• September 8, 2011
    https://www.dead.net/features/berkeley/blair%E2%80%99s-golden-road-blog-remembering-911-%E2%80%9981
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - Remembering 9/11 (’81!)

    Yeah, yeah, I know. We’re all supposed to be somber as we approach 9/11.

    But I’m more interested in celebrating 9/11—specifically 9/11/81—the 30th anniversary of the Dead’s first (modern) appearance at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. That evening was the first of 27 shows the band played at that magnificent venue from 1981-1989 (three per year). If you ever got to experience a Dead show there, you know there was nothing else quite like it.

    I had already enjoyed many concerts at the Greek before I caught the Dead there. When I moved to Berkeley in the fall of ’73, the Greek was my neighborhood venue — for three years I lived a few blocks south, down Piedmont Avenue on Frat Row (but not in fraternities), a five-minute walk to the Greek. Racking my memory, I came up with a slew of great shows I attended at the Greek before September ’81, including Linda Ronstadt in her prime (’75), Jefferson Starship (’75), Bob Marley & the Wailers (’78), Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock at the Bread & Roses Festival (’78), the amazingly psychedelic “Tribal Stomp” of ’78 (featuring the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Country Joe & the Fish, Big Brother), Weather Report (’79), Bonnie Raitt (’80), Neil Young’s Hawks and Doves tour (’80) and The Kinks with killer opener Joe Ely (’81). So I knew that magic was easily accessible there. No wonder I was positively salivating at the prospect of seeing the Dead play there for the first time since a sparsely attended benefit concert in 1967.

    The Greek in its pre-rock ’n’ roll days.
    Not pictured: Swirling, spinning dancers,
    the tie-dyed back drop, topless girls
    in the afternoon sun
    and 9,000 blown minds.

    It had been a while since I’d seen the band. I missed the ’80-’81 New Year’s series at the Oakland Auditorium because I was visiting family back East and getting engaged to my beautiful wife on New Year’s Eve, above Times Square. And the Dead didn’t play a show in Northern California the eight months before the Greek concerts, so my last show had been the final night of the Warfield 15th anniversary run (10/14/80). As fate would have it, the ’81 Greek series was the first three-show run Regan and I ever attended and it came just a month and a half after our wedding (also in Berkeley). Incredibly, the Dead had not played an outdoor show in the Bay Area since their Oakland Stadium (ugh!) concerts with The Who back in 1976.

    When we arrived at the Greek that Friday, Sept. 11, we found the old place had been fabulously decorated by the good folks at Bill Graham Presents. A gorgeous, trippy tie-dye backdrop created by Courtenay Pollack (he of the fabulous GD tie-dyed amps of the early ’70s) spanned the entire width of the normally drab, grey concrete stage from the floor to about 10 feet above the musicians’ heads. The lower part of the tie-dye consisted of circular mandala designs in blues, greens, purples and yellow; topped by more mandala patterns that were connected by a striking yellow-dominated serpentine shape that seemed to undulate constantly; a psychedelic snake guarding the stage! Above that, between the two center columns at the rear of the shallow stage, were the friendly cutout male and female skeletons that had graced the front of the Warfield a year before for that 15-night run, and in each of the spaces between the other columns at the rear of the stage were huge wreaths of roses and other flowers.

    Berkeley's Greek Theatre, September 1981. Photo: Clayton Call ©2011

    The tradition established that first year at the Greek was the Friday show would start at 7, the Saturday show at 5 and the Sunday one at 3. As we quickly learned, this gave each show a different visual character, with the first mostly in the dark, the second split between daylight and evening, the third between afternoon and dusk. Nights could be bitterly cold if the famous Bay Area fog came whipping through the Golden Gate, crossed San Francisco Bay and reached up into Berkeley with its wispy fingers. But Saturday and Sunday afternoons were frequently quite warm, the shadeless concrete bowl radiating heat.

    The setting was stunning—the 9,000 capacity venue, built in 1903, was modeled after ancient Greek amphitheaters, with the main stepped bowl (and a shallow, steep grass lawn with a canopy of towering eucalyptus trees above it) accommodating perhaps two-thirds of the crowd, who spread blankets out and danced or put down cushions and sat, or both; it was very loose and free-form, particularly the first couple of years. The rest of the audience was gathered in a semi-circle between the stage and the raised bowl, mostly dancing. It was usually fairly crowded up below the stage, as you’d expect, but nothing compared to a packed arena or stadium. There was also a rim of slightly elevated marble “thrones” at the back of the main floor—never sat in one myself, but they were always in high demand.

    What made the Greek so special—aside from the clear and powerful sound (ask any musician who’s played there)—was that the bowl configuration allowed us all to enjoy each other in a way that a conventional venue, where all the seats are facing forward, oriented toward the stage, could not. Your eye was naturally drawn to the rhythmic sea of dancing bodies all around the bowl. You’d see friends and acquaintances from afar, maybe share a moment or two, before your attention might shift back to the stage or the tie-dye backdrop or, once night fell, the splashes of colored lights the ever-inventive Candace Brightman would project on the crowd. In the late afternoon sun, you’d see bronzed bodies glowing in the golden light, the sun’s reflection in thousands of sunglasses around the bowl.

