• November 9, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blair-s-golden-road-blog-sittin
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - Sittin’ In

    By Blair Jackson
    I only got to see Duane Allman in person once—at the Fillmore East when he sat in with the Dead for three numbers on 4/26/71: “Sugar Magnolia,” “It Hurts Me Too” and “Beat It on Down the Line.” I had recently fallen in love the Allmans' Idlewild South album, which served as my introduction to the band, so I was thrilled to see Duane rockin' with my favorite group!

    As a suburban New York teenager completely enamored with the mystique of '60s San Francisco, I figured the Dead probably had musicians joining them onstage at their concerts all the time, not to mention endless late night jam sessions with Jorma, Carlos, Cipollina and whoever else was around when they were back in the Bay Area. When Tom Constanten (T.C.), whom I'd never seen play with the Dead, turned up as a guest at the Fillmore two night later, it reinforced my (incorrect) notion that sit-ins with the Dead were a common occurrence. For a while, I half-expected someone cool to show up every time I saw the band. But aside from another Allmans sighting the following year at Dillon Stadium in Hartford (7/16/72; Jerry and Bob reciprocated by playing with the Allmans the next night at Gaelic Park in the Bronx; equally thrilling!), it would be many years before I saw another outside musician with the Dead—could it really have been the “From Egypt with Love” shows, with harmonica ace Lee Oskar from War, in October of '78? I think so.

    As my tape collection grew in the late '70s and early '80s, I finally got to hear some of the more famous guest appearances, such as Janis joining Pigpen for an endless and not particularly great “Lovelight” at the Fillmore West on 6/7/69, and the Fillmore East late show from 2/11/70, featuring Duane Allman and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac (and a bunch of others banging on various percussion instruments) jamming on “Dark Star,” a ferocious “Spanish jam” and “Lovelight.” That one's got lots of inspired playing, but also sounds wandering and extremely cluttered in places. It's the classic “too many cooks” jammer's dilemma—the musicians want to both shred and be deferential to the others onstage. Also, not everyone is miked equally well, so some parts unfortunately get lost in the mix. Still, imagine the excitement of being there and actually witnessing this sonic tsunami gushing off the stage in giant waves!

    As a serious Jefferson Airplane fan, I was also ecstatic when the somewhat muffled audience tapes of the 11/20/70 Rochester Dead show appeared, with Jorma adding his stinging leads to a few songs (such as a fantastic “All Over Now” and “Darling Corey”) and jams. I guess if a soundboard version of that existed it would have materialized by now; sniff, sniff. Oh, well—thank God Marty Wienberg taped it!

    By the '80s, it seems that most of the guest shots were song-oriented rather than jam-oriented, for better or worse. Etta James' appearances with the Dead 12/30-31/82 at Oakland Auditorium were a blast—it was great to hear her and the Tower of Power horns tackle “Hard to Handle” and “Lovelight” and “Tell Mama,” and fortunately they'd rehearsed at least a little. I also dug the tapes of Stephen Stills' loose but intense appearances at Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey 4/16-17/83. But I was disappointed by the melding of the Dead and much of The Band for a short, sloppy uninspired third set at the SF Civic on New Year's Eve '83.

    E Street sax man Clarence Clemons sat in at a number of shows in the late '80s (and played several entire concerts with the Garcia Band in '89; a better match) and added some nice touches to some songs, but was distracting and “off” on others. Branford Marsalis' first appearance with the Dead at Nassau Coliseum on 3/29/90 was perhaps the greatest single sit-in ever with the Dead, in my view. No other guest “got” the band and its many facets as well as he did. I wasn't at that one, but I did get to see him with the Dead on New Year's Eve '90-'91 and I can attest to their strong connection. I am not a huge fan of saxophonist David Murray and what he added to the group, but Ornette Coleman blew me away with powerful reeds work at the Oakland Coliseum on 2/23/93.

    Jerry and Branford Marsalis at Nassau Coliseum, March 29, 1990. Photo: Michael A. Conway ©2012

    Other cool guest spots I enjoyed (on tape or in person) include Carlos Santana at Calaveras 8/22-23/87 and Las Vegas 4/28/91 (“Bird Song”!); Suzanne Vega fronting the Dead for a version of Robin Hitchcock's "Chinese Bones" at the rainforest benefit at Madison Square Garden 9/24/88; all of Steve Miller's appearances with the band in the summer of '92 (he even elevated “Morning Dew” at Giants Stadium on 6/14/92); blues harmonica legend James Cotton at Soldier Field 6/25/92; the supremely soulful Bonnie Raitt on “Big Boss Man” NYE '89-'90; Neil Young leading the band through an emotional “Forever Young” at the Bill Graham memorial concert in Golden Gate Park on 11/3/91; Bruce Hornsby anytime he showed up to play; and, much to my surprise, Spencer Davis at the Forum in L.A. (along with Hornsby) on 12/10/89. I'm like a broken record singing the praises of Halloween '91 with Quicksilver's Gary Duncan and Ken Kesey, but it's worth mentioning again. One of the weirdest I personally saw was when Bob Dylan showed up for the encore at MSG on 10/17/94 and mumbled his way through “Rainy Day Women.” What an odd duck. Still, it was kinda fun screaming out “Everybody must get stoned!” along with Jerry.

    I have to admit that sometimes, once the initial rush of excitement over the unexpected appearance of a guest had subsided, I sometimes found myself wishing I was just hearing the Good Ol' Grateful Dead instead. Having an extra person onstage invariably changed the way the group played and at times actually brought the energy level down as the band struggled to mesh with a foreign element. It was one thing to have someone out there playing on a blues or “Midnight Hour” or something simple, but when the band carried on with “Terrapin” or “Stella Blue” or something the guest clearly didn't know, it could sound awkward and forced. But at least it was almost always interesting, and weren't we all craving new and different things? I was!

