Thoughts On The Dead

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

Winter Has Come And Gone

I have been nabbed, Enthusiasts. Called out! Accused of a deed thick with perversity and ambition, one so low as to be almost unspeakable: doing my homework. As you know, TotD runs according to the strict tenets of Without Research. Looking facts up? Double-checking dates? Not on my watch. In fact, I won’t even keep watch on my watch. Someone’s gotta pay attention, but it ain’t gonna be me.

And yet here I stand feigning shame and ignoring calls to resign from the Senate.

Somebloke from the Comment Section noticed that–

You’re not going to say the guy’s name?

I did. Somebloke.

That’s just rude. 

Can we not do the Who’s on First routine?

But it’s such a fan favorite.

Shoo. Anyway, a commentator named Somebloke noticed that, tucked deeply within all the lies of Bill Graham’s Thanksgiving story, was a small nugget of truth. When Uncle Bill decried a shitty lineup that was playing Winterland in spring of ’76, he was talking about an actual show: 4/2/76 featuring BTO, Wishbone Ash, and Styx. This is a far drearier bill than I could have come up with, so it’s lucky I happened on this master list of Winterland performances. (In honesty, I don’t know how much of a “master list” it is; it must be missing some shows.) Go check it out, Enthusiasts, but if you don’t have time, I’ll do it for you:

  • The Dead only headlined Winterland once before 1970, and then it’s to play New Year’s in 1968; they wouldn’t make the crumbling venue their home base until late ’72.
  • Bill that sounds most like a Buddhist chant: Yes, Poco, Focus (4/7/73).
  • Not gonna lie: I read the list for about ten minutes while thinking to myself, “Who is this band called Cancelled? Never heard of ’em.”
  • On December 6th and 7th of ’73, Mike Bloomfield opened up for Paul Butterfield; sadly, the Buffalo Springfield were not the middle act.
  • The show immediately following the Dead’s November ’77 run was Genesis.
  • The show immediately following the Dead’s ’77 New Year’s run was the Sex Pistols.
  • Winterland used to simulcast Muhammad Ali’s fights; anyone ever attend?
  • For three nights in December of ’67, Chuck Berry opened up for The Doors, and here’s how big of an asshole Jim Morrison was: I bet he wasn’t embarrassed.
  • Hotchie motchie, look at the funkiness: 1/27,28/73 is Curtis Mayfield, Tower of Power, and the Bar-Kays.
  • Worth noting that Miles Davis never played Winterland, but Steve Miller did a whole bunch of times.
  • You can watch bands rise in the ranks, or some just disappear.
  • Be Bop Deluxe, Jam, Horselips (4/15/78) is the most unappetizing lineup I’ve ever heard.

To whence, Enthusiasts? We arm ourselves with the Time Sheath and head back to Winterland’s dozen-year lifespan. Which show do you go to? (DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Can’t go to a Dead show.) Cream or Hendrix in ’68? The Sex Pistols final performance in ’78? How about 3/6/77: Queen and Thin Lizzy? Sly Stone before he went nuts? The original Chicago and Allman Brothers lineups?

Pick your date, Enthusiasts.


  1. My gut’s inclination is one of the two Rolling Stones / Stevie Wonder (yes, and Terry Reid) shows in June of ’72. Seeing “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band®” in a <6,000-capacity venue, on the Exile On Main St. tour, is tempting in and of itself. Adding Stevland Morris to the bill, hot off Music Of My Mind (with Talking Book waiting in the wings), makes it almost a no-brainer.

    Tugging at my hems, though, is the Elvis Costello / Nick Lowe (yes, and Mink de Ville) show in June of ’78. Declan touring the LP that was my gateway drug to his music, This Year’s Model. Having seen him a few times in the past 20 years, it would be Something Else to see The Attractions at their coked-out best.

    No way in hell would I have gone to the Sex Pistols’ gig. I know a couple of folks who attended, they do not have fond memories of the experience.

    PS – I’m curious about the three nights in July ’75 that are labeled simply, “Reggae”. These might trump all others, depending on the artists.

