Honky Chateau: Grateful Dead – Europe ’71

While the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 tour gets all the notoriety, it wasn’t the band’s first trip across the Atlantic. One year earlier, the Dead headed over to France to play a big, free festival. Once the group made it to France they found out that the festival was canceled due to massive flooding. Since the boys had all their equipment but no show to play, they decided to perform for free behind the chateau where they were staying.

Grateful Dead – Sing Me Back Home (Live – 6/21/71)

Dead historian Blair Jackson spoke to Jerry Garcia about “Europe ’71″…

The group’s most exotic gig in 1971 was a one-shot in France. “We went over there to do a big festival, a free festival they were gonna have,” Garcia said. “We went over [at the promoter’s expense], but the festival was rained out; it flooded. We stayed at this little chateau [Chateau d’Herouville] which is owned by a film score composer who has a 16-track recording studio built into the chateau, and this is a chateau that Chopin once lived in; really old, just delightful, out in the country near the town of Auvers, which is where Vincent Van Gogh is buried. …

“We were there with nothing to do: France, a 16-track recording studio upstairs, all our gear, ready to play, and nothing to do. So, we decided to play at the chateau itself, out in the back, in the grass, with a swimming pool, just play into the hills. We didn’t even play to hippies, we played to a handful of townspeople in Auvers. … We played and the people came — the chief of police, the fire department, just everybody. It was an event and everybody just had a hell of a time — got drunk, fell in the pool. It was great.”

Most of the Dead’s set that evening was filmed by the ORTF (French Radio and Television Broadcasting) and aired later that year. Some of the footage was broadcast in color while some was broadcast in black and white for reasons unknown. Recently, a copy of the ORTF broadcasts were compiled along with soundboard audio to make a DVD that you can download through The Trader’s Den or Lossless Legs (registration is required at both sites).

You can also watch clips from the DVD of Sing Me Back Home and Hard to Handle on YouTube. For those who want to throw the MP4 files onto their iPhones or iPods, here’s a link courtesy of our pal Hadley. Thanks to Wilson and Swbond for pointing us in the direction of this f’awesome footage.

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3 Responses

  1. This video is real interesting, I ran across one of the guys who filmed it recently. For some reason, half of it is in color and the other in black and white, and there is an interview with Garcia in which he answers all the obligatory questions about Haight-Ashbury. BTW, you might get it sooner than later, since the footage in fact belongs to INA, the French broadcast authority. I don’t think GD trader sites are on their piracy radar, but just in case…

  2. A CD (unofficial it seems but is in a legit record store here in Paris) was just released this summer, digipack format, has 7 or 8 songs listed, it’s up on Amazon.co.uk (search: Grateful Dead Honky Chateau)

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