Fifty years ago today, the Grateful Dead took the stage at New York City’s Fillmore East for the final time.
The Dead were no strangers to creating magical moments at the Fillmore East, the East Coast expansion of rock impresario Bill Graham‘s Fillmore West in San Francisco. Just two nights prior on April 27th, the Dead welcomed members of The Beach Boys to the stage to help play on a mix of songs during the second set. On this night, the Dead needed no special guests to get the intimate venue rocking with two sets of music filled with songs from their then-new studio albums, 1970’s Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty.
The band started their lengthy performance with high-energy renditions of “Truckin'” and “Bertha”, followed by “It Hurts Me Too”. The first set would go on to be filled with early-Dead live favorites, including “Cumberland Blues”, “Me and My Uncle”, a 12-minute “Bird Song”, “Playing In The Band”, and “Casey Jones”. The highlight of the first set was the band’s nearly eight-minute performance of “Ripple”.
The second half of the show was filled with just as many fan-favorites from the band’s live catalog, including “Morning Dew”, “Sugar Magnolia”, and a cover of “I Second That Emotion”, which they’d played during a handful of shows in April of that year. Other songs that made it into the second half of the show included “Alligator”, “Cold Rain And Snow”, “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider”, “Greatest Story Ever Told” (a Bob Weir solo tune which would appear on his debut studio album the following year), and the band’s cover of Chuck Berry‘s “Johnny B. Goode”. The three-song encore consisted of “Uncle John’s Band”, a cover of “Midnight Hour”, and finally closed with “And We Bid You Goodnight”.
Fans can relive the band’s 1971 performance via the audio player below. If fans listen closely, they’ll hear Bill Graham making a few surprise trips to the microphone throughout the show.
Grateful Dead – Fillmore East – New York, NY – 4/29/1971
[Audio: Jonathan Aizen]
Some of the songs recorded throughout the night were included on the band’s 2000 compilation, Ladies and Gentlemen… the Grateful Dead, which featured a mix of recordings captured during the band’s final Filmore East run on April 25th–29th, 1971.
Setlist: Grateful Dead | The Fillmore East | New York, NY | 4/29/71
Set One: Truckin’, Bertha, It Hurts Me Too (Traditional), Cumberland Blues > Me and My Uncle (John Phillips), Bird Song, Playing In The Band, Loser, Dark Hollow (Bill Browning), Hard To Handle, Ripple, Me And Bobby McGee, Casey Jones
Set Two: Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson), New Minglewood Blues (Noah Lewis), Sugar Magnolia, Black Peter, Beat It On Down The Line (Jesse Fuller), I Second That Emotion (The Miracles), Alligator > Drums > Alligator > Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad (Traditional ) > Cold Rain And Snow (Traditional) > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (Traditional), Greatest Story Ever Told > Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry)
Encore: Uncle John’s Band, In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett), And We Bid You Good Night (Traditional)