Grateful Dead Make Red Rocks Debut In 1978

The band played a total of 20 shows at the famed venue between 1978 and 1987.

By Andy Kahn Jul 7, 2022 6:00 am PDT

Today marks the anniversary of the first time the Grateful Dead appeared on the Red Rocks Amphitheatre stage. Here’s a look back at the Dead debut on the rocks that went down 44 years ago this evening.

Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Keith Godchaux and Donna Jean Godchaux played the first of two nights at Red Rocks on July 7, 1978 and the band would go on to play the recently designated National Historic Landmark a total of 20 times, last performing on August 13, 1987. The summer of ‘78 would also see the Dead return to Red Rocks for a second two-night stand on August 30 and 31 which were their first shows following the July debut run.

“Jack Straw” welcomed the audience to Morrison, Colorado and the rest of the first set featured Garcia leading “Candyman,” “Friend Of The Devil,” “Tennessee Jed” and “Peggy-O,” while Weir fronted the group on covers of “Me And My Uncle” and “Big River” as well as Dead favorites like “Cassidy,” “Passenger” and the set closing “The Music Never Stopped.”

Following a steady “Cold Rain And Snow” opener, the second set was highlighted by a standout “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire On The Mountain,” a “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” jam within “Not Fade Away” and Garcia’s sentimental “Black Peter.” A complete soundboard recording of the Grateful Dead’s debut at Red Rocks from 44 years ago today is available below:

July 7, 1978 Setlist (via

Set One: Jack Straw, Candyman, Me And My Uncle > Big River, Friend Of The Devil, Cassidy, Tennessee Jed,Passenger, Peggy-O, The Music Never Stopped

Set Two: Cold Rain And Snow, Beat It On Down The Line, Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain > Dancin’ In The Street > Drums/Space > Not Fade Away > Nobody’s Fault But Mine > Not Fade Away >Black Peter > Around & Around

Encore: U.S. Blues

Encore: Johnny B. Goode

In 2016, the Dead officially released the July 8, 1978 concert at Red Rocks. Noted for the “Estimated Prophet” > “The Other One” > “Eyes Of The World” second set opening sequence and the “Terrapin Station” > “One More Saturday Night” and “Werewolves Of London” encore, the complete second night at Red Rocks can also be streamed below:

July 8, 1978 Setlist (via

Set One: Bertha > Good Lovin’, Dire Wolf, El Paso, It Must Have Been The Roses, New Minglewood Blues, Ramble On Rose, The Promised Land, Deal

Set Two: Samson & Delilah, Ship Of Fools, Estimated Prophet > The Other One > Eyes Of The World > Drums > Space > Wharf Rat > Franklin’s Tower > Sugar Magnolia

Encore: Terrapin Station > One More Saturday Night, Werewolves Of London

[Originally Published: July 7, 2016]

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