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Dead of the Day: May 12, 1981

Veterans Memorial Coliseum
New Haven, Connecticut
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For our Dead of the Day we head to New Haven for a little send up to Bob Marley who had passed the day before. The show starts off with Alabama Getaway, and it takes just about the entire song for them to get the board straightened out. Despite the sound problems, Jerry delivers some funky blasts on the guitar and Brent provides wonderful fills throughout. The Peggy-O and It Must Have Been the Roses are other early first set thrillers, but things really get going with the Althea. All the boys come together on that one to jam it out, building momentum as the tune progresses. After a fine Little Red Rooster, the Dead come back with a steamy China Cat Sunflower. With Phil strewing bombs and Brent laying on the keys, Jerry bursts forth, rolling along with Bobby on a scintillating, joyous romp. From there, they blast right through the transition and slide into a raging Rider that, like the Althea, continues to reach further and gain steam as it goes along. The Shakedown that starts the second set has some fabulous playing throughout, with Phil laying down a fresh bass line that keeps the song rolling while Jerry, Brent, and Bobby get really funky, both vocally and on their instruments. The Looks Like Rain is an emotional ride with some soaring jams by Jerry. Two songs later, coming out of Estimated, the boys head into He’s Gone, with Bobby making a quick “this one’s for Marley” dedication. The version that ensues is deeply heartfelt and absolutely sick; it is hard to express the emotional resonance of the tune and circumstances, so just listen to the band and the crowd; it is a definite top-shelf rendition. The rest of the show does not let up either, with a full throttle, dangerous sort of Other One coming out of Space, after which the band shifts gears into a haunting Wharf Rat. Then, they ratchet things right back up again for a rocking Sugar Mags to close out regulation.

Bob Marley passed away the night before, on May 11, 1981. He had been sick for some time, having been diagnosed with cancer all the way back in 1977. Despite his illness, he had continued to tour and record through the September 23, 1980 show at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh. After seeking treatment for cancer in Germany, he was returning to Jamaica by way of Miami when he had serious complications. After landing in Miami, he was rushed to the hospital where he died at the age of 36. He was later eulogized by the Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga, “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”

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