Introduction In their thirty years together, the Grateful Dead forever altered the way in which popular music is performed, recorded, heard, marketed, and shared. Founding members Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Ron Pigpen McKernan, and Bob Weir took the name Grateful Dead in 1965, after incarnations as Mother McCrees Uptown Jug Champions and The Warlocks. Despite significant changes in the bands lineup, including the addition of Mickey Hart and the death of Ron McKernan, the band played together until Jerry Garcias death in 1995. From the beginning, the Grateful Dead distinguished themselves by their preference for live performance, musical and business creativity, and an unprecedented dedication to their fans. Working musicians rather than rock stars, the Dead developed a distinctive sound while performing as latter-day American troubadours, bringing audio precision to their live performances and the spontaneity of live performances to their studio work. Side-stepping the established rules of the recording industry, the Dead took control of the production and distribution of their music. With a similar business savvy, they introduced strategic marketing innovations that strengthened the bond with their fans. This exhibition, the first extensive presentation of materials from the Grateful Dead Archive housed at the University of California, Santa Cruz, testifies to the enduring impact of the Grateful Dead and provides a glimpse into the social upheavals and awakenings of the late twentieth centurya transformative period that profoundly shaped our present cultural landscape.
Amalie R. Rothschild, Fillmore East Marquee, December 1969. Courtesy Amalie R. Rothschild
Beginnings The Grateful Dead began their musical journey in the San Francisco Bay Area at a pivotal time in American history, when the sensibilities of the Beat generation coincided with the spirit of the burgeoning hippie movement. Informally known as author Ken Keseys house band, the Dead played at the Acid Tests (1965-1966), the communal experimentations with LSD initiated by Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, and at the first Human Be-In (1967), billed as a union of love and activism, where Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti shared the stage with LSD guru Timothy Leary and the political provocateur Jerry Rubin. The Dead spent most of their time playing less high profile concerts throughout the Bay Areaoutdoors and at intimate venues like the Matrix nightclub, the Avalon and Carousel Ballrooms, the Fillmore Auditorium, and Winterland Arena. When the Grateful Dead first played in New York City, in June 1967, they appeared at a small club, Caf Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, and at two free outdoor concerts in Tompkins Square Park and Central Park, a mix of venues similar to those played in the Bay Area. Over the next few years, the Dead returned to Central Park, played at the 1968 student strike at Columbia University, and at nightclubs such as the Electric Circus and Unganos, the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, the gym at SUNY Stony Brook, and, most notably, the Fillmore East, located on Second Avenue at 6th Street.
Robert Nelson, Grateful Dead, 1967. From the original 16 mm film. 8 minutes Courtesy Grateful Dead Productions This video has no accompanying audio. Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, Skeleton and Roses, Avalon Ballroom, 1966. Courtesy Phil Cushway. The captivating posters of Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, along with those created by Rick Griffin, Norman Hartweg and Wes Wilson, could be seen throughout the Bay Area in the 1960s, posted on telephone poles, walls, and scaffolding, and for sale at shops in the Haight. Kelley and Mouse found inspiration for this concert poster in Edmund Sullivans illustrations for the 1859 edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The Grateful Dead, feeling an instant connection to the image, adopted the skeleton and roses as their logo. Norman Hartweg, Can You Pass the Acid Test? 1965. Courtesy of Phil Cushway Herb Greene, Grateful Dead, Corner of Haight & Ashbury, San Francisco, 1966. Silver gelatin print, 1989 Herb Greene, Grateful Dead, 710 Ashbury Street, San Francisco, 1966. Silver gelatin print, 1989 Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, Woman in Red Circle, with signed proofs, 1967. Courtesy Phil Cushway
Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, Valentines Day, Carousel Ballroom, 1968. Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive. Bob Seidemann, photographer, Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, designers, The Grateful Dead, 1967. Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive Seidemann took the Dead far away from their usual haunts, to the alienated environs of tract housing in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, where a combination of the setting sun, mirrors, and red filters made them look, according to the photographer, like mutant transplants from Jupiter, fresh out of their flying saucers. The result was this very popular poster. Playing the Fillmore East Concert impresario Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East in New York City in 1968, three years after opening the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Until 1971, when both Fillmores closed, Graham brought some of the most important performers of the 1960sJefferson Airplane; Jimi Hendrix; Janis Joplin; Santana; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Cream; The Band; The Who; Led Zeppelin; The Allman Brothers Band; and the Grateful Dead to larger audiences on both coasts. The Dead first played the Fillmore East in June 1968. It soon became a home away from home for them, with return visits in February, June, and September of 1969, January, February, May, June, July, September, and November of 1970, and at the end of April 1971, shortly before the Fillmore East closed in June. Philip Brookstein, Jerry Playing at the Fillmore East, Late Show, June 21, 1969.
