The Grateful Dead never surprise us. Whether it’s tripping everybody out at the Playboy Mansion or support the production of yoghurt throughout the land. But we were still a little shocked to see this footage.
It puts Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia and Vince Welnick (who was playing keyboard with the band at the time) in the middle of the most all-American situation—performing the National Anthem live at a baseball game at the opening of Candlestick Park back in 1993.
Opening day at the baseball is about as American as you can get. It’s a moniker that feels a little strange to put on the jesters of rock and roll. The subversive sounds of The Grateful Dead have so long been the soundtrack of the counter-culture movement that it just feels a bit wrong to see them pay their dues to the establishment.
One might expect the band to turn up with the amp pushed up to eleven but, as you might expect, the Dead did things a little differently to what you might have expected.
The group crowded around the mic and performed a barbershop trio style sing-a-long. What’s perhaps more remarkable is that the band not only carried the tune of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ perfectly but like Jimi Hendrix before them, they subverted the typical patriotism for something that felt altogether different.
The group stand proudly ahead of their baseball team San Francisco Giants and deliver a homage to the founding fathers. It’s a well-manicured performance, which considering the band’s penchant for a jam session, makes it feel even stranger.
It would be the only time Jerry Garcia would perform at a baseball game, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh would appear back at Candlestick Park years later, and mark this event unique if not a little bizarre.