‘Eyes of the World,’ The Grateful Dead at Raceway Park, Englishtown

The cover of the 15th installment in the Grateful Dead's "Dick's Picks" series of concert recordings, documenting their Sept. 3, 1977 show at Raceway Park in Englishtown.

The cover of the 15th installment in the Grateful Dead’s “Dick’s Picks” series of concert recordings, documenting their Sept. 3, 1977 show at Raceway Park in Englishtown.

You might think that the biggest concert ever in New Jersey was by Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi or some other homegrown group, but you’d be wrong. The biggest show was by a group that hails from the other side of the country, but always had a rabid following in the Garden State (and plenty of other states, as well): The Grateful Dead.

On Sept. 3, 1977 — the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend that year — the group headlined an outdoor show at Raceway Park in Englishtown that attracted more than 100,000 people. The New Riders of the Purple Sage and The Marshall Tucker Band also performed. Below is a recording of the Dead jamming on “Eyes of the World” at that show.

The show went off peacefully, though it generated some controversy beforehand. “This was the height of the generation gap,” promoter John Scher told The Star-Ledger in 2012. “The mayor thought that Armageddon was coming. They sued to try to stop the show. We had 100,000 people there and it was fantastic.”

In 1999, a three-CD set documenting the concert was released as part of the Grateful Dead’s “Dick’s Picks” series of concert recordings.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.


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Bob Makin October 9, 2014 - 9:00 pm

Have you done Palisades Park by Freddy Cannon yet? That’s a nice one to turn folks onto. Also, (I Wanna) Testify by The Parliaments, and anything by The Misfits. Hope the sight is a smashing success for you, Jay
: )

Jay Lustig October 9, 2014 - 9:10 pm

No, but I’m sure I’ll get to those. Thanks, Bob.

Steve Hedgpeth October 10, 2014 - 5:18 am

“Midnight Train to Georgia” is a well-traveled song, written in Los Angeles by Jim Weatherly, recorded by New Jersey’s Cissy Houston in 1973, then covered shortly after by Gladys Knight and the Pips in a Grammy-winning recording whose instrumental tracks were laid down in New Jersey by arranger-producer (and Somerville native) Tony Camillo. The instrumental track was then sent to Detroit where Knight and the Pips recorded the vocals.

Jay Lustig October 10, 2014 - 7:28 am

Thanks Steve, I didn’t know that. Hope all is well….

Holly Avila March 23, 2019 - 9:36 pm

I think I was at this show. I do remember driving to a stadium in Englishtown..but I was also tripping, so, maybe it was the show in 77. I thought it was later, like early 80’s. some memories are hard to place. Thanks for the list.


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