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Sneaking A Tape Recorder into concerts in the 70s-90s

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by sheeerheartattack, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. mrlucky56

    mrlucky56 Forum Resident

    Long Island, NY
    Taped many shows. First one was Robin Trower at Madison Square Garden 3/24/76. A bit distant but no other recording has surfaced.
    Queen at MSG, 1977. Robin Trower- Shea Stadium, 1976. Rainbow a few times. I used a Panasonic Boom Box. Don't ask how I got it in. Used to put it in a beach- bag and drape a jacket over it.
    Biggest regret is not being hip to the Nak cassette recorders.

    My friend also recorded many of the Schaefer Music Concerts in Central Park, NY
    ARK, Lurgan Lad, trd and 1 other person like this.
  2. WhoTapes1

    WhoTapes1 Forum Resident

    Greensboro, NC
    The Who - Los Angeles Sports Arena, June 23, 1980, Mike REALLY knew what he was doing!
  3. Paul Gase

    Paul Gase Everything is cheaper than it looks.

    I don’t hoot during a quiet passage, ever. But I might after a song, or at the intro of a song that I was hoping to hear.

    It is a concert atmosphere.

    I consider myself a considerate concert goer, not a fool. In my example at the NY show, you would’ve been in a distinct minority by supporting the taper’s unrealistic demands. Everyone else thought he was foolish.
    Skydog7 and speedracer like this.
  4. flaxton

    flaxton Forum Resident

    Couldn’t he have worn a kaftan. Lol
    sons of nothing likes this.
  5. Colocally

    Colocally One Of The New Wave Boys

    Surrey BC.
    I have a recording of Bowie’s glass spider tour from wembley and during the guitar solo of China Girl someone shouts out “That’s an f-ing big bag ain’t it?” to the guy recording the show :D
  6. sons of nothing

    sons of nothing Forum Resident


    Dude, those would be cool to hear if they haven't been let loose. Plenty of people will be willing to transfer them of you don't have the time and knowledge. I'm guessing you know where to go and ask, being that you're on this board.
    piepants likes this.
  7. mrlucky56

    mrlucky56 Forum Resident

    Long Island, NY

    A bit distant, but man, was I exited coming home from the show on the LIRR listening to it know I got a recording.
    There are a few more on my YT channel.
    sons of nothing and ODShowtime like this.
  8. BradB

    BradB Birth.Music.Death?

    Denver, CO
    I confess that a friend & I did do some audience recording of a few shows in the 1990's. We split the cost of a Sony minidisc player/recorder along with a portable recorder and a small corded microphone we could clip onto a brim of a hat or a shirt collar. We'd take turns smuggling in the recorder and mic (not to be gross but usually keeping things in private areas did the trick), then off to the restroom to position & test the gear. If the venue allowed we'd put the mic on a rail or even hold the mic in our hand if the environment allowed (we'd try to have someone on all 4 sides of the person recording to hide any evidence and limit any point-blank range noise). We never got anything pro-quality per se but a few of them were/are at least listenable if not rather enjoyable. We'd transfer the recordings to CD-R later and even ended up selling a few copies of shows at record collector shows. Our best-sounding shows were Joe Jackson on his Heaven & Hell tour in a 1,600 capacity GA theater that set up folding chairs for the show, Tom Waits on his 'Mule Variations' tour from the balcony, Helmet on their 'Aftertaste' tour and punk band Face To Face on a couple different tours (they always seemed to have very clear live sound). A few others are definitely more typical bootleg quality but still nice mementos to have from their particular shows. By around 2001 we got tired of attempting the covert activity and once security wands became prominent that was our cue to stop.
    ARK and ODShowtime like this.
  9. Partyslammer

    Partyslammer Lord Of The New Church

    No, never caught by security although as I mentioned in a previous post, I did get cold feet halfway through the Springsteen show because I was right up front and "felt" like Springsteen could see what I was doing. That paranoia was keeping me from enjoying the show.
    Automatic Changer, ARK and ODShowtime like this.
  10. WhoTapes1

    WhoTapes1 Forum Resident

    Greensboro, NC
    Don’t forget Art Parr aka ‘Mr. Freezer’ (RIP). He was a real piece of work. I wonder if his Led Zeppelin 1977 Baton Rouge tape recording ever got out into circulation? He teased the members of the Tradersden torrent site relentlessly with it.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
  11. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I tried my hand once. 2000? The Pretenders opened for Neil Young at The Gorge. I had a Sony mini disc player but, unfortunately, hadn’t gotten around to purchasing a mic. So, brilliant idea!, brought along a karaoke mic.

