The Dead Do Halloween: Three Killer Versions of ‘Werewolves of London’

by Peter Wendel
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As Dead & Company gets ready to perform at Madison Square Garden on Halloween night, let’s flash back to the days when the Grateful Dead would whip the crowd into a howling frenzy with “Werewolves of London” – the Warren Zevon classic that simmers with dark humor and Fright Night gore.

If tradition (even if relatively brief) counts for anything, we would expect Dead & Company to break out “Werewolves” tonight to a wild and raucous northeast audience.

As for context, the Grateful Dead played 13 Halloween shows during their 30-year run, and they played “Werewolves of London” at the last three in ’85, ’90 and ’91.

You can hear him howling around your kitchen door
But you better not let him in
Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again

Here’s rough but right footage of the Grateful Dead performing “Werewolves” on Halloween night in 1985:

The Grateful Dead performed “Werewolves” only 12 times during their 30 years of touring, affording it the same sort of rare exposure as “Gloria” (13 times) and “Revolution” (11).

On July 8, 1978, the Grateful Dead played what many believe to be their very hottest “Werewolves” at Red Rocks in Colorado:

The Dead played it nine times between April 19 (the debut) and July 8, 1978, and according to my DeadBase, three times subsequently, all on Halloween, in 1985, 1990 and 1991. The 1990 show was at London’s Wembley Arena. We can only imagine all the werewolves (of London) that stormed the venue that night.

Dead & Company have picked up the Halloween tradition. Here they are performing “Werewolves” on November 12, 2017 at Madison Square Garden:

Here are 13 shows the Grateful Dead played on Halloween:

1966 – California Hall, San Francisco, CA
1967 – Winterland, San Francisco, CA
1968 – The Matrix, San Francisco, CA
1969 – San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
1970 – SUNY, Stony Brook, NY
1971 – Ohio Theater, Columbus, OH
1979 – Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
1980 – Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY
1983 – Veterans Memorial Theatre, San Rafael, CA
1984 – Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA
1985 – Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, SC
1990 – Wembley Arena, London, UK
1991 – Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA

Happy Halloween, everybody!!

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 PWendel@SongMango.com.

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