    I don't want to leave out Mickey and Bill's many percussionist friends. Airto, Flora Purim, Olatunji, Hamza El Din and others were always welcome visitors, and, truth be told, usually fit in with the flow of things even more than guest guitarists and singers.

    It's interesting that in the post-Grateful Dead world, the surviving band members are all about playing with anybody and everybody, anywhere anytime! They are flexible in ways the Grateful Dead were not, for some reason—anyone care to speculate why?

    Lastly, I am occasionally asked why there hasn't been a Grateful Dead & Friends box set, or more releases featuring guests. After all, there are more than enough outstanding tracks to make up a cool release. I don't have a good answer for you, except to note that obtaining rights from outside artists can be difficult—dealing with managers, record labels, the families of deceased players, etc.—and expensive. Of course the Dead wanted to put some Duane Allman or Beach Boys tracks from those '71 Fillmore East concerts on the Ladies and Gentlemen...The Grateful Dead package; couldn't work out a deal. Someday, perhaps.

    What are some your favorite guest appearances with the Dead? Or, conversely, tell us about ones you think didn't work. What would you put on a Grateful Dead & Friends box?

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By Blair Jackson
I only got to see Duane Allman in person once—at the Fillmore East when he sat in with the Dead for three numbers on 4/26/71: “Sugar Magnolia,” “It Hurts Me Too” and “Beat It on Down the Line.” I had recently fallen in love the Allmans' Idlewild South album, which served as my introduction to the band, so I was thrilled to see Duane rockin' with my favorite group!

As a suburban New York teenager completely enamored with the mystique of '60s San Francisco, I figured the Dead probably had musicians joining them onstage at their concerts all the time, not to mention endless late night jam sessions with Jorma, Carlos, Cipollina and whoever else was around when they were back in the Bay Area. When Tom Constanten (T.C.), whom I'd never seen play with the Dead, turned up as a guest at the Fillmore two night later, it reinforced my (incorrect) notion that sit-ins with the Dead were a common occurrence. For a while, I half-expected someone cool to show up every time I saw the band. But aside from another Allmans sighting the following year at Dillon Stadium in Hartford (7/16/72; Jerry and Bob reciprocated by playing with the Allmans the next night at Gaelic Park in the Bronx; equally thrilling!), it would be many years before I saw another outside musician with the Dead—could it really have been the “From Egypt with Love” shows, with harmonica ace Lee Oskar from War, in October of '78? I think so.

As my tape collection grew in the late '70s and early '80s, I finally got to hear some of the more famous guest appearances, such as Janis joining Pigpen for an endless and not particularly great “Lovelight” at the Fillmore West on 6/7/69, and the Fillmore East late show from 2/11/70, featuring Duane Allman and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac (and a bunch of others banging on various percussion instruments) jamming on “Dark Star,” a ferocious “Spanish jam” and “Lovelight.” That one's got lots of inspired playing, but also sounds wandering and extremely cluttered in places. It's the classic “too many cooks” jammer's dilemma—the musicians want to both shred and be deferential to the others onstage. Also, not everyone is miked equally well, so some parts unfortunately get lost in the mix. Still, imagine the excitement of being there and actually witnessing this sonic tsunami gushing off the stage in giant waves!

As a serious Jefferson Airplane fan, I was also ecstatic when the somewhat muffled audience tapes of the 11/20/70 Rochester Dead show appeared, with Jorma adding his stinging leads to a few songs (such as a fantastic “All Over Now” and “Darling Corey”) and jams. I guess if a soundboard version of that existed it would have materialized by now; sniff, sniff. Oh, well—thank God Marty Wienberg taped it!

By the '80s, it seems that most of the guest shots were song-oriented rather than jam-oriented, for better or worse. Etta James' appearances with the Dead 12/30-31/82 at Oakland Auditorium were a blast—it was great to hear her and the Tower of Power horns tackle “Hard to Handle” and “Lovelight” and “Tell Mama,” and fortunately they'd rehearsed at least a little. I also dug the tapes of Stephen Stills' loose but intense appearances at Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey 4/16-17/83. But I was disappointed by the melding of the Dead and much of The Band for a short, sloppy uninspired third set at the SF Civic on New Year's Eve '83.

E Street sax man Clarence Clemons sat in at a number of shows in the late '80s (and played several entire concerts with the Garcia Band in '89; a better match) and added some nice touches to some songs, but was distracting and “off” on others. Branford Marsalis' first appearance with the Dead at Nassau Coliseum on 3/29/90 was perhaps the greatest single sit-in ever with the Dead, in my view. No other guest “got” the band and its many facets as well as he did. I wasn't at that one, but I did get to see him with the Dead on New Year's Eve '90-'91 and I can attest to their strong connection. I am not a huge fan of saxophonist David Murray and what he added to the group, but Ornette Coleman blew me away with powerful reeds work at the Oakland Coliseum on 2/23/93.

