Welcome to #5DaysOfTheDead. On Friday, Dec. 1, Dead and Company, featuring the core surviving members of seminal rock band the Grateful Dead will perform at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The band, in any of its many forms, hasn't performed in Dallas since October of 1988, so we thought it would be fitting to spend a few days looking at how the group became legends and why its legacy is as strong today as it ever was.
When the Grateful Dead made its last stop in Dallas in October 1988, the band was on a rather improbable victory lap. Its first and only Top 10 Billboard hit, "Touch of Grey," and the hilarious video for it which had been played non-stop on MTV around that time, had certainly found the band a new audience after more than 25 years together. Not that Jerry Garcia and crew needed help to bring the crowds to their shows, but it certainly didn't hurt to have a new wave of admirers pack its Reunion Arena concert.
And long before cellphones were pocket-sized recording studios, Deadheads lugged massive amounts of cumbersome recording equipment with them to every show. Taping each show and trading the recordings with other fans was something the band encouraged. A sub-culture of tapers thrived. Often setting up behind the soundboard, tall poles with microphones and cameras affixed to the tops could be spotted from anywhere in the usually-giant venues the band played.
Recording of the Grateful Dead's 1988 Reunion Arena concert in Dallas (from archive.org):
This tech-powered, pre-internet social networking is significant because of the lack of digital assistance tapers had back then compared to what's available to tapers today. The October, 21 1988 show in Dallas wasn't any different in that there are multiple versions of the show available in rather decent shape almost 30 years later. Archive.org is a bountiful cornucopia of live concert recordings, and the Dallas show we found there is gloriously raw and captures the crowd noise without overpowering the music.
Over on YouTube, there's some solid video of the show as well: