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Two early film and TV appearances of the young Grateful Dead, 1967
12:22 pm


Grateful Dead

For the 50th anniversary of their debut album, Rhino Records is releasing an expanded remastered edition of 1967’s The Grateful Dead, including a second CD containing a complete live set from the era. Buy it here. There’s also a gorgeous limited edition picture disc, only 10,000 produced.

Fifty years ago, depending on who you asked,  America was either of the cusp of a magical new era of peace and love, or in a hell of a mess. On one hand you had the Vietnam War, a stagnant economy and race riots, but on the other you had incredible new art forms, exotic drugs and best of all, thanks to the invention of the birth control pill, FREE LOVE. 1967 was a real “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” kinda proposition, contingent on who you were, how old you were and what your “bag” was, man. Richard Nixon’s future “silent majority” voters, aghast at what had become of “their” country, wanted law and order. Younger people wanted to get high, get laid and get groovy.

Getting ahead in the rat race so you could end up married with two kids and two cars in the suburbs just didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore after your first acid trip.

San Francisco became the epicenter of the hippie movement, a sort of “strange attractor” calling out for bohemian young people who thought for themselves and wanted in on this brave new world of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. The intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets provided a picture perfect tie-dyed backdrop for the world’s news media to focus on. It was here that longtime CBS News reporter (and later 60 Minutes stalwart) Harry Reasoner found himself and his film crew, for the making of the fascinating time capsule documentary “The Hippie Temptation.” In 1967 huge houses in the Haight could be rented for practically nothing, allowing for the influx of young people to be quickly absorbed, seemingly overnight. Soon there were even tour buses trekking through the district so that “straight” people could catch a glimpse of the hippies in their natural habitat, without having to actually walk among them, as if on a safari ride.

When Reasoner arrived in the city by the bay, the Summer of Love was about to kick into full swing. If you wanted to become a hippie yourself, Reasoner’s reporting—which was deeply cynical despite a patina of “objectivity” without ever really intending to be such—was almost a how-to kit for showing up in San Francisco with just a sleeping bag and finding your way around. He might have thought he was putting the hippies down, and to some watching—maybe even most of his CBS audience (the network was known for appealing to older and rural viewers at the time)—this was the message received. But if you were say, just graduating from high school in 1967, you could read between the lines. Reasoner’s documentary probably inadvertently inspired many an aspiring hippie to migrate to the Haight.

By the summer of 1967, the Grateful Dead, and especially their guitarist Jerry Garcia, were seen by many in the media—both the mainstream media and in the nascent underground press—as sort of ambassadors of hippie, and Reasoner gave them air time, even if he is often speaking over them as they play. Imagine that you are seventeen, it’s 1967, and you’re watching long-haired freaks and body-painted hippie chicks twirling and dancing in the park on TV for the first time as the unofficial mayor of the Haight opines:

Jerry Garcia: What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet. We’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about any kind of power, we’re not thinking about any of those kind of struggles. We’re not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. That’s not what we want. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life. A simple life, a good life, you know, and like think about moving the whole human race ahead a step or a few steps. At least not going around in circles like it is now.

Had I not been a mere toddler during the Summer of Love, I can assure you, I’d have been on the first bus to SF after watching “The Hippie Movement”!

Below, just the scenes with the Dead from the program. If you want to watch “The Hippie Movement” in its entirety, click here.

By the following year Hollywood got in on the San Francisco hippie vibe with “counterculture” comedies like I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (with a pot-smoking Peter Sellers) and Otto Preminger’s Skidoo (where Jackie Gleason drops acid), and Richard Lester’s moving drama Petulia starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott. In Petulia, the young Grateful Dead are seen performing “Viola Lee Blues” in a nightclub scene shot in 1967, some of the earliest pro-shot footage we have of the group.
Continues after the jump…

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Do you think you hate the Grateful Dead? Give ‘Terrapin Station’ a try, you might change your mind
12:07 pm


Grateful Dead

I’ve noticed how posting something about the Grateful Dead on Dangerous Minds tends to bring out both very pro and sometimes very con views from the peanut gallery about the band, or rather, when you look a little bit closer, about their fans.

