The Grateful Dead
Phil Lesh at Jerrys Memorial - photo by Joe Rizzo
Phil Lesh with wife and son at Jerry Garcia's memorial in Golden Gate Park. A fan holds umbrella to shade the couple
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photo by Joe Rizzo
Jerry Garcia
by Joe Rizzo
The Grateful Dead was perhaps the band to define and epitomize the San Francisco psychedelic scene. During the mid to late1960's The Grateful Dead's transcendental rock and roll music created a devout following among the American youth that were protesting against the Vietnam war and fighting for civil rights at home. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, the discovery of LSD, war protests, a vocal youth movement questioning the world spawned the 'Summer Of Love' in 1967.

During this time the band members lived together in a communal setting at 710 Ashbury, just off of the Haight Street in San Francisco.

The Grateful Dead created an experience that was not just a musical concert - for many it was a shamanic experience. Rock and roll music twisted and taken into long space jams. This was rock and roll taken to a new level.

The band defied many odds and by traditional music business standards lacked commercial value. They allowed taping of their concerts and allowed people to trade live bootlegs of their shows. Rather than concentrate on studio recordings the Grateful Dead toured constantly and released numerous live recordings. The band attracted legions of people who deserted the traditional 9 to 5 American work ethic to live life on tour following the band for years, selling tiedyes, artwork, drugs, veggie burritos, and an assorted knic knacs. The devout fans who followed or toured with the Dead acquired the tag "Dead Heads" or "Heads". Dead Heads embodied an American hippy - gypsy ethic living in Volkswagon vans, camping out, sharing marijuana. Heads encompassed three generations of people from all walks of life.

The F.B.I. had an active operation 'Dead End' to try to infiltrate and and stop the the Dead Head sub culture. The F.B.I. were frequently spotted in the parking lots attempting survelliance and arresting concert goers and fans.

Dead Rose

 

 

 

Reckoning, one of personal favorite offically released recordings.

 

Grateful Dead at 710 Ashbury picture

The recent death of guitarist Jerry Garcia seemed to truly mark the end of the psychedelic era. Garcia's spidery guitar licks and transendental style catapulted the shy guitarist to cult status in the early 60's up until his untimely death on August 8th, 1995. The city of San Francisco flew flags at half mast in honor of the passing of the famous San Francisco native. Astronomers fittingly named an astroid in tribute to the legendary guitarist.On December 9th, 1995 the remaining bandmates made an official announcement confirming that they would no longer play together under the name 'The Grateful Dead'.

 

 Life After the Passing of Garcia
Many of the band members continue to play in various combinations. Bob Weir, Vince Welnick, and Rob Wasserman are performing as 'Ratdog'. Mickey Hart continues with various musical projects including 'Planet Drum' as well publishing books such as 'Spirit into Sound-The Magic of Music' in 1999. 'Phil Lesh and Friends' plays occassionally to packed clubs in in the Bay area and also tours. The summer of 1997 the 'Further Festival' found the remaining Dead members minus Bill Kreutzman touring the US. In 1998 'The Other Ones' toured with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Steve Kimock (from Zero) on guitar, Vince Welnick, and Bruce Hornsby on piano. In 2000 'The Other Ones' returned (minus Phil Lesh) to Oakland Arena for New Years Eve with Phil Lesh playing a show at Henry Kaiser. In 2002, Bill Kreutezman was the last remaining Grateful Dead member to form his own group the Tri Chromes. In 2003, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead - Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, along with Jimmy Herring on lead guitar, Rob Barraco (keyboards and vocals), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards and vocals) and Joan Osbourne (vocals) reformed as 'The Dead' and toured to wide critical acclaim. On Nov. 12th, 2003, the CBS news show 60 Minutes II did a segment on the band entitled 'Reviving the Dead.'

The street corner Haight Ashbury is now a popular tourist attraction with a Ben and Jerry's Ice cream store which pays tribute to Jerry Garcia with a a 'Cherry Garcia' flavor. There were rumors of a Terrapin Station building that was to recreate and pay homage to the Grateful Dead experience. Terrapain Station never materialized. On Sunday August 7th, 2005 in San Francisco, the city unveiled the newly renamed Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in John McLaren Park.

Other Grateful Dead Links:
The Official Grateful Dead Homepage
Jerry Day

Books:
Deadhead Social Science
You Ain't Gonna Learn What You Don't Want to Know
Rebecca Adams and Robert Sardiello, eds.
2000; 299pp AltaMira Press

last update: March 24, 2007