We time-travel to the Dead’s massive 3-set show in Des Moines, May 1973 (& the first show on the new Here Comes Sunshine box) with stories from Donna Jean, the show’s promoters, & the Dead’s office staff, plus custom gear, big jams, an indoor fireworks fight, etc.
by Jesse Jarnow
In the early 1970s, the Grateful Dead surrounded themselves with a smart and capable support staff spread across a variety of adjacent and spin-off businesses, several based out of 1330 Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael. Rosie McGee, who worked for Fly By Night Travel in 1973, is the author of Dancing With the Dead. Upstairs was Sam Cutler’s Out of Town Tours. Sally Mann Romano, Sam’s assistant, is the author of the memoir The Band’s With Me. Rita Gentry, Out of Town’s self-described “contract mistress” would go on to work for promoter Bill Graham for many years, and recently compiled a volume of stories by and about the Bill Graham Productions family, Before I Forget.
“Des Moines ‘73” is the answer to a few trivia questions pertaining to Jerry Garcia and his guitars, the only show where he is known to have played Doug Irwin’s Eagle guitar, alongside the final appearance of his Dan Erlewine “Stratishcaster,” both documented in the extensive Jerry Garcia Instrument History. Recently, Erlewine Guitars has made Garcia “Stratishcasters” available, where you can also see silent footage of Dan presenting the original to Garcia.
Larry Kasperek captured several great moments from the show, including the rainbow.