Five concerts over 17 CDs, or one concert over four? The choice, Deadheads, is yours

Here Comes Sunshine 1973 features five Grateful Dead shows from May and June 1973

Grateful Dead - Here Comes Sunshine 1973 cover art
(Image: © Rhino Entertainment)

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In one way, 1973 was a terrible year for the Grateful Dead. Keyboard player Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan died in March, and without him their blues side would shrivel. In October, the jazz-tinged album Wake Of The Flood was their first visit to the US Top 20 since 1970’s American Beauty. 

In between, with the new material recorded, they returned to the road. Recorded with exceptional clarity by famed Dead sound engineer Owsley ‘Bear’ Stanley, Here Comes Sunshine 1973 features five concerts from May and June. Its centrepiece, the second of two Robert F Kennedy Stadium concerts, is also released on its own as RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. 6/10/73, (9/10). 

The Robert F Kennedy show is unquestionably a peak, even before Allman Brothers Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks join in towards the end of the five hours. There’s little banter beyond some apologies for undetectable technical shortcomings, but there is almost half an hour of Dark Star, where it’s turned inside out and turned right back around again, and there’s a version of Woody Guthrie’s Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad where Jerry Garcia emphatically states his case to be regarded as a great guitarist. 

As with all great Dead, this is music to wallow in. Nevertheless, it’ll still take your breath away.

Here Comes Sunshine 1973 is available exclusively from

John Aizlewood

As well as Classic Rock, John Aizlewood currently writes for The Times, The Radio Times, The Sunday Times, The i Newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and Mojo amongst others.  He’s written four books and appears on television quite often. He once sang with Iron Maiden at a football stadium in Brazil: he wasn’t asked back. He’s still not sure whether Enver Hoxha killed Mehmet Shehu…