The fans, the Deadheads themselves, it seems to me, were always the stumbling point for a lot of rock snobs who might otherwise have loved what the Dead had to offer.

I, too, was one of those snobs who turned up my nose at going to see Dead shows many a time (which I now regret) even though I loved them on record. The whole hippie thing felt terribly anachronistic to me, a PiL, Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle, Nina Hagen, Residents, Psychedelic Furs-loving kid, during the postpunk era (There was also the factor that I might actually meet the sort of girls I wanted to meet at, say, a Siouxsie and The Banshees show, but never at a Dead show, if that makes sense. It was a time management thing!). The fading tie-dye shtick felt even more dated in the 1990s. Today, I wish I’d gone to see a Dead show. My loss, truly.

Nevertheless, I’ve been going through quite a bit of a Grateful Dead phase lately, and I’ve found over the years, that this journey always comes full circle for me to their 1977 masterpiece, Terrapin Station. As great as American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead are, Terrapin Station is the one that stands out to me. It’s truly a remarkable album, but especially the title title track which takes up all of side two.

Have you ever heard it? If not, what are you waiting for? Press play.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Obama finally handing out pardons, and after 22 years for pot and acid, this Deadhead will go free

Barack Obama has been (somewhat notoriously) light on pardons and commutations of sentence throughout his administration. As of March he had only granted 70 pardons (the lowest since John Adams), and 180 commutations, a record that the Washington Post speculated might earn him the legacy of “one of the most merciless presidents in history.” I supposed you could argue that if he did extend mercy to those incarcerated at the hands of a ridiculously punitive justice system he might get a reputation for being “soft on crime,” and then he might not get elected again… for a third term?

It’s some small comfort however that Obama is on a bit of a spree during his final months as President, recently bringing his record up to 673 commutations and providing a light at the end of the tunnel for a number of non-violent drug offenders, including Timothy Tyler, who was busted in 1994 for selling pot and acid to an undercover cop and sentenced to life. He’s been in jail for 22 years. His sister has been fighting for his freedom, collecting over 423,000 names on his behalf—from her petition:

My brother Timothy Tyler was just 25 years old when he was sentenced to die in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. He’s watched murderers and rapists leave prison while he has no chance of ever leaving. He is now 45 years old and I want to bring him home. Timothy was a young Grateful Dead fan, who in May of 1992, sold pot and LSD to a friend who turned out to be a police informant. He had never been to prison before, but a judge was forced to give him double life without the possibility of parole because of two prior drug convictions — even though both those convictions resulted in probation.

Tyler’s case was followed pretty closely by activists against mandatory minimums and long sentencing, likely at least partially because as a Deadhead he’s a poster boy for non-violent offenders. After growing up with an abusive stepfather, he saw his first Grateful Dead show at 17, and began following the band and and doing acid fairly regularly. Tyler also dealt with bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes, at times believing Jerry Garcia was God, and once ending up in a psych ward for trying to build a dam naked on the side of an Arizona highway. In prison he became a vegetarian, and though he previously dated women, he began having sex with other inmates to escape the isolation and oppressive claustrophobia of prison.

He is set to be released in August of 2018, where he will be required to spend nine months in a residential drug treatment program, after which his mother and sister will be his support network.
Via Death and Taxes

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Uncle John’s ham: The Grateful Dead’s all-meat diet
09:51 am


Grateful Dead
Owsley Stanley

Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh enjoying some health food, 1966
You’re more likely to associate vegetarian fare like falafel, hummus and ganja goo balls with the Grateful Dead and their parking-lot partisans than bloody steaks, and for good reason. The cookbook Cooking with the Dead collects “over 65 fabulous kynd [sic] and caring vegetarian recipes prepared with love” that Deadheads came up with to feed themselves and make money on the road. They took that “are you kind?” thing to heart.

But Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the Dead’s visionary soundman and the West Coast’s industrious LSD manufacturer, had some peculiar ideas about nutrition that might not have been welcome in the latter-day Deadheads’ tailgate scene. When the Dead moved down to Los Angeles for a few months in 1966, Owsley found a cheap house for rent in Watts—probably not a hard trick so soon after the riots—where the Dead and their retinue observed Owsley’s zero-carb, zero-fiber diet. From Rolling Stone:

In February 1966, Owsley and the Dead moved to Los Angeles for another series of Acid Tests. Owsley rented a pink stucco house in Watts, next door to a brothel, where they all lived together. For the Dead, the good news was that they now had nothing to do all day but jam. The bad news was that since Owsley was paying the rent, he expected them to adhere to his unconventional ideas and beliefs. He was convinced that human beings were natural carnivores, not meant to eat vegetables or fiber. “Roughage is the worst thing you can put through your body,” he says. “Letting vegetable matter go through a carnivorous intestine scratches it up and scars it and causes mucus that interferes with nutrition.”

For the next six weeks, the Grateful Dead and their girlfriends ate meat and milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I’ll never forget that when you’d open the refrigerator, there were big slabs of beef in there,” Rosie McGee, Phil Lesh’s girlfriend at the time, later told Garcia biographer Jackson. “The shelves weren’t even in there — just these big hunks of meat. So of course behind his back, people were sneaking candy bars in. There were no greens or anything — he called it ‘rabbit food.’”

More on the idiosyncratic carnivorous diet of the young Grateful Dead after the jump…

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Watch the amazing Grateful Dead light show at the Empire State Building last night
03:23 pm


Grateful Dead

Last night the lights of the Empire State Building were synchronized to give 60,000 fans at the sold out “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” concert (which was held in Chicago, not New York) a light show that they would never forget. The light show synchronized the Empire State Building’s LED tower lights to the band’s live performance of “U.S. Blues.”

The surviving members of the original band were reunited for the “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” tour 20 years to the day after the band’s last performance together.

New Yorkers will get an encore performance of the Empire State Building light show at 9:00 p.m. tonight. Fans can tune into iHeartRadio’s Q104.3 to listen along with the group playing live as they watch the show.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Grateful Dead guide to dealing with a bad LSD trip
03:24 pm


Grateful Dead

This weekend, the Grateful Dead is playing their last shows ever in Chicago, so they won’t be needing these notably square-minded security guidelines as to how to deal with LSD, instructions that were recently “leaked” according to WAXQ-FM 104.3 radio station in New York City, also known as “the Q.”

For a larger image of the guidelines, click here.

According to the sheet, “Guests may ‘see’ images, ‘hear’ sounds, and/or ‘feel’ sensations that do not actually exist.” The flyer breaks down good versus bad experiences, with the latter, a.k.a. an “upsetting experience,” consisting of the following:

May be combative.
Pose a danger to themselves or other guests,”
Disregards the presence and personal space of other people.
Poor judgement, may misjudge distances, height, and strength.
May act on their increased sensuality (removing clothes, PDA, etc.)
Confused or disoriented to their surrounding.


This flyer was clearly intended for security personnel and not regular concert attendees, but even so, it strikes me as a little bit judgy for a Dead show.

Interestingly, the flyer also states that you should not refer to people under the influence of LSD as “tripping”—they are experiencing “IPR” (intense psychedelic response).

I always figured that at Grateful Dead shows, they just showed everyone there President Carter’s solution for dealing with a bad trip, as embodied by Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live in March 1977. Jimmy’s idea was, take some Vitamin B-complex and some Vitamin C-complex and have a beer. Then mellow out to some Allman Brothers or perhaps even….. the Grateful Dead.

via Death and Taxes

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Julie Christie and a young Grateful Dead star in ‘Summer of Love’ era masterpiece, ‘Petulia’

Richard Lester’s criminally obscure 1968 film, Petulia, starred Julie Christie (at the height of her international fame and considerable beauty) as a neurotic San Francisco socialite who abruptly comes into the life of a recently divorced surgeon (George C. Scott) and basically ruins it. After watching Dr. Archie Bollen (Scott) gently care for an injured boy, Petulia Danner—who is married to a violently abusive man (Richard Chamberlain)—becomes smitten and is determined to have an affair with him. (When they first meet she says, “I’ve been married six months and I’ve never had an affair.”). When her husband finds out about the affair, he savagely beats her. In a shocking turn of events, she spurns Archie, who wants to protect her, and returns to her husband.

