Grateful Dead

Billerica Forum - May 11, 1979

Billerica Forum

May 11, 1979

Billerica, MA US

Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

Set List:

Mississippi Half-Step
Franklin's Tower
Mama Tried
Mexicali Blues
It's All Over Now
Brown Eyed Women
Lazy Lightnin'

Shakedown Street
Ship of Fools
Estimated Prophet
Eyes of the World
Black Peter
I Need a Miracle
Good Lovin'

See an error in show info or set list? Let us know!


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Joined: Jun 13 2007
I was there, but...

I barely remember a thing about the actual show. For some reason, I associate this show with a friend who had died of cancer the previous November - was this show right after a big anti-nuclear demonstration in Washington DC? Or maybe that's when the tickets went on sale? I seem to recall being in a panic about driving back from DC to MA in time. I know a few friends took me to this show, but that I was in a state of shock, maybe. Or maybe that's when we went to buy the tickets. Sorry, I know I sound rambling.

Joined: Jun 13 2007

Just did some Googling...yep, there was a huge antinuclear demonstration (70,000 people) in DC on May 6, 1979.I know I was there, and went in memory of my friend who had died young of cancer. But this was 5 days before the show. Did tickets go on sale JUST before the show date? All I can remember is being panicked about getting back to MA in time, maybe to buy tickets.

lamagonzo (not verified)
this was a small, stealth venue

last minute addition to the schedule -- there would have been a scramble for tickets

Joined: Jun 17 2007
My first show with the Dead

I went with my best friend Jack. I was so thrilled to be there.
Jack got the tickets from his girl friend at U-Lowell. $8.50ea.
I couldn't believe the Dead were going to play at the Billerica Forum. I played high school hockey there! On the way there we ran into a high school friend standing out in the middle of Rte. 129 scalping tickets. I never knew Tim was a deadhead. That was a surprise.
This was such a great show. I can still remember where Jerry staring right at us.

We sat on the stancions which held up the chainlink fence on the boards. Great view of the stage. It was amazing we could even keep ourselves on there, we were so high.

When I was able to get a copy of one of the tapers copies of the show I could hear myself in the tape yelling 'Estimated Prophet'.

Great Show!

If anyone has pics let me know. I would love to see them. Maybe take a trip down memory lane! :)

Joined: Jun 13 2007
thank you lamagonzo!

thank you for that info - like I said, my friend had recently died at age 23 of cancer & some friends took me down to DC for that demonstration. I remember we lost the driver (found his shoes on the ground, but not HIM!) - this was the days before cell phones - so we were scrambling to get a ride up to another friend's mother who lived in MD. JUST before we were going to take a train to MD, we found the driver (wandering around barefoot of course). Still high, he drove us back to MA, getting slightly rear-ended on an entrance ramp to 95. I swear, I recall it as we drove straight from DC to Bill-Rica (LOL), and went directly to the Forum to get tickets? I just remember being in a panic to get there in time.
The show itself, all I remember is the acoustics were terrible (it sounded like they were playing in, well, a HS hockey rink!). And yeah, I vaguely remember it was hot.

Joined: Jun 13 2007
and @ cchulle:

of course girls in MA play hockey, we're practically Canadians!
(NOTE that I did NOT say CanadiENs!).

Joined: Jan 24 2009
Is the forum still there?

Is the forum still there? I tried to Google it, but nothing came up. If anyone knows, post directions. I have a blog,, about the venues that the Grateful Dead played. Just posted one about Atwood Hall @Clark U in Worcester!


Inspiration, move me brightly.

Joined: Jul 20 2007
Billerica '79 - also my first show!

This was also my first show, came up from Middletown CT with some folks from Wesleyen U.
I knew of Bilerica as where Jack Kerouac grew up.
I don't remember much of this show either, I am not sure why.
I've seen other shows that i remember better, particularly a couple shows at Radio City in '80, and the Dylan and Dead at JFK in Philly '87.
Yes this was such a small place, i remember it was like a high school gym. Any way it was a great show, but i was disappointed at no encore, I remember.

Joined: Jul 9 2007
What I remember

My memory is a little fuzzy from this show ... but this is what I remember.

I remember driving in and the sign on the side of the building said "Lowell Forum". Not the Billerica Forum ... I think. I sort of recall a dirt parking lot. There was this long line where we waited to get into the venue. People were walking up and down the line saying "Green Dragon, Green Dragon". Inside the venue there were no seats on the floor. We ended up in some seats near stage left. The floor just got too chaotic. There was this one very large individual spinning around yelling "I'm tripping my brains out" knocking people over as he went. This was the first show I saw with Brent playing (the new guy) and we were really impressed with his playing. At one point I had to go to the bathroom which was at the back of the arena. Right near the bathroom was a soda machine that looks like it the front panel had been torn off. There was this older gentleman screaming at someone over the state of the coke machine. At the time I couldn't understand what he was saying. It sounded all garbled and strange. At the door was this bored looking cop who I talked to for a little while. He was a really nice guy and was taking the whole thing in stride. At the end of the show someone came out and said there wouldn't be an encore because the keyboard player wasn't feeling well (or something like that). I remember thinking "yeah right ... blame it on the new guy". That night we drove to Amherst for the next show.


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Billerica Forum - May 11, 1979