It took a lot of arm-twisting over many months, McEvoy. A handful of Cornell students wearing red-and-white Concert Commission jerseys, ancillary. Security for tonight's show inside Barton Hall, the school's archaic athletic facility opened in. 1915, merrily strode across the bustling campus commons on their way to the gym, dodging. Frisbees being tossed by sun-loving classmates wearing shorts and sandals.
The warm weather soon gave way to blustery conditions, with temperatures plummeting into the. Low 40s and sleet and rain falling.Inexplicably, the doors to Barton Hall (capacity 5,000). Remained closed, forcing fans to wait outside in the cold. When only one gym door was finally. Opened, frustrated concert-goers shoved forward.
Like clay being forced through the opening of. A Play Dough toy, the lava-like flow of bodies was funneled into a tiny, rectangular opening. With fans dangerously pressed against the door frames and the glass panels in the gym's closed. Inside, a party was in full swing.The crush to enter as temperatures dropped and show time. Approached made it impossible for the overwhelmed Concert Commission students to adequately. Fans were able to bring in six-packs of beer, wine sacks and countless bottles. The chaos also allowed the ticketless to sneak in.
The show began with the Delta classic Minglewood Blues. Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia was. Tearing it up on his Travis Bean TB 500 guitar, which he had been playing onstage with the Dead. Since the summer of 1976.
Garcia had just used the Travis Bean to record the band's soon-to-bereleased. Ninth studio album, Terrapin Station, produced by Keith Olsen, noted for his work on. With the Dead, Olsen was a taskmaster in the studio, forcing them to.
Rehearse endlessly, which had a major impact on their live performances during the spring of. In an incendiary 12-song first set clocking in at just under 90 minutes, the group hit their stride. Early with Loser and band lyricist Robert Hunter's on-the-road novella, Jack Straw. As it was Mother's Day, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir added an apropos cover of Merle Haggards.Mama Tried, after which bassist Phil Lesh commented, Thanks, Mom. Mark Nathanson, then an 18-year-old recent high school grad, recalls, During the. Intermission, I became really hot, and we were in the coolest spot. We knew it was a really exceptional show, which definitely contributed to. By the time the houselights dimmed for the second set, as many as 6,000 people were crammed. Into the tiny gym, adding to the sauna-like environment and forcing the band to perform their. Take a Step Back routine to ease the crowded conditions in front of the stage.
Normally stage-silent Garcia made a plea: All these people in front are getting horribly smashed. That means all you people in the back have to move back. In their epic one hour-and-twenty-minute second set, the Dead conducted a high-speed chase. Across just six songs, skipping the drum solo due to drummer Bill Kreutzmann's ailing wrist, the.Vicissitude only adding to the exigency of their playing. The band romped through a raucous 23.
Stephen and, arguably, all-time versions. Of both the Scarlet Begonias-Fire on the Mountain couplet and Garcia's brilliant guitar. Elucidation Morning Dew, their customary exclamation point on a stellar show. I had seen the Grateful Dead a couple of dozen times prior but this time it was clear they'd. Upped the ante, recalls Rick Bleier, who celebrated his 27th birthday that night.I have a clear-as-yesterday memory of Garcia's face as he shook his head and. Was May 8, 1977 the Grateful Dead performance? Some Deadheads believe it wasn't even the best of the three consecutive nights--May 7 (Boston). 8 (Ithaca) and 9 (Buffalo)--played by the group. Dick Latvala, who served as the Dead's tape.
Archivist from 1985 until his passing in August 1999, while also curating the Dick's Picks series. Of the band's live archival releases, had his own opinion. Of a May 22, 1977 show in Pembroke. Pines, Florida, that closed with Terrapin Station-Morning Dew, he wrote in a journal he used. For show notations: May 22 tears apart Ithaca.
So how did the Cornell show attain its legendary status? May 8 is among the most collected, traded and downloaded concerts by any band ever, says. Noted Grateful Dead historian Blair Jackson. That's not hyperbole, either.Recordings of this show started circulating among tape collectors shortly after the concert and. Quickly became a favorite of everyone. Renowned taper Jerry Moore's meticulous recording became the most-commonly traded version. Of what is, unquestionably, an outstanding show, states long-time Long Island Deadhead. Add a cool concert poster [designed by graduating Cornell senior Jay Maybrey].
And throw in a few salty tales about the travails of the weather, the problems getting in, and the. Animal House-like debauchery going on inside. Top it off with a killer set list and you've.
Created the legacy of May 8. Something happened in that gym that cannot be extrapolated or appreciated by those who were. Not in attendance, declares Bleier.I believe the near-mythical reputation of this show. Originated from those who were there, rather than from those who heard the tapes. As the crowd departed Barton Hall through the same single door that only hours earlier had been. The site of a near-catastrophe, two neatly piled stacks of garbage that had been slowly building on. Each side of the door throughout the night were now being crowned by the last of the exiting. Outside, a half-foot of snow lie on the ground, flakes still gracefully falling from the sky, as if. Nature were affirming something special had just taken place.
A block off-campus was Pop's. Diner, where we made our way, recalls Bleier.
It was filled to capacity with other hungry but. Allen is the author of Aces Back to Back: The History of the Grateful Dead Outskirts. Allen served as a Senior Writer, columnist and feature article writer for.
Relix magazine for eight years. He also holds a B. In Journalism from the University of. Oregon ('84) and an MAT in Special Education from Manhattanville College ('94).
The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Library of Congress. Ne night in the winter of 1996, Rob Eaton, a recording engineer whod worked with Duran Duran and Pat Metheny, showed up at the home of a high-school chemistry teacher in Petaluma, California. Eaton had heard that the teacher had something that he and others like him were eager to get their hands on.
Hed also heard that the teacher wanted to sell what he had for a million dollars, a sum no studio engineer was likely to supply. Still, one could always tender expertise. The teacher drove Eaton to a barn he owned, and they ran in through the rain.Inside, amid piles of junk, were three road cases, of the kind that rock bands use to cart around their amplifiers. Each had Grateful Dead stencilled on its side. In the first one, Eaton found, in addition to some rotting cookbooks, several dozen reel-to-reel tapes, caked in mold and silt. Most of them were unmarked, or at least too encrusted to read, but Eaton had an idea what some of them might be, and he felt a surge of excitement. The other boxes contained dozens more tapes, similarly degraded. Eaton told the teacher that it was impossible to evaluate their worth, since they couldnt know what was on the tapes, or even whether they were playable. The teacher grudgingly lent him five of the worst-looking reels, and Eaton took them down the road to a friends house.
The friend was Dick Latvala, who at the time was the official archivist of the Grateful Dead, the keeper of the bands fabled vault of live recordings, and an unapologetic enthusiast who would listen to old Dead shows for twelve hours at a stretch, notebook in hand. Eaton, too, was a longtime Deadheadhe had seen the band perform around four hundred times and had been making and trading tapes of their concerts for twenty years. Eaton cleaned the tapes with cotton balls and alcohol, and Latvala loaded one up onto his reel-to-reel. The exposed outer layerthe first thirty seconds or sowas ruined, but as the music kicked in they realized they might have a treasure on their hands, a tapeheads Nag Hammadi.
They heard Jerry Garcia, the Deads lead guitarist, performing a set with the organist Merl Saunders, at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, on September 6, 1973a concert that hadnt previously surfaced. Eaton and Latvala stayed up all night listening to the reels: other Garcia solo performances, a piece of a rare Dead show from the early seventies. The most remarkable thing was the crisp sound. They were first-generation two-track analogue soundboard recordings, with stereo separation among the instruments, a chunky bass, and plenty of air.Eaton and Latvala wondered if these were Betty Boardstapes made by Betty Cantor-Jackson, a longtime recording engineer for the Grateful Dead. Almost from the outset, the Dead were meticulous about taping their concerts.
During several periods in their history, Cantor-Jackson did the taping, mixing the soundboard feed directly onto a two-track tape as the music was being performed. She sat offstage, wearing earphones. In Deadhead circles, she was renowned for her ear.She went broke and lost her house in a foreclosure. Her belongings, including her tapes, which shed withheld from the band, wound up in a storage locker in Marin County, and in 1986, after she failed to keep up with the payments, the contents, many of them damaged in a flood, were auctioned off. One batch fell into the hands of some enthusiasts who cleaned them up, transferred them to a digital format, and began distributing immaculate copies to the vast network of Deadhead tape collectors. Another went to the chemistry teacher, who was not a Deadhead, by any stretchI like the Doobie Brothers, he told me. He was interested in the cases, not the contents.
He drove them to the barn, had a look inside, saw a sodden mess, closed them back up, and left them there for ten years. Along the way, he learned about Betty and assumed that he might have some of her coveted boards. When Jerry Garcia died, in 1995, the teacher began looking for a way to sell them.
The teacher hired Eaton to restore his tapes. In all, he restored two hundred tapesnearly a hundred hours of music. The teacher had Eaton sign a contract stipulating that he not distribute the tapes, but Eaton made digital copies. The music deserved to be preserved and properly archived, he told me.It would have been unconscionable to let it go. The teacher, meanwhile, reached out to the Dead, in an effort to sell the tapes. Through a lawyer, he says, they offered him a hundred thousand dollars. The teacher asked for ten times that. The Dead, reeling from the loss of touring revenue after the death of Garcia, reminded him that they owned the music, even if he owned the tapes.
Still, before long, copies found their way into the vault. In 2003, the Dead released a four-CD live album from one set of the tapes, from a series of concerts that they had performed at the Academy of Music, in Manhattan, in the spring of 1972. The teacher, now retired and the keeper of hundreds of rescued pet goats, still had the reels when I talked to him, in July.
He didnt want me to print his name, lest he become a target of theft. He was on the verge of being evicted from his home. He was still trying to sell the old reels, and said hed recently stumbled on another box. He asked if I had a million dollars.I told him I did not, though Id be eager to hear the tapes. The first memory I have of the Grateful Dead is of a classmate in sixth grade telling me hed gone to see them with his older sister. He reported that the band consisted of a bunch of hairy old guys in baggy clothes sitting on a stage eating spaghetti. It occurred to me later that he might have made this up, or that his sister had perhaps said something about noodling. Ive since concluded that this would have been the bands fall, 1980, stand at Radio City Music Hall, when the Dead, most definitely hairy and baggily clothed (though none of them yet over forty), opened each night with an acoustic set, during which a few of them sat on stools.
Ive never found anything in the literature regarding spaghetti. Otherwise, I thought of the Dead at that time, if I thought of them at all, as some kind of malevolent cult, or, at least, a heavy-metal outfit, like Black Sabbath. A kid saw the iconography aroundthe skulls and skeletonsand imagined dark, angry noise. When I was thirteen, I bought an album of greatest hits, Skeletons from the Closet, and discovered that Id been wrong.
Many of the songs were delicate acoustic numbers with rustic harmonies and bouncy, if obscure, lyrics. There was some country, some folk, some blues, a Chuck Berry rocker. The lead singer, or one of them, had a delicate tenor.
No Ozzy Osbourne, this guy. Maybe they really were just hippies who ate spaghetti onstage. It didnt seem like much.
Give me the guy who bites heads off bats. A few years later, I went to a boarding school where the Dead was something of a cult. The cool older kids had trays of cassette tapes of Dead concertscopies of copies of copies, usually many generations removed from the original source, which might have been an audience tape (or aud, made by someone in the audience, with a microphone), a soundboard tape (made by someone whod plugged into the main feed from the public-address system), or a tape of a radio broadcast.
None of it sounded like that album of greatest hits. It was denser, feverish, otherworldly. If you took an interest, youd copy a few tapes, listen to those over and over, until they began to make sense, and then copy some more.
Before long, you might have a scattershot collection, with a couple of tapes from each year. It was all Grateful Dead, but because of the variability in sonic fidelity, and because the band had been at it for twenty years, there were many different flavors and moods. Even the compromised sound quality became a perverse part of the appeal. Each tape seemed to have its own particular note of decay, like the taste of the barnyard in a wine or a cheese. You came to love each one, as you might a three-legged dog.Or, having decided that it all sounded like one long meandering dirge, you went back to whatever normal people listened to. That summer, I went to see the Dead for the first time, at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, an outdoor venue in Maryland. I went with two friends and one of their older brothers.
We got there just in time to hear the opening of Casey Jones, which, despite being a staple of classic-rock radio, was by that time a rarity in the Deads repertoire, and the crowd went berserk. My impressions of the night were diffuse, many fixating on the shabby human carnival that had taken over the parking lot and the pavilion: freaks dangling from trees, skulking muppets muttering, Acid, acid. In the pavilion, the tapers had set up a cityscape of microphone stands, like minarets, and through them there was the sight of Jerry Garcia, fat and hunched, virtually immobile in a haze of his own cigarette smoke. His hair was long and lank. He was, at this point, very deep into an addiction to heroin.
Backlit, he looked like some woodland ghoul. But he played in long, convoluted paragraphs and snappy banjo blurts. Torrents of melody poured out of his stubby, tarred hands, chiming and snarling into the night. The sounds produced by the bassist, Phil Lesh, were by turns plummy and thick, trebly and melodic.
The music was somehow both pretty and mean, bouncy and diabolical, busy and clean. You could get lost in it.
I went again the next night. That show, in retrospect, was the best I would ever see.Later, I got the tapes. To my ears, the performances held up, and the music, on repetition, began to feel like something composed, rather than improvised. It took on a life of its own, apart from my experience of having witnessed its creation. The tapes themselves are long gone, but I still listen to those shows from time to time.
Ive even found an amateur video of the second night on YouTube, synched to a soundboard recording. The fact that I also listen, with equal or even greater regard, to many dozens of shows that I never attended, the majority of them performed during my nursery-rhyme years, props up my usually fruitless contention that nostalgia has nothing to do with the way the Dead wormed their way into my minds ear and fought off all comers even decades after the band had disappeared from the stage. The Dead inspired many lamentable bumper stickers, but one good one captured how it felt, and feels, to be under their sway: Who are the Grateful Dead, and why do they keep following me?The Grateful Dead occupy a curious spot in the canon. Their music has turned out to be extremely resilient, considering that they were primarily a live act and effectively ceased to exist seventeen years ago, when Garcia died, and that for many of the years prior to that (how many is just about the most debated question in Deadland) they were a weak incarnation of themselves. They made a lot of studio albums, but few memorable ones, and had just one Top Forty hit in thirty years, and not for lack of trying. Yet its probably safe to say that the Dead have more recorded music in circulation than any performing group in history. If thered been such a thing as a Nakamichi 700 tape deck in eighteenth-century Leipzig, people might be trading bootlegs of Bach performing his own fugues: St. Thomass Church, 5/8/39, Johann rips on the Littleepic! From their establishment, in 1965, to the death of Garcia, in 1995, they played 2,318 concerts, and more than two thousand of those are available in some form or another. As Garcia said, Once were done with it, the audience can have it. The Deads immense body of work invites and sustains obsession, and its variability is in some respects the draw.
