The long strange trip of the Grateful Dead appeared to end when Jerry died in 1995, but momentum started to pick back up 3 years later when Bob, Phil, and Mickey got together with other musicians, like Bruce Hornsby, and formed the 1st Grateful Dead tribute band, called The Other Ones, that included original members of the band.
In 2000, the Dead’s original drummer, Bill joined The Other Ones, but Phil left, and it wasn’t until 2 years later when Phil rejoined the band that marked the first time Weir, Lesh, Kreutzmann and Hart had all toured together since the fateful summer of 1995. In 2003, The Other Ones officially changed their name to The Dead, which evolved into the creation of other Grateful Dead tribute bands, like Further and Dead & Company, as musicians were added and subtracted from the equation.
The 21st century Grateful Dead revival was thanks to tribute bands and the Dead doing what they do best, live music; however, that did not translate into the bootleg vinyl scene. In fact, no Grateful Dead bootlegs were released for the first 12 years of the 21st century, but then in 2013, unofficial record label, Let Them Eat Vinyl, released New Year’s Eve 1987 (The Full Legendary Broadcast). The following year, only one more Dead bootleg was released and then in 2015, it happened – the floodgates opened and Grateful Dead bootlegs on vinyl started to get produced with some regularity, and mostly thanks to unofficial record labels in Europe.
Now that vinyl is officially back and seemingly here to stay, Grateful Dead bootlegs in the 21st century are like a fruit tree that’s perennially ripe and blossoming. Year after year, more and more bootlegs become available, which makes the future bright and bountiful.
“Just keep truckin' on"
– Robert Hunter –
Unofficial record label, Let Them Eat Vinyl, kicked off Grateful Dead bootlegs on vinyl in the 21st century in 2013 with the release, New Year’s Eve 1987 (The Full Legendary Broadcast). The release was limited to 1,000 copies and was packaged in a fancy hardback slipcase. Alternate versions include white vinyl with red and blue splatters.
A year later in 2014, Italian bootlegger, Darwinism In The Falkland released the first of a two volume set titled, Dead in Cornell Volume 1, covering the legendary Dead show from Cornell University at Barton Hall on January 8th, 1977. Unlike the official Dead at Cornell release on Record Store Day 2017, the unofficial version cut a few corners and trimmed off portions of Lazy Lighting > Supplication. Of note, Dancin’ in the Streets isn’t track listed on the back cover, but the song is on the album. Also of note, Dancin’ in the Streets is track listed on Volume 2 but it’s not on volume 2; Fire on the Mountain is instead to complete their standard Scarlet > Fire combo.
The following year, Yellow Dog Records released over 100 minutes of soundboard recordings and tracks originally intended to land on the “next” Grateful Dead album prior to the passing of Jerry Garcia. The bootleg is titled, Earthquake Country – The Lost Album, and was pressed on pink and purple vinyl. Apparently, there are a few test pressings out there (apparently only five were made) on traditional black vinyl.
In 2015, Darwinism In The Falkland released the second volume of a two part series covering the legendary show at Barton Hall titled, Dead in Cornell, Volume 2. Similar to volume 1 released the year prior, this bootleg trimmed one segment of Fire on the Mountain. It also lists Dancin’ in the Streets, but the song isn’t on the album.
Later in 2015, Parachute Recording Company released the bootleg titled, Harding Theatre 1971 Volume 1, a 2 LP set from the FM radio broadcast recorded live in San Francisco on November 7th, 1971. Volume 2 from the Harding Theatre show was released under the same unofficial label in 2017. Parachute made quite the contribution to Dead bootlegs in the 2000s as you’ll see with a few other volumes released before 2020.