Jerry and Branford Marsalis at Nassau Coliseum, March 29, 1990. Photo: Michael A. Conway ©2012

Other cool guest spots I enjoyed (on tape or in person) include Carlos Santana at Calaveras 8/22-23/87 and Las Vegas 4/28/91 (“Bird Song”!); Suzanne Vega fronting the Dead for a version of Robin Hitchcock's "Chinese Bones" at the rainforest benefit at Madison Square Garden 9/24/88; all of Steve Miller's appearances with the band in the summer of '92 (he even elevated “Morning Dew” at Giants Stadium on 6/14/92); blues harmonica legend James Cotton at Soldier Field 6/25/92; the supremely soulful Bonnie Raitt on “Big Boss Man” NYE '89-'90; Neil Young leading the band through an emotional “Forever Young” at the Bill Graham memorial concert in Golden Gate Park on 11/3/91; Bruce Hornsby anytime he showed up to play; and, much to my surprise, Spencer Davis at the Forum in L.A. (along with Hornsby) on 12/10/89. I'm like a broken record singing the praises of Halloween '91 with Quicksilver's Gary Duncan and Ken Kesey, but it's worth mentioning again. One of the weirdest I personally saw was when Bob Dylan showed up for the encore at MSG on 10/17/94 and mumbled his way through “Rainy Day Women.” What an odd duck. Still, it was kinda fun screaming out “Everybody must get stoned!” along with Jerry.

I have to admit that sometimes, once the initial rush of excitement over the unexpected appearance of a guest had subsided, I sometimes found myself wishing I was just hearing the Good Ol' Grateful Dead instead. Having an extra person onstage invariably changed the way the group played and at times actually brought the energy level down as the band struggled to mesh with a foreign element. It was one thing to have someone out there playing on a blues or “Midnight Hour” or something simple, but when the band carried on with “Terrapin” or “Stella Blue” or something the guest clearly didn't know, it could sound awkward and forced. But at least it was almost always interesting, and weren't we all craving new and different things? I was!

I don't want to leave out Mickey and Bill's many percussionist friends. Airto, Flora Purim, Olatunji, Hamza El Din and others were always welcome visitors, and, truth be told, usually fit in with the flow of things even more than guest guitarists and singers.

It's interesting that in the post-Grateful Dead world, the surviving band members are all about playing with anybody and everybody, anywhere anytime! They are flexible in ways the Grateful Dead were not, for some reason—anyone care to speculate why?

Lastly, I am occasionally asked why there hasn't been a Grateful Dead & Friends box set, or more releases featuring guests. After all, there are more than enough outstanding tracks to make up a cool release. I don't have a good answer for you, except to note that obtaining rights from outside artists can be difficult—dealing with managers, record labels, the families of deceased players, etc.—and expensive. Of course the Dead wanted to put some Duane Allman or Beach Boys tracks from those '71 Fillmore East concerts on the Ladies and Gentlemen...The Grateful Dead package; couldn't work out a deal. Someday, perhaps.

What are some your favorite guest appearances with the Dead? Or, conversely, tell us about ones you think didn't work. What would you put on a Grateful Dead & Friends box?

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I only got to see Duane Allman in person once—at the Fillmore East when he sat in with the Dead for three numbers on 4/26/71: “Sugar Magnolia,” “It Hurts Me Too” and “Beat It on Down the Line.” I had recently fallen in love the Allmans' Idlewild South album, which served as my introduction the band, so I was thrilled to see Duane rockin' with my favorite band!

