The Greatful Dead

The Greatful Dead

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The Grateful Dead spread their message of peace love and mind expansion across the globe for the better part of three decades. Few believe that there has ever been a more influential band in modern history. But all of this didn't come without great strife. From the beginning there have been several ups and downs with the band and its various members, from personal problems, to lable issues, to the issues they have always had with being on tour for so long. Very few bands are able to keep the same sound to their
music without changing with the times like the Grateful Dead has. You can pop in an early record from the 70's and it sound just the same as a recording of them in the late 90's. The Grateful Dead has experienced everything from death to drug addiction, and the Keep Truckin'!
The band was formed in 1965 in Sans Francisco with a mix of sounds from several different genres of music such as Folk, Bluegrass, Jazz, Country, Blues, and Physicadellic Rock. The original members were as follows: Jerry Garcia doing lead guitar and vocals, Bob Weir was the youngest member of the band playing rhythm guitar and vocals. Ron "Pigpin" McKernan played keyboards, Phill Lesh has always been the basist. Bill Kreutzmann played drums at first but was followed by Micky Heart in 1967 as a seccond drummer. When Pigpin died at the tender age of 27 of liver failure, Keith Godchaux joined on as the new keyboardist, with him he brought his wife Donna Jean to help with backup vocals. When the couple left the band in 1979 they were replaced by Brent Mayland. Mayland played with the band until
his death in 1990, making him the third Keyboardist to die while in the Grateful Dead. He was quickly replaced by Bruce Hornsbey. Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow were in charge of lryics for the most part. Owen Stanely was for years their beloved manager.
The Grateful Dead was not only known for their sound, but also several visual teqinies were used as well. Everything from little dancing bears and skelitons to the renound "Steal Your Face". Here are a few words from Owsley Stanley about the Steal Your Face:

In 1969 the Dead were renting a warehouse in Novato, California. I was sound man for the band at the time, and lived in Oakland.

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Bob Thomas, an old friend of mine had just moved from LA to the Bay area and needed a place to stay, and we needed someone to look after the warehouse, which had had a problem with break-ins.

Bob was a superb graphic artist whose work is now familiar to most Deadheads in the form of the Live Dead album cover and the Bear's Choice cover, on which the popular Dancing Bears appeared.

The Dead in those days had to play in a lot of festival style shows where the equipment would all wind up at the back of the stage in a muddle. Since every band used pretty much the same type of gear it all looked alike. We would spend a fair amount of time moving the pieces around so that we could read the name on the boxes. I decided that we needed some sort of marking that we could identify from a distance.

I was in the habit of driving from Oakland to Novato in a little MGTF which had plastic side curtains, which were not very transparent, due to aging of the plastic. One day in the rain, I looked out the side and saw a sign along the freeway which was a circle with a white bar across it, the top of the circle was orange and the bottom blue. I couldn't read the name of the firm, and so was just looking at the shape. A thought occurred to me: if the orange were red and the bar across were a lightning bolt cutting across at an angle, then we would have a very nice, unique and highly identifiable mark to put on the equipment.

At the warehouse I told Bob the idea that I had, and he made a quick sketch. A mutual friend, Ernie Fischbach, who was visiting with Bob, said "Give it to me, I'll show you an easy way to put it on the boxes." Whereupon he proceeded to cut holes in a couple of pieces of stencil paper. One was a circular hole, about 5 1/2 inches in diameter, and the other was a part of a circle 5 inches in diameter. But it was a half circle with a jagged edge. Then he held the stencil to an amp and sprayed a circle of white paint. Then with one side up, the red half circle went on top of the dried white paint and after wiping off the red and turning the stencil over, the blue was applied. This was the first version, and we put it on to all our gear. It helped make it easier to find our stuff in the crunch. I still have an old toolbox with one of the stencils on it.

A few days later I was talking to Bob and suggested that perhaps the words "Grateful dead" could be placed under the circle, using a style of lettering that would appear to be a skull if you saw it from a distance (I guess I was influenced by too many posters of the time). Any way a few hours later he came down from the loft with the design we know and love.



Personally my favorite part about the Grateful Dead is the fact that they always allowed bootlegging of their live preformances. Very few bands to this day allow you to record the show from the sound board. The Dead has always welcomed people to record their shows, and this fact along with the constant touring season helped create a large following. These followers often toured right along with the dead for months, sometimes even years at a time. Followers of the Grateful Dead were often referred
to as "deadheads". That name sure doesn't seem to bother them. To this day you can find Deadheads everywhere. My father and I are both happily referred
to as Deadheads.
In conclusion the band was one of the singly most infulencial bands of a very infulencial period. Their songs still ring out, filliing the air. I will leave you with a few words from the band. An exert from the song entitled "So Many Roads".
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