Dead & Company Honor Late Bill Walton With Touching Tribute At Concert

Dead & Company on Thursday paid tribute to longtime Grateful Dead fan Bill Walton with graphics of flowers at the band’s first show since the basketball legend’s death.

The NBA center, who died Monday at age 71 following a battle with cancer, once said that he learned “how to become a champion” due to the Grateful Dead and wrote in his 2016 memoir that he’d attended hundreds of the group’s concerts.

Dead & Company — a spinoff band featuring members of the Grateful Dead — showed love to the late 6-foot-11-inch Deadhead with a performance of “Fire on the Mountain” during the band’s residency at Las Vegas’ Sphere.

The venue’s 160,000-square-foot screen flashed photos of the NBA icon supporting the Dead as well as Dead & Company over the years.

A sea of digital flowers fell among the pictures before a tie-dyed “Walton 32” graphic appeared, in a nod to the basketball player’s jersey number.

The Las Vegas crowd roared with applause as the band ended the song and the graphic remained on the screen.

Mickey Hart, a percussionist for Dead & Company and a drummer for the Grateful Dead, saluted Walton on social media ahead of the concert.

“Tonight we pulse, we vibrate, we dance, for Bill. The BIGGEST deadhead in the world!” he wrote.

Dead & Company, in a separate social media post this week, said that the band loves him “more than words can tell.”

“Bill was an irreplaceable force and spirit in our family,” Dead & Company wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Father Time, Rhythm Devil, biggest deadhead ever. Over 1000 shows and couldn’t get enough. He loved this band and we loved him.”

Meanwhile, Pearl Jam paid tribute to Walton with a performance of “Man of the Hour” at the band’s Seattle show Tuesday.

Lead singer Eddie Vedder, in remarks at the concert, said Walton was a “big man with a huge heart” who “cut a wide path of peace and love behind him.”