    That first Sunday Greek show in ’81, there was a small group of long-tressed, nubile young women who danced topless for much of the afternoon—a California dream come to life as the band played on. People picnicked before the shows and at the break, visited friends, walked to the top of the bowl to take in the panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay (fog permitting). Frisbees—supposedly banned—sailed across the expanse of the amphitheater, eliciting “oohs” and “aahs,” or sat in laps to be used for rolling joints. In later years, the scene outside the shows got kind of crazy—and eventually led to the Dead being banned from the venue—but inside it often felt like being in an enveloping rainbow-hued cocoon. Everything you needed and everyone you wanted to hang with was right there.


    Mickey and Billy in action in front
    of Courtenay Pollock's backdrop.
    Photo: Clayton Call ©2011

    The bonus to an afternoon and evening livin’ the good life at the Greek was that a Grateful Dead concert was part of the deal, too. And more often than not the band played really well there. This past week I’ve been under headphones revisiting the ’81 Greeks courtesy of some fine audience recordings I downloaded to my iPod Nano from Archive.org. (Sad to say, soundboards of those shows do not seem to exist, diminishing the likelihood that we’ll ever see a Complete Greek box someday.) I hadn’t heard the shows in years, and they certainly lived up to my rosy memory of them. They’re filled with energetic and enthusiastic playing, there are a few ferocious jams, and nearly all the big songs and combos deliver—“Scarlet” > “Fire,” “China Cat” > “Rider,” “Estimated” > “Eyes” (all from the spectacular Saturday show), “The Other One,” “Morning Dew,” “Bird Song,” “Stranger” > “Franklin’s”; the hits keep a comin’ one after another.

    I’m not saying they were the best shows of all time or anything, but the overall experience of the three days—the setting, the music, the crowd—was so overwhelmingly positive, even transcendent, my appreciation of the whole scene soared to another level. And I thought I was already hard-core!

    I could fill a book just talking about all the Dead’s Greek Theatre shows through the years—Courtenay’s tie-dyes in ’82 and ’83; a “Morning Dew” that literally knocked me off my feet; the ’84 “Dark Star” encore; the 20th anniversary shows; the fabric hot-air balloons festooned with rose designs that were launched from backstage one year; the “motorcycle space”; Flora and Airto helping out the Rhythm Devils; Bob’s hilarious band introductions during the ’86 “Good Lovin’”; the intergalactic “Other One” of ’89; and on and on.

    Back on Sept. 11, 1981, when we were standing there, dazed and delighted at the end of that first night, we had no idea what the Greek would come to mean to us all. Or that the next year would bring us the first shows at Frost Amphitheatre across the bay, and Ventura down the coast, the Downs in Santa Fe and so many other beautiful places that made being a Dead Head in the 1980s so special. The Greek ’81 was the start of all that.

    Oh, yes: Sept. 11 is also Mickey Hart’s birthday; has been for the past 68 years!

    Care to share some Greek memories with us?

    (To see more of Clayton Call’s cool photos of the Dead and other bands, click here.)

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Yeah, yeah, I know. We’re all supposed to be somber as we approach 9/11.

But I’m more interested in celebrating 9/11—specifically 9/11/81—the 30th anniversary of the Dead’s first (modern) appearance at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. That evening was the first of 27 shows the band played at that magnificent venue from 1981-1989 (three per year). If you ever got to experience a Dead show there, you know there was nothing else quite like it.

I had already enjoyed many concerts at the Greek before I caught the Dead there. When I moved to Berkeley in the fall of ’73, the Greek was my neighborhood venue — for three years I lived a few blocks south, down Piedmont Avenue on Frat Row (but not in fraternities), a five-minute walk to the Greek. Racking my memory, I came up with a slew of great shows I attended at the Greek before September ’81, including Linda Ronstadt in her prime (’75), Jefferson Starship (’75), Bob Marley & the Wailers (’78), Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock at the Bread & Roses Festival (’78), the amazingly psychedelic “Tribal Stomp” of ’78 (featuring the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Country Joe & the Fish, Big Brother), Weather Report (’79), Bonnie Raitt (’80), Neil Young’s Hawks and Doves tour (’80) and The Kinks with killer opener Joe Ely (’81). So I knew that magic was easily accessible there. No wonder I was positively salivating at the prospect of seeing the Dead play there for the first time since a sparsely attended benefit concert in 1967.

The Greek in its pre-rock ’n’ roll days.
Not pictured: Swirling, spinning dancers,
the tie-dyed back drop, topless girls
in the afternoon sun
and 9,000 blown minds.

It had been a while since I’d seen the band. I missed the ’80-’81 New Year’s series at the Oakland Auditorium because I was visiting family back East and getting engaged to my beautiful wife on New Year’s Eve, above Times Square. And the Dead didn’t play a show in Northern California the eight months before the Greek concerts, so my last show had been the final night of the Warfield 15th anniversary run (10/14/80). As fate would have it, the ’81 Greek series was the first three-show run Regan and I ever attended and it came just a month and a half after our wedding (also in Berkeley). Incredibly, the Dead had not played an outdoor show in the Bay Area since their Oakland Stadium (ugh!) concerts with The Who back in 1976.

