Conflicting Grateful Dead Dates

Ever wonder which gig was the first one that the Grateful Dead played as the Grateful Dead. Seems like every book on the subject has a different answer. One book, Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads even has two answers. On page 5 of the book (under Acid Tests) it says that the Acid Test at Big Nig's house on December 4 was the first gig billed as the Grateful Dead. Then, on page 89 (under Fillmore) it says that the Fillmore show on December 10 was the band's first appearance as the Grateful Dead. Well guys, which one is it? How can we have those nostalgia contests if there's all these conflicting dates? This probably happened because the book was written by two authors who seemed to fail to cross check each other's work. Once they read this account of their blunder, they're likely to be yelling, "STOP THE PRESSES, STOP THE PRESSES," It's an embarrassing mistake, but there's more...

Consider the following quote from an article about Jerry's death and the band's history that appeared in a German newspaper. I pulled this off the archives of, which you can get to using DejaNews Research Service.

Someone had pinned a red rose on a tree in front of 710 Haight-Ashbury. A note below that read: Goodbye, Jerry. The Dead played their first concert in this house, a former concert hall, on Dec. 10, 1965, appearing for the first time under this name, which was to make them a cult object in America, and Jerry Garcia an icon of modern American music.

710 Haight-Ashbury? Mistaking the Grateful Dead's home for the Fillmore...Boy, did somebody screw that up. In fact, I've never seen such lousy reporting in all my life. The Official Book of the Deadheads seems to favor the December 4 date. Another mystery is what gig did the Dead play at as the Emergency Crew. The Grateful Dead Tour List in the above mentioned book doesn't even mention that name. Also, what gig was the last one that the dead played as the Warlocks? Doesn't it all just give you fits?

In all fairness to the three authors, I will have to admit that even I sometimes have my bad days around here. On December 8, I just had finished my monthly editor's column and stashed it on the server, when word came in that the Grateful Dead had just called it quits, so I had to yell, "STOP THE SERVER, STOP THE SERVER," rewrite the column, log onto the server, kill off the old article and restash the new one on the server. It ain't easy being a writer these days.

Copyright © 1995, Colin Pringle (