Dead & Company Honor Beloved Deadhead Bill Walton At Sphere Concert

The band paid tribute to the NBA legend who recently died at age 71.

By Andy Kahn May 31, 2024 8:56 am PDT

Dead & Company resumed their residency at the Las Vegas Sphere on Thursday night. The concert was the first time the band took the stage after the death of beloved Deadhead Bill Walton, the NBA legend who passed away on Monday at age 71.

Walton was outspoken about his affection for the Grateful Dead and its subsequent offshoots, whom he saw in concert over 1,000 times. Walton — who first saw the Dead at age 16 in 1967 — was an easily identified attendee at shows, his towering figure matching his larger-than-life personality.

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Guitarists Bob Weir and John Mayer adorned their instruments with decals representing Walton’s number 32 jersey number from his playing days in the NCAA and NBA. Drummer Mickey Hart considered Walton his “best friend” and prior to taking the Sphere stage on Thursday wrote, “Tonight we pulse, we vibrate, we dance, for Bill. The BIGGEST Deadhead in the world!”

During the “Drums” section of the second set, Walton was shown on the screen above the members of the band, displayed amidst the spiraling virtual drum circle looming over the audience. Walton sat in with Dead & Co. during “Drums” in the past.

Dead & Company ended Thursday’s concert with “Fire On The Mountain.” Instead of the usual Sphere final-song visual of a virtual scrapbook, “Fire” was paired with the falling red flowers effect, as photos of Walton with the members of the band were projected amid the stacking pedals.

When the song ended, the Sphere screen projected “Walton 32” accompanied by roses. The members of Dead & Co. acknowledged the visual tribute before exiting the stage.

Fire On The Mountain


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Dead & Company kicked off their third Sphere weekend with the first “Iko Iko” played inside the state-of-the-art venue. They launched from Haight Ashbury in San Francisco to outer space with “Eyes Of The World,” while tie-die and Dancing Bears circled around during “Bertha.”

Two additional Sphere debuts, “Loser” and a cover of Marty Robbins “El Paso” came next. “Loser” was paired with visuals recalling the Grateful Dead’s 1978 performances near the pyramids in Egypt that Walton attended. “El Paso” was coupled with the cowboy western film motif staring Bobby “Ace” Weir. “Cold Rain & Snow” capped the first set with the wall of Grateful Dead memorabilia building up to set break.

Another Sphere debut led off the second set as “Ripple” was played along with the paint-by-numbers imagery. Next came “Estimated Prophet” and the Dalí-esque surrealistic landscape encompassing the round room. One more Sphere debut arrived on Thursday with Mayer leading a bluesy “Mr. Charlie.”

The trifecta of “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot!” into “Franklin’s Tower” roared into the psychedelic outer space realm, leading into the aforementioned “Drums” sequence. The audible “Space” segment teed up the starkly presented “Standing On The Moon.”

The back half of the second set filled in with “Althea,” the animated skeleton Uncle Sam dancing and riding his motorcycle along to “Goin Down the Road Feelin Bad” and the return to the Haight via a tender “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” A recording of a 1960s news report on the Grateful Dead once again played over the PA to set up the Walton-tribute “Fire On The Mountain” finale.

Dead & Company’s 30-show Dead Forever Sphere residency continues tonight. Scroll on for The Skinny and video footage captured at last night’s show.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Sphere [See upcoming shows]

18,600

6 shows
5/16/2024, 5/17/2024, 5/18/2024, 5/24/2024, 5/25/2024, 5/26/2024

The Music

6 songs

11 songs

17 songs
12 originals / 5 covers

1975

6.23 [Gap chart]

None

Iko Iko, Loser, Ripple, Mr. Charlie

El Paso LTP 06/15/2023 (22 Show Gap)

Eyes Of The World 16:43

Ripple 5:23

The Grateful Dead - 1, American Beauty - 1, Wake of the Flood - 1, Blues for Allah - 3, Terrapin Station - 1, Shakedown Street - 1, Go To Heaven - 1, Built to Last - 1

Want more Dead & Co stats?
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More Skinny

Videos

Iko Iko


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Eyes of the World


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Bertha


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Loser


00:00:00
~ Rock N Roll Videos ~
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

El Paso


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Cold Rain and Snow


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)
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Ripple


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Estimated Prophet

Mr. Charlie


00:00:00
~ Rock N Roll Videos ~
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Franklin’s Tower


00:00:00
~ Rock N Roll Videos ~
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Standing on the Moon


00:00:00
~ Rock N Roll Videos ~
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Going Down the Road Feeling Bad


00:00:00
CML’s Moving Picture Videos
Dead & Company (See 368 videos)

Audio (Taped by Oklahoma Jason)

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