Famous Tapers: Stan Gutoski

[OK, so either Vimeo or WordPress won’t allow me to link to the video. Never had that happen before. Go to Vimeo and look for COMMITTEE OF ONE – STAN GUTOSKI”. However, since it’s a private video that may not work either. In that case just look for the last Pink Floyd – Seattle 1975 upload on dime, it has the link.]

“One year ago this weekend, JEMS lost a second founding member, Stan Gutoski, the beloved S in JEMS. The loss came less than four years after the death of Jared Houser, our imitable J. Two down. Two still standing.

Stan was one of the kindest and humblest people I ever met. He took me on as an apprentice in the mid-’80s and taught me everything I know about taping. He also gave me access to his archive, and the act of doing so was in effect the beginning of JEMS, as we began to treat our collective recordings as a single entity.

Stan and (Mike) Millard were acquaintances and well aware of each other’s work even before they met face to face on two occasions when Stan was taking a family vacation to Disneyland. The pair got together in Orange County where they talked taping and did some dubbing of each other’s master tapes. Stan later told me that he felt a kinship with Mike that went beyond music. They both lost their fathers around the same time and they talked about that loss during one of their meetings. I still vividly recall seeing a box of Millard-labeled tapes that arrived at Stan’s house in the mid-’80s and how intrigued I was by their design, the quality of the recordings and the incredible story Stan told me about how Millard got his gear into venues using a wheelchair. That box going missing for almost 30 years became the impetus for my journey to learn more about Mike and track down his tapes. Six years ago, the re-discovery of the misplaced box launched and named our Lost and Found series and led to the Millard releases we’ve been carrying on ever since. It would be easy to say Stan was the Mike Millard of the Seattle area, but perhaps Mike Millard was the Stan Gutoski of Southern California.

Stan started taping a year before Mike did and both made a key decision to buy what they believed to be the best tape recorder available to do the job right. For Mike, that was the Nakamichi 550 in 1975. For Stan in 1972, it was a Tandberg Model 11 portable, full-track mono reel to reel. Both decks were capable of very high quality recording, especially for the era, and were a step above the gear that was being used by many early tapers. Mike and Stan shared a sense of mission and purpose when it came to taping and preserving shows, which helps explain their prolific output. While both were fans of many artists, there was an element of duty to their efforts that went beyond just being a fan, recognizing that it was culturally significant to document live performances. They also enjoyed the thrill of getting away with it, which itself can be intoxicating and addicting.

I met Stan when I was just out of high school. I owned some bootleg LPs and had tried my hand at taping a couple of shows with limited success. Friends of my parents made the intro and Stan and I became fast friends despite our 20 year age difference. Just a few weeks later, Stan and I were sitting in the back row of the Paramount Theatre in Seattle in his preferred taping seats in row JJ, planting our microphone in the curtain sash and recording R.E.M. on the Fables of the Reconstruction tour. Stan showed me how to set levels, read meters, flip a tape without looking, pretty much everything you need to know to successfully capture concerts. After that came Van Morrison, Simple Minds and eventually dozens of other concerts. I would often hang out in Stan’s basement looking through his tapes and picking out something to play on one of his beloved Revox reel to reels, one of which he loaned to me. In 1986, Stan and I had the good fortune to uncover a large batch of previously uncirculated songs from Dylan’s Basement Tapes sessions. When “Sign on the Cross” came on that borrowed Revox and the fidelity was clear (unlike all previous bootlegs), I remember Stan getting tears in his eyes and saying something like, “Wow. I can’t believe we found it.” I also remember spending several hours in Stan’s car staking out a home in Seattle that belonged to the parents of a guy who supposedly video taped one of Dylan’s 1974 Seattle concerts. The taper/filmer lived in Hawaii and was said to be home only once a year for the holidays to see his family. Stan thought we could just wait outside their house and intercept him.

