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Jerry Garcia at Squaw Valley

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In late August of 1991, thousands of Deadheads peacefully descended upon Squaw Valley to see the Jerry Garcia Band perform under sunny skies, in front of an alpine backdrop at Gold Coast. The two-day festival was produced by Squaw Valley Ski Corp and Bill Graham Presents, and featured a supporting lineup including David Grisman, Jimmy Cliff, Booker T. and the MGs, Tower of Power, Rhythm Tribe, and the Neville Brothers.

“Just having [the Jerry Garcia Band] in your backyard, and having them be at a place where we spend a hundred days a year on that mountain working and playing, to have your favorite artist play where you work — not many people get to say that,” said Tahoe resident Dick Banfield, who has been to somewhere around 100 Grateful Dead shows in his life and remembers the Jerry Garcia show at Squaw fondly. “It’s right up there, no question.”

Banfield remembers it being a windy day up at Squaw, and the music not being its best. But with a crowd 10,000 strong at 8,000 feet, the atmosphere and the energy were unmatched. Riding up the gondola to the show, “wasn’t just a normal day,” Banfield said. “It made the powder day seem pretty boring.”

While Banfield took the gondola up, there were many who hiked up to the show. Producer Bill Graham decided that if fans had enough determination to hike up, then they should just be admitted for free.

Two months after Graham hosted the Jerry Garcia Band at Squaw, he died in a helicopter crash in the Bay Area while returning home from a Huey Lewis and the News concert at the Concord Pavilion.

Check out the Summer Lovin’ Festival Guide to see what legendary festival you want to be a part of this year.

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Reader comments so far...

mike carpenter (not verified)
My friend Larry and i hiked the hike and met Mr.Graham and talk with him for about five min. he was riding a four wheeler around in Levi shorts having a blast.He did not let us in for free but gave us a pin that said i scaled the mountain for JERRY i hold it as one of my most prized possession. I also have a picture of Jerry looking over his glasses at me since we had the best views on the mountain.Bella flex was Hot.I feel sorry for those who missed it.

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The Opinion Page is your place to spout off. This section contains letters to the editor and longer My Shot pieces. Also, the Spout features two bimonthly perspectives — In the Past, delving into Tahoe Truckee history, and In the Moment, an artistic musing of a moment today.

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March 14, 2019