|Grateful Dead, Closing of Winterland: Press Release|
For the First Time in 25 Years KQED Public Television Will Broadcast "Grateful Dead -- Closing of Winterland"
80-Minute Program Commemorates Historic 1978 New Year's Eve Celebration at San Francisco's Legendary Venue
San Francisco, California, October 1, 2003 -- San Francisco's Winterland Auditorium was one of the fabled homes of rock and roll, on a par with the Cavern in Liverpool or the Apollo in Harlem, a place where music history was made. When the historic venue had to close its doors in 1978, legendary promoter Bill Graham threw a send-off worthy of the hall -- an all-night New Year's Eve concert with Winterland's "house band," the Grateful Dead.
The celebrated concert was broadcast live for a full eight hours on KQED Public Television. Now, in honor of its twenty-fifth anniversary, KQED will broadcast Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland, marking the first time that the remarkable footage has been seen since its original KQED broadcast.
KQED will broadcast a Bay Area sneak preview of Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland on October 25 at 9:00PM, prior to its national PBS release in December (check local listings). Mickey Hart and Dennis McNally, official publicist and biographer of the Dead, will be live in the KQED studio for the pledge breaks. A special near seven-hour DVD that includes extensive bonus footage and two documentary features will be released on November 11. Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland will have its official premiere in December, during KQED's pledge drive. The DVD will be offered as a thank you gift to those who become KQED members.
"We're thrilled to be presenting a program that has so much meaning to Northern Californians -- and fans across the country," said John Boland, KQED executive vice-president and chief content officer. "Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland is sure to bring our audience vibrant memories of a pivotal moment in Bay Area music history, whether they were at Winterland or watched the celebration on KQED 25 years ago."
Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland begins with the famed midnight moment in which the Grateful Dead took the stage and counted down to the new year, while Bill Graham, assuming the role of Father Time, flew the length of the hall on a "12-foot long burning ember of marijuana."
Featured audience favorites include "Sugar Magnolia," "Scarlet Begonia," "St. Stephen," and much more. The archival footage is accompanied by recent interviews about the concert with Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart and Bob Weir, as well as the Dead's long-time roadie, Steve Parish.
The History of Winterland
Bill Graham, the ingenious rock promoter, used Winterland as his "big event" room from the beginning of his career, presenting the Butterfield Blues Band and most of the San Francisco bands together there when demand outstripped the modest capacity of the Fillmore Auditorium. In 1972, he convinced the Rolling Stones, eager to atone for Altamont, to step up in class and play Winterland, and in 1976 it was where The Band would throw its "Last Waltz" and retire.
At first, the Grateful Dead weren't big enough to headline Winterland, but as the '70s passed and their popularity increased, they became the house band. When it became clear that Winterland's days were numbered -- the ceiling was starting to crumble -- Graham knew that the send-off would have to be worthy of the hall; that meant New Year's Eve with the Grateful Dead.
Graham swore shortly before the final show, on December 31, 1978, that he could have sold 500,000 tickets if he'd had the seats. He was probably right. And so, in a generous bow to all the fans who couldn't get in, he arranged for KQED Public Television to broadcast the event, with KSAN FM sending out the sound.
Until now, that was the one and only broadcast of this historic performance, and KQED's October 25th preview of Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland will bring this mythical venue's last hurrah to fans across Northern California -- again.
Grateful Dead, the Closing of Winterland is produced by Zamacona Productions in association with Grateful Dead Productions. Frank Zamacona is the executive producer.
KQED Public Broadcasting operates KQED Public Television 9, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations during prime-time, and KQED's digital television channels, which include KQED HD, KQED Encore, KQED World, KQED Life and KQED Kids; KQED Public Radio, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento); KQED.org, one of the most visited station sites in Public Broadcasting; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources.