Sacramento... 1-17-78. It led me on the road to being a "born again x-tian" of all things. I had a home-made sign that said "Welcome to Sad Sac" They must have seen it. They did "Black Peter " that night. Could've sworn they did it just for me! It was psychic!
Since 3/28/73, it hasn't been the same. All these years the energy grew, culminating in the publishing of my co-authored book (with Barry Barnes): The Grateful Dead's 100 Essential Songs: The Music Never Stops. Still listening to the Dead just about every day -- it never gets old, at least not as old as I am. :-)
Ever since 1971 when I first heard Bertha and 3/28/73, I've been on the bus and never getting tired of it. All the energy combined to help produce our (with Barry Barnes) recent book: The Grateful Dead's 100 Essential Songs: The Music Never Stops. (We hope you'll like it.) Still listening to the Dead every day -- it never gets old.
1972. I left my job managing a large headshop in a poster and blacklight manufacturing company in
Houston to go hitch-hiking with a friend to Colorado and then out to Hermosa Beach, California. While
out in Hermosa Beach I got word that the Grateful Dead were playing at the Hollywood Bowl. I went to
my first Grateful Dead concert. I had been a fan since 1971 but my stereo got stolen and my "Dead" album
was on the turn table. I have never been able to find a video of that concert. Life-changing? You bet.
Their music and videos take me to a better place.
Hard to pick just one... 4/27/77 - wasn't there, but listened to the WNEW live radio broadcast on 102.7 FM as a precocious 16 year-old. Was really excited to get a listening preview of what I would be seeing in person in just a few days. That Capitol '77 show was the first time hearing 'California' (Estimated Prophet) and 'Inspiration' (Terrapin)... as we called the tunes at that time. (Very soulful & heart-felt Morning Dew on 4/27 too...) What a preview for my actual first show on 4/30/77...
Saturday night, last day of April - great show at the Palladium in the Village. Beauuuutiful Peggy-O... Scarlet>Fire>Good Lovin... St Stephen>NFA>Stella Blue>St Stephen... Terrapin encore...Need I say more?
Next up was Englishtown - MONUMENTALLY HISTORIC show! The Dead finally nailed the BIG ONE.
November 24, 1978 - scored an 'Invitation Only' Golden Ticket to see the band at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. Egypt slides on the video screens flanked the stage. Hamza el Din & Mickey front and center for the intro into Fire on the Mountain - mind blowing!... Felt like we were in the Dead's living room with their new Egyptian friends and they were sharing their summer vacation to the Pyramids with us... helped along with some consciousness enhancing vitamins that - coupled with the muse - made the old Capitol vibrate and shake with energy...
And, it went on and on from there... MSG 1979, three nights at Radio City 1980... Santa Clara 2015... Fare Thee Well!
Long ago and far away, I mentioned to my father that I thought I wanted to play banjo. He was horrified. Scandalized. Violin, yes. Piano, yes. Banjo!!? Over his dead body. After several months of begging, he decided if I wanted to play banjo so badly, he'd take me to see Kingston Trio, a respectable band with a respectable banjo player. He took me to his old stomping ground, the Tangent - more accurately the Top of the Tangent, where the Trio was scheduled to play. There was a FUBAR. Rather than Kingston Trio, some rag-tag, motley group in flat-top cuts was arguing over their play list, who was going to sing what, and even what key to play in. They were a scream! Dad was furious! They had kazoos!! What kind of band was this?? Still bantering among themselves, the drummer sat at his set, everyone else picked up his instrument and somehow a decision on what to play was made. My attention was immediately drawn to one guy, on a stool, kazoo in mouth and banjo! With his foot hooked in under the stool's rung, leaning back far enough to make one wonder how he didn't tip over, and laughing hard through the kazoo, he never missed a lick on that banjo. Not a note, not a string. It was bawdy and rowdy and I was smitten. It was all about the banjo. When I told Dad, "THAT'S how I want to play!" I thought he'd have a stroke.
Over the years, I'd run into these guys again and again, under different names, sometimes the banjo swapped out for the guitar, and once he played Happy Birthday to me on a mandolin, but the banjo was always the passion, and that first "show" remains the match and gas of the flame. The group was Mother McCree's Championship Jug Band.
I was an adult before I got my banjo, but the image of "that guy" kicked back on his stool, laughing through a kazoo and doing 120 MPH on the banjo never left - and I'm pretty sure Dad spins in his grave every time I pull my own banjo out to play.
I got into the Dead some time in1974 during high school. Unfortunately, growing up in KC I didn’t have much of a chance to see a show (they didn’t play KC between 1972 and the fall of 1977). Jerry played there in ‘76 but no GD. Finally got to a show in St. Louis, 5/15/77. I don’t know if I was expecting magic but I got it. Heard the first ever Passenger and the 1st Iko. At one point I tried to make my way from the nosebleeds to the floor. Working my way down, the crowd got thicker and thicker. About 5 rows from the floor I couldn’t get any further when I saw an empty seat to on the aisle to my left. I sat down and looked up into the face of a good friend from KC, there with a bunch of other folks I knew. I don’t know why the gods provided that space for me among a community I knew well, but it was only the first of many miraculous coincidences I experienced with the Dead.
The year was 1987. I had been on the bus for 8 years at this point (MSG 1/7/79)
It was Halloween and Jerry was playing on Broadway in my hometown of NYC. All of us had tickets to the evening show, but my friend and I didn't have any for the matinee. We decided that since this was a show that couldn't be missed we walked up and down 42nd street in search of tickets. My limit was $50.00; an exorbitant amount of money for a ticket at that time.
Up and down that street we walked looking for a pair.
Hundreds of Heads were also looking and it seemed that we were going to get shut out. We justified our sadness by telling ourselves that at least we were going to the late show that evening.
At this point my ticket holding friends get on line to go in as the doors have just opened up.
We were moments away from giving up when all of a sudden a woman grabs me under my arm and quietly asks me, "Do you need tickets to the show?"
I emphatically reply, "Yes!"
She asks me, "How many?"
"How many? How many?" I asked in disbelief. "One for my friend and one for me."
She says, "Come with me."
At this point my New York skepticism meter is deep in the red!
But this soft spoken woman leads my friend and me to the side stage door, walks us through the theater, to the box office and instructs the person behind the window to give me two tickets.
She hands them to me and just tells me to have a great show.
After a hug and probably more thank you's than I can remember, she walks away into the incoming crowd of Dead Heads.
At this point my friends who had tickets are just coming in through the door and I call out to them.
They're freaking out that we got in and asked how. I let them know it's a long story and I'll tell them later, but first we need to get to our seats as the show is close to starting.
I show my tix to an usher and ask him where my seats are. He points downward toward the stage. At the next checkpoint the usher there does the same! Finally we're seated in the 3rd row right in the center!
Seated behind me is this woman AND Bill Graham! I get Bill to sign my Playbill, and I ask the woman one question, "There were so many people looking for tickets out there, why did you pick me?"
She smiled and replied, "You just looked like you needed to see this show."
I tell this story often because I was fully expecting to pay for my ticket, but I was miracled that day. And as a result, I've done the same for many people throughout the years. I know the feeling and it's a good one!
I'm almost totally with you on this because I view 11-1 and 11-2 as all part of one long strange trip. if I had to pick one night, I was a little more blown away by 11-2 with all the Phil bombs during the monumental Morning Dew etc etc ...But I include 11-1 as all part of one long mind-blowing Richmond Dead fest that culminated in 11-2 and that blew my mind more than any other show (except maybe my first one at Hampton).