Winterland incident

This is a 'hidden' track at the end of the compilation CD "New Year's Eve at Winterland," issued as a bonus with early orders for the The Closing Of Winterland DVD. At the end of the final track, there is a few seconds' silence, then the following over the PA:

[Donna] Thank you
[Bill Graham (offstage)] Walk right off the stage, please
[Bob Weir] We gotta get out of here, on account of we're having problems up above
[Bill Graham (offstage)] Walk off the stage.

[Bill Graham (at microphone)] Just hold it for a second, please. Just one second, please. If you could just try to find your way back the way you came up there. Please. [inaudible call from the crowd] Why don't you shut your little hole for a second, boy? OK? Just for one moment, try that. Why don't you just wait, why don't you just take your time up there, you know? Some people'll wait for you. Just take your time. If you love the guy, just let him feel you love him, OK? Just take it easy. You wanna try to find the way you came up there. You wanna try to find the same way out. If there's anybody out there that's in a hurry, do us a favor, go home. None of the other people here are in a hurry. OK? Good. When the situation is like this, you gotta work at his pace. You understand that? Can we put a spotlight on the top of this rope? Please. Is there a schmuck ... [cut]

[Bob Weir] Next week we're gonna have a trained seal act.
Bill Graham explains this incident in an interview on the DVD. It refers to an earlier New Year's Eve show, in 1972:
"We had had an incident here a few New Year's Eve's ago. The Grateful Dead were playing about three in the morning. And all of a sudden, on that ramp up there [points], there was a guy standing up there, nobody knew how he got there, and he's just standing there and just wiggling away, just boogying along. Right above Bob Weir's head. And I kept on saying "pssst," I kept on telling the group, three o'clock in the morning and nobody felt any pain, and they looked up and just continued to play. I said "come on off the stage." Well, only the Grateful Dead would continue with the song for about three minutes. Then Weir said "we'll be right back." Then I come up to the mike and try to cajole the guy down. I try to explain to him that until he comes down, there was no show. We sent a guy up there with a rope, scurrying along. We dropped the rope down, he came down, he went off the stage, the Dead came back on about twenty minutes later and said "now, where were we?" and then went into Sugar Magnolia - I think that's my favorite moment, 'cause I was scared shitless at the time."
Bob Weir and Steve Parish also discuss this incident in an interview on the DVD:
[Parrish] One time, for instance, the band's playing away on New Year's Eve. Bill's right there with us. And we start noticing chips of the ceiling falling down.
[Weir] And I was looking up, getting all kinds of grit in my eyes.
[Parrish] And there's a guy who's squeezed himself down through some vent in the roof of this old building. And he came down on this ancient, ancient wire that held up this old grid system of lights.
[Weir] You know, he was just enjoying the show from a bird's eye view.
[Parrish] The band starts looking at all of us, back there. We're looking up like this, you know. Jerry turns around, he's playing, he goes "What?! Oh man!"
[Weir] Somebody from security says we gotta stop the show, you know. We're smoking away.
[Parrish] And we were live on New Year's Eve that night. It was going out live on KPFA, OK? We had to stop the band and move them off. This guy's hanging on this thing, swinging by this thinnest wire that seemed almost to be breaking as he stood there.
[Weir] And so Bill Graham took command of the situation.
[Parrish] There was just dead quiet, and Bill starts talking to the guy.
[Weir] "Come on down, son" You know, in his most dramatic flair. And he's busy trying to talk this kid down. The crowd is quiet, breathless. And somebody says "Jump!" And he says "Shut your hole, putz!" There are a million memories ...
Evan Hunt sent me a personal account (reproduced here with his permission)
I was 20 feet from stage during the space jam part of the Other One and my eyes started to wander about ... above the stage and lights. I noticed a guy standing on one of the lighting rafters. I watched for a bit--not thinking it was anything more than a technician working.

After a while, I saw he was not moving or doing anything but standing perfectly still and I motioned to my girlfriend to look. We kept watching and pointing it out to other friends around us.

Then the music stopped and Bill Graham came out on stage and started talking the guy down. But the guy was stuck, and so they got a rope to him. Graham asked him why he was there, and the guy said, "I didn't have the money for a ticket!" With the entire hall in a churchlike hush someone in the audience very definitely shouted "jump!" And Graham definitely replied, "Shut your hole!"

Graham personally held the rope for this guy while he shimmied down. And Bill was concentrating on him so intently I swear that had the guy slipped off the rope Graham would have caught him from the air.

It was a pretty mediocre show marred by the bone-crushing spreading of the crowd at countdown time so Graham could get his henchmen to drag his "Father Time" sled down through the direct middle of an ear-to-ear sweating mass. A feat which injured many, many concertgoers. I complained vehemently to Graham himself on the phone on the next business day. He apologized and promised he'd never part the crowd down the middle of the floor like that again.

He never had another NYE at Winterland until 1977, and they lowered His Harleyed Self onto stage on wires for that one. Friends in the BGP told me there were so many injuries that night (1972) that the fire marshal almost closed him down.


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