The Grateful Dead’s last keyboardist, Vince Welnick, would have turned 69 today (February 21, 2020). Welnick tragically took his own life on June 2, 2006. Before playing with the Dead, Welnick was part of the successful group The Tubes, a band that saw video rotation on MTV in the 1980s. Welnick would replace Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland on Fall Tour 1990 after Mydland died of a drug overdose in July earlier that year. As the story goes, Vince was so nervous for his first show he could barely perform until an audience sign that read “Yo Vinnie” set him at ease.
Welnick went on to play with the Dead until Garcia’s death in 1995, sometimes joined by pianist Bruce Hornsby, but for the most part as the sole keyboardist and, like Mydland, controller of the high harmonies. Welnick would also add songs of his own to the Dead repertoire including “Samba In The Rain” and “Way To Go Home” as well as front the band on choice covers like The Who rock anthem “Baba O’Riley” and The Beatles’ psychedelic deep cut “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Those songs would usually fill the encore spot as they did on September 20, 1993 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, a show JamBase takes a look at to celebrate Vince’s birthday.
“Touch Of Grey” kicked things off with Welnick adding his high harmonies and twinkling piano a la Mydland. The band then jumped right into the Bob Weir led “Greatest Story Ever Told” that saw some wah work from Jerry followed by an energetic “Row Jimmy” with Welnick once again joining in on three-part harmonies. The Don Rollins-penned George Jones-performed country classic “The Race Is On” followed ahead of the murder ballad “Dire Wolf” which saw some well-placed barrel-house piano from Vince. Bobby then led the band on the Bob Dylan Blonde On Blonde epic “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.” “Lazy River Road” came next ahead of the first set closer “Johnny B. Goode.”
The Bo Diddley beat biblical rocker “Samson & Delilah” got the second set underway. The tune featured some great interplay between Jerry and Vince on Hammond organ with Welnick adding some spirited backing vocals. The poignant “So Many Roads” came next before the Dead then headed down a continuous highway that began with “Truckin’” into “He’s Gone” ahead of “Drums” and “Space,” the latter of which saw Edie Brickell adding vocals. “Space” would give way to the bounding rhythm of “The Other One.” Brickell returned to sing with the band on “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” which led into the set closer, “Morning Dew.”
For the encore, Welnick heralded “Baba O’Riley” with arpeggiated synth before belting out the Who’s Next classic with Weir joining him on the bridge, sung originally by Pete Townshend. After a bit of melodic soloing from Garcia, Vince changes the iconic ending line “They’re all wasted” to “We’re all wasted” with a wry glance out at the crowd before the band segues into “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The song saw Jerry busting out the slide and the rest of the band adding bells and whistles — with Welnick providing perfect piano flourishes — to the psychedelic closer to The Beatles’ 1966 album Revolver that would also close out the concert.
Watch the full show posted by Monkeyface Videos below:
Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden
- Touch of Grey
- Greatest Story Ever Told
- Row Jimmy
- The Race Is On
- Dire Wolf
- Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
- Lazy River Road
- Johnny B. Goode
- Samson and Delilah
- So Many Roads
- He’s Gone
- The Other One
- Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
- Morning Dew
- Baba O’Riley
- Tomorrow Never Knows