Remembering Keith Godchaux & Brent Mydland: Final Grateful Dead Shows


July 23 holds a great deal of significance in the history of the Grateful Dead. On this date in 1980, former keyboardist Keith Godchaux tragically died in a car accident just days after his 32nd birthday. Exactly 10 years after, on July 23, 1990, his replacement behind the keys in the Dead Brent Mydland performed his final show with the band before his own tragic death three days later at age 37. In remembrance of Keith and Brent, here’s a look back at the final shows each man played as the primary keyboardist in the legendary band.

Keith first performed as a member of the Grateful Dead at a show on October 19, 1971 in Minneapolis at Northrop Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Keith’s wife Donna Jean Godchaux joined the band the following year. Also contributing to various lineups of the Jerry Garcia Band, the couple remained in the Dead through a final performance on February 17, 1979 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in Oakland, California. Highlighted by the “Lazy Lightning” > ”Supplication” first set closing sequence and second set pairing of “The Wheel” and “Shakedown Street,” stream Keith and Donna’s final show from February 17, 1979 here:

February 17, 1979 Setlist

Set One: Greatest Story Ever Told, Don’t Ease Me In, Mama Tried > Mexicali Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Passenger, High Time, Looks Like Rain, Jack-A-Roe, Lazy Lightning > Supplication

Set Two: Might As Well, I Need A Miracle > Bertha > Good Lovin’, From The Heart Of Me, Big Railroad Blues, Terrapin Station > Playing In The Band > Drums > The Wheel > Shakedown Street > Playing In The Band > Sugar Magnolia

Encore: One More Saturday Night

Brent made his first appearance as a member of the Grateful Dead at the band’s next show, which was held on April 22, 1979 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California. Mydland stayed in the band longer than any of their other keyboardists, last sharing the stage with Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart at The World Music Theater in Tinley Park, Illinois on July 23, 1990. The first set saw Mydland lead the Dead’s final version of “Never Trust A Woman.” Notably, the final verse Brent sang with the Dead was during “The Weight” encore in which he belted out, “I gotta go, but my friend can stick around.” Here’s Brent’s last show with the Dead:

July 23, 1990 Setlist

Set One: Cold Rain And Snow, Picasso Moon, Never Trust A Woman, Stagger Lee, Cassidy, Truckin’ > Smokestack Lightning

Set Two: Victim Or The Crime > Foolish Heart > Man Smart, Woman Smarter, Terrapin Station > Drums > Space > All Along The Watchtower > Standing On The Moon > Around & Around > Good Lovin’

Encore: The Weight

[Originally Published: July 23, 2016]