When we arrived at the Greek that Friday, Sept. 11, we found the old place had been fabulously decorated by the good folks at Bill Graham Presents. A gorgeous, trippy tie-dye backdrop created by Courtenay Pollack (he of the fabulous GD tie-dyed amps of the early ’70s) spanned the entire width of the normally drab, grey concrete stage from the floor to about 10 feet above the musicians’ heads. The lower part of the tie-dye consisted of circular mandala designs in blues, greens, purples and yellow; topped by more mandala patterns that were connected by a striking yellow-dominated serpentine shape that seemed to undulate constantly; a psychedelic snake guarding the stage! Above that, between the two center columns at the rear of the shallow stage, were the friendly cutout male and female skeletons that had graced the front of the Warfield a year before for that 15-night run, and in each of the spaces between the other columns at the rear of the stage were huge wreaths of roses and other flowers.

Berkeley's Greek Theatre, September 1981. Photo: Clayton Call ©2011

The tradition established that first year at the Greek was the Friday show would start at 7, the Saturday show at 5 and the Sunday one at 3. As we quickly learned, this gave each show a different visual character, with the first mostly in the dark, the second split between daylight and evening, the third between afternoon and dusk. Nights could be bitterly cold if the famous Bay Area fog came whipping through the Golden Gate, crossed San Francisco Bay and reached up into Berkeley with its wispy fingers. But Saturday and Sunday afternoons were frequently quite warm, the shadeless concrete bowl radiating heat.

The setting was stunning—the 9,000 capacity venue, built in 1903, was modeled after ancient Greek amphitheaters, with the main stepped bowl (and a shallow, steep grass lawn with a canopy of towering eucalyptus trees above it) accommodating perhaps two-thirds of the crowd, who spread blankets out and danced or put down cushions and sat, or both; it was very loose and free-form, particularly the first couple of years. The rest of the audience was gathered in a semi-circle between the stage and the raised bowl, mostly dancing. It was usually fairly crowded up below the stage, as you’d expect, but nothing compared to a packed arena or stadium. There was also a rim of slightly elevated marble “thrones” at the back of the main floor—never sat in one myself, but they were always in high demand.

What made the Greek so special—aside from the clear and powerful sound (ask any musician who’s played there)—was that the bowl configuration allowed us all to enjoy each other in a way that a conventional venue, where all the seats are facing forward, oriented toward the stage, could not. Your eye was naturally drawn to the rhythmic sea of dancing bodies all around the bowl. You’d see friends and acquaintances from afar, maybe share a moment or two, before your attention might shift back to the stage or the tie-dye backdrop or, once night fell, the splashes of colored lights the ever-inventive Candace Brightman would project on the crowd. In the late afternoon sun, you’d see bronzed bodies glowing in the golden light, the sun’s reflection in thousands of sunglasses around the bowl.

That first Sunday Greek show in ’81, there was a small group of long-tressed, nubile young women who danced topless for much of the afternoon—a California dream come to life as the band played on. People picnicked before the shows and at the break, visited friends, walked to the top of the bowl to take in the panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay (fog permitting). Frisbees—supposedly banned—sailed across the expanse of the amphitheater, eliciting “oohs” and “aahs,” or sat in laps to be used for rolling joints. In later years, the scene outside the shows got kind of crazy—and eventually led to the Dead being banned from the venue—but inside it often felt like being in an enveloping rainbow-hued cocoon. Everything you needed and everyone you wanted to hang with was right there.


Mickey and Billy in action in front
of Courtenay Pollock's backdrop.
Photo: Clayton Call ©2011

The bonus to an afternoon and evening livin’ the good life at the Greek was that a Grateful Dead concert was part of the deal, too. And more often than not the band played really well there. This past week I’ve been under headphones revisiting the ’81 Greeks courtesy of some fine audience recordings I downloaded to my iPod Nano from Archive.org. (Sad to say, soundboards of those shows do not seem to exist, diminishing the likelihood that we’ll ever see a Complete Greek box someday.) I hadn’t heard the shows in years, and they certainly lived up to my rosy memory of them. They’re filled with energetic and enthusiastic playing, there are a few ferocious jams, and nearly all the big songs and combos deliver—“Scarlet” > “Fire,” “China Cat” > “Rider,” “Estimated” > “Eyes” (all from the spectacular Saturday show), “The Other One,” “Morning Dew,” “Bird Song,” “Stranger” > “Franklin’s”; the hits keep a comin’ one after another.

I’m not saying they were the best shows of all time or anything, but the overall experience of the three days—the setting, the music, the crowd—was so overwhelmingly positive, even transcendent, my appreciation of the whole scene soared to another level. And I thought I was already hard-core!

I could fill a book just talking about all the Dead’s Greek Theatre shows through the years—Courtenay’s tie-dyes in ’82 and ’83; a “Morning Dew” that literally knocked me off my feet; the ’84 “Dark Star” encore; the 20th anniversary shows; the fabric hot-air balloons festooned with rose designs that were launched from backstage one year; the “motorcycle space”; Flora and Airto helping out the Rhythm Devils; Bob’s hilarious band introductions during the ’86 “Good Lovin’”; the intergalactic “Other One” of ’89; and on and on.

