Eighteen Years Later: Grateful Dead Debut Unbroken Chain

Eighteen years ago this evening the Grateful Dead debuted a song at The Spectrum in Philadelphia that had been written over 20 years prior. Though Unbroken Chain appeared on From The Mars Hotel in 1974, it was never played live until March 19th, 1995. We thought enough of this unprecedented performance that we put it at number one on our list of favorite Grateful Dead bust outs.

On today’s anniversary, we wanted to share the brief bit of video that has surfaced…

Also, the fine folks @GDTLP have pointed us towards a chill-inducing audience recording of the debut…


We especially love the cheers of “YES, YES, YES!” when the song ends.

Craig Hillwig of the @GDTLP team attended the final Dead show at The Spectrum and shared some thoughts about what went down at the venue when the Dead started playing Unbroken Chain. You can read them in the Unbroken Chain entry on The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics site.

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16 Responses

  1. I tried to get a ticket in the lot for this show but was unsuccessful. Although I do specifically recall hearing the crowd reaction from outside of the venue. It was LOUD!!

  2. still the single greatest moment of my concert career, 20,000 people ALL on the same page, you couldnt rip the smiles off of peopels faces, strangers hugging strangers

  3. It wasn’t a great version, but still. NEVER would have guessed this would ever happen. Charlotte 3-23-95 was much better performance-wise, but they never did truly nail it unfortunately.

  4. Unbroken Chain is on Terrapin Station not From The Mars Hotel. Would have been awesome to be there Furthur sure nails this song nowadays.

  5. My last road trip for the Dead. Three nights in Philly and this made it worth it.

    my best breakouts.
    Morning Dew 11/8/1979 Capitol Center
    St Stephen 10/11//1983 MSG
    That’s it For The Other One 6/16/1985 Greek
    Unbroken Chain 03/19/1995 Spectrum

    I’m sure there’s others but I don’t count covers outside of The Dew.

    1. The Truckin’ at Englishtown 9/3/1977 but that was my 3rd show and i didn’t realize they hadn’t played it in 2 years.

  6. Can it really be counted as a “bustout” when it was the live debut of the song? I’d put Death Don’t Have No Mercy from Shoreline ’89 up there. As well as the H>S>F and Darkstar from Hampton ’89, which sit at the top, IMHO

  7. I was at this show. When I got to the parking lot before the show – everyone was buzzing – “We heard Unbroken Chain at sound check” – over and over again. The electricity of that rumor carried into the arena, and when the first notes of the song were played, the place erupted. A wonderful night. I’m so Grateful to be able to say – there were MANY MANY wonderful shows and events that brought chills – this was only one of the MANY. Miss Jer, but loving Furthur. 🙂 <3 <3 <3

  8. Walked out of the show, by some girl, and all she said to me was “looks like you got in tonight”. The ear-to-ear grin must have given it away….

  9. This was to be my 50th show and the last one i would ever attend : ( Shutout and left in the lots for the first time in 49 shows. Tragic. My final memory of Jerry onstage is him dancing during the Iko Iko the night before : )

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