Grateful Dead: Dead Ahead

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Dead Ahead
Dead Ahead DVD cover
Directed by Len Dell'Amico
Produced by Richard Loren
Starring The Grateful Dead
Edited by Veronica Loza
Distributed by Monterey Home Video
Release dates
  • 1981 (1981) (Original)
  • 2005 (2005) (Expanded)
Running time
114 or 164 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Dead Ahead is a concert video by the Grateful Dead. It was recorded at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on October 30 and October 31, 1980, and released in 1981. An expanded version was released in 2005. In contrast to other Dead concert videos, Dead Ahead contains acoustic as well as electric song performances.

Acoustic and electric tour of 1980

In September and October 1980, the Grateful Dead did a concert tour of shows with three sets each, one acoustic set followed by two electric sets. The acoustic sets were the first the band had performed since the early '70s aside from a few rare one-off acoustic sets in special circumstances. The tour comprised 15 shows at The Warfield in San Francisco, 2 shows at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, and 8 shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The following year, songs from the tour were released as two live albums, the all-acoustic Reckoning and the all-electric Dead Set.

The concert video

Dead Ahead contains songs from the last two New York concerts, October 30 and October 31, 1980. Although the video was compiled from multiple performances, and is shorter than one of the three-set concerts, it follows the general format of one of the shows, starting with some acoustic material and proceeding to a longer section of amplified music, including a somewhat edited "Drums" and "Space".

The video also includes several sketches by the comedy team of Al Franken and Tom Davis. These are from the final night of the tour, October 31, which was hosted by Franken and Davis, and broadcast on radio and on closed circuit TV.

Different versions of Dead Ahead

Dead Ahead was released on VHS video tape and on laserdisc in 1981. Remastered versions of the video tape and laserdisc were issued in 1995, with a running time of 1 hour 54 minutes. In November 2005, an expanded edition of Dead Ahead was released on DVD, with a running time of 2 hours 44 minutes.

Track listing

  • "Uncle John's Band" (Garcia, Hunter); Studio version
  • Introduction (Franken & Davis)
  • "Bird Song" (Garcia, Hunter) — acoustic; October 31, 1980
  • "On The Road Again" (traditional, arranged by Grateful Dead) — acoustic; October 30, 1980
  • "To Lay Me Down" (Garcia, Hunter) — acoustic; October 30, 1980
  • "Ripple" (Garcia, Hunter) — acoustic; October 31, 1980
  • Henry Kissinger Interview (Franken & Davis)
  • "Me and My Uncle" (Phillips); October 31, 1980
  • "Mexicali Blues" (Weir, Barlow); October 31, 1980
  • "Ramble On Rose" (Garcia, Hunter); October 31, 1980
  • "Little Red Rooster" (Dixon); October 31, 1980
  • A Visit Backstage (Franken & Davis)
  • "Don't Ease Me In" (traditional, arranged by Grateful Dead); October 31, 1980
  • "Lost Sailor" (Weir, Barlow); October 31, 1980
  • "Saint of Circumstance" (Weir, Barlow); October 31, 1980
  • "Franklin's Tower" (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Hunter); October 31, 1980
  • "Drums" (Hart, Kreutzmann); October 31, 1980
  • "Space" (Garcia, Weir, Lesh, Mydland); October 31, 1980
  • "Fire on the Mountain" (Hart, Hunter); October 31, 1980
  • "Not Fade Away" (Hardin, Petty); October 31, 1980
  • "Good Lovin'" (Resnick, Clark); October 31, 1980

Expanded edition bonus tracks

  • "Heaven Help the Fool" (Weir, Barlow) — acoustic; October 30, 1980
  • "Shakedown Street" (Garcia, Hunter); October 30, 1980
  • "Samson and Delilah" (traditional, arranged by Grateful Dead); October 30, 1980
  • "He's Gone" (Garcia, Hunter); October 30, 1980
  • "Truckin'" (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter); October 30, 1980

Notes on the recording dates:

  • Most songs were only played on either October 30 or 31, with the exception of the following which were played both days:
  • Ripple. It must be from October 31, because Jerry says at the end of it "Thanks a lot, see you in a little while".
  • Mexicali Blues. It must be from October 31, because it is paired with Me and My Uncle. On October 30, it was paired with Mama Tried.
  • Lost Sailor-Saint of Circumstance. It must be from October 31, because they used the whole second set from that show (until Not Fade Away) with segues between each song.
  • Good Lovin'. It must be from October 31, because on October 30 the drums come in earlier in the introduction. Plus Bobby hits a wrong note.


Grateful Dead


  • Len Dell'Amico – director
  • Richard Loren – producer
  • John Scher – executive producer
  • Dan Healy and Betty Cantor-Jackson – audio mix
  • Candace Brightman – lighting and set design
  • Thom Drewke – technical supervisor
  • Veronica Loza – editor and production coordinator
  • Dennis Larkins and Peter Barsotti – cover art
  • Al Franken and Tom Davis – hosts