Grateful Dead: 11/26/1980

GratefulDead_11-16-80

This ticket stub is from the first time I saw the Grateful Dead, who would become a major creative influence in my life. I figured it was appropriate to write about this stub today because next week, almost 35 years to the day, I’ll be taking my daughter to see Dead & Company, with surviving band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, along with guitarist John Mayer.

I suppose I should first say a little something about the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The Sportatorium, fondly referred to as the Sporto or the Sport-hole, was located out in the boonies of what is now the Pembroke Pines area of South Florida. Back then, it was the sticks. You drove past miles of cow pastures on a long road that was only one lane each way until you reached what looked like a huge barn in the middle of nowhere. The parking lot was a mud pit, the acoustics were wretched on a good night, the facilities were poorly maintained, but this was home for concert goers when I was growing up in Miami.

I’d started listening to the Grateful Dead at a young age. I had a friend whose nickname was Ola and he introduced me to the band, making me my first cassette tape that included songs like Morning Dew, Truckin’, and China Cat Sunflower. I started buying records and immersing myself in the music, sitting for hours with my guitar and learning the songs. When I heard that the Dead were coming to the Sporto, I rushed out and grabbed a ticket.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I am fairly confident that I went with my friends Mark and Dean to this show. What I do remember was the feeling I had when the lights went down and the band came on stage. The band unassumingly walked out and began their tuning session while the audience energy began to build. I felt my heart rate increasing, anticipation crawling over me. Finally, after the short eternity, the band turned and faced the crowd and launched into “Alabama Getaway.” I was so blown away that I nearly fell backwards off the chair I was standing on. From that moment, I was completely hooked.

Years later, when I started collecting tapes of Grateful Dead shows, I acquired a copy of this show, which allowed me to relive the experience of when I first saw the band whose music continues to inspire me today. The tape has long since deteriorated, but thanks to the digital age, I was able to easily find the setlist online. My daughter told me last night that “Friend of the Devil” is her favorite Grateful Dead song. They played it the first time I saw them, so it would be truly special if they play it again next week.

Here is the setlist from the Sporto show, 35 years ago.

Set 1:

Alabama Getaway
Greatest Story Ever Told
Friend of the Devil
On the Road Again
Jack-A-Roe
Minglewood Blues
It Must Have Been the Roses
The Race Is On
Althea
Lost Sailor
Saint of Circumstance
Deal

Set 2:

Cold Rain and Snow
Samson and Delilah
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Estimated Prophet
Eyes of the World
Drums
Space
Wharf Rat
Around and Around
Good Lovin’

Encore:

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

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