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a collection of just the Branford shows would suit me fine. As you say, he was just about unique in getting it and being up to the task of whatever the band was doing, and indeed making it better. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a random cast of SF music legends playing yet another Johnny B. Goode, because it was something they all knew, was not my dish.
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II'm a fan of the September 1973 experiment with horns having Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis sit in with the band. For some songs, it didn't quite work, but I loved their contributions on the Weather Report Suite. I don't know if I would have enjoyed a constant horn presence, but it would have been nice to see that periodically over the years...
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...we could have put together a compilation that had the very best versions of each of the songs those guys played on (plus some other great stuff from that tour in '73). However, I suspect too many people didn't/don't like the horns to make a commercially viable release from those shows....
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said, "no guests with the GD." my exceptions: 11/20/70!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6/10/73!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7/28/73!!!!!!!!! 2/11/70!!!!! 7/16/72!!!! 10/31/83! MAYBE a few others. Clarence Clemons?? No, thank you. Branford? Eh. The "horrid horns" of 9/73? Ick. Gimme dat pure ol' GD, please.
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I've just listened to David Murray joining in on 'Estimated Prophet', 22 September 1993 -- amazing! It's as good as the version (I forget the date; it was quite late on) on which Branford Marsalis joined in. Both sax players take the song, or rather the hefty jams afterwards, a lot further than the band would go on their own. A compilation of the best guest performances would make a great two-CD or three-CD set. I'm sure that the contractual problems could be overcome.
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Pete Townshend seemed unsure what to do during the 3/28/81 TV broadcast when Jerry went into Wharf Rat. It was a blast to see Pete onstage with the Dead but they never really took off.
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I am usually not a big fan of guest players but...these guys fit in well. Added some variety on a fun tour..summer '82. I think Jerry and John had a good sense of how to play together. Drums*-> The Other One**-> Not Fade Away**-> Wharf Rat**-> Good Lovin'**, E: Satisfaction**-> E: Brokedown Palace**
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For some reason, the scratch patch was open again and the view was perfect.That made it all the more exciting when Spencer Davis joined the boys second set opener with Gimme Some Lovin'. Energy levels were through the roof. Sitting stage level behind the stage provided the perfect vantage point from which to view this nugget of history. I remember after they were done, Bobby said "Thank you Spencer" as he walked off stage. It looked like he was totally floored by the whole experience. I'm not sure if that was the first time he joined them on stage. Sure seemed like it.
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Etta and the Tower of Power horns on the New Year's Eve set has always been my favorite. Grateful Dead was always a great blues band (as Etta said, "The greatest American blues band in the world.") and it shows on that set. I loved the way she emphasized the word American. The Dylan shows in 1987 rate, and the guest percussionists were, I agree, always a great fit. Branford was a great fit; Hornsby was more a member of the band than a guest. After that, it kind of tails off for me.
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I imagine someone can top this but as far as unusual guests, how about word-jazz artist Ken Nordine joining the band at the Rosemont in 93? What a booming voice he had/has. I didn't realize his mic wasn't turned on until someone ran out from the side of the stage and turned it on (rather embarrassing for the Dead, huh, but not unusual). At least that's how I remember it, anyone else see that? On the audience tape I've heard it doesn't sound like his mic was ever off--maybe it was me who was off. After his "rap" the place was buzzing and most people didn't know who he was; some thought Ken Kesey, others were sure it was Robert Hunter. It was a bit of a mind blower. "How are things in your town?!"
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Guest guitar players were the worst of the guests usually in my view. The Santana stuff a big exception. And the Bonnie Raitt "Big Boss Man" was killer. But the Steve Miller or Halloween 91 gigs are prime examples of what I personally don't care for. Steve Miller in particular...it's like, ugh, you're making a weak show even worse, dude. Sax, harmonica, percussion all worked better than more wandering guitars...we had the King of wandering guitar already. I liked David Murray at MSG. The other guy, Coleman? Didn't like it at all. I was there at Autzen in 93 when Huey Lewis came up. Too bad they didn't turn him up! The one artist that I find it a tragedy they never toured with or jammed with...SRV.
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Blair, I am not so sure that the Martin Fierro/Joe Ellis shows won't get released. When the Dave's Pick series was first announced, over a year ago, Dead.net had some graphic of different show dates(floating about on the page) that may eventually be included. One of the dates was 9/11/73(at William & Mary). So, I'm still hopeful of getting a release someday.
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I was about halfway back on the floor of the Medowlands when Stephen Stills took the stage for Black Queen. That was a pretty cool show. This was back before I met Patty Harris and Dennis McNally so unlike the shot of Brandford above, the Stephen Stills images are pretty soft and I wasn't close enough to fill the frame.
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Agree with Blair about Clarence and Grateful Dead - sometimes it worked, most times seemed awkward. Springsteen and the E Street Band were my first lesson in how powerful and beautiful a live concert experience could be, and Clarence was larger than life in that band. He seemed timid - a word rarely associated with him! - with GD. But I remember the thrill of seeing him onstage with JGB when the stage lights went on at Alpine in fall of '89. I had no idea he was going to be there. And his sax worked well in that context. I remember digging when Hornsby joined the band for the first time (I think) on accordion in summer of '88. Not mind-blowing, but fun and unique.
