Scarlet Without A Fire: 6 Grateful Dead Performances Of ‘Scarlet Begonias’ Without ‘Fire On The Mountain’

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In the lexicon of the Grateful Dead and their Deadhead fans, “Scarlet/Fire” is shorthand for the often paired set of original songs “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire On The Mountain.” The first time “Scarlet” segued into “Fire” was on March 18, 1977, when the latter made its debut. The band went on to couple the two songs together nearly 250 more times, with a final pairing coming on July 2, 1995.

When the Dead played “Scarlet Begonias,” it did not always mean “Fire On The Mountain” was next on the setlist. “Scarlet” debuted in 1974, meaning it was several years before it partnered with “Fire.” On a few occasions in the 1980s and 1990s, the Grateful Dead deviated from the standard “Scarlet/Fire” combination, instead choosing to play a few different songs out of “Scarlet Begonias.”

The JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA) contains over 150 “Scarlet Begonias” videos performed by the Grateful Dead along with covers by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Keller Williams, Bruce Hornsby and more. Below are videos from the JBLVA of the Grateful Dead performing “Scarlet Begonias” without “Fire On The Mountain” as its immediate companion.

August 4, 1976 | Help/Slip/Franklin’s

Performed before the debut of “Fire” in 1977, this version of “Scarlet Begonias” from August 4, 1976 was followed by another of the Grateful Dead’s classic sequences, “Help On The Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower.” While several other songs came after “Scarlet” between ’74 and ’77, this show marked the only instance of “Scarlet/Help/Slip/Franklin’s.”


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May 8, 1984 | Touch Of Grey

One of the songs that followed “Scarlet Begonias” a few times was the Dead’s lone hit single, “Touch Of Grey.” In the video above, watch as bassist Phil Lesh consults with guitarists Bob Weir and Jerry Garica a few moments before the segue from “Scarlet” into “Touch Of Grey” for the first time.


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March 22, 1985 | Hell In A Bucket

Another “Fire On The Mountain” substitute was “Hell In A Bucket.” The first time it came after “Scarlet” can be seen above with the audience encouragingly clapping along at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia on March 22, 1985.


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April 7, 1988 | Estimated Prophet

“Estimated Prophet” was twice chosen to trail “Scarlet Begonias.” The first time was on April 7, 1988 (above) and the second and final time was on March 16, 1990 (watch here).


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October 14, 1989 | Truckin’

On October 14, 1989, while in the middle of a five-night run at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Dead closed the opening set with “Help On The Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower” marking the triad’s first appearance in the first set since 1977. The second set that night also featured a rarity with the only pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” with the band’s classic “Truckin’” coming after the set-opening “Man Smart (Woman Smarter).”


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July 16, 1990 | Man Smart (Woman Smarter)

There were two shows in 1989 that featured the pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” with covers of Norman Span’s “Man Smart (Woman Smarter).” A third and final instance of the calypso classic coming after “Scarlet” was on July 16, 1990, which you can check out above.


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