Watch Grateful Dead’s 1978 Egypt concert, short film, & Mickey Hart discussing it
The late, great Jerry Garcia would've turned 78 this past weekend (happy birthday, Jerry; we miss you!), which makes now as good a time as any to dig into some Grateful Dead, and, luckily, a very cool Grateful Dead film was just released online.
Since the beginning of quarantine, The Dead have been presenting the weekly Shakedown Stream series, through which they release archived live footage on YouTube to help raise money for COVID-19 relief and other causes. This past week featured their 1978 trip to Egypt where they performed at the Giza pyramid complex. "Egypt instantly became the biggest, baddest, and most legendary field trip that we took during our entire thirty years as a band," drummer Bill Kreutzmann wrote in his book, Deal. "It was priceless and perfect and, at half a million dollars, a bargain in the end. Albeit, a very expensive bargain."
This trip resulted in the Rockin' the Cradle: Egypt 1978 live album as well as The Vacation Tapes, a 15-minute short film of the band, crew, and their friends visiting various Egyptian sites while on tour. Both Rockin' the Cradle and The Vacation Tapes were shows for the Shakedown Stream and you can watch below.
Dead drummer Mickey Hart spoke about the footage and their Egypt trip on the Shakedown Stream's pre-show, JamBase points out. "In the early days we always pondered playing some sacred places," Hart said. "In about '76 or something like that, Phil [Lesh] and I had the idea that we needed somebody to take us to Egypt, because we couldn't do it ourselves. But we said, 'let's go see Uncle Bobo.' So, we went to see Bill Graham."
Dead bassist Phil Lesh echoed Hart's memories in The Grateful Dead Reader (Dodd, 2000). "It sort of became my project because I was one of the first people in the band who was on the trip of playing at places of power. You know, power that's been preserved from the ancient world. The pyramids are like the obvious number one choice because no matter what anyone thinks they might be, there is definitely some kind of mojo about the pyramids."
The Egypt 1978 Shakedown Stream was a benefit for HeadCount, the non-partisan organization that "uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy." The Dead are still taking donations (and have made just about $13,500 via the stream so far!). They are also donating 100% of proceeds from official Egypt 1978 merch to HeadCount as well.
In other Dead-related news, current Dead & Company guitarist, John Mayer, picked nine of his favorite live Dead cuts when he guest-DJed on the Grateful Dead SiriusXM channel this past Friday.
Meanwhile, in honor of Jerry Garcia's life, the nine-day livestream event Daze Between is currently underway and will continue through August 9 and features new and archival performances, as well as storytelling, and an additional stream of the tribute film, Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia's 70th Birthday.