Where the Grateful Dead Played in Brooklyn


Forgotten NY had a fun post this weekend about the 46th Street Rock Palace in Bensonhurst, a one-time destination spot of touring bands. What particularly caught our attention, as one of those people who cares perhaps a little too much about this kind of thing, was mention of a string of dates back in late 1970 when, just months before their legendary run at the Fillmore East in April of ’71, the Grateful Dead took the stage to a less-than-capacity crowd. (According to this blog, Hot Tuna was also on the bill.) Here’s a first-person account that FNY dug up:

This was possibly one of the weirdest shows I ever saw (but enjoyable nevertheless). It took place on a Weds about 2:30 [PM] ..the theater was basically deserted. We sat in the third row…we were literally half of the audience until a few songs in when a whole group of senior citizens (at least 20) filed in and sat a few rows behind us (not your usual dead crowd!). The 10+ of us noticed them, but didn’t know what to make of their presence, so we just carried on as usual (if you know what I mean). Bur for years I wondered what drew them to see the Dead? A few years ago, still wondering, I told this story to a Deadhead who grew up in Brooklyn and he knew the answer. They were from a local senior citizen home and they were on an outing. They had no idea what they were walking into, but the theater had a package deal with the home to get them out and about, and that must have been one of the days they were scheduled to go to that theater to see a movie. They didn’t come to see the Dead, (but I wonder what they made of them). By the way, the show was pretty good. It must have been because the old folks stayed for the whole thing (or else, weird as it must have been to them, it was better than going back to the home).

For anyone who’s curious, you can listen to one of the shows here but be warned that the sound quality is pretty poor. Cinema Treasures also has a profile of the building here.

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