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This Week In Grateful Dead History #21 (Week of 6/17)

Welcome to the weekly newsletter that brings you the most interesting and significant facts from Grateful Dead History, along with reviews of the music for the week ahead! The idea is to give all you Heads a "Heads up" on the interesting and cool stuff the Grateful Dead were up to on this week in history! So tell me what you think!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! Sorry this is hitting your inbox so late this time.

It was kind of the perfect storm of things, so the end of this newsletter will be brief. But don't mistake my brevity for inferior music. All the shows l have listed here are the best ones. Historically the Dead were playing these dates almost every year from 1973 on, with a few exceptions so there are a TON of shows to pick from when it comes to these dates. Well, that only made my task that much harder this week. On top of that, I had to travel all week, and spent most of my weekend doing family stuff. But, I had a great Father's Day. Sailing in the morning (and we took a 1st!), and playing all afternoon with my son. So here it is almost midnight on Sunday night and I finally got through it and now it's time to hit send. So sorry this week it's a little light on the details from the 20th through the 23rd.

Here's the highlights for Issue 21, for the week of June 17th, 2024, so check it out:

  • Pig's last show (6/17/72)

  • Phil's first show (6/18/65)

  • First "Stella Blue", "Crazy Fingers", "Help On The Way", "Slipknot!", "Franklin's Tower", "Victim Or The Crime", "Foolish Heart", "Watchtower", "Blow Away", "I Will Take You Home"


June 17th

  • 6/17/72 Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA - This would be Pigpen's last show. He doesn't have much presence and doesn't sing any of his signature songs. There aren't any soundboard tapes of this one that circulate, but fortunately there's a decent audience tape (SHNID 116272) that is a Charlie Miller remaster. Check out "China Cat > I Know You Rider", the first performance of "Stella Blue" and a strong "Playing" in the first set. "Stella Blue" is beautifully played. Jerry croons and Phil's percussive bass provides the perfect platform for Pig's haunting organ. There's something about this version that is never replicated again on this song. Maybe it's just the fact that it's Pig's last show? I don't know but this is one of my favorite versions of this song. "Truckin' > Other One > Ramble On Rose" and a fun "Sugar Magnolia" are the second set highlights. I hope the Vault tape for this one emerges some day.

  • 6/17/75 Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA - This was a a benefit concert called the Bob Fried Memorial Boogie, and was organized to help the family of Bob Fried, a renowned concert poster artist who had died earlier that year. "Jerry Garcia and Friends" were billed, so many people (correctly) guessed that this would be most or all of the members of the Grateful Dead. The band had been in the studio working on a lot of new songs for Blues for Allah. So after a classic Bill Graham introduction of "From Marin County - Jerry, Bob, Mickey, Bill, Phil and Keith for you" they launch into the first performance of "Crazy Fingers", and it totally mesmerized the audience! It's an excellent version. Some say the best version ever. It's definitely one of the top for me. Other highlights include the first "Help On The Way (instrumental only, no lyrics yet) > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower". "Help" is tight musically and it's a shame Jerry didn't have the lyrics straightened out yet. But being the first performance, no one was the wiser. "Slipknot!" is slow to emerge, and is extended and full of nice improvisational themes. Keith's electric piano is prominent and adds a rich texture to the sound that I personally love. The "Franklin's Tower" that comes next is a monster. It has this catchy, almost reggae feel to it. The tempo is a little slower, but it's just a great performance. After that, the second set is dominated by "Blues for Allah", with a "Stronger Than Dirt" segment in the middle, followed by a fun "Sugar Magnolia" and a rockin' "U.S. Blues" encore. I like the Derek McCabe matrix (SHNID 97079).

  • 6/17/76 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ - Officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 28. This entire show is excellent. This is the first of 3 performances at the Capital Theatre. First set highlights include "Music Never Stopped", "Scarlet Begonias", "Promised Land". The entire second set is exceptional but kicks off with a standout "Help > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower" which gracefully segues into a funky "Dancin' > Samson. Things cool down for "Ship Of Fools", but the jams return later during a hot "Let It Grow > Drums > Let It Grow > Wharf Rat".