All this may dilute any songs or albums or concerts case for canonical considerationitd be hard to know what to send into space. This spring, the Library of Congress announced that it was adding a Dead recording to its National Recording Registry. It chose a Betty Cantor-Jackson recording: Barton Hall, Cornell University, in May of 1977. It has never been released by the band; its not even in the vault. In the opinion of many, including me, it is not even the Deads best performance that month, much less in their history.
But because a good audience tape of it circulated right after the show, and because a particularly clean soundboard version materialized, in the eighties, with the appearance of the first batch of Betty Boards, and because it is a polished and accessible example of the band at a high point, it became a mainstay of most tape collections and is possibly their most beloved piece of work. Blair Jackson, a Grateful Dead historian and biographer, estimates that it has been copied two million times. Thats a lot for a bootlegenough for a conspiracy theory to have sprung up around it.
Some believe that the show never happened, that the tape is just a collection of performances culled from other shows. It is very easy, and in many circles compulsory, to make fun of the Dead.
What does a Deadhead say when the drugs wear off? The Dead, more than any band of their stature, have legions of hatersreal hostilityas typified by Dave Marshs remark, in Playboy, that they were the worst band in creation. Even the fanatic can admit to a few things. The Dead were musically self-indulgent, and yet, to some ears, harmonically shallow.They played one- and two-chord jams that went on for twenty or thirty minutes. One live version of Dark Star, a modal vamp based on the A mixolydian scale, with two short verses and no bridge, clocked in at forty-eight minutes. Oh, to have been in Rotterdam!
Even their straightforward songs could go on for ten or twelve minutes. Pop-craft buffs, punkers, and anyone steeped in the orthodoxy of concision tend to plug their ears to the noodling, while jazz buffs often find it unsophisticated and aimless. The Deads sense of time was not always crisp.
Its been said that the two drummers, in the eighties, sounded like sneakers in a dryer. For those attracted to the showy side of rock, the Dead were always an unsightly ensemble, whose ugliness went undiminished in middle agewhich happened to coincide with the dawn of MTV. They were generally without sex appeal. Bob Weir, their showman and heartthrob, might be said to be an exception, but he spent much of the eighties performing in short cutoff jean shorts and lavender tank topsa sight even more troubling, Id submit, than that of Garcia circa 1984, drooling on his microphone as he fought off the nods.
Even the high-tech light shows of later years and the spaceship twinkle of their amplifiers could not compensate for a lumpy stage presence. They could be sloppy, unrehearsed. They forgot lyrics, sang out of key, delivered rank harmonies, missed notes, blew takeoffs and landings, and laid down clams by the dozen.
Their lyrics were often fruityhippie poetry about roses and bells and dew. They bombed at the big gigs. They unleashed those multicolored dancing bears. Most objectionable, perhaps, were the Deadheads, that travelling gang of phony vagabonds.As unironic as the Dead may have been, Deadheads were more so. Not for them the arch framings and jagged epiphanies of punk.
They dispensed bromides about peace and fellowship as they laid waste to parking lots and town squares. Many came by the stereotypes honestly: airheads and druggies, smelling of patchouli and pot, hairy, hypocritical, pious, ingenuous, and uncritical in the extreme. They danced their flappy Snoopy dance and foisted their hissy bootlegs on roommates and friends, clearing dance floors and common rooms. The obnoxious ones came in many varieties: The frat boys in their Teva sandals and tie-dyed T-shirts, rolling their shoulders to the easy lilt of Franklins Tower. The so-called spinners, dervishes in prairie skirts and bare feet.The earnest acoustic strummers of Uncle Johns Band, the school-bus collective known as the Rainbow Family, the gaunt junkies shuffling around their vans like the Sleestaks in Land of the Lostthey came for the party, more than for the band. Sometimes they didnt even bother to go in to the show. They bought into the idea, which grew flimsier each year, that following a rock band from football stadium to football stadium, fairground to fairground, constituted adventure of the Kerouac kind. This is not to say that adventures were not had. At a certain point, later in the bands career, the Dead became, especially on the East Coast, a token of entitlement squandered or lightly worn.
Consider the preppy Deadhead, in his new Jetta, and his counterpart, the Jewish Deadhead, with his boxes of blank Maxells. In Perspectives on the Grateful Dead, a volume of scholarly writings published in 1999, one author, in an essay called Why Are There So Many Jewish Deadheads? Attempts to explain the affinity in terms of the Diasporas search for spiritual meaning (neshama) and community (chevra). The goyish trustafarians lacked that excuse. At any rate, they all quailed in the presence of the biker Deadheads, the leather-vested roughnecks crying out for U.Blues, but were heartened, in absentia, to have seen them there. The tough guys seasoned the scene with authenticity and menace. The Deads reputation and press coverage have always fixated on the culture that sprouted up around the band, and that then began to choke it, like a weed.
When the Dead stopped touring, many of the fans moved on to other travelling carnivalsoften to the so-called jam bands that had drawn inspiration and a music-industry approach (though not quite a musical vocabulary) from the Dead. This, too, was often taken to be a kind of indictment: the Dead are sometimes damned by the company their fans keep. The conflation of the Dead with, say, the Dave Matthews Bandincongruous as the two may be musicallycan really smart.
There is a silent minority, though, of otherwise unobjectionable aesthetes who, as Grateful Dead has become a historical record, rather than a living creative enterprise, have found themselves rekindling a fascination with the bands recorded legacy. These are the tapeheads, the geeks, the throngs of workaday Phil Schaaps, who approach the bands body of work with the intensity and the attention to detail that one might bring to birding, baseball, or the Talmud.
They may be brain surgeons, lawyers, bartenders, or even punk-rock musicians. Really, it shouldnt matter what they do, or what they smell like, or whether they can still take a toke without keeling over. Its the music, and not the parking lot, thats got them by the throat. No two shows were the same, although many were similar. Even on good nights, they might stink it up for a stretch, and on bad ones they could suddenly catch firea trapdoor springs open.Then, there were the weird inimitable gigs, the yellow lobsters. Variation was built into the music. They played their parts as if they were inventing them on the spot, and sometimes they were. The music, even in the standard verse-chorus stretches, often had a limber, wobbly feel to it that struck many listeners as slovenly but others as sinuous and alive, open to possibility and surprise.
It came across as music being made, rather than executed. These guys have evolved a thing where each guy is playing a running line all the time, David Crosby once said.The music critic Brent Wood has ascribed the sound of it to the bands emphasis on true polyphony, a texture heard only rarely in contemporary popular music. Seldom do rhythm guitar, keyboard or drum parts vary at the same time as the bass and lead guitar. Still more infrequently are all six parts being improvised. So you could attribute an aversion to the Dead to a failure of polyphonic appreciation. Or you could chalk it up to taste. Our audience is like people who like licorice, Jerry Garcia said. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice. The musicians were not virtuosos, in the sense of technical skill. But each was unique, peerless, sui generis. Garcias guitar style and sound are immediately recognizable, even when they show up in the recordings of others. His best-known piece of work is probably his pedal-steel-guitar riffing in Teach Your Children, by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. His was the tone that launched a thousand vans.
Garcia was the bands most accomplished songwriter, most soulful singer, most charismatic figure, most eloquent interviewee, most recognizable icon, most splendid thaumaturge. He was also the Deads most inconsistent performer and its doom-shrouded corehis deterioration did them in. You could argue that his decline infused the lyrics with Appalachian gloom and added to his allure, at least until it became depressing. For an avid performer, he exhibited very little artifice or pretense, except when he and the others continued to talk about the band as an improvisational experiment when theyd long ago become something else. The guys always maintained that the band was leaderless, but that was bull.Garcia was the touchstone and alphaa reluctant emperor, as the Dead chronicler David Gans put it. He was also the only one who really did much outside the band.
Other musicians loved hanging out with him and having him sit in. He recorded jazz, fusion, gospel, soul, Motown, bluegrass, funk, and folk. He was also probably the most prolific and assured interpreter of Bob Dylan.Jerry Garcia could hear the song in all my bad recordings, the song that was buried there, Dylan said several years ago. He wrote, when Garcia died, Theres a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly, and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. Phil Lesh told me, Jerry had one of the most beautiful minds Ive ever known. He would make connections between disparate thoughts and make them fit in harmonious ways.
And his music was a lot like that also. He had that shit-between-the-toes, barnyard, down-home funkiness, and at the same time he could play the farthest-out spacey shit. He was always a source of wonder. When he played, it would be this endless stream of glorious melody.
Still, what makes the Deads sound so distinct from any other kind of rock and roll may be Leshs bass. He did not like to repeat things, which is rare for an instrument usually charged with keeping time. He played around the root and the beat, often skewing the pocket, skipping the one, holding off on the changes, bubbling up around it, or playing a melodic counterpoint. Growing up, he listened more to Elliot Carter and Charles Ives than to Lead Belly or Hank Williams. He studied composition with Luciano Berio (Steve Reich was a friend and classmate), wrote avant-garde polyorchestral compositions, and played trumpet in a jazz band inspired by Count Basie.
Bob Weir, the rhythm guitarist, has a sense of melody and harmony that can seem slightly unhinged. He strives, as he has said, to sound like the jazz pianist McCoy Tyners left hand. Weir has had little success playing with anyone else, but he found a home in the harmonic space between Lesh and Garcia.
He often astonished them, and ameliorated their tendency toward prettiness. Hes a stealth machine, Lesh told me. As for the drummers, they had their work cut out, given the extemporizing, not to mention the drugs.The need to stay loose occasionally left them slack. One could write a treatise, meanwhile, on the relative merits of the Deads keyboardists. Four died, over the years; playing keys in the Dead was a little like playing drums in Spinal Tap. The tenure of each delineates a period in the bands sound and approach. The Grateful Dead, more than most, is a band of eras.
Each year has a distinct sound to it. An educated Head can usually, within a couple of bars, identify what year a concert recording was made. Some might love every era, but in different ways, as a polygamist might his wives; others dismiss entire decades.In the beginning, in 1965, they were essentially a blues-dance band, fronted by Ron McKernan, known as Pigpen, for his general state of dishevelment. A bunch of beatniks whod met through a music shop where Garcia gave guitar and banjo lessons, theyd formed a jug band, but at Pigpens suggestion they picked up electric instruments. Pigpen, the son of a blues d. Had a handful of covers that opened into extended jams that became a prototype for later explorations. But in the meantime they were also Ken Keseys house band at the Acid Tests, where they could fiddle around, make crazy noise, play dance music, or just quit, if they were too high on LSD. Pigpen was a boozer (he died in 1973, at the age of twenty-seven, of cirrhosis) and steered clear of LSD, but for the rest of the band acid was the crucible in which their peculiar approach to group improvisation took shape, and the agent that enabled their first fans, and many later ones, to catch on. Most of the bands life span was postlapsarian. Their best yearsas performers, innovators, and songwriterswere 1968-74.
This took them from their Eden, the psychedelic excursions of 1968-69, through the raunchy garage rock of their leanest incarnation, in 1970-71, and a concurrent turn into stripped-down folk and countryoutlaw ballads, miners blues. And then their experimental jams turned jazzier, and their songwriting more assured.
By that time, theyd produced so many songs, so quickly, that many of the best of them never made it onto a studio album. The verses of Robert Hunter, their chief lyricist, who did not perform with the band, were elliptical, by turns vivid and gnomic.
Garcia did not like to sing anything that was too on the nose. He and Hunter composed phantasmagoric reworkings of folk songs, recasting American mythologies in a way that often seemed to suggest that Garcia was singing about himself and his mates, or about our experience of following along. The balance of the seventies is widely beloved, but it marked a turn away from experiment, and toward grander, more conventional rock gestures. While many prefer the nerve, exploration, and impudence of the first half of the decade, to say nothing of the crisper tempos, some regard May of 1977the month of Cornellas the bands pinnacle. By this time, their cultural presence had waned.
Still, the carnival travelled on, a marginal anachronism shuffling in the shadow of punk and New Wave. The early and mid-eighties are problematic. Garcias health fell to pieces.Some nights, he was a mess. Others, he was a better player and singer than he had ever been. The Dead had a set routine; the music put on muscle; the audience grew. This is where I came aboard. People say that the music you liked when you hit puberty is the stuff that sticks with you. Weir once told me, when I asked him about those days, I was carrying Garcia like a rented mule! Thats not how it sounded to me. In the summer of 1986, Garcia fell into a diabetic coma and nearly died. When he came to, he had to relearn the guitar. For a while, he gave up heroin and cocaine, lost weight, and became a more vital and generous performer, and the Dead became newly popular, on the heels of their one Top Ten hit, Touch of Gray. There were long stands on Broadway and at the Garden, summer stadium tours, and glowing features on the news. But what Garcia had gained in poise and gravitas hed given up in speed and imagination.
Some people, including some of his bandmates, seem to prefer this period to the pre-coma years. Lesh admitted, though, that Garcias guitar playing had changed. I could say that somehow it was less fluent, he told me. It was like he had to take a little time to make a decision every so often, whereas before there was no conscious thought or decision involved.By the time he died, he was a frail presence in the mix. Hed forget what song they were playing. He didnt seem to want to be there. But they kept touring, to support the corporation theyd become. It is one of the central ironies of the Grateful Dead that this group of virtual anarchists, playing their ragged, improvisational amalgam of old-timey American music, fronted what may have been the most technically sophisticated sound operation in the music business.
They amplified their loosey-goosey music with determined particularity. The Deads sound system, as it evolved in the early seventies, delivered more clarity and purity of sound, at higher volumes, than any that had come before, and most that came after. The sound quality greatly enhanced the recording product, both for the devotees in the audience who started, in greater and greater numbers, to tape the gigs on smuggled reel-to-reel recorders and for the bands official recorders themselves, who patched into the soundboard feed and mixed the music directly to tape, in real timeessentially mixing albums on the fly. He also had an idiosyncratic but fierce interest in sound quality, and, while his technical contributions were not always practicable, his early financial support, near-evangelical dedication to sonic fidelity, and steady supply of acid created an atmosphere of experimentation and advancement that culminated, first, in the creation of a groundbreaking company called Alembic and, later, in the so-called Wall of Sound.
