Grateful Dead

Best Tour EVER?

By suggestion from BobbaLee:


How about a new topic populated with Favorite tours like spring 77 , the Wall of Sound shows etc (Phil said they were his fave shows)? That way obsessive fans like me can learn even more details about Everything Dead.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
c_c's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007

grate stories, Oroboros. thanks for sharing.

for me, the best tour is/was always the NEXT tour.


lamagonzo (not verified)
Best tour? Fall 84

Bear was helping with the soundboard on this tour and the old synchronicity between Owsley & the Boyz was definitely sparking.

There were many, many highlights on that tour -- Augusta comes to mind as does the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. There was consistently a high level of tight playing the entire tour, even if Jerry was nodding some times on the lyrics.

This best tour is highly subjective, colored by your own experiences. This was my best tour seeing the band from 78-93.

Joined: Jun 4 2007
June '77 Winterland run

For this new topic, let me revise an earlier story (constitutionally impossible for me to be brief) of road-tripping in '77.

We had traveled from Lincoln Nebraska to see an old friend in Eugene Oregon and while there heard Tom Waits then traveled south to see Little Feat (Winterland & Santa Monica) then Bonnie Raitt & David Grisman Quitent (with Tony Rice!) at Santa Monica.

But the beginning of my Dead ‘run’ was the LA Forum 6-4-77 show. We zipped over to the ‘Fabulous’ Forum and went through the routine. They had ticket takers and then as you entered, there was one guy sitting on a milk crate searching your ‘lower half’ and another standing person searching your ‘upper’. And everything they took, they tossed into garbage cans at the entrance and as I walked by it was ¾ full of everything under the sun, booze, smoke, pipes, pills, powders, etc. That was some expensive refuse!

We hustled into our seats and I had never been in a venue this huge before (little did I know how big the shows would become). But ‘my,oh, my,’ the boys did play that night. They were late for some reason and the anticipation was hanging in the air (along with many of our minds). That was my first glimpse of the new tunes and the very soon to be habitual Estimated>Eyes> and some drums>then Good Lovin. My first Terrapin was a stunner and then when we ventured into a Playin > Franklins > China Doll and > blistering NFA > Playin reprise. That show did remind me of the old 3 set shows. At the beginning of the second half, I noticed that the Forum had started to rotate, like the Tilt o’ Whirl at the Fair, and the centrifugal force was accelerating with the song list. . Must wait for the right moment, once the floor gives way and we are in the air. I was obviously just a little affected.

After that show we drove up what is called Highway 1 (I believe) and stopped on a spot that took us down by the ocean. We all got out of the car to a thundering sound of the water colliding with an embankment affixed to the side of the bluff overlooking the ocean. Tom and I stood on the little rock barrier as the ocean waves slammed into the wall/shore and shot the salty water 100 feet into the air and then it would rain down on us as we giggled and pointed and pontificated on what delights the Dead might have in store in that magical Winterland.

We had previously sent word back to our starting point in Lincoln Nebraska to inform friends of the Dead’s 3 day run Winterland. And let our buddies know that if they made it, we would meet them at the Wharf Rat Bar at 12:00 noon the day before the first show. We arrived at the appointed time at the Wharf Rat bar, we were walking in from the front entrance and coming in from the side door were Mike and Jeff who ran right into us like the 3 Stooges. “Whoop whoop, hey Mo, hey Larry.”

Unbelievably they had jumped on a train in Nebraska and ridden under the new autos that were being transported on flatbed train-cars as the locomotive traversed through the high Rockies, though lengthy tunnels, across 'the cool Colorado range’ and Mike and Jeff had then arrived across the bay. And jumped on the ‘tube’ (is that what it is called?) to meet us at the Wharf Rat. They would have to tell you that part. It is incredible and quite 'hairy'.

We laughed at the sight of them covered with soot and road wear and went to clean up and then off to an animation festival. The next day was the first show. We drove up to the area where Winterland was, a lot of crumbling and unused buildings, and Mike headed to the liquor store to make a purchase for the show. We stood in a line that wrapped the sidewalk outside Winterland and talked with the wide variety of people that were set to welcome the Dead home from that legendary May ’77 tour. Jokes, smokes, food, stories, songs, and the ever present tapes of prior shows from weeks before filled the air. Oh, the line is moving, let’s get going.