Petulia is a complex, daring film about disappointments in relationships, gorgeously shot against the backdrop of hippie-era San Francisco by Nicolas Roeg, with a score by composer John Barry. Richard Lester uses one of cinema’s first examples of flash-forwards and jump-cuts. (The film’s complicated non-linear structure becomes much clearer during a second viewing which is highly recommended). Critics at the time were fairly sour on Petulia (Pauline Kael famously called it Lester’s “hate letter to America”) but some 40 years later, this mostly unseen movie seems far, far ahead of its time, truly a stylistic breakthrough that added much to cinema’s evolving vocabulary. Ironically, at the same time Petulia is very much the ultimate Hollywood time capsule of “The Summer of Love.”
I’ve seen Petulia at least ten times and I think it’s an absolute masterpiece, one of the greatest American films of the 1960s, right up there with The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde and Easy RIder. There are many, many incredibly powerful and emotional scenes in Petulia but one in particular sends chills down my spine: Scott’s Archie and his ex-wife (Shirley Knight) still feel intense pain over their divorce, and still care for each other, but they simply cannot stand to be in the same room together. They parry back and forth, each jabbing at the other, at first passive-aggressively and then ramping up the emotional violence until Scott finally just explodes. Every time I’ve ever watched this scene with someone else, the reaction is always the same when it’s over: “Wow.”

George C. Scott is just fantastic in Petulia, giving one of the best performances of his career. The same can be said of Julie Christie in the title role. I’d even give her work here the edge over her Oscar-winning 1965 role in Darling. (Pauline Kael called Christie’s Petulia “lewd and anxious, expressive and empty, brilliantly faceted but with something central missing, almost as if there’s no woman inside.” Um, hello? THIS is PRECISELY WHY her performance is so flawless!) The scene when Petulia, who is about to give birth to Chamberlain’s baby, thinks Archie is there with her in the delivery room as she goes under, is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen in any movie. I really can’t recommend this film highly enough. If you love film and you’ve never seen Petulia, you owe it to yourself to see it.
Petulia was set to premiere at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, but the May riots in Paris saw the festival cancelled that year. Petulia used to be really difficult to see and wasn’t released on DVD until 2004. It’s out of print again, but used copies are easy to come by. The film features musical cameos by Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company (doing “Down On Me”) and the Grateful Dead (The Dead actually has more than one appearance in the film, as the band and their entourage play the on-looking hippies as Petulia is taken out on a stretcher after she’s been beaten).

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead’s unrealized ballet

Though The Sea Lion, Ken Kesey’s tale based on the mythology of the Northwest Coast Indians, wound up as a children’s book, the author originally intended it to be a three-part rock ballet scored by the Grateful Dead. Kesey discussed his vision for the ballet with Old Dominion University’s student newspaper during a 1982 visit to Virginia:

He says he has just spent all of last year researching Northwest Indian myths. The author wants to write a ballet featuring the Indian legends, and have the music written and performed by rock group the Grateful Dead. “I want the Dead to write the music and score for an orchestra,’’ Kesey explains, “and put the Dead down in the orchestra pit where they belong! The Dead are the best!”

The Greatful Dead traveled with Kesey to the site of the Indian rituals, where they saw the rites performed by the Kwakutl, Tlingit, and Hiada Indian tribes. Kesey wants the Dead to do the ballet because “They won’t be remembered unless they do something permanent.”

Kesey says the performers are enthused about the project, and that Bill Graham, the rock promoter, is very interested in staging the production. Kesey doesn’t want the ballet to be just another rock performance, or rock “opera.” He wants it to be something special and lasting.

The ballet will be called ‘The Sea Lion,” and will concern a boy who finds a magic amulet of god. Later, the boy must contend with magical powers and the designs of necromancers.

Kesey believes the ballet would be a success, and would preserve the mythology of the Indians as well as returning the sense of story and art to people.

