History Of The Grateful Dead

.. zmann had been working at. They began to work on a set of cover tunes, which are songs already written by a previous artists. The Warlocks began to get discouraged because of their lack of gigs, but they never even thought about giving up. Their first gig was a pizza parlor which they played three nights every other week.

Eventually, word got out because of their unique rock n’ roll blues sounding music and other gigs were calling. The original set up of the Warlocks didn’t last long because Garcia asked their bass player Dana Morgan to leave and hired his friend of long time named Phil Lesh. Although Lesh had never actually played the bass, Garcia knew he was a talented musician, so there was never any doubt. Within two weeks of acquiring a bass, Lesh was playing in the band. Garcia’s notion to bring Lesh into the band was a giant step for the evolution of the band. (Troy 35) Reading about other bands, Garcia found another band named the Warlocks.

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It was evident that the band had to change their name, they did not want to be confused with any other band. Fumbling around for two to three weeks the band could not find a suitable name. Brainstorming for an idea, Garcia was thumbing through an Oxford dictionary when he saw the phrase Grateful Dead. At first no one liked it, they worried that their fans wouldn’t like it. Despite their worries, they decided to keep it, and became the Grateful Dead. You had Kruetzmann the hard swinging drummer, Lesh the intellect, Garcia the folkie, Wier the eager kid, and Pigpen the blues loving biker. They were a strange bunch of mismatches, but they had one thing in common, they loved their music. pp 8 A group called the Marry Pranksters, a group of psychidelic practical jokers put together public parties called acid tests, where they served Kool-aid mixed with LSD, which at the time was legal.

The Dead would play, people would dance, and the Beatniks would spout poetry from the sound systems, and at the same time watch the walls melt. Performing the acid tests enabled the Dead to stray away from their traditional folk, blues sound and become a little more free form. (Tracy 40). In 1966 The Grateful Dead were regular performers at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmor West Auditorium. Earning more money, the band members decided to move in with each other, they moved into an old victorian mansion in the center of Haight- Ashbury in the bay area of San Francisco.

The place was filled with girlfriends, friends and friends of friends. There was constant people stopping by day and night, including fans wandered in through unlocked doors. The Grateful Dead’s relationship with their fans was unique, they appreciated them, it was all starting to turn into one great big family. It was apparent to the rest of the world there was something happening in San Francisco, it was the hippie movement. During the 1970’s the Grateful Dead’s audience kept growing and growing.

The Dead put on over one hundred shows a year. The concerts were starting to turn into marathons lasting four to five hours long. The Grateful Dead were no longer selling out clubs and ballrooms, they were selling out stadiums by word of mouth. Tragedy also gave the Grateful Dead another obstacle to overcome. Their keyboard player Ron “Pigpen” McKernen died from alcohol abuse in the winter of 1972, at the age of 27.

This harmed the Dead significantly , because “Pigpen” had a lot of influence in the bands early style of pp 9 music. This called upon Garcia’s lead guitar to strengthen the band. Drafting a new keyboard player, and with the fans positive feedback gave The Dead new energy to continue The Dead recognized early on that their fans were faithful. Realizing their fans were faithful the Grateful Dead wrote a letter to all their fans, stating Dead Freaks Unite. Who are you , where are you, how are you.

Send us your name and address and we’ll keep you informed. At first, the band only received 350 replies, but eventually grew to over 150,000. (Greenfield “secret life”.42). Most of the 1980’s Deadheads were not baby boomers, but the baby boomers children, wearing tied-died t-shirts looking for the spirit of the 1960’s. Grateful Dead concerts became a tribal phenomenon. Deadheads would arrive early in the parking lots selling t-shirts, illicit drugs, home cooked food, and a giant selection of old concert tapes. Deadheads would travel like gypsies, from city to city, state to state to see the Grateful Dead. Taking long leaves of absences from work or school, the Deadheads would pile into a van and travel across the country. To the fans, the Dead was something to depend on, a rock institution, the Grateful Dead had created their own world. Deadheads thought as if it was one great big family, and that’s exactly what it was, a family ( Hochman 34).

Misfortune struck Garcia and The Grateful Dead once again. On July 10, 1986 Garcia lapsed on stage into a near fatal diabetic coma. It lasted for five days. As a result of his coma, Garcia was forced to re-learn the Guitar. On the positive side, when Garcia awakened he experienced a new depth of affection from the deadhead community. Although Garcia lost his guitar skills, he did not loose his passion for music.

Practicing for nearly six months, Garcia was finally ready to tour once again. On December 15, 1986 The Grateful Dead was back on the concert scene. When Garcia pp 10 appeared back on stage the deadheads greeted him with an energizing standing ovation, giving Garcia the second wind he needed (Willman 12). After Garcia’s coma The Grateful Dead needed something to put them back on track. Returning back to the studio for the first time in over ten years, The Dead worked long and hard to produce a hit record. During the summer of 1987 the Dead went to the top of the charts with their recording titled “In The Dark”.

