Dick Speaks!

On Thursday night, October 10th, at 7PM Pacific time, Dick Latvala came by the office for a live interview. He'd had a rough day, as his car had just been stolen, but he still managed to make the event. My friend, Julie Moore (a very fast typist) volunteered to come over and type while Dick talked. This was no small feat, as Dick's verbal output was quite prodigious. I have done my best to edit the proceedings into some kind of intelligibility, and there may be a few errors here and there. Afterwards, Dick bravely waded into the Rose Garden chat room, and typed for himself and tried to keep track of what the other 40 people were saying!

Copyright 1996 America Online, Inc. and the GD Forum

Dick Latvala : My car was stolen today.

Geoff Gould : here we go!

Welcome to tonight's special AOL Live event. My name is Geoff Gould, and I am the AOL GD Forum coordinator. Tonight we have the event all the tape-heads have been waiting for. Dick Latvala, of Dick's Picks fame, is here with us tonight to talk about that special sickness only tapers understand, and the tapes themselves.

Dick's Picks 6 has just been released from Grateful Dead Merchandising, which is a 3-CD complete-show look at the 10/14/83 Hartford Civic Center show.

Welcome Dick

DL: I am happy to be here and available to everyone.

GG : Tonight we hope to focus on just tape-related issues,and the audience has some real good questions; ready, right people?

So, let's start with a real obvious question first, why 10/14/83 for DP6?

DL : Ok, 10/14/83 was chosen for many reasons. #1 was the effect all the people out there that wanted current stuff from the Brent-era and that era had not been represented yet in the Fall-release era; we wanted to try top spread it around. That was a great period...I can't explain all the reasons why - we had a great mix that year and an all-around great experience.

GG : First '80's release, right

DL : So far, yea. I resisted getting into the 80's; public pressure has had it's effect on me...more to come, no doubt. Every year will be represented, no doubt. A final thought - me, Jeffrey Norman and John Cutler agreed on this - this was the best.

Question : Dick, what percentage(approx) of shows in the vault are "out there" in trading circles?

DL : Out of all the shows in history - I would guess , maybe 60%..You're taking into account all shows...Only before '74, we have problems finding all the shows.

GG : On a more selfish note, do you know if a good tape of the 10/72 Winterland show exists?

DL : Oh, the Roadie benefit - yes , it exists....

GG : great bass solo

Question : what criteria goes into the final selections?

DL : Fundamentally, everything that I have taken...listening to everything I'm told, feedback from the Internet, also hard copy is sent back - dates of material released - I listen to everything - I try to make the best decision...

GG : who makes the decision?

DL : I make the decision to present the music to John and Jeffrey...Their technical aspects make it what it is...I can't know if a recording is stereo or mono. They make the decisions on technical competence. We try to come up with something that is technically ok, but the information is a winner to me.

GG : Is Phil involved in these decisions, or only on the "Vault" series?

DL : Phil is only involved in the Vault series.

Question : Dick,are you doing any mastering work on the tapes that you release to improve the sound quality, or are you releasing them as they are off the existing tapes?

DL : If you say "mastering" the tapes, the tapes I deal with are two-track process. Everything has changed - we can make the sound as good as possible. We are trying to replicate the show, itself...minus the dancing girls.

GG : When was your 1st GD Concert, and when did you become a taper?

DL : My first concert was January 24, 1966. I didn't discover that live tapes existed until 1974.

Question : Dick, What are some of your all time favorite Dead tunes?

DL : Well, obviously, there are 2 tunes - "That's it for the Other One" and "Dark Star". Playing in the band is the ultimate anthem for the Dead. You'll always hear this in the best concerts. [I also like] Scarlet/Fire, China Cat/Rider. Every song has some value...I have cried over "Ship of Fools". Every song has value. I'm for all the tunes - I never wanted to hear anything specific. All I wanted was for them to play it well.

