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Thursday, September 15

The Grateful Dead Spent Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow at the Great Pyramids of Giza 38 years ago. The Egypt trip Sept. 14-16,1978

Because of Phil's interest in ley lines and "places of power", the Grateful Dead swung for the fences and pulled off a minor miracle by playing three shows at the Giza Light & Sound Theater.

The Grateful Dead and the Great Pyramids just seem to fit together. Not only because the Egyptian Book of the Dead mentions the grateful dead as stewards of the sun across the sky but anything that was sufficiently weird always peaked the band's interest. The band was planning on recording the concerts to recoup the price of trip for the band and their entourage. I think Ken Kesey and Mickey Hart might have had the most fun. They were both obsessed with miking the King's Chamber because the acoustics were perfect in the space but they never could quite pull it off. The Dead finally put together a box set from the second and third nights. For those not keeping count, that would be today and tomorrow, all those years ago and it was such a short time to be there. Is there a more epic picture than Jerry on a camel? 

The band was in the middle of the recording of Shakedown Street and they debuted the song at Red Rocks a couple of weeks earlier and the version they played at the Egypt shows is one of the finest Shakedowns ever played.  But that is for tomorrow. Today, not so many tracks were usable. In fact, they only released two on the main discs but the bonus tracks have the "Estimated Prophet" from the 15th and it was smoking. The band weren't happy with the first night's recordings so none of that night made the official release but they are available on archive to hear and you may still be able to download them if you are crafty. However, when you give them a listen you realize why they weren't released. This is a band that ate peanut butter so they could spend all their money on sound equipment. Said equipment was not built to be flown halfway across the world and set up in a basically third world country that is covered in sand. So I cut them some slack. Still, the band made some great friends, especially Mickey, like Hamza El-Din and they returned to the states to join the Dead on stage several more times.

Here is Ken Kesey's taping of the proceedings which include "Good Lovin" and the band goofing off before the shows and the backstage scene. It was released as two discs. All the shenanigans in the King's Chamber are on here, as well as more show footage and behind-the-scenes goodies. It's a two-disc affair. The first disc is at the top and the second is the bottom.

It's said in the Egyptian Book of the Dead," In the land of night the ship of the sun is drawn by the grateful dead" which is a weird coincidence in a band that thrived, nay survived, on coincidences and it's said as the band was playing the desert would slowly fill up with bedouins at night to watch the concerts and were seen dancing even though the language barrier was immense. It just goes to show that you can "get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at at it right". The third night, tomorrow, there was yet another coincidence in that there was a lunar eclipse that night and the bedouins traditionally beat drums and bang pots to bring back the moon/sun, whichever was being eclipsed. That night though, the Grateful Dead provided a little help in that endeavor and was a beautifully creepy cosmic finale to the trip. 

Since only "Stagger Lee" and "Jack Straw" are available as part of the compilation, here is the Lemioux-mastered version of "Jack Straw" from the Giza Light and Sound Theater in Cairo, Egypt on 9-15-78

Written by: Greg Heffelfinger


"Jack Straw" from Rockin the Cradle

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