Philip Brookstein, Jerry Playing at the Fillmore East, Late Show, June 21, 1969. Philip Brookstein, Jerry, Billy, Phil & Bobby Playing at the Fillmore East, Late Show, June 21, 1969. David Byrd, designer. Fillmore East Program, April 3, 1970. Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive Amalie R. Rothschild, Camping Out for Grateful Dead Tickets, May 1970. Silver gelatin print, 2010 Amalie R. Rothschild, Buying Tickets for the Grateful Dead, January 1970. Silver gelatin print, 2010 Amalie R. Rothschild, Grateful Dead at Fillmore East, January 2, 1970. Silver gelatin print, 2010 Courtesy Amalie R. Rothschild Rosie McGee, Bob Weir & Phil Lesh at Columbia University Student Strike, May 3, 1968. Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive. At the end of April 1968 students at Columbia University occupied administrative buildings in protest of, among other things, the universitys role in developing weaponry for use in the Vietnam War. On April 30, police moved in and cleared the buildings, arresting 712 students. Students then called a strike, resulting in a shut down of the campus for the rest of the semester, with all entrances guarded by the police. Unable to pass up the chance for a little mischief, the Deads manager got in touch with the strike organizers by calling the Village
Voice, and arranged to have the band slipped onto campus in a bread delivery truck. They played on Ferris Booth terrace.
Artistry Influenced by major strands of American musicblues, country, bluegrass, folk, jazz, rock, and the avant-gardethe Grateful Deads unique sound evolved over years of live performances during which they pushed the bounds of musical expression. As life-long students of music, they learned from and were inspired by each other and everyone they played with, both as a band and on solo projects. Their writing collaborations, especially with Robert Hunter and John Barlow, resulted in lyrics that reflected the bands individual and collective experiences, while also evoking American myths and legends. The Deads relaxed and informal stage presence belied a keen attention to the selection and customization of instruments, the calibration of concert sound systems, and the production of studio recordings. They wanted their audiences, whether standing in a large stadium or listening at home, to experience the music at an optimal levelclear, rich, and full of nuance. To this end, they not only spent large sums of money on state-of-the-art sound equipmentevidenced most dramatically in the building of the Wall of Sound in 1974but also employed a sizeable road crew, many of whom worked with the Dead for decades. In the studio, the band strove to impart the excitement and spontaneity of live performances into their recordings, frequently mixing live and studio tracks. Concurrent with their own creative output, the Grateful Dead formed long-lasting relationships with talented visual artistsphotographers, illustrators, graphic designers, animators, and filmmakerswhose work
matched and complemented the Deads sensibility and artistry. Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc., USW-1 Subwoofer, ca. 1979-1995. Courtesy of Grateful Dead Productions. Gary Platek, designer, Marionettes, 1987. Likenesses of Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann and Brent Mydland as skeletons, created for the music video Touch of Grey, directed by Gary Gutierrez. Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive Grateful Dead Board Room Chair, ca. 1985-1995. Designed in the style of a medieval throne, this oak chair is one of group used in the boardroom at Grateful Dead Productions, formed by the band in 1973. Courtesy of Grateful Dead Productions American Flag, ca.1960s. Courtesy of Annabelle Garcia Herb Greene, Jerry in Front of American Flag Playing Banjo, 1967.Silver gelatin print, 1989. Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz. Grateful Dead Archive Doug Irwin, guitar m
Click here to load reader