|My notes for the Grateful Dead shows from February 18, 19 & 20, 1985|
Looking at my notes for February 18, 19 and 20, 1985, I see that I wrote down that Phil Lesh played "slide bass" on February 20. I distinctly recall this. Of course, distinct as this memory may be, I recall that he played slide during "Minglewood," and of course they didn't play "Minglewood" that night. I didn't see fit to write down which song it was, but knowing how my memory works it was probably "West LA Fadeaway."
By 1980, I had been going to rock concerts for quite a while (at the time, 8 years and counting, as it happens) and once I had discovered the sound of a bottleneck guitar I had always wondered why no one ever used a bottleneck on a bass guitar. I was generally about 50 feet from the stage, so I was really excited when I saw Phil slip on a bottleneck during a song and play a little slide while Jerry soloed away.
Of course, I promptly found out why no one played slide bass: you can't hear it. Something about the sonic properties of a bass guitar insure that the swoopy low notes caused by the slide are lost in the general rumble of the band. The Grateful Dead had as good a sound system as their was, and if you couldn't hear it on their system, you couldn't hear it. But it didn't matter--I had seen someone play slide bass guitar, and I could check that off my list.