The next Grateful Dead bootleg released on vinyl in 2015 was Live in Stanford, CA ’88, from Legendary Live Recordings. The initial pressing was limited to 2,000 copies and included some cool inserts, like a foldout poster. The unofficial album was re-released in 2021 by the same record company on blue, orange and white marble swirl vinyl. The more recent copy is one of the easier Grateful Dead bootlegs to find. The album is a 3 LP compilation of live Dead recordings from shows at Stanford University’s Frost Amphitheater in Palo Alto, CA on April 30th and May 1st, 1988, which was also broadcasted on Palo Alto FM radio station, KZSU.
The next two installments of unofficial Grateful Dead bootlegs on vinyl in 2015 capture a 1988 performance too and were from Let Them Eat Vinyl with Live from Saratoga June 1988: A Classic FM Broadcast - Volume One, and Volume 2 respectively. The albums were pressed on clear vinyl and housed in a nice gatefold outer sleeve. They both include live soundboard recordings from the Grateful Dead’s show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, Florida on June 28th, 1988. The show was locally broadcasted on FM radio station, WPYX. Volume 1 is set 1 and Volume 2 is set 2. A fun fact about this show is that it was the long-awaited return of the Grateful Dead to SPAC after the band had been banned from the venue for 3 years. To learn more, check out the 3rd most memorable music moments in SPAC history.
1988 was a popular year in 2015 given that the next Grateful Dead bootleg was yet another live performance from the Grateful Dead and Live at the Centrum, Worcester, MA April 9, 1988. The 2 LP album doesn’t include the first 9 songs of the show and instead starts with Hell in a Bucket and then goes through the rest of the performance unaltered. In 2017, this bootleg was re-released as a Stealie picture disc, which is depicted below too, and which only included sides A and B.
In 2017, unofficial label Gold Vinyl released This is the End, The Fabulous Live Recordings. The album was pressed on sea blue marbled vinyl with a stunning outer jacket showing a skull lurking under the surface. While it’s unclear what year(s) and show(s) the live songs on this album are from, based off the track list and a few messages with people who have a copy, the recordings are most likely from 1972 and possibly from the band’s historic European tour in the same year. The release was limited to 1,000 copies and was pressed in Europe.
Later in 2017, Pass the Dust Records released The Grateful Dead, Duane Allman - Fillmore East 1971. Duane was a special guest on night 2 of a 4-night run at Fillmore East in New York, NY, and the live recordings on this album are from that April 26th night in 1971. The album includes songs plucked from various points in the night on sides B, C and D, all of which are performed by the Grateful Dead absent Duane Allman. The one exception is side A, which includes the 3-song segment (Sugar Magnolia > It Hurts Me Too > Beat It On Down The Line) that included Duane as a special guest on guitar. It’s cool to hear Allman’s signature sound compliment the Dead in each song. As for the experience and what he thinks about the Grateful Dead, here’s what Duane had to say, “I love the Dead. As far as Jerry Garcia, Jerry Garcia could walk on water. He could do anything any man could ever do. He’s a prince.” Amen to that brother.
Also in 2017, unofficial label, DOL released Live in France, Heourville June 21, 1971. This live recording is from Château d’Hérouville, a majestic 18th century château located in the village of Hérouville, near Paris. As the story goes, the Grateful Dead put on a memorable show that day within the castle’s gates where they served hashish pastries to the local villagers, and in their normal style, without telling anyone.
Parachute Recording Company returned to the bootleg scene in 2017 with a two-volume release called, Grateful Dead, 50 Shades of Black & White With a Touch of Grey (Volume 1) and (Volume 2), respectively. Each volume contains 2 LPs of live recordings from Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 7th, 1987, which broadcasted live on FM radio. Volume 1 is set 1 and volume 2 is set 2. Volume 2 includes a memorable rendition of Man Smart, Woman Smarter where the NY/NJ crowd really gets into it, which leads to a spontaneous drum segment.
Legendary Live Recordings next bootleg was The Grateful Dead, SNACK Benefit Concert - San Francisco 1975. Recorded at Kezar Stadium on March 23rd, 1975 and broadcast on San Francisco’s K101-FM radio station, the album includes interviews and songs from Blues from Allah, which is the studio album the Grateful Dead had been recording at the time.
