The Dead were playing Barton Hall on the Cornell University campus. Some 8,000 had been sold. But even more fans showed up. Most of them hoping for a “miracle” of a free ticket to get them in the door.
But the man in charge of the ticket takers had something special in mind. After all the paid ticket holders had been admitted, the he told his people, “Absolutely under no circumstances do you take money from anybody. Absolutely none!”
Instead, he instructed the people minding the doors to have the waiting fans contribute something else to get in. They could sing. They could dance. They could do push ups. They could tell a joke. According to Peter Conners, author of a book entirely devoted to the Cornell ’77 concert, “one guy got in with a guitar pick. Another dude got in with a peanut butter sandwich wrapped in tin foil.”
It was a strategy that without a doubt helped set the tone for the evening. What Conners called one of the “small acts of kindness [that] can serve to elevate everyone in attendance.”
And Bill Kreutzmann would certainly agree. He has said that “there is some great power, be it God or whatever, that enters the Grateful Dead on certain nights. And it has to do with us being open and getting together with the audience. If we can do that, then it comes...and it spreads everywhere.”
. . . .
Source: Peter Conners, Cornell ’77: The Music, Myth and Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall