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Grateful Dead: Dead Ahead

Dead Ahead
Dead Ahead DVD cover
Directed by Len Dell'Amico
Produced by Richard Loren
Starring The Grateful Dead
Edited by Veronica Loza
Distributed by Monterey Home Video
Release dates
  • 1981 (1981) (Original)
  • 2005 (2005) (Expanded)
Running time
114 or 164 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Dead Ahead is a concert video by the Grateful Dead. It was recorded at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on October 30 and October 31, 1980, and released in 1981. An expanded version was released in 2005. In contrast to other Dead concert videos, Dead Ahead contains acoustic as well as electric song performances.

Acoustic and electric tour of 1980

In September and October 1980, the Grateful Dead did a concert tour of shows with three sets each, one acoustic set followed by two electric sets. The acoustic sets were the first the band had performed since the early '70s. The tour comprised 15 shows at The Warfield in San Francisco, 2 shows at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, and 8 shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The following year, songs from the tour were released as two live albums, the all-acoustic Reckoning and the all-electric Dead Set.

The concert video

Dead Ahead contains songs from the last two New York concerts, October 30 and October 31, 1980. Although the video was compiled from multiple performances, and is shorter than one of the three-set concerts, it follows the general format of one of the shows, starting with some acoustic material and proceeding to a longer section of amplified music, including a somewhat edited "Drums" and "Space".

The video also includes several sketches by the comedy team of Al Franken and Tom Davis. These are from the final night of the tour, October 31, which was hosted by Franken and Davis, and broadcast on radio and on closed circuit TV.

Different versions of Dead Ahead

Dead Ahead was released on VHS video tape and on laserdisc in 1981. Remastered versions of the video tape and laserdisc were issued in 1995, with a running time of 1 hour 54 minutes. In November 2005, an expanded edition of Dead Ahead was released on DVD, with a running time of 2 hours 44 minutes.

Track listing

Expanded edition bonus tracks

  • "Heaven Help the Fool" (Weir, Barlow) — acoustic
  • "Shakedown Street" (Garcia, Hunter)
  • "Samson and Delilah" (traditional, arranged by Grateful Dead)
  • "He's Gone" (Garcia, Hunter)
  • "Truckin'" (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter)


Grateful Dead


  • Len Dell'Amico – director
  • Richard Loren – producer
  • John Scher – executive producer
  • Dan Healy and Betty Cantor-Jackson – audio mix
  • Candace Brightman – lighting and set design
  • Thom Drewke – technical supervisor
  • Veronica Loza – editor and production coordinator
  • Dennis Larkins and Peter Barsotti – cover art
  • Al Franken and Tom Davis – hosts