By 1978, the Grateful Dead were a lean mean music machine. With a firmly cemented lineup that included Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Keith Godchaux and Donna Jean Godchaux, the band continued to press their songwriting abilities to their fullest potentials. Some of the band’s best songs were written in the late 1970s, like “Terrapin Station,” “Estimated Prophet,” and more. The band was truly on a roll. As a whole, the music scene became fascinated with a new genre called disco. Somewhere in the realms of dance hall funk, disco was a true fever, and not even the Dead were immune. Their sole attempt at disco would be the behemoth known as “Shakedown Street,” a song that made its first appearance during a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on this day in 1978. You can hear the crowd getting really into the jam when Garcia lets loose with a solo, not recognizing the tune but getting down to it all the while.
Thankfully, full audio from the performance exists below, courtesy of the DeadLists Project. Though no one knew it at the time, “Shakedown Street” would be one of the band’s most well-known song, even going as far as to become the unofficial name for the row of vendors that pop up in the parking lots of performances. Listen to the full 1978 performance with the first-ever “Shakedown Street,” streaming below.