The Grateful Dead never embraced the possibility of turning their loyal following into a religious-like movement. However, the band always seemed to have a unique connection to one of the country’s most significant cultural holidays, Halloween. From their notable 1980 October run at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to their trademark skeleton logos celebrating the contrast between the living and the dead, the Dead and their fans never really connected to outside American traditions quite like they did to Halloween.
So it was only fitting that the Grateful Dead picked October 31st to retire one of their most beloved, 1960s-era anthems, “St. Stephen”, which the band performed one final time during a hometown show at the Marin County Veteran’s Auditorium in San Rafael, CA, on this day in 1983.
“St. Stephen” became one of the band’s primary psych-rock setlist staples throughout the early years of their three-decade run and became a fan favorite thanks to its inclusion on the band’s 1969 Live/Dead album. The official studio recording of the song would end up on the Dead’s Aoxomoxoa LP when it was released on Warner Bros. Records in June 1969.
For their 1983 Halloween night performance, the Dead filled the first half of their show with a mix of live favorites including “Peggy-O”, “Brown-Eyed Women”, “Lost Sailor” > “Saint Of Circumstance”, and “Deal”. The high energy kept rolling well into the second set as the band returned from intermission to continue the party with “Help On The Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower”, “Estimated Prophet”, and “Eyes Of The World” before Jerry Garcia started into that familiar opening riff to the 1969 counterculture anthem. The audience erupted in approval as the band opened into a 6:26 minute rendition of “St. Stephen” for the final time in their career.
Listen to the band’s full Grateful Dead 1983 Halloween performance in full below.
Grateful Dead – Marin County Veteran’s Auditorium – 10/31/1983
[Audio: Jonathan Aizen]
Setlist: Grateful Dead | Marin County Veteran’s Auditorium | San Rafael, CA | 10/31/83
Set One: Wang Dang Doodle-> My Brother Esau, Peggy-O, Little Red Rooster, Brown Eyed Women, Lost Sailor-> Saint Of Circumstance-> Deal
Set Two: Help On The Way-> Slipknot!-> Franklin’s Tower, Estimated Prophet-> Eyes Of The World-> Drums-> Saint Stephen-> Throwing Stones-> Not Fade Away
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