Forty-four years ago tonight on August 4th, 1979, the Grateful Dead debuted “Althea” and “Lost Sailor” during a Bay Area show at the Oakland Auditorium Arena. The two songs would go on to remain setlist staples and Deadhead favorites among tape traders of the ’80s and ’90s.
The band’s performance in Oakland that evening came just a few months after pianist Brent Mydland officially joined the band with a show in San Jose on April 22nd. After starting the night with a safe and steady first set that included “Jack Straw”, “They Love Each Other”, “Mama Tried”, “Mexicali Blues”, “Peggy-O”, “El Paso”, and “Tennessee Jed”, the band marched right into now-familiar ascending opening notes of “Althea” for the very first time. The debut of “Lost Sailor” came immediately after “Althea”, followed by a lively “Deal” to close the set. The studio versions of both songs would end up being included on the Dead’s 1980 studio album, Go To Heaven.
The show’s second set wasn’t too shabby either. The band returned to the stage following set break to treat fans in attendance to jam-friendly performances of “Shakedown Street” and “Playing in the Band”, along with “Sugar Magnolia” and “U.S. Blues”. The August 4th, 1979 performance is also worthy of note for Deadheads in that it marked the first show where Jerry Garcia played his famous “Tiger” guitar.
Relive the Dead’s August 4th, 1979 show in Oakland via the audio player below.
Grateful Dead – Oakland Auditorium Arena – Oakland, CA – 8/4/79
[Audio: Jonathan Aizen]