The Grateful Dead’s Final Farewell Concerts Now Streaming Online

It’s easy to write off the Grate­ful Dead—and I’ll admit I did for years—as aging “hip­pies stuck in the Sum­mer of Love,” as a recent Wired arti­cle puts it. But this rep­u­ta­tion belies a musi­cal depth due in part, as we point­ed out yes­ter­day, to the band’s lyri­cal sophis­ti­ca­tion. But it isn’t only their lyri­cism, or their self-sus­tain­ing sub­cul­ture, that has con­sis­tent­ly won them gen­er­a­tions of devot­ed fol­low­ers born long after Jer­ry Gar­cia and com­pa­ny got their start at Ken Kesey’s Acid Test par­ties. “Long before it became nec­es­sary (or cool) to do so,” writes Wired, “the band embraced a DIY ethos in every­thing from man­u­fac­tur­ing its own gear to pub­lish­ing its own music dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem. The Dead­’s obses­sion with tech­nol­o­gy was almost insep­a­ra­ble from the band’s psy­che­del­ic ambi­tion and artis­tic inde­pen­dence.”

Not only has the Dead fos­tered what is sure­ly the most wide­spread boot­leg indus­try in exis­tence, but they also “pio­neered rock con­cert broad­casts,” start­ing with a Carousel Ball­room show in 1968. Thanks to the spread of the Grate­ful Dead gospel through chan­nels both offi­cial and unof­fi­cial, we have access to qual­i­ty record­ings of Jer­ry Gar­ci­a’s last show with the Grate­ful Dead twen­ty years ago, and to their last shows as a band, played just this past week in a two-city, 50th anniver­sary “Fare Thee Well” series of con­certs in San­ta Clara and at Chicago’s Sol­dier Field. The final shows are now large­ly avail­able online thanks to the efforts of an enter­pris­ing “taper,” as the dili­gent ama­teur record­ing engi­neers who cap­ture each Dead show are called.

At the top, hear “The Gold­en Road (To Unlim­it­ed Devotion)”—the first song on the band’s 1967 debut album—taped at the July 4th farewell gig. (Head over to NYC­ta­per’s site to hear/download the com­plete show.) And above, hear “Pas­sen­ger” from the pre­vi­ous night. (Get the com­plete 7/3/2015 show here). The final July 5th show is sure to come online soon. Or you can find the shows on here:

July 3

July 4

July 5

Opin­ions on these final gigs have var­ied wide­ly, but no mat­ter how uneven some of the per­for­mances, as always—scattered amidst the ram­shackle jams—the Dead con­jure trance states of inter­lock­ing rhythms and har­monies that make all the lis­ten­ing worth­while. We may nev­er get the chance to see them sprawl out live on stage again, but thanks to the stal­wart taper com­mu­ni­ty, near­ly every moment of the Dead­’s 50 year career in rock and roll—from the con­fus­ing­ly nood­ly to the tru­ly sublime—has been pre­served for the ages. Thou­sands of con­certs can be found at The Inter­net Archive, one of the best sanc­tioned Grate­ful Dead boot­leg archives on the web. Don’t miss it.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Every Grate­ful Dead Song Anno­tat­ed in Hyper­text: Web Project Reveals the Deep Lit­er­ary Foun­da­tions of the Dead’s Lyrics      

The Grate­ful Dead’s “Rip­ple” Played by Musi­cians Around the World

10,173 Free Grate­ful Dead Con­cert Record­ings in the Inter­net Archive

The Grate­ful Dead’s “Ulti­mate Boot­leg” Now Online & Added to the Library of Con­gress’ Nation­al Record­ing Reg­istry

The Acid Test Reels: Ken Kesey & The Grate­ful Dead’s Sound­track for the 1960s Famous LSD Par­ties

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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  • Josh says:

    Is there some­where I can stream the whole shows?

  • malcolm scott pennie says:

    the first time i saw THE GREATFULDEAD live was feb. 1973 in the salt palace= salt lake city, utah. first off i paid $12.50 for the tick­et, high price i thought !! then the seat was way in the back, after the con­cert i asked myself why are peo­ple get­ting so worked up over them ?? but now i under­stand it a lit­tle more. THE CHICAGO SHOWS were very good and I enjoy their music !! JERRY GARCIA is proud of them and the farewell.…

  • hard2handle says:

    Try or

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