The Wall of Sound, which has nothing to do with Phil Spectors, consisted of six hundred and four speakers, channelling twenty-six thousand watts of power. It has been called the greatest vessel for the amplification of sound in history.System is based on it; it employed a so-called line-array system that is now the industry standard. It was also so cumbersome, and took so long to unload and assemble, that it nearly bankrupted the band. It was Stanley, too, who began recording the bands performances, in 1966, so that they could listen later, to check the sound or mine ideas. Kesey and his Merry Pranksters had also inculcated them with the ethos of taping and filming everything. When Owsley went to prison, for making LSD, others, among them Betty Cantor, stepped in for months at a stretch. A taping regimen took root, even as the band members stopped paying attention. The other irony is that the very sharpness of live sound and variety in performance that led people to begin compulsively taping the band created a brisk and far-reaching trade in tapes, which, as they were copied, often came to sound like mud. So a drug-addled, rehearsal-averse, error-prone band of non-virtuosos perfected a state-of-the-art sound system that created a taping community that distributed a gigantic body of work that often came to sound as sloppy as some of the performances. Each had a character and odor of its own, a terroir. Some combination of the era, the lineup, the set list, the sound system, the recording apparatus, its positioning in the hall, the recorders sonic bias, the chain of custody, and, yes, the actual performance would render up a sonic aura that could be unique. Jerry Garcia claimed to be a synesthetehe said that he perceived sound as color. Somehow, I and others came to perceive various recordings, if not as colors, as having distinct odors or auras.
To initiates, the Grateful Deads vault has the mythical lure of the Amber Room. In the nineties, the band moved its collection from San Rafael to a state-of-the-art strongroom in Novato, with five-layered walls, various alarms, and a system that would suck all the oxygen from the room in the event of fire.
It housed more than ten thousand tapes. Their keeper was Dick Latvala, a self-described flaming Deadhead and crazy tape pervertthe avid congregant who one day finds himself in the role of high priest.
Latvala was a young gospel and R. Buff when he first encountered the Dead, in 1966. He was an instant convert and thenceforth an avid attendee, a member of the earliest cadre of Dead freaks who bore witness to the bands metamorphosis from a mere blues-and-dance band into a full-bore improvisational psychedelic experimentwhat he called primal Dead. Latvala discovered concert tapes in 1974, in the early days of the taping scene, when the invention of portable tape decks made it possible to get passable audience recordings. He wasnt a taper himself.
Gradually, he amassed a collection of eight hundred reel-to-reel tapes and worked his way into the upper echelons of the taper hierarchy. As Mickey Hart, one of the Deads drummers, once said, Dick listened to more Grateful Dead music than anybody in the Grateful Dead has heard. In 1979, at a Dead show in Colorado, he met Bill (Kidd) Candelario, a crew member who often recorded the band, and soon found himself hanging around the bands headquarters in San Rafael, as a kind of errand boy.
He took out the garbage, fetched coffee, and plied the crew with a steady supply of Maui Wowie. Theirs was a tough scene to crack, and he endured a fair amount of abuse. But one day in 1985, as he was pressing a tape of some primal Dead on the office manager, Phil Lesh appeared, and Latvala somehow got Lesh to sit down and listen. Lesh liked it, and Latvala asked him whether anyone was taking care of the tapes. During the next couple of years, he organized the tapes and catalogued them.After a while, the Dead began paying him. For years, thered been clamor from fans, and talk in the band, about liberating some vault contents.
The idea had always foundered on concerns about quality control and economics. But in 1991 they released One from the Vault, a concert from 1975. The next year brought Two from the Vault, from 1968. Then Lesh, chiefly, scuttled further releases, because he and the band, to their credit, perhaps, were pickier than most of their fans.
As Garcia once told Latvala, I dont ever want to hear any of that shit. All it does is remind me of what I was trying to do.Instead, Latvala, with a couple of others in the organization, began selecting two-track concert recordings in the vault and releasing them, at a rate of about three a year, as Dicks Picks. Early on, everyone agreed that band members would stay out of the process.
To the extent that Latvala was the Deadheads infiltrator and proxy, it became a kind of enthusiasts enterprise. The Dead dont usually even listen to the choices, before or after theyre released. Eventually, they released thirty-six Dicks Picks multi-CD sets.Out of sheer enthusiasm, Latvala surreptitiously slipped digital copies of other vault recordings to his taper friends. He died, of a heart attack, in 1999, and after that his friends felt free to pass the copies around. Before long, almost everything in the vault was in circulation. And then came the Internet. The Internet Archive (which is also known by its Web address, Archive.
Org) is a nonprofit digital library founded by Brewster Kahle, in 1996. You can find old speeches, comedy routines, TV ads, government documents, academic treatises, entire books. Nearly seven hundred thousand people have downloaded Beetons Book of Needlework. Its live-music archive is home to 8,976 Grateful Dead recordingsover six thousand more than any other band. Most users merely stream the music; its a hundred cassette trays, in the Cloud.
But you can download some of it, too. Some have been downloaded so often theyd be gold albums, were someone paying for them.
Anything the Dead release commercially gets removed from the Archive. A mediocre recording of an unremarkable 1979 gig at Madison Square Garden has been downloaded almost seven hundred thousand times. Suddenly, a fan who may have once had a degraded and haphazard collection had access to thousands of gigs.You could spend a week listening to a year. You could begin to delineate eras and tours and get to know the tapers quirks, in the company of a virtual community of anonymous cranks who contribute reviews of each show. You could say there are two kinds of Deadheads: those who discriminate and those who think it is sacrilegious to do so.
You will generally see three kinds of comments. One is an evaluation of the performance. Another is an assessment of the recording. The third is a personal firsthand recollection of the night itself. Such chronicles are as tedious as recounted dreams.One starts to seek out certain commenters. Theres capn doubledose, a connoisseur of Let It Grow; clementinescaboose, who has detected, in Bill Kreutzmanns drum work on Santa Rosa 6/27/69, the roots of hip-hop; and then theres Crazycatpeekin, whose gushing five-star review of one oft-neglected favorite of minea six-headed Beethoven. Unbelievable energy, synchronicity, groupmind, sheer genius in the transitionhad me giddy with the thought that the universe might contain another listener who held it in the same high regard. It turned out that Crazycatpeekin was one of my closest old friends, just repeating our youthful effusions. In 2006, Rhino Entertainment, a division of Warner Music Group, bought the licensing rights to the Grateful Dead catalogue. Soon afterward, Rhino moved the vault, in four tractor-trailers, to Warners giant warehouse, near Burbank. Several months ago, I paid a visit, in the company of the Deads current archivist, David Lemieux. Reared in Ottawa, Lemieux didnt see the Dead perform until 1987post-coma, as they say. Lemieux was sixteen, and he attended the show in Hartford. His mother drove him there. He became a taper for a while, but later moved on to other music (he likes Pearl Jam, Wilco, David Bowie, and Blur) and an academic career as a film archivist. In 1998, while working for the British Columbia provincial archives, he wrote the Dead offices a letter requesting a photograph, and Latvala asked him to help catalogue their video and film holdings. He spent a summer in the vault, and when Latvala died the band invited Lemieux to take his place.
They hadnt realized I was a Deadhead, he told me. Now he works both for Rhino, as a producer of the vault releases, and for Grateful Dead Productions, as the legacy manager.Is a lean operation these days, consisting of the surviving band members, a business manager, a lawyer, and Lemieux. He is not a creature of the vault, as Latvala was. He lives on Vancouver Island but travels to Burbank every few months. I still pinch myself, he told me. I still keep my pay stubs. On one occasion a few years ago, the Edge, the U2 guitarist, came to visit the vault, because, as Lemieux told me, the Dead are famous in the business for surviving and thriving. Man, weve got a shitload of tape, the Edge said.
We could really use you. Bob Weir, whod just walked in, said, Hes ours.Get one of your own. Earlier this year, Lemieux flew down to retrieve some video in preparation for a theatrical concert screening. He wanted to pull some audiotape as well, to cull candidates for his new vault series, called Daves Picks (hes released four so far). He invited me to tag along. I met him at the Tangerine Hotel. Lemieux, who had on jeans, a fleece, and a ball cap that read Vermont Public Television, is a trim and clean-cut Canadian. He says that he doesnt smoke pot: I find that it clouds my judgment about the music.
We drove out to an industrial park by the Burbank airport and were greeted at the loading dock by one of six archivists overseeing the combined assets of Warner Music Group, of which the Dead are a tiny part. The archivist, with an Abbey Road coffee mug and a David Crosby physique, led us into the warehouse, where we came upon another building, made of reinforced concrete.It is the size of a city block and has a rubber-covered roof, to repel leaking water. Are you ready to enter the holy portal? We passed through a door into a vast climate-controlled hangar of shelves loaded with boxes containing the reel-to-reel multitrack recordings of studio sessions and concerts of hundreds of artists. There was a smell of vinegarthe disintegration of old magnetic audiotape. We wandered the aisles, tunnelling through music. Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Gene Autry, Yes, Coolio, Jean-Luc Ponty, Teddy Pendergrass, Winger. Three-quarters of this place is unissued, he said. He pointed to a rack of reel-to-reels: Otis Redding, live, 1967, never circulated. Another set of shelves contained hours and hours of Aretha Franklin songs that have never been released. The Deads section was toward the back, surrounded by a chain-link fence. It was a vault within a vaulta Holy of Holies.
The funny thing was that the Deads stash, sealed off from the rest, had long been by far the most porous of all. Every year, new old music gushes forth. Thats what makes the Grateful Dead unique within this building, the archivist said. David is using it all. There were two long aisles, with a line of bays on either side.
Each bay was about four feet wide and nine shelves high, with as many as a hundred tapes per shelf. There were big reels and small ones, cassettes and digital audiotapes. The arrangement wasnt strictly chronological. Certain dates summoned sounds, configurations, set lists.
5/25/77: that sick solo before Wharf Rat. Lemieux estimates that of the five thousand or so e-mails hes received in his role as archivist, only five have been from women. Lemieux pointed out the so-called houseboat tapes: five concerts from the summer of 1971 that were salvaged a few years ago from a houseboat belonging to one of the bands dead keyboardists parents. A whole section of the vault housed the sixteen-track fourteen-inch reels from the Deads tour of Europe in 1972. Last year, the Dead released the entire tour: a seventy-three-disk boxed set containing all twenty-two concerts and more than seventy hours of music.
It came in a small steamer trunk and cost four hundred and fifty dollars. It is a pinnacle of completism, by the standards of any genre, and even a diehard might find it a test of patience to work through twenty-one versions of Sugar Magnolia. I got bogged down somewhere around Luxembourg. But one can luxuriate in a library of new liner notes, which are full of revelations about the difficulty of capturing it all on tape. Sometimes things get a little technical.Heres the crewman Dennis (Wiz) Leonard, recalling a mechanical epiphany: We drove a McIntosh 275 vacuum-tube amplifier and picked off a tap on the output transformer, which would give us 120 volts with enough current to run the capstan motor at our precise 60Hz/15ips, also now immune to line-frequency fluctuation. This may well have been as ingenious as the music itself. Wed not have one without the other. On one shelf, I found a bunch of hand-labelled cassettes arrayed chronologically on a Strohs beer flat, as in the back seat of a Deadheads Datsun. One of them was dated November 30, 1980, from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Among my school cohort, a tape of the second set of this show, recorded from the audience, had been a sacred object. Everyone had copies, but a master got handed down, every year, to an ordained devotee, who became the keeper of what was known as the Foxs Den.In the Den, you had to follow the Four Commandments, which were inscribed on a board. One read, Thou shalt not press pause, stop, fast-forward, or rewind during the transitionthe transition being an improvisation stitching together two songs, in this case Scarlet Begonias and Fire on the Mountain (Scar->Fire, in the vulgate). None of us had attended the concert, but the performance, to our ears, was an idiosyncratic marvel. Through repeated listenings, in various states of mind, we imbued the Fox with the eminence and the depth of nuance that others reserve for the Goldberg Variations or Kind of Blue.
Youd think wed scoff now at our younger selvesour wives dobut Im afraid I still know every note of the Fox, and each time I listen, even now, I find myself thinking, or even saying aloud, Sorry, this is a masterpiece. We like what we like. In the wider world of tape collectors, the Fox had no profile at all and remains, for the most part, just one among multitudes. The Scar->Fire in particular doesnt seem to rate with the experts.
Two years ago, on the Foxs thirtieth anniversary, a couple of dozen adherents gathered in a Manhattan apartment for a kind of symposium. Over roast beef, attendees took turns delivering prepared remarks on such topics as the Fox Theatres beginnings as a Shriners mosque, the possible effect of the halls acoustics on tempo, and, to quote from the program notes, the little spirally, zippery, escaping-worm synth sound in the Playin Jam that signals the end of the meltdown madness and the beginning of the dreamier, noodley bit. None of us were musicologists. The Fox in the vault was not ours, exactly.It was a soundboard recording. I knew this version, too. Many of us had found it sterile. Without the reverberations of the hall, the music lost its grandeur and chime.
A guy I know had produced whats called a matrix, a hybrid of a board recording and an aud, and had posted it on the Archive. The prized aud was made by a taper named Bob Wagner. Wagner is now a doctor who specializes in occupational medicine. When I called him, at his home in the East Bay, to ask about the Fox, he stepped out for a long walk, so as not to subject his wife to Dead talk.
Of the hundreds or up to a thousand tapes that Ive made, this one is clearly dearest to me, he told me. Its the best-sounding audience tape Ive made, and if theres a better tape out there Id love to hear it.
Wagner estimates that he attended four hundred Dead shows. He started taping in 1977, in order to listen back to what hed experienced live. Taping is a creative art, Wagner told me. Its analogous to writing nonfiction. It appealed to me in the way it gave me some participation in the music.The decisions you make: the microphone, the tape deck, your levels, the editing, where you position your microphones, how high. Its a science as well as an art. In November, 1980, the Dead did a swing though Florida and Georgia. Wagner, then a medical student at Chapel Hill, packed up his taping gear and drove down to Lakeland, Florida, in his 1969 Mercury Cougar.
He did not have especially long hair. He liked to be alert while taping, to keep an eye on his levels. The night of the concert at the Fox, he discovered that he had just about the worst seat in the housethe second-to-last row of the balcony, in the corner.
He recorded the first set there, but afterward made his way down to the third row of the balcony, just right of center, and set up his deck in the aisle. He sat throughout the set, holding a microphone in his hand.I remember it being quite a pain. I can see the band and the house in my minds eye, from that spot, he said. The sound was so unique and wonderful. There was such wide stereo range on the P.
It translated to the tape. You dont usually get that on audience tapes. Its Dan Healy who deserves the credit.
Healy just went for it. He was referring to the Deads soundman, and it occurred to me that his admiration for the Fox had more to do with the quality of sound than with the performance. We were driving north on I-5, through the parched wastes of the San Emigdio Mountains, en route from Burbank to the Bay Area.