“I’d love to see Baryshnikov do it!” Kesey laughs.

Given the personalities involved and the size of the undertaking, it is perhaps not too surprising that this ambitious project was never realized—at least, not with the Dead’s participation. The Sea Lion wasn’t dramatized until 2002, the year after Kesey’s death, when a Chicago-area YMCA staged a production.

In the news clip below, the Dead get back on the bus with Kesey to learn about the folklore of the Northwest Coast Indians at the Lelooska Foundation in Ariel, Washington. It all starts to make a lot of sense as soon as you see the masks.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Read a sweet 1982 love letter written by Jerry Garcia to Vogue cover model
03:18 pm


Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia by Dean Russo

A two-part love letter written by Jerry Garcia in 1982 to an (unnamed) former Vogue cover model—who Garcia had met at a party in New York in 1980 while the Grateful Dead were playing Radio City Music Hall—will be offered up for auction next month. The first part was written between late May to early June 1982, but is not dated. Neither is the second part, but since it refers to the royal birth of Prince William on June 21, 1982 and was postmarked on the following day, that would seem to narrow it down a bit.

The letter also includes a sketch of a Dead show at the Greek Theatre. From a detailed description at RR

“Thank you really for sending that postcard, I feel like it’s sort of our first ‘official’ communication somehow. I’ve been hoping we could get together ever since we first met at Al’s that winter nite so long ago (sigh)…However it seems as tho…(Hey! My pen stopped writing) I’ve been ninety degrees off or out of phase or something whenever it might have been possible to get to know you a little better. I hope it doesn’t seem like I’ve been avoiding you, although I admit I’ve kind of been waiting for the opportunity (that is, the ‘right’ opportunity) for us to meet in some kind of neutral context that would be comfortable and relaxed and free of any pressure. Of course it could be years before any such opportunity arises, so…this is just a long winded way of saying thank you for writing. Oh! also in spite of never having been alone with you, I somehow feel close to you and I’ve looked forward to and enjoyed those times, however brief, that we have been in the same general vicinity and spoken slightly (New York, Germany, Calif etc.) you know—so…

The Grateful Dead just played our first outdoor show of the year at a place called the Greek Theatre (a nice amphitheatre in back of The University of Calif. in Berekley [sic] kind of like this).”

Here, Garcia draws a sketch of their performance at the Greek Theatre:

He continues, writing:

“A really nice site, we played for three days and the weather was really delicious although the last day (Sunday) was the beginning of a short hot spell and was a trifle uncomfortable but it was nice to play outdoors. I’m going to be playing in and around New York in June (while you’re in London naturally) and I’m sorry I’ll be missing you again: write me more, if you like that is, and thank you again for the card.”

Garcia adds “P.S., Pardon my handwriting, this is the first letter I’ve written in years.”

Then there is a second part, written on Hotel Parker Meridien letterhead. In full:

“Now, weeks later I’m in N.Y.C. Received your 2nd postcard (gasp) and I’m just getting (that is) around to mailing my first letter. Partly, it’s a sort of mail fright, like stage fright and partly editorial misgivings (Let’s see, is it legible? Spelled correctly? Am I constructing these sentences properly? God I hope she doesn’t think I’m an idiot for running off at the pen like this) Oh well—I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland. Hope you enjoyed it & I hope this letter finds you well. The whole Falkland thing here became really creepy (for me) when Begin explained & excused Israel’s invasion of Lebanon by comparing the situation to the British position in Falklands. The whole business scared the hell out of me. Latest news from England is of course the Royal birth. I’ll bet the locals are enjoying it immensly [sic].

I’m on the road again. This time with my own band & also doing some more of those two piece shows (me and John Kahn) (bass). I’ve done a few more of them since I last saw you and am starting to adjust to and become aware of the musical possibillitys [sic] of that acoustical format. It’s exciting tho still scary. I wish you were here now that I’ve got a little time here (for once) but… bye for now.”

