Throwback Thursday | Ornette Coleman Joins Grateful Dead

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Today the world lost an innovative and influential jazz master with the death of Ornette Coleman at age 85. Born in Fort Worth, Texas on March 9, 1930, Coleman developed into one of the premiere alto saxophonists of the early free jazz era, cultivating an adeptness for improvisation along the way. Later in his career Coleman joined one of rock’s most improvisational bands, performing twice with the Grateful Dead in 1993. 



Coleman enlisted Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia for the jazzman’s 1988 album Virgin Beauty, featuring Garcia on three tracks. Five years later on February 23, 1993 Coleman joined Garcia and The Dead at the Oakland Coliseum for “Space,” “The Other One,” “Stella Blue” and “Turn On Your Lovelight” to close out the evening’s second set. Several months later, on December 9, 1993 Coleman again joined the band’s second set at the Los Angeles Sports Arena for the “Space” segment, remaining on stage for “The Other One,” “Wharf Rat” and “Turn On Your Lovelight.”

In honor of the late great saxman, below stream each of the two sit-ins Coleman made with the Grateful Dead.

February 23, 1993:


December 9, 1993:


Coleman’s influence was broad, evidenced not only by his Grateful Dead association but also by the tributes from other musicians being shared today: