Stream a Massive Archive of Grateful Dead Concerts from 1965–1995

Image by Herb Greene, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

“Once we’re done with it, the audi­ence can have it.” — Jer­ry Gar­cia

It so hap­pens that one of the great­est things about the Inter­net is also one of the not-so-great­est things: you hard­ly ever have to leave the house any­more. Of course, for traders and col­lec­tors of bootlegs, this has been a major boon. Obscure tapes a fan might spend years track­ing down in pre­vi­ous times can now be searched, found, and down­loaded with ease. And — as a spe­cial added bonus — their qual­i­ty won’t degrade with every copy.

For Dead­heads, espe­cial­ly, such easy online access has been crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant in main­tain­ing a com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple who love the Grate­ful Dead, when there hasn’t been a Grate­ful Dead show in years. That’s enough time for new gen­er­a­tions of Dead­heads to emerge, and to dis­cov­er and grow up with a resource their elders could only dream about: the Inter­net Archive’s Grate­ful Dead col­lec­tion, which cur­rent­ly fea­tures over 15,000 record­ings (most­ly com­plete con­certs) and con­tin­ues to expand as more are added.

Sure, it’s not quite com­pen­sa­tion for nev­er get­ting to see, and tape, the band in per­son, but these days, such a thing would prob­a­bly be impos­si­ble in any case, even if Jer­ry Gar­cia hadn’t died in 1995. (Last year, to keep fans’ spir­its up, band mem­bers Mick­ey Hart, Bob Weir, and Don­na Jean God­chaux wel­comed famous spe­cial guests on YouTube and broad­cast unre­leased filmed con­certs in the week­ly “Shake­down Stream.”) For those raised on Dead tapes, the archive must feel like com­ing home. For oth­ers, it can be a bewil­der­ing col­lec­tion of dates, venues, and loca­tions.

How to nav­i­gate the thou­sands of record­ings of the esti­mat­ed 2,200 con­certs cap­tured on tape by the band and their fans over the course of decades? A few years back, one fan made a list of the “10 Essential/Best Grate­ful Dead Shows,” all of which you can down­load and/or stream and pore over to your heart’s con­tent.

“I am not an old Dead Head, or a mem­ber of the 4‑decade club,” he admits. “In fact, I nev­er saw a show, see­ing as I was born in 2001.” It’s not his fault, but he’s entered an are­na where fun­da­men­tal dis­agree­ment about such things is a mat­ter of course.

1. 09–21-72, The Spec­trum, Philadel­phia, PA
2. 05–08-77, Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, Itha­ca, NY
3. 02–27-69, Fill­more West, San Fran­cis­co, CA
4. 05–02-70, Harpur Col­lege, Bing­ham­ton, NY
5. 08–27-72, Vene­ta, OR
6. 07–07-89, JFK Sta­di­um, Philadel­phia, PA
7. 05–26-72, The Strand Lyceum, Lon­don, Eng­land
8. 12–31-78, Win­ter­land Are­na, San Fran­cis­co, CA
9. 11–08-69, Fill­more The­ater, San Fran­cis­co, CA
10. 12–06-73, Cleve­land Pub­lic Hall, Cleve­land, OH
11. 06–26-74, Prov­i­dence Civic Cen­ter, Prov­i­dence, RI

See the top ten list above (includ­ing links to shows), find hon­or­able men­tions here, a short­er list by Mike Mineo here, and add your own picks in the com­ments. And con­sid­er the fact that a band who devot­ed more time to tour­ing than any­thing else “had just one Top Forty hit in thir­ty years,” Nick Paum­garten writes at The New York­er (though “not for lack of try­ing”). They more than their share of ter­ri­ble nights onstage (by their own admis­sion) but still inspire peo­ple who will nev­er see them play.

