The year 1970 was a very good one for the Grateful Dead. Having released their first two “proper” studio albums, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, the Dead were picking up fans in the scores. By embracing their psychedelic roots and channeling them into creative songwriting and emphatic performances, the year remains one of the band’s peaks.

On this date in 1970, the Dead headlined the Winterland Arena in their hometown of San Francisco, CA. The performance has become something of a source of confusion among loyal Deadhead archivists, as a group of songs performed at the Winterland on 12/17 was mislabeled as part of 12/23. Furthermore, the 12/23 show advertised an acoustic set, but the Dead donned their usual electric instruments for the performance. New Riders of the Purple Sage and Hot Tuna also performed.

In the recordings, Jerry Garcia clearly says, “Thanks for helping us bail out the Bear!” referring to Augustus Owsley “Bear” Stanley III, renowned for his chemical synthesis of LSD throughout this era. Stanley was arrested earlier that week on charges of conspiracy to manufacture an illicit drug and was released on December 21st on $5,000 bail.

Either way, any Grateful Dead show from 1970 is a treat, showcasing the band’s original lineup in their healthiest form. Listen to the show below:

Grateful Dead – Winterland Arena – San Francisco, CA – 12/23/70

[Originally published on 12/23/18]