Back on Sept. 11, 1981, when we were standing there, dazed and delighted at the end of that first night, we had no idea what the Greek would come to mean to us all. Or that the next year would bring us the first shows at Frost Amphitheatre across the bay, and Ventura down the coast, the Downs in Santa Fe and so many other beautiful places that made being a Dead Head in the 1980s so special. The Greek ’81 was the start of all that.

Oh, yes: Sept. 11 is also Mickey Hart’s birthday; has been for the past 68 years!

Care to share some Greek memories with us?

(To see more of Clayton Call’s cool photos of the Dead and other bands, click here.)

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Yeah, yeah, I know. We’re all supposed to be somber as we approach 9/11.

But I’m more interested in celebrating 9/11—specifically 9/11/81—the 30th anniversary of the Dead’s first (modern) appearance at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. That evening was the first of 27 shows the band played at that magnificent venue from 1981-1989 (three per year). If you ever got to experience a Dead show there, you know there was nothing else quite like it.

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Best venue of all, no doubt about it.I caught the 1982 shows when I was living in the Area and then returned from afar (well, LA) for the 1985 'Anniversary' run. And I had a real good time.
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Blair , one thing i have tro admit ( that sweet sweeet Jelly is so good , no JK } . Is that sometimes there were drunk , Violent Cruel , out of control fans at these shows . And that was a threat for the thousands in presence of the concert . I say this as i began to find amusing , this bands music in the early 90s . I was born in ' 75 .- So i had to see some of these latter day morons ruin things for the innocent bystanders and music lovers Grat Photos of those pretty back drops J G * Happy b day Mick . GREATEST Drummer ever , and a brother in arms . Who could ve accompanied Billy so well in those sweet intense Jams and special moments of the band ; Mick
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...I don't know which Greek shows you're talking about, but for the entire history of the Dead's time there, NO ALCOHOL was sold in the place. That's part of what made it so great. I don't remember seeing ANY drunks. And if people were out of control, it was probably in a good way...I don't recall seeing any violent or cruel behavior...
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Too True Blair, too many stories from the Greek sets"83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, and not to forget JerryBand in 89 and 90 with Jimmy Cliff and Bela Fleck, resp. Went to UCBerkeley one day from UCSantaCruz (shuttle-$2) and was checking out the campus and wandered by the Greek was open, so went inside, up on stage, back stage front stage found the Jerry spot and sat and had one for the head, this is '84, so I could always say, "Hey, see where Jer's standing, smoke one right there" and the hits just keep on comin' The Sky Was Yellow And The Sun Was Blue People Stopping Strangers Just To Shake Their Hand.
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There were numerous ways of transitioning from 9/11/01 to 9/11/81 thoughtfully, but you chose the crummiest way. You sound like you are saying:"Yeah, thousands were killed, thousands of children left without a father or mother (including 60 born after 9/11). But, that commemoration is political b.s. Let's commemorate something REALLY significant..."Michael Rudnick
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One of my favorite Greek musical memories was hearing the first-ever "All Along the Watchtower" in the late 80s. It was a song many of us had wished they'd do, and when they unveiled it, it knocked our tie-dyed socks off. It sounded so powerful - the band clearly was locked into it - and obviously the song was a natural for them. And not so many words, for a Dylan song... helps Bob & Jerry not forget lyrics! And yes, definitely remember that wild "Other One" in '89, with the giant flower being waved in the crowd near the stage.
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I have really fond memories from the Greek shows in 85 and 88, so lucky to be among a few close friends, bopping to pounding Dead with THOUSANDS of your buddies, and bathing in GREAT SOUND. Too much.
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Here in Sweden there are many former refugees from Chile. They came after the miltary overthrew and killed the democratic elected president Salvator Allende on 9/11/73. And since the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet recieved aid from CIA with dr Henry Kissinger in charge, many former refugees have always had feelings of animosity against the Goverment of the USA. Of course this doesn't mean they all had feelings of spitefulness on 9/11/01 even though some probably had it. All in all, both 9/11/73 and 9/11/01 meant big harm to humanity. On the other hand I can't see why one can't think of other nine elevens, like Blair does here. Nine eleven is also the birthday of Mickey Hart, a good reason for thinking positive thoughts on that oterwise dreadful day in modern history. Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden ------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke
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The opening paragraph does seem a bit insensitive upon first glance. Sometimes something written seems harmless at first and then reads differently when seen by "bright unfocused eyes" (thank you RH). The rest of the post is great. 7/13/84 was truly magical. It was my first Greek show, 5th GD show overall. First set was interesting, the break was VERY interesting, the second set was SPECIAL (how I wish I could go back to this show in the flesh!!!), and then Dark Star. I felt the presence of God, no kidding. It was one of my favorite life experiences ever. The skeletons on the glowing rainbow were dancing all night long. The special feeling wasn't there on the 14th, and by the 15th the friend who I attended the shows with was getting on my nerves; plus, he wanted to leave early, so I missed the second encore of JBG, listening to it from outside the venue. BUT, to balance that out, the people we were staying with said someone THEY knew left the 13th before the encore and missed the Dark Star. i know i'd rather miss the JBG. That was my only Greek run. The 13th is dear to my heart, the rest of it not so much. Two shows at Ventura a week later, and then fate kept me away from attending (but not from listening to and loving) the GD until 7/19/87. Oh well. God bless the Grateful Dead. 11/5/79!!!!!
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It IS one of my favorite life experiences ever. OCD, OCD, not so fun for you and me.
