-plain-sight thing. People are looking for things that people are trying to hide. And so if you ever saw a [Sony TC-152 cassette recorder], it was about the size of like an Encyclopedia Britannica or a good-sized reference dictionary. They’re not exactly like concealable, so: misdirection. You try to send people to jam up the exit, jump up the aisles, and look nonchalant while they’re busy with other people. It usually worked out one way or another. 

There’s a funny moment in that one of my Miami tapes where an usher’s showing people to seats and he asks, “What’s that?” I said, “A tape recorder.” He said, “A tape recorder? You could do that?” I said, “Yeah.”

There’s another funny moment in my Barton Hall [5/8/77] tape. You can’t hear it on the tape but I remember it clearly. Somebody came along, obviously somewhat the worse for the chemicals, and said, “Wow, the Eiffel Tower. How did you get that in here?” My tripod!

There’s been some less than funny moments. I had a bad experience with Buffalo. There was a kid that wanted to suck the microphones.

David Gans: Were there venues that were particularly difficult? 

Jerry Moore: The Capitol in Passaic was very difficult. I usually didn’t bother. 

David Gans: Because the security guys were tighter?

Jerry Moore: Yeah. They actually were trying to do their jobs. So that’s the key to most of these places: people aren’t that concerned.

I’ll tell you a story that’s unrelated to Grateful Dead. I pretty much stopped recording things about 1979 or so. I just sort of tapered off. But all the way through the ’80s, I would record something here and there just to keep my hand in, or out of boredom or whatever.

I went to see Peter Gabriel at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium like 1983, 1984. His manager saw me, and she was terribly incensed. She was calling security, and she’s having me frogmarched out. She’s got a dozen like security people, and herself. She’s marching me all the way to the door, lecturing the whole way, and finally, about halfway – and Forest Hills is like there’s this stadium and some outlying gates and what not. So about halfway there, one security guard marched me out and she turns back and we were walking a little further and he says, “She’s something, ain’t she?” “Yeah. Real bitch.” He looks at me, I look at him, and he says, “Just don’t let her catch you again.”  

I didn’t start over again. I figured why push my luck. That’s the downside of being an authoritarian: you don’t necessarily get good cooperation, even from your own alleged side. 

David Gans: Is there a Grateful Dead show that got away, like a time you never managed to get your gear working, or…?

Jerry Moore: It wasn’t so much a matter of shows I tried to tape that got away, but more like shows I wish I had tried to tape and didn’t. Even if I had tried taping the first Roosevelt Stadium show, I didn’t have my act together yet anyway; it would have come out poorly. 

There was a show in Durham, North Carolina in December ’73 that I did tape, but only about an hour of it came out because my 110 was going. When I had it standing up one way, it was just not running properly. It was like grinding in a slow speed. If I stood it up to look at the battery meter, it worked fine. So I had it standing up that way for about an hour in four and a half hours. So about an hour in four in a half hours came out.

That was a great show. It’s got one of my favorite Grateful Dead moments too. There’s an “Uncle John’s Band” where it comes back out of the instrumental – God forgive me, I’m the worst singer, but you know the part [singing] “Oh, how does the song go.” Lesh’s voice cracked on that “go” and slid down like a couple of octaves like [singing]. He didn’t do it on purpose, but it sounded great. Duke, December 8, 1973.

Shea’s [Theater] Buffalo, January 20th [1979]: my buddy Michael booked that show. He was John Scher’s college booking agent. He got us some great seats, sixth row, dead center. He said, “Any trouble, ask for me. No problem.” I got in there and set up, 12-foot pole, sixth row center. Well before the show, didn’t cover really well. Some people came down. That place is like a landmark, pretty plush and historic, the whole nine yards. I got hauled away, and I talked my way all the way through like six to seven echelons, up to the corner plush office to the guy who runs the whole place. “Honest, it’s OK. Get my buddy Michael. He said it was OK.” So they got Michael. He said it was OK. And I went back down and set up. This was an hour after show time now. I got set back up and about 30 seconds later, they start playing. 

They were actually on stage when I got hauled away the first time. They must have had some technical difficulty. I didn’t miss a thing.

David Gans is one of the best-known media guys in the Grateful Dead world as well as an exceptional solo interpreter of GD music; he has played with Phil Lesh, written songs with Robert Hunter and Bob Weir, and played with many of the best-known jam band musicians around. He started as a journalist with Bay Area Music (“BAM”). In the early ‘80s he helped KFOG’s legendary “M. Dung” morning DJ with a Grateful Dead show, and he’s been helming the Grateful Dead Hour ever since. He’s also co-host, with Gary Lambert, of the Dead Head program “Tales from the Golden Road” on SiriusXM satellite radio. He’s the author of Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead, and (with Blair Jackson) This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, An Oral History of the Grateful Dead. He will perform at Skull and Roses.