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

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

  1. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    I'm trying to recall what I taped...all in Scandinavia of course late 90s up to now. Bowie, New Order, Arthur Lee & Love, Aimee Mann, Juliana Hatfield, Peter Green, Johnny Winter, Neil Young, Simple Minds, Primal Scream, Queens of The Stone Age, Lemonheads/Evan Dando, Lou Reed, John Cale, Ray Davies, Steve Earle, Van Morrison, BB King, The Only Ones/Peter Perrett, Dinosaur Jr., Lucinda Williams, Iggy Pop, Pretenders, Pixies, The Donnas, ZZ Top, Sharon van Etten, The Concretes, The Leather Nun, Hansson & Karlsson...some of those in pretty rough festival conditions.
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  2. Quincy

    Quincy Forum Resident

    Willamette Valley
    My one time was trying to tape R.E.M. at the Shyrock at S.I.U. in Carbondale. It was a cheap Sony which I think was bought on the recommendation to record lectures, but that's something after one try I realized that re-listening to a lecture and taking notes wasn't going to happen. So I thought I should try to get some sort of use out of it, even though I knew it wasn't made for a quality recording.

    I had an inkling security might be tight. I was in Northern Ireland during the troubles and also saw presidential candidates in the '90s, and security for this was way more intense. Well, okay, slight exaggeration as there were no machine guns at the Shyrock, but otherwise pretty nuts given it was just a concert.

    I saw that people were being frisked going in so I went back to the car and jammed the recorder down the front of my pants as "no real man would frisk me there." (Apologies, this was the homophobic '80s in the Midwest). That was about the only place not checked, as even my armpits were patted down. First stop was the bathroom to set myself up for recording. Somehow during the reshuffling the masking tape that I had over the red battery light peeled off and this would be my undoing. During the tape flip I had pull the recorder out of my jacket pocket a bit and the light was spotted by security. Someone came by a few minutes later and the recorder was confiscated, my driver's license checked and I was given a room number of where to go to get it back.

    While I'm sure this would have been a D- recording (so a grade B for The Who at the time) it would have been valuable if for no other reason to provide the R.E.M. Timeline with detailed setlist info as all they have entered is "Moon River" was played. I once emailed Kipp with more details, as my friend and I had our minds blown by unexpected covers like "In The Year 2525" and Charlie Rich's "No One Knows What Goes On Behind Closed Doors" - the sort of thing you just don't forget. I was also fascinated by hyenas a lot as a kid so I never imagined hearing a new song about them.

    When I went to retrieve my recorder I kind of felt like the kid called into the principal's office, but the fellow behind a desk seemed mellow enough for someone with about 20 tape recorders and cameras on his desktop. As noted my name had been taken so I had to show my driver's license to get it back. While he downplayed the severity of it all, I was left with the closing words that still haunt me today. "The boys in the band might decide to press charges." 36 1/2 years later I'm still wary that a R.E.M. taping bounty hunter might be on my trail.
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  3. zeketaylor

    zeketaylor Forum Resident

    Took my trusty cassette recorder to Athens GA, the University of GA, 1973, to record the Beach Boys! I was right down front and put the recorder on the stage right in front of Al Jardine (keep it clean) next to his monitor! Those was da daze for sure!
  4. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe 3 months since last false death report!

    My friend Rick Dodderidge once pulled that trick twice in a row at the same show.
  5. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe 3 months since last false death report!

    I've worked for an estate sale person, and I can't tell you all the stuff that's wound up being shoveled into dumpsters.

    One of my friends was an obsessive taper back in the day, and after many years I've been able to get him onto YouTube, and have been putting some of his concerts up. But he has so many tapes, literally filling two houses, that it will take years just to get some of the stuff up.

    I worry that if he died unexpectedly, none of this stuff would be saved.