Needless to say we never did, but whiling away the hours with Stan was always enjoyable. He loved to tell jokes, eat at the best drive-ins and diners, and regale me with taping and trading stories. I don’t think I ever saw Stan get mad. He had a deep sweetness and always exuded a kind of “just happy to be here” vibe. Because he worked at the post office, Stan had to get up in the wee hours of the morning, but that never stopped him from taping a show in Seattle or for that matter Vancouver. Hell, he even showed me his secret parking spot near the Paramount which I used successfully for years. Through Stan, I met other tapers (Mr. Gaddy, Mr. Lee, Mr. Severson and Mr. Bratton) and my interest in live taping and collecting grew into a lifelong passion. Without Stan, there is no JEMS.

It also bears repeating that Stan’s primary recorder, the Tandberg, is an audacious piece of gear for a stealth taper. If you don’t know about the Tandberg, it was a remarkable piece of gear in its day, not only capable of recording at 3-3/4 and 7-1/2 IPS, but in full-track mono. I won’t do the math, but compared to a cassette, the surface area of tape capturing the music is orders of magnitude higher, which is why so many of Stan’s Tandberg masters from the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen are considered by some audience-recording classics. The Tandberg required 10(!) D-cel batteries to operate, is roughly the size of a compact typewriter and weighs around ten pounds. Imagine sneaking that into a show and your respect for what Stan accomplished only grows.

Today, with the help of my friend Exit Club and others, I am thrilled to share a short film that will give you an even better sense of Stan as a person and a taper. Because Jared’s cancer was so advanced and we knew his time was short, we made a point of filming an interview with him about his taping history, the footage of which turned in to this tribute video which we have shared before. During that process, we also shot an interview with Stan. It wasn’t as extensive as what we did with Jared, because we thought we had future opportunities to film him again. Alas, we never did schedule a follow-up. But what we did shoot with Stan captures his spirit, good-natured humor and humility. To mark the one year anniversary of Stan’s passing, we present to you Committee Of One, a video tribute to the late, great Stan Gutoski, one of the pioneers of our hobby and a first ballot inductee into the Tapers Hall of Fame whenever it gets built.

Stan was admitted to the hospital in December [2019] because of a spinal infection that severely limited his mobility. I spoke to him at the time, sharing various JEMS updates which always lifted his spirits, even as he sounded weak. He was eventually released, but his condition didn’t improve after he left the hospital. In mid-January [2020], I got updates from his son that didn’t sound promising. Ken told me Stan was back in the hospital battling pneumonia, and it was clear his health was rapidly deteriorating. I began to consider how soon I could fly up to see him. A few days later, I asked if there was an opportunity to call Stan in the hospital, and his son said perhaps he could put me on speaker phone for a minute if his dad was up to it. Sensing that might not happen, I followed up with a text: “Please tell Stan I love him dearly and that we found Mike Millard’s master tapes a few weeks ago.” Ken replied, “Wow. The tapers’ ‘Ark of the Covenant.’ That’s amazing. I’ll tell him.”

Early the next day his son texted, “Good morning. My dad passed away a few minutes ago.” It was the stomach punch I knew was coming, but not this fast. Way too fast. I started crying. His son then texted: “My brother and I and my youngest son stayed with him until 6:30 am. He never went to sleep. He kept fighting it. He was impressed about the 280 shows [Millard recorded]. He kept making me repeat the number. He wanted to know what years and what cities/venues. I guess he can just ask Millard now in person. [They are] hanging with Jared watching Tom Petty and George Harrison play.” If ever there was a moment of happiness and sadness at the same time, reading that text was it. While I’m not religious, the thought of Mike Millard, Stan Gutoski and our late, great friend Jared Houser all hanging together in heaven is something I am only too happy to believe. May Stan rest in peace. And may all of you come to know just a little of the great man I was fortunate enough to call my friend for 35 years. BK for JEMS”

The following list of shows recorded by Stan Gutoski is likely not complete but it’s the first attempt to compile one, as far as I can tell. Do leave a comment if you know of other confirmed Stan recordings or have a correction.

