Happy Birthday Keith Godchaux: Grateful Dead Plays Jersey City In 1976

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Keith Richard Godchaux was born in Seattle on this date in 1948. The keyboardist would go on to join the Grateful Dead in October 1971 after his wife Donna Jean Godchaux introduced him to Jerry Garcia a few months earlier as “the Grateful Dead’s new keyboardist.”

Godchaux’s tenure with the band lasted until 1979 and it’s no accident the period was considered one of the best in the Dead’s history. Sadly, Keith passed away at age 32 on July 23, 1980 after suffering major head trauma in a car crash. In honor of what would have been the keyboardist’s 70th birthday, view professionally-shot footage of the Grateful Dead’s August 4, 1976 concert at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey below.

The gifted pianist had a knack for picking spots at which to insert his playing when he was at his best. Keith made his debut with the Grateful Dead on October 19, 1971 and his wife Donna would join the group as a vocalist the following year. Both Keith and Donna were on hand for the Grateful Dead’s Roosevelt Stadium finale on August 4, 1976. The show at the Jersey City venue came just a few months after the band returned from a lengthy touring hiatus. Cameras were rolling that night with the resulting video shared on YouTube by Music Vault.

Keith’s signature sound can be heard and seen throughout the entire show with highlights including the tender “Sugaree” opener, a euphoric “Scarlet Begonias” to end the first set, a powerful “Help On The Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower” sequence and a downright evil romp through “The Other One.” The counterpoint Godchaux provided to Jerry’s leads during “Help On The Way” is a particularly impressive example of Keith at his best.

Watch the Dead’s visit to Jersey City from August 4, 1976:

Setlist

  • 0:00:00 – Introduction
  • 0:06:05 – Sugaree
  • 0:17:42 – noodling
  • 0:20:16 – New Minglewood Blues
  • 0:24:56 – noodling
  • 0:30:34 – Row Jimmy
  • 0:41:18 – noodling
  • 0:42:55 – Big River
  • 0:48:43 – noodling
  • 0:50:29 – Loser (Incomplete)
  • 0:55:25 – They Love Each Other (Incomplete)
  • 0:57:16 – noodling
  • 0:58:35 – The Music Never Stopped
  • 1:05:10 – noodling
  • 1:06:59 – Scarlet Begonias
  • 1:22:23 – Crowd Noise: “Fireworks Display”
  • 1:28:34 – Announcements
  • 1:31:07 – Jay Green Juggles
  • 1:38:34 – Mr. Jiggs Performs
  • 1:47:05 – Announcements
  • 1:49:17 – noodling
  • 1:52:45 – Help On The Way / Slipknot! / Franklin’s Tower / Dancing In The Street / The Wheel
  • 2:42:13 – Samson And Delilah
  • 2:49:19 – noodling
  • 2:51:14 – It Must Have Been The Roses (Incomplete)
  • 2:58:26 – noodling
  • 3:02:43 – Not Fade Away / The Other One Jam / Space Jam / The Other One
  • 3:29:47 – Ship Of Fools
  • 3:37:52 – noodling
  • 3:38:46 – Sugar Magnolia (Incomplete)
  • 3:45:52 – Sunshine Daydream
  • 3:49:38 – Crowd Noise: “Encore Break”
  • 3:53:15 – noodling
  • 3:55:47 – Johnny B. Goode
  • 4:00:28 – Outro