    It's like the old saying, "the best place to store excess food is in someone else's belly" the best place to store anything is on everyone else's hard drive.
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  6. stewedandkeefed

    stewedandkeefed Came Ashore In The Dead Of The Night

    I taped many shows from 1988 to 2005. Started with analog cassette and switched to DAT later on - probably the most well known recording I did was Bob Dylan in Montreal August 5, 1997. My buddy had been to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and Lenox MA and taped those shows. He drove back overnight and had to do a factory shift the morning after Lenox. I met him at 7am and got the DAT and mics and drove to Montreal for that night's show. He had fourth row seats for me. That show was the live debut of "Blind Willie McTell". I had a pair of seats and unloaded the other to a fan I knew from Colorado. Just before "Blind Willie McTell" she asked me what I thought of the Les Paul Bob was playing which you can hear on the tape.
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  7. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe 3 months since last false death report!

    Mentioning my friend Rick, remember those points that they used to have on Maxell cassette tapes? Collect so many points, and they send you a free tape.

    Eventually, they decided to shut the program down on January 1st. So my friend spent New Year's Eve getting every one of the points together, sticking them on a pile of entry forms that he'd gotten, then racing down to the main post office to get the envelope date stamped with the 31st.

    The grand prize of the contest was either a trip to Hawaii, or a camcorder.

    He opted for the camcorder.

    All the rest of them were redeemed for additional cassette tapes.

    One day he got a notice from the post office to come down to the station to retrieve his mail.

    Rather than send a bunch of cases of blank tapes, every single tape had been individually packaged, labeled and stamped.

    It filled two large mail bags.

    For weeks afterwards, he and I had been shucking packages to put all these blank tapes into boxes, ready to tape more concerts.
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  8. sheeerheartattack

    sheeerheartattack Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Oh my, there must have been a lot! Any Queen or Genesis?
  9. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll

    Avon, CT
    I’ve been loving this thread - near and dear topic to me. Loved seeing some of the videos shared about Millard etc. - please keep posting those links about tapers. Also, in case anyone missed it, the Dead Tapers Compendium Vol 1 had tons of info on this subject. Without tapers, we’d be without a huge part of modern music’s history.
    davies54, Jon H., wrat and 1 other person like this.
  10. rrbbkk

    rrbbkk Forum Resident

    Circa 1971, I was fourteen years old. I had a Magnavox portable (mono) cassette recorder. I’d put it into a WWII Army surplus musette bag my dad had given me. The bag was about the size of a large ladies hand bag but designed out of olive drab canvas with straps and buckles and so forth. “Security” in those days was scant and if we did get checked it was for alcohol. I don’t recall ever getting caught.

    I recorded a few shows and quickly learned about keeping the input level low so the recording wouldn’t be distorted and so on. My best effort in that era was a Pink Floyd show on their “Atom Heart Mother” tour. It was an abysmal listen nonetheless. A better equipped taper was in the audience and his tape is well known. I still have mine too. I played it a few years ago so as to transfer it to Mini Disc. It was actually a better recording than I’d remembered.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
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  11. spencer1

    spencer1 Great Western Forum Resident

    Begs the question, Debbie Gibson?
  12. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    Did PJ allow tapers back then?
  13. Nah it keeps you running.
    ARK likes this.
  14. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe 3 months since last false death report!

    I'm sure. For instance, he was at the Genesis reunion at Milton Keynes.
  15. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe 3 months since last false death report!

    It's not like I intended to taunt anyone, it's just literally he has an entire house, actually two houses if you count his ex-girlfriends place, filled with Beta, VHS and audio cassette tapes.

    He was the only person invited to film the giant Gong festival where every variation of the band, and all the offshoot bands, got together for one last time. I've been asking him to dig up those tapes for more than a year.

    And he didn't even have an email address until I set him up with one a few years back.

