Call Them Hippies, But the Grateful Dead Were Tech Pioneers

WHEN THE MUSICIANS once and forever known as the Grateful Dead take the stage in Chicago this weekend to cap a two-city, five-show 50th anniversary run, Deadheads the world over will have myriad ways to join the fun. As with any high-profile event these days, fans can tune in to pay-per-view streams and satellite radio feeds, watch theatrical simulcasts, or attend any number of viewing parties.

What sets the band’s “Fare Thee Well” gigs apart isn’t that these options are available, but that they exist in large part because of the Grateful Dead itself: The group and its associates pioneered rock concert broadcasts, making it a regular practice starting with a show at the Carousel Ballroom in 1968.

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