Dead reckoning at Merriweather Post

Tony Sclafani, the author of The Grateful Dead FAQ, wrote this article for the Baltimore Sun in advance of this week’s Dead concert in Baltimore!

00333698Will Columbia be ready for another Deadhead invasion when four of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead come to town May 14 to play a sold-out show at Merriweather Post Pavilion?

Longtime Columbia residents are unlikely to forget when the Grateful Dead performed in town for three summers in a row back in the 1980s. Throngs of the band’s followers trucked into town clad in headbands and colorful tie-dye shirts and skirts. They then proceeded to camp out in Symphony Woods and bathe in the fountains at the Mall in Columbia.

To use a Deadhead expression, this “freaked out” a lot of locals. After one too many weird Deadhead sightings, disgruntled residents held meetings with local police, reporters wrote news stories, and opposing opinions flew back and forth in the pages of the Columbia Flier.

Talk of all this controversy still goes on in places like the Facebook page “You know you grew up in Columbia Md when…” where it’s rumored the Dead were eventually banned from Merriweather.

All of which begs the question — Is the band back because the ban was lifted?

No, because “there was never a ban,” says Jean Parker, Merriweather’s longtime general manager. “That is not accurate.”

Part of the reason the rumor has been kept alive all these years is because when people Google the topic, what comes up is a Los Angeles Times article from June 6, 1990, titled “Pavilion bans Grateful Dead.” But that article was factually incorrect, says Times’ historian, Ralph Drew, by email. “On Friday, June 8, 1990, the Los Angeles Times printed a correction,” he notes.

A Pavilion official first dispelled this rumor in a letter after being queried by Columbia resident John Sybert in 1994. “Merriweather has never banned any acts from performing at its venue and, to my knowledge, neither has the community,” wrote customer relations manager Julie M. Kershner.

The reason the band didn’t return to Merriweather after 1985 (save for a 1989 solo Garcia appearance) was because they had outgrown the venue.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

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About HLPAPG

Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on May 22, 2015, in Music Fans and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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