The Grateful Dead Plays Free Show At Columbia University 50 Years Ago Today


Fifty years ago today the Grateful Dead played a free show on the campus of Columbia University in New York City. The Dead’s performance came just a few days after police had violently squashed a student protest that led to 148 injuries and an astounding 372 police brutality complaints.

Mickey Hart shared a few memories of the show on his website:

On May 3rd 1968 Columbia University students were protesting against the building of a military gym in a public park near campus. Police had been removing the strikers from occupying buildings for days and the campus was mostly on lock down. [Grateful Dead manager] Rock [Scully] reached out to the strike organizers and offered to do a free show for the students.

Always up for an adventure, we of course, went right along. Since the police and guards were closing off access to the majority of the campus – we were “smuggled” on campus to Low Library Plaza in the back of a bread delivery truck. Equipment and all.

We were already jamming away before the security and police could to stop us.

While the Dead’s setlist is unknown, some of the band’s performance was filmed. Check out approximately nine minutes of the resulting footage paired with audio of “Cryptical Envelopment” and “The Other One” that surfaced in 2015 on YouTube:

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