    I was oblivious to security concerns until I neared the entry point and saw that bags were being searched. So I quickly asked my wife to stuff the karaoke mic down her shirt and stuffed the mini disc down my pants. Got in without a hitch (so to speak).

    It was daylight still when The Pretenders started so I had the mic protruding out of my backpack, covertly. Ended up with an awful recording. But for Neil it was dark so I was able to bring out the mic and ended up with a quite nice recording. The only problem was that all of a sudden the mini disc stopped running just as he was about to begin Tonight’s The Night on piano. I was beside myself thinking the battery must have run out. But then, miraculously, a couple songs later the mini disc worked again! So I managed to record the three encore songs

    There’s some audience noise but not bad. Once our friend, Amy, can be heard stumbling into the seats...but all in all, a pretty good recording.
    ARK, Chris DeVoe and BeauZooka like this.
  12. asdf35

    asdf35 Forum Resident

    Austin TX
    Love this topic, really is an art. Much respect to the cumbersome equipment and methods people used prior to modern days.

    I've done my own amateur taping starting in the late 90s when I was a kid. I taped a few shows on a handheld cassette recorder, the kind you use for dictation. In the late 2000s I got a minidisc recorder and clip-on mic. Then I moved on to a digital Sony recorder and some custom built clip-on mics (CA-11's). I never moved beyond that, and in the recording world this is the meager bottom level....although much more sophisticated than cellphone/iphone recording!

    My main objective was to not interfere with the scene or be obvious, so I'd clip the stereo mics on my collar below my ears and stand in a sweet/loud spot in front of speakers. Always came out well. (Although I have tinnitus now...hmmm).

    Here's one of my old minidisc recordings.

    ceddy10165 and Partyslammer like this.
  13. asdf35

    asdf35 Forum Resident

    Austin TX
    One time I was in Seattle for a show, not being from that area I did not know the club recently had a shooting. It was a small dirty club, but they were doing pat-downs. The guy found me with wires routed through my sweatshirt and the digital recording boxes in my pockets. "You got a bomb there, brotha?" We both laughed when I said it was just for recording. He didn't care - just no weapons!
    SilkHammer, audiotom, ARK and 2 others like this.
  14. sheeerheartattack

    sheeerheartattack Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    That’s awesome.
  15. Radley

    Radley Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    I taped James Brown at SF State, he was terrible and band looked they all hated him. Mr. Brown was wasted and never talked to the audience. Also did the English Beat with The Clash at SF Civic. The Beat was excellent but The Clash was just going through the motions and they didn't have Topper. I had seen The Beat before when they played a run down porno theater on Market St.
    asdf35 likes this.
  16. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    I started in 90s and have never stopped. Been in some hairy situations but never got caught. I never shush, that's rude and other people have a right to enjoy themselves. Just hope for the best possible condition.
    piepants, ARK, ceddy10165 and 2 others like this.
  17. johnny q

    johnny q Forum Resident

    Bergen County, NJ
    Yes - from 1988 through the early 2000's. I taped Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on their separate solo tours, Springsteen, Badlands, The Cult, Kiss, Pearl Jam, Ted Nugent, Government Mule, The Allman Brothers, Page/Plant (1995 & 1998), Zebra, Rush and others I am forgetting about.

    In the early days I used a Toshiba portable cassette recorder with a stereo lavalier style mic. Circa 1995, I switched over to DAT as my choice of weapon. Microphones used: Core Sound BiNaurals, Cardiods and HEBs (High End Binaurals.) I used to wear a hat with the Mic capsules stuck through the top and wires run down my back into the DAT, which was in a fanny pack. KAO Gold or Maxell DATs!

    I never got caught, but I came close once. I was not brave enough to risk trying to get through metal detectors, so I kept my risk to a minimum.

    Honestly, it was a HUGE hassle and caused much anxiety (and of course, not legal.) I didn't enjoy these shows nearly as much as I should have. And, it was silly in the case of the Page/Plant shows of 1995 for example, which featured a Tapers Section full of tapers with thousands of dollars worth of gear. I saw over 10 shows on that tour.

    But it was all worth it in the end, many of these recordings are quite good and serve as the ultimate souvenir.

    samskeyti, ceddy10165, Zeki and 2 others like this.
  18. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Youngstown, Ohio
    A few times in the 70s.

    The most notable instance was for a Blue Ash/Raspberries show on January 31, 1974 at a venue the next county over. I loved both bands, and Blue Ash in particular were my hometown heroes.

    I arrived at the venue early and told the cop on duty I worked for a local radio station (which was true, but we weren't playing rock music at the time!) and I wanted to go backstage and get an interview. Amazingly, he bought it — but instead I went up into the balcony and made myself inconspicuous until the show started.

