Nov 2, 2012

June 9-10, 1973: RFK Stadium, Washington DC


It was far less a concert than an event -- the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band together for two days at RFK Memorial Stadium. Every rock & roller on the East Coast worth his or her faded jeans -- about 80,000 of them -- showed up. The emphasis was so much on scene-making that the music frequently seemed incidental to the conspicuous consumption here of reefers, reds and Ripple.

Doug Sahm and Wet Willie opened the festivities on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Sahm's Texas country-blues drew heavily on his recent album, culminating with a raucous run-through of "San Antone."

But on Sunday, June 10th, Wet Willie surprised everyone with the most lively, vibrant music of the weekend -- an energetic brand of Southern R&B. Jimmy Hall's vocals and razor-edged harp, Ricky Hirsch's scorching guitar and Jack Hall's insistent bass taxed the twin sound systems and filled the stadium with layers of funky greaseball drive.

The Allmans closed the Saturday show with an inspired performance most obvious during "Les Brers in A Minor," which was driven to incredible levels of intensity by Dicky Betts' searing guitar lines.

Sunday evening, the Dead did not fare as well. Though they frequently displayed commendable instrumental virtuosity, they suffered from a relative paucity of musical ideas, which they compounded by playing for more than six hours. After the third or fourth hour of extended variations on the "Dark Star" theme, many persons began to leave. But it must be admitted that the hard-core remainder seemed to enjoy every minute of the rest of the show, especially during "Truckin'," which was accompanied by much stomping and clapping.

The long awaited inter-group jam finally materialized around Sunday at midnight, but with Betts and Butch Trucks the only Brothers participating, it was, in effect, another 90 minutes of the Dead.

President Nixon chose not to attend. In the audience, however, was Caroline Kennedy, Sam Cutler, the Metropolitan Police and a big brown dog.

(by Gordon Fletcher, from Rolling Stone, July 19 1973)

Article also included here: (the "paucity of musical ideas"...)


  1. What a fucking concert. OMG. My 1st ever and what an intro into rock & roll. We brought a 1/4 lb of weed, and a few jugs of ripple but the pigs smashed the wine. We smoked the whole 1/4 lb during the show on Sunday with a lot of help ;) I had to talk my best friend down from diving off the upper deck (he WAS tripping his balls off). Besides that it was amazing. NEVER been to another concert like that EVER !!!

    1. Was at the Sunday show I'm one of the dummies that climbed the right sound tour- and we also went on the roof RFK STADIUM THERE WERE MORE stoned people than I could ever imagine--When the DEAD played there was a full moon that night and you could see the column of pot smoke rising out of the top of the Stadium. I could right twenty pages of what went on during this show Went back stage with Dickey Best and partied with a lot band people.Still have the ticket stubs.

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  3. Someone might have mentioned to the Rolling Stone scribe that a major reason people were leaving during the music Sunday night, was because not everyone was gonna be able to get outta there and back home after the last buses of the night which were headed in some directions were set to roll past the stadium.