Grateful Dead’s ‘Eyes Of The World’ Through 5 Of Jerry Garcia’s Guitars


Since February 9, 1973, Deadheads have been wondering where the nuthatch winters thanks to Grateful Dead’s original song, “Eyes Of The World.” Debuted that night during the second set of the band’s show at Roscoe Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, California, “Eyes Of The World” was one of several new tunes written by guitarist Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter that was played for the first time including “Row Jimmy,” “Loose Lucy,” “Here Comes Sunshine,” “They Love Each Other,” “China Doll” and “Wave That Flag” (which later morphed into “U.S. Blues”).

“Eyes Of The World” was played live by the Grateful Dead over 375 times, with a final appearance coming at the start of the second set on July 6, 1995 at Riverport Amphitheatre near St. Louis. The band also recorded a version of “Eyes” for their 1973 studio album, Wake Of The Flood. The song, which often came out of “Estimated Prophet” and led to many of the band’s most memorable jams, went through many different tempo changes over the years, notably taking on a much faster pace for part of the 1980s.

Not only a favorite of the Grateful Dead’s live performances — almost exclusively in the second set — “Eyes Of The World” has been covered many times by many different musicians. Look no further than the newly launched JamBase Live Video Archive for examples of live covers of the song. Filter by “Eyes Of The World” to find additional performances by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Greensky Bluegrass, Holly Bowling and more including post-Dead performances by Furthur, bassist Phil Lesh and guitarist Bob Weir, among others.

Besides changing tempos, “Eyes Of The World” also differed as Garcia utilized different guitars onstage with the Dead. Filter by “Grateful Dead” and “Eyes Of The World” to scroll through additional live performances of the song featuring Garcia on his various instruments. Though his signature tone stayed true no matter which guitar was in his hands, see if you can pick out the differences between five of Jerry’s guitars in the videos below.

Travis Bean TB1000A | June 18, 1976

This footage comes from the soundcheck the Grateful Dead held on June 18, 1976 before a run of six shows at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. Preparing for the hometown run, the band took their time during the soundcheck, working through “Dancing In The Street,” “They Love Each Other,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “Stella Blue” (twice) and “Let It Grow.” Garcia was playing a Travis Bean TB1000A model guitar, which he debuted the year before. The instrument’s time onstage was short-lived, in 1976 Garcia switched to a Travis Bean TB500 model — affixed with a sticker reading “Ass, Grass or Gas Nobody Rides Free”). Check out the soundcheck video to see the TB1000A in action.

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Wolf | October 15, 1989

Pre-dating Garcia’s foray into Travis Bean guitars, the custom-built Doug Irwin known as Wolf made its live debut with Jerry in 1973. After his dalliance with Travis Bean instruments between ’75 and ’76, Jerry went back to Wolf for a couple of more years, but put it back in its den starting in early 1979. Wolf came back onstage with Jerry and the Dead in fall 1989 “as a guinea pig” to test newly installed MIDI synthesizer components. Wolf was retired in early 1993. Listen to it howl in this video from October 15, 1989 at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Tiger | December 31, 1983

Garica tasked Irwin with building the guitar known as Tiger, which debuted onstage at a Grateful Dead show in summer 1979. Named after its pearl coverplate, Tiger was the guitar Jerry played more than any other, becoming his primary instrument for 11 years. Irwin spent six years building the 13.5-pound Tiger, which was the last guitar Jerry used with the Grateful Dead, using it for the “Box Of Rain” encore at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9, 1995. This video, featuring the aforementioned classic “Estimated” > “Eyes” pairing, captures Tiger roaring on New Year’s Eve 1983 at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium.

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Rosebud | June 17, 1991

Irwin was again asked to build a custom guitar for Jerry, which resulted in the instrument known as Rosebud (see photo above with Tiger). Weighing in at 11 pounds, it was slightly lighter than Tiger despite having MIDI fully integrated into its build. Rosebud was Jerry’s main instrument from 1990 through parts of 1995, including most of the band’s final show. Sharing a similar body to Tiger, Rosebud took its name from the rose-holding skeleton depicted on the inlay located in the same spot as the pearl image of a tiger. This video features Garcia playing Rosebud during the unexpected “Eyes Of The World” first set opener from Giants Stadium on June 17, 1991 with Bruce Hornsby on piano.

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Lightning Bolt | December 16, 1994

Debuted in 1993 at a Jerry Garcia Band show, the guitar known as Lightning Bolt (again taking its name from the inlay on the body) was built by at-the-time novice luthier Stephen Cripe. Basically replicating the design of Irwin’s Tiger/Rosebud bodies, according to (a source of information for much of this article) Jerry called Lightning Bolt “the guitar I’ve always been waiting for” as it then became his primary guitar. Garcia switched back to Rosebud and Tiger for the latter part of the Dead’s Summer Tour 1995 while Lightning bolt underwent modifications. Here’s Garica’s official website’s description of Lightning Bolt’s construction:

Built totally by feel, the instrument honored Jerry’s interest in preserving the rainforests, using recycled rosewood originally harvested in Brazil for the fingerboard. Cripe constructed the neck with an unusual accuracy in the higher end, which allowed Jerry to play where he usually avoided. For the body, Cripe reused East Indian rosewood taken from a bed once used by opium smokers in Asia -— acknowledging the irony, but insisting it was about the quality of wood.

Cripe’s instrument can seen in this video of “Eyes Of The World” from Los Angeles in December 1994 with special guest Branford Marsalis on saxophone.

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