Dead Best: 5 of Garcia’s Greatest Solos from the late-’70s
Despite the large volume of shows, each was entirely unique. The character and quality of The Dead’s performances were a product of the mood, health and chemical intake of the band members – Jerry in particular – as well as a continuously changing setlist. The Dead essentially reinvented themselves and their songs during each performance. It was an environment with endless possibilities – unscripted and unbound.
It’s been argued (convincingly) that The Grateful Dead peaked in the mid- to late-’70s when they returned to the stage in June of ’76 all shiny and rejuvenated from a 20-month touring hiatus. The band performed at the highest level in those heady years, catching fire early and often.
The Dead’s musicianship and technical precision had fully matured – delivering epic, mind-blowing performances like the New Year’s Eve show at the Cow Palace in 1976; the “Great One” at Barton Hall in May of ’77; McArthur Court in Oregon in 1978; and the barnburner on December 28, 1979, in Oakland.
Here’s a look at The Grateful Dead’s sweet spot, before Garcia’s health and addictions started to erode his legendary skills. We’ve gathered five stunning solos from Garcia during the band’s heyday. The raw emotion that he released through his guitar took us all to special places not often found in this world. Enjoy!
February 5, 1978
Uni-Dome, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA
Jerry’s “Bertha” Solo
As sweet as an early-morning summer breeze.
COMES A TIME
May 9, 1977
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY
Jerry’s “Comes A Time” Solo
Garcia blows minds with his enormous emotional range – from deep valleys to cloud-covered peaks. You may get a little weepy if you’re not careful.
October 9, 1976
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Jerry’s “Franklin’s” Solo
Garcia goes berserk.
December 31, 1978
Winterland, San Francisco, CA
Jerry’s “Scarlet” Solo
A flawless effort from the frontman.
January 22, 1978
McArthur Court, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Jerry’s “St. Stephen” Solo
This one soars into the stars. Industrial strength Garcia.
May 22, 1977
The Sportatorium, Pembroke Pines, FL
Jerry’s “Sugaree” Solo
Shake it up now!
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