Held at Madison Square Garden on September 24, 1988, the Rainforest Benefit Concert was organized by the Grateful Dead, and also featured Suzanne Vega and Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Other guests included Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Daryl Hall and John Oats and Jack Casady from Hot Tuna. The proceeds were donated to three environmental groups, Greenpeace, Cultural Survival and the Rainforest Action Network.
The event was unusual in that while the Grateful Dead played many benefits especially early in their career, they had always carefully avoided supporting political causes, or taking stands on issues. ''We've never called on our fans to align themselves with one cause or another, and we've always avoided making any political statements,'' the band's lead guitarist and vocalist, Jerry Garcia, said in the New York Times. ''But this is an issue that is life-threatening, and we hope that we can empower our own audience to act.''
Contemporary artist Robert Rauschenberg silk screened a skull and chains over his painting of an abstract forest for this poster commemorating the event. Rauschenberg, “was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his ‘Combines’ of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance.” – Wikipedia.
In the days leading up to the concert, Animal, the wild drummer from The Muppet Show, appeared in a Public Service Announcements from a tropical setting shouting "Save forest!" and "Deadhead!" over and over again. During one of the concert's set breaks, a video shown on projection screens featured Animal shouting while Kermit the Frog urged concertgoers to protect the rainforests.