Four of twenty shows ago I come into this land. Morrison is a little West of Denver. I only know because of a recent ski trip last year (no snow) as I drove my rental from west from Denver towards Aspen. What was funny about the Red Rocks runs in 1978 is after the July 7 and 8 shows ended the brief July 1978 tour (available at dead.net guys), the band took the summer off and then return August 30 and 31 at Red Rocks at well. Pretty boss scheduling with four consecutive shows at the same venue over a two month stretch. One should note also in 1978, the band was way into playing where they wanted, when they wanted (see Uptown in Chicago three, three night runs, a couple at Winterland including the last, Ginza Sound & Light, Cleveland, Boston Music Hall etc etc.)
As show goes July 8, which is available as its own CD release was the highest rated show of 1978 in Deadbase, beating out even the Dark Star>Other One>St Stephen show on 12-31-1978. July 7 at the Rocks was ranked 3rd of the year. You can catch up with the media (Here is an interesting pair of two night runs, ) or see some visuals below. Sorry the can't access the Denver Post archives so I can't tell you what they thought at the time (although they rank the 1978 shows high in their history of the Rocks pieces later . I so wish I saw a show here but alas.
Twenty fabled moments in Denver music: #15: Grateful Dead's first time at Red Rocks in 1978
MARK SANDERS | MAY 31, 2012 | 12:00PM
Over the course of the next few weeks, Backbeat will be counting down the twenty most fabled moments in Denver music history. Today, a look back at the first time the Grateful Dead played at Red Rocks in 1978.
The origins of Colorado's jam band "scene" are pretty nebulous, but July 7, 1978, is probably as close to a date as you're going to find pinpointing its genesis, for that's the first time the Grateful Dead played Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and, by all accounts, it was a barn burner of a performance. Words like "legendary" and "monumental" are thrown around on internet discussion boards describing the first of a two-night stand in Morrison.
#4 on all time Denver Post Red Rocks shows
Deadheads know and love this show, which is considered one of the best in the band’s already storied performing history — in part because it was recorded by the band’s former engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson, and in part because some see it as the birth of the modern jam-band movement. It, and the preceding night’s July 7 performance, marked the Dead’s debut at what would become one of its favorite venues, as well as the spiritual kick-off of a tradition that has come to dominate Red Rocks in the form of Widespread Panic, Phish, The String Cheese Incident and dozens more.
Album Review: The Grateful Dead - Red Rocks 7/8/78
May 16, 2016
By Jeff Burger, Contributor
Notwithstanding reunions by surviving members, the Dead have been dead since 1995, when a heart attack killed guitarist Jerry Garcia. But the product keeps on coming, thanks to the group’s penchant for recording nearly everything they ever performed. In fact, if you lined up a copy of every posthumous Dead release end to end, they would stretch all the way from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury to Morrison, Colorado.
OK, I exaggerate slightly. But speaking of Morrison, a 1978 concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre there is the centerpiece of the band’s latest release, a 12-CD boxed set (limited to 15,000 copies but also available for download) that preserves five shows from July of that year. Fortunately for those of us who love the Dead but realize we already own more music than we’ll be able to hear in our own time left on earth, the group’s label is also offering a three-CD set that contains only the July 8 Red Rocks show. It is reportedly the best of the bunch—and arguably among the Dead’s best live shows ever.
Recordings of the concert have circulated among collectors but it has never before been officially released. (Three of the shows in the 12-CD set have until now not even been available as bootlegs.) The tracks come from the band’s master soundboard recording and have been newly mixed and mastered, so the audio is excellent.
The Dead here include founding members Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir, and Phil Lesh; Mickey Hart, who joined in 1967; and Donna Jean and Keith Godchaux, who were on board for nearly all of the 1970s. Clocking in at just under three hours, the show includes 22 tracks that display the band’s wide repertoire. A wonderful cover of Marty Robbins’s “El Paso” shows off their country influences, for example, while a rollicking, vocally intense “One More Saturday Night,” a cover of the Rascals’ “Good Lovin’," and a spirited rare reading of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” represent the rock-and-roll-party Dead.
Most impressive, though, are the extended free-form psychedelic jams on tracks like “The Other One,” “Eyes of the World,” and “Terrapin Station,” all of which feature guitar work that is no less than thrilling. Often, such as on “Sugar Magnolia” and the funky “Franklin's Tower,” the Dead deliver rhythmic music that is as danceable as it is instrumentally adventurous.
Throughout the album, you can hear Jerry Garcia and company melding elements of rock, jazz, blues, country, and even classical music into something fresh and magical. Some of their concerts in the late 1970s and beyond were relatively uninspired, but here they consistently deliver enthusiastic, confident, and inventive performances that help explain why their live gigs meant so much to so many. If you’re too young to have witnessed the Dead in their prime, this is a great place to start hearing what you’ve missed.