33 years ago tonight, Jerry Garcia returned to the stage with the Grateful Dead after slipping into a coma for five days.
After falling into a diabetic coma on July 10th, 1986 and even losing some key basic motor functions upon being revived, Garcia was forced to relearn to play the guitar. The task of getting back to the level with which he was accustomed in the Grateful Dead was a daunting one, to say the least. After the arduous process, Garcia found his way back to playing a number of low-key shows at The Stone in San Francisco throughout the fall with the Jerry Garcia Band, as well as a Halloween performance at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, California.
The Dead held off from playing again until December 15th to make sure they were back to their own expectations before kicking off a three-night run at Oakland Coliseum.
That night, the Dead opened the show with their only hit single, “Touch of Grey”, a very fitting selection to welcome back to “Captain Trips.” The show also included a mix of early Dead favorites including “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider”, “Cassady”, “Candyman”, and “Truckin”. The night’s setlist would also include some of the tunes that would become live staples throughout the band’s later years, including their cover of “Iko Iko”, and their now-traditional ‘Drums > Space’ second set instrumental portion of the show.
As many attendees that night would later admit, there wasn’t a dry eye in the building. Reliv Garcia’s 1986 comeback show below.
Grateful Dead – Oakland Coliseum (Full Audio) – 12/15/1986
[Audio: Jonathon Aizen]