Today In “Grateful Dead” History: June 17, 1975 – Winterland, San Francisco, CA

stealie I’m going to make a really dumb argument and say that 1975 was the Dead’s most consistently excellent year.  They played four shows and they were all great.

I’ve put “Grateful Dead” in quotes in the title of this post because the band was actually billed as Jerry Garcia and Friends for this benefit concert for poster artist Bob Fried, who died earlier that year.  But make no mistake, this is the full Grateful Dead.

On top of being important because it’s one of only four 1975 shows, this show also stands out because it’s the first time the Dead played Crazy Fingers, Help on the Way and Franklin’s Tower.  It’s amazing to hear how good they sound, especially on Crazy Fingers and Help on the Way, which are two of the band’s more difficult pieces.  Since it’s the first time these songs have been played before a live audience, the crowd response is muted and you don’t get the normal roars that you’ll hear in later years when Garcia sings “if you get confused, listen to the music play” in Franklin’s.  But this just gives us more room to hear the band really jam out, and jam out they do, especially during Slipknot! and later during King Solomon’s Marbles and at the end of Blues for Allah.

If all of this wasn’t good enough, the band plays a stellar (but very slow) Peggy-O.  Normally, I’d think that a tempo like this would be bad for a song with so many verses that is already pretty slow to begin with, but it just opens up the space for Jerry to solo and he plays a couple of beautiful passages during this song.  It’s one of my favorite versions, despite the pace.

There are a lot of good versions of this show out there.  I’ve included Rob Bertrando’s excellent audience recording here:  https://archive.org/details/gd75-06-17.bertrando.unknown.233.sbeok.shnf

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