Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Wall Gone

wall speakers bonhams

These are from the Wall, and that top one doesn’t look up for the show; they sold for $12 grand a few years ago, and they’re some of the very few (confirmed) pieces of the Dead’s legendary sound system that still exist. They were part of Garcia’s stack, and Rock Scully kept them for years in his garage until he needed the money.

The resting place of the Wall (no one knows) is among the many things you’ll learn in this excellent article by Brian Anderson. If you’ll note the publication date you’ll see why I missed it when it came out; don’t miss it this time around. (Of course, it is Vice, so there needs to be an unnecessary addendum about LCD Soundsystem and Despacio at the end.)

Also: there is one point in the article which perhaps the more learned Enthusiasts can weigh in on:

t took a full day to build the Wall at that peak, including its custom staging, scaffolding, and lighting rig. The system itself, which changed month to month, according to Turner, was transported in a 40-foot semi truck. There were two identical sets of scaffolding, each carted in a 18-wheeler flatbed semi. (Bear claimed there were actually three sets of scaffolding.) The stage lights were hauled in a 24-foot van. Two road crews were assembled to keep the band on schedule while touring, leapfrogging the spectacle from show to show. When Crew A arrived with the Wall in a given city, Crew B would have already assembled one of the two scaffolds. This allowed enough time for all hands to then get everything up and running by showtime.

This contradicts claims that the Dead amassed a second, identical Wall of Sound, although the upkeep wasn’t any less grueling. The system, staging, scaffolding, and lighting weighed a combined 75 tons at its peak. It all proved too unwieldy, finicky, and plain expensive for the Dead to support for more than a couple years. The band only brought out versions of the Wall on stateside tours between roughly 1972 and 1974.

Were there, indeed, not two Walls as the tales have always been told? Were there just two sets of scaffolding? I no longer know what to believe any more.

4 Comments

  1. What I’m getting from this is 2 Walles and 3 sets of scaffolding. That gives me an idea. If only I knew of a writer who anthopamorphized the wall.

  2. Well July August 1973 guitar player says this about the earliest incarnation of the wall, ram rod Dan Healy and sparky Racine head the actual equipment crew. It takes them and maybe 8 other people,about 4 hours to set it up. A lot of the original designing was done by bear, and there’s a consulting committee made up of Ron wicker sham, Bob Mathews, John cutler, Peter quaintence, bear and me (Rick turner) .
    I believe there was but one set of speakers but the scaffolding was set up ahead of time.
    Each of the four singers has a pair of sennheiser microphones ( not sony) hooked up out of phase.

    • Very cool, thanks for sharing!

      I’d love to hear more stories!

    • Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

      June 3, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Scaffolding takes a long time to set up. Once it is up, you can quickly and precisely stack up the speakers.

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