CHICAGO, IL — The Grateful Dead is ending a run this weekend in Chicago that’s gone on so long that one of the city’s great repositories of dinosaur bones and other antiquities is displaying some of the band’s artifacts.
It’s been 50 years, and the band is billing its final three shows of the short “Fare Thee Well” tour as its last under the Grateful Dead moniker.
The Dead is playing at Soldier Field — known for being the last place legendary guitarist Jerry Garcia played with the band before he died in 1995.
The four original surviving members — Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir — will take part, along with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and longtime Dead pal Bruce Hornsby. Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti is also participating.
Besides Garcia, the band has also lost other members, including Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, a singer, organist and harmonica player who died in 1973, and keyboardist Keith Godchaux, who died in 1980.
The band formed in San Francisco in 1965, part of that city’s growing rock ‘n’ roll counterculture scene along with Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Charlatans. It developed a hardcore fanbase of Deadheads thanks to tireless touring and a close-knit, open-minded culture.
Thousands of fans are coming in from all over the country, and some have seen hundreds of shows during the band’s half-century on the road.
Next to the stadium, the Field Museum is displaying some of the band’s history, including Garcia’s favorite guitar, “Tiger.”