Deadheads get nostalgic before final Grateful Dead shows

Thu Jul 2, 2015 11:01am EDT
 
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Mike Levine is traveling from Florida to Chicago see all three of the Grateful Dead's final concerts. Stephanie Cameli says she is looking forward to the band's "Fare Thee Well" shows this weekend "like a five year-old before Christmas."

After the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995, the surviving four members say they will end The Grateful Dead's 50-year run this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the city where Garcia played his last show as frontman 20 years ago.

All three shows at the 61,500-seat Soldier Field stadium have sold out and tickets on the secondary market are selling for an average of $600 each, said Cameron Papp, a spokesman for StubHub.

Known for their poetic lyrics, marathon shows and constant improvisation, the Grateful Dead emerged from the San Francisco Bay area in the mid 1960s to become one of the most legendary bands of the era. The band is the template for groups such as Phish, Blues Traveler and others in the "jam band" movement.

Levine, 41, has low musical expectations for the concerts but hopes they will provide a sense of closure for the band's long-time fans, known as "Deadheads".

"Mostly it's about getting together with old friends and listening to the music we love," said Levine. "Everytime you saw them something magical happened, even when they weren't that good."

Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio will fill in for Garcia at the Chicago shows. He will be joined by original members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman who have toured, along with other musicians and under various names, for years.

Pat Sullivan, 60, an Indiana university professor, has followed the band since he was a teen and will take his own son to all three Chicago shows.   Continued...

 
A Grateful Dead fan wears a mask in the parking lot before Grateful Dead's "Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead" farewell tour at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California in this June 27, 2015 file photo.   REUTERS/Stephen Lam/Files