YMMV / The Grateful Dead


  • Awesome Music: An awful lot of it, given the band's Long Runner status. American Beauty is usually cited as the band's best, with Workingman's Dead and Anthem of the Sun being a close second. As for the band's live output, fan opinions are divided (as would be expected with a band that toured as long and was as thoroughly documented as the Dead; the band played some 2,350 shows), but frequently cited contenders for Best Show Ever include:
    • February 13 & 14, 1970 at Fillmore East, New York, NY (parts of these concerts have been officially released, first on Bear's Choice and then on the more comprehensive Dick's Picks Vol. 4; the 13th is usually cited as the superior show due to the half-hour-each versions of "Dark Star" -> "That's It for the Other One" -> "Turn on Your Love Light")
    • May 2, 1970 at Harpur College, SUNY, Binghamton, NY (almost the entire performance was released as Dick's Picks Vol. 8, but the electric set is unfortunately in mono)
    • April-May 1972, European tour (The entire tour is widely considered to be a high watermark for the band, and selections from several shows were compiled into their best-selling triple album Europe '72. All 22 dates on the tour were released in 2011.)
    • August 27, 1972 at Old Renaissance Faire Grounds, Veneta, OR (can be found in full on Sunshine Daydream. Fans who don't consider the Cornell or Fillmore shows listed here to be the band's single best show usually pick this one. Particularly notable for its half-hour long "Dark Star" and superior renditions of "Casey Jones" and "China Cat Sunflower" -> "I Know You Rider")
    • May 8, 1977 at Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (A highly popular pick among fans for the single best show the band ever played, and as such it's probably the one concert that casual fans know by date alone. Despite its reputation - the soundboard tape was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2012 - It wasn't made officially available on compact disc until the 2017 5/8/77 Cornell three disc set. Compounding this show's reputation is the fact that it was the first A+-quality soundboard bootleg many fans heard, but it's still a great performance from one of the band's best years and contains what's widely considered to be the definitive version of the band's famous "Scarlet Begonias" -> "Fire on the Mountain" coupling.)
    • May 9, 1977 at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY (The concert held the very next night after Cornell. It's popular with Deadheads who believe that the Dead were on a roll in spring 1977 and that every concert they played on that tour is worth your time, or those who think that the Cornell show is good but overrated, or those that enjoy it for its strong performances of "Sugar Magnolia" and the "Help is on The Way"->"Slipknot!"->"Franklin's Tower" medley.)
    • December 31, 1978-January 1, 1979 at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA (The final concert to be held at the vaunted Winterland Ballroom, a venue that the band played often. Notable for being one of the longest shows the band ever played, clocking in at over four hours, during which they played several fan favorites. The show was professionally filmed, and the footage was released in full on The Closing of Winterland DVD in 2003.)
    • March 29, 1990 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale NY. (The Spring 1990 tour is held in high regard by Bob Weir, and also by fans who enjoy late period Dead - and in particular, their virtuoso penultimate keyboardist Brent Mydland, who would die that summer. This show featured jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis joining on the second set. Only available in the Spring 1990 box set.)
  • Face of the Band: Jerry Garcia, no matter how much he insisted that he wasn't. In fact, after Garcia died, the remaining bandmates toured a few times as The Other Ones before changing their name to "The Dead".
    • The band's first "face" was founding keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, who not only acted the group's spokesman, but was responsible for their early musical direction and sang lead on their most accessible early songs. By 1969, the band's movement away from the blues and R&B sounds that McKernan preferred towards country and folk resulted in Garcia and Bob Weir jointly overtaking him as the band's leaders (his growing drinking problem didn't help things either).
    • Garcia began to eclipse Weir as the band's sole face around 1972, but according to the documentary The Other One, Weir believes that what really cemented it was the popularity of "Touch of Grey". Not only did Garcia sing lead on the song, but he was also a natural on camera, was the group's most visually distinct member and he gave the best interviews of any of the band members.
    • Weir has been the face of the surviving band members since Garcia died, as he is the band's lone surviving lead singer and he continues to have an active solo career.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: The surprise success of "Touch of Grey" was a mixed blessing for the band and longtime Deadheads who were known for their peaceful, mellow hippie attitudes with nothing seriously bad happening at shows to...Maybe this video will explain it a little better.
  • Mainstream Obscurity and Pop-Cultural Osmosis: If you have to name a cult rock band they are perhaps the best example, due to their fanbase even having a special nickname ("Deadheads") and many of them religiously attending their concerts. They are also most people's idea of hippie music. Yet, when all of that is said and done: other than "Touch of Grey", how many songs or albums can you name by this group? That's right, the Grateful Dead are actually more famous as an iconic hippie band,stoner band and/or concert experience than for their songs or albums.
  • Newbie Boom: "Touch Heads", the fandom name for those who became fans of the band because of the success of "Touch of Grey" in the late 80's.
  • The Scrappy: Vince Welnick, the last keyboardist often saw himself as this, even after he was excluded from several of the post-Garcia reunion concerts.
  • Signature Song: Almost certainly "Truckin", although "Box of Rain", "Casey Jones", and "Touch of Grey" also have strong claims.

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