Question : I worked with NRPS in 70's and I recall Kid Taping all the gigs... any NRPS tapes in the Vault

DL : Yes, there are - the NRPS were playing with them in 1970 & 1971 and Kid wasn't taping then. There are tapes of the NRPS opening in the early 1970's. They didn't play every show and there were a lot of shows missing.

Question : was wondering if there will be a release featuring Vince, CD or Video anytime soon

DL : I think that's a very good possibility. You could possibly begin and end your quit smoking diet before it comes out...

Question : Dick, can we eventually hope to get a show from the final summer tour? The Pittsburgh show was a great show, as Garcia was seemingly very emotional ...

DL : I'm very skeptical based upon my experiences. It appears that the last year of their playing - not much was of my standards for high achievement. I would say, though, that there was great playing in Sept/ 94 - and not quite up to my standards.

Question : Hello Dick, Will all future selections be complete shows?

DL : It's a nice idea, isn't it? We shall see - different circumstances create a different show - there are no rules in our business. We certainly aren't committed to releasing only complete shows. You will not get a "best of the Dead," only the best of the shows at a specific venue.

Question : Did you have any input on "Dozin' at the Knick"?

DL : Yes. It was John C's project - they have a difficult time seeing the light - sorry, Phil, sorry, John. I went through their notes on each show and I believe that the Albany, 1990 show was the best run. I picked the best tunes, myself - from reading their reviews and used the acceptable tunes. It only took a couple of hours.

Sorry about Loser. I agree - it should have been there - but we didn't get it.

Question : I'd like to know whether there are any other Warlocks tapes apart from 11/3/65

DL : No. Sorry, I can't elaborate - there isn't much from the old days. There may be a couple of shows from 1966 that could be used someday - it's hard to find good material from that day.

Question : What about releases with other artists,Janis, Duane, Allmans, Carlos etc?

DL : I think that's a great question - i would like to see certain shows out like that. We will get to some of them - but so far, it's only on the beginning stages - just Grateful Dead material; plus problems in releasing the material from other artists. The Branford show at Nassau was too difficult to get releases for all the music - sometimes it just happens -some of the guests artists would frankly never be used.

GG : sometimes it's politics getting in the way I guess

DL : Yes, indeed. Not sometimes, a WHOLE lot.

Question : How serious are you taking our votes for future releases? Will we ever see results for the poll?

DL : Yes. I take it very seriously - and type in all the material that I get. I read the Internet surveys. Mostly I pay attention to those who have listened for many years - they help me research. The surveys do not determine what will come out they just give me more feedback. I can tell you the top 20 shows that everyone will say...It's always the same. I can name them if you want....

Question : What's the outlook for DP7?

DL : The outlook is listening a lot - researching and deciding these things. If I were to say exactly what I was listening to - it would be unfair. Relax and know that I will spread it out over all the years. I want to get it to the entire history - I am biased towards the 60's and 70's...Sorry...keep those letters coming...

Question : How about a DP release from the Hornsby era with the 2 keyboard interplay?

DL : How about it? I think any of the shows from 9/90 until Bruce quit were great - I think it's a given...how many releases can we do in a month - I will get to it. The first would be 9/10/81 - Madison Sq. Gardens.

Question : first time I saw the dead was 68, at San Mateo County Fairgrounds, does that tape exist?

DL : I was there, too...it does in part - there is a reel missing and the quality is bad - there were problems with it. I think that's 5/18/68 - it's not usable. There is a lot of old stuff we can't use because of the quality.

Question : Dick do you plan on doing anything with JGB?

DL : I sure wish I could - it's not my province. John C. will soon release a live show - there should be lots more to come. Especially 1973 - great stuff. You wouldn't want me in charge or there wouldn't be anything else released - 1973, 1974.

Question : how about more video tape releases

DL : That's a great question - we're just on the verge of releasing some consistency for this. Every summer tour since 1989 has had some video taken; it should be inevitable that more will follow some - it's just the politics. Gonna happen - but why does anyone want to watch a video of the band....???[chuckles]

Question : Dick, I'm sorry I have to do this, but... how bout 11/6/77 Binghamton,NY

DL : Great idea. I think's its almost as good as 11/4 and 11/5 respectively. We don't have that in our vault. There are other shows around that era that will take over....9/3/77; 12/3/77 also the month of May has too many...there are just too many. You guys got it anyway!

