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Deadheads gather for start of tour - article


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Deadheads gather for start of tour

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) --

Deadheads, their children and others -- many of whom weren't even born when the Grateful Dead started playing in the 1960s -- swarmed the city, arriving for the first show in the band's new 14-city tour.

Officials refused to allow fans into the parking lot at the Roanoke Civic Center until 4 p.m. to minimize the rowdiness and illegal activities that followed Garcia and crew when they last appeared in Roanoke in 1987. But when 4 p.m. came, the lot filled fast.

Police made their first arrest within seven minutes -- and about 30 altogether -- mostly for drugs or alcohol. Vendors hawked tie-dyed shirts, glass pipes, posters and veggie burritos, despite earlier statements by Civic Center officials that vendors wouldn't be allowed in the area.

The smell of marijuana was evident despite the presence of mounted police patrolling the crowd, undercover and uniformed officers.

Many said this time around, people are going to be more respectful of "the scene," which included riots and deaths at concerts when the band last toured in 1995.

"When I went to my last show it was a zoo," said Steve Smith, who came from Alaska. "As long as everybody has a good time, it'll be all right. I'm just excited to see some rock 'n' roll."

The concert, which became an 11,000-seat sellout late, started at 7 p.m., and the crowd quickly went into its standard formation, swaying with the music.

The band opened with perennial favorite "Saint Stephen," and the crowd kept moving to other Dead favorites like "China Cat Sunflower" and "I Know You Rider."

The band hardly resembles the gang that first entranced fans 40 years ago. Lead singer Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack in 1995, when the band last toured, and Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are all older than 55 now -- and each has his own band.

Jimmy Herring, a journeyman who's sat in with the Allman Brothers, also was brought in and given the daunting task of handling Garcia's guitar part.

Band members say they will shuffle about 130 songs during the tour, including a number of Dead standards.

They've also pulled out several songs from the band's early days, such as the 1970 hit "Till the Morning Comes," as well as songs from their own bands.

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