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Blair, I usually enjoy your posts but I couldn't get over this. I'm from new York, long island exactly, and everyone around here knows or knows of someone who died in 9/11. To write about it so jokingly just felt insulting. I feel like a jerk but I really thought it was offensive. I'm not going "to never read this" or "never use this sight". I'm jar rewarding a little consideration.
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Blair , I was 12 when i first heard Touch of Grey in a jukebox on summer vacation in a beautiful area in Iowa called Okoboji . Never knew years later - 1992 - I d become a lifelong admirer of the greatness and magnificence of their music / art In the latter day tours , on a certain ocassion friends who went to Highate VT in 1994 and 95 - excellent place to see this band ( perhaps with some similarity to Buckeye lake in OH } . That there ocassionally were rowdy yahoos here and there , raining in people s afternoon ( Example the Deer creek perpetrators in July 2 1995 } . I totallyy doubt the greek theatre posed this type of anomalous behavior from its fans Peace Blair and everyone reading . I just wanted to get clear that there wasn t always a peachy , wonderful experience seeing and following this band ... We , in my native Chile await a Sept 18 celebration of our 201 st anniversary amidst much social and media clutter . That like i suggested , when managed unaccordingly can produce sobering experiences Greetings and wishes that we on earth ,learn to tolerate other's comments , their experiences . And their constructive opinions the way that the lord asked us in the bible s gospels “In your patience possess ye your souls.” The Gospels Peace to all again , in these challenging times we live in
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I didn't get to see a Grateful Dead show at the Greek- I did once eat a Gyros sandwich at a show at Soldiers Field. Sorry, bad joke- just trying to lighten the mood. Let's not forgot 9/11/73 and 9/11/74, 2 fantastic shows for sure.
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9/11/83 at the Santa Fe Downs! As for Jerry at the Greek... don't forget the year Bonnie Raitt played with him!!
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9/11/83- I did forget about that one- Thanks Blair!!!
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I recall, and have on tape someone, a woman, announcing how important 9/11 was because it was Mickey Hart's birthday. I was there for that show and the next eleven at the Greek (until 1984). I recall the magical Scarlet Begonias>Touch of Grey>Fire on the Mountain in 1983. Or maybe it was 1984. Great venue!
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In those days, for me anyway, it never felt quite right when a "Scarlet" wasn't followed by a "Fire," and though it was cool to get something different (I guess) there's no way a "Touch" equated with a "Fire," so I was a tad bummed at the time... but then delighted when we still got the "Fire." The things we used to obsess over! Of course by the time the "Dark Star" encore appeared, accompanied by an outer space slide show, I wasn't thinkin' about the how novel the "Scarelt-Touch-Fire" was...
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Even though I was Bay Area born and raised, going to The Greek was a reminder of how special the Bay Area was. Perfect weather, a beautiful setting and the Grateful Dead. Plus, in the early days, I could walk, so it meant I could stop at the Top Dog on Durant on the way home. One of my most vivid Greek memories was meeting a trio of Deadheads from Vienna, Austria while hanging out in the lower bowl waiting for the show to start. This must have been Sunday, July 15, 1984, although of course you know how memories are. Anyway, since the whole idea of the Internet was still a Star Trek concept, meeting people from a foreign country who were huge Deadheads was fascinating (fortunately they spoke excellent English). All the things I took for granted, like seeing Jerry Garcia at the Keystone, were absolutely magical to these guys. I tried not to rub it in, but I felt good about where I lived. It was a perfect sunny day, and the Greek looked its best. Anyway, my favorite moment was when one of them interrupted us and pointed and said "look, look, over at the soundboard" (in English, probably for my benefit). They all stared slack jawed, but I didn't see anything except Dan Healy and John Cipollina behind the board, smoking cigarettes as usual. "I'm sorry, what do you see?" I asked. One of my Viennese friends managed to stutter "it's John Cipollina!" I'd never felt cooler--I was so Bay Area I took Cipollina for granted. "What's he doing here?" my friends asked. "Well, seeing the show, like we are" I explained. Of course, all the Austrians raced over to talk to him, and Cippo couldn't have been nicer. They came back walking on air. The Dead hadn't even come on to the stage and their trip was a complete success. I smiled--just another sunny day in Berkeley.
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Not the greatest opening to an otherwise nice read. We are not "suppose" to be anything...we just are...for reasons.....and our somber feelings on 9/11 come from the fact that thousands of people lost their lives on what was the most horrific day in my life. I love this website, but after reading the opening of this article, I lost a little respect for ya Blair.
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I was at all three shows and they had a special twist as I was wearing a new contraption called a beeper because my wife was home in Montain View 8 1/2 months pregnant with our first child who was born later that month (9/26). So I was "on call" to boogie home but was fortunate to be able to see all three shows. My wife had stopped going to shows at this point so she was kind of glad to have an excuse not to go. Loved the setting at the Greek but man those concrete steps were hard to sit on. I was happy when they moved the Rex shows to Cal Expo - much easier on the body :-)
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just had to chime in on the greek dove across the country from VA summer 85 to hopefully catch the greek shows (had no tix) and then the tour from alpine to to pittsburg (i did have tix for the rest of that rainy 20th aniv. tour), nice way to spend my first summer out of highschool got shut out of the greek first two shows but they cranked the show on big speakers in the neighboring soccer field then i did score a ticket on the 3rd night minutes before start time (thanks mark) and got to totally enjoy that sloppy cryptical and the rest of the show havent been back to CA since but that was great
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Blair Jackson does not need me to defend him, that's his business. But I'm going to stick up for him a little bit anyway. The way I took his opening paragraph was similar to what is sometimes said at funerals or wakes: let's celebrate this life instead of re-hashing the tragedy of death. Granted, I was not as directly affected by 9/11/01 as many readers of this blog, and I don't know how Blair's life changed that day. I'm just saying I doubt he was deliberately insensitive to those who lost loved ones. I for one will never forget what happened that day. But I also do not want to re-live the horrors. I turned off the TV this morning when NBC began to run footage of the "sights and sounds of 9/11". Who wants that?? With the inevitable sadness in our hearts this anniversary of 9/11, let's celebrate life, too.
