Cornell ’77 Turns 40: ‘Holy Grail’ Grateful Dead Show Finally Gets Official Release

“Enough can’t be said about this superb show,” Grateful Dead Vault archivist Dick Latvala wrote in his journal regarding the now legendary concert held at Barton Hall on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York 40 years ago today. Latvala based that assessment on the audience recording of the Dead’s May 8, 1977 concert initially sent to him in July of that year by taper Jerry Moore. In 2011, Moore’s Cornell ‘77 tapes were selected by the Library Of Congress for the esteemed honor of inclusion in the National Recording Registry.

Affinity among Deadheads for the Cornell concert grew in the mid-1980s when a cache of recordings made by the band’s engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson were serendipitously discovered within the contents of a commercial storage facility auction. Included with those famed “Betty Boards” were the Cornell ‘77 master reels and soon soundboard tapes of Barton Hall began to circulate as the show grew in popularity among listeners. It wasn’t until the end of last year that the Grateful Dead organization was able to secure ownership of the Cornell ‘77 Betty Board master tapes, allowing for the first-ever official audio release of the storied performance.

“Although plenty of Grateful Dead shows have been called their ‘best ever,’ in the case of Cornell this statement is rarely contested,” current Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux stated. The argument is backed up by standout performances of “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire On The Mountain,” “Morning Dew,” Dancing In The Streets,” “St. Stephen” > “Not Fade Away” > “St. Stephen” and plenty of other highlights. Included in the just-released Get Shown The Light limited edition box set along with three additional previously unreleased concerts from the same run of shows, the May 8, 1977 legendary Grateful Dead show was also issued as a standalone release.

For more on the Dead’s May 8, 1977 show, watch this mini-documentary shared by the band:

Even more about the historic performance can be learned through pair of excellent essays written by Blair Jackson and Nicolas Meriwether, as well as Lemieux’s seaside chat that can be viewed here:

This evening, The Cornell Chimes will play Grateful Dead songs from atop Cornell University’s McGraw Tower. Tonight, The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York is hosting an official Cornell 5/8/77 dance party presented by Rhino Entertainment. Listen to the Jeffery Norman-remastered official release of Cornell 5/8/77 below:

Cornell 5/8/77 Tracklist

  1. New Minglewood Blues
  2. Loser
  3. El Paso
  4. They Love Each Other
  5. Jack Straw
  6. Deal
  7. Lazy Lightning >
  8. Supplication
  9. Brown-Eyed Women
  10. Mama Tried
  11. Row Jimmy
  12. Dancing In The Street
  13. Scarlet Begonias >
  14. Fire On The Mountain
  15. Estimated Prophet
  16. St. Stephen >
  17. Not Fade Away >
  18. St. Stephen >
  19. Morning Dew
  20. One More Saturday Night