As we went in the search that was conducted was only half as serious as in LA and I didn’t see the garbage cans filled with ‘contraband’. Mike held his arms up as the attendant, searched his pants and pulled out a half pint of cheap whiskey. “You can’t take this in, Man” and the attendant pocketed the bottle. All the time not noticing in Mike’s hand raised high above his head, a pint bottle of Jack Daniels. Mike was a boy scout, you see, always be prepared. And I guess he earned his 'misdirection' badge.

We went into the old skating arena, and I was enthralled. It had a great big floor area, chairs around the outer ring and back under the balconies, and that great balcony that wrapped the whole place. There was a bar inside the Winterland, where of course you could purchase your favorite intoxicants, but the delight was one of the first ‘big screens’ TV’s I ever saw. But more significant was that Jimi Hendrix was the one playing on the screen and as I watched I realized that all the music that I was watching had taken place at Winterland. Bill had the foresight to tape many of the bands (even if it was black and white). Now known as Wolfgang’s Vault. But back then it was just the 'entertainment' in the bar. Quite a treat.

But outside the bar the electricity began to intensify and then Dead came out to start. First Bertha, then Jack Straw, yes, those are tears on my cheeks, the sound permeated this venue. It was if the Dead were breathing life into the bricks and mortar and animating the old girl to start her own dance. Animating this abode into our own wonderful Mars Hotel. She began to sway in time as we began our dance. Anticipation mixed with delight and longing, and the walls started to shimmer and breath.

And then it was time to hear my Scarlet Begonias, YES! Jamming out, but wait what is this next song? And that undulating underwater guitar? Garcia, what!! (my first Fire on the Mountain!!) 'Long Distance Runner' is what I wrote on my set-list, (when I heard that phrase) and then could write no more until Fire had then segued into a ripping Good Lovin’. The treats continued with old and new tunes and when they played Estimated Prophet. I of course wrote “California’… and into He’s Gone and then Samson & Delilah. I wrote “Tear this old building down”. The band was grinning ear to ear as they played and drew us all in with that 'false ending', that we all responded wildly to, especially when they jumped back in it. Whoooo!!

But my huge reward was to come. Again Terrapin Station (my second, they had already played it in LA) BUT when it segued into Morning Dew, my mouth dropped to my chest. Phil cranked up his philbombs and the very air was being pushed out of my lungs. It felt much like gravity was now a lateral sensation as opposed to drawing you downward. I leaned into the band as Garcia told the tale and Phil continued the gale of bass notes propelling me backward. But I had to lean forward as I was drawn by Jerry’s sweet refrain and compelling guitar-work. Garcia and they band caressed us as the music built and then suddenly was very quiet, and then crescendo. Bliss.

Abruptly the gear shifted and Bobby threw us mercilessly into a double speed Around & Around. Back to reality. I had to catch my breath and then later they gave us encores of UJB and US Blues to send us out into that cool bay evening. So many smiling faces, giggling, and the serenity that is inherent in coming home after a wonderful exciting adventure.

And as I walked out, I thought to myself, shit, that was the first night! We have two more shows to go.

We did do some tourist stuff during the day and then would return to the festival that was surrounding the Winterland before the show. Back in those daze tickets at the door. I can't recall but my bet is that they were around $7.50 or so. On 6-8-77, the show was more of the same. First half-included a rousing Sugaree, Donna in great voice gave us a wonderful “Sunrise”, and then a treat with a sparkly “All Over Now”. Second set- a replay with Bertha but this time classically hooked up with Good Lovin’, (with that fun little hesitation in Bertha, where then wait a count, then ‘boom’ and Bobby hopping in time and Phil leaning back with that bass ‘strut’ and Jerry grinning up a storm. And off into the land of the Estimated Prophet but this time hooked up with a shimmering Eyes of the World> The Other One> Wharf Rat>NFA>GDTRFB. The encore of Brokedown Palace was a little surprise send-off for us all.

We wandered out to my little Datsun 510. It had got broken into that night during the show. When we got back to the car and realized that some of our stuff was taken, we just grinned and laughed. That auto may be a little lighter on the way home. They couldn’t take what we had gained. We witnessed the Grateful Dead taking us all in the Winterland to the edge of the stratosphere. And then back again. But yet we had one more show to go.