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I don't want to start a round of vitriolic one-ups, but our man Blair here doesn't seem out of line or disrespectful in any sense to me, a close eyewitness to mass murder on Sept 11. I knew by 9:30a that morning what the event and our country would become, no joke. If your loved one was killed or hurt that day, your damage and sacrifice is well-acknowledged. But racist hype, jingo/Fox roar, perverted response, wars, all of that shit we have in our lives now is fair game for righteous indignation, I think.
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Just thought I'd chime in, even though I never went to a Greek show. I remember checking out the venue on a trip to Berkeley in '85, and even though it was empty at the time, I could feel the good vibes. I suppose my two favorite venues I was lucky enough to have seen them in would have to be Alpine and the Kaiser, but if I could go back in the ol' time machine the 3 show Greek run in '81 would be hard to beat. I just read reviews of all 3 in John Dwork's Taping Compendium (fellow Hampshire alum and Grateful Dead Historical Society member). There is also a great picture in there from the following year with John Cippolina and a similarly sweet tie-dyed backdrop! How ironic...I'm listening to the guy talk about the Wharf Rats right now...as a sober recovering Deadhead, I gotta say there is enough somberness in the world. I don't think you were being at all disrespectful Blair. Remembering true joy and happiness and the inspiration that came from this music is a great way to balance out all the pain and sorrow in the world. And props to the gentleman from Sweden who mentioned the 9/11/73 Chile tragedy (and the Dead were jamming in Williamsburg that night!). Let's all strive for the positive and be kind to our fellows! Peace and Love (and Gratitude for all the great music!)
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I forgot about Telluride. That was a sweet place to see 'em, even if the show(s) weren't all that great (in my humble opinion...) Peace!
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some of my fondest memories at the greek seeing the first watchtower in 87 and a darn good version at that was back there in 88 i think they did watchtower then too.Flew in from florida to see greek shows never had so much fun went camping in these woods near the golden gate bridge tripin balls with a big camp fire didnt sleep much havin so much fun.I think sunday was an early afternoon show ran around making a comedy tape with all the dead heads very funnie stuff still have it somewhere used to whear crazy masks doin the fred garvin rutine must be in the front row and they let me in the front row freakin the band out you can hear jerry and weir crackin up on the sound boards some of the nicest coolest people in the world i miss you all.Would love to hear a road trips cd from 87 or 88.Peace.
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...my Europe '72 box just arrived! What a thing of beauty. I hadn't seen any of the artwork (gorgeous) and I haven't heard 95 percent of the mixes, so I'm way psyched!
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Good for you! :-) I've just made a comment on the fact in the Complete Europe '72 discussion thread ... ;-) Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden ------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke
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There's an excellent passage in the Europe '72 Hardcover Book, titled "Goin' Where The Wind Don't Blow So Strange..." Be sure to check this out, it was written by YOU! Thank You!!!
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I for one was pleased to read something positive we can look forward to for 9/11. Maybe I wasn't affected by the tragedy that happened on that awful day in NYC. I've always been a person to, no matter what, keep positive about the situation, no matter what. I know it is a horrible day etched in the souls of many a people. I am glad to see there is something i can do, somewhere i can go, where we can continue on in our uplifting lives. When i think of 9/11 - i think of the christian nation we've become, yet i know the majority of our country wanted revenge. I know that many thought justice was served with the death of Osama. Mind you, this is something that started along time ago, funding afghan warlords against the Soviets. Is this what they wanted to happen? I don't know. But I refuse to become that standard of our country. I believe it should say, 'We Forgive. ' - not 'We Will Remember.' I'm not saying that we welcome a slap in the face, then turn the other cheek. I just want to do my part in changing this world that has become a hell of its own. I am grateful for what Blair posted, and it sparked my curiousity, that instead of taking in all the media coverage on tv, that i'll be flashing back to better times, streaming the Greek show from 9/11/81 on archive.org. Don't think that i'm taking away from the families that lost someone or something on that day, I know they should always keep it in the back of their head. But I am all about dancing, singing, laughing, and keeping a positive outlook on such a gruesome day. Like we broke away from Britain so long ago, I think we need to break away from our country. But see - unlike then, we have no land to go to ... Where we're going there are no roads!!!
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9/12/81 is the HOT show! (9/11 is mostly real good; 9/13 sags during a weak "Terrapin" and "The Wheel" in the second set...)
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Just one bit of clarification Blair.You mentioned seeing Neil Young's Hawks & Doves tour at the Greek. There was no "tour"... it was one set by that band, performed as the last act of the first night of 1980's Bread & Roses Festival. It was their only performance ever as that unit. And it was Neil's only concert performance between Oct. 1978 (the Rust Never Sleeps tour) and July 1982 (the Trans tour). Due to the difficult birth of his son Ben, he didn't perform live during those years. I was at that show too, and it was fantastic. I remember that Neil had an incredibly long Rip Van Winkle-esque beard at the time. Leonard Cohen also played that night. Always loved the Greek, and always will. I was fortunate to see Peter Gabriel there just a few months ago...
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... though I was not aware that was Neil's only show with that band! For some reason, what I remember most about that was the upright piano that they had onstage...Those Bread & Roses Festivals were always a highlight, the years they put it on. Saw so many great, legendary performers there I would never have seen otherwise.

