The recent death of basketball icon Bill Walton made a major impact in the sports world, but it was significant in the jam band community, too. Walton was perhaps the Grateful Dead’s most enthusiastic and dedicated fan, and band members wrote touching social media tributes for him. In its first performance as Las Vegas’ Sphere since Walton’s death, Dead & Company (a band featuring Grateful Dead members) devoted some time of the show to honoring Walton.

As JamBase notes, ahead of the concert, the band’s Mickey Hart wrote on Instagram, “Tonight we pulse, we vibrate, we dance, for Bill. The BIGGEST deadhead in the world!”

During the “Drums” section of the concert, Walton was shown on a giant screen as a myriad of virtual drums surrounded the audience. This was presumably because Walton had previously sat in with the band for the “Drums” portion of the show.

There was another Walton tribute during “Fire On The Mountain.” The usual visuals were replaced by falling red flowers as photos of Walton with band members were shown. At the song’s end, “Walton 32” (32 being his NBA jersey number) was displayed.

After Walton’s death, Dead & Company’s John Mayer shared a thoughtful tribute, writing in part, “Bill Walton lived a life that the rest of us could only hope to achieve on our second (or third) go-round. He had an eye toward the truly important stuff, the stuff we already know better than to lose sight of, but often do. […] I think it’s pretty good advice that when times get tough, everything will be okay if you just pretend to be Bill Walton. Thank you Bill.”

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