  • 6/17/91 Giant's Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ - Officially released on Saint of Circumstance. Buckle up, this is going to be a crazy ride! Many people regard this as an all-time "Top 20" show, and I say they're not wrong. The boys open the first set with a beautiful rendition of "Eyes of the World", and it's the only time in their 30 year touring history that they ever did that! You know you're in for something special when that happens, and you can hear the crowd go crazy when Jerry starts strumming the intro chords. I get chills every time I hear it, and I wasn't even there. A fine "Walkin' Blues" is up next, followed by "Brown-Eyed Women". The band is chugging along quite nicely and while that song is ending Bobby starts picking away at a subtle "Dark Star" theme. Phil immediately picks up on it, and then Jerry starts noodling it, then Bruce, and then the drummers are crashing cymbals, just like they've done on so many "Dark Star" openings, but it quickly dissolves and a gorgeous "Masterpiece" emerges. Everyone in the crowd had to have been thinking "what is happening?!". After that, excellent versions of "Cassidy" and "Might As Well" close out the first set. The boys are clearly in the mood to improvise, and they open the second set with a loose, spacey jam which moves into a perfect "Saint of Circumstance". After properly jamming out the end, Jerry takes it right into a soulful "Ship Of Fools". As soon as that wraps up, you can hear Bruce lead another "Dark Star" tease. Jerry quickly adds the main melody. But alas, it's just another jam tease, and they launch into "Truckin'". It's not a very long version but a fun "New Speedway Boogie" follows, and you know everyone is wondering where that "Dark Star" went. "Uncle John's Band" follows however, and it's an excellent jammed-out 20+ minute version with some very cool (and unique - I've never heard it before or after) work on the organ by Bruce. There is a very short "Other One" tease by Jerry, followed by yet another "Dark Star" tease. But again it doesn't materialize and they transition into "Drums > Space". A gorgeous "China Doll" emerges from "Space". I can hear Bruce fiddling with a "Dark Star" theme during the intro, and if it wasn't clear to you by now, they're totally messing with the audience. "Playing In The Band Reprise" follows. "Playing In The Band Reprise" is when they just play the last part of the song, where they come back for the final chorus, without playing the first part of the song. A fun "Sugar Magnolia" closes the second set, and they encore with a nice rendition of "The Weight". To me, this is an excellent show, and it definitely showcases the band's ability to improvise, but it would have been next-level if they had played a couple less songs in lieu of a proper "Dark Star".


June 18th

  • 6/18/65 Frenchy's, Hayward, CA - No recording exists and we have no set list either, but this would be Phil's first show with the band, which went by the name The Warlocks at this time. Dana Morgan, Jr. was out of the band, apparently because he wasn't very good. I always wonder how that conversation went. Jerry and some other musicians were teaching at Dana Morgan Sr's music store called Dana Morgan & Son. The store was located in downtown Palo Alto, CA at 534 Bryant Street. A few years ago I was in town for work and decided to meet my cousin in Palo Alto and we walked past that infamous storefront. Today it's an Asian restaurant, but it was fun to imagine Bobby hearing music coming from the music store and serendipitously meeting Jerry there. Here's an interesting blog article about the music store:

  • 6/18/74 Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY - Officially released on Road Trips Volume 2 Number 3 and the bonus disc. This is a legendary show, and like many other shows from this time period there really aren't any bad moments. The first set highlights include "Beat It On Down The Line", and a killer "Eyes > China Doll". The second set soars with a strong "Weather Report Suite > Let It Grow > Other One > It's A Sin Jam > Stella Blue". There's a ton of intense jamming and dissonance coming from the band followed by some unique "space blues" themes. Very unusual stuff. A standout "Morning Dew" encore closes out this phenomenal show.

  • 6/18/76 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ - Officially released on Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 4. This is the second of three performances as the Capital Theatre and kind of lives in the shadows of the next night, but there are some great moments here. First set highlights include "Music Never Stopped", "Sugaree", "Crazy Fingers", and "Mission In The Rain". The meat of the show is in the second set with "St. Stephen > NFA > St. Stephen > Eyes". That entire sequence is perfectly played with tight transitions.

