A Massive Box Set Revisits the Grateful Dead’s Spring 1973 Concerts

Here comes "Here Comes Sunshine 1973"

Grateful Dead, 1973
The Grateful Dead in 1973.
Alan Meyerowitz/Retro Photo Archive

In early 1973, the Grateful Dead took to the road before heading into the studio to record Wake of the Flood, their first album to be released on their own Grateful Dead Records. That run of concerts included a number of co-headlining dates at Washington, DC’s RFK Stadium with the Allman Brothers Band. And now, a new box set will take listeners back 50 years to revisit five of the Dead’s most beloved concerts.

Composed of 17 CDs, the box set Here Comes Sunshine 1973 features recordings of five Grateful Dead concerts recorded in May and June of that year. The full array of concerts consists of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, Iowa (May 13), Campus Stadium at UCSB, Santa Barbara, California (May 20), Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, California (May 26), and Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C. (June 9 and 10).

Besides the launch of their record label, 1973 was a significant year for the Grateful Dead in other ways — not the least of which was the death of founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. This period also showcased the group’s jazz influences. As Ray Robertson wrote in the box set’s liner notes, “This was a group of musicians that listened to each other’s playing. The sum is greater than the already pretty great parts because the parts were paying attention to — and frequently being inspired by — the other parts. That’s jazz. And 1973 is the Dead at their jazzy best.”

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Here Comes Sunshine 1973 can be ordered via the Grateful Dead’s website, and is limited to 10,000 copies. The complete set will also available for purchase in digital form. A 4-CD set, RFK Stadium, Washington D.C. (6/10/73) will be more widely available — in other words, this one is not a limited edition release, nor is it exclusive to any one retailer. RFK Stadium will also be available as digital files and as an 8-LP box set. Both Here Comes Sunshine 1973 and RFK Stadium, Washington D.C. (6/10/73) will be released on June 30.

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