There’s something quite endearing about Garcia sheepishly admitting to a form of stage fright with letter writing. He even waited so long to send it that he added a second part. Cute. The auction house claims that there is no other known letter by Garcia to be found in the marketplace, let alone one demonstrating his charming seduction technique.

You can see larger images of the entire letter at RR Auction.

Via MOJO4music

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Please God, make it stop! 90 minutes of the Grateful Dead tuning up
12:36 pm


Grateful Dead

On his “chat show,” Kevin Pollak has told the story more than once of a bit by the comedy troupe of Barry Levinson and Craig T. Nelson from some unspecified moment in the late 1960s or early 1970s when earnest folk duos were dominating coffee houses up and down the west coast. For one of their “songs,” Nelson and Levinson simply tuned their acoustic guitars for nine minutes. According to Levinson, after a minute or two the audience would cotton to the gag and kind of murmur in an abashed way. Around minute four, however, the audience would grow restless and hostile, as if to say, “NO. You are NOT doing this!” But sticktoitiveness has its benefits, after weathering the rough patch in the middle, more often than not the audience would find it even funnier than at the outset. Every time they did the gag, it would take everything that Levinson and Nelson had not to bail on the bit during the tough middle minutes. Hanging in there usually paid dividends, even if it was tough in the moment.

One wonders how “Tuning ’77,” a 90-minute supercut of the Grateful Dead tuning their instruments while touring in 1977, would go over if it were played live. For this unusual audio file, Atlanta-based artist Michael David Murphy sifted through a number of Grateful Dead live recordings on the Internet Archive that surely would tax my patience after ... well, twenty minutes maybe. And yet I find that listening to “Tuning ’77” is kind of pleasing in a background-music kind of way.

As Murphy states, the audio file is “a seamless audio supercut of an entire year of the Grateful Dead tuning their instruments, live on stage. Chronologically sequenced, this remix incorporates every publicly available recording from 1977, examining the divide between audience expectation and performance anxiety.” “Tuning ‘77” is available on, which also hosts the files that constituted its source material.

Here it is, go crazy:


via AV Club

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Henry Rollins covers the Grateful Dead

At first blush, the linkage of Henry Rollins, who came out of D.C.‘s straight edge scene—he’s obviously tight buddies with Ian MacKaye, the man who wrote the song “Straight Edge”—and Jerry Garcia, one of the most drug-friendly musicians who ever lived, seems more than a little bit odd. But maybe that’s just your square categories, maaaaan! Artists go where artists wanna go, and there’s no predicting where they’ll end up.

It turns out that even though he desists from using drugs, including alcohol, Rollins doesn’t really identify as a straight edge. (In that interview, Rollins discusses the handful of times he’s used marijuana, LSD, and mushrooms, and it’s a pretty entertaining read.) Discussing his penchant for tangents in his spoken-word appearances—and the occasional necessity for the audience to guide him back to the original fork in the road—Rollins in a 2008 invoked the atmosphere at Grateful Dead shows as a comparison: “It reminds me of when I’d go see the Grateful Dead, and Jerry Garcia would make a mistake and everyone would applaud: ‘Yeah, nice one, Fat Boy!’ It’s a very friendly environment.” So Henry Rollins likes Grateful Dead shows—here’s hoping that he dispensed more miracles than he received!
Wartime (Henry Rollins and Andrew Weiss)
Rollins former Black Flag band member Greg Ginn told Rolling Stone in 1985 that he dreamed of the group opening for the Grateful Dead and Dead tee-shirts were reportedly commonly seen worn by Black Flag’s roadies. As a working musician in California, it’s wouldn’t be all that unlikely that Rollins would meet Jerry—indeed, he probably did. In 1987, while working on Life Time, the first Rollins Band album, his studio was in the same building as the space the Grateful Dead was using when they remastered their back catalog for CD, and they hung out a little bit:

I was in L.A., mastering my first band album, Life Time, at a place I believe was called Digital Magnetics. The Grateful Dead were across from me, working on their first batch of CDs. I was told that all the way down at the end of the hall, a member of The Doors and their producer, Paul Rothchild, were working on remastering the band’s catalog for CD. ... I had someone relay a message to Paul and company that I was in the building. ... Moments later, Paul came into my small room and asked if I wanted to come in and have a listen to what they were doing. Uh, yeah!

