For these shows the Grateful Dead came out with a tight and frenetic first set, highlighted by a few Pigpen-fronted blues tunes. Chuck Berry followed that up with his first appearance at a Bill Graham show, entertaining the audience with his early rock classics and wild antics. Finally, the Dead returned to the stage for a set of pure, primal psychedelia. The Dead were naturally quite familiar with Berry’s work and did a number of Chuck Berry covers over the years, especially Around and Around (421 performances), Promised Land (434), and Johnny B. Goode (281).
The Dead’s first album was released on the first day of these shows, March 17.
Story goes that on that afternoon Jerry Garcia was listening to the local San Francisco KYA-AM radio station, anticipating hearing a single from the album. In the words of Jim Lindsay - a disc jockey with KYA-AM: “The very first playing of Jimi Hendrix's recording of "Purple Haze" on KYA-AM, I believe, had the very first caller after it concluded asking, "Who is that?" The caller was Jerry Garcia.” [Thanks to Dave Lee for this story]