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I had the chance to see the Dead with guests on two occasions. My first guest occasion was the first time Bruce Hornsby sat in on accrdian for two songs at Buckeye Lake 6/25/88. This show is a prime example of an underrated performance from an underappreciated, underrepresented year, of a show that a soundboard doesn't circulate. Maybe someday... The second guest occasion I attended was the Soldier Field show with Steve Miller and James Cotton. To see Chicago native Cotton harmonica genius and legend sit in on a few blues numbers, with the Dead, in Chicago on a perfect summer evening outside was a beautiful experience. The first set from this show is perfectly executed. My personal favorite of the 12 shows I attended in '92. The following year at Soldier Field, Jerry actually sat in with Stings band, which was cool. I wouldn't mind finding a tape of that opening set! As far as the Santana sit-ins, they were always among my favorite tapes. Somebody please make these happen as official releases! Finally, Branford from Nassau 3/29/90....what more needs to be said about that show? I don't know why this hasn't been THE top priority release. If this one is to someday be released as part of the possible someday Spring '90 Box #2, I wouldn't mind, though I think would be accessable and popular as a stand alone release on store shelves...which reminds me... I can't help but to notice that... 1. many of the releases in the Dead Store that are listed are unavailable to purchase, with many shows dropping like flys from the online catalog. 2. My local stores where I purchase music from in person, like Best Buy, doesn't have much stock of Grateful Dead CDs. Is the business model for Grateful Dead marketing in the process of fazing out "in person" sales? Even the standard catalog seems to be absent from store shelves...? Whats up with that?
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4/27/71 Fillmore East- The Beach Boys made a classic guest spot. The Beach Boys were still in prime form in '71 and they add a lot of fun fun fun stuff to the set. Quite recently, the entire after show jam from Watkins Glen Summer Jam 7/28/73 has surfaced, which contains a lot more than what previously circulated. Rick Danko of the Band starts off the festivities with some extended solo vocals, but soon Jerry joins him on guitar. Eventually more musicians from the Allman Brothers Band and the Band appear and they settle into a nice "Mountain Jam." By the way, if you see the Allman Brothers Band these days, they seem to have guest musicians EVERY night!!! I mean every night. I don't think the current lineup of the ABB ever go out onstage anymore without some outsider helping out. When Dickey Betts was in the band, there were more shows with just the core members.
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My brother Rick was there. I love the recording. As for later day jam sessions in the spirit of the Fillmore era I think of the Neville Brothers with the Dead in February 86, Oakland. Was there and it was thrilling. Also 10/27/91 with Santana and Gary Duncan on "Hey Bo Diddley", not to mention 10/31/91, there both nights. And the man himself Bo Diddley in March 72. Bo was wild, hilarious, crazy and animated. Was very lucky to be there that night. As far as the old time spirit it was Nevilles 86, Santana and Gary Duncan 10/27,31/91 and also Carlos Santana jamming with the Dead on Bird Song 4/28/91, Las Vegas. Carlos took flight that day. Looked like a mackaw playing his Paul Reed Smith guitar.
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I remember Edie Brickell at MSG 93 or 94. That was fun. I wasn't there, but I love to listen to the Bo Diddley jams from Dicks Picks 30. That "I've Seen Them All" is AWESOME!! I wish that I could have been there!! Summer tour '94 when Traffic opened was nice to see Jerry sit in with them for a very nice "Mr. Fantasy". I think it always sounded better when they played special guests songs, rather than special guest playing Dead music.
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Heard a version of West LA Fadeaway on Sirrius XM where one of the guys from Los Lobos sat in and totally shredded it. Must have been from '87 or '88. Def worth checking out.
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Hey Blair, Great review. I know there's so many. Don't forget David Hidalgo at Laguna Seca '88. I found the David Murray/James Cotton sit in at 9/22/93 to be really great. Listening to King Bee from 12/08/93. I kinda wish that Vince had been just a guest. No comment on who is was as a person, but as a professional musician (and perhaps arranger[?]), he wasn't of the same level as the boys. He was evidently powerfully courageous to take on the challenge, but while the boys share one of the greatest blues moments of their career, Vince just walked and stomped all over the band that eventually overwhelmed and buried the very real music happening at that time. It would have been fine to either fire him, or hire a front-line keyboardist to follow Hornsby, as Vince knew how to flourish and embellish better than to hold his own with Jerry, Phil and Bob. We can't change the past, but man... I got to wonder... on certain shows, it would be really interesting to remove Vince from the mix, and add him in when his playing was relevant and unobtrusive. I think that his tone and timing make the late-age GD hard to hear, but when you really listen, you can hear that Jerry, Phil, Bob and the drums are playing the finest music of their lives. The conversation got so incredibly deep. They could have been fine had they gone as a quintet for a while. To be fair, overall, Vince did learn a lot of material in a short time, enter deep into a very intricate, complex and sophisticated musical landscape more implicitly subtle than explicit, and within his limited range of technique and overwhelming constantly changing keyboard tones, he had it very very rough. And when Jerry's health began to really fall in '94, the band began to get more comfortable, and Vince got more comfortable within the groove. Hence, as Jerry declined, Vince rose. But who permitted Vinny to sing Samba in the Rain? It's almost as though the principles that had governed the Dead to success no longer existed. Man, those had to be hard times. Fortunately, for 9/22/93, Vince was on his best behavior, only getting lost for a spell during the transition from Estimated into Dark Star (he didn't really have a great sense for the chromatic and dissonant rises and falls, even if he had a small vocabulary to work with through the changes. I think of the last show I saw, June 4, 1995 at Shoreline. Vince sounded great throughout set 1, and his annoying cliche's during Cassidy rippled across the rhythm like a beautiful wave. Yes, over 5 years, he grew immeasurably and assumed his role. There were even nights in '95 when Jerry was on, and the whole band plays their asses off start to fin. Try June 30, 1995 for a generally beautiful show. Or Summer '94 Chicago, with a near perfect first night, and an epic Samson->Eyes->Eternity->He's Gone that is one of the truly spectacular passages of the final years. I even heard a version of Samba from around that time where Jerry nailed his part (did that happen more than once? It might have been the Chicago one, I didn't take note). Anyway, we're talking about guests. But if one were to discuss releasing Vince shows, make sure to master the shrill aspects out of his tone, and at least bring his good qualities to light, as a night when Vince was on was definitely not a bad show. I seem to recall 5.5.91 being a very tight show at Cal Expo, and I don't recall Vince offending my ears at any time on 12/31/91. Hell, on 12/28/91, I felt so happy for him because that was the first time that I heard him come out of his shell and really make a difference in that Playin'->Same Thing->jam. I'll bet if you shed a positive light, you will find that there are reliable qualities of Vince that are up there with the best qualities of any of the guys who played with the band. Even if he seemed like the guest who overstayed his welcome, he was chosen by the band He's part of the "warts and all" experience, and he grew a lot during his tenure. It was truly a difficult job to be the new keyboardist in the GD at that time, and I think he deserves some credit again. D.
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...what all the Vince-bashing has to do with the topic, but each to his or her own, I guess... You sound kinda confused, Dan... But hey, "we're all confused"!