Henry Rollins and Grateful Dead
In 1990 Rollins and his longtime bassist Andrew Weiss (who, incidentally, producer of several Ween albums) released an EP under the name Wartime called Fast Food for Thought. The EP’s fifth and final track was a cover of “Franklin’s Tower,” off of the Grateful Dead’s 1975 album Blues for Allah. Since Wartime consisted only of a vocalist and a bassist, it sounds very different from the Dead’s melodic guitar jamming. But the lyrics are entirely unchanged, and, at around eight minutes in length, it’s nearly twice as long as the original album cut, and honors the Dead’s jammy legacy.
In 2009, asked in an email interview “What made you want to cover a Grateful Dead tune?” Rollins replied, “We thought it would sound good with a go-go beat.” As it happens, a block away from my Cleveland apartment is a building with the words “Franklin Tower” written prominently above the entrance, and I think of Wartime’s cover every time I walk my dog. Here’s the original cut and Wartime’s take on it. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy it.

The Grateful Dead, “Franklin’s Tower”:

Franklin's Tower by Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

Wartime, “Franklin’s Tower”:

Franklin's Tower by Wartime on Grooveshark


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Grateful Dead on Hugh Hefner’s ‘Playboy After Dark,’ 1969
09:44 am


Grateful Dead
Hugh Hefner

The Grateful Dead perform a delicate “Mountains of the Moon” and a rip-snortin’ “St. Stephen” from their 1969 Aoxomoxoa album on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark TV show. Aoxomoxoa is considered a highlight among the group’s studio output by fans, but “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen” were thought to be too hard to play live by Jerry Garcia—there were only thirteen live performances of “Mountains” and after 1971 “St. Stephen” was only pulled out on rare special occasions.

Despite this, Garcia remarked that “Mountains of the Moon” was “one of my favorite ones. I thought it came off like a little gem.” It does, like something you’d hear at a Renaissance fair. And if I had to pick just one song by the Dead of this vintage to see them do live, it would be “St. Stephen” (no, “Dark Star,” no, “St. Stephen”...). Even with the hatchet-like unsubtle edits this is still fantastic.

Eagle-eyed culture vultures will spot the gorgeous English Playmate Dolly Read who would soon be cast as “Kelly MacNamara,” the lead role in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to Jerry’s left during the interview. You’ll want to skip directly to 3:30 to avoid the boring introduction and a brief flash of NSFWishness.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Live Dead: Epic Grateful Dead TV appearance from their legendary 1972 European tour
03:14 pm


Grateful Dead

Although the Grateful Dead had already played one memorable gig in France in June of 1971 at the (“Honky”) Château d’Hérouville recording studio, that was more of a spontaneous hippie “happening” than a concert performed in front of a ticketed audience. It wasn’t until 1972 that the group properly toured Europe. By then there was a lot of pent up demand to see the Dead and the band was inspired by the reception they received from their non-English speaking fans.

One stop, well two, along that legendary trek occurred at the Tivolis Koncertsal in Copenhagen. The band played the Tivolis on April 14 and then three days later they returned for a second concert that was broadcast live—part of it, at least—on Danish (some sources say French) television, with the remainder of the material shot that night getting an airing in August of that year.

As “formal” visual recordings of earlier Dead shows in their entirety (or close to it) are not exactly in abundance, this show has long been prominent among tape traders in varying levels of quality (As seen here it’s very, very fine). It’s probably the final professionally videotaped show of Pigpen playing with the band.

Although it starts off slowly—the group’s improvisational nature seems hampered slightly due to having to fit their set into the allotted TV time frame—stay with it,  the energy level rises as the set goes on.

