The first time Dylan shared the stage with the Dead was in July of 86.1 At that time Bob Dylan was touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and during the summer they and the Dead shared some dates. The Dead opened for Dylan, Petty & the Heartbreakers on Thursday, June 26 at the Humphrey H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and on Friday, July 4 at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York (part of the Dead's second set was broadcast on TV for Farm Aid). Dylan, Petty & The Heartbreakers opened for the Dead at three shows, during two of which Dylan came out to share a few songs during the Dead's first set.
On Wednesday, July 2, 1986 at the Rubber Bowl of the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio, Dylan came out and played three songs with the Dead: Little Red Rooster, Don't Think Twice, and It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. During the second set, after Jerry had already left the stage to let the drummers do their thing, Bobby sang Desolation Row (without Dylan). A few days later the Dead played a two-show run at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Sunday and Monday, July 6-7, 1986. Dylan, Petty & the Heartbreakers opened for both shows, but Dylan came out to play with the Dead only on the second night. Again he came out during the first set - not in the middle this time, but for the last two songs - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue once more, and then fans were treated to a Desolation Row set-closer with the man who wrote the tune.
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue was probably the first Dylan song the Dead covered. Jerry sang when they played it. The first record of their playing it is on January 7, 1966 - barely a month after they started appearing under the name "The Grateful Dead". They played it fairly often for the next eight years, and then gave it a rest through the later part of the seventies. It came back in a big way during the eighties and nineties as one of their better selections for an encore. When the first few bars of this would hit the air at encore time, a lot of deadheads, in addition to being excited about hearing this great song, would think "Thank god they're not playing Day Job or I Fought the Law!"
Desolation Row first appeared in the Dead's repertoire a few months after these summer 86 shows, on March 25, 1986, but it instantly became a staple of the first set. To a lot of people the performance of this song was surprising proof that the dyslexic Bobby Weir was not an idiot. It's a part of a Deadhead's compulsive, nit-picky nature to note every flubbed lyric, and the fact that Bobby could make it through that song AT ALL was impressive. One of the bumper stickers you could see at shows stated simply, "661 words in Desolation Row."
Dylan and the Dead spent several days during the last part of May 1987 rehearsing at Club Front, in San Rafael, California in preparation for a string of six summer shows in which the Dead, after playing one or two sets on their own, would play as Dylan's back up band for the final set. Tapes of these rehearsals circulate, and include a cover of Paul Simon's Boy In The Bubble. When the Dead started touring in June, but before their July dates with Dylan, Bobby added two of the Dylan tunes they had rehearsed to the Dead's rotation. When I Paint My Masterpiece debuted on Saturday, June 13, 1987 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura, California, and a week later on Saturday, June 20, 1987 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, California, All Along the Watchtower showed up in the second set.
More Dylan compositions which first appeared during the "Dylan & the Dead" joint shows made their way into the Dead's regular playlist. Knockin on Heaven's Door immediately joined Its All Over Now, Baby Blue as a Jerry-sung encore. The Dead broke it out later on in the summer, on August 13, 1987, the second night of their three-night run at Red Rocks, in Morrison, Colorado. It stayed in the rotation from then on, though it became rarer during the nineties. Maggie's Farm popped up in the second set a few times during the fall following the 87 Dylan/Dead shows, and then it disappeared. It reappeared as a first set song in the fall of 1990, once Vince Welnick had joined the band following Brent Mydland's death. It was hard to classify as a Jerry tune or Bobby tune, because everyone besides the drummers took a verse. That adds up to a lot of verses, especially when Bruce Hornsby was sitting in.
And, of course, there were more Bobby tunes. Like Maggie's Farm, Queen Jane Approximately also showed up in the fall of 87, following the joint shows, but unlike Maggie's Farm, it never went away. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again didn't enter the rotation until the following spring, but once it was there it also had staying power. In fact four of these Bobby songs - Desolation Row, Masterpiece, Queen Jane, and Memphis Blues - became so much a part of the first set rotation from then on that heads began to talk about the "Dylan slot" at about five or six songs into the first set. Watchtower, however, the other Dylan cover sung by Bobby, usually appeared in the second set. It often emerged out of a Space that had been particularly dark. Performances of Watchtower took on an extra eerie sheen in the summer of 1990, when you could see from within the audience the DEA helicopters circling over the parking lot outside.
Here are the dates and venues of the "Dylan and the Dead" shows. These shows are also notable for the fact that Jerry played pedal steel guitar for the first time in over ten years.
Saturday, July 4 1987 at Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Joey and Slow Train Coming on the Dylan and the Dead album are from this show.
Two days later, on July 6, 1987 the Dead released the album In the Dark, which featured their only top ten hit: Touch of Grey.
Friday, July 10, 1987 at John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sunday, July 12, 1987 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Sunday, July 19, 1987 at Autzen Stadium at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon
Queen Jane Approximately on the Dylan and the Dead album is from this show.
Friday, July 24, 1987 at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California
I Want You on the Dylan and the Dead album is from this show.
Sunday, July 26, 1987 at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California
Gotta Serve Somebody, All Along the Watchtower and Knockin on Heaven's Door on the Dylan and the Dead album are from this show.
The Dead and Dylan sent tapes back and forth to each other during the process
of deciding what song performances should be on the Dylan and the Dead album.
The Grateful Dead's sound engineer, John Cutler, mixed the record at the Dead's
studio. The album was released January 31, 1989 on Columbia, Dylan's label.
The Dead were on Arista at the time.
Later, more random Dylan appearances at Dead shows:
Sunday, February 12, 1989 - I don't know what was going on at this show. Spencer Davis, of the Spencer Davis Group, comes on for the last two songs of the first set: How Long Blues, and of course Gimme Some Lovin. Then Bob Dylan comes out and plays with the Dead for the entire first half of the second set - Iko Iko, Monkey & the Engineer (which they hadn't played in eight years), Alabama Getaway, Dire Wolf, Cassidy, and Memphis Blues. Then a Kodo drummer comes out during drums, and after the Stella Blue slot and a Foolish Heart closer Bob Dylan comes back out for an encore of Not Fade Away and Knockin on Heaven's Door.
Uh, why don't I have a copy of this show?
Monday, October 17, 1994 - Bob Dylan comes out for the encore. They play Rainy Day Women #12 and 35, which the Dead hadn't played since the Dylan and the Dead shows.
Sunday June 25, 1995 - Bob Dylan opened for the Dead at several of their shows this summer. They didn't share the stage at any of the shows, though. At this show Jerry sat in with Dylan and his band during It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry, and Rainy Day Women #12 and 35
The Grateful Dead gave their last performance a few days later on July 9, 1995.
1On November 16, 1980, Jerry Garcia showed up to play guest guitar at a Bob Dylan show at the Warfield theater in San Francisco, California. We don't need to go into it here - Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan deserves its own node.
written while wandering through Deadbase XI, edited by John W. Scott, Mike Dolgushkin and Stu Nixon
also consulted: Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads edited by David Shenk and Steve Silberman
and of course: