Concert of the week in Grateful Dead history: June 7, 1977 (Listen Now)

I will not forgive you, if you will not take the chance.

By The Deadhead Cyclist

For Week


June 7, 1977 was my sixth Grateful Dead concert. But it wasn’t supposed to be. After touring through the East and Midwest, the band was scheduled to play three shows at their “home venue,” Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, June 7th, 8th and 9th, to finish off their now-famous Spring ’77 tour. My fellow Deadhead sister, Janet, and I had already pocketed tickets for the June 9th show, but during the afternoon of June 7th, as we were both working in a health food store in Santa Cruz, one thought preoccupied my mind: The Dead are playing tonight at Winterland. The Grateful Dead are playing…TONIGHT…just 90 minutes from here. After an hour or so, thought morphed into compulsion.

“Janet, the Dead are playing tonight. Do you want to go?”

 “Do you think we can get in?”

 “Let’s take the chance!”

So, around 6:00 we hopped into my green VW Bug and headed to San Francisco, sans tickets, with high hopes we’d be able to get in. Mere minutes before showtime, Janet dropped me off at the Winterland box office and drove off to find a place to park. Before she had reached the end of the block, I walked up to the window, purchased two tickets for $5 each (let that sink in), and chased the car down Steiner Street triumphantly waving them in the air. We entered the venue at the exact moment the lights went down and the band was playing the opening G to C of Bertha! This Week in Grateful Dead History features that 6/7/77 Winterland show.

I look forward every year to getting out on two wheels and re-experiencing the June ’77 Winterland concerts. My one regret is that I didn’t attend the June 8th show; if I could have a do-over, knowing what I know now, I would certainly have attended all three of those epic shows. But life doesn’t work that way, does it? That said, I’m grateful I took the chance and made June 7th, 1977 my sixth Grateful Dead concert.

While that experience took place prior to the advent of the now well-known term, “miracled,” it carried the same feeling. Within a matter of hours, we had transitioned from the drudgery of a low-wage job to the elation of walking through the doors of Winterland to be part of what would ultimately go down as one of the most legendary Grateful Dead concerts in the band’s history. It felt like a miracle to us, and it couldn’t have happened unless we flipped that coin, knowing that it could have come up “tails” as easily as “heads.”

So many of our life experiences come down to that kind of metaphoric, two-sided coin. On one side is the benefit of taking chances in life. We had no idea whether we’d be able to walk through the doors of Winterland when we headed north from Santa Cruz on Highway 17 with the vision of seeing the Grateful Dead that night. But we decided to flip that coin, and on that occasion it came up “heads.” Decades later, we proudly own the memories of the opening show of the three-night conclusion of the Dead’s fabled Spring ’77 tour. 

Our life experience is shaped by virtue of the choices we make. Indeed, in many ways we are the product of our decisions; the roads not taken no less define us than the ones we travel upon.

The “tails” side of the coin is also represented in this tale by the feeling of remorse that we weren’t there the following night to see the Estimated Prophet>Eyes of the World>Drums>The Other One>Wharf Rat>Not Fade Away>Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad segment that occupied most of the second set. The name of the coin is “opportunity,” and on the up-side of that coin is pursuit, while the down-side is regret. 

It’s important to underscore the word “pursuit.” To live on the upside of the coin of life doesn’t necessarily mean the achievement of a particular goal. Rather, it’s the “A for effort” that matters. The decision to drive to San Francisco and try to attend that show was all that was necessary to ensure that there would be no regrets. Conversely, the regret I feel about not attending the following night’s show was born of the failure to pursue that option.

As is the case in virtually every corner of our lives – and particularly once we reach a certain age – our life experience is shaped by virtue of the choices we make. Indeed, in many ways we are the product of our decisions; the roads not taken no less define us than the ones we travel upon. 

Late in the second set of the June 7th show I saw Terrapin Station performed for the first time. The pivotal lyric in Terrapin perfectly describes this fundamental truth:

I will not forgive you,

If you will not take the chance.

I will forever be grateful that I took the chance and saw the Grateful Dead on June 7th and June 9th, but I will never forgive myself for not attending the June 8th show, as well. 

What this teaches us is that the choice you make today, in this moment, will have lasting implications. We’re well advised to make our decisions carefully, in full consideration of how we might feel further down the road. Of course, having missed a Grateful Dead concert pales by comparison to the weightier choices that present themselves – how we react to adversity, who we choose to befriend and share our lives with, where we choose to live, what path we decide to pursue as our life’s work, whether to have kids, when to retire. These are the pivotal moments that truly define our lives and forever shape who we are.

In a very real sense, it’s omission that leads most certainly to regret. Some decisions work out better than others, and if you think back over the choices you have made in your life, you will find some that were almost prophetic – such as the one we made on the afternoon of June 7th, 1977 – and others that were foolish – like the time I took my dad on a walk off the trail in Lassen National Park and couldn’t find the way back to our campsite, resulting in a frigid night spent huddled around a fire in the wilderness. But I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, as the souvenir of a character building experience lives on, while the memory of a painful, interminable wait for the morning sun to rise ultimately fades.

Err on the side of taking chances in your life, no matter your age. A cold night in the wilderness is forgivable; keeping that coin in your pocket for fear that it will come up “tails” can only lead to regret. Allow your adventurous spirit to conquer your fears, take chances and fill your life with the experiences that make life worth living.


Concert of the week in Grateful Dead history: June 7, 1977 (Listen Now)

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