The Grateful Dead have disbanded, WBCY has gone silent and the Charlotte Coliseum has been downpurposed and thrice renamed. But this pinback button from the Dead’s 1979 concert has survived unscathed. And so has this flyer from the band’s 1991 performance at the second Charlotte Coliseum.
Between 1971 and 1995 the Grateful Dead played 27 shows in North Carolina — that’s Charlotte (12), Greensboro (7), Durham (5), Chapel Hill (2), Raleigh (1).
This concert flyer isn’t fancy, but it’s packed with useful Charlotte-specific info for itinerant Deadheads, including North Carolina’s ban on nitrous oxide.
On this day in 1974: Having set off an Elvis-level ticket-buying frenzy, Bob Dylan makes his first visit to Charlotte at a time when Watergate is threatening the Nixon presidency.
Reports the Observer’s Polly Paddock from the original Charlotte Coliseum: “The high point of the night had to come with ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).’ When he reached the prophetic line, ‘Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked,’ Dylan’s fans went wild.”
On July 11 a sellout crowd of teens and preteens at the Charlotte Coliseum, primed for the latest pop phenoms, booed the little-known opening act off the stage. (A year later the Jimi Hendrix Experience was back, this time of course as headliner.)
“The Monkees wanted respect,” the New York Times observed later, “and Hendrix wanted publicity.”
Between 1971 at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium and 1995 at the Charlotte Coliseum, the Grateful Dead by one count played 27 shows in North Carolina. For at least 19 of these shows, peel-and-stick backstage passes (not to be confused with the laminated security passes issued to band members and crew) were distributed among friends, fans and camp followers.
Like so much Dead memorabilia these strikingly designed passes drew from an iconography developed over the decades. Here’s a long strange slideshow from a sampling of their North Carolina performances.
In Charlotte she helped hasten demolition of the classic but run-down Southern Railway passenger station, remarking that it was “a helluva station…. What happened to it?”
Four years later, however, a badly diminished Garland bombed at a Democratic Party benefit at the Charlotte Coliseum. “Can you people hear?” she asked the skimpy crowd of 4,000. “Trouble is, I can hear, too, and it isn’t too good.”