  • 6/18/83 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY - I like SHNID 154660 for the second set, which is a remaster of the infamous uncut Jeff Silberman DAT master tape. Too bad he couldn't get his rig up to the balcony for the first set! For that, I like SHNID 148043, the Clugston-Miller tape. First set highlights include "Bertha > Jack Straw" opener, "Bird Song", "Bucket > Deal". The second set opens with a monster "Scarlet > Fire". The "Playing" that follows is a big fat jammed out version that takes us on a trip to outer space. "Wheel" emerges from "Space", followed by a quick return to "Playing In The Band" that gives way to a beautiful "Morning Dew". They rock it out proper with "Throwing Stones > NFA > Touch Of Grey" but they're not done. A nice double encore of "Don't Ease > Saturday Night" closes it out strong.


June 19th

  • 6/19/76 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ - Officially released on June 1976. This legendary performance showcases the band's power at this time in their career. The band is completely polished here, and you get flawless versions of every song here. First set highlights include "Help > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower" opener, and a monster 18+ minute "Playing" to close out the set. Second set highlights include a rousing "Might As Well", a gorgeous "High Time", and a lively "Let It Grow > Dancin' > Cosmic Charlie".

  • 6/19/80 West High Auditorium, Anchorage, AK - The first of 3 shows in the tiny 2,000 seat West Anchorage high school auditorium. The dead decided to haul their equipment up to Alaska for the first time to catch the summer solstice and play some music. How they landed on this place as a venue is a mystery to me but many people who attended these shows say they were absolutely the best concerts they've ever been to. A can't imagine seeing the band perform in a high school auditorium. It must have been incredible! I've looked for pictures, and haven't been able to find any, but I'm sure they're out there. If you have any, let me know. We'd love to include them on jerrybase. First set highlights include "Alabama Getaway > Promised Land", "Music Never Stopped". Second set highlights include "China Cat > I Know You Rider > C. C. Rider" and "Wharf Rat" out of "Space".

  • 6/19/88 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI - The first of 4 performances at the infamous outdoor amphitheater. Overall, a solid show with some great moments. First set highlights include a solid "Half Step > Stranger" opener, "Good Time Blues" (AKA "Never Trust A Woman"). Second set highlights include the first performance of "Foolish Heart". This version feels a little slow, but you can tell they rehearsed it and play it well. That leads into short but good "Playing > Uncle John's Band". The post-D/S segment is all solid. A soulful "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" encore closes it out.

  • 6/19/89 Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountainview, CA - The second of 3 shows at the Shoreline. First set highlights are "Stranger > Franklin's > Walkin' Blues" and a monster 14+ minute "Bird Song" that leaves some crazy sonic imprints on your brain as they jam it way out beyond the horizon and back. The second set highlights are a hot "China Cat > I Know You Rider > Playing > Crazy Fingers > Playing", and "Watchtower > Black Peter > NFA" to close the set. A strong "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" encore sends the crowd home smiling.

  • 6/19/91 Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - Officially released on Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 11. Highlights for set 1: "Stranger", "Queen Jane". Highlights for set 2: "Victim > Scarlet > Fire", "Stella Blue > Other One".


June 20th

  • 6/20/74 The Omni, Atlanta, GA - A well played first set with the following highlights: "Roses", "To Lay Me Down", "China Cat > I Know You Rider". Second set highlights: "Truckin' > Jam > Eyes > China Doll".

  • 6/20/80 West High Auditorium, Anchorage, AK - 2nd of 3 shows at the high school auditorium. This show is better than the 19th in my opinion. The entire show is one big highlight, but I especially like "Jack Straw > Franklin's", "Let It Grow", "Althea" from the 1st set and "Alabama > Greatest", "Estimated > Other One", "Space > NFA > Black Peter > Around & Around" and "Johnny B. Goode".

  • 6/20/83 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD - Overall an excellent show, especially the second set. Phil is especially on fire for this show, and he subsequently sets Jerry on fire! Or maybe it was the bolt of lightning that hit the stage during the show? Set 1 highlights: "Minglewood", "They Love Each Other", "Brother Esau", "Tennessee Jed", "Music Never Stopped". Set 2 highlights: "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "He's Gone > Truckin' > Jam" and Bobby's "Little Star" rap out of "Space" > "Other One". The "Baby Blue" encore is absolutely perfect. I like the Clugston-Miller 24-bit remaster of Jim Vita's FOB (SHNID 163432).

