Grateful Dead Begins Final Tour On This Date 25 Years Ago

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The final Grateful Dead tour began on this date in 1995. The band performed on June 15, 1995, at Franklin County Airport in Highgate, Vermont with Bob Dylan opening.

An 11-show tour on the West Coast took place in late-May of 1995, culminating with three nights at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on June 2, 3 and 4. After a few days off, Summer Tour 1995 began in earnest on the East Coast. What became the legendary band’s final run of shows ended up mired with negative incidents that strained the relationship between the musicians onstage and the Deadheads that followed them around the country.

The June 15 opening-night concert marked the second time the Dead performed at Franklin County Airport after holding a show there on July 13, 1994. The band’s publicist Dennis McNally set the scenes for both concerts in his book A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead:

The [1994] East Coast summer tour began in Highgate, Vermont, so far north that the border patrol’s offices were next door to the backstage area. Flying under the Deadhead radar, the show was a success because not too many of the ticketless came …

The summer 1995 tour began in Vermont, and the decision to go twice to the well was revealed as a bad one. Though management had begged the town of Highgate to ban camping and vending in the area near the show site, the itch to make a profit on the visit led to a circus. With a place to stay, and all the nitrous and beer they could buy, at least 20,000 people without tickets showed up, and the gates were opened so that no one would get hurt.

The issue with more and more people showing up to Dead shows without tickets came to a head at the band’s concert on July 2, 1995, at Deer Creek in Noblesville, Indiana. During that night’s first set, the notorious gate crashing and toppling of the fence at the top of the venue’s lawn occurred, allowing throngs of those without tickets inside the theatre and causing the cancellation of the next night’s show.

The incident at Deer Creek also saw the members of the Grateful Dead issue a sternly worded letter to Deadheads, that closed with:

Want to end the touring life of the Grateful Dead? Allow bottle-throwing gate crashers to keep on thinking they’re cool anarchists instead of the creeps they are.

Want to continue it? Listen to the rules, and pressure others to do so. A few more scenes like Sunday night, and we’ll quite simply be unable to play. The spirit of the Grateful Dead is at stake, and we’ll do what we have to do to protect it. And when you hear somebody say “Fuck you, we’ll do what we want,” remember something.

That applies to us, too.

Phil, Jerry, Bobby, Mickey, Billy and Vince

Before that happened, the Dead began their final tour by opening with their late-career hit, “Touch Of Grey.” The largely unremarkable performance — as was the case most nights of the tour — saw in the second set the debut cover of “Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” the blues classic that shares similarities to “Minglewood Blues” and was popularized by Muddy Waters. Listen to a soundboard recording transferred by Hiroki Shibata below:

Setlist

Grateful Dead at Franklin County Airport Field

Set 1
  • Touch of Grey
  • Wang Dang Doodle  
  • Peggy-O  
  • El Paso  
  • Ramble On Rose
  • Black-Throated Wind  
  • Loose Lucy
  • Promised Land  
Set 2
  • Here Comes Sunshine
  • Samba in the Rain
  • Truckin'
  • Rollin' and Tumblin'  
  • That Would Be Something  
  • He's Gone
  • Drums
  • Space
  • Box of Rain
  • Standing on the Moon
  • Sugar Magnolia
Encore
  • Liberty
  • Robert Hunter
JamBase Live Video Archive
JamBase Live Video Archive