Deadheads Crash Fence During Grateful Dead Concert At Deer Creek On This Date 25 Years Ago
I was there at Deer Creek back in 1995
I think it was June maybe July
But Jerry was still alive
All the kids in that parking lot
They tore that fence down
And I blamed them
For the second show getting canceled
I really wanted to go
I saved up all of my dough
I didn’t go to any other shows
And I got my tickets M.O.’d
And I never missed a Deer Creek show
From ’89 to ’95
I was happy just to be alive
On my yearly Indiana vacation
From “Gate Crashers Suck” by Keller Williams
The final Grateful Dead concert at the venue formerly known as Deer Creek was held on this date 25 years ago. The show was not supposed to be the band’s final performance at the beloved Noblesville, Indiana outdoor amphitheater, but after Deadheads crashed the fence at the perimeter of the lawn allowing hundreds of ticketless attendees to flood into the venue, the Dead were forced to cancel the following night’s concert.
Keller Williams’ song “Gate Crashers Suck” chronicled his first-hand account of the notorious Deer Creek show. What KW likely did not know at that time was that a death threat on guitarist Jerry Garcia was called into the venue earlier that day that was deemed credible enough to necessitate a meeting with the band about whether or not to play the show.
The death threat and subsequent fence crashing added to the Tour Of Doom description of the 1995 Summer Tour that started with a similar, but less destructive, over-running of fans at the tour opener in Vermont. A few stops later, three Deadheads were struck by lightning in Washington D.C. before a show at RFK Stadium.
By summer 1995, Deer Creek was a regular stop for the Dead. The band first played the venue near Indianapolis on July 15, 1989, and returned for two-night stands in July 1990, June 1991 and again in June 1992. An expansion to three-night stands started in June 1993 and continued in July 1994. Only two shows were planned for the ill-fated return on July 2 and 3, 1995.
After taking the stage at Deer Creek on July 2, while tuning up, Garcia nervously laughed as he told his band mates, “It’s weird when all those cameras look like guns.”
Garcia ended the exchange over their monitors by jokingly noting that the presence of Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally in the front of the audience must have meant they were safe.
Later in the set, while Bob Weir led a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” Deadheads and others without tickets in the parking lot began to scale the fence at the back of the lawn, eventually bringing down parts of the barricade and allowing ticketless attendees to rush into the venue.
Coming out of the second set “Space” sequence, Garcia suggested the band “get out of here” since “a riot was going on outside” and there was no need to “drag this on.”
The chaotic scene was purportedly captured by local news outlet FOX59 in the footage below that also includes interviews with Deadheads about what they saw happening during the show:
Here’s a montage of additional local news coverage of the fence crashing and McNally’s press conference canceling the July 3 show:
Here’s semi-pro-shot video of the first three songs performed on July 2, “Here’s Comes Sunshine,” “Walkin’ Blues” and “Dire Wolf,” also purportedly from FOX59
Not the first time the band was compelled to write an open letter to Deadheads, prior to their concert outside St. Louis on July 5, 1995, the band issued a sternly worded warning to their fans. It read:
Listen to the final Grateful Dead concert at Deer Creek on July 2, 1995, via the pair of options below:
Set One: Here Comes Sunshine, Walkin’ Blues, Dire Wolf, It’s All Over Now, Brokedown Palace, Desolation Row, Tennessee Jed, Let It Grow
Set Two: Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain > Victim Or The Crime > It’s All Too Much > New Speedway Boogie > Drums > Space > Attics Of My Life > Sugar Magnolia
Encore: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)