Got ready for the final evening with the Dead. This show was giving us our farwell show as we were heading back home to Nebraska. We were almost out of money, but boy, had we ever had the best musical road-trip of our lives! Then 6-9-77 started with a slow Missisippii ½ Step and they finished that first set with a thundering Music Never Stopped. Second half is the main course of this legendary show and they lapse into a little ditty of Finiculi-Finicula and are having a blast. The Help on the Way> SlipKnot > Franklin’s Tower is a stellar version, and it was so new and they had the ‘Home court advantage” playing and delighting the California-Deadheads with the new stuff honed during this tour. Estimated again (My 3rd in 3 shows!)> St Stephen> NFA>drum>St reprise> Terrapin> Sugar Mag and then a 2 song encore. Garcia was in the 'sweet-spot', Bobby bouncing during that Sugar Mag (you know what I mean) and Phil carpet-bombin' us as the thundering drums of Billy and Mickey kept time, The boys were ON. We quietly climbed into the Datsun wagon to begin our 26 hour trek home. Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile……………..

And during that June '77 run, the Grateful Dead took us all on a journey-the ride of our lives- musical adventures of Americana mixed with space, country, & rock n' roll. The Dead gifted us with their songs old & new, and astoundingly we were collectively woven into those tales told those 3 nights that were filled with the shared mysterious and raucous celebrations.

The Truth is realized in an instant, the act is practiced step by step.

JackstrawfromColorado's picture
Joined: Jan 2 2009
I can only weigh in on

1989 - 1995. In that period if I can only pick one year I'd pick 1991 when Bruce Hornsby was doing his magic on keyboard.

"I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel. Can't win for tryin. Dust off those rusty strings just one more time. Gonna make em shine."

Gr8fulTed's picture
Joined: Jul 9 2007
1974 Wall of Sound , 1973 and 1972

Jiminy Crickets, I don't know what to pick for my favorite tour, but glancing at the Subject line, I will totally agree with Oroboros on Des Moines, followed by Louisville and Miami at the Jai A'lai during June, 1974. How I wish I could have been at the Des Moines & Miami shows; however, I was not short-changed in Louisville at Freedom Hall ( see my 6/18/74 post). I witnessed one of the best Eyes and Other One ever performed.
1973: This whole year was phenomenal. I saw the Dead in Champaign, Watkins Glen, Indian apolis and Cleveland, with the only aberration being Cincinnati on 12/4/73. I'm still seeking an explanation why the show was so short. Shows I really like include Madison WI, twice, in February and again in October, 1973. I guess those November shows were good, too, huh?
1972: Grateful Dead were consistently good in 1972, especially following Europe in August thru October.
1976 thru 1978: Coming back from a brief break, 1976 gave us some good shows during the latter half of the year. In particular, I think October was rockin'. Sorry I missed 1977, (broke hippy in Colorado) but I rely on the Betty boards, perhaps the most outstanding of Betty Cantor's reign over the soundboard. Ditto for 1978, particularly w the Redrock shows in July. Wow!

Joined: Jan 9 2009
Dick's Pick 36

It was my first show. Listen, you, or anyone else will understand why 37yrs. later, I'm still groovin' on the Dead.

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
you might

ask this in the Sirius topic. Or check their site, I believe they have programming logs.

Joined: Sep 9 2009
The Wheel

Can anybody tell me who has done a studio cover of The Wheel? I heard it on Sirius this morning and cannot remember who the band was.

Joined: Jun 4 2007
Some of you have heard this one about the wall o' sound

but to take you back to 6-16-74 which was my first show!!

That particular musical road-trip beginning in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night (6-14-74) with the Allman Bros. Band rocking us all. That was quite a hot show and ABB were loud and the guitar work on their raucous blues and rock was stratospheric. We got up early and were traveling in my convertible VW bug (top down) and took country roads all the back to the Des Moines Fairground. Yes, that is because we were not fit to drive on the interstate nor the highways with regular citizens, but staying on those gravel roads with occasional stops for exploration fit the bill.
Tickets to see the Grateful Dead in Des Moines show were $3.75 (I think) The weather was wonderful as we traversed those back-roads, laughing, partying, and goofing to our hearts content. Needless to say the statutes of limitations have lapsed on that prankster period but I will stick to the show story as opposed to the side trip. We pulled into a campground and set up camp and as was our penchant 'back int he daze' began furiously rolling smoke-able party favors for the looming Dead show.

