The Grateful Dead created a ticket buying frenzy earlier this year when they announced that they are to reunite to play a farewell series of concerts. The concerts are a celebration of Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary. The plan was that the surviving members of Grateful Dead would come together to play three shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the venue where “Dead Heads” last got to see their hero’s live back in 1995. Since the announcement the Grateful Dead have announced two further shows to take place in California at the end of this month.
Four of Grateful Dead’s original members, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir will be joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano) for the shows and they will perform two sets each evening.
As well as being famous for their trippy psychedelic rock music Grateful Dead are legendary as a live act. The Dead have always been very keen to archive their live performances and were one of the first bands to actually encourage fans to tape their shows and to share them. Grateful Dead as a band and the members of the band in their solo projects provide taping areas at shows and encourage fans to trade tapes freely amongst each other provided they did not do so for profit.
In the internet era Grateful Dead have a huge archive of live performances freely available for download. The faithful recording of their performances by the band looks set to pay dividends for Dead Heads who are willing to part with a cool $700 for the bands new release.
Rolling Stone reports that the Grateful Dead are set to release a mammoth 80-disc box set of recordings as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. The size of the release is simply unprecedented. The collection is to be called Thirty Trips Around the Sun: The Definitive Live Story 1965-1995. The collection consists of 30 of the Grateful Dead’s previously unreleased shows. The set includes one complete show from each of the Dead’s touring years and includes many shows that were the most requested by collectors of the Grateful Dead’s live performances.
The set is limited to 6,500 copies and will include a bonus gold colored 7′ single, a 288 page book and a gold “lightning bolt” shaped USB Drive which has every song in the collection in MP3 and FLAC formats as well as a four CD bonus set of rare cuts from the shows in the collection.
Grateful Dead archivist Dave Lemieux says, “[T]his is, without a doubt, the biggest thing we will ever do.”
“This tells the entire narrative of the Grateful Dead live: how they changed from year to year, how they grew. Lots of bands change, but they don’t grow. The Grateful Dead grew, and this set tells that story.”
The Grateful Dead were criticized by some over the cost of tickets for the “Fare Thee Well” shows and the $700 cost of this collection is sure to raise eyebrows. There will however be dedicated Dead Heads who will be desperate to get their hands on a slice of Grateful Dead history.
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