Over two decades ago, the Grateful Dead played the second and final night of their tour-closing run at Chicago’s Soldier Field, with an opening performance from The Band. The show marked the completion of a long and winding spring/summer tour, a run throughout which lead guitarist Jerry Garcia seemed to many like a shell of his former self. Once again, he was beleaguered by addiction–this time in front of huge, football stadium-sized venues packed to the brim with excited fans. Garcia struggled through equipment difficulties all night, eventually having to replace his “Rosebud” guitar with his older “Tiger.” According to Bob Weir in his Netflix documentary, he and fellow guitarist/vocalist Jerry Garcia shared some short but sweet words as they walked offstage: “Always a hoot,” Garcia said, “Always a hoot.” Exactly one month later, on August 9th, 1995, Jerry Garcia passed away, his heart finally giving out after years of hard living and declining health. July 9th, 1995, at Soldier Field became the Grateful Dead’s final show.
While not among their best shows by a long stretch, 7/9/95 still packs an emotional punch to this day in light of its significance as Jerry’s last performance. You can feel the weight of the show’s cosmic significance throughout, particularly on songs like encore closer “Box of Rain.” And, of course, there’s the gorgeous yet bittersweet mid-second set “So Many Roads”, with Garcia’s moving vocals ensuring that there was not a dry eye in the stadium by the time the tune was finished despite some musical struggling. You can watch a full video of “So Many Roads” from the final Grateful Dead show at Soldier Field on 7/9/95 below, via YouTube user taste4phree:
The Grateful Dead – So Many Roads – 7/9/95
Relive the entire concert in the YouTube clip below, which features audio of the entire show as well as video footage of “Shakedown” through “Space” courtesy of YouTube user Voodoonola2, compiled by 1015Eelvis:
The Grateful Dead – Soldier Field – 7/9/95 [Full Audio/Video]
You can also listen to the full audio, including the incredibly meaningful “Box Of Rain,” below via Jonathan Aizen:
RIP Jerry. We miss you.
Setlist: Grateful Dead | Soldier Field | Chicago, IL | 7/9/95
Set One: Touch of Grey, Little Red Rooster, Lazy River, Masterpiece*, Childhood’s End, Cumberland Blues, Promised Land
Set Two: Shakedown Street, Samson & Delilah, So Many Roads, Samba in the Rain, Corrina -> Drums -> Space -> Unbroken Chain, Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Black Muddy River, Box of Rain
* Weir on acoustic
*(The Band opened)*