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Hi Y'all! I am sharing this in hopes that others will share how the Dead connected them to the Cosmos...... Gawd people! These stories are making me cry!! I have a story too. Here it goes:
I grew up in San Francisco. My Dad is a violinist, and he played with all the greats of the time (Dead, Boz Skaggs, Linda Ronstadt. Merle Saunders, NRPS, CSNY, Van Morrison, etc...) He was a studio rat at the old Wally Heiders studio. My mom went to the first Dead show (Mine troupe Benefit 1965), so you could say I was born right into the heart of the scene. Jerry played at my parents X-mas eve party in 1975. Anyway, I was one of the little kids running around in the mid- '70's. I went to school with Anabelle. Funny thing was, I never understood the magnitude of what I was part of until I was 12.Although my first show was Speedway Meadows, 1975, it wasn't until 1983 that I really understood what this was all about. Here is the story:
My best friend in Kindergarten was named Ben Hitz (If anybody knows him, PM me). We were inseperable.This was 1976 or so. In 1983, we reunited in 6th grade when we both went to Hoover Middle School in SF. Again, we were inseperable. We lived three doors from eachother in Noe Valley, SF. In late October 1983, Ben came to me and asked me if I wanted to go the the Boys on Halloween (The last St. Stephen). I said yes, for sure! Unfortunately I got the flu and could not go. It wasn't until many moons later that I realized that that show was legendary. Anyway, he promised me that the next show there was, I could go. So, 12/27/83 was my first show.
His mother Donya reportedly was the one who introduced Jerry to Mountain Girl in High School, and they were backstage all the time. I went to his house, and we all went down to the show together. I remember getting to the SF Civic Auditorium and seeing total mayhem! Heads were everywhere, most with their fingers sticking up asking for a "Miracle". I didn't get it then, but I do now! I was given my backstage pass, and told to stay close to the group. We were escorted inside, and I found myself backstage at a Grateful Dead show! I was 12 years old. I remember alot of adults in funny tie dyes running around, and then there was the kids area. Ben took me there, and we started playing the hottest video game of the day, Tempest. We didn't even have to put quarters in! It was just on! I was totally blown away by this! Can you imagine? All you can play Tempest for free? I was in Nirvana! There was a closed circuit TV next to us with a live feed from the stage. I remember the lights going down, and hearing the crowd go wild. I turned to Ben and said "Hey, the show is starting, lets go watch!". He was playing Tempest, and said "I see these guys all the time. No biggie. Why dont you go and check it out! I am playing Tempest!" I was hesitant at first, but as soon as Jerry hit the first note of Cold Rain, my soul was awakened. it was an undeniable eruption of cosmic consciousness. I could not control myself. I literally ran out of the cozy confines of backstage and blended into the abyss of my bretheren. it was an instant connection. It was just before I hit puberty, but the soul orgasm I felt that night remains unparalleled in my life.
I found my way up to the upper deck of the Civic, and was befriended by a group of heads who saw my backstage pass. They were asking me all these questions about who I was, etc... I then said "Who are you? Where are you from?" They said that they were all from Boston. I said "You mean you came all the way here to see them?" They yelled "Yeah bro! The Dead are the shit!" It was that moment that my small minded San Francisco world crashed with the rest of the globe! For the first time, I realized that this small band that my Dad played with and whose leader played at my house X-mas eve 1975, was revered by the rest of the world. It was greater than any A**d trip. I really UNDERSTOOD the magnitude of the energy that I was a part of, and that it was a serious entity- an orgy of cosmic energy that connected me with Great Spirit. All of a sudden,it didnt matter to me how old I was. I was a hippie. I was shaking my bones with my community. At 12 yeard old! I cried the whole time! I finally understood that I WAS PART OF SOMETHING GREATER THAN MYSELF!!! THAT THIS BAND WAS A CONNECTION TO GREAT SPIRIT!!!!!
During Sugar Mag, I remember just dancing my ass off! During the encore, one of my friends from Boston turned to me and said "If you go backstage right now, you might meet Jerry!" I bolted for backstage, and I found myself in a long white hallway. At the other end of the hallway, I saw Bobby and Jerry walking towards me. I tried to get to Jerry, but he took a quick right out of the Civic and into his red pickup truck. I ran up to Bobby, and said "That was great Bobby!" He ruffled my hair and said "Thanks kid!" It was like that Coke commercial with Mean Joe Green. Remember that? It was as if I was annointed by Bobby!
On our way home, we were recalling all the songs they played. "Remember that song, sunshine Daydream? Yeah! Sugar Magnolia!" It was second hat to my friend Ben, but deep inside me, I held the great secret. That my soul was awakened that night, and it was on fire. I had so much global revelation. The world was bigger than my own small surroundings! I began to dream about the limits (Its dizzying, the possibilities!) the world had to offer, and there were none. I kept this special secret close to my heart.