Next up was another multi-volume release from Parachute Recording Company with San Francisco 1976 Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three, respectively. The albums include live soundboard recordings from July 18th, 1976 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, CA, which were broadcasted on FM radio. While the night before, also at the Orpheum Theater, was memorialized in Dead history with Dave’s Pick Volume 18, this show certainly rivals and maybe even surpasses it.
To round out Volume 1, which had been released in 2015, Parachute Recording Company released The Grateful Dead – Harding Theater 1971 (Volume 2) in 2017. The 2 LP album includes uninterrupted live recordings from the Dead’s performance on November 7th, 1971 starting with set 2 opener, Mexicali Blues and ending with a remarkably dilatory Dark Star > Drums > The Other One > Me & My Uncle > The Other One.
In 2018, Parachute Recording Company continued to make its mark on Grateful Dead bootlegged vinyl in the 2000s with its release, Laughter, Love & Music The Bill Graham Memorial 1991. The album includes live performances from the Bill Graham Memorial concert at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on November 3rd, 1991 to commemorate the infamous music promoter’s life and impact on music in the area. The release includes live performances from the concert with special guests John Popper (Wang Dang Doodle), John Fogerty (Born on the Bayou, Green River, Bad Moon Rising, Proud Mary), and Neil Young (Forever Young).
The first release in 2019 was once again from our friends at Parachute Recording Company with Pirates of the Deep South - Florida Broadcast 1970. Similar to other bootlegs released from this unofficial record company, the quality is top notch and includes a gatefold outer sleeve. The 2 LP album includes live performances from Pirates World Amusement Park in Dania, Florida on March 24th, 1970. Starting on side B and going through the end of side D, this bootleg includes a mega High Time, Dark Star > The Other One > St. Stephen > Drums > Not Fade Away > Turn On Your Lovelight > Me and My Uncle.
Parachute Recording kept the good times rolling in 2019 with their next multi-part series titled, New Jersey Broadcast 1977 Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3, respectively. The volumes make up the entire show from Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey on September 3rd, 1977. The event was part of a larger concert series that included friends, New Riders of the Purple Sage and The Marshall Tucker Band. This show was also memorialized by Dick Latvala via “Dick’s Picks 15”, originally released on CD in 1999.
Similar to the bootleg released by Legendary Live Recordings in 2017 with The Grateful Dead, SNACK Benefit Concert - San Francisco 1975, Mind Control Records released the same album in 2019 with Grateful Dead, The Snack Benefit Broadcast 1975. As with the previous release, the audio is from Kezar Stadium on March 23rd, 1975. This version of the release was limited to 500 copies.
Parachute Recording Company released its next multi-volume bootlegs in 2019 with Grateful Dead, The Wharf Rats Come East - Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, 20th February 1971, Volume One and Volume Two, respectively. Each volume contains 2 LPs and include live recordings from the Dead show at Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY on February 20th, 1971. While I’m not certain, I suspect recordings captured on both unofficial releases are “Betty boards”. Also of note, the entire show from the night before was memorialized by official Dead release, Three from the Vault, so having all 3 of these volumes plus Three from the Vault is a rare opportunity to own a multi-night Dead run on vinyl.
Another fun fact about these shows, including February 20th, is that Dr. Stanley Krippner, a psychosomatic medicine doctor, conducted a dream telepathy experiment with the band and the audience in an effort to observe the Grateful Dead and their fans in concert. The doctor was testing the overlap between telepathy, clairvoyance and how psychedelics would affect the audiences “mind to mind transmissions.” Unfortunately, test results were inconclusive since most of the 2,000+ people in the crowd were already in an altered state during the concert, thereby skewing the results.
The first bootleg released in 2020 was a re-release of the April 9th, 1988 show at the Centrum previously released by DOL in 2015. This version, which appears to be exactly the same, is from unofficial label, Radio Looploop and titled, Live At The Centrum, Worchester, MA, 9 April 1988 (The Complete Second Set).
