On August 9, 1995, the zeitgeist of the world had a dramatic shift for the millions of Grateful Dead fans around the world, “Deadheads,” as they are called by everyone including themselves. Jerry Garcia, the leader, lead guitarist, singer and songwriter passed away, victim of a heart attack. Since then fans have been content to see various members of the Dead perform in their own bands, including a band called “The Dead” that featured various guitarists in place of Jerry.
We’ve had the pleasure of CD’s (and now downloading and streaming) of new live recordings in the “Dick’s Picks” series, DVD’s for shows like “Downhill From Here,” “Truckin’ Up to Buffalo” and much more — it’s all been great. But we really missed the enjoyment of being at a live show, because no matter how many Dead shows one attended, they were always a fresh experience. We lost that the day Jerry Garcia died.
Earlier this year the Grateful Dead announced they would have their “Fare Thee Well” shows at Soldier Field, in Chicago, Illinois, July 3-5. Mail order tickets sold out immediately. Fans were stunned that the band was only doing the Chicago shows and bypassing their home turf — the Bay Area. It seemed fitting to do the shows in Chicago, site of the final shows with Jerry Garcia, but no other shows, especially in their home area? Fans didn’t understand that at all.
On Friday the Grateful Dead confirmed rumors that has been circulating for about a month: that there would indeed be shows in Santa Clara, in Levi’s Stadium, June 27 and 28. Tickets will be sold online through a lottery system you can enter by going to Dead50.net.
Below is a letter from the band to their fans.
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Although none of us knew it when we walked off the stage at Soldier Field on July 9, 1995, the Grateful Dead’s long strange trip ended in Chicago that night. As you are aware, twenty years later, we’re returning to Chicago to properly say Fare Thee Well.
But every good ending must start with a beginning. For us, it all began fifty years ago when we grabbed a bunch of instruments off the walls of a music store in Palo Alto California and began banging away on them in the back room, at night after the store had closed for the day.
Since we made the decision to go back to Chicago to say our final goodbye, it has become clear to us that we first need to return to our beginnings, where we first said hello — to each other and to all of you.
And so it is that we have decided to plug in for two additional shows on June 27 and 28 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California — just a dozen miles south of where Dana Morgan’s Music Store once stood. At Levi’s — as at Soldier Field — we will have the pleasure of being joined by Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti.
Ours wasn’t just a long, strange trip — it was a VERY long, VERY strange trip. We weren’t sure what it was going to be like to put a punctuation mark on the end of it. None of us anticipated the overwhelming outpouring of love and interest following our initial announcement of the shows at Soldier Field, and we were blown away by the response.
We have tried to do the right thing wherever we could for the Chicago shows by honoring the roots of where we came from, while dealing with the realities of the current times. But that’s hardly comforting when you’re shut out of tickets and your only option is inflated prices on secondary ticketing websites. That would piss us off too.
From the moment these shows were first talked about, we have been thinking about what we could do to honor the roots of our Deadhead experience, even in the face of changing technologies. (Remember: Ticketmaster didn’t even go online until we got out of the game.) These shows were always intended as an expression of our gratitude, to both the music and the fans, so it’s important that we get things as right as we can.
We have always been proud of our in-house mail order ticketing process, and the phenomenal way our fans have built a tradition out of turning a standard envelope into a frame-worthy piece of art. Some 60,000 mail order tickets were issued for the Soldier Field shows by the good folks at Grateful Dead Ticket Sales — yet we were still crushed to see how many of your beautifully designed envelopes did not get tickets.
For shows of this magnitude, it’s impossible to eliminate every scalper. However, we offer you this: Working with our partners, we are using an online ticketing platform for the Levi’s shows that will help ensure that the tickets for these shows will get into the right hands, the hands of our true fans. We believe that this process is the best way to give each of you an equal opportunity to obtain tickets at the most affordable possible prices. We are are proud to announce that 65,000 tickets per night will be available via the “online mail order” for the Levi’s shows. For the nuts and bolts, go to Dead50.net.
We will not be adding any more Fare Thee Well shows. The three Chicago shows will still be our final stand. We decided to add these two Santa Clara shows to enable more of our fans to celebrate with us one more time. But this is it.
We love you guys more than words can tell, and hope to see you in the Bay Area or Chicago. If you can’t make it to the shows, we are working on ways for you to still experience our Fare Thee Well, from wherever you might be. Stay tuned for those details.
Billy, Bobby, Mickey & Phil
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.