Neil Diamond * 1972-07-23 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Chicago * 1972-07-24 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Uriah Heep * 1973-03-10 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

Neil Young * 1973-03-17 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

The Everly Brothers * 1973-03-23 * Paramount Theatre * Seattle, WA

J Geils Band * 1973-04-27 * Hec Edmundson Pavilion * Seattle, WA

Bob Dylan * 1974-02-09 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA (afternoon show)

Bob Dylan * 1974-02-09 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA (evening show)

Bob Dylan * 1974-02-11 * Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum * Oakland, CA (afternoon show)

Bob Dylan * 1974-02-11 * Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum * Oakland, CA (evening show)

Joni Mitchell * 1974-03-12 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young * 1974-07-09 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

George Harrison * 1974-11-04 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

The Faces * 1975-03-12 * Hec Ed Pavillion * Seattle, WA

Led Zeppelin * 1975-03-21 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Pink Floyd * 1975-04-10 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Doobie Brothers * 1975-05-18 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Jethro Tull * 1975-07-25 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle WA

The Eagles * 1975-08-21 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Elton John * 1975-10-16 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Elton John * 1975-10-17 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

David Bowie * 1976-02-03 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) * 1976-02-08, Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

The Who * 1976-03-25 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Cat Stevens * 1976-03-26 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Peter Frampton * 1976-04-30 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

The Who * 1976-10-14 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Lou Reed * 1976-12-09 * Paramount Theater * Seattle, WA

Boston * 1977-03-09 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

Thin Lizzy * 1977-03-13 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

Queen * 1977-03-13 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

Carole King (and opening act Navarro) * 1977-08-19 * Seattle Center Arena * Seattle, WA

Rod Stewart * 1977-10-03 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

Warren Zevon * 1978-06-24 * Paramount Northwest, Seattle, WA

Bruce Springsteen * 1978-06-25 * Paramount Northwest, Seattle, WA

Bruce Springsteen * 1978-12-20 * Seattle Center Coliseum * Seattle, WA

A copy of Stan’s Queen recording made it into the hands of Vicky Vinyl/John Wizardo, who used it to produce the titles P.N.W. (on odd-3) and Duck Soup (on Rodan Records) / Admission Ticket / Somebody To Love – Seattle ’77 in 1977 & 78.

While the George Harrison Seattle ’74 concert was released on the scarce babymoon titles 1974 and Cry For A Shadow, this was most likely a different source recording (made by one of the persons that would later start the Tobe Milo Beatles specialty label. Stan’s recording would become quite famous in the CD bootleg age, as it was not only complete but also for a long time the best circulating recording from that tour.

    • Hi Marty, having the video on the page would have been even better but it’s not possible. Be sure to watch it on Vimeo.

  1. Joe said:

    Hello I came across your site and I was wondering if u have any Ian Dury and the Blockheads live concerts or if know anyone who might have a load please as I know a lot of them are out there as I’m trying to get back ones my father had on cassette but lost most of them unfortunately during the years, would really appreciate if u could help but no worries if not, cheers.

    • Coincidentally, I had just shared some ID&TB recently on torrent site thetradersden dot org
      There are also some on dimeadozen dot org

  2. Simon Phillips said:

    Great video tribute and also the earlier one on Jared…… thank you. I was a taper in the UK, started 1972, so great to hear their stories.

    • Thank you, Simon. Who did you tape and wrere any of your tapes ever bootlegged?

  3. j said:

    sorry to interupt..in fact the ‘real complete’ title for the Queen Seattle title is in fact. Queen pacific North Western March.
    ODD had special desings and title typed names for their records.

  4. SeaRecColl said:

    Respectfully asking-are any of Stan’s tapes available? Or is it just through the upload sites?
    Also- as it pertains to this blog, also looking for Metallica “3-8-89” double Lp and Hendrix “Ladyland in Flames” (also a dbl Lp on Pink vinyl). Seattle Record Collector.

  5. SeaRecColl said:

    Thanks for the follow-up!

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