The next day we arrived at the venue (the show was supposed to start at 1:00) that Sunday. And it turned out to be a wonderful outdoor spot with the 'Wall of Sound' erected several hundred yards in front of the Iowa Fairgrounds covered grandstand. We were standing out front milling about, being part of the show and watching others do their part, frizbee, t-shirts (still have mine, a threadbare wonderful homemade "Garcia" image), sales of various items and all of a sudden we hear "The show will start at 12:30" from a bullhorn, so we decide to head on in. I heard later they thought is might rain so they started early. (I have never since saw an early start of a Dead show, have you?)

It is hard to describe how visually striking that 'Wall of sound" was sitting in front of us. It was simply immense. The Allman Bros. sound system was loud 2 nights before but was absolutely dwarfed by this massive scaffolding & speaker construction. CSNY's system wasn't even 1/2 of this and they blew our socks off. So what would this sound like? The scale was as if you stood a couple of toy soldiers in front of your TV set. That is what it looked like. But the sound... very crisp and soooo loud!!

Before the show, we all ran about and there was a little stand for Rounder records with some miniature album covers advertising Jerry's new album, a Kingfish album, and the Grateful Dead's upcoming release "Mars Hotel". I marveled at the wonderful illustration of a seedy hotel on a Martian landscape. Little did I understand what I was about to witness. Party favors circled about and the crowd swelled against that elevated stage in anticipation. The band had played here last summer and I had heard from my grinning buddies about the "double rainbow' that appeared on cue (as was so prone to happen at the Dead shows) during that show.

The show started and the Dead ambled out to tune up. There is Keith on his grand piano, Billy at his drums in the middle under this cylindrical-suspended-speaker-section, Phil in his shades, and Bobby with a flannel shirt (to ward of the cool breezes blowing in). But who was that in a red 'Mars Academyl' sweatshirt? It looks like a chubby Dustin Hoffman. No it's JERRY, he shaved off his beard! He still had massive sideburns ala the sixties. They tuned up and began playing and off we go-"Bertha" yes!!!!!!!!! and the crystaline sound of that system. Unbefuckiin'liveable, just off the charts, beeffy bass, and loud!!!! Weeee!!!! Hey, there is Donna singing along.

And the Grateful Dead took me on a journey- of americana, country, space, rock, jam, fable, fun, rollar-coaster, turn on a dime. And something else. My first Scarlet Begonias, which I thought it was going to be China Cat when I heard those first simmering leads. But after that I was then gifted with my first China Cat> I know you Rider (I agree gentlemen, what fun) then. Mexixcalli, Row Jimmy, Around and Around and others were in that first set. Then the first break.
This was the 'old days' and this was to be a 3 set show.

Second set included a ethereal maiden (for me) Eyes of the World that magically segued into Big River. Segue smooth as 'butter'. Incredible...then other new and old tunes. This was stupefying for me, and I was thunderstruck with Phil's bass bombs and then a staggering Playin' in the Band to end the second set. Another break? What? The Dead aren't done?

More, they are coming back?My mouth was hanging agape, I look to my buddies, and they stared wide-eyed back at me. The Dead will be back for more? Another set? How much more can they show us. I thought that I am saturated, no more wonder will fill this swooning cranium. My buddy who had been at last year's show smiles knowingly at me, nobs, and leans back and erupts with his best Neal Cassady guffaw and we all break up giggling. Then yes, the Dead come out to astound us with more tales, mysteries, explorations, and celebrations,....

Set 3 Truckin'>Wharf Rat> Nobody's Fault Jam> Going Down The Road Feeling Bad and the encore singalong Casey Jones. Beyond belief...........
We staggered back to the VW to make the trek home to Lincoln, Nebraska. What!! It is 6:00? How long did these guys play?!!!!!!!!!! How long indeed.

And now part of that show is on CD. My advice, CRANK IT!

The Truth is realized in an instant, the act is practiced step by step.

Joined: Jun 9 2007
Spring 77

I am curious how many people saw the "Wall of Sound Shows?"

The Road Trips just released really allowed me to focus on Keit a bit more and with just Bill it is a different sound -I think maybe Phil has to play more in time than when Mick is there. I do think that spring 77 shows were very incredible.

And the road goes on forever....


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Best Tour EVER?