In the trunk were some reels from 1977 and video masters of a few concerts in 1989, which he had pulled from the vault. When we stopped for gas, Lemieux made sure one of us stayed in the car, to guard the tapes.During the ride, Lemieux put on 7/29/74, Landover, MarylandWeather Report Suite, a three-part extravaganza written by Bob Weir. This version, nearly twenty minutes long, was a candidate for inclusion on a bonus disk that would accompany the next Daves Picks, and he wanted my vote. Id probably heard this one before, on the Archive, but the clarity of the vault recording, the distinctive character of each instrument, and maybe the sight, out the window, of raw California fault land made the music seem unique, fresh, and unrepeatable. The Garcia solo in the middle of Let It Grow, the suites up-tempo finale, had an urgent and purposeful architectureno spaghetti here. Lemieux and I bobbed our heads in unison, like Wayne and Garth.
Our philosophy used to be to find things that people havent heard, uncirculated things. Now that, what, ninety per cent of the vault has been circulated, its just about releasing good music. He went on, Obviously, this will end someday. Theres enough good material in the vault to go at this rate for another twenty or thirty years, or, at a slower rate, for fifty years.
Whether Im involved or not, who knows? But its a hard thing to walk away from! We sped through orange groves and then the reeking feedlots of Fresno. Id brought along a few obscure favorites to play for Lemieux.I wanted to try the Fox on him. Knowing him to be picky about audience recordings, Id brought the matrix. Right away, the recording sounded odd and the performance flawed. Hearing it through his ears, I tensed up. It starts slowly, I muttered. He noted an absence of Weir in the mix (a Healy tendency) and also what he called phase problems. As we were getting to the good parts, Lemieux got distracted and started talking about some old guitars that were bound for a Grateful Dead exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland. I turned up the volume a bit.
I think transparency is a good thing, he was saying, about the bands affairs. He talked through the transition. Even in the company of the keeper of the vault, being a freak for the Fox was a lonely business. Perhaps because of his musical education and his exacting mind, Phil Lesh has been the band member most concerned about how the Dead come across on their live releases. He blocked early attempts to put out old concerts in the vault.
So a fan might assume hes the one to talk to about the Deads transformation, over time, from living thing to library. Last spring, while he was in town for a weeks worth of concerts at the Beacon Theatre, Lesh met me for a late lunch at the Mercer Hotel. A few years ago, Lesh and his wife, Jill, bought an apartment nearby, in part to be near the younger of their two sons, who just graduated from Princeton.Hes a spry seventy-two, thin as a branch of manzanita, with fierce, appraising eyes, a quiet speaking voice, and the poor hearing of a guy whos spent half his life standing in front of a stack of amps. He got a liver transplant in 1998. He was wearing jeans and an untucked button-down. When hes not touring or in New York, he lives in Marin County, where he has recently opened a club in an old seafood restaurant on the Bay, in San Rafael. He named it Terrapin Crossroads, after the Deads album and song suite Terrapin Station, and said it was inspired by Levon Helms Woodstock barn, where Helm, the drummer for the Band, held jam sessions, open to the public, called Midnight Rambles. Lesh has in recent months been hosting West Coast Rambles, with a rotating cast.
I want to bring musicians who maybe have not had a lot of contact with the Grateful Dead into a band setting and work with them and engage them. Its not necessarily to teach, but to pull out of them that way of looking at music. So that they can then play this music not the same way but with the same spirit, with the same perspective and goals that we did. I said I was interested in talking to him about the Deads vast archive of live concert recordings, about how something intended to be spontaneous and ephemeral became a curated body of work. Its interesting that thats become the focus, because we never felt that recording was suited to what it is that we do, he said.Because its so much in the moment. Because its different every time. If you freeze a song in a recording, its obviously going to be that way every time you listen to it. I remember classical recordings from my youth: there would be a slight bobble in our version of the Scherzo of Beethovens Eroica Symphony every time I listened to it. And when I think about that piece, when I listen back to it in my mind, that bobble is there. So recordings have always seemed to me, personally, to be kind of a fly in amber, which was contrary to the spirit of the Grateful Dead. What happens, though, if one has dozens upon dozens of versions of a song? Like fairy tales or folk songs, all versions are true, he said. The more versions there are, the truer it is. But we never thought about that in the beginning.
There was never a plan. We just ass-backwardsed into everything. He went on, If I thought about it, I would want to see the music just sort of osmose into the great cloud of music thats been created, that people just sing back and forth to one another. I dont care if its rated highly. If in a hundred years people are still singing these songs back and forth to one another on the back porch, in a night club, a bar or the living room, that would be great.After Garcia died, Lesh was briefly involved in vetting the live releases from the vault. He also spent a great deal of time listening to the output of the final years, hoping to find material worth releasing, but came across little that made the grade. Its tremendously time-consuming, and often really boring, to listen back to what you did years ago, he said.
What bores me the most is listening to show after show, and its just average. Youre just going through the motions. Everything seemed better at the time than it turns out to be on tape.
When he listens to music today, it tends to be Bach. I also listen to a lot of country music, you know, like the new country music. When I asked him about last years giant Europe 72 release, he said, I have to admit, I have not listened to it. It should surprise no one that Lesh can recall little or nothing of many Heads cherished nights. Sometimes I remember what they looked like, what they felt like, he said.
I ran a few dates by Lesh, mentioning the venue, the context, the set list, the high pointssuch as a certain transition in Scar->Fire. He repeated, unfamiliar with the shorthand. I may as well have been a Ukrainian Trekkie accosting Leonard Nimoy on the street.I dont remember, Lesh said, with a look that seemed to combine apology and condescension. The eighties dates in particular provoked a curdled look. I may have consciously blocked out some of this stuff, he said. It was very distressing to see Jerry fall apart. It seemed like the negation of everything wed ever worked for. It wasnt a tribe or a cult or a boys club, or anything like that.
It was a living organism of several people. Did you ever read Theodore Sturgeon?
More Than Human is a sci-fi novel, published in 1953, in which a band of exceptional people blesh (that is, blend and mesh) their consciousness to create a kind of super-being. I turned everyone on to that book in, like, 1965, Lesh said. This is what we can do; this is what we can be.Or just that theres nothing you can hold for very long? I think thats maybe the main thing about it, Lesh said. Like everything else, it was too good to last. A friend of his had just been taken off life support, after a long battle with cancer. Lesh rushed out and strode unnoticed through the throngs on Prince Street, looking for a cab.
For the past twelve years, Rob Eaton, the sound engineer who cleaned up the Betty Boards, has been the rhythm guitarist in the Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band. Tribute doesnt quite convey the exactitude; Orchestra perhaps overstates it. As they are known, perform specific concerts from the Grateful Deads vast library of past gigs.They reproduce the set list, with the particular song arrangements and sonic configurations that the Dead employed that night. There are legions of bands that faithfully replicate the work of their heroes.
Ive seen, and guiltily enjoyed, expert facsimiles of Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, and the Beatles. But these groups generally play the songs as they appeared on the albums, often note for note, as the bands theyre imitating tended to when they themselves performed live. The Dark Star Orchestra does Dead shows.
That means they have thousands of units of existing material to choose from, and they have yet to repeat one. Does not, as some mistakenly assume, replicate the concerts note for note; instead, in the spirit of their progenitors, and in the interest of their own enjoyment, and of performative plausibility, they improvise, within the context of the era they are drawing from. It is a peculiar form of repertory.
Eaton, who onstage has some of Weirs preening-mantis mannerisms, insists that he and the others make no effort to look like the Dead. If we did, wed be a freak show, he told me. They may in fact be a freak show. Such is the verisimilitude that their first keyboardist, a founding member, died suddenly, seven years ago.
But they are also excellent musicians, with a wide variety of credits and tastes. For the first time eight years ago, around the time I discovered the Archive.That night, they played something from 1973. It was astonishing how well they replicated the eras sound, which I knew only from those old cassettes. They didnt seem to have the imagination or the gall to stretch out the way the Dead did, but they played the songs and the solos with a proficiency and a verve that was startling, and a tone that sounded true. It was exhilarating to hear live a kind of music Id previously heard only on tape and assumed, with the death of Garcia, Id never hear again. In many respects it was better than any of the Dead Id seen in the few years before Garcias death, when I spent most concerts standing stone-still, with my arms crossed. It was embarrassing and pathetic, perhaps, to be going to see a tribute band unironicallymy wife calls them the Dork Star Orchestrayet it was a thrill to hear the music played well in a small room. Three years ago, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh decided to go out on the road together. Lesh had been performing in various configurations under the rubric Phil Lesh and Friends; Weir had a group called Ratdog. Though their repertoire was in large part the Grateful Deads, theyd opened it up to reinterpretation, which may have pleased them more than it did their fans, a great number of whom really only wanted to hear Jerry Garcia, or some facsimile of him.
Weir and Lesh named their new incarnation Furthur, after the bus Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters drove cross-country in 1964. They intended to play a more faithful rendition of the music theyd played together when Jerry Garcia was still alive. They needed a guy who could hold down the Garcia role, so, after years of resisting the idea of a Garcia clone, they poached the Garcia clone in the Dark Star Orchestra. His name was John Kadlecik.
He had the tone and the phrasing. He could sing the parts. He had a big head of black hair. Meanwhile, the Dark Star Orchestras audience dwindled.
The imitators suddenly found themselves being bigfooted by the remnants of the originals, as augmented by one of their own. I think one of the reasons Phil and Bob took John is that they wanted to get rid of ustheir nemesis, this little gnat they cant catch, Eaton told me. But were not going to go away.Last month, as it happens, Lesh sat in with D. For a set in San Francisco. Replaced Kadlecik with a guitar player named Jeff Mattson. Mattson, with his potbelly, lank hair, and black beard, certainly looked the part, and quickly demonstrated that he sounded it, too. As it happens, Mattson was my first fake Jerry.
In 1986, when Garcia was in his coma and there was no live Dead to see, I began going to see a Dead tribute band called the Volunteers, who performed a regular Saturday night gig at a dive bar called the Right Track Inn, in the Long Island town of Freeport. Mattson was the Garcia guy. He played the old stuff, with an indulgence that the Dead had at that time forsworn.It was funny to have Mattson back, delivering the methadone once more. Has been drawing crowds again.
It may be because many Deadheads prefer the ersatz version of the real thing to the degraded mutation, or that they prefer Mattson to Kadlecik, who, now that hes playing the Garcia role with Lesh and Weir, sounds less like Garcia than he did when he was playing with the fake Lesh and Weir. Lesh told me, Its interesting now, because now that were at some distance from Jerrys death, and weve been playing this music without him, for, oh, geez, almost seventeen years now, I get to the point sometimes where were playing his songs, and somebodys playing something that Jerry used to play, its kind of jarring.It doesnt quite sit right. Eaton and the others in D. Though professedly happier playing with Mattson, are also bitter over Kadleciks departure. I havent gone to see Furthur, Eaton said. Its like going to see your ex-girlfriend fucking your best friend. Eaton, who is fifty-one and grew up in Vermont, treats the band (or its remnants) that has given him a living, a body of work, a style, and some measure of transcendence as a kind of adversary. If you want to get off, you come see us, he said. We have a bigger repertoire than the Dead ever had, at any one time. They have the whole career in rotation. Were showing the kids what it was like. As a teen-ager, on an ill-fated maiden trip to California to see the Dead (the coma intervened), I imagined that the Bay Area would be one big Grateful Dead parking lot, a shrine to the Acid Tests, and was surprised to discover a modern city as indifferent to Captain Trips as it was to Jack London or Natalie Wood. But in Marin County, in those days, you might find yourself babysitting Bob Weirs kids, or catch sight of Garcia standing on the side of Highway 101, next to his fender-bent BMW. Most of the surviving band members still live there, but the presence of the Dead, as a commercial enterprise and cultural force, has diminished. The morning after our drive up from Burbank, David Lemieux gave me a tour of the Deads Marin.
It was a dismal rainy day. He drove by the bands longtime offices, in a house on a corner in San Rafael. Its a law firm now, he said. Then we drove by the Deads old recording studio and hangout in a warehouse on Front Street, a seedy strip of warehouses and cut-rate motels.Next, we headed up to Novato, where the bands offices moved in the nineties, when they were the biggest-grossing touring act in the world. This is where Latvala had his vault. It is now a mountain-bike company. Finally, we went by the Deads warehouse, where the detritus of their touring days moldered in a series of storage garages. Lemieux and the band were hoping to clear it all out and give up the space. Nicholas Meriwether, the curator of a new Grateful Dead archive, which the band had donated to U. Santa Cruz, had already been through the place to mine it for worthy artifacts and memorabilia. Some of it had appeared in exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But there was still a ton of loot: dozens of old amps and road cases, a grand piano, a Hammond organ, a drum riser from their 1978 performances in the dunes near the Great Pyramid, in Egypt, branding irons of the band members initials, back issues of the fanzine Duprees Diamond News.
In one box, I found a file containing the bands contract for my maiden gigs, at Merriweather, in 1984. Myerss dark rum, 1 qt. Bombay Gin, 48 clean towels. I dropped off Lemieux and drove down to San Francisco to see Betty Cantor-Jackson. These days, she is the sound and recording engineer at Glide Memorial, a progressive Methodist church downtown that is known for its gospel choir.Outside the church, sodden homeless men and women stood in line, waiting their turn in the soup kitchen. Cantor-Jackson greeted me and led me up through a passageway into the sanctuary, where, just offstage, she has a little room for all her sound equipment.
She had on a hooded sweatshirt and jeans, and a pair of reading glasses propped on her head. She has long brown hair parted in the middle, a warm melancholic smile, and an air of broad-mindedness tinged with resentment.She had been living at a friends house in Marin County, not far from the Skywalker Ranch. She grew up in the East Bay as a math and science whiz. Her high school, she says, ran out of things for her to do, so she took courses at a community college.
When she was sixteen, she took LSD for the first time and wound up at 710 Ashbury Street, the house in San Francisco where the members of the Grateful Dead lived, and met Garcia and Weir. She got work helping around at the Family Dog, the hippie collective that put on happenings at the Avalon Ballroom, and then joined the sound crew at the Carousel Ballroom, alongside a crewman named Bob Matthews. After Matthews went to work for the Dead, he brought Betty along.
It was my way of getting her to be my old lady, he once said. Bob and Betty, as they were known, became the Deads recording team. She worked on most of their live and studio albums. She claims to have been the first female recording engineer in rock and roll. The Grateful Dead scene was very chauvinistic, she said.
Although Jerry never was, really. Garcia, she said, sometimes stopped by her place the day after a gig to listen to her tape of it.
Id make him a cappuccino and cut his hair. Shed eventually marry another member of the crew, the tour manager, Rex Jackson, who died in a car crash in 1976. In the eighties, she lived with Brent Mydland, the Deads keyboardist at the time. Shed bought her own tape and all the gear. So she held on to her recordings, which is how they wound up rotting in a storage locker.
