Courtesy of The Grateful DeadFor years, promoters have attempted and failed to reunite the Grateful Dead for a reunion, but beginning this weekend with two shows in Santa Clara, California, the “core four” surviving band members are reuniting for five Fare Thee Well shows.

So how did the concert series’ co-producer Peter Shapiro — former owner of New York’s defunct club Wetlands and proprietor of the Brooklyn Bowl franchise — make it happen?

“I wouldn’t give up. And I had this idea about how to do it: July 4 weekend, in the middle of the country at Soldier Field, the last venue the band played [with late bandleader Jerry Garcia in 1995],” the Shapiro tells Billboard. “Judging by the response, people wanted to go back to another era — people missed it.”

Through the years, Shapiro has booked each individual member of the band for various shows, which Shapiro said strengthened his relationship with the musicians. It also helped that he was a fan.

“The truth is, I listen to the Grateful Dead. I go to shows by different bands, but when I’m in the shower, I want to listen to Jerry. That passion is inside me, and I think that helped me get the [Fare Thee Well] gig,” he said.

He also knew that the band gels well with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio based on a show he witnessed at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater in 1999.

“I was there, because I’m a fan, I saw what happened when they dropped Trey into this, so I know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “The time has come to bring these two spiritual things together.”

He also said Anastasio’s appearance can give Phish a boost with Deadhead support.

“You go to a Phish show, it’s all people that have seen Phish 30 times and younger,” he said. “A lot of the older Deadheads don’t go see Phish, so it’s a great moment to bring it together.”

So what secrets can Shapiro divulge about the forthcoming Fare Thee Well shows?

“I do believe that we’re pushing some knobs up, in terms of what we’re doing with sound, lighting and video, and we’re trying to do it in a way where the music leads,” he said. “People will have to remember to pick their brain up off the floor and put it back in their head after the show.”

As reported earlier, the four surviving core members of The Dead — singer-guitarist Bob Weir, singer-bassist Phil Lesh and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann — will perform what they’ve announced as their last shows ever this weekend in Santa Clara, California and on July 3, 4 and 5 at Chicago’s Soldier Field. They will be joined at these performances by Bruce Hornsby, Anastasio and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti.

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