  • 6/20/87 Greek Theatre, UC, Berkeley, CA - The 2nd of 3 shows at the Greek. There was a sense that maybe Jerry was still on the mend for these shows since they were only 6 months after his coma comeback. Everyone was certainly happy to see him again though. 1st set highlights: "Bucket > Franklin's", "Loser", "Birdsong". 2nd set highlights: "Space > Iko", "Gimme Some Lovin > Watchtower".

  • 6/20/88 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI - 2nd of 4 shows at Alpine Valley. 1st set highlights: "Box Of Rain", "Memphis Blues", "Cassidy > Deal". 2nd set highlights: "Victim > Cumberland", first performance of "Blow Away", "Other One > Wharf Rat".

  • 6/20/91 Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - Officially released on Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 11. 1st set highlights: "Peggy-O", "Mexicali > Maggie's Farm". 2nd set is the infamous "split Throwing Stones" set. They open with "Throwing Stones > Iko", "Watchtower > Standing On The Moon" and post-D/S "Wharf Rat > Throwing Stone" which segues into "NFA". Very cool set!


June 21st

  • 6/21/76 The Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA - Officially released on Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 4. 1st set highlights : "Sugaree", "Cassidy", "Scarlet Begonias". 2nd set highlights: "Help > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower", "Dancin' > Wharf Rat".

  • 6/21/80 West High Auditorium, Anchorage, AK - 3rd of 3 performances at the high school auditorium. This show was on the Summer Solstice, so in Alaska it was daylight all day with the "midnight sun" shining. 1st set highlights: "Sugaree" (Jam Anthem version) > Minglewood", "Me & My Uncle > Big River", "Lacy Lightning > Supplication", "Far From Me", "Terrapin > Playing".


June 22nd

  • 6/22/73 P.N.E. Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada - Officially released on Pacific Northwest'73-'74. This entire show is one massive epic performance. The big jams are the first set "Playing", and "He's Gone > Truckin' > Nobody's Fault Jam > Other One > Wharf Rat" segments.

  • 6/22/74 Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, FL - Partially officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 34 Bonus Disc. 1st set highlights: "Scarlet Begonias", "Playing". 2nd set highlights: "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "Eyes > Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia".

  • 6/22/76 The Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA - Partially officially released on Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 4. Highlights are "Crazy Fingers > Comes A Time", "Ship Of Fools", "Playing > Wheel > Playing", "Eyes > Dancin' > Around & Around".


June 23rd

  • 6/23/74 Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, FL - Partially officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 34. 1st set highlights: "Cumerbland", "To Lay Me Down", "Weather Report Suite > Let It Grow > China Doll" to end the set. Set 2 highlights: "Seastones > Ship Of Fools", "Dark Star Jam > Spanish Jam (Jam Anthem version) > U.S. Blues".

  • 6/23/76 The Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA - Partially officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 28. 1st set highlights: "Music Never Stopped", "High Time", "Lazy Lightning > Supplication". 2nd set highlights: "Let It Grow > Cosmic Charlie", "St. Stephen > NFA > St. Stephen, Dancin' > Wheel > Johnny B. Goode.".

  • 6/23/90 Autzen Stadium, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR - Officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 44. 1st set highlights: "Stranger > West LA Fadeaway", "Cumberland Blues". The entire second set is one big highlight, so I'd just be re-typing the set list so I'm going to skip that and just say check it out!


BTW, If you're not yet familiar with Jam Anthem versions of songs you can read all about it in Deadology II by Howard Weiner. Check it out here along with all his other great books.

And that's all for now! Of course, if you want to follow along in your very own copy of my book On This Day In Grateful Dead History: A Daily Listening Journal I still have some copies available here. Once they're sold out, I will have to decide whether or not I'm going to have more made. The costs of printing and shipping have gone way up in the last few years since I had them printed so I'm not sure if it's worth it or not. So get one now while you can!

Peace out my good people. Until next week!

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