She was happy when her tapes began to circulate. I can always tell when a recording is mine. She mixed to her own taste.My recordings are very stereo, very open, with a lot of air in them. You feel like youre standing in the middle of the music. My feeling is everyone wants to play in the band. These days, she listens mainly to country music, soul, and gospel. Every now and then, she talks to some of the band members, but she said, I never talk to Lemieux. When she started taping every Dead show, she intended, like Owsley Stanley before her, to make a kind of instant snapshot. But as time went by, and as the band stopped listening back, she began to have posterity in mind.
I did it because I love the music and felt it needed to be captured. Its so beautiful that it needs to be captured, she said.Eventually, were going to be gone, and this is our legacy to leave behind. We parted in the churchs parking lot. I thanked her for the music, and she gave me a hug. In the car, I sat a moment, wondering what to play next.
The music revolution was a vital and integral component of the sixties San Francisco art scene. Herb Greene photographed the rock musicians and other members of San Francisco's cultural milieu during the height of its creative productivity. Greene, a friend of many of San Francisco's most influential musicians, worked as few photographers have: not as a documenter from the outside, but as a participant within the music scene he was photographing. Many of his photographs have become signature portraits of these musicians.
His revealing portraits of The Jefferson Airplane, Jeff Beck, The Pointer Sisters, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Sly Stone, Rod Stewart and many others helped create astonishing family album for an entire generation. May 5: Warlocks play Magoos: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron Pigpen McKernan, Dana Morgan Jr. And Bill Kreutzmann play at Magoos Pizza Parlor in Menlo Park as the Warlocks, an electric band that took shape at Dana Morgans Music Store in Palo Alto. June 18: Lesh on bass: Phil Lesh, recruited by Garcia to replace Morgan, plays his first show as bassist for the Warlocks at Frenchys in Hayward. 4: Can you pass the Acid Test?The group becomes a staple at author Ken Keseys Acid Test parties. Kesey and his fledgling group the Merry Pranksters, which included Neal Cassady, hosted these legendary counterculture gatherings as public experimentations with LSD. It was the dawn of the San Francisco hippie era, and the Pranksters set the psychedelic scene. 10: Fillmore first: The Grateful Dead, still known as the Warlocks, perform at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco for the first time, as part of Bill Grahams S. Mime Troupe Appeal Party II.
The lineup also includes the John Handy Quintet, Jefferson Airplane and the Mystery Trend. December: Grateful Dead born: The band changes its name after learning of another group called Warlocks.
Garcia spotted the phrase grateful dead, which the band later discovered to be from an Egyptian prayer, in a dictionary, and it stuck. Riding that train 1 more time. After 50 years, Grateful Dead are summers hottest ticket. Freshly Dead: New releases mark Grateful Deads anniversary.
How to see the Deads last concerts without a ticket. Grateful Dead drummer: How 710 Ashbury St. Grateful Dead goes out on a high.22: Trips Festival: Kesey brings in the Dead to play the Trips Festival, held at the Longshoremans Hall in San Franciscos North Beach. The truth about the Trips Festival is that it was a three-night, weekend-long rock n roll dance with light effects. When the dull projections took over, as on Friday, it was nowhere.
When the good rock music wailed, it was great, wrote Chronicle Music Critic Ralph J. Gleason, who went on to become a founding editor of Rolling Stone. 11: Stanley amplifies the Dead: Owsley Stanley, an early financier of the band, becomes the Grateful Deads sound engineer. Without his technical innovations he was one of the first people to mix concerts live and in stereo the band might never have emerged from the San Francisco scene, Rolling Stone wrote in a 2007 profile. Known on the West Coast as Mr.LSD, Stanley also mass-produced acid when it was still legal. The Deads song Alice D. Millionaire was inspired by newspaper accounts that described him as the LSD millionaire. May 19: Avalon Ballroom: The Dead play their first show at Avalon Ballroom, located at Sutter Street and Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. They played a total of 29 shows, and recorded two live albums Vintage Dead and Historic Dead there.
31: Working for the man: Grateful Dead signs with Warner Bros. 14: First signs of the Summer of Love: At least 20,000 including some Hells Angels gathered at Golden Gate Parks Polo Field for the Gathering of the Tribes, the prelude to the Summer of Love that came to be known as the Human Be-In. The tribes gathered early in the day.
Some came in their 20th century teepees, old school buses, caravans and VW buses, and lined the embankment, overlooking the field. Tambourines, drums, flutes and chiming bells appeared and the air was filled with the buzz of voices and the sound of music, wrote Gleason, who affirmed that there were no drunks. March 1: First album release: Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead release their self-titled debut album on Warner Bros.The Grateful Dead have recorded for Warner Bros. An album which has everyone excited, wrote Gleason.
The Dead are the most consistently excellent rock group around, their instrument work is beautiful, they swing like angels and Warner Bros. Has apparently gotten this wonderful feeling on the tapes of the sessions. June 18: Monterey Pop: The Grateful Dead play the Monterey Pop Festival, in between the Who and Jimi Hendrix (who famously sets his guitar on fire during his performance). The Grateful Dead did a fine set with some marvelously exciting and interesting guitar solos by Jerry Garcia and a great demonstration of their tightness and swing, Gleason wrote.
29: Hart beats: Bill Kreutzmann invites Mickey Hart to sit in with the Dead, making the band a sextet with two drummers. The pair become known as the Rhythm Devils. 2: Hashbury bust: Band members and friends are busted in a pot raid at 710 Ashbury St.
All were placed on probation for a year. March 3: Live on Haight Street: The band plays a free show on the back of a flatbed truck for thousands assembled on Haight Street.A four-block stretch of fabled Haight Street yesterday was voluntarily surrendered to thousands of hippies and hippie-watchers. And the hippies did what they do best; they transformed the street into a sunny arcade of pleasure, celebrating the now with unqualified exuberance, wrote Jerry Carroll in The Chronicle on March 4, 1968. The Grateful Deads full-throated roar drowned out a monotonous burglar alarm at one end of the street; the Tracys Coffee and Doughnuts people rolled their jukebox out on the sidewalk; and countless trios and quartets formed and dissolved in between. July 18: Anthem of the Sun: The Grateful Dead release their second studio album, the decidedly psychedelic Anthem of the Sun. With this recording, future bandmate Tom T.
Constanten contributes on keyboard, Dan Healy becomes sound man and Robert Hunter provides the lyrics to Alligator. June 20: The Dead release Aoxomoxoa: With Aoxomoxoa, a hugely expensive studio album, the Dead bring keyboardist Constanten and lyricist Hunter on full time with the band. It includes the live staples St. Stephen, China Cat Sunflower and Cosmic Charlie.17: Woodstock shock: The Dead give a famously poor performance at Woodstock. Among other complications, the rain caused the bands electric equipment to malfunction. Garcia and Weir have said that their microphones kept shocking them. 10: Live/Dead out: Live/Dead, the first of many live albums by the Grateful Dead, is released. Compiled from concerts recorded in San Francisco between Jan. 26 and March 2, 1969, it remains one of their career highlights. 6: Deadly Altamont: The Dead are scheduled to play the infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival. The poorly organized event was meant to be the Woodstock of the West. Instead it turned into what some fans call the concert that ended the 60s. The Dead were supposed to play before the Rolling Stones, but never took the stage.
They left before their set after learning that a member of the Hells Angels, who were hired as security guards, knocked out Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin during his performance. Other violence during the concert resulted in two deaths. In 24 hours we created all the problems of our society in one place: congestion, violence, dehumanization, Gleason wrote.
30: New Orleans bust: Police arrest 19 people and seize LSD, marijuana, barbiturates and dangerous narcotic and non-narcotic drugs in a raid of a French Quarter motel. Those arrested include Owsley Stanley (who identifies himself to police as the King of Acid), Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. June 14: Workingmans Dead: Workingmans Dead, recorded at Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco, marks a turn from psychedelia to a more country-rock sound, influenced by lyricist Hunter and the bands friendship with Crosby, Stills and Nash at the time. It is followed only five months later by American Beauty, another classic studio album.19: Keith on the keys: Keith Godchaux plays his first show with the Dead as keyboardist. 24: Grateful Dead: The Deads seventh album, known as Skull and Roses, includes a callout to Dead Heads. The albums sleeve included a message to fans: Dead Freaks Unite: Who are you? Send us your name and address, and well keep you informed. Box 1065, San Rafael, California, 94901. It was the beginning of perhaps the best-known fan club in music history. March 25: Donna Godchaux adds vocals: Donna Jean Godchaux, who was married to keyboardist Keith Godchaux, joins the band on vocals. March 8: Pigpen dies: Ron Pigpen McKernan, the Deads beloved keyboardist and vocalist, dies of liver failure in Corte Madera at age 27. 16: Dead at the Winterland: The Dead play a five-night stand at the Winterland Ballroom.
20: Dead take a break: Fans line up to see the Dead play at Winterland before the band takes a 19-month hiatus from touring. July 12: Together again: The Dead perform their first official Bay Area show following the hiatus at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. Musically, the band sounded as fresh and inventive as ever, if not more so. Although the band took the predictable long breaks between songs, many of the tunes were stitched together end-to-end, as the Dead played as tightly as a soul band, Joel Selvin wrote in The Chronicle. July 27: Terrapin Station: After 15 albums on Warner Bros.Their own Round label and United Artists, the Grateful Dead release their first album for Arista Records, Terrapin Station. Arista remained their label for the rest of their recording career. 14: Alive in Egypt: The Grateful Dead begin three days of shows at the Egyptian pyramids.
The Great Pyramids of Giza have survived all kinds of visitors over the centuries, from the Roman legions to Napoleon. So it was perhaps a matter of time until the stately pyramids would be wired for sound by an American rock band, the Washington Post wrote. April 16: Mydland joins on keys: Keyboardist Brent Mydland replaces Keith and Donna Godchaux. July 23: Keith Godchaux dies in car crash: Keith Godchaux dies in a car accident in Marin County, at age 32, about a year after leaving the band. The sports car he was riding in struck a parked car.
25: Dead for 15 years: To celebrate the bands 15th anniversary, the Dead open an 18-date run at the Warfield theater in San Francisco. 31: Saturday Night Dead: The Grateful Dead make an appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Tom Davis and Al Franken go backstage, asking the band to introduce them to the audience. In 1982, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir appear on Late Night With David Letterman. April 13: 20 years Dead: The Dead marks its 20-year anniversary with a three-night run at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. July 10: Garcia in a coma: Garcia collapses at his Marin County home and falls into a diabetic coma.
A statement issued by the band said: Jerry Garcia is in a hospital receiving treatment for the sudden onset of diabetes and a general systemic infection as a result of an abscessed tooth and exhaustion following a road tour. The bands publicist denies that drugs are involved. July 6: In the Dark LP: The Dead release In the Dark, a comeback album featuring Touch of Grey, Hell in a Bucket, West L. 26: Dead reach top 40: Touch of Grey enters the Top 40 charts.It would go on to peak at No. 9, putting the Dead in the Top 10 for the first and last time. 31: Dylan and the Dead: Dylan & the Dead CD by Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead released. Two old war horses here one who cant sing; the other who cant play captured in live performances from six 1987 concert dates together, wrote Chronicle Music Critic Marty Racine. Altogether, its a pleasant enough affair for the Geritol set. If this is the best from their tour, what can the outtakes sound like? July 26: Mydland overdoses: Mydland dies of a drug overdose in Lafayette at age 37.
During his first few years with the band, Mydland played in the shadow of the other more famous band members, but in recent years, he had come on as a stronger presence, Kevin Leary wrote in The Chronicle. News of Mydlands death spread quickly through the close-knit Deadhead community, which follows the bands every move. The Grateful Dead Hotline, which provides information on concert dates and tickets, was besieged with calls by early afternoon, Leary wrote.
7: Vince Welnick joins: Vince Welnick, formerly of the Tubes, joins the Grateful Dead on keyboards after Mydlands death. 15: Hornsby helps: Bruce Hornsby joins the band as a regular guest on keyboards.January: Garcia neckties: In addition to slinging a guitar, Garcia, who briefly studied at San Francisco Art Institute, painted abstract works of art. Beginning in 1992, his works make an unlikely appearance on a line of neckties. Garcia, whose signature look is a black T-shirt and coordinated jeans and who probably never wore a tie in his life, laughed when he recently received a box of samples, said Irwin Sternberg, the president of Stonehenge Ltd.
The neckwear, nonetheless, became popular with the 9-to-5 set. August: Garcia cancels tour: Garcia cancels an 18-date East Coast tour scheduled to start in August after he collapses.19: Hall of Famers: The Grateful Dead are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the institutions ninth annual induction dinner. Summer: Tour from hell: The bands summer of 1995 tour would become known to Deadheads as the Tour From Hell. At the time, Garcia was having issues with drugs and had also been receiving death threats, according to No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead. To make matters worse, thousands of fans crashed a gate at one of the bands shows in, prompting the cancellation of the subsequent show because local police refused to work it. Want to end the touring life of the Grateful Dead?
An Internet message board post from the band read. Allow bottle-throwing gate-crashers to keep on thinking theyre cool anarchists instead of the creeps they are. Louis that summer, the deck at a campground where many fans were staying for a Dead show collapsed, sending 108 people to the hospital.July 9: Last call: The Grateful Dead perform their 2,314th and final concert at Soldier Field in Chicago. The last music performed by the entire band is a medley of Black Muddy River and Box of Rain. 9: Jerry dies: Jerry Garcia dies at a drug treatment center in Marin County at age 53. He had checked in two days earlier. What started as a sunny day in the Haight turned dark and somber as people learned of Garcias death. People like Jerry Garcia arent supposed to die. The head Deadhead is immortal. Now hell be gone for a long time, this lovable, huggable bear with the twinkly eyes and the best of vibes, wrote Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. 13: Deadheads pay respect: Garcia is celebrated by family and thousands of friends in Golden Gate Park. After the band splits up, the band members form several (sometimes overlapping) side projects, including RatDog, Bobby and the Midnites, the Other Ones, the Dead, Furthur, Dark Star Orchestra, Rhythm Devils, Missing Man Formation, Move Me Brightly and others. June 2: Welnick commits suicide: Suffering from depression, Welnick takes his own life. He is the fourth Grateful Dead keyboardist to die. 4: Deadheads for Obama: Ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries, Lesh, Weir and Hart perform together at the Warfield theater in San Francisco in support of candidate Barack Obama. 16: Raising the Dead: Surviving members guitarist Weir, 67, bassist Lesh, 75, and drummers Kreutzmann, 69, and Hart, 71 resurrect the Dead with a final tour to celebrate the bands 50th anniversary. The 2015 Fare Thee Well tour includes shows in Santa Clara and Chicago, with with Phish singer-guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Bruce Hornsby along for the bands final ride. Jerome John Garcia (August 1, 1942 August 9, 1995) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work as the lead guitarist and as a vocalist with the band the Grateful Dead, which came to prominence during the counterculture era in the 1960s.  Although he disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader or "spokesman" of the group. One of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire thirty-year career (19651995). Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the SaundersGarcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), the Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, Legion of Mary, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage (which Garcia co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson).  He also released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician. He was well known for his distinctive guitar playing and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" cover story. Later in life, Garcia was sometimes ill because of his diabetes, and in 1986 went into a diabetic coma that nearly cost him his life. Although his overall health improved somewhat after that, he also struggled with heroin and cocaine addictions,  and was staying in a California drug rehabilitation facility when he died of a heart attack in August 1995 at the age of 53. Career with the Grateful Dead.
