More evidence in the Grateful Dead tossed-object mystery


Ed Beaudette

Aber Day pitcher with Grateful Dead sticker.

Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote about the one and only time the Grateful Dead played in Montana—May 14, 1974, at the Adams Field House on the University of Montana campus.

In that piece, I touched on the enduring mystery of what exactly it was that was thrown by a concert-goer and hit Bob Weir in the head. A bit later, I wrote a follow-up story in which I came down fairly strongly in favor of the hypothesis that the object in question was an Aber Day pitcher.

I have now received the most compelling evidence yet regarding the pitcher hypothesis. Tom Cockrell, a Billings native who has lived in the Bay Area since 1989 (the year I moved back to Montana), said he recently stumbled on my stories and he “had no idea it was such a Montana mystery.”

He also offered this account of the proceedings: “I was standing behind the asshole who threw the pitcher. I couldn’t remember if it hit Phil Lesh or Bob Weir, but it was a plastic pitcher. The idiot was this fairly short, but muscular guy wearing a white sailor cap. I have seen Phil Lesh several times since, but have never been close enough to mention it.”

In a subsequent message he added a few details: “The guy who threw it was short, stocky and wearing a ‘Popeye’-esque sailor cap. He was right in front of me.”

So I think we can say, with as much finality as anyone could wish for, that the thrown object was indeed an Aber Day pitcher. But we’re not positive, apparently, which member of the band was hit. We’ll leave that mystery open for now.

Also, in my second story on the pitcher incident, I mentioned Ed Beaudette, who was the ASUM house/stage manager from the fall of 1974 through the spring of 1976. Cockrell said he knew Beaudette well, and he tacked on this fine little story:

“Ed Beaudette showed up at my apt. one night with a 45 rpm record, and said, ‘Listen to this. It’s a new band we’re thinking of for Aber Day.’ The ‘promotional’ 45 was Heart— ‘Crazy On You.’ I said, ‘It’s incredible!’ And Heart ended up at Aber Day that year.”

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