A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead
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The complete history of one of the most long-lived and legendary bands in rock history, written by its official historian and publicist–a must-have chronicle for all Dead Heads, and for students of rock and the 1960s’ counterculture.
From 1965 to 1995, the Grateful Dead flourished as one of the most beloved, unusual, and accomplished musical entities to ever grace American culture. The creative synchronicity among Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan exploded out of the artistic ferment of the early sixties’ roots and folk scene, providing the soundtrack for the Dionysian revels of the counterculture. To those in the know, the Dead was an ongoing tour de force: a band whose constant commitment to exploring new realms lay at the center of a thirty-year journey through an ever-shifting array of musical, cultural, and mental landscapes.
Dennis McNally, the band’s historian and publicist for more than twenty years, takes readers back through the Dead’s history in A Long Strange Trip. In a kaleidoscopic narrative, McNally not only chronicles their experiences in a fascinatingly detailed fashion, but veers off into side trips on the band’s intricate stage setup, the magic of the Grateful Dead concert experience, or metaphysical musings excerpted from a conversation among band members. He brings to vivid life the Dead’s early days in late-sixties San Francisco–an era of astounding creativity and change that reverberates to this day. Here we see the group at its most raw and powerful, playing as the house band at Ken Kesey’s acid tests, mingling with such legendary psychonauts as Neal Cassady and Owsley “Bear” Stanley, and performing the alchemical experiments, both live and in the studio, that produced some of their most searing and evocative music. But McNally carries the Dead’s saga through the seventies and into the more recent years of constant touring and incessant musical exploration, which have cemented a unique bond between performers and audience, and created the business enterprise that is much more a family than a corporation.
Written with the same zeal and spirit that the Grateful Dead brought to its music for more than thirty years, the book takes readers on a personal tour through the band’s inner circle, highlighting its frenetic and very human faces. A Long Strange Trip is not only a wide-ranging cultural history, it is a definitive musical biography.
stumbling about in a mental fog, the aftermath of the closing of their home, the Carousel. Healy had left the band to work with Quicksilver in Hawaii, and Owsley had returned to his role as the Dead’s soundman. Jonathan Riester was now the road manager, and he’d brought with him Jon McIntire, who was given the job of creating some sort of order in the Dead’s business files. Jon began by going to the attic at 710, where he found shopping bags choked with nearly three years of receipts. Neither
trend. Whatever the new material was, the Dead’s use of it was not trendy. Nor even always easy. Tapes of shows at this time reveal an audience struggling to assimilate the new material, with assurances coming from the band: “We’ll get into all that heavy stuff [like “Dark Star”] eventually,” said Garcia. Shortly after Garcia completed the music to “Dire Wolf,” Hunter had another dream. In it, Bobby Petersen was writing a song, and Hunter was able to look over his shoulder and read the lyrics.
fall 1990. ———. “The Making of So Far.” Golden Road, summer 1987. ———. “Jon McIntire.” Golden Road, summer 1988. ———. “Pigpen Forever.” Golden Road, 1993 annual. ———. “Roots.” Golden Road, winter 1984. Jackson, Blair, and Dennis Erokan. “Bill Graham, Rock’s Godfather.” BAM, 2/2/79. Jackson, Blair, and Regan McMahon. “Howie: On a Life in Music and Art That Matters.” BAM, 7/15/83. Jahn, Mike. “Grateful Dead Draws Far-Out Fans.” New York Times, 4/29/71. “Jailhouse Rock.” Time, 73:48,
consciousness modulates reality. Besides, the truth can’t only be here, or you could stare at your toes and figure it all out.” “Yeah, but that’s just solipsism, man, useless,” interjected Lesh. “All you do is climb up your own verbal asshole.” “The real black hole,” snickered Kreutzmann as Scrib reached for his pen while trying to imagine the members of Led Zeppelin in a rapt discussion of teleology and human consciousness. Today the vans arrive at the usual 6 P.M. as Taylor finishes with the
being literal, writing a song about what was happening just outside their door on Haight Street. Sue Swanson had suggested “The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion” as a name for the fan club she was in the process of organizing, and they lifted it to make a song title. They combined an archetypal dancing girl with the Haight scene and chorused, “Hey hey, come right away / Come and join the party every day.” Ironically, the sound of this track, recorded in San Francisco, was vastly superior to the