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Scalpers Blanket Dylan Tour

All over the country, ticket prices rise outside venues

March 14, 1974
bob dylan 1974 tour
Bob Dylan performs at Madison Square Garden during his Tour of America.
Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

San Francisco — Ticket scalpers were as plentiful as suckerfish on a shark in some cities along the 1974 Bob Dylan tour, expected to net $2.5 million. And as the tour neared its climax in Los Angeles, it appeared the scalpers, too, had made a profit.

In New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles — where mail-order tickets had been virtually an instant sellout — a seat was worth from $15 to $75 on the street. The average scalper's price — as best as could be determined in talks with concert-goers, rock radio station switchboard operators, auditorium managers and scalpers — was $25-$30.

Most of those who obtained inflated prices — street hustlers, send-money-Dad college students or simply persons unable to attend shows for personal reasons — appeared to be acting individually.

However, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a promotion agency was accused of involvement in a scheme to place 300-1000 tickets on the black market, where they sold for $15-$75. The University of Michigan Daily, in a copyrighted story, said the scalping operation involved choice, main-floor seats for the February 2nd show at Crisler Arena.

Promoting the concert was Bamboo Enterprises of Detroit. The firm was hired by Bill Graham's FM Productions to coordinate Ann Arbor ticket sales with the university, a co-promoter.

Photos: Bob Dylan Through the Years

When the concert ended Graham took the microphone and asked the audience of 13,600 for help in finding the people "who knew how it was done." Graham told a reporter for the Daily there had been "obvious hanky-panky."

In New York, Joe Cohen, director of development at Madison Square Garden, said the mail-order ticket procedure there had mitigated a lot of street scalping. (However, another source said there were a few tickets going for $25.) Cohen said the Rolling Stones shows in 1972 generated much more scalping. But neither event could compare with the first Ali-Frazier heavyweight fight, when $150 ringside seats were scalped for $1000, he said.

At San Francisco State University, one student sold several tickets for $50 by advertising on bulletin boards. However, by showtime, a scalper outside the Oakland Coliseum Arena was asking a mere $20, and you got the impression he'd come down.

This is a story from the March 14th, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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