I saw the Grateful Dead twice in the 1980s at the Omni in Atlanta.  We made a day of it, wandering the sweaty parking lot, buying homemade tie-dye shirts, wondering why everyone was looking for a miracle, and wondering just how hard it was to find a bottle of water instead of beer sold from a cooler in someone’s van.  My friends were experienced show-goers.  One of the guys grew up going “on tour” with his parents in the 1970s.

The biggest surprises for me were once the Dead show started.  I had only heard their studio albums before the show.  While my friends waxed poetic about Dick’s Picks and cassette swapping of shows, I had no idea what I was about to experience.  As beach balls bounced around the entire Omni, a bluegrass band started playing and everybody went crazy.  I didn’t realize that bands opened for the Grateful Dead!

About 20 minutes later, I finally yelled to my buddy, “When do the Dead start?”  He laughed at me with a mix of disdain and pity, and yelled, “That’s Jerry! This is the Dead!”

Thus started my education about the Grateful Dead.

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