Thirty-six years ago tonight, the Grateful Dead played their first show of 1987 with a hometown performance at San Francisco Civic Auditorium (later renamed the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in honor of the rock impresario). The January 28th, 1987 concert stands out in Grateful Dead history thanks to the band’s performance covering The Beatles‘ “Get Back” for the first, and only time in their career.
The show that night treated attendees to a mix of fan-favorites from the Dead songbook, as the band opened with “Shakedown Street” and filled the rest of their two sets and encore with renditions of “Row Jimmy”, “Bird Song”, “Jack Straw”, “He’s Gone”, “Eyes of the World”, “Sugar Magnolia”, and “U.S. Blues” to name a few. Their performance of “Get Back” was arguably the highlight of the concert, and helped to kickstart the night’s festivities following the 13-minute “Shakedown Street” opener.
Bob Weir took the vocal duties for the cover, although he did have to stretch his vocal range to the point of almost cracking during the verses. It’s strange to think that the Dead only covered the popular Beatles tune once throughout their 30-year run—or maybe not after listening to the rendition—because its country-drawn rock sound is sonically in line with their own California country style from their Workingman’s Dead era.
Deadheads and Beatles fans can check out the video below to hear the performance of their 1987 live cover.
Grateful Dead – “Get Back” – 1/28/1987
[Video: Kevin Tobin]
Setlist: The Grateful Dead | San Francisco Civic Auditorium | San Francisco, CA | 1/28/87
Set One: Shakedown Street, Get Back*, Peggy-O, Walkin’ Blues, It Must Have Been the Roses, It’s All Over Now, Row Jimmy, My Brother Esau, Bird Song, Jack Straw
Set Two: When Push Comes to Shove, Samson and Delilah, Black Muddy River, He’s Gone, Spoonful, Drums, Eyes of the World, Black Peter, Around and Around, Sugar Magnolia
Encore: U.S. Blues
*Beatles cover, only time played by Grateful Dead