Question : What is the earliest show you have, and will you ever release it?

DL : That could be complicated - we have examples of Phil playing trumpet early on.[late 50's?]. There is acid test stuff that isn't usable - except brief snippets. There is perhaps one show in its entirety that could be used..only one that I can think of...

GG : which one?

DL : That's 7/66 in Vancouver. Killer Viola Lee Blues...

Question : Dick, do you attempt to release shows not heavy in taper rotation?

DL : Originally, yes - that was my first goal. I like mixed bags - I can find unknowns - I also went to 2/14/70 - everyone wanted this. Finally, it was the right time. I would like to try to find something that surprises even me. You tapers out there know everything; where are the missing tapes??? Cambridge - you must have them!!

Question : Dick, many Dead scholars say their favorite is Veneta 72. Don't you think its time to release that as a Dick's Picks?

DL : No. There are about 4-5 other shows around that time that were better...There weren't that many exciting points in that show. Who is making everyone vote for that one? It was a hot day - the guitars were out of tune.. I don't see doing that right away -Sorry.

Question : What percentage of all live Dead music is complete in the vault?

DL : All the shows in history? Gee...maybe somewhere between 50-60%. That's rough guessing. of the early things aren't there.. 1979, 1980 and 1982 are not there - except on cassettes. There are many periods missing - this is a problem. It's kind of amazing that we have anything at all - I can hardly believe that most things haven't been lost, thrown away...etc. [reenacts typical scenario] "Sam, don't forget to put the tapes in the back of the truck!" Then the truck backs up...tapes land on the highway. There's another story... If it wasn't for Bear there wouldn't be any tapes.

Question : Did you enjoy working with Bear (Owsley Stanley) on DP4?

DL : He didn't work on it at all - just sending faxes demanding that certain things be done. We ignored him - and chose the material ourselves. He was very obnoxious - he didn't even thank me..

Question : how about farewell to Winterland that would be a gem.....

DL : That is the greatest thing in the history of the planet. There is video and great audio - someday that will be married in 2 - 3-hr. video cassettes. You should have been there - there were tremendous thrills...the most powerful night in history.

GG : They practically fell out of the balcony when the did "Dark Star" that night

Question : Dick, thanks for all of your hard work! Is there one particular show that you are in love with but will not release because of quality, etc. issues?

DL : Yes - many. The best two shows in a row in Dead history - taking a chance - 11/7/69 - at the Fillmore. They went back for 2 nights 11/7-8. these were unreal shows - but can't be used because of tape clicks, noise throughout the tapes. There are other examples. There is one tape I won't release - 5/8/77. Sorry boys in Ithaca...sorry.. Everyone wants it - no one will get it.

Question : Dick- How many shows did you get to see and do you have a personal favorite?

DL : I don't know if I can give a satisfactory answer. I went to shows in '66 and '67 - I haven't seen a lot of shows.. now it's very few that I was at... In fact, the 3rd Dick's picks...I was there and remember nothing but some girl singing opera [Donna singing Sunrise].. I thought the Dead were singing opera.. I almost had a heart attack. That's why you folks giving me advice is useful to me.

Keep them coming.

: closing words?

DL : I am honored to be where I am.. it is awesome...it isn't the easiest job in the world.. there is a lot to it..but I feel that this is my calling.. I want to do it for all Deadheads...I'm proud to be a part of it. If I can respond to other questions, it is a privilege...I'm not as opinionated as I sound.

GG : Well, I'd like to thank Dick for coming tonight; let's give him a hand!

Thank you for coming Dick

: You're welcome! You guys are great!

GG : After-show party in the Rose Garden! Dick will actually try his hand at typing!

We bid you good night

Return to GD Forum (AOL Members Only)

Return to GD Forum (Internet Edition)