In The Dark was their first top ten record in history, climbing to number six with their song called “Touch Of Gray”. Their top ten hit brought on a whole new generation of Deadheads. Everyone was a Deadhead, from the politicians to the kid next door. Deadheads were appearing everywhere. The new arrival of Deadheads was as good as it was bad.

The parking lot scene was tuning into a mob, rather than a family. The authorities started arriving under cover in the parking lots, arresting hundreds of hustlers and people out of control. In result, The Grateful Dead were almost banned from touring in certain states. The Dead felt responsible, so they recorded public service announcements asking people to become more responsible (“Memories” 52). At the same time drugs were taking it’s toll on Garcia and the band. Garcia went from LSD, to cocain, to a potent form of heroin called persian white.

Garcia told Rolling Stone Magazine that he felt the band was running on inertia, meaning that he was slowing down. In late 1992, Garcia passed out from exhaustion, reflecting his physical condition. Garcia agreed to get himself in shape and off of drugs, because everything was getting worse. Garcia tried to regain his health back, and he did for a short period of time. But once again Garcia was using heroin.

While performing on stage Garcia started mumbling his lyrics, it would pp 11 sometimes happen very frequently. It was evident that Garcia was going down hill. After The Grateful Dead’s last shown at Soldier Field in Chicago, on July 9,1995, Garcia quietly checked himself into the Betty Ford Drug Rehabilitation Center. Two weeks into a month long treatment Garcia checked himself out of the hospital. Realizing that he couldn’t go on like that, Garcia knew he had to do something. Battling a reoccurring heroin addiction, Garcia wanted more help.

He checked himself in at Serenity Knolls’s drug treatment facility in Northern California. Waiting for his test results, the Marin County Sheriff announced that on Wednesday, August 9,1995 at 4:23 a.m, Jerry Garcia was found dead lying in his bed, from a heart attack (Memories 52). Garcia had a vision of how he wanted people to remember him. Garcia explains, “Ideally, I would just like to disappear gracefully and not leave behind any legacy to hang people up. I don’t want people agonizing over who or what I was when I was here when I’m not here anymore. I would like to be thought of as a competent musician.

That would be good. I’d like that”. (Burton 6) Garcia didn’t want to be remembered as an icon, he just wanted people to know what kind of musician he was. In memory of Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Mayor Frank M. Jordan of San Francisco ordered city flags at half mast.

Massachusetts governor William Weld, not only mourned the loss of Garcia but said, “It’s a loss to both my generation and my children’s. I had tickets for a scheduled concert September 16, and would still go if the band decided to soldier on.”(Willman 10) Also President Clinton stated at a live press conference that the death of Garcia was a loss to the entire country. Many political figures came out of the closet after the death of Garcia. August 11, 1995 two days after the death of Garcia, a ceremonial gathering was held at pp 12 Golden Gate Park for the remaining members of The Grateful Dead and their fans. Deadheads traveled from all over the country to pay their respects, and to find out that the Grateful Dead was no more. People were giving speeches, trying to reach over the sobbing and tears.

At the end of the ceremony the remaining band members and their family went to spread the ashes of Garcia off the Golden Gate Bridge, into the San Francisco Bay ( Burton 7). Annually, since the death of Garcia and The Dead, there has been an annual Further Festival, a summer tour with the remaining band members and their own side bands. Deadheads arrive early in the parking lots, with uncontrollable energy and anticipation to see the use to be Grateful Dead. Although there is not the sound of Garcia’s soft, soothing, high pitched guitar, Deadheads as a whole know Jerry is overtop looking down (Perkins 4). The Grateful Dead, who for over 30 years was a icon of the 60’s did not change with the times, but brought the times along with them. They played 36,086 songs, 2,317 concerts, 298 cities, 30 years, 11 members, and 1 band, are the statistics the Grateful Dead have earned over the years. Not only did Garcia and The Grateful Dead accomplish the nearly impossible, they gave music a new level, turning their music into a way of life for thousands of dedicated fans (Mokrzycki 1).

The Grateful Dead’s music was not just music, but also an environment. Although Garcia and the Grateful Dead had many obstacles to defeat, they made it to the top. Garcia earned his childhood wish of becoming a professional musician, to such a level of greatness that he is uncomparable. Jerry Garcia can rest in peace, knowing that he did something to music that no one else will probably ever do. He gave music his heart and sole, and music gave him it’s heart and soul. Garcia’s death brought an end to perhaps the single most remarkable run in the history of pp 13 rock n’roll.

All in all, The Grateful Dead were not the best at what they did, they are the only ones who did what they did. The Rise and Fall of The Grateful Dead Music Essays.


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