I also didn't mention the Berkeley Jazz Fest (which is the reason Weather Report played the Greek), which I attended a few years running in the '70s. There was another great Joni Mitchell Greek set there in '79--her band was Jaco, Herbie and Don Alias... sort of the mini-version of the great group she had for her Shadows and Light tour, where her band had Pat Metheny and The Persuasions sang with her. (That group put on one of my all-time favorite shows, at the SF Civic whatever year that tour was...)

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From me, ( the guy who accused Blair of crumminess) to the folks who think Blair wasn't at all insensitive: You seem to think that he's more interested in celebrating a Grateful Dead show than giving in to the cable news overhype. That's not what he wrote. At a funeral we don't say, "Let's not mourn our dear departed, let's celebrate some other entity entirely." Yes, cable news feels it needs to overdo every story. But some people tune in for a few moments to see commemorative pieces. If the channels don't have them continuously, people will tune to a station that happens to be showing such a piece at the time. Jingoism, racism, phony right wing patriotism is a terrible thing indeed. But that has nothing to do with what Blair actually wrote. Someone wrote that Blair Jackson doesn't need anyone to defend him. Well, he didn't need these folks. After 9/11/01 I didn't listen to music for quite a few days. When I did I popped in the Grateful Dead. One can praise the glory that is the Grateful Dead without essentially dissing the victim's of 9/11. Blair threw out the baby with the bath water.
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It's the same. I think you are trying to make a point, unclearly. Whatever your point may be, what does the musical loves of the victims have to do with my one and only criticism. I'm not criticizing the band, deadheads for being deadheads, Anti-Iraq War folks or folks that are rather tired of media hype. I only say that, even though this is only a blog post on the greatest band's website about said band, I think the baby (including, probably, numerous Deadheads) were thrown out with the bathwater. Those victims were not engaged in a war when they went to work or onto planes that day, they were innocent victims of murderers. Regardless of the path the government took, those victims were already dead. I know I am somber at that thought. I'm proud to say I can be somber at that thought 10 years later AND I can love The Dead. I don't have to dismiss a national tragedy to love the band. Apparently, some feel otherwise. My comment was to point that out and only that.
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My point was we are here to celebrate life. And many people honor the departed by doing just that. I believe that's Blairs point as well.
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"Yeah, yeah, I know. We’re all supposed to be somber as we approach 9/11. But I’m more interested in celebrating (9/11/81)..." Of course his point was he was more interested in celebrating another 9/11! I'm not going to reiterate my point. It's proof-text is to be found in the first two sentences of his post. I didn't go to his blog to read a 9/11/01 tribute. I went to read his writing about our favorite band. He chose to use that day and it's 10th anniversary to segue into his post. And he could've done it more kindly. That's all. Still enjoy his writing (way back to The Golden Road)!
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I understand your point, and enjoy Blair's writing as well. It was interesting chatting with you- Thank You for a real good time!
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Now that that's settled. Anyone living in the New Jersey/New York area would be well-served checking out Wigjam. They are a very talented Dead cover band (albeit their song repertoire being, while interesting and eclectic, limited so see them once and be blown away, twice and it's somewhat repetitive). The singer/lead guitarist is the best reflection of Jerry I've seen.They will be at Mexicali Live in October.
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Twenty years before 9.11.01. All I can say.... I really treasured listening to this second set back in the day. There is something entirely wonderful about that show that is truly one of a kind. A great vibe to the music, and incredibly energy from the crowd. Afterall, this is a website dedicated to the Grateful Dead, and this is an important milestone in their history. I don't know what a GD tribute to 9/11 would seem like, but I'm sure that a few Jerry ballads might have pacified the world at crucial times when we needed it.
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I love the Dead and love the Greek but I am a New Yorker and I can't get past that first line.....
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This show, and the second set in particular, was my life-changer. It is not everyone's dish, but it's in my DNA.
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i am from ny too and i can get past the first couple of sentences, though i can understand how some may have found them insensitive. it should be forgiveable from anyone's perspective though as you are not using the date to forget or belittle anyone who passed or lost someone on 9/11, but as a springboard to a reminder of memories that recall a celebration of life... This blog got me back into a downloading mode, as i had only had the '82 run, so thanks for that. got '81-'83 down, heading onto the dark star encore of '84 soon, and so far so good...you're right about the saturday show (9/12) from the '81 run - smoking, and loooong second set. also, being a post-jerry head, your description of the shows and the scene surrounding them has made me want to get back to work on my time machine so i can visit these great days with you fine folks...
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I'll never forget that '81 run, especially Sat Nite, especially dancing on the upper lawn at dusk during Scarlet/Fire as the Bay turned deep violet-purple and San Francisco bloomed into shimmering radiance (the fog mostly standing off during that mini-heatwave). A magical windowpane in memory. And for the record, I'm w/Blair. It's perfectly respectful and positive to remember happier 9/11s from the age of innocence...
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...and it was horribly insensitive. And Ive also been a fan and subscriber of the Golden Road back in the 90's before it went OOB. Michael 07921 is right. There is a better way to link 9/11/01 to 9/11/81. I spent this past Sunday listening to the Europe box and watching football. Im not looking to be living in the past (except maybe for the music) , but its always around here in NYC. Special Report of New terror threats interrupted the Saints/Packers game Thurs night, and Im back there mentally just like on that morning 10 years ago. Mya's still a widow, and Carla's daddy aint around anymore. Bette's brother's body was never recovered, and her sister Penny took her own life cause she couldnt handle it. Colin wont be going to anymore Hofstra reunions, and Pauls little sister wont be bugging me anymore like she did when I used to go to his house and play. These were all real people in my life. So dont tell me to move on, or not dwell on the "negative." I have tons of joy in my life, but theres sorrow too and theres no way to just put it aside. Anyway, I got a little dramatic there but Michael's right. It WAS crummy.
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You're carrying a heavy burden, as so many of us are. If I knew the way, I would take you home. God bless you.
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I am just going to speak about Grateful Dead music form 1981. Here you are obviously speaking very highly abou these shows, and we have had good "taper section" music to listen to also on dead.net. My question is WHY THE HECK HAVENT WE HAD MORE 1981 SHOW RELEASES?!?!?! To me, it is really almost there pinnacle year..Jerry still sounds healthy, and the playing is just great: Scarlet>fires, Estimated>Eyes, etc. It is just beyond me why we have had only one release, Dicks Picks 13 from 1981....please make this happen
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...is that the mixes on a lot of the SBDs from '81 are very Weir-lite for whatever reason. There are some shows where he can barely be heard (like on some of the October Europe tour). I don't know if that's a Healy problem or what, but it's annoying!

