History of the Grateful Dead on David LettermanThe members of the Grateful Dead, mostly Jerry and Bobby, have a long relationship with David Letterman going back to 1982. The two guitarists first appeared on Letterman on 4/13/82, during the Grateful Dead's Spring tour, on a night off between shows at Nassau Coliseum and the Glens Falls Civic Center. On this episode, they played two acoustic songs, "Deep Elem Blues" and "Monkey & The Engineer," with Jerry and Bobby revealing terrific senses of humour in describing the origins of the moniker Dead Heads. Classic stuff. Bobby had a bit of a cold, and his voice was a bit off, but they played these acoustic tunes very well.
The next visit to Letterman was on 9/17/87 on the night off during a five night stand at Madison Square Garden, at which they played Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" with the Letterman house band backing them. While talking with Dave, they discussed their new video "So Far," the shows at MSG, and the success of In The Dark. Bobby then did one of the oddest things these guys have ever done on TV, he attempted to lift Jerry via a parlour trick, with Dave and Biff helping out. The sight of an unwitting Jerry, in a nice coat, sitting as the crew tries to lift Jerry with two fingers is one of the most hilarious images of the band I've ever seen. Just the way Dave looked at the camera and said "we're going to lift Jerry" had us all cracking up. I'd been at the two previous shows at the Garden, and they were playing very well and, obviously, having loads of fun.
In 1989, during a five night run at the Brendan Byrne Arena at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, Bobby and Jerry once again visit Dave, on 10/13/89, this time playing "Second That Emotion" with Paul's band once again backing them up. Also very cool during this appearance was during the commercial breaks, they played along with the band on the music the leads in and out of the commercial breaks, including "Good Lovin'," "Mighty Quinn" and "Hideaway," amongst a few other things.
In 2003, The Dead appeared on Letterman with that version of the band, featuring Bobby, Phil, Mickey and Bill, as well as Jeff Chimenti and Rob Barraco on keyboards, Jimmy Herring on lead guitar, and Joan Osborne on vocals. They played a rocking version of "Casey Jones."
Bobby and Jerry also appeared separately on Letterman, the former playing "The Winners" with Rob Wasserman in 1991, and the latter playing "Friend of the Devil" with David Grisman in 1993.
The question now is, when will Sunshine Daydream come?The next time they're on Letterman?