June 6 - June 12, 2011
Welcome back to the Tapers' Section, where this week we'll stay within a short span of the 1980s, 1984-1988.
Our first selection this week is from Ventuar County Faigrounds just a bit north of LA, wher we have the opening of the second set featuring Samson and Delilah, Ship of Fools, I Just Want To Make Love To You>Women Are Smarter, Terrapin Station. for anyone who never made it to ventura for grateful dead shows, there is a terrific account of seeing the band there (in 1982) in blair jackson's tough-to-find (but worth seeking out!) book the music never stopped.
Next is music from 7/6/86, the penultimate show before Jerry's coma put the brakes on Grateful Dead shows for almost six months. From this show at RFK Stadium in Washington, where the Dead shared the bill that day with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, we have Stella Blue>Throwing Stones>NFA, Brokedown Palace.
Lastly this week, from the finale of a three night run at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA on 7/31/88, we have the start of the second set: Hell In A Bucket > Foolish Heart > Man Smart, Woman Smarter > Terrapin Station > I Will Take You Home. There are a couple of repeated songs, but we hope you don't mind.
Be sure to stop by next week for more tunes from the vault. As always, we encourage you to write to us at the email address below. Be sure to include the words “Grateful Dead” in your subject line so that your missive breaks through our spam filters.
I remember these pre-coma shows very well. I was about 15 yards back on the floor, they had no seats of course. I was flabbergasted the next night, on 7-7-86 the final pre-coma show, when they opened up with Ramble on Rose and then I think they went into Minglewood. On a good night they could rock those songs, but opening a show with them, and at a stadium show? Really strange vibe and song choice.
Then( continuing with 7-7-86) they do Baby Blue mid first set. Having seen about 50 shows at that point I had seen my share of train wrecks (and incredibly stellar shows too, my favorite being 10-18-84) but nothing came close to that. Dylan wasn't even in the right key, and they just kept on playing. At that point I began to enjoy the show from a historical perspective because it was uniquely "off", and this was a huge audience. Jerry may have left the stage prior to the song, and when he came back on, he gave Dylan a knowing look like he felt bad, a "Doing my best despite" look.
Dylan wore a lot of leather during those shows if I remember correctly, despite the heat. The heat was bad enough that a 17 year old kid like me almost passed out so how the band- and particularly Jerry-managed was beyond me.
Then they did a Playing. I think that was the time Parish refers to when Jerry split the stage mid-jam. Turns out he had to relieve himself, but I guess he couldn't, something to do with his diabetes. As I mentioned I was very close to the stage. I was very familiar with the typical routine of which members would leave the stage and when, and it was unprecedented that Jerry would just split mid jam at this earlypoint in the set.This furthered the intrigue and sense of history for me.
A little backstory on my perception of Jerry's health: my first show was 83 and Jerry's health was always a huge concern. It wasn't a side topic, it was always a main focal point for heads then, and it was very hard to reconcile the fact that the same guy in front of us was, only 7 years earlier, full of energy.What a huge transformation he underwent between 78 and 83! In 84 he was nearly immobile and completely unkempt ( but his guitar playing was at times incredible). He was kind of like a combination of a shaman, guru, guitar genius, historical figure, and bigfoot- and I was in awe of him!
He was the center of the band's and the crowd's universe and he was in such sorry shape, it was amazing they continued and didn't do something. Kind of like when you have a family get together and one of the people is really, really "out there" but no one addresses it at all. How he made it through 84 up until his arrest is Golden Gate Park is a medical miracle.
Back to this show, during Playing, when Jerry abruptly left the stage, Bob and Phil did their best to do some jamming w/o Jerry- and in fact it was pretty cool to see them wing it like that-and then Jerry came back on and went right in Terrapin.
Then Jerry went into a coma and it seemed like the whole way of life was in jeopardy.
I'll tell you what, when Jerry came back to the East Coast after the coma in 87, that first tour was INSANE. The crowd on the East Coast was constantly at near pandemonium level on many nights due to sheer joy that the band was still in existence.
Jerry carried himself completely differently post-coma, at least for a couple of years (I only saw a couple of shows with Bruce and never saw Vince). In 83 and 84 he was often immobile, huge, super long grimy hair, and stared at the floor. Mind you I am not saying this as a put down, I was actually very impressed with his outlaw look. After the Golden Gate arrest in early 85 he got a very short haircut and put on even more weight, but seemed more together.
