25 years ago today, The Grateful Dead released their first album in seven years "In The Dark." The album featured their first and only top 10 hit in "Touch of Grey." Although the song was in the Grateful Dead's rotation since 1982, the album was the first recorded release of the song. It only took the Grateful Dead 22 years to write their first hit, guess they need to be road tested before they got their big break.
The video that they made for "Touch of Grey" was filmed in the Laguna Seca Raceway. The baseline tracks for the album was recording in the Marin County Veterans Auditorium. Mickey Hart suggested that they try to play and recording with the lights completely out, so that their sonic senses were the only one used in the recording. That is the origin of the album title.The success of "Touch of Grey" brought in a new crop of people to their shows, which where nicknamed "TouchHeads." Bob Weir said about this success, "You know the pistachios that are too hard to open. Well now I throw those ones out."
There is a fallacy that this caused them to jump from the amphitheater to the stadium in 1987, is not true. The stadium tour was booked because the Dead had decided to co-bill shows with Bob Dylan. The fact that everyone of those shows where encored with "Touch" and "Knockin'" is circumstantial. This was record for their next release "Dylan and the Dead." But in 1988, the TouchHead phenomenon did prevent them from jumping back into the smaller amphitheaters. The Stadium summer tours were there to stay.
On this date the Grateful Dead also played a show at the Civic Center in Pittsburgh, found HERE. And of course they managed to not play one song from their album that came out this same day. They instead had the Neville Brothers join them for a majority of the second set. After the "Shakedown" "Samson" opener, the Neville's came out for "Aiko" "Day-O" "Woman" "Knockin'" and "Good Lovin'". Before sharing the stage for the final number "Johnny B Goode." The first set highlight is the "Desolation Row." Jerry inspired guitar work on the tune is extraordinary and the great harmony "Lovely mermaid flows" is chilling.
In full disclosure, I am a TouchHead. I considered that for the title of this blog but decided it sound too much like a website for Jerry Sandusky instead of Jerry Garcia.It was 1987 and our family took its first trip to Disney World. I was ten. I was a manic going on rides and running the park and playing in the pools. The hotel room had cable. We didn't have cable at home until I was 16, which is why the 1993 NHL playoffs is so special to me. Every morning and evening I would have MTV on in the room. This was before MTV became MTC (More Televised Crap) and it seemed like I was seeing the "Touch of Grey" video twice a day. At first I did not get the lyrics, I thought it was autobiographical because Jerry looked to have a lot of grey. I loved the beat of the song and the up beat baseline that starts the song. I liked the "It's alright", the crowd in the video, and of course the skeletons. I didn't go out and beg my parents to buy the album or to take me to Giants Stadium, but the first concert I ever went to is and will always be the Grateful Dead.
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