Childhood and early life. Jerry Garcia's ancestors on his father's side were from Galicia in northwest Spain.
His mother's ancestors were Irish and Swedish.  He was born in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, California, on August 1, 1942, to Jose Ramon "Joe" Garcia and Ruth Marie "Bobbie" (née Clifford) Garcia,  who was herself born in San Francisco. His parents named him after composer Jerome Kern.  Jerome John was their second child, preceded by Clifford Ramon "Tiff", who was born in 1937.  Shortly before Clifford's birth, their father and a partner leased a building in downtown San Francisco and turned it into a bar, partly in response to Jose being blackballed from a musicians' union for moonlighting. Garcia was influenced by music at an early age,  taking piano lessons for much of his childhood.  His father was a retired professional musician and his mother enjoyed playing the piano.
 His father's extended familywho had emigrated from Spain in 1919would often sing during reunions. Garcia experienced several tragedies during his youth. At age four,  while the family was vacationing in the Santa Cruz Mountains, two-thirds of Garcia's right middle finger was accidentally cut off.  Garcia and his brother Tiff were chopping wood.
Jerry steadied a piece of wood with his finger, but Tiff miscalculated and the axe severed most of Jerry's middle finger.  After his mother wrapped his hand in a towel, Garcia's father drove him over 30 miles to the nearest hospital.  A few weeks later, Garcia who had not looked at his finger since the accident was surprised to discover most of it missing when the bandage he was wearing came off during a bath.
 Garcia later confided that he often used it to his advantage in his youth, showing it off to other children in his neighborhood. Less than a year after he lost most of his finger, his father died. Vacationing with his family near Arcata in Northern California in 1947, Garcia's father went fly fishing in the Trinity River, part of the Six Rivers National Forest.
 Not long after entering the river, Garcia's father slipped on a rock, lost his balance and was swept away by the river's rapids. He drowned before other fishermen could reach him. Although Garcia claimed he saw his father fall into the river, Dennis McNally, author of the book A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead, argues Garcia formed the memory after hearing others repeat the story.  Blair Jackson, who wrote Garcia: An American Life, lends weight to McNally's claim.Jackson's evidence: a local newspaper article describing Jose's death failed to mention Garcia was present when his father died. As a result, Ruth Garcia began working full-time, sending Jerry and his brother to live nearby with her parents, Tillie and William Clifford. During the five-year period in which he lived with his grandparents, Garcia enjoyed a large amount of autonomy and attended Monroe School, the local elementary school.
At the school, Garcia was greatly encouraged in his artistic abilities by his third grade teacher: through her, he discovered that being a creative person was a viable possibility in life.  According to Garcia, it was around this time that he was opened up to country and to bluegrass by his grandmother, whom he recalled enjoyed listening to the Grand Ole Opry.
His elder brother, Clifford, however, staunchly believed the contrary, insisting that Garcia was fantasizing all [that]... She'd been to Opry, but she didn't listen to it on the radio.
It was at this point that Garcia started playing the banjo, his first stringed instrument. In 1953, Garcia's mother married Wally Matusiewicz.  Subsequently, Garcia and his brother moved back home with their mother and new stepfather. However, due to the roughneck reputation of their neighborhood at the time, the Excelsior District, Garcia's mother moved their family to Menlo Park. During their stay in Menlo Park, Garcia became acquainted with racism and antisemitism, things he disliked intensely.  The same year, Garcia was also introduced to rock and roll and rhythm and blues by his brother, and enjoyed listening to the likes of Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, B.
King, Hank Ballard, and, later, Chuck Berry.  Clifford often memorized the vocals for his favorite songs, and would then make Garcia learn the harmony parts, a move to which Garcia later attributed much of his early ear training. In mid-1957, Garcia began smoking cigarettes and was introduced to marijuana.  Garcia would later reminisce about the first time he smoked marijuana: "Me and a friend of mine went up into the hills with two joints, the San Francisco foothills, and smoked these joints and just got so high and laughed and roared and went skipping down the streets doing funny things and just having a helluva time".
 During this time, Garcia also studied at what is now the San Francisco Art Institute.  The teacher there was Wally Hedrick, an artist who came to prominence during the 1960s. During the classes, he often encouraged Garcia in his drawing and painting skills.  Hedrick also introduced Garcia to the fiction of Jack Kerouac, whom Garcia later cited as a major influence.In June of the same year, Garcia graduated from the local Menlo Oaks school. He then moved with his family back to San Francisco, where they lived in an apartment above the newly built bar, the old one having previously been torn down to make way for a freeway entrance.  Two months later, on Garcia's fifteenth birthday, his mother bought an accordion for him, to his great disappointment.  Garcia had long been captivated by many rhythm and blues artists, especially Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley: his one wish at this point was to have an electric guitar.
 After some pleading, his mother exchanged the accordion for a Danelectro with a small amplifier at a local pawnshop.  Garcia's stepfather, who was somewhat proficient with instruments, helped tune his guitar to an unusual open tuning.After a short stint at Denman Junior High School, Garcia attended tenth grade at Balboa High School in 1958, where he often got into trouble for skipping classes and fighting.  Consequently, in 1959, Garcia's mother again moved the family to get Garcia to stay out of trouble, this time to Cazadero, a small town in Sonoma County, 90 miles north of San Francisco.
 This turn of events did not sit well with Garcia. To get to Analy High School, the nearest school, he had to travel by bus thirty miles to Sebastopol, a move which only made him more unhappy. Garcia did, however, join a band at his school known as the Chords. After performing and winning a contest, the band's reward was recording a songthey chose "Raunchy" by Bill Justis. Relocation and band beginnings.
The corner of Haight and Ashbury, center of the San Francisco neighborhood where the Grateful Dead shared a house at 710 Ashbury from fall 1966 to spring 1968. Garcia stole his mother's car in 1960, and as punishment he was forced to join the United States Army. He received basic training at Fort Ord.  After training, he was transferred to Fort Winfield Scott in the Presidio of San Francisco.  Garcia spent most of his time in the army at his leisure, missing roll call and accruing many counts of AWOL.
 As a result, Garcia was given a general discharge on December 14, 1960. In January 1961, Garcia drove down to East Palo Alto to see Laird Grant, an old friend from middle school.  He had bought a 1950 Cadillac sedan from a cook in the army, which barely made it to Grant's residence before it broke down.  Garcia spent the next few weeks sleeping where friends would allow, eventually using his car as a home. Through Grant, Garcia met Dave McQueen in February, who, after hearing Garcia perform some blues, introduced him to local people and to the Chateau, a rooming house located near Stanford University which was then a popular hangout.On February 20, 1961, Garcia got into a car with Paul Speegle, a sixteen-year-old artist and acquaintance of Garcia; Lee Adams, the house manager of the Chateau and driver of the car; and Alan Trist, a companion of theirs.  After speeding past the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital, the car encountered a curve and, traveling around ninety miles per hour, collided with the guard rail, sending the car rolling turbulently.  Garcia was hurled through the windshield of the car into a nearby field with such force he was literally thrown out of his shoes and would later be unable to recall the ejection.  Lee Adams, the driver, and Alan Trist, who was seated in the back, were thrown from the car as well, suffering from abdominal injuries and a spine fracture, respectively.  Garcia escaped with a broken collarbone, while Speegle, still in the car, was fatally injured. The accident served as an awakening for Garcia, who later commented: That's where my life began. Before then I was always living at less than capacity. That was the slingshot for the rest of my life. It was like a second chance.  It was at this time that Garcia began to realize that he needed to begin playing the guitar in earnesta move which meant giving up his love of drawing and painting. In April 1961, Garcia first met Robert Hunter, who would become a long-time friend of and lyricist for the Grateful Dead, collaborating principally with Garcia.  The two involved themselves in the South Bay and San Francisco art and music scenes, sometimes playing at Menlo Park's Kepler's Books.
 Garcia performed his first concert with Hunter, each earning five dollars. Garcia and Hunter also played in bands (the Wildwood Boys and the Hart Valley Drifters) with David Nelson, who would later play with Garcia in the New Riders of the Purple Sage and contribute to several Grateful Dead album cuts. In 1962, Garcia met Phil Lesh, the eventual bassist of the Grateful Dead, during a party in Menlo Park's bohemian Perry Lane neighborhood (where author Ken Kesey lived).  Lesh would later write in his autobiography that Garcia reminded him of pictures he had seen of the composer Claude Debussy, with his "dark, curly hair, goatee, Impressionist eyes".  While attending another party in Palo Alto, Lesh approached Garcia to suggest they record Garcia on Lesh's tape recorder and produce a radio show for the progressive, community-supported Berkeley radio station KPFA. Using an old Wollensak tape recorder, they recorded "Matty Groves" and "The Long Black Veil", among several other tunes. Their efforts were not in vain. These recordings became a central feature of a 90-minute KPFA special broadcast, "The Long Black Veil and Other Ballads: An Evening with Jerry Garcia".
 The link between KPFA and the Grateful Dead continues to this day, having included many fundraisers, interviews, live concert broadcasts, taped band performances and all-day or all-weekend "Dead-only" marathons. Garcia soon began playing and teaching acoustic guitar and banjo.  One of Garcia's students was Bob Matthews, who later engineered many of the Grateful Dead's albums. Matthews attended Menlo-Atherton high school and was friends with Bob Weir, and on New Year's Eve 1963, he introduced Weir and Garcia. Between 1962 and 1964, Garcia sang and performed mainly bluegrass, old-time, and folk music. One of the bands Garcia performed with was the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers, a bluegrass act.
The group consisted of Jerry Garcia on guitar, banjo, vocals, and harmonica, Marshall Leicester on banjo, guitar, and vocals, and Dick Arnold on fiddle and vocals.  Soon after this, Garcia, Weir, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and several of their friends formed a jug band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. Around this time, the psychedelic LSD was gaining popularity. Garcia first began using LSD in 1964; later, when asked how it changed his life, he remarked: Well, it changed everything...The effect was that it freed me because I suddenly realized that my little attempt at having a straight life and doing that was really a fiction and just wasn't going to work out. Luckily I wasn't far enough into it for it to be shattering or anything; it was like a realization that just made me feel immensely relieved. In 1965, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions evolved into the Warlocks, with the addition of Phil Lesh on bass guitar and Bill Kreutzmann on percussion. However, the band discovered that another group (which would later become the Velvet Underground) was performing under their newly selected name, prompting another name change.
Garcia came up with "Grateful Dead" by opening a Funk & Wagnalls dictionary to an entry for "Grateful dead".  The definition for "Grateful Dead" was "a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial".
 The band's first reaction was disapproval.  Garcia later explained the group's reaction: I didn't like it really, I just found it to be really powerful. [Bob] Weir didn't like it, [Bill] Kreutzmann didn't like it and nobody really wanted to hear about it.  Despite their dislike of the name, it quickly spread by word of mouth, and soon became their official title. Career with the Grateful Dead.Garcia in 1980, at the Hartford Civic Center. Garcia and Mickey Hart in 1987 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Garcia served as lead guitarist, as well as one of the principal vocalists and songwriters of the Grateful Dead for their entire career. Garcia composed such songs as "Dark Star",  "Franklin's Tower",  and "Scarlet Begonias",  among many others. Robert Hunter, an ardent collaborator with the band, wrote the lyrics to all but a few of Garcia's songs.
Garcia was well-noted for his "soulful extended guitar improvisations",  which would frequently feature interplay between him and his fellow band members. His fame, as well as the band's, arguably rested on their ability to never play a song the same way twice.  Often, Garcia would take cues from rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, remarking that there are some... Kinds of ideas that would really throw me if I had to create a harmonic bridge between all the things going on rhythmically with two drums and Phil [Lesh's] innovative bass playing. Weir's ability to solve that sort of problem is extraordinary.
Harmonically, I take a lot of my solo cues from Bob. When asked to describe his approach to soloing, Garcia commented: It keeps on changing. I still basically revolve around the melody and the way it's broken up into phrases as I perceive them. With most solos, I tend to play something that phrases the way the melody does; my phrases may be more dense or have different value, but they'll occur in the same places in the song.Garcia and the band toured almost constantly from their formation in 1965 until Garcia's death in 1995. Periodically, there were breaks due to exhaustion or health problems, often due to unstable health and/or Garcia's drug use. During their three-decade span, the Grateful Dead played 2,314 shows. Garcia's mature guitar-playing melded elements from the various kinds of music that had enthralled him. Echoes of bluegrass playing (such as Arthur Smith and Doc Watson) could be heard. But the "roots music" behind bluegrass had its influence, too, and melodic riffs from Celtic fiddle jigs can be distinguished.  There was also early rock (like Lonnie Mack, James Burton, and Chuck Berry), contemporary blues (Freddie King and Lowell Fulsom), country and western (Roy Nichols and Don Rich), and jazz (Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt) to be heard in Garcia's style. Don Rich was the sparkling country guitar player in Buck Owens's "the Buckaroos" band of the 1960s, but besides Rich's style, both Garcia's pedal steel guitar playing (on Grateful Dead records and others) and his standard electric guitar work, were influenced by another of Owens's Buckaroos of that time, pedal steel player Tom Brumley. And as an improvisational soloist, John Coltrane was one of his greatest personal and musical influences. Garcia later described his playing style as having descended from barroom rock and roll, country guitar.
Just'cause that's where all my stuff comes from. It's like that blues instrumental stuff that was happening in the late Fifties and early Sixties, like Freddie King. " Garcia's style could vary with the song being played and the instrument he was using, but his playing had a number of so-called "signatures.
