Dave Getz is the drummer for one of the most important bands of the Sixties’ San Francisco music scene, Big Brother and the Holding Company. Their album, Cheap Thrills, recorded with Janis Joplin, stands as one of the finest examples of psychedelic rock, and still sounds fresh today. Sony / Legacy has just issued Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968, a vintage recording of the classic lineup, just a couple of months before their breakup. The disc features ferocious performances, and is testament that Big Brother was a lot more than simply Joplin’s backup band. In addition, Dave’s other group, the Dave Getz Breakaway, have a new album out featuring an unreleased song that Getz co-wrote with Janis.
David Lemieux is the official audio and video tape archivist for the Grateful Dead. He’s overseen countless live CD and DVD releases since 1999, when he took over the position after the passing of Dick Latvala, the original Dead archivist. He also hosts a daily segment called Today in Grateful Dead History on Siruius/XM radio. Lemieux chats with Icon Fetch about the band’s most ambitious project yet, Europe ’72 – The Complete Recordings, a SEVENTY TWO disc box set chronicling what many believe to be the Grateful Dead’s finest tour. He also talks about how he came to be in charge of these most-hallowed recordings, and how much is really left unheard in the vaults.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – My Life With the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Other Wonderful Reprobates – Sam Cutler (ECW Press) book review
The Altamont free concert debacle in 1969 was a huge black eye on the history of rock n’ roll. It single-handedly put an end to the peace and love movement, and its mere mention conjures images of death and destruction. But, so much of what surrounds that fateful day is mythologized. What really happened? And, who was responsible?
Sam Cutler was the road manager of the Rolling Stones during that time and was directly involved in all aspects of the concert. In You Can’t Always Get What You Want, someone who was really involved with things gets to tell his story. He sheds light on how the Stones felt pressure to give something back to the fans in the form of a free show, yet how little care went into the organizing of said event.
Cutler claims to have been against the idea in the first place, but, because of the misguided hierarchy within the Stones’ management, he was left powerless. He was one of the few people of any authority who stayed around for the entire concert, even after several people had died and violence was everywhere in the form of wannabe Hell’s Angels (he is featured in the movie Gimme Shelter, doing stage announcements between songs).
He was also the only member of the Rolling Stones camp to stay behind in the US to help straighten out the mess. Some of Cutler’s claims are valid: the people who suggested the concert had never planned such an event before, and the Rolling Stones were largely disinterested in the planning process. Other times, when he suggests that the FBI were purposely spreading bad LSD to concert-goers, he borders on paranoia.
Despite being fired by the Stones, Cutler quickly took up the same responsibilities within the Grateful Dead. Much of the second half of the book chronicles how Cutler helped the famed San Francisco band get out of debt, and become one of the biggest touring act of the seventies. He’s also got some warm recollections of Janis Joplin, who lived just down the street from him for awhile. During much of the book, the author is in a constant state of drug-induced euphoria, it’s downright amazing he can remember anything at all. Upon finishing the book, you realize that Cutler is a pretty smart guy. After all, he was involved with one of the great tragedies in all of rock, yet managed to bounce back quite nicely. A great read for any fan of sixties rock.
Sam Cutler is a rather interesting guy. I talked to him from his home in Australia (isn’t Skype a wonderful invention?). Sam has a new book out called “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” where he chronicles his time as tour manager for two of the greatest rock bands of all time, the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead.
His tenure as road manager for the Stones was brief; he handled one tour of America in 1969, which went well until the Altamont free concert, which turned incredibly ugly, resulting in several deaths.
The thing is, history has it wrong, according to Sam: everything written about Altamont usually involves Hell’s Angels, the Stones and a racially-motivated murder. Cutler explains his side of the story (he was actually there at the concert) and points the blame at some rather unusual suspects, including some young, Hell’s Angels Wannabees, and the FBI.
He also talks about the similarities and differences between the Stones and the Grateful Dead. Sam also had a chance, while living in San Francisco, to become good friends with Janis Joplin. He talks candidly about what kind of person she really was. Of course, touring with the Stones and the Dead, there’s plenty of the rock n’ roll lifestyle; stories of partying, drugs and women. Surprisingly, hallucinogens haven’t seemed to affect his memory one bit; he remembers these occurrences like they were yesterday.
Sam Cutler was the tour manager for the Rolling Stones during their 1969 tour that ended in the Altamont concert tragedy. He later became the road manager for the Grateful Dead, helping them get out of debt and on their way to being one of the top-grossing bands in the world. Sam is the author of a new book called “You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life With the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates.” Icon Fetch talks with Cutler from his home in Australia, where he gives some of his thoughts on what went wrong during the Altamont free concert, and shares memories of the Dead and Janis Joplin. You can download an App for your I-phone and hear Sam read the book by clicking here. Click below for the Sam Cutler interview.