The next unofficial releases in 2020 were from Parachute Recording Company and titled, Grateful Dead, Shakedown New York Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, respectively. The two volume bootleg, sold separately, total 4 LPs and include live performances from the Grateful Dead in New York in the early 70s. Volume 1 includes live recordings from Manhattan Center in New York, NY on April 6th, 1971 and a rare Dead cover of The Coasters’ classic blues song, I’m a Hog for You Baby. From what I can tell, the song was only played three times by the Grateful Dead. Volume 2 also includes an uninterrupted sequence of songs performed on April 6th from Good Lovin’ to Truckin’, which closed out the night out; however, the source of Big Boss Man (side C) and China Cat Sunflower > I Know Your Rider (side D) is from the band’s performance at Manhattan Center the night before on April 5th, 1971.
Another two-part bootleg from Parachute Recording Company in 2020 was Grateful Dead, Mountain View 1994, Shoreline Amphitheatre Broadcast, Volume One and Volume Two, respectively. Volume 1 includes songs performed live on July 3rd, 1994 and most of the 2nd set; however, it’s odd to note that all the songs on Volume 1 were performed in the reverse order. For example, Good Lovin’ was the encore that night yet it’s the first song on the album – weird. As for Volume 2, the recordings are from the same show but are in order and starting with the first song played that night, Here Comes Sunshine, all the way through Fire on the Mountain.
The next bootleg released in 2020 was a pressing by England’s own, Radio Looploop titled, Grateful Dead, Live at Winterland 31 December 1971. The album includes live recordings from throughout the night on New Year’s Eve 1971. The only uninterrupted segment of music on the album is on side B with Sugar Magnolia, Not Fade Away > Going Down the Road Feeling Bad.
The first release in 2021, from yet another English bootlegger, called Rox Vox, was The Grateful Dead with Linda Ronstadt and Boz Scaggs, Live In San Francisco 1970. The album has live recordings from a Dead show at KQED Studios in San Francisco, CA on August 30th, 1970, which was a radio broadcast and has some audio from the disc jockey. Side A and the first song on Side B (Uncle John’s Band) were performed by the Grateful Dead; whereas, the rest of Side B are performances by Ronstadt and Scaggs absent collaboration between the musicians.
Up next was the most recent release from top dog Dead bootlegger in the 2000s, Parachute Recording Company with Candyman Volume 1, Oakland Coliseum Broadcast 27/10/1991. Volume 2 was released in the same year. In total, although sold separately, this 4 LP set includes live recordings from the Dead’s October 27th, 1991 show at the Oakland Coliseum. Volume 1 and 2 capture the entire show except Ship of Fools, and Volume 2 includes versions of Iko Iko and Mona played with special guest, Carlos Santana. While Grateful Dead bootlegs in the 2000s are mostly free of mistakes often seen on unofficial releases from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s (e.g., wrong song titles, band name misspelled, etc.), this bootleg does include one minor error. Side D on the outer jacket says, “7. China Cat Sunflower” and “8. Samson and Delilah”, but the actual recording is the standard China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider.
The first unofficial release by yet another United Kingdom-based bootlegger, Coda Publishing Ltd, was The Legendary Broadcast, Grateful Dead, A Touch Of Grey, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA 21st June 1989. The double 10” vinyl was pressed on gold, black and red splatter vinyl and includes live recordings randomly plucked from the Dead’s show on June 21st, 1989.
The next release was from Radio Looploop with, Grateful Dead, Chicago Live June 29 1976, Auditorium Theatre, First Set. Close to as advertised, this bootleg includes the entire first set from June 29th, 1976 at Auditorium Theater minus the last three songs they played in the first set, which were Row Jimmy, The Music Never Stopped, Might as Well. The album also has a few typos (i.e., mislabeled Peggy-O which reads, Pretty Peggy; St. Stephen misspelled St. Stephan; and Brown Eyed Women misspelled Brown Eyed Woman). Perhaps the most notable version of a song on this bootleg is Peggy-O, which is truly stellar. It also includes the last Mission in the Rain the Grateful Dead ever played, which was a regular in the Jerry Garcia Band repertoire, but was only played by the Dead a total of five times. This appears to be the only Mission in the Rain played by the Grateful Dead available on vinyl.
