If he wasn’t using a fake pregnant girlfriend,
the bootlegger would sometimes plug
an audio splitter directly into a speaker.
Today, tiny technology makes surreptitiously taping a live concert much easier than in the past. Back in the 1980s, sound equipment was bulkier, so if you who wanted a secret recording you had to resort to different deceptions:
"…There was the old wheelchair trick, which gets you in the door, but then they tend to seat you in a special section near the back, so people don’t trip over you, and it’s hard to get the gear where it needs to be for the best sound."
"So I rigged up the inside of a basketball that I cut in half, with all the gear laid out inside and taped down, buttons up, and I had a girlfriend who’d strap this on under a puffy blouse and go in pretending to be pregnant! We had wires snaked up the arms to lavalier [clip-on] mikes on her shoulders or on either side of a hat that I rigged up. She went to the bathroom, turned it on in the stall, walked back out to the front, and we were taping! But then she had to stand, not sit, in the center of the stage all night, to get the stereo sound, and everyone kept asking her, ‘When are you due?’ and saying, ‘You can sit in my chair,’ and all that stuff got recorded too. They were babbling into the microphones and ruining my tape."
Since his girlfriend could not remain perpetually "pregnant", he found it easier to just bribe the soundman:
"…You get there early in the afternoon while they’re setting up, buy the guy a beer, or just chat him up and go into your game; you’re a big fan of the band, you want a copy of the show forever, you have X amount of dollars to make it easy, can he help? A lot of these guys are only making a hundred bucks a night anyways, so they’ll let you plug into the board for another hundred and hide your outboard gear under a towel on the floor or something."
Other times, he would tap directly into the venue’s sound system by plugging into a speaker’s output jack.
"…I could plug into a line-out, drop wire down to the floor, maybe use some gum to hold the wire down so they don’t see it going to my unit [recorder], and I’m ready to tape." He says he hid his recorder on the floor under the stage or even sometimes had a wire running directly from the speaker to his leg, with the recorder strapped under his pants. "Gotta stand real still all night for that one."
Read more about his techniques, why his bootleg CDs were technically legal, and how he got caught by Bruce Springsteen, at: Confessions of a Bootlegger, San Diego Reader>>