Grateful Dead ‘Busted Down On Bourbon Street’ On Today’s date, 1970 [Video]
The Grateful Dead sold more than 35 million albums while having only two songs crack the top 40 in their 50-year career. The first of their two hit singles was "Truckin'' from the 1970 album “American Beauty.” The song was about life on the road and made reference to being busted in New Orleans on January 31, 1970.
The band had performed at the Warehouse that night, with Fleetwood Mac as their opening act. When they returned to their French Quarter hotel, the Dead found police waiting for them. They were all busted on drug possession charges. Their rooms had all been searched before their arrival. None of the 19 member entourage had anything illegal on their person.
The band’s manager told Rolling Stone “It was very peculiar, and it seems like they set them up." He added, "They detained the band, handcuffed them all together and lined them up in front of the building for press photos. The cops were enjoying it, just getting their own thing on. They ended up having to spend eight hours in jail; even though the bail was ready right away."
Keyboard player “Pigpen” McKernan wasn’t arrested. He left the band immediately after the incident. The members of the Grateful Dead were warned there could be trouble in New Orleans. The Jefferson Airplane had a similar experience a few weeks earlier, staying at the same hotel. It seems kind of crazy now, given that you can get away with almost anything in New Orleans these days.