Grateful Dead, Orpheum Theater, Boston, Mass is worth mentioning because it’s labeled as a Grateful Dead bootleg, but it’s actually not. Instead, the album is an unofficial release containing live recordings from the Jerry Garcia Band. JGB didn’t play a show at Orpheum Theater in Boston, Massachusetts on December 1st, 1976 either, which makes the band, date and location on the bootleg's title a trifecta of wrong. The recordings are likely from the JGB early show on 12/2/1977 at Orpheum Theater, which matches the set list.
Later in 2021, Grand Records pressed and distributed the bootleg titled, The Warlocks 20th Anniversary. The unofficial 2 LP release includes playful cover art and live recordings from the Grateful Dead show on June 14th, 1985 at the Greek Theater in Berkley, California. The highlight is probably side C and Morning Dew > Playing in the Band > China Doll.
A recent bootleg released in the 2000s was Day of the Grateful Dead released by Pearl Hunters Records. The unofficial album was pressed in Europe and includes live recordings performed at Fox Theater, St. Louis, Missouri on December 10th, 1971, which was broadcasted live on KADI FM radio. This bootleg may have been trumped by an official Dead release in the same year, which was a 5 LP box set of the entire show. The bootleg versus official release don’t compare, so this one is best left alone.
Next up is Jerry's Last Stand, Volume 1 and 2, sold separately, which include live recordings from the FM broadcast recorded at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on July 9th, 1995. Fitting for its title, this was the last show the Dead ever played with Jerry before his passing one month later on August 9th in the same year.
Later in 2021, United Kingdom bootlegger, Coda Publishing Limited released The Very Best of the Dead, with 4 live tracks from 1989 (Touch of Grey, Dire Wolf, Box of Rain and Brokedown Palace all from Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA on June 21st, 1989), 2 songs from 1987 (Deal and Hell in a Bucket from Oakland Stadium on July 24th, 1987) and 2 summer jams from 1990 (Ship of Fools from Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, NY on July 16th, 1990 and Truckin’ from World Music Theatre in Tinley Park, IL on July 23rd, 1990) respectively. The picture disc was limited to 500 copies, each of which is hand numbered. Nice touch Coda.
In 2022, European bootlegger RadioLoopLoop released, The Grateful Dead, Copenhagen, Live at the Tivoli Koncertsal, April 17, 2972, which includes an A and B side of out of sequence songs from the Dead's 2nd show in Tivoli, Denmark as part of their legendary Europe '72 tour. Interestingly, the April 17th show in Denmark was oddly placed since the band performed at the same venue just 3 nights before on April 14th, before taking a day off, driving 200 miles away to play in Aarhus, Denmark on April 16th, and then heading back to Tivoli to play there again April 17th. The reason may have something to do with why the Dead headed back to Tivoli, which was to record part of the concert for Danish television. According to the Grateful Dead’s tour manager at the time, Sam Cutler, it was the first time any rock band had performed live on Danish TV. In addition to the live broadcast, portions of the concert were shown on Danish television two more times in August 1972. Now parts of this show are available on vinyl bootleg too.
Also released in 2022, but this time thanks to a different European bootlegger, called Room on Fire, came The Grateful Dead, Live in San Diego 1970. The 2 LP album contains songs from the January 10th 1970 show played at Golden Hall in San Diego, CA. Sides A, B and C mash together songs from the San Diego show whereas side D includes songs (i.e., St. Stephen, Not Fade Away, Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, Not Fade Away) from a different show entirely. For the true collectors, this release is notable because it includes Mason’s Children, which is a song that hasn’t found its way on too many vinyl releases to date.