Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Hour no. 406

Grateful Dead Hour by David Gans

Week of July 1, 1996

Ratdog, from Furthur (Hybrid Recordings HY20012, 1996)


Grateful Dead 11/20/78 Cleveland Music Hall






"I Need a Miracle" is a studio recording by an early lineup of Ratdog: Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Rob Wasserman on bass, Jay Lane on drums, and the great Johnnie Johnson on piano.

Johnson's story is a colorful one: He was playing jazz and blues in St. Louis in 1952, fronting the Sir John Trio. When his guitarist fell ill on New Year's Eve, according to Wikipedia, "Johnson, searching for a last minute replacement, called a young man named Chuck Berry, an ex-convict and the only musician Johnson knew who because of his inexperience, would likely not be playing on New Years Eve. Johnson was right. Although a limited guitarist, Berry added vocals and showmanship to the group. Since Bennett would not be able to play again because of his stroke, Johnson hired Berry as a permanent member of the Trio."

Chuck Berry was destined to become one of the legends of rock'n'roll music. He went to Chicago and got himself a record deal, and from then on Johnson was in Berry's band rather than vice versa. He is said to have been the inspiration for the song "Johnny B. Goode," even though he was a piano player and not a guitarist. (But it was Lafayette Leake who played on Berry's original recording of "Johnny B. Goode."). In addition to "Johnny B. Goode," Chuck Berry contributed "Around and Around" to the GD songbook, and "Let It Rock" to the Garcia Band repertoire. The GD tried "Let It Rock" exactly once, in Florida in 1974; I thought it was a cool performance, but it never happened again, for whatever reason.)

There's a great tribute film on Chuck Berry, Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll! It's available on DVD. Taylor Hackford directed the film, which features footage of a tribute show plus interviews with many of the performers. Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt, Etta James, and many other greats appear.

I'm not sure how Bob Weir and Johnnie Johnson crossed paths - I emailed Bobby but haven't heard back yet. But Johnson was in Ratdog for around a year; he was replaced by Jeff Chimenti, who continues in the keyboard chair to this day.

The piece of tape from 11/20/78 is of unknown provenance, given to me by Jim Wise. According to only this passage circulates in soundboard form - but it's an absolutely unique Grateful Dead set: opening set 2 with a jam into "Jackaroe," the sequence of "Playing in the Band" into "Shakedown Street," and the rarely-played Hunter-Garcia ballad "If I Had the World to Give." I've never heard the audience recording of this show, but it seems like it might be worth pursuing. You just gotta poke around.

You can browse and/or search the Grateful Dead Hour program logs on the show's home page, Let us know if there's a particular show you'd like to hear, and feel free to post requests and comments here or by email to gdhour [at]

Thanks for listening!

David Gans

gdhour [at]

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JUJU's picture
Joined: Jun 6 2007
best second set opening ever


thank you for this show David

l Love the opening jam into jack a roe

May Helios be with you Jérôme ! I'm sure he is .

Big Bad Bill's picture
Joined: Jun 21 2007
May the word of Christ live

May the word of Christ live in you richly

Joined: Oct 2 2007

This is a real gem. Great jams, this is sweet!

jerryskid's picture
Joined: Jun 21 2007

sweeeeeeeeeeet ............

""" nothing left to do but,SMILE

grateful_ed's picture
Joined: Jun 14 2007

That Jackaroe was grrrreat! And a great lead into!!! If I had the world.... was wonderful!!! Thanks much for putting the GD Hours out here! I never seem to catch them and sitting here at work makes the day just go on bye!!!!

Grateful_nirvanA's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
Great World to Give

Another great choice this week DG! This was one of the first shows I downloaded from the archives and it was because of this GDH. It certainly sounds like Jerry is WAAAYY high on this night, and the drummers are just insane! This show is one that really is strange in the cannon of GD shows IMHO. It is rare that one member really just takes control and has his way with what will transpire on any given night, but Jerry does just that here. It's funny at points even, especially with the lyrics. It's like, as soon as Bobby (or Jerry) is done singing (even just between lyric sections of a song, not just in the spaces between songs), Jerry is right back into the groove he wants the band in. The lyrics almost don't matter, except to place signposts for the band and audience to realize how far they have traveled on this ride. That is, until you get to the World to Give. This is just the picture perfect version of this song, which may be why they never played it again. In any event, listen to this one here, then you will seek out a copy to keep. And, while not mentioned here, there is a good portion of the opening jam that is not available on the soundboard version heard here (the very beginning and another portion several minutes later) as well as the remainder of the set (Playing reprise and I think Around and Around). They are available as an audience tape.

pomo1's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007
Great Show

This was my second show and I remember it like it was yesterday. I recall Bobby did not come out at the start of the Second Set and Jerry was jamming and I was thinking how great it was that Jerry jams to start the second set. The next night they played in Buffalo or Rochester (I think) and when Bobby came out at the start of the Second Set I was actually disappointed. Being a new rider on the bus, I thought Jerry always started the second set without Weir. Of course it never happened again, and I have to admit that I felt a tinge of disappointment whenever Bobby started the Second Set.
Anyway, I always thought this show was special, although the crowd was a little beat. I have heard people say that Weir missed more than the beginning of the set, but I have a pretty strong recollection of him remaining on stage after after the opening jam. I also heard that the reason he missed the start of the Second Set was that he was ill and puking.
Thanks for an inspired choice DG.

Len's picture
Joined: Jun 13 2007
The GD segment

The GD segment from 1978 is a gem. The 16 minute jam into Jackaroe is unique. And Shakedown Street is really funky. If I Had The World (which features a lovely Jerry solo) was the last of just three GD performances of the song, and on the aud which circulates it segues into a short Playin' jam and a Playin' reprise.

Butterbean's picture
Joined: Sep 16 2007

hey dave....
great selection....

Speaking of worth seeking out....have you ever heard the circulating "sick bits" matrix of this 11/20/78 show? It is by far the BEST sounding source of this show i've ever heard. I also heard through the grapevine that the reason that this set was structured the way it is was due to the fact that bobby was deathly ill at this show. He'd come onstage for portions in between backstage projectile vomiting sessions. Must have been the flu! But none the less it makes for one oddly structured set and one hell of a garcia led jam!

I know I easliy found the "sick bits" matrix of this i advise everyone to "poke around" for this circulating gem!

thanks again for the amazing music!


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Grateful Dead Hour no. 406