    I later became good friends with Blue Ash's bassist Frank Secich, and in the 00s he ended up putting this show out on a limited-issue fan CD. As bad as the quality was, it's one of a very small number of live recordings of Blue Ash, and he has always been grateful for its existence.

    Additional instances: I went to see the reformed Beau Brummels in 1975 at a small club in Cleveland. Another time I went to a local concert venue to see Artful Dodger, one of my favorite bands of the 1970s. Again, both recordings are pretty poor quality, but I treasure them.

    On both of these occasions, I enlisted the help of girls I knew to accompany me (including one, I'm ashamed to say, I really didn't like at all), because the unit I had was a combination cassette recorder and AM/FM radio. It was quite bulky, so I relied on their big purses to conceal the crime!
    ARK, Zeki and drpep like this.
  19. Jon H.

    Jon H. Forum Resident

    Raleigh, NC USA
    Great thread! I have been collecting bootleg recordings for over 40 years.

    I understand the artists' right to control their legacy, and the fact that bootleg LP's became a profitable business for the producers in the '70's with no royalties paid would irk the artists, etc. But the courageous few that braved security to capture the magic of the moment should be lauded for their efforts! Mind you, I'm a big fan of Fripp/Crimson and greatly admire Zappa, but if some of their fans had not been diligent in their efforts many important concerts, improvisations, and lineups would never have been documented by the artists themselves. We should be thankful that so many risked their concert enjoyment so that they (and we) could re-live the experience of the live concert. Profiting off of bootlegs is a no-no, of course, but the digital age and the internet has rendered that money making to be a VERY small return on the effort. Japanese bootleg CD labels continue to issue beautiful and lavish packages of Led Zep recordings that then circulate a week later for free on the internet.

    I've seen all the generations of recordings: LP's, reel-to-reels, cassette tapes (and trading!), CD's, CD-R's, andMP3 and FLAC files. And don't forget YouTube cell phone captures...isn't that bootlegging in some form as well? Food for thought...

    I continue to collect, because I'm a rock historian, and this is part of my RESEARCH!

    Here is a wonderful tribute to one of the great tapers of days gone by:

    Thanks for your work, Jared! RIP.

    Cheers all!
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
  20. Jon H.

    Jon H. Forum Resident

    Raleigh, NC USA
    I see the first link might not work; trying again:

  21. davebush

    davebush New Test Leper

    Fonthill, ON
    So, suddenly, these two guys appear in front of me.
    They stopped.
    Real aggressive.
    Start at me, you know.
    "What's that?" "What's that on that tape?"
    What do you got there?"
    I said, "huh?"
    They said, "What are you talking into that for?"
    I said, "It's just a tape, you know"
    "Well play it for me"
    I said "oh, no"
    emmodad, Phoenician, Patanoia and 2 others like this.
  22. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    A Springsteen taper watched as a guy around 5 people in front of him had his equipment discovered by Phila security in the 70's.
    Guy took the cassette out of the tape player and dropped the recorder on the floor in front of the taper. "oops, so sorry about that. I was trying to hand it to you." Smile as he said it. "pick up your stuff, you're holding up the line."
    The kid was in tears. Needless to say, the guy who told the story to me was a pro and got his well hidden deck in with no problem.
    DTK likes this.
  23. Daryl M

    Daryl M Forum Resident

    London, Ontario
    Was that Kiplings on Wellington Road? I was inside. :p That was a great venue - Iggy, BOC, Derek Trucks...
  24. Hanglow

    Hanglow ...hangin' out with your mom

    Saratoga New York
    .......didn't know he passed......what was his main deal?.....he marked his tape with a audible whistle or something....:shrug:his tape was the best source,his was 1st gen......man, I gotta get out more:shh::help::wave:
    WhoTapes1 likes this.
  25. OnTheRoad

    OnTheRoad self identified, evolved misanthropic narcissist

    I snuck a small Panasonic cassette recorder into a few shows in the early 70s.

    Led Zeppelin, Honolulu, September 17, 1971
    Black Sabbath, Honolulu, October 10, 1971
    PFM, Arlington Texas, Feb 23, 1974

    That's what I remember off the top of my head.

    Do I have the tapes anymore ? No, unfortunately. Time took it's toll.

    The Zeppelin recording would be a holy grail with today's collector's market, so would the Black Sabbath. I spose there are a few old PFM fans that would also like the '74 show I recorded. The sound was fair, little bass, general distortion during the loudest segments...but fun to listen to. They were certainly clear enough to hear the instruments and each bang of the drums and I'd rate them about a 6 1/2 to 7 out of 10 in quality on a bootleg scale.

    Oh...I just basically held the recorder to my side away from the ticket taker and never had a problem getting it in the shows.
    ceddy10165 and ODShowtime like this.

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