The band had picked up a lot more energy in 85- super short set lists- but he was still in poor health and usually didn't move too much. As 85 wore on, he seemed to get better and more alert, with 86 seeming even better in terms of alertness. But when he came around after the coma, he was a completely different person, and it was a one of the thrills of my life to see him like that after nearly losing him and my greatest passion, which was going to shows.
He radiated energy and confidence and was all smiles. His playing was in top form. One show that I saw in Hampton 3-27-87 where they opened with Alabama->Greatest and then closed the set with Music Never Stopped, Jerry's playing was MONSTROUS. I have not heard a good copy of that show, even on the archive, but I would love to. God that was a great show! Please release 3-27-87 David!
that jam towards the end of the 88 LSD foolish heart is splendid. jam o the week for me
I think the '86 RFK show w/ Dylan & Petty was the last time I saw Jerry and the band live in person. It was not a happy day. I was actually more excited to hear Dylan than the Dead, since I'd heard them dozens of times and him very seldom. The sound was awful; I didn't even know what songs Dylan was playing. The Dead did nothing for me that day, though it doesn't sound that bad here. Jerry of course was not well, the day was oppressive, the stadium not comfortable, it was not a typical lighthearted Dead crowd, and on top of it all, my marriage was falling apart though I was not yet grasping it. If the Grateful Dead were the soundtrack to most of my young adulthood, this concert was sort of the grim transitional music to darker scenes to follow.
~ I'll meet you some morning in the sweet by and by
The only Ventura show I saw was this one. Then we sped back to Hollywood to see Frank Zappa
at the Palace that night. Which come to think of it was probably my last Zappa show.
One more thing....that triple CD in conjunction with the original "Made in Japan" LP reflects "every single note" of Deep Purple's Japanese tour in August 1972. Two Scooby snacks for anyone who can identify what pivotal Grateful Dead show took place this same month.
PS: Check out the link and album. You won't be disappointed!
Ha, until very recently I too thought Penultimate was a synonym for Ultimate, just like iamagonzo, so I can empathize. I was called out on Facebook when I posted this:
"Forgive me, please. I've posted a link to this album before. But it is phenomenal. The intensity and sound quality is the best r'n'r ever. I love the Dead, the Who, the Stones, Tuna, Progressive Rock....you name it. But the Machine Head lineup was the penultimate."
Sometimes you just have to say D'oh and admit you are Completely Wrong, as I did then and now LOL!
All three of these years are highly under represented on the official release side of things, though it was awesome that Road Trips: Vol 4, Number 2 brings a teaser taste from '88.
The '84 Ventura sounds great. A show I haven't really checked out before, and would love to see released.
Though the Summer '86 tour was a dark time for Jerry, there was good music played. The Alpine Valley shows I attended that year were pretty decent. For being an off time, Jerry still sounded light years better during this tour than he did anytime during '94 or '95.
Laguna Seca '88! Why haven't these shows been released yet? This run is just screaming boxed set.
More from these years please!
It was obvious Jerry was hurting at these shows. Both sets of the 7/7 show almost fit on one 90 minute tape. Only 5 songs in the first set! When they opened with Ramble on Rose I thought I missed the beginning of the show. Jerry blood was like mud.
Ahhh, my very first shows. What a life changing experience I had there at RFK Stadium....in fact I haven't seen my face since then.....stolen right off o' my head!!!
I remember sharing a humongous cocktail with some folks I sat next to. I got the last sip and discovered about 20-30 pieces of paper at the bottom. I thought "that's weird", little did I know the weirdness was only beginning. I remember thinking for a while that everyone there was wearing one huge tie-dye with about 60,000 sleeve holes.
I was a total newbie at the time and it made it that much better. There was no internet back then and I didn't know a thing about the Dead, the scene or anything but a handful of songs I found on a record. Those songs led me to a universe I had no idea existed at the age of 16.
I thought I was going to a rock concert and ended up boarding a space ship...or was it a pirate ship....maybe it was a space ship driven by pirates.....or a pirate ship driven by space-men. Like I said, there was a lot of paper in that drink.
Mr. Lemieux, thank you so much for bringing these memories back by sharing this music.