Buffalo in the ’90s: Dead Heads outside Rich Stadium

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The Grateful Dead seemed to be on a single, constant, unending tour through the ’80s into the ’90s.

Buffalo News archives

They played at Rich Stadium in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992 and 1993. There were also a number of solo concerts from each of the band’s members during those years, giving Grateful Dead fans — Dead Heads — ample opportunity to hear from Jerry Garcia and the boys.

Buffalo News archives

“Truckin’ Up to Buffalo” was a double CD/DVD released by the Dead in 2005, a recording of the 1989 concert at Rich.

The photos on this page were from what was the most memorable experience for many — the 1992 concert marred with box office problems that resulted in what police later called a near riot among many in the sellout crowd of 65,000.

Fans who were familiar with both Bills games and Dead shows said stadium officials dropped the ball at the concert.

“At the Dead show, there were no garbage cans in the parking lot, no toilets, and the wait in the ticket line was horrendous, as bad as I’ve ever experienced,” one fan told The News. “Everybody was pushing up against each other trying to get in. But we had to keep waiting and waiting. People were getting angry. You never see this kind of stuff at a football game. They’ve got to do something at Rich Stadium, or there’s going to be big trouble at one of these concerts.”

Following the show, two men were found dead in separate areas outside the stadium in suspected drug overdoses.

The following year, the Grateful Dead returned with Sting for what would be their last show at Rich Stadium.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. The operator of Buffalo Stories Tours writes about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo special at blog.buffalostories.com and daily at buffalonews.com/history. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor and produced PBS documentaries. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.