Grateful Dead Joined By Many Guests At Rainforest Benefit On This Date In 1988

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In September of 1988 the Grateful Dead brought an unprecedented nine-show run at Madison Square Garden in New York City to a close with one of the more unusual performances in the band’s history. The September 24th, 1988 show was a benefit to save the world’s tropical rain forest with proceeds donated to Greenpeace, Cultural Survival and the Rainforest Action Network. Jerry Garcia & Co. were joined by a number of special guests you wouldn’t expect the Dead to team with and the show included four covers that were debuted that night and then never performed again.

Suzanne Vega and her band played a set before the Dead took the stage as did Bruce Hornsby & The Range. The guest spots started early on when former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor emerged for renditions of “West L.A. Fadeaway” and “Little Red Rooster.” Vega came out with the Dead to start the second set with the group’s first and only versions of “Chinese Bones” and “Neighborhood Girls.” Later in the set Hall & Oates, bassist T-Bone Wolk and saxophonist Mark Rivera sat-in with a Phil Lesh-less Grateful Dead on the lone renditions of “Everytime You Go Away” and “What’s Goin’ On” in the band’s history.

“Drums” featured contributions from Baba Olatunji and Michael Hinton. Olatunji stuck around to aid on “The Wheel” and “Throwing Stones.” The second set ended with Hornsby and Olatunji contributing to “Not Fade Away.” For the encore Phil Lesh took a seat once again as Hall, Oates, Hornsby and Jack Casady helped out on “Good Lovin’,” while Vega also came out for the “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” finale.

While professionally-shot footage of the first set is available on YouTube, there had been no video of the second set on the site until one year ago today when Kevin Tobin uploaded fan-shot footage. Watch one of the more unusual Grateful Dead shows of all time:

Setlist

Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden

Set 1
  • Iko Iko  
  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • West L.A. Fadeaway
  • Little Red Rooster  
  • Box of Rain
  • Ramble On Rose
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece  
  • Don't Ease Me In  
Set 2
  • Chinese Bones  
  • Neighborhood Girls  
  • Crazy Fingers  
  • Man Smart, Woman Smarter  
  • Everytime You Go Away  
  • What's Going On  
  • Drums  
  • Space  
  • The Wheel  
  • Throwing Stones  
  • Not Fade Away  
Encore
  • Good Lovin'  
  • Knockin' on Heaven's Door  

[Originally published September 24, 2016.]

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