On April 27th, 1971, the Grateful Dead was smack-dab in the middle a run at the Fillmore East in New York City spanning from April 25th through 29th. The Dead had some surprises up their sleeve for the Tuesday performance, inviting The Beach Boys (consisting of Mike Love, Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston, and Al Jardine) to join them for a short string of songs toward the end of their set. The Beach Boys, who were introduced as “another famous California group” to the surprise of the crowd, came out for “Searchin'” during the second set following “Dire Wolf.” Together, the two popular and wildly different bands moved into a cover of The Robins’ “Riot In Cell Block #9.”
The Dead then departed the stage, leaving the Beach Boys to play out their classic tracks “Good Vibrations” and “I Get Around.” It’s a silly and delightful interlude in the recording with giggling at the start of “Good Vibrations” showcasing the lighthearted-nature of the evening. “If we start another song, maybe they’ll come back out and join us,” starts the next song, with the Dead eventually returning to the stage during the number. Together the two bands now on stage teamed up for renditions of Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” but not before a chaotic tuning session during which the members on stage confirm that the appearance was unplanned and that they’re trying to get things figured out.
It was a one-of-a-kind performance, during which two popular bands that have come to define those times in very different ways came together and clearly had a good time. Audio from the Dead’s Fillmore East run was released officially on the 2000 release of Ladies and Gentlemen… The Grateful Dead, though none of the Beach Boy collaborations made the cut. You can listen to the full audio from the show below, courtesy of Bob Murphy.
Setlist: The Grateful Dead | Fillmore East | New York, NY | 4/27/1971
Set 1: Truckin’, Mama Tried, Bertha, Next Time You See Me, Cumberland Blues, Me And Bobby McGee, Loser, Hard To Handle, China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider, Casey Jones
Set 2: Sugar Magnolia, Deal, Me & My Uncle, Bird Song, Playing In The Band, Dire Wolf, Searchin’*, Riot In Cell Block #9*, Good Vibrations**, I Get Around**, Help Me Rhonda*, Okie From Muskogee*, Johnny B. Goode*, Sing Me Back Home, Uncle Johns Band > Turn On Your Love Light
Notes: *with the Beach Boys, **just the Beach Boys