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Blair, I'm not sure commercial viability should be such an issue for the limited releases ~ I think the 12-13K limits should allow the Vault-meisters to indulge the "fetishists".... And '73 is wildly popular regardless, so I can't imagine one of the "horns" releases not selling. What I've heard I think is really fun ~ or I should say, hearing Jerry having fun playing with them. I think a best-version anthology would be great. As to my own sit-in experiences ~ caught the Spencer Davis surprise appearance at Philly '87, as well. The band had to insert the "Hey!"s (which they didn't do at that time) and make a few other minor adjustments to tailor "their" version to his classic one, but it was quite a fun way to begin a 2nd set. And then Jerry hit the opening notes to "ChinaCat -> Rider," and the set started over again. So it was like a freebie ~ you got the guest slot, AND "just the boys".... My only other sit-ins (not counting the band backing Dylan in '87) were both Bruce. First at Buckeye Lake '88 ~ and the "Accordion Sugaree" was a big UGH for me and my friends, I must admit. For one thing, it stunted the Jerry long-buildup-jam factor, and also I had no appreciation for the instrument at that time. Having now bonded in a band with an accordion player, I have a great love for the instrument these days. The other Bruce was RFK Stadium, summer '89 first night, 2nd set. That was where Brent shared the bench with him for a jam and they both dualed it out on piano. Very fun and memorable. And how tragically symbolically prescient in retrospect. (Also the only time I ever saw the Dire Wolf guitar in action, I think for post-Space only but I wouldn't swear...) I actually caught one more Bruce guest-spot (on accordion for "Know You Rider") in '93, but by then he was a full on ex-member so it didn't quite feel like a guest so much as a returning hero ~ a big "Bruuuce!" chant greeted his appearance : ) As you said, lots of guests in more recent incarnations. For New Year's 2003, in addition to Greg Osby on sax for most of the night, there was a mystery percussion player for the Countdown and opening "Sugar Magnolia." Turned out to be Bill Walton!
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In answer to this question, I would have to go with The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers RFK '73. A while back, I transcripted part of an article from an Allman Brothers fanzine "Hittin' The Note" with an interview between Dick Latvala and Kirk West talking about a plan they had to put out the '73 RFK run. It obviously didn't get the nod. If tptb want this bad enough, they can make it happen. I'm sure there are at least 10,000 eager Deadheads who would throw down the money for this, and another 10,000 eager Peachheads who would do the same. I would, and I'm a huge fan of both bands. Throw in the full sets and soundchecks from Watkin's Glen, and you got yourself the next Big Box surprise! Count me in!
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The Grateful Dead have released around 500 hours of music over the years. I love almost all of it, but while I look forward to each release, it is hard to break really new ground when there is that much out there already in official releases. And then of course there is archive/etree/etc. I have long been an advocate for a "Friends of the Dead" release, because it would be more unique than most other choices. I just don't think TPTB would ever spend the legal time and dollars as well as share the royalties with a bunch of guest stars, especially for a Dave's Picks 13,000 unit offering. This is a business, after all, and mastering a soundboard has got to be way, way easier than negotiation with a bunch of artists and then doing individual mastering of songs. If, however, TPTB *did* decide to go this route, I think the choices would be: 1) A major 2 or 3 disc release (whatever you call the kind of release that ends up at Best Buy, etc.) of guest artist highlights, which is a low probability in my opinion, or 2) A release of a single show, which involved only one outside company negotiation for the guest artist. This would likely be 6/10/73 with the Allman's or 3/29/90 with Branford. Whoops, 6/10/73 would also involve Merl. I emailed David L. about releasing a 9/73 horns show, but he felt that none of the performances were release worthy, despite being unique. I think a Best of 9/73 release would be awesome, but I don't know if DL would be able to piece together tracks he felt were worthy. I'm sure I could... :-) It's just so much easier for TPTB to release a show without these complications and revenue sharing arrangements, I don't think there will be much incentive to take this on until individual shows stop selling. My $0.02.
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Really, I'd love a '73 horns release. Frankly, I just don't buy into the myth that there were "bad" shows during 68-74. I think this is just a myth, perpetuated in part by the band itself. People like the myth, since it refutes the notion that Deadheads are uncritical "sheep". I've never heard a 68-74 show that I didn't love. Sure, there's a whole spectrum there. Some shows seem relatively uninspired, some are pure magic. But the band always sounds the same. The band's chemistry is always the same and their uncompromising approach is always the same. I'd take the "worst" 68-74 show over the "best" post-hiatus show. It was a true golden age.I'll always prefer the Dead alone, without guests. But even sketchy horns can't ruin the warm, beautiful sound of 1973 Dead.
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Second set featured a surprise guest appearance by the Neville Brothers . They sat in from Aiko-Aiko through Knocking on Heaven's Door and crushed it. During the intro to Aiko Phil "burped out" one note that was so loud it shook the entire arena. I was there and the energy in that place was unbelievable! My favorite of several guest appearances I witnessed over the years. Listen to the version on the l.m.a. Great memories!!
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The Grateful Dead with guest stars, yeah, baby.#1 sit in is the Dicks Picks with Bo Diddley (I can't beleve I ate the whole thing) #2 Bob Dylan, the Front street rehearsal tapes are a gas. #3 Spencer Davis at the Great Western Forum (twice ) second time he quipped about hiding in the dressing room since dec. 88 #4 Bob Dylan 2/12/89 at the Forum (best moment when Bobby stranded the Bard at the mic during StuckIOMWTMBAgain. CLASSIC. #5 Maria Muldar in 73 with You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man. #6 Carlos at Mountain Aire '87 (both days). #7 Branford at NYE 90 (Why are these shows not released ?) #8 Etta & TofP Horns at NYE 82 #9 Joan Baez at NYE 81 #10 Cippolina on Not Fade Away at the Greek in '83 Honorable Mention Jerry and Bob back up John Fogerty with Randy Jackson on Bass and Steve Jordan on Drums at The AIDS Benefit in 89 Clarence comes by for the encore of Suzie Q. And the list goes on and on and on......