It wasnt until 1985, when I was 14, that I started to do tour. And for the next ten years, the Boys dictated were and when I went anywhere in the world. I am so glad that this post prompted me to share. It feels so good! That is why GOTV is so close to my heart. I felt really connected to that first night in Dead land while I was there. We are a true tribe, and I am proud to be a part of the collective consciousness that remains (only the strange remain!!).
IF YOU WERE AT THAT SHOW, OR IF YOU WERE THERE FROM BOSTON, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!! I would really love to reconnect with those people from Boston. So, if you were there from Boston and remember a 12 yeart old with a backstage pass, PM me. Aw hell, PM me anyway!! Go tribe!!! Thanks for listening! Remember, WHAT WE HAVE IS REAL!!!!
Midnight on a carousel ride, reaching for that gold ring down inside. Never could reach it. It just slips away. BUT I TRY!
I got on the Bus from my first show 3/06/81, and that was quite life changing for me. I think the most life changing though was going to Madison Square Gardens all by myself, the Oct. 94, run in New York city. I'm from a fairly small town and to go there all by myself was huge for me. My hotel ended up right across the street. No way I could get lost, so I was able to have a ball and felt safe. First day there ran into a close friend of mine whom I knew would be there somewhere, but he had no idea I would be there, that was cool! Out of 41 shows, I'm pretty sure I saw my first and last Scarlet Fire!! That was real cool!! Would never live there, but had a great time sight seeing!!!
buckeye 94 was a ggod one. but st louis 95 changed me for obvious reasons i was under the roof collapse at the farm
It was my fourth show, but only my second "threesome". In other words, I went to see other big bands live between my first set of shows and these at the Centrum. It was then that I really recognized "that sound", and how good they really were. I think that at the first show, or weekend of shows, there is a lot to digest, but when you see them the second time, it really hits home how incredible they are. Not to mention the Scarlet/Fire performed that night was; to me... even to this day... the best piece of music the band ever played.
Had to be my 1st show in Rochester on 11/5/77. Eyes at this show is still one of my favorites and when they closed with Sugar Mag and Sat nite encore the whole place was jumping.I remember thinking this is so cool and I've been hooked ever since.
I'd have to say my first show was a life changer. It was at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in 83'. I was 16 years old. I don't think I ever heard the Grateful Dead before I was given a ticket to go with my brother. We hung out in the State Park next to the SPAC grounds and it was the most beautiful day ever. What changed me was the crowd! It was electric from the moment I laid eyes on my first deadhead, all decked out in tye-dye. When the band hit the stage, I knew I was about to see something that would change me and it turned out I was right. I remember being blown away by the most spectacular Morning Dew!!! Just absolutely made every hair on my body stand on end!!!! By the time the show was over, I had gotten on the bus and I'm still riding it today! Peace!
~Don't lend your hand, to raise no flag, atop no ship of fools!!!~
To actually feel the rumble of the bass line intro into Whipping Post on my body, and to hear those clear, beautiful voices as they sang out with joy; "I Was Born a Rambling Man...", was enough to get me hooked forever...That was one concert experience that i will never forget!!
Alpine 82 was when all cylinders fired for me. I had seen several shows at the Uptown that were fun and all but Alpine was my first back to back shows. The reverberation of music and drums through out the parking lot, the Shakedown St. with all the vendors, veggie burritos and 2 of my favorite shows all in the rolling green hills in Wisconsin was just soooo incredible. The first night the friend of mine that I was sitting with had a connection with security at Alpine and they let the two of us in before the gates were open. We were the first two people in the entire theater.
Just then the square meals were kicking in. 15th row center at Alpine was perfect because the first 13 or 14 rows were on flat ground and then it begins to go up. So we were at about eye level with band looking right over everyone ahead of us. Great show! And then afterwards, I remember these guys next to us in the parking lot dancing around this candle chanting frog candle, frog candle, frog candle... Then one of them picked it up and lifted it over his head and said "Jerry looked at the frog candle". Sounds crazy but we had a few good laughs!
Alpine was the first complete experience with many more to follow.
The other times that are burned into my memory that were also amazing.
The scene at Chief Hosa campground during Red Rocks 84. Red Rocks 85 and then Telluride 87. Some of the best, fun, crazy days of my life.
Then there's McNichols '90
I wrote this shortly after seeing these shows.
"Twas a winters night with Christmas in site
nothing but joy filling the air.
For the Cosmic Clowns were coming to our town
and they were bringing their magical lire.
I new we were in for a treat so to speak,
but knew nothing of our fate,
But on 12/12/90 I was turning 28.
Now you would never know what you would see at a show,
It could have easily been another night
The Star hadn't crashed here in many a year
But there was a chance that it might
The first few notes after 'Jac-a-moe-fino'
The center of the universe seemed to change.
