Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

B3 Be Gone

This show might be more interesting than good, Enthusiasts: 3/24/71 from Winterland; the hook of this performance is this is the fewest Grateful Deads you’ll ever hear.

Obviously, TotD:  there were only five Grateful Deads from 2/19/71 to 10/21/71, you’ll say.

And I’ll say, Please don’t help. I can do this all by myself like a big boy.

Then you’d say, Did you just say “like a big boy?” That is creepy phrasing for a man your age.

And I would run into my bedroom and self-harm.

This is not how show recommendations are supposed to go.

Stop censorshipping me.

And that’s not how the English language works.

Shh. Anyway: yes, there were only five Grateful Deads for eight months, but you can only hear four of them on this recording; according to Bobby (or Garcia, maybe), they “forgot” Pig’s organ,* so it’s just the two guitarists, Phil, and Billy for this short-ish set and it sounds like no other show: raw and lean and bar-bandish.

Check it out, and stay for the Uncle John’s Band featuring some of the most painful harmonizing you’ve ever heard.

*This is not true. I thought that this was the night Pig’s organ got repossessed, but that was late ’69 or early ’70. I don’t know what happened, but I know that the official story (as much as a deadpan aside from the stage can be called official) isn’t true.


  1. I agree. I’m confident that the organ wasn’t repossessed (that was a Lenny Hart-era thing, Sam Cutler ran a tighter ship), but they didn’t “forget.”

    Two reasonable, non-paranoid theories:
    the organ was broken, and they didn’t have the wherewithal to fix it. Hammond organs are tricky beasts, it’s not like any Qwippie could fix them

    the organ was fine, but the truck it was in broke down.

    Since the show was a one-off benefit for some obscure cause, they wouldn’t have had their full touring apparatus. They probably just tossed the gear into a few panel vans and brought it over, since they were probably using the BGP provided PA, not the band’s own. If the truck with the organ broke down, well, there was some roadie out on Doyle Drive, but it’s not like he could text message the band.

    The interesting part to consider is whether Pigpen really minded–my guess is that he didn’t. He wanted to sing, and blow a little harp. I think he just played organ as a courtesy to the band, but he wasn’t that into it anymore.

  2. My personal theory on organ repossession, a burgeoning field of dead scholarly research, is that it was October 4,1970 winter land the big first quadrophonic radio broadcast with multiple bands and two radio station crews on stage setting up no doubt allowed the sheriff access in the confusion to get to the organ to repossess it. The best part about this theory is that it was Donna jeans first dead show. Which means she first saw the dead without keyboards and perhaps thought hmmm,my man could fill in. The official line on this show is the road crew didn’t feel like hauling the organ over for a short set.

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