Listen To Grateful Dead Debut ‘Wharf Rat’ At The Capitol Theatre In 1971

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The Grateful Dead vault has opened for the release of audio featuring the band’s debut performance of “Wharf Rat.” The track was recorded on February 18, 1971 at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York — a previously unreleased concert included on an upcoming American Beauty: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition set.

American Beauty: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is due on October 30 via Rhino. The three-CD and digital edition of the set includes the Dead’s 1970 album American Beauty with newly remastered audio as well as the previously unreleased Capitol Theatre show. “Wharf Rat” was one of five songs debuted by the Grateful Dead at The Capitol Theatre on February 18, 1971. “Playing In The Band,” “Bertha,” “Greatest STory Ever Told” and “Loser” were also premiered at the concert, which featured special guest Ned Lagin on keys throughout the night.

“Wharf Rat” was penned by GD guitarist Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter. The ballad was played regularly by the band following its debut. “Wharf Rat” often landed in the post-“Drums”/”Space” segments of Grateful Dead concerts. The last of the group’s nearly 400 versions of the song took place at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on June 25, 1995.

Stream the Grateful Dead’s first live performance of “Wharf Rat” below:

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