    Some folks are just not technical.
  16. sons of nothing

    sons of nothing Forum Resident


    I think it'll eventually show up, whether someone buys the master tape and presses it, trades for it, or the owner puts a lossless one out there. It still sounds good as it is, and I'm happy that we're able to hear it.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
  17. Drew769

    Drew769 Buyer of s*** I never knew I lacked

    Kind of like a long train
    wayneklein likes this.
  18. I hope you're right. I am far from sure that the uploader is even aware of the added value of lossless transfers, and it is well possible that he threw away the reels after transferring them. Again, I hope for the best. I agree the lossy version he shared does sound very good, and I was blown away by listening to Sleeping Village and noticing it has another verse there.
    Jon H. likes this.
  19. Derek Slazenger

    Derek Slazenger Specs, rugs & rock n roll

    I got caught taping Prince at Maine Road, Manchester in 1992. I was part of the huge crowd on the pitch and was just standing with my recorder on my shoulder with a carry-cord wrapped around my wrist. The next thing I know someone yanks the recorder out of my hand and takes my arm with it! I turned around to see wtf was going on and was staring at the chest of the biggest guy I've ever seen (I'm 6'1). He was an American wearing a suit and tie, so not part of the local security team - one of Prince's guys I guess. He confiscated the recorder and the tape (I already had one tape done and stashed). He'd pushed through this crowd to grab me! Threatened to throw us out but didn't, thankfully.
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  20. mrlucky56

    mrlucky56 Forum Resident

    Long Island, NY
    When I mentioned I had recorded Queen at MSG, I found out the date (12/2/77) from my buddy who went to the show with me. I never kept the cassette. I wasn't a huge Queen fan and let it go. My friend however kept his copy and circulated it years ago, back in the cassette trading days.
    Anyway, there are 2 versions of the show posted on YT and indeed one is mine. Brought back some great memories. It was a killer show.

    ARK, Chris DeVoe, Zeki and 1 other person like this.
  21. Jon H.

    Jon H. Forum Resident

    Raleigh, NC USA
    Another one of the legendary JEMS tapers, Stan Gutoski, who passed away last year:

    These guys were really documenting history...
    oneslip17 and RayS like this.
  22. vaprogger

    vaprogger Forum Resident

    Richmond, VA, USA
    I only taped during the '90's, with a Radio Shack cassette setup. Generally, it was easy and security was lax. My tapes were only confiscated for King Crimson (Warner Theater), Marillion (9:30 Club), Gong Birchmere... (notorious place for tight security). In all cases, I could keep my deck after the show was complete.

    Shows were generally not as enjoyable while taping.
    ARK likes this.
  23. Jerquee

    Jerquee Take this, brother, may it serve you well.

    New York
    I've never been one to tape shows because I didn't want the risk or distraction from the show but my whole life I've managed to have friends who do it regularly.

    My current taping friend tapes everything and I'll grab copies of shows we attend together. Outside of limited sharing with friends, his stuff doesn't get out (with very few exceptions) because, I think, he can't be bothered. They're really for his own enjoyment.

    I have a recording of my first concert (AC/DC MSG 12/2/81) because my best friend at the time had the taping obsession. We had kinda lame seats so it's a lot of crowd noise including me rocking my prepubescent voice trying to get them to play 'Shake A Leg'. This recording is definitely not in competition with the current recording circulating out there. I remember it was done on a Sony TCS-310 with a TDK C-180 cassette. The tape was so thin on that cassette that it was translucent. I made a transfer of that show for posterity about ten years ago. I think I'm going to have to play it this year for the 40th anniversary. Yikes, 40 years!


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  24. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    His CSNY Seattle '74 tape still blows my mind.
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  25. Egg Crisis

    Egg Crisis Forum Resident

    Yorkshire, England
    I only recently (last year) learned that c180's even existed. I'd always assumed c120 was the longest cassette you could get.

    I remember some people not liking c120's, saying they were thin, that they stretched (although I used a bunch of TDK 120's and never had any complaints) but 180 does seem to be pushing it a bit too far!
    ARK, Paul R, Jerquee and 3 others like this.

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