Grateful Dead Kicks Off ‘Formerly The Warlocks’ Hampton Run On This Date In 1989

Watch GD play "Help On The Way" > "Slipknot!" for the first time in four years at Hampton in '89.

By Nate Todd Oct 8, 2021 11:47 am PDT

The Grateful Dead launched their “Formerly The Warlocks” run at the famed Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia on this date in 1989. Opening night of the storied run saw “The Warlocks” dusting off “Help On The Way” and “Slipknot” for the first time in four years.

The Grateful Dead began their legendary career in 1965 under The Warlocks moniker. While the band would change their name to the Grateful Dead by the end of ‘65, their former name would become useful as a nom de plume at Hampton in ‘89 as the band was trying to keep a low profile to “ward off a Dead Head invasion of that small Virginia town,” as drummer Mickey Hart put it in a 2015 post on his website. But die-hard fans saw through the rouse and were treated to what many consider some of the greatest shows of all time. Mickey would go on to say:

“I remember these shows specifically. We were playing great and the set list contained many of my personal favorites. Fans must have agreed as well, as these shows are often mentioned in the top 5 shows of all time.”

The first of two nights in Hampton got underway with “Foolish Heart,” a song GD debuted on June 16, 1988 at Alpine Valley but played extensively throughout ‘88 and ‘89 and it showed at Hampton as the Dead delivered a tight rendition. Guitarist Bob Weir then led the band through “Walkin’ Blues” followed by a sweet “Candyman” that featured a gorgeous flange solo from guitarist Jerry Garcia albeit working out a few kinks with his Midi. Johnny Cash’s “Big River” and the traditional adaptation “Stagger Lee” followed ahead of a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Queen Jane Approximately.” The highlight of the first set came in the form of a dynamic “Bird Song,” which saw the band firing on all cylinders during the jam but featured some particularly driving bass lines from Phil Lesh. “Bird Song” gave way to Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” to close out the first frame

The second set got off to a stellar start with the first “Help On The Way” and its sister song “Slipknot!” since September 12, 1985. The audience goes audibly nuts when the Dead crash into “Help’s” opening hits. Keyboardist Brent Mydland added some jazzy touches as the band surged into a killer “Slipknot!” jam that also saw Jerry working the Midi, this time firmly in control. The famed trilogy of “Help On The Way,” “Slipknot!” and “Franklin’s Tower” appears in that order on the Grateful Dead’s 1975 album Blues For Allah and the Dead would unveil the classic trifecta live on June 17, 1975 at San Francisco’s Winterland Arena. Although the band had shelved “Help” > “Slip” in 1985 they continued to play “Franklin’s” and the Hampton show saw the trio reunited once again.

Another relatively new song at the time, “Victim Or The Crime,” came next ahead of “Eyes Of The World” which hummed along at a pretty good clip until giving way to Hart and drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s “Drums.” “I Need A Miracle” emerged from a spooky October “Space.” “Miracle” begat beloved tune “The Wheel” ahead of a raucous version of The Spence Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” led by Mydland on some smokin’ Hammond organ who was joined by Phil on vocals. Another dynamic jam would come during “Morning Dew” which the band put an exclamation point on to close out the set. The Grateful Dead encored with “And We Bid You Goodnight.”

Listen to the entire show recorded by Don Pearson below for this edition of Full Show Friday and also check out video of “Help” > “Slip” > “Franklin’s”:

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Grateful Dead (See 1,285 videos)


Set One: Foolish Heart > Walkin’ Blues, Candyman, Me and My Uncle > Big River, Stagger Lee, Queen Jane Approximately, Bird Song > The Promised Land

Set Two: Help on the Way* > Slipknot!* > Franklin’s Tower, Victim or the Crime > Eyes of the World > Drums > Space > I Need a Miracle > The Wheel > Gimme Some Lovin’ > Morning Dew

Encore: And We Bid You Goodnight


*First time played since September 12, 1985

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