  2. NoThoughtsOnDead

    November 25, 2017 at 1:19 am

    There are any number of tasty bills that don’t involve the Dead, as well as some interesting pairings (which I know were a SF, or Graham, specialty). A lot of good shows in 1968, and seeing either The Who or Cannonball Adderly sounds great — but on the same bill? Kinda like Miles Davis opening for the Dead… Also, great to see that Be-Bop Deluxe headlined twice at Winterland. In ’77 with Petty & the Heartbreakers sounds good, except Yesterday & Today doesn’t really add to the joy. In ’78, with The Jam and Horselips as an opener is pretty appealing. But not more than many of those ’67, ’68, and ’69 bills! Hail to Bill Graham and his presenters!

  3. May 73,
    Humble Pie, Slade, Steely Dan

    Humble Pie however may have been a mess by then so not sure the timing is right, but the mix is nice.

    My choice has absolutely nothing to do with Slade, I don’t know much about them, I picture I guy in a top hat.

  4. Holy crap, Tor . . . Out of that whole damn list, that is the one that I fixated on too!!

    But since you beat me to the comment section and shouted “dibs,” I’ma go with this one . . .

    10-11 March 1972: Black Sabbath, Yes, Wild Turkey

  5. The reggae shows in July 1975 were supposed to be Bob Marley and the wailers but they played those three nights at the roxy theatre in LA instead on those dates. They played San Francisco at the boarding house only 500 people capacity for four nights just prior.
    Bill graham wanted to manage the wailers but they ended up declining and played small venues on this tour. Jerry Garcia offered family man the deads sound system to use for the tour had they ended up playing winterland. It was not to be ,Marley was intrigued by the fact that they ( the dead) owned their own record company having been burned repeatedly by the Jamaican music industry. Apparently hard drug use around the dead put Marley off taking up the deads and Graham’s offer.

  6. Luther Von Baconson

    November 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Pablo Cruise cancelled!?!?!

  7. Luther Von Baconson

    November 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    dudeners, the ‘wack. from the Fraser Valley.

  8. Luther Von Baconson

    November 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    ali frazier ’75 or ali foreman ’74?

  9. Ali/Foreman fight movie was, of course, directed by Leon Gast.

    Who, of course, filmed a buncha the Dead Movie.

    But, and this is the KEY, When We Were Kings didn’t have an animated opening sequence, nor did it have the Hell’s Angels nor Bill Graham nor Mickey Hart suddenly reappearing to become Foreman’s cornerman.

  10. First of all, I am the co-purveyor for Chicken On A Unicycle, so thanks for the shout-out.

    Secondly, I actually attended the Be-Bop Deluxe/Jam/Horslips show, and it was great. Really. Be-Bop was coming off Life In The Air Age, The Jam were still a Thang, and Horslips was always great.

    Weirdly, Be-Bop Deluxe attracted an ugly, liquored up crowd, one of the undertones of Winterland that was rarely discussed. When everyone was high it was mellow, when everyone was not it was very ugly. Certainly the ugliest crowd I ever saw was Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart on Dec 27 ’75. A nasty audience undermined an otherwise fascinating show.

    • NoThoughtsOnDead

      November 25, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      I’m not surprised that BBD/Jam/Horselips show was fun. The one time I saw Be-Bop Deluxe, they were opening for Foghat, with (anti)Climax Blues Band as the middle band. This was at the Richfield Coliseum in northern Ohio; it seemed like a very liquored up crowd to me. Not long after, I saw The Who with Toots and the Maytals opening, and THAT was a crowd with some ugly substance use patterns!

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      November 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      I didn’t know who Be Bop Deluxe was, like, at all. Checked out a bunch of their tunes last night. Good songs. They should have been bigger.

  11. Be bop deluxe were great, I believe without research they also after that had a band called three’ whatever there first names were?) drastic plastic I think was one of the b bop deluxe albums albums ( because of course there is no way to check discographies withoutvresearch.
    We canucks were completely spoiled back in the day with an all night CBC cross country radio program called brave new waves hosted by Brent Bambury where he would profile a in depth retrospective of a band every night b- bop deluxe being one of them.

  12. Luther Von Baconson

    November 26, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Fred Sanford & Pete Townshend would’ve been the Cat’s Ass

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