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The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead01
The Grateful Dead at Woodstock
Performed on Day 2
Started at 10:30 pm, Saturday, 16th
Played for 80 min.
Further Information
Festival Day Chronology
Prev. artist Mountain at 9.00 pm
Next artist Creedence Clearwater Revival at 12.30 am

The Grateful Dead are their own phenomenon. Influenced by Blues, Jazz, Country, Folk and of course Rock 'N' Roll, they used to stretch their compositions to incredible lengths, improvising solos and lyrics. Woodstock could have been yet another milestone in their triumphal run of shows, but, unfortunately, it wasn't.

The Grateful Dead came late on stage because Owsley Stanley (a.k.a. "Bear" - their soundman and electrical engineer) wanted to fix the electrical ground on stage. Also their heavy equipment had squashed the turnable stage. Further, the rain had flooded the stage and the band was in danger of electric shocks[1]. Songs got delayed because of long breaks between them. After a while, it all ended in an almost everlasting "Turn On Your Lovelight" after which the band left.

The Dead started at about 10:30 pm on Saturday the 16th. Their gig was supposed to be a little longer than the other bands because of the breaks. So they finished around midnight.


  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Bob Weir - guitar, vocals
  • Bill Kreutzmann - drums and percussion
  • Mickey Hart - drums and percussion
  • Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, congas, vocals
  • Tom Constanten - keyboards, vocals
  • Phil Lesh - bass


  1. St. Stephen
  2. Mama Tried
  3. Dark Star
  4. High Time
  5. Turn On Your Lovelight


Sadly, because of technical problems that caused band members to receive electrical shocks when they touched instruments or tried to sing through the microphones, their gig was extremely bad. Though regarded as one of the best live bands at the time, their songs didn't work the way they usually did.

After "Mama Tried" there is a short false start of "High Time" and then a long pause. On the recording there's about 10 minutes of babbling and stoned confusion. "Turn On Your Lovelight" was one of the longest versions of that song ever played, clocking in at almost 38 minutes. During that song an audience member (who was most likely on drugs) randomly came onto the stage and started telling the audience about the great lake. After the man's speech, the Dead played on as if nothing had happened. This man is now referred to as the unknown gleef.


Since the Grateful Dead bootlegged themselves regularly there is a very clean soundboard recording available that features the whole show as well as some tuning, banter and stage raps during the long breaks. Because of the bad performance it was never fully released officially, neither on audio nor on film. However, there are film outtakes and black/white film available.

In 2009 the Rhino box set Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm included one song from the Grateful Dead: "Dark Star". Also the 40th Anniversary version of the Woodstock movie includes a reasonably edited "Turn on Your Lovelight" and "Mama Tried" in bonus material. Finally the full set was released as part of the 2019 Woodstock - Back to the Garden box set.



  1. Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip, 2003, ISBN 1405301481