Footage ’82: The Dead Burn with Boz Scaggs & John Cipollina

by Peter Wendel
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BozScaggsThe Grateful Dead’s performance on May 28, 1982, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco is required listening for the faithful. It was an historic show by any standard – featuring a particularly hot 2nd set of rare rock-blues classics – with old friends Boz Scaggs and John Cipollina sitting in.

Also joining the band that night were South American percussionist Airto Moriera and improv vocalist Flora Purim, who combined to make “Drumz” a deep-primal excursion (see footage below).

Here are the highlights you won’t want to miss (footage below):

  • The tasty “Truckin” outro jam devolves sublimely into a haunting, howling “Drumz” segment, which has rare 1st-set positioning.
  • The first “Walkin’ Blues” since 1966 – and, in my opinion, it’s a top-10 version of all time with Boz singing lead vocals.
  • The Dead’s second-ever performance of “Death Letter Blues,” which is incorrectly listed in DeadBase IX as “A Mind To Give Up Livin” (the first performance was in ’68). Blues legend Huddie Ledbetter (better known as Lead Belly) wrote “Death Letter Blues” and scads of artists, like Boz, covered it over the years.
  • The first time the band played “Turn On Your Love Light” in the United States since 1972. (The only other time they did it was on October 16, 1981, at the Melkweg in Amsterdam.)


Although The Grateful Dead weren’t the headliners at this benefit for Vietnam Vets, they were the highlight for many who attended. The lineup also included Country Joe And The Fish as well as Jefferson Starship (not Airplane but Starship, meaning no Jorma Kaukonen or Jack Casady). It’s been reported that the venue emptied rather quickly as The Dead left the stage after “Johnny B Goode.”

Here’s The Dead setlist:

Set I: Alabama Getaway> Greatest Story Ever Told, Althea, Little Red Rooster, Tennessee Jed, Truckin’> Drums**> Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad> Not Fade Away

Set II: Walkin’ Blues*, A Mind To Give Up Livin’*, Turn On Your Love Light*> Johnny B. Goode*

*with Boz Scaggs and John Cipollina
**with Flora Purim and Airto Moriera

May 28, 1982
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

The highlight here is the tasty jam out of “Truckin” – expansive and explorative (check video at 38:54). Sparks begin to fly as the band gets limber for the 2nd set. Husband-wife duo Airto Moriera and Flora Purim add raucous, tribal-frenzied vocals (50:20) to “Drumz.” They should be dancing around a huge bonfire with their faces painted.

May 28, 1982
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

BIG BLUES BREAKOUT!! If you love guitar, this is a feast! The Dead had covered “Walkin’ Blues” – a 1930’s blues standard written by Son House – only once before on October 7, 1966. Nearly 1,300 shows separated the two performances. It’s a well-paced, big-energy version of a song that’s been criticized for dragging at times. Boz nails the lead vocals – with lyrics that are a little different than the ones Bobby usually sings. Features hot leads from Scaggs and Cipollina, and Weir breaks out the slide. Brent is on fire. And, of course, there’s Jerry. Even if you’re not a huge fan of this song, don’t miss this entirely unique top-10 performance of all time.

May 28, 1982
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

A super-rare, super-smokey blues number written by the legendary Lead Belly. The Dead only covered it twice, ever (the other time was in ’68). DeadBase incorrectly lists it as “A Mind To Give Up Livin” but the real title is “Death Letter Blues.” It’s the Boz Show, and he doesn’t disappoint, offering up heartfelt vocals and brazen guitar leads. Not to be outdone, Jerry and Brent unleash spectacular solos of their own.

May 28, 1982
Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

Don’t miss this red-hot RESURRECTION! This was the first time the band played “Lovelight” in the United States since 1972. (The only other time was at the Melkveg in Amsterdam on October 16, 1981.) A stellar all-around effort. Bobby gives a strong vocal performance, and Boz steps up to share the lead (3:14). The vocal back-and-forth between Weir and Scaggs is priceless. Things get hot! Five-star guitar play, particularly from Garcia. There’s no Pigpen (or footage), but hey, let’s not get greedy.

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including the Peach, Mountain Jam, the All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at