Among these were lead lines based on rhythmic triplets examples include the songs "Good Morning Little School Girl", "New Speedway Boogie", "Brokedown Palace", "Deal", "Loser", "Truckin'", "That's It for the Other One", U. Blues", "Sugaree", and "Don't Ease Me In. Another signature to his style was a poignant, almost pleading quality of musical gesture that, especially in extended solos could evolve into disparate and unpredictable emotional regions such as anxiety, anger, or triumph. This tremendous breadth of emotional expression between songs or even within a piece accounts for a great deal of his reputation as a guitarist. In addition to the Grateful Dead, Garcia had numerous side projects, the most notable being the Jerry Garcia Band.He was also involved with various acoustic projects such as Old and in the Way and other bluegrass bands, including collaborations with noted bluegrass mandolinist David Grisman. The documentary film Grateful Dawg chronicles the deep, long-term friendship between Garcia and Grisman. Other groups of which Garcia was a member at one time or another include the Black Mountain Boys,  Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, and the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. Garcia was also a fan of jazz artists and improvisation: he played with jazz keyboardists Merl Saunders and Howard Wales for many years in various groups and jam sessions, and he appeared on saxophonist Ornette Coleman's 1988 album, Virgin Beauty. His collaboration with Merl Saunders and Muruga Booker on the world music album Blues From the Rainforest launched the Rainforest Band. Garcia also spent a lot of time in the recording studio helping out fellow musician friends in session work, often adding guitar, vocals, pedal steel, sometimes banjo and piano and even producing. He played on over 50 studio albums, the styles of which were eclectic and varied, including bluegrass, rock, folk, blues, country, jazz, electronic music, gospel, funk, and reggae. Artists who sought Garcia's help included the likes of Jefferson Airplane (most notably Surrealistic Pillow, Garcia being listed as their "spiritual advisor"). Garcia himself recalled in a mid-1967 interview that he'd played the high lead on "Today, " played on "Plastic Fantastic Lover" and "Comin' Back to Me" on that album.
Others include Tom Fogerty, David Bromberg, Robert Hunter (Liberty, on Relix Records), Paul Pena, Peter Rowan, Warren Zevon, Country Joe McDonald, Pete Sears, Ken Nordine, Ornette Coleman, Bruce Hornsby, Bob Dylan, It's a Beautiful Day, and many more. In 1995 Garcia played on three tracks for the CD Blue Incantation by guitarist Sanjay Mishra, making it his last studio collaboration. Throughout the early 1970s, Garcia, Lesh, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and David Crosby collaborated intermittently with MIT-educated composer and biologist Ned Lagin on several projects in the realm of early ambient music; these include the album Seastones (released by the Dead on their Round Records subsidiary) and L, an unfinished dance work. In 1970, Garcia participated in the soundtrack for the film Zabriskie Point.
Garcia also lent pedal steel guitar to fellow-San Francisco musicians New Riders of the Purple Sage from their initial dates in 1969 to October 1971, when increased commitments with the Dead forced him to opt out of the group. He appears as a band member on their debut album New Riders of the Purple Sage, and produced Home, Home on the Road, a 1974 live album by the band.
He also contributed pedal steel guitar to the enduring hit "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Garcia also played steel guitar licks on Brewer & Shipley's 1970 album Tarkio. Despite considering himself a novice on the pedal steel, Garcia routinely ranked high in player polls. After a long lapse from playing the pedal steel, he played it once more during several of the Dead's concerts with Bob Dylan in the summer of 1987.
In 1988, Garcia agreed to perform at several major benefits including the "Soviet American Peace Walk" concert at the Band Shell, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, that drew 25,000 people. He was asked to play by longtime friend and fellow musician, Pete Sears, who played piano with all the bands that day, and also procured all the other musicians. Garcia, Mickey Hart and Steve Parish played the show, then were given a police escort to a Grateful Dead show across the bay later that night.
Garcia also played with Nick Gravenites and Pete Sears at a benefit given for Vietnam Veteran and peace activist Brian Willson, who lost both legs when a train carrying weapons to military dictatorships in El Salvador ran over him at Concord Naval Base in California. Having previously studied at the San Francisco Art Institute as a teenager, Garcia embarked on a second career in the visual arts in the late 1980s. Some of those pieces became the basis of a line of men's neckties characterized by bright colors and abstract patterns. Some ties that were produced began as etchings, other designs came from his drawings, paintings, and digital art. Garcia's artistic endeavors were represented by the Weir Gallery in Berkeley, California from 1989 to 1996.During this period, Roberta Weir (unrelated to Garcia's bandmate) provided Garcia with new art techniques to use, sponsored his first solo show in 1990, and prepared blank etching plates for him to draw on.  These would then be processed and printed by gallery staff and brought back to Garcia for approval and signature, usually with a passing of stacks of paper backstage at a Dead show. His annual shows at the Weir Gallery garnered much attention, leading to further shows in New York and other cities. Garcia was an early adopter of digital art media; his artistic style was as varied as his musical output, and he carried small notebooks for pen and ink sketches wherever he toured. Roberta Weir continues to maintain an archive of the artwork of Jerry Garcia. Jerry Garcia's personal life was unconventional.
Garcia met his first wife, Sara Ruppenthal Garcia, in 1963.  She was working at the coffee house in the back of Kepler's Bookstore where Garcia, Hunter, and Nelson performed. They married on April 23, 1963, and on December 8 of that year their daughter Heather was born. Carolyn Adams, a Merry Prankster also known as "Mountain Girl" or M.
Had a daughter, Sunshine, with Ken Kesey. Mountain Girl married another Prankster, George Walker, but they soon separated. She and Sunshine then moved into 710 Ashbury with Garcia in late 1966; they would ultimately live together until 1975. In 1967, Sara and Jerry officially divorced after a long separation.  While raising Sunshine with Garcia, Adams gave birth to Garcia's second and third daughters, Annabelle Walker Garcia (February 2, 1970) and Theresa Adams "Trixie" Garcia (September 21, 1974).
Adams and Walker eventually divorced in 1978. During August 1970, Garcia's mother Ruth was involved in a car accident near Twin Peaks in San Francisco.  Garcia, who was recording the album American Beauty at the time, often left the sessions to visit his mother with his brother Clifford. She died on September 28, 1970. In 1973, Garcia met Deborah Koons, the woman who would much later become his third wife and widow.
 After a brief correspondence, he initiated a clandestine relationship with Koons in mid-1973; this gradually strained his relationship with Adams and culminated in Garcia leaving Adams for Koons in late 1975. The dissolution of his tempestuous relationship with Koons in 1977 precipitated a brief reconciliation with Adams, including the reestablishment of their household; however, she did not countenance the guitarist's persistent use of hard drugs and moved with the children to the Eugene, Oregon area (near Kesey) in 1978.  After briefly reuniting following his diabetic coma, Garcia and Adams officially divorced in 1994. Phil Lesh has subsequently stated that he rarely saw Carolyn Garcia on any of the band tours,  while Garcia opined that "we haven't really lived together since the Seventies" in a 1991 Rolling Stone interview. During the autumn of 1978, Garcia developed a friendship with Chicago college student Manasha Matheson, an artist and Grateful Dead fan.They remained in contact over the following nine years before initiating a romantic relationship in Hartford, Connecticut on the Grateful Dead's spring 1987 tour.  On August 17, 1990, Jerry and Manasha married at their San Anselmo, California home in a spiritual ceremony free of legal convention.  Jerry and Manasha became parents with the birth of their daughter, Keelin Noel Garcia, on December 20, 1987. In 1991, Garcia expressed his delight in finding the time to "actually be a father" to Keelin in contrast to his past relationships with his children.
 A year later, Garcia dedicated his first art book (Paintings, Drawings and Sketches) to Manasha: For Manasha, with love, Jerry. In January 1993, a former girlfriend, Barbara Meier, reentered Garcia's life.
The affair with Meier marked the breakup of Jerry's family life with Manasha and Keelin.  Garcia ended the affair with Meier forty-five days later in Chicago while on concert tour with the Grateful Dead.  In spring 1993, Garcia renewed his acquaintance with Deborah Koons. Garcia and Koons married on February 14, 1994, in Sausalito, California.Garcia and his fellow musicians were subjected to a handful of drug busts during their lifetime. On October 2, 1967, 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco (where the Grateful Dead had taken up residence the year before) was raided after a police tip-off.  Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan were apprehended on marijuana charges which were later dropped, although Garcia himself was not arrested.  The following year, Garcia's picture was used in a campaign commercial for Richard Nixon.  After returning to their hotel from a performance, the band checked into their rooms, only to be quickly raided by police.
Approximately fifteen people were arrested on the spot, including many of the road crew, management, and nearly all of the Grateful Dead except for Garcia, who arrived later; outgoing keyboardist Tom Constanten, who abstained from all drugs as a member of the Church of Scientology; and McKernan, who eschewed illegal drugs in favor of alcohol. According to Bill Kreutzmann, the band's use of cocaine accelerated throughout the early 1970s.  After experimenting with heroin in a brothel in 1974 (likely on the band's second European tour), Garcia was introduced to a smokeable form of the drug (initially advertised as refined opium) colloquially known as "Persian" or "Persian Base" during the group's 1975 hiatus.
Influenced by the stresses of creating and releasing The Grateful Dead Movie and the acrimonious collapse of the band's independent record labels over the next two years, Garcia became increasingly dependent upon both substances. These factorscombined with the alcohol and drug abuse of several other members of the Grateful Dead, a period notably characterized by Lesh as "the Heineken years"resulted in a turbulent atmosphere. By 1978, the band's chemistry began "cracking and crumbling",  resulting in poor group cohesion. As a result, Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux left the band in February 1979. With the addition of keyboardist/vocalist Brent Mydland that year, the band reached new commercial heights as a touring group on the American arena circuit in the early 1980s, enabling them to forsake studio recording for several years.Though things seemed to be getting better for the band, Garcia's health was declining. By 1983, Garcia's demeanor onstage had appeared to change. Despite still playing the guitar with great passion and intensity, there were times that he would appear disengaged; as such, shows were often inconsistent. Years of heavy tobacco smoking had affected his voice, and he gained considerable weight. By 1984, he would often rest his chin on the microphone during performances.
The so-called "endless tour"the result of years of financial risks, drug use, and poor business decisionshad taken its toll. Garcia's decade-long heroin addiction culminated in the rest of the band holding an intervention in January 1985.  Given the choice between the band or the drugs, Garcia agreed to check into a rehabilitation center in Oakland, California. A few days later in January, before the start of his program in Oakland, Garcia was arrested for drug possession in Golden Gate Park; he subsequently attended a drug diversion program.Throughout 1985, he tapered his drug use on tour and at home with the assistance of Nora Sage; by the spring of 1986, he was completely clean. Precipitated by an unhealthy weight, dehydration, bad eating habits, and a recent relapse on the Grateful Dead's first stadium tour, Garcia collapsed into a diabetic coma in July 1986, waking up five days later.  He later spoke about this period of unconsciousness as surreal: Well, I had some very weird experiences. After I came out of my coma, I had this image of myself as these little hunks of protoplasm that were stuck together kind of like stamps with perforations between them that you could snap off.  Garcia's coma had a profound effect on him: it forced him to have to relearn how to play the guitar, as well as other, more basic skills. Within a handful of months, he had recovered, playing with the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead again later that year.
Inspired by Garcia's improved health, a successful album and the continuing emergence of Mydland as a third frontman, the band's energy and chemistry reached a new peak in the late 1980s. Mydland died of a speedball overdose in July 1990. His death greatly affected Garcia, leading him to believe that the band's chemistry would never be the same.
Before beginning the fall tour, the band acquired keyboardists Vince Welnick and Bruce Hornsby. The power of Hornsby's keys musically drove Garcia to new heights on stage. As the band continued through 1991, Garcia became concerned with the band's future. He was exhausted from five straight years of touring. He thought a break was necessary, mainly so that the band could come back with fresh material.
The idea was put off by the pressures of management, and the touring continued. Garcia's decrease in both stamina and interest to continue touring caused him to use narcotics again. Though his relapse was brief, the band was quick to react. Soon after the last show of the tour in Denver, Garcia was confronted by the band with another intervention. After a disastrous meeting, Garcia invited Phil Lesh over to his home in San Rafael, California, where he explained that after the meeting he would start attending a methadone clinic.
Garcia said that he wanted to clean up in his own way, and return to making music. After returning from the band's 1992 summer tour, Garcia became sick, a throwback to his diabetic coma in 1986.  Manasha Garcia nursed Jerry back to health and organized a team of health professionals which included acupuncturist Yen Wei Choong and Randy Baker, a licensed holistic doctor to treat him at home. Garcia recovered over the following days, despite the Grateful Dead having to cancel their fall tour to allow him time to recuperate.  Garcia reduced his cigarette smoking and began losing weight.
He also became a vegetarian. By the beginning of 1995, Garcia's physical and mental condition declined. His playing ability suffered to the point where he would turn down the volume of his guitar, and he often had to be reminded of what song he was performing.  Due to his frail condition, he began to use narcotics again to dull the pain. In light of his second drug relapse and current condition, Garcia checked himself into the Betty Ford Center during July 1995.His stay was limited, lasting only two weeks. Motivated by the experience, he then checked into the Serenity Knolls treatment center in Forest Knolls, California.
 The cause of death was a heart attack.  Garcia had long struggled with drug addiction,  weight problems, sleep apnea,  heavy smoking, and diabetesall of which contributed to his physical decline. Lesh remarked that upon hearing of Garcia's death, I was struck numb; I had lost my oldest surviving friend, my brother. Garcia's funeral was held on August 12, at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Belvedere.  It was attended by his family, the remaining Grateful Dead members, and their friends, including former basketball player Bill Walton and musician Bob Dylan. Deborah Koons barred Garcia's former wives from the ceremony. On August 13, approximately 25,000 people attended a municipally sanctioned public memorial at the Polo Fields of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.  Crowds produced hundreds of flowers, gifts, images, and a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace" in remembrance. In the Haight, a single white rose was reportedly tied to a tree near the Dead's former Ashbury house, where a group of followers gathered to mourn. On the morning of April 4, 1996, after a total lunar eclipse earlier that day, Weir and Deborah Koons, accompanied by Sanjay Mishra, spread half of Garcia's ashes into the Ganges River at the holy city of Rishikesh, India,  a site sacred to Hindus. The remaining ashes were poured into the San Francisco Bay. Koons did not allow former wife Carolyn Garcia to attend the spreading of the ashes. Garcia played many guitars during his career, which ranged from Fender Stratocasters and Gibson SGs to custom-made instruments. During his thirty-odd years as a musician, Garcia used about 25 guitars. In 1965, when Garcia was playing with the Warlocks, he used a Guild Starfire,  which he also used on the début album of the Grateful Dead. Beginning in late 1967 and ending in 1968, Garcia played black or gold mid-1950's Gibson Les Paul guitars with P-90 pickups. In 1969, he picked up the Gibson SG and used it for most of that year and 1970, except for a small period in between where he used a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.
During Garcia's "pedal steel flirtation period" (as Bob Weir referred to it in Anthem to Beauty), from approximately 1969 to 1974, he initially played a Fender Pedal Steel, and then upgraded a ZB Custom D-10,  especially in his earlier public performances. Although this was a double neck guitar, Garcia often would choose not to attach the last 5 pedal rods for the rear or Western Swing neck.  Additionally, he was playing an Emmons D-10 at the time of the Grateful Dead's and New Riders of the Purple Sage's final appearances at the Fillmore East in late April 1971. In 1969, Garcia played pedal steel on three notable outside recordings: the track "The Farm" on the Jefferson Airplane album Volunteers; and the hit singles "One Toke Over The Line" by Brewer and Shipley and "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young from their album Déjà Vu, released in 1970. In 1971, Garcia began playing a Sunburst Les Paul.