It was the good old Dead, playing Dark Star live.
with the sounds they has arranged
Those beautiful, transcedental notes that had been writen on my head
were for the first time being played before me.
God! I Love The Grateful Dead!
So thanks Boys for one of the best nights of my life.
I wish I could repay.
It won't do it justice, but I'll tell you right now,
That show F*cking blew me away"
Charlie_Running_Horse, that is one great story, and you are one fine raconteur! I just loved it!
(It parallels some of my experiences "back in the day"!)
Hello, my name is Jason and I am a Deadhead.
I saw 19 shows, started at Soldier Field in '91 and ended there with the last shows. Most of the shows were in the midwest - Alpine, Deer Creek, St. Louis, Memphis and Detroit. I saw a couple shows at Oakland Coliseum in Dec. ‘94 which stand out because I guess you just have to see a favorite band play at their home at least once. Shows in my neck of the woods always still had the usual percentage of "Touch of Grey was kind of cool so let’s see what the fuss is about" folks, but the vibe in the bay was concentrated. 2 memories from there: looking to see where the walking dude with the spinning light wand was throughout the shows and sitting in the parking lot before a show listening to a tape and having someone pull up in the empty spot next to us then call out the date of the show we were listening to.
For me the middle night of a 3 show run in Charlotte, spring tour 1995 was It. I went with my little sister (her first show), one of her friends, 2 friends of mine from high school and a fist full of Blue Ladies. We had great seats to the side of the stage, mid way up, just above stage level. It took a few moments for me to catch up with what the grand piano on the stage meant for our fortunes. Bruce. The 1st set was solid, ending with a huge So Many Roads. Set 2, the stories of the Unbroken Chain in Philadelphia were confirmed and came at us full color to start my favorite set of all-time Scarlet>Fire>Corrina>Matilda>Drums>Days Between>Good Lovin E: The Weight. The feeling of exuberant joy that I felt when I recognized Unbroken Chain’s first notes was the purest excitement I have ever experienced in my life. As the song’s last notes were fading, the room really literally crackled with energy and before I could communicate anything verbally to anyone around me the first notes of Scarlet Begonias danced out of speakers and I, along with everyone I could see around me, started to jump and yell like it was a Beatles concert in 1964. I had seen a couple ScarletFire’s before but Jerry and Bruce together made this one epic. I didn’t like Corrina until this show. My first Matilda that lead into a great pre-Drumz jam with the drummers and Bruce. Best drums/space I ever heard live. A sweet, sweet Days. The most swinging Good Lovin I had ever heard played live, then The Weight.
This might just sound like a show review but it was the incredible music and energy at this show that ripped me into new territory. Everyone else in our group felt similarly rocked and we all talked about it afterwards in a way that was more wide-eyed than usual. My sister and I have had a closer, more real relationship since this show and we both to this day agree it’s true. I long ago stopped caring whether or not I sound or seem foolish so I’ll say this: I think now that I actually learned what the basic act of loving another human being is all about at this show. I guess up to that point youth still had me a selfish, self-centered person but during that second set I became more aware of the people around me than ever before. I was having the time of my life and the thought or the care that those around me were having the time of his/her life had become important to me for the first time. When everywhere I looked there was amazement like mine happening that made me happier and happier. I lost all sense of myself and my own thoughts, I think I heard other people’s thoughts and I know they heard mine because I got apt responses to statements I’m positive I never spoke. If you’re experienced you know a degree of this was helped by party favors but I’m saying, for the record, that I was clear-headed and sober when I left that place and I had no business to be that way. Whatever consciousness chasm a man made substance can help you build a bridge over I leapt over that AND the bridge with my own energy along with the band’s.
3/22 was a good opening show and 3/24 I zoned out with bad upper level seats but I think I still wore a grin from the previous night. I heard Gans or Latvala played the SBD from the second set of this show at Garcia’s public wake/celebration at Golden Gate Park later that year and I’m not surprised. You know how you can start to feel high just before you light up? Well whatever deep-brain activity that let’s that happen goes crazy when I listen to this set and even now just writing about it. I get a buzz, a really heavy buzz going and whatever is going on in my life at the moment I start to feel a little more human and a little less like a walking “thought machine”. Maybe I should end this post but it’s also at these moments that I think about the possibility of time travel. Not to jump in a time machine to make it back to this or any show per se, but I start to think how time is a fuzzy continuum where numbers never seem to have a great hold on their order. When I listen to this set I think, really believe that it’s happening in real time at this moment and it’s just my current, conscious, physical self that isn’t there. I feel sometimes that I have the ability inside me to somehow get there again. Maybe it’s because I have carried so much of the power of that experience with me the memory feels more present than most others. Or maybe I am really still there now, at this moment, and that’s why I keep changing verb tenses so much.