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I really don't know why 3/29/90 wasn't released with the Spring 1990 box. Maybe it's because we already had Eyes and Bird Song, or maybe they couldn't get the rights. Either way, it was a crying shame. Perhaps somewhere down the line the 90 NYE is scheduled for a release and they didn't want two full shows with Branford?
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Being like Palmer Eldritch, another 68-74 head - I would only like to have Duane with the Dead. Guests usually disturbed the tightness of the band. Although, like you Blair, I love variety, but on repeated listening it seems too distracting and not THE music that we all love. I did like Stephen Stills' Black Queen with the Dead, and Steve Winwoods organ with the Dead - but not his botched up NFA. Sure, pure Grateful Dead is better anyday.
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About the :shadow people"? I'm hazy on the details but it seems as if people who did special "favors" or were friends of Jerry got on stage with an instrument in their hands and jammed for a while, even a partial song. I recall Jerry told (Healy probably) to keep them very low in the mix). Parish also said these peole really had no business being plugged in but Jerry ruled the roost. I have no idea if any of this was true or not, but it made interesting conversation!
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I've always thought that a "sitting in with the GD" release would be really popular. The number of guests that all of you have written about is evidence of how much we all treasure those collaborations, even when they were kind of clunky (Janis, 6/7/69). I saw one of the GD with horns shows (Buffalo, 9/26/73) and when the horns came on stage the show went right downhill. I loved Fierro with Jerry and Merl but with the Dead they just muddied the sound. Moreover, they took leads when we were used to hearing Jerry solo (Eyes of the World) and so I felt like I missed what I came for. I've listened to several other shows and agree with Dave - none of them are worth releasing. On the other hand, I was thrilled to be at the U of R on 11/20/70 when Jorma jammed with the Dead. It was my first gymnasium show and the show was so much longer than I was used to. Three full sets, with Jorma coming on for the final one. Oh how I wish there were boards available because listening to the audience tapes doesn't do the show justice. It was a great night! And just a few nights before they jammed with Traffic at the Fillmore. Another one worth hearing. The jam at Watkins Glen does soar. Despite how insanely stoned Rick Danko was, when the ensemble got to Mountain Jam I remember that it became the highest moment of a very full day. Well worth the listen. I think there are lots of great collaborations worth issuing. Undoubtedly 6/10/73 is as good as any. I really like Carlos at Calaveras in 87 and I echo Blair's comments about 10/27/91. The Beach Boys in 4/71 is kind of silly but Duane's appearance that week is killer. Anytime Cippolina joined them on-stage is worth hearing. Stills did an amazing Black Queen at the Thelma in LA in December 1969. So many to choose from! C'mon Dave, you could easily pull this off if you tried!
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were Neville's at Giant Stadium 7-10-89 for huge NOLA drumz into Iko then Dew, great powerful stuff from great musicians. And t'other was a weird one that some people hate (not Blair however); Suzanne Vega at MSG 9-24-88. I was already a fan of hers for a few years, but was shocked she was sitting in. Here was this mini-ish mousey little girl with a Taylor acoustic, standing center-stage NYC in front of Double Drum Risers and bookended by Weir and Garcia. Jerry was all smiles and you can hear Suzanne's voice go from nervous, recital kid to lead singer of the Grateful Dead. She even smiles towards the end as she takes in the spectacle. Sweet moment. I dug the song too, first time I ever heard it.
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I find this especially gratifying because when I did my interview with Jer back in the day, we got on this sidetrack about how great Suzanne Vega was. Up to that point I had no idea he was a fan too!
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I remember Mathew Kelley (from Kingfish, etc.) sitting in on some east coast shows and blowing some harp. It was likely 1985, maybe it was Nassau or Worcester (or both?). From my spot just out in front of the stage on Phil's side, I had a clear view as Mickey would repeatedly chuck drumsticks at Matt, occasionally dinging him in the head. I had not seen that before...
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i
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3.29.90 the first time with Branford is one of my top shows. Branford just seems to really click with the band. Being a huge jazz fan it a big surprise when he came out, many people around me were like Branford Who?. It was very cool that someone on the level of Branford musically would jam with the boys - multiple times. Certainly one of the best saxophonists out there. Actually my first show 4.16.83 Brendan Bryne Arena had Stephen Stills come during the second set. And lets not forget April Fools 93 Nassau Coliseum with Barney!
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The inability of most "guests" to raise the level of the music, or to even mesh well, is as good an indication as any of what was rather unique about the dead. Outside of songs well centered in traditional musical genres, guests often sounded lost, inappropriate, tonally and timbrally off, and so on. The proof is in the jams, where most guests sound, well, quite frankly, bad! The exception are advanced jazz musicians like Ornette and Branford (I am a David Murray fan, but don't think he tried very hard!). I came to not welcome guests, but fear them, knowing we will get a bland run-throuigh of NFA, or something like that. I wish they had brought on more jazz-centered guests over the years. Well, enough of this!
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Even though this is off topic because it wasn't someone sitting in with the Dead, it stills seems tangentially relevant. I have always thought that Fogerty wasted a golden opportunity to jam out a 10 - 15 minute Keep On Chooglin' or Heard It Through The Grapevine when Jerry and Bob sat in with him at the AIDS Benefit in 1989. That would've been so cool. Instead they played a bunch of short songs and it really didn't even matter that Jerry was there, he really didn't take any distinctive or impressive solos. Doesn't seem like Fogerty is a risk-taker, musically. As for Dead sit ins, I agree that Branford was a cut above every other sit in because of his jazz chops and his innate understanding of the music. Next for me would be the raging Spanish Jam from 2/11/70. Usually too many people on stage creates a muddled mess, but not on this one, to my ears. Blazing! The sit in I most wished for that didn't happen was Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes with the Dead in the early 90s. They were on fire in those years and were playing Going Down The Road Feeling Bad and even doing a little Franklin's Tower instrumental jam. I think they could've blended in with the Dead in a seemless way just like Branford did. Modern sound mixing technology probably made sit ins in the 80s/90s potentially better sounding than in the early 70s.
