Splintered Sunlight: Reflections with Phil Lesh

March 14, 2020
Splintered Sunlight: Reflections with Phil Lesh

In honor of Phil Lesh’s 81st birthday, we revisit this collection of images from Jay Blakesberg, accompanied by Phil’s commentary.


Holleder Memorial Stadium, Rochester, N.Y.

Dropping a bomb with Big Brown on Labor Day ‘79 (always a great turnout on the East Coast for the end-of-summer festivities). Big Brown was retired the next year, left behind on my road to six strings..

DECEMBER 26, 1979
Oakland Auditorium Arena, Oakland, Calif.

I sure loved playing on those smaller stages where the musicians were close together. Made a huge difference in the flow…

JULY 19, 1987
Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.

A longtime wish come true—backing Dylan. He loved to throw us curveballs, even after all that rehearsal….

JUNE 22, 1 9 8 6
Greek Theatre, Berkeley, Calif.

Everywhere you look, they’re dancing. The shows would start in daylight, then the sun would set behind the band and we’d be playing in darkness—the best of both worlds.

JANUARY 23, 1988
Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium, Oakland, Calif.

From the beginning, Bill Graham saw who we were, and he always tried to make our shows special in any way he could. He loved to hang with Jerry at the shows…

JANUARY 31, 1991
Grateful Dead Office, San Rafael, Calif.

[Robert] Hunter was the real hero of the whole show. Without his poetic soul, we would never have become the Grateful Dead..

OCTOBER 13, 1980
Warfield Theater, San Francisco, Calif.

The Warfield, playing three sets—one acoustic, two electric—as in the early ‘70s when we’d do one set with the NRPS, then two with the Grateful Dead. Starting in 1999, my band Phil Lesh & Friends served as the “house band” there for several years.

This article originally appeared in the pages of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more subscribe below.