But I agree that it is an underrated and under-represented year! In fact I re-listened to 9/26/81 from Buffalo the other day for the first time in many years (I'm on an '81 kick). Lots of nice stuff in there...

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and drummer! His timing is exact! REALLY happy and proud to see him acknowledged. Thank-you! I have grate, grate memories of The Greek and of all the people from those daze who are here, not here, or somewhere (How do you do?) and I pretty much always dig your style of writing. Think I'll always be somber on 9/11 and 11/22 though, so I definitely cringed at your subject line. Upon scrutiny... tearing me limb from limb
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    schmid94901
    8 years 9 months ago
    So many great memories ...
    My first Greek was '82, and I didn't miss any for the rest of the 80's. I lived in LA then and would fly up for the weekend party. The '84 Dark Star was for me one of the all-time Dead musical highlights. I was blown away by the Cryptical/Other One in '85. We celebrated Summer Solstice in '86. And I remember feeling almost lifted off my feet during the Watchtower in '87. So many great times with friends. To top it off, I first connected with my future wife after the Saturday show in '89! (We had met a year and a half before). We had a magical conversation after the show, and the rest is history.
  • Linder
    8 years 9 months ago
    Clayton is a phenomenal photographer
    and drummer! His timing is exact! REALLY happy and proud to see him acknowledged. Thank-you! I have grate, grate memories of The Greek and of all the people from those daze who are here, not here, or somewhere (How do you do?) and I pretty much always dig your style of writing. Think I'll always be somber on 9/11 and 11/22 though, so I definitely cringed at your subject line. Upon scrutiny... tearing me limb from limb
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    blairj
    8 years 10 months ago
    I think one reason, rv3...

    ...is that the mixes on a lot of the SBDs from '81 are very Weir-lite for whatever reason. There are some shows where he can barely be heard (like on some of the October Europe tour). I don't know if that's a Healy problem or what, but it's annoying!

    But I agree that it is an underrated and under-represented year! In fact I re-listened to 9/26/81 from Buffalo the other day for the first time in many years (I'm on an '81 kick). Lots of nice stuff in there...