It Was 40 Years Ago Today

When Brent joined the band to play,
with his bluesy Hammond sound,
he really made the crowd go wild!

April 22, 1979. Spartan Stadium, San Jose.

A Sunday. Early afternoon outdoor concert with the Grateful Dead, introducing new keyboardist Brent Mydland.

We had lived in California for almost a year, and had seen two other Grateful Dead shows, including Keith and Donna’s final concert.

Sheryl was visiting home in Kansas, so I proceeded to the show with an extra ticket, which I easily sold.

As I recall, Charlie Daniels Band opened the show, though I don’t really remember.

The dead’s grapevine, full of info and rumors long before social media, was not really a part of my life at that point, so I don’t recall if I knew there would be a new keyboard player. I think I told Sheryl after that there was someone new on keyboards.

Anyway, it was a good show, as evidenced by repeated listening to the tapes from the day, but there was one experience that made a lasting impression on me.

It was late in the 1st set. I was grooving right along, knowing some of the songs, but not all. Then Bobby was singing, “looks like rain, it feels like rain, oh, here come the rain” when … you know what’s coming … it started RAINING!!

Now, I had been listening to the dead since 1971, and I really liked them, but this was about too much. I looked around in disbelief, not getting too wet, as it was a “walk between the raindrops” kind of California rain. Everyone was smiling and acting like this was normal. And sure enough, as the song wound down, so did the rain, and the sun broke out. While it’s been a while since I’ve listened to the tape, I believe there is a slight cheer at that point!

Brent went on to play with the Grateful Dead until his untimely death in 1990.

My oldest t-shirt dates from that show, and will have to substitute for photos of the concert itself (though they are out there if you look.)

Spartan Stadium, April 1979
Spartan Stadium, April 1979
Spartan Stadium, April 1979
Spartan Stadium, April 1979