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Grateful Dead takes the stage wearing Bill Walton’s number

Mickey Hart and Bill Walton ontage in 2005; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Ahead of Dead & Company‘s show Thursday at Sphere in Las Vegas, drummer Mickey Hart posted on Instagram, “Tonight we pulse, we vibrate, we dance, for Bill. The BIGGEST deadhead in the world!” Indeed, the band did offer a fitting tribute to the late NBA legend Bill Walton, who died Monday at age 71. He was not only a fanatical Dead fan, but also a personal friend of the group’s members.


Fan-shot footage of the performance shows that the band took the stage with instruments decorated with Walton’s number, 32, which he wore while playing for UCLA, the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Diego Clippers.

During the “Drums” part of the show, the Sphere’s LED screen displayed footage of the time when Walton, who was Hart’s best friend, joined them onstage at a 2016 show for that segment. And when Hart sang “Fire on the Mountain,” the screen displayed images of Walton with the members of the Grateful Dead and Dead & Company over the years.

Walton’s first Dead show was in 1967, and he saw over 1,000 in his lifetime.

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