That March, he received a guitar that little is known about today. It is said to be an early Alembic project or referred to as Peanut. In May, Garcia began using a'57 Stratocaster that had been given to him by Graham Nash. Garcia added the Alligator sticker to the pickguard in the fall of that year. Throughout the summer, Garcia played a double-cutaway Les Paul TV Junior.Images of these can be seen at dozin. This was in part, due to damage to his first custom-made guitar, made by Doug Irwin at Alembic. Wolf was made with an ebony fingerboard and featured numerous embellishments like alternating grain designs in the headstock, ivory inlays, and fret marker dots made of sterling silver. The body was composed of western maple wood which had a core of purpleheart.
Garcia later had former Alembic employee Doug Irwin replace the electronics inside the guitar, at which point he added his own logo to the headstock alongside the Alembic logo. The system included two interchangeable plates for configuring pickups: one was made for strictly single coils, while the other accommodated humbuckers. Shortly after receiving the modified instrument, Garcia requested another custom guitar from Irwin with the advice don't hold back. During the Grateful Dead's European Tour, Wolf was dropped on several occasions, one of which caused a minor crack in the headstock. On September 28, 1977, Irwin delivered the renovated Wolf back to Garcia.
 The wolf sticker which gave the guitar its name had now been inlaid into the instrument; it also featured an effects loop between the pick-ups and controls (so inline effects would "see" the same signal at all times) which was bypassable. Irwin also put a new face on the headstock with only his logo (he later claimed to have built the guitar himself, though pictures through time clearly show the progression of logos, from Alembic, to Alembic & Irwin, to only Irwin). In The Grateful Dead Movie Garcia is playing Wolf and this film provides excellent views of Wolf.Nearly seven years after he first requested it, Garcia received his third custom guitar "Tiger" from Irwin in 1979 (the first Irwin was "Eagle", the second was "Wolf").  The first concert that Garcia played Tiger was August 4, 1979 at the Oakland Auditorium Arena.
 It was named Tiger from the inlay on the preamp cover.  The body of Tiger was of rich quality: the top layer was cocobolo, with the preceding layers being maple stripe, vermilion, and flame maple, in that order.  The neck was made of western maple with an ebony fingerboard. The pickups consisted of a single coil DiMarzio SDS-1 and two humbucker DiMarzio Super IIs which were easily removable due to Garcia's preference for replacing his pickups every year or two. The electronics were composed of an effects bypass loop, which allowed Garcia to control the sound of his effects through the tone and volume controls on the guitar, and a preamplifier/buffer which rested behind a plate in the back of the guitar. In terms of weight, everything included made Tiger tip the scales at 13½ pounds.
This was Garcia's principal guitar for the next eleven years, and most played. In the late 1980s Garcia, Weir and CSN (along with many others) endorsed Alvarez Yairi acoustic guitars. There are many photographs circulating (mostly promotional) of Garcia playing a DY99 Virtuoso Custom with a Modulus Graphite neck. He opted to play with the less decorated model but the promotional photo from the Alvarez Yairi catalog has him holding the "tree of life" model. This hand-built guitar was notable for the collaboration between Japanese luthier Kazuo Yairi and Modulus Graphite of San Rafael.
As with most things Garcia, with his passing, the DY99 model is highly valued among collectors. In 1990, Irwin completed Rosebud, Garcia's fourth custom guitar.
 It was similar to his previous guitar Tiger in many respects, but featured different inlays and electronics, tone and volume controls, and weight. Rosebud, unlike Tiger, was configured with three humbuckers; the neck and bridge pickups shared a tone control, while the middle had its own. The GK2 was used in junction with the Roland GR-50 rack mount synthesizer.The GR-50 synthesizer in turn drove a Korg M1R synthesizer producing the MIDI effects heard during live performances of this period as heard on the Grateful Dead recording'Without a Net'.  Sections of the guitar were hollowed out to bring the weight down to 11½ pounds. The inlay, a dancing skeleton holding a rose, covers a plate just below the bridge. In 1993, carpenter-turned-luthier Stephen Cripe tried his hand at making an instrument for Garcia.  After researching Tiger through pictures and films, Cripe set out on what would soon become known as Lightning Bolt, again named for its inlay.  The guitar used Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard and East Indian rosewood for the body, which, with admitted irony from Cripe, had been taken from a 19th-century bed used by opium smokers.  Built purely from guesswork, Lightning Bolt was a hit with Garcia, who began using the guitar exclusively. Soon after, Garcia requested that Cripe build a backup of the guitar. Cripe, who had not measured or photographed the original, was told simply to wing it. Cripe later delivered the backup, which was known by the name Top Hat.
 However, infatuated with Lightning Bolt, Garcia rarely used the backup. After Garcia's death, the ownership of his Wolf and Tiger came into question.According to Garcia's will,  his guitars were bequeathed to Doug Irwin, who had constructed them.  The remaining Grateful Dead members disagreedthey considered his guitars to be property of the band, leading to a lawsuit between the two parties.  In 2001, Irwin won the case. Irwin, a victim of a hit-and-run accident in 1998,  had been left nearly penniless by the accident.  Wolf went into in the private collection of Daniel Pritzker who kept it in a secure climate controlled room in a private residence at Utica, N. Tiger went to the private collection of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.  In May 2017, Wolf was again auctioned, but this time for charity. Pritzker decided to sell the guitar and donate all proceeds to the Montgomery, Alabama based Southern Poverty Law Center.
Garcia appeared in the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind as an extra during the scenes in India in a crowd shot.  During the following year, the Grateful Dead would occasionally improvise the theme from Close Encounters in concert.Garcia was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead in 1994. Famous guitar player and known Garcia fan Warren Haynes wrote the song "Patchwork Quilt" in memory of Garcia. Grammy award-winning reggae artist Burning Spear paid homage by releasing the song "Play Jerry" in 1997. In 1998, The MTV animated show Celebrity Deathmatch had a clay-animated fight to the death between Garcia and Elvis Presley. In the episode titled "Halloween: The Final Chapter" on the show Roseanne, aired shortly after his death on October 31, 1995, a tribute to Jerry Garcia was made, and the character name of the baby was Jerry Garcia Conner. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Jerry Garcia 13th in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2005, rapper Proof from the group D12 released an album named after Garcia, Searching for Jerry Garcia.
The album was released ten years to the day of Garcia's death. In the 1996 comedy Flirting with Disaster, the two protagonists name their newborn son Garcia in honor of Jerry Garcia. Ween recorded the song, "So Long Jerry" during the sessions for their 12 Golden Country Greats album, but it was left off the album, eventually appearing on the "Piss Up a Rope" single.According to fellow Bay Area guitar player Henry Kaiser, Garcia is the most recorded guitarist in history. With more than 2,200 Grateful Dead concerts, and 1,000 Jerry Garcia Band concerts captured on tape as well as numerous studio sessions there are about 15,000 hours of his guitar work preserved for the ages. On July 30, 2004, Melvin Seals was the first Jerry Garcia Band (JGB) member to headline an outdoor music and camping festival called the Grateful Garcia Gathering. Jerry Garcia Band drummer David Kemper joined Melvin Seals and JGB in 2007. Other musicians and friends of Garcia include Donna Jean Godchaux, Mookie Siegel, Pete Sears, G.
Smith, Chuck Hammer, Barry Sless, Jackie Greene, Brian Lesh, Sanjay Mishra, and Mark Karan. On July 21, 2005, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission passed a resolution to name the amphitheater in McLaren Park The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.  The amphitheater is located in the Excelsior District, where Garcia grew up. The first show to happen at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater was Jerry Day 2005 on August 7, 2005. Jerry's brother, Tiff Garcia, was the first person to welcome everybody to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.
Jerry Day is an annual celebration of Garcia in his childhood neighborhood. The dedication ceremony (Jerry Day 2) on October 29, 2005 was officiated by mayor Gavin Newsom. On September 24, 2005, the Comes a Time: A Celebration of the Music & Spirit of Jerry Garcia tribute concert was held at the Hearst Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California.  The concert featured Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasio, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, Michael Kang, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti, Mark Karan, Robin Sylvester, Kenny Brooks, Melvin Seals, Merl Saunders, Marty Holland, Stu Allen, Gloria Jones, and Jackie LaBranch. Georgia-based composer Lee Johnson released an orchestral tribute to the music of the Grateful Dead, recorded with the Russian National Orchestra, entitled Dead Symphony: Lee Johnson Symphony No.
Johnson was interviewed on NPR on the July 26, 2008 broadcast of Weekend Edition, and gave much credit to the genius and craft of Garcia's songwriting. A live performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Johnson himself, was held Friday, August 1.In 2010 the Santa Barbara Bowl in California opened Jerry Garcia Glen along the walk up to the venue. There is a statue of Garcia's right hand along the way. Seattle rock band Soundgarden wrote and recorded the instrumental song "Jerry Garcia's Finger", dedicated to the singer, which was released as a b-side with their single "Pretty Noose". The Argentinian band Massacre included a song called "A Jerry Garcia" (To Jerry Garcia) on their album Juguetes para olvidar.
Numerous music festivals across the United States and Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK hold annual events in memory of Jerry Garcia. One of the tracks in NOFX's album Heavy Petting Zoo relates to the death of Jerry Garcia, albeit with a reference to the wrong date of death. In 2013, in partnership with the family of Jerry Garcia, The Capitol Theatre christened its lobby bar as Garcia's in honor of the late Grateful Dead guitarist and singer, who counted the Port Chester, New York, rock palace among his favorite venues in the country. On the historic corner of Haight and Ashbury, Madame Tussauds unveils Jerry Garcia's wax figure with his daughter Keelin and wife Manasha. The family was filled with emotion and pride as the late legend remains an iconic representation of the city's vibrant culture, which he was a major part of.Now his legacy lives on as an official wax figure at Madame Tussauds San Francisco, where Bay Area visitors will have the opportunity to view Jerry... " "They've been doing this since the likes of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin, and it's an incredible honor to have Jerry included, says Manasha Garcia. On May 14, 2015 an all-star lineup held a tribute concert for Garcia at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. The event was called "Dear Jerry". In 2015, Jerry Garcia's wife, Manasha Garcia and their daughter, Keelin Garcia launched The Jerry Garcia Foundation, a nonprofit charity that supports projects for artistic, environmental, and humanitarian causes. The Foundation's Board members are Bob Weir, Peter Shapiro, Glenn Fischer, Irwin Sternberg, Daniel Shiner, TRI Studios CEO, Christopher McCutcheon and Fender Music Foundation Executive Director, Lynn Robison. Keelin Garcia said, It is a tremendous honor to participate in nonprofit work that is in accordance with my father's values. See also: Grateful Dead discography. Run for the Roses 1982. Cats Under the Stars 1978. How Sweet It Is 1997. Don't Let Go 2001. Pure Jerry: Theatre 1839, San Francisco, July 29 & 30, 1977 2004 (Pure Jerry #1). After Midnight: Kean College, 2/28/80 2004. Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, New York City, October 31, 1987 Jerry Garcia Band and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band 2004 (Pure Jerry #2). Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, New York City, The Best of the Rest, October 1530, 1987 Jerry Garcia Band and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band 2004 (Pure Jerry #3). Pure Jerry: Merriweather Post Pavilion, September 1 & 2, 1989 2005 (Pure Jerry #5). Pure Jerry: Warner Theatre, March 18, 1978 2005 (Pure Jerry #6).
Pure Jerry: Coliseum, Hampton, VA, November 9, 1991 2006 (Pure Jerry #7). Pure Jerry: Bay Area 1978 2009 (Pure Jerry #9). Let It Rock: The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. Garcia Live Volume One 2013. June 26, 1981, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA 2013 (Garcia Live Volume 1.5).
Garcia Live Volume Two 2013. Fall 1989: The Long Island Sound 2013 Jerry Garcia Band and Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman. Garcia Live Volume Four 2014. Garcia Live Volume Five 2014. On Broadway: Act One October 28th, 1987 Jerry Garcia Band and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band 2015.
Garcia Live Volume Seven 2016. Garcia Live Volume Eight 2017. New Riders of the Purple Sage. New Riders of the Purple Sage 1971. Old and in the Way.
Old and in the Way 1975. That High Lonesome Sound 1996. Live at the Boarding House 2008. Live at the Boarding House: The Complete Shows 2013. Legion of Mary: The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol.
Garcia Live Volume Three 2013. Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. Heavy Turbulence 1972.
Fire Up 1973. Pure Jerry: Keystone Berkeley, September 1, 1974 2004 (Pure Jerry #4). Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings 2012. Garcia Live Volume Six 2016. Garcia Live Volume Nine 2017.
Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. Not for Kids Only 1993.Been All Around This World 2004. The Pizza Tapes: Extra Large Edition 2010.
Garcia/Grisman: Alternate 2012. Jerry Garcia and John Kahn. Pure Jerry: Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael, California, February 28, 1986 2009 (Pure Jerry #8). All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions 2004. The Very Best of Jerry Garcia 2006.
Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia 2006. Surrealistic Pillow Jefferson Airplane 1967. Tarkio Brewer & Shipley 1970. Déjà Vu Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 1970. Blows Against the Empire Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship 1970.
Marrying Maiden It's a Beautiful Day 1970. Stephen Stills 2 Stephen Stills 1971. Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia 1971. If I Could Only Remember My Name David Crosby 1971. Sunfighter Paul Kantner and Grace Slick 1971.Powerglide New Riders of the Purple Sage 1972. Songs for Beginners Graham Nash 1972. Graham Nash David Crosby Graham Nash and David Crosby 1972. Demon in Disguise David Bromberg 1972.
Angel Clare Art Garfunkel 1973. Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg 1973. New Train Paul Pena 1973.Wanted Dead or Alive David Bromberg 1973. Keith & Donna Keith Godchaux and Donna Jean Godchaux 1975. Oh, What a Mighty Time New Riders of the Purple Sage 1975. Texican Badman Peter Rowan 1980. Virgin Beauty Ornette Coleman 1988.
Watchfire Pete Sears 1988. Transverse City Warren Zevon 1989. A Night on the Town Bruce Hornsby 1990. Blues from the Rainforest Merl Saunders 1990.Superstitious Blues Country Joe McDonald 1991. Devout Catalyst Ken Nordine 1992. Astronauts & Heretics Thomas Dolby 1992. Harbor Lights Bruce Hornsby 1993. Blue Incantation Sanjay Mishra 1994.
Trios Rob Wasserman 1994. Hot House Bruce Hornsby 1995. Side Trips, Volume One Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia 1998. Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions 1999. Folk Time Hart Valley Drifters 2016.
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