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The Neville Brothers in Pittsburgh, and Jerry with Sting were my favorites. And of course, Tipper Gore with The Dead in '09
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1-13-80 The Cambodian refugee benefit at the Oakland Coliseum featured John Cipollina and Carlos Santana joining in with the band on a powerhouse Sugar Magnolia. It made having to stand out in the rain for hours waiting to get inside worth it.I wish I had been there on 4/26/71 - I'm a huge Duane Allman fan. . . listen to his slide solo on BIODTL. . . it's short, but it couldn't be any hotter!
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That was 3-28-85 and 3-29-85 at Nassau Coliseum. I LOVE the first set from 3-28 with Matt Kelly on the Smokestack Lightning that came out of the Truckin' opener. The China Rider to close the set blazes. Its solid all the way through to my ears. The drumsticks being hurled at Matt Kelly is to me a very shameful story in the Dead history. I don't know firsthand all the circumstances that lead to the apparent hatred and violence between Matt Kelly and the drummers, but I find the whole thing shocking. If he knew Billy and Mickey were so pissed off at him, what led him to still sit in? I wish I could forget all that stuff, because I love to hear a harp player sit in with the Dead on a blues tune and Matt Kelly was a good harp player.
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I really liked the Fogerty set with Bob and Jerry sitting in with him at the AIDS benefit. I was up pretty close and remember Jerry having a lot of fun backing him up. John Fogerty was the show though, and ran off a number of classic guitar parts, so there wasn't any deep jamming, but it was very high energy, Fogerty had the full catalog of CCR hits at his disposal, and they played the crowd, smiles all around. For those who weren't at the Oakland AIDS benefit show, the entire lineup was phenomenal. The Grateful Dead played last, Fogerty third-to-last. Who was in the unenviable middle slot between those two Rock Legends? A completely solo Tracy Chapman. Unlike the Dead at Monterey Pop (sandwiched between the Who and Hendrix, of course), Tracy Chapman delivered the goods. She held the masses in the palm of her hand. She was mesmerizing. My first Dead show was at Calaveras in 1987, so like Blair I thought special guests must be more common than they really were. Carlos Santana, to my ears, forced Garcia to greater heights - the watchtower was a no-brainer, and the Birdsong was unique in its intensity. It couldn't be called the definitive version, just because of the way the Dead members had to cater to the outsider a bit, but it was a fresh take. David Lindley opened those two shows and was also fantastic.
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Blair is right; not as many guests as you would expect during much of the Dead's tenure. I was at 2/11/70, BTW--15 people on stage including Duane/Greg/Barry Oakley (and maybe others; it's been a whle) from ABB, all of the Dead, plus Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac--3 hours of monster jamming. Delaney Bramlett in September 1970, also at the Fillmore East; Cippolina on NYE in 1980, and that's it. When Sting opened for the Dead at Soldier's Field in 1993 (1994? again, i'ts been a while), I expected him to come back on and play with the band, but he didn't. The "sitting in" that I suspect many Deadheads who dabble at the guitar themselves will own up to is DREAMING of playing with the Dead. It's only happened a few times for me, and not for years, but that's one heck of a way to spend nighttime in your sleep.
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wished he had joined them more often but we get to see and hear him on the Closing of Winterland.
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My favorite guest appearance was...me! I was hanging out backstage at the Oakland Coliseum Arena way back when and somehow ended up underneath the stage (!). In trying to get out of there, I found some stairs and went up, only to discover I was now onstage! This occurred during the drums segment of the show, so, noticing some percussion instruments nearby, I picked up a cowbell and started playing it. I got a few looks, as in, "Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?" But, since I was on the beat, no one seemed to care all that much. My few minutes of fame ended abruptly when I noticed Steve Parish staring at me as he was headed my way. I escaped unscathed, but, alas, my time as a member of the Dead was over. Man, I sure miss those days!
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and the only prescription is more.........." :D lol
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First off I would like to mention the extremely strange guest sit in of Bob Dylan at The LA Forum in 1989...basically refusing to sing on his songs except when Bobby faked going up on the lyrics to Memphis, and then Dylan only finished one verse! The other was when the entire Grateful Dead and the entire Huey Lewis and The News and John Fogerty did a few songs all together at The Bammies (1988?) Two Basses, Three Drummers...overload! I've mentioned my Clarence Clemons story before, but at the 12/27/89 show he and I were talking and he talked about how much he liked sitting in with GD and told me, "you can call me The Big Dead Man for now on!" Then he told me he was going out to the parking lot to score some acid! He walked out the door and the next time I saw him that night his eyes were blazing!
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Funny the things one remembers. I was at the show when Delaney Bramlett sat in, and all I remember is that he seemed very dressed up to me. Of course he would have, with anything dressier than a t-shirt and jeans on.
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  • canonico
    3 years 8 months ago
    delaney
    Funny the things one remembers. I was at the show when Delaney Bramlett sat in, and all I remember is that he seemed very dressed up to me. Of course he would have, with anything dressier than a t-shirt and jeans on.
  • smarcus
    6 years ago
    Two very interesting "guest sit ins"
    First off I would like to mention the extremely strange guest sit in of Bob Dylan at The LA Forum in 1989...basically refusing to sing on his songs except when Bobby faked going up on the lyrics to Memphis, and then Dylan only finished one verse! The other was when the entire Grateful Dead and the entire Huey Lewis and The News and John Fogerty did a few songs all together at The Bammies (1988?) Two Basses, Three Drummers...overload! I've mentioned my Clarence Clemons story before, but at the 12/27/89 show he and I were talking and he talked about how much he liked sitting in with GD and told me, "you can call me The Big Dead Man for now on!" Then he told me he was going out to the parking lot to score some acid! He walked out the door and the next time I saw him that night his eyes were blazing!
  • slo lettuce
    6 years ago
    "i got a fevah.....
    and the only prescription is more.........." :D lol