The Grateful Dead Welcomes The Beach Boys At Fillmore East On This Date In 1971
The Grateful Dead welcomed The Beach Boys at the Fillmore East on this date in 1971 during GD’s 5-night residency at the storied venue that year. The Beach Boys would join the Dead during the second set for a cover of the Coasters’ “Searchin,” a Merle Haggard classic and more.
The first frame was a pretty standard Dead set for the time in that the band was really cookin’ — it was during this run that the 2000 live compilation Ladies and Gentelmen…the Grateful Dead was captured — kicking things off with a rowdy “Truckin’” followed by Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” (three Haggard songs would be performed that night). After “Bertha,” Ron “Pigpen” McKernan led the band through the Junior Parker-popularized “Next Time You See Me” ahead of “Cumberland Blues.” Bob Weir would take the helm for Kris Kristofferson’s “Me And Bobby McGee,” before Jerry Garcia sang lead on “Loser.” Pigpen stepped back into the frontman role for “Hard To Handle” ahead of the classic pairing of “China Cat Sunflower” and I Know You Rider.” The band closed out the first set with “Casey Jones.”
Great first set notwithstanding, it was in the second set that things really got interesting. First off the Dead reeled off a spicy “Sugar Magnolia” (Jerry’s guitar has a wah-soaked psychedelic bite and the end jam is fantastic) to get the second set underway followed by a fairly mellow take on “Deal” before Jerry and Bobby ratcheted things back up for “Me & My Uncle.” After solid renditions of “Bird Song,” “Playing In The Band” and “Dire Wolf,” The Dead welcomed The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston. Jerry and Pigpen would lead the vocal group through the Coasters’ “Searchin.” Next, the Dead tuned up, The Beach Boys touted an early Moog synthesizer to give a siren effect on the next song, The Robins’ “Riot In Cell Block #9.” The Dead then departed to leave The Beach Boys to perform their 1968 psychedelic classic “Good Vibrations” along with the early surf rock standard, “I Get Around.”
The Beach Boys then coaxed GD back out on stage as they got into another classic tune of theirs, “Help Me Rhonda.” The Dead did indeed trickle back in for the bluesy version of the tune that stretched to over seven minutes. The Grateful Dead and The Beach Boys then delivered a stellar, tongue firmly in cheek version of Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” featuring The Beach Boys’ iconic harmonies. Jerry also augments the vocals with some tasty guitar fills. “Okie From Muskogee” is one of the highlights of the sit-in, which concludes with “Johnny B. Goode.” The Beach Boys seem to really enjoy Jerry ripping into Chuck Berry’s instantly recognizable opening riff and led the way vocally on the always rollicking number. The Beach Boys then leave the stage and The Dead finish up with a beautiful slow burn of “Sing Me Back Home” stretching to nearly 11 minutes and completing The Hag trifecta. “Uncle John’s Band” then jumped into one of those masterful, marathon (22 and a half minutes) versions of “Turn On Your Lovelight” to bring the evening to a close
Listen to the entire show below via Charlie Miller and Matthew Vernon:
Set One: Truckin’, Mama Tried, Bertha, Next Time You See Me, Cumberland Blues, Me And Bobby McGee, Loser, Hard To Handle, China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider, Casey Jones
Set Two: Sugar Magnolia, Deal, Me & My Uncle, Bird Song, Playing In The Band, Dire Wolf, Searchin’*, Riot In Cell Block #9*, Good Vibrations**, I Get Around**, Help Me Rhonda*, Okie From Muskogee*, Johnny B. Goode*, Sing Me Back Home, Uncle Johns Band > Turn On Your Love Light
*with the Beach Boys
**Just the Beach Boys: Good Vibrations, I Get Around.