In late August of 1991, thousands of Deadheads peacefully descended upon Squaw Valley to see the Jerry Garcia Band perform under sunny skies, in front of an alpine backdrop at Gold Coast. The two-day festival was produced by Squaw Valley Ski Corp and Bill Graham Presents, and featured a supporting lineup including David Grisman, Jimmy Cliff, Booker T. and the MGs, Tower of Power, Rhythm Tribe, and the Neville Brothers.

“Just having [the Jerry Garcia Band] in your backyard, and having them be at a place where we spend a hundred days a year on that mountain working and playing, to have your favorite artist play where you work — not many people get to say that,” said Tahoe resident Dick Banfield, who has been to somewhere around 100 Grateful Dead shows in his life and remembers the Jerry Garcia show at Squaw fondly. “It’s right up there, no question.”

Banfield remembers it being a windy day up at Squaw, and the music not being its best. But with a crowd 10,000 strong at 8,000 feet, the atmosphere and the energy were unmatched. Riding up the gondola to the show, “wasn’t just a normal day,” Banfield said. “It made the powder day seem pretty boring.”


While Banfield took the gondola up, there were many who hiked up to the show. Producer Bill Graham decided that if fans had enough determination to hike up, then they should just be admitted for free.

Two months after Graham hosted the Jerry Garcia Band at Squaw, he died in a helicopter crash in the Bay Area while returning home from a Huey Lewis and the News concert at the Concord Pavilion.

Check out the Summer Lovin’ Festival Guide to see what legendary festival you want to be a part of this year.


  • Julie Brown

    Former editor Julie Brown likes to say she is the product of a Squaw Valley romance. In the early ’80s, her dad was on ski patrol and her mom was a lift op’. Born in Truckee and raised in Tahoe City and the West Shore, she has, and always will, call Tahoe home. That said, Brown always has her eyes open for the next adventure to take her beyond the Basin. Brown started writing for Moonshine Ink in 2009, and edited the Rocking Stone and Soul Kitchen sections through May 2012, when she left Tahoe to pursue a master’s in journalism at U.C. Berkeley.

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