“Each tape seemed to have its own par­tic­u­lar note of decay, like the taste of the barn­yard in a wine or a cheese,” writes Paum­garten of learn­ing to savor these con­certs: “You came to love each one, as you might a three-legged dog.” For Dead­heads, it can be hard to pick favorites, espe­cial­ly if you haven’t heard them all yet. Immerse your­self in live Dead now at the Inter­net Archive’s Grate­ful Dead Col­lec­tion here. Browse by the year of the record­ings here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The Grate­ful Dead Movie: Watch It Free Online

How the Grate­ful Dead’s “Wall of Sound”–a Mon­ster, 600-Speak­er Sound System–Changed Rock Con­certs & Live Music For­ev­er

The Grate­ful Dead’s “Rip­ple” Played By Musi­cians Around the World (with Cameos by David Cros­by, Jim­my Buf­fett & Bill Kreutz­mann)

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

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Comments (8)
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  • Graysun says:

    The GD col­lec­tion on the Inter­net Archive is one of the old­est trea­sures on the inter­net. Not sure how this is news see­ing as it’s been around since before face­book. Such a an amaz­ing thing to have access to though. I’ve lis­tened to hun­dreds of shows!!!

  • Jeff Rogers says:

    sad­ly it seems there are far few­er shows on than there used to be. plen­ty of record­ings but many years only focus on a hand­ful of shows. Maybe sev­er­al have come down as they’ve been offi­cial­ly released or maybe I set a fil­ter that I’m not aware of. Per­haps I might even be think­ing of anoth­er site online but I sure wish that we could access all shows includ­ing some hor­ren­dous ones like the Ohio show just before Jer­ry’s 1986 coma. Dylan joined them onstage at one point but I believe it was lat­er that Jer­ry left dur­ing Des­o­la­tion Row and except for miss­ing Jer­ry parts the song was much bet­ter than oth­er parts of the show. Those type are nice to have access to because when they are soar­ing on oth­er nights you real­ize not just how amaz­ing they were but how infre­quent actu­al ter­ri­ble shows were.

  • Delia says:

    Old news, my (new) fel­low head. I total­ly love the enthu­si­asm this younger gen­er­a­tion has found upon dis­cov­er­ing The Great­est Band of All Time! I’ve found you all to be respect­ful of the elders and eager to lis­ten. 30 years ago when I got on the bus, the old school heads taught me a lot — and that can keep ya out of trou­ble (what­ev­er kind of trou­ble that may be). We have each other’s back.

    Wel­come to the fam­i­ly. (~):-}

  • Evski says:

    Born in 85 and nev­er saw Jer­ry. Ten of my per­son­al faves (longer WIP list linked below):

    06–22-74, Jai-Alai Fron­ton, Mia­mi
    03–01-69, Fil­more West, San Fran
    08–06-71, Hol­ly­wood Pla­di­um, LA
    05–23-72, Strand Lyceum, Lon­don
    06–22-73, PNE Col­i­se­um, Van­cou­ver
    12–02-73, Boston Music Hall
    05–11-77, St Paul Civic Cen­ter
    08–13-75, Great Amer­i­can Music hall
    02–03-78, Dane Coun­ty Col­i­se­um, Madi­son

    Longer liv­ing list:

    Archive does some oth­er great stuff too, throw them a few bucks!

  • Bernard Zalon says:

    It does­n’t look like you can down­load. Only stream.

  • Jonathan says:

    What did one Grate­ful Dead fan say to the oth­er when the pot ran out?
    “Man this music sucks!”

  • Jill Leavy says:

    Want to know if there is videos out there from mid eight­ies to ear­ly nin­ties of Dead play­ing DesMoines Iowa Civic Center.Would love to see it.My late hus­band and I were there along with friends.Thank you

  • Gary Daniel says:

    Great selec­tion of oldies. Now I’m an oldie too. 61 next month. This music is med­i­cine to me.
    Rock­palast 1982? The one with Pete Townsend sit­ting in. Great show. Brings me to tears when the cam­era pans the crowd dur­ing Good Lovin’ and the place is going wild. That good old Amer­i­can Music knocked their Euro socks off.

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