Me And Bobby McGee
Chinatown Shuffle
China Cat Sunflower >
I Know You Rider
Jack Straw
He’s Gone (first time for this onstage)
Next Time You See Me
One More Saturday Night
It Hurts Me Too
Ramble On Rose
El Paso
Big Railroad Blues

Eventually all of the Grateful Dead’s 1972 European tour was released as the 73 disc box set, Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings. It ain’t cheap…


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Live Dead: Wild footage of legendary Grateful Dead set at the ‘Honky Château’ in France, 1971
05:33 pm


Grateful Dead

Jerry Garcia at Château d’Hérouville, photo (c) Rosie McGee

Château d’Hérouville is a residential recording studio in Hérouville, France made famous by Elton John, who recorded three albums at the studios, (Honky Château, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road).  Marc Bolan, Gong, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Bad Company, Iggy Pop, Fleetwood Mac… there is a long, long list of groups who have recorded there. It was once home to Chopin and Vincent van Gogh apparently painted part of the building.

The Grateful Dead did not record in the famous studio, per se, but they did perform a locally legendary impromptu gig there on June 21, 1971, as Jerry Garcia explained to Rolling Stone:

We went over there to do a big festival, a free festival they were gonna have, but the festival was rained out. It flooded. We stayed at this little chateau which is owned by a film score composer who has a 16-track recording studio built into the chateau, and this is a chateau that Chopin once lived in; really old, just delightful, out in the country near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, which is where Vincent van Gogh is buried.

We were there with nothing to do: France, a 16-track recording studio upstairs, all our gear, ready to play, and nothing to do. So, we decided to play at the chateau itself, out in the back, in the grass, with a swimming pool, just play into the hills. We didn’t even play to hippies, we played to a handful of townspeople in Auvers. We played and the people came — the chief of police, the fire department, just everybody. It was an event and everybody just had a hell of a time — got drunk, fell in the pool. It was great.

In The Dead Book: A Social History Of The Grateful Dead, Hank Harrison (Courtney Love’s estranged father), briefly a manager of the group, wrote:

The Dead started to play just before the sky got dark, but their entire set was illuminated by bright lights from the Paris socialized television station Link Two, which rebroadcast the event the next week. Their film technique was flawless, as one would expect from a French film team; the camera people were completely unobtrusive on the musicians; the lights bugged Phil a little. Pig Pen just barely recovered in time to sing after downing his two bottles of duty free Wild Turkey… Weir was in fine primal scream voice, and Garcia settled into his trancelike lassitude from which emanates the famous electronic genius that is particularly his.

They played for three hours, and during this time the workers and the fire department and little children lit hundreds of candles and placed them around the pool as if it were a religious shrine… a Lourdes or place of healing waters. As the party progressed, the candles were extinguished by the bodies of of various drunken celebrants being thrown in the pool by other drunken celebrants. The Dead played louder and louder; the locals had never heard anything like it before and they were delirious.

Some parts of the Grateful Dead’s show at Hérouville were broadcast by ORTF on the Pop 2 TV show on July 24, 1971. A second portion from the set was broadcast on November 27, 1971. The video below is from a bootleg compilation of those two broadcasts that’s been going around for the past few years on Dime a Dozen and other torrent trackers. You can listen to the entire set (audio only) here.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
If you think you hate the Grateful Dead, give ‘Terrapin Station’ 16 minutes of your time

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The death of Jerry Garcia as it was reported on ABC’s ‘Nightline’
07:26 pm


Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia was a tie-dyed human symbol of the survival of the ideals of the hippie generation. Accordingly, when he died, a lot of people were very cut up about it, as this report reminds us with its live shots of grief-stricken fans in Washington, DC, New York and San Francisco on August 9, 1995.

I remember the day it happened. A guy I was friendly with from taking cigarette breaks outside of my office building—a fellow who always wore a suit, crisp white shirt and a tie, maybe mid to late 50s at the time and the manager of a big Hollywood sound stage—told me that he’d locked the door of his office and cried like a baby behind it for 20 minutes before regaining his composure.

He’d gotten into following the Dead around (and ‘shrooms) as a way to stave off a mid-life crisis after a divorce blind-sided him. He had a sort of “On the Road” moment as a Deadhead and that was really a liberating thing for him. Jerry Garcia’s death represented the end to something that was of huge emotional importance in his life, something that obviously a lot of people also felt.

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