By David Gans

My contributions to this year’s WALL OF NEWS will focus on photos and stories from my new book, Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985. Signed copies are available now from

Greek Theater, July 1984

The Grateful Dead performed at the Greek Theater in Berkeley twice in the late 1960s, and did three-day runs there every year from 1981 through 1989. It is a beautiful venue on a hillside on the campus of the University of California, built in 1903 and named after the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

If you sit in the upper rows, or on the lawn behind the concrete bowl, you can see over the Cal campus to the Golden Gate Bridge – and on July 13, 1984 while the band encored with a very rare-for-the-era “Dark Star,” some of us were treated to the sight of a shooting star!

Rebecca Adams is the University of North Carolina professor who took a sociology class on tour with the Dead in 1989. When she visited the Greek for the first time, she remarked on how “blasé” we all seemed to be. Compared to the energy levels I witnessed at shows in the northeast, I could see her point. I think the difference is that we saw the Dead many times over the course of a year, and the Jerry Garcia Band also performed on their home turf quite a bit, so I suppose we Bay Areans were able to take things more in stride.

The last Grateful Dead show at the Greek took place on August 19, 1989. That was a Saturday, and it was the last because the three-day run was moved up to Thuesday-through-Saturday to accommodate a campus event scheduled for August 20. It was a memorable concert, highlighted by a fierce and furious “Other One” which was a visual tour de force thanks to the talents and skill of lighting director Candace Brightman.

David Gans is one of the best-known media guys in the Grateful Dead world as well as an exceptional interpreter of GD music; he has performed with Phil Lesh, written songs with Robert Hunter, and played with many of the best-known jam band musicians around. He started as a journalist at BAM, the California Music Magazine, and wrote for many music magazines in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the mid-’80s he helped with the KFOG Deadhead Hour, which became the nationally-syndicated Grateful Dead Hour, still airing from coast to coast. He’s also co-host, with Gary Lambert, of the Sunday-afternoon talk show Tales from the Golden Road on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel. He’s the author (with Blair Jackson) of This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, and Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985, a book of his photos and stories. He will perform at Skull and Roses.