Dillon Gym, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Let’s continue on our college tour with the Dillon Gym, located on the campus of Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.  The gym is named after its principal donor Herbert Dillon, a former football captain.  It was opened on June 14, 1947, replacing the old gym that was destroyed by fire in 1944.  The Grateful Dead played here 40 years ago on April 17, 1971.  The show was part of a “free” weekend for students on the campus, although the show itself was not free, due to what the University said at the time were quote “prevailing financial circumstances”.  Hmmm.    According to ads placed in the Daily Princetonian, the campus newspaper that still exists today, it was quite the event on campus.  One ad begins with “America has produced two great rock bands.  This is one of them” and at the bottom warns it is “THE Concert.  Don’t say you weren’t there.”  As the concert drew closer and things became more desperate, an amusing ad popped up in the March 1 issue stating that, “McCarter Theater and the Grateful Dead announce A Reprieve:  We have EXTENDED the sale of Grateful Dead tickets to Princeton students for one more week…”  before the tickets went on sale to the general public.  They added, “…and Après le deluge, Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”  (All of this is online, go to http://theprince.princeton.edu to check it out.)  The Dead were originally supposed to play at the McCarter Theater (hence the theater mention in the ad), the main campus performance space, but the theater proved to be to be too small a space for all of the Deadheads!  The first picture here is of the main entrance of the gym, a traditional example of the collegiate gothic style.  The second picture is a side view of the gym (in the last winter storm!), the secondary  entrance encased in  a beautiful gothic arch and tower.  The Grateful Dead made only one appearance here at Princeton, although Bob Weir did make an appearance with his band Kingfish on March 30, 1976.  Alas, it was not THE concert in 1971.  Were you there?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. grosvenorsquare
    May 24, 2011 @ 02:41:55

    I would like to note that the Deadhead’s Taping Compendium, Volume 1, contains an excellent entry about this show by Nick Meriwether. It contains not only a review of the recording, but a detailed account of the performance. The interviews of those that were there is especially interesting. Thank you Mr. Meriwether for suggesting this article!


  2. Shaun
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 04:24:19

    Great research! The recording is really crisp. Especially for a gym!


  3. grosvenorsquare
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 19:15:09

    Thanks Shaun! I really enjoy doing it and visiting the venues. You know us nerdy library folks, always into doing the research! Didn’t have to go to far for this one, eh? The recording is really great for a gym and the band was really on that night, especially Pig and his “Lovelight” rap. Wonder who Barbara was? I think of that everytime I pass by it on my way to the garage. And the story that Jerry was smoking a joint out back and the PU cops told him to put it out, to which he replied that he was never playing this fuckin’ place again! A man true to his word… : }


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