Ist. NEWSLETTER - Fall, 1971
(What follows is the first Dead Head Newsletter, sent out at the end of 1971.
It is basically a short history of the Grateful Dead and the 1960s. )
? ? ! ! DEAD HEADS UNITE ! ! ? ?
You probably have been wondering what it's all about . . . just as much as we have at times. We originally had hopes of establishing some sort of communication system between all of you out there. However, our own lack of money has prevented us from doing what we had originally intended.
"We can't afford to do what 'Dead Heads' was supposed to have done but what we can do is let everybody know we got their letter. The way it could have worked out for example, if we had it really super together, if we had a lot of money, what we could have done was to organize like rough lists of members of the Grateful Dead weirdness scene or whatever, and have them get together in their town and put on some trips or something . . . to provide a communication system of some loose sort. But we're limited economically because the Dead Head trip doesn't have any income, and the Grateful Dead doesn't make all that much money." - Garcia
'Dead Heads' is not a fan club as such; we don't really think of it that way at any rate. We had hoped to be able to keep in contact with all of you, but the number of all of you seems to multiply far faster than we can accommodate your questions and requests. Hopefully in the future you will be able to visualize our situation a little better and understand our difficulties in trying to respond to the thousands of you that are out there all over the world. There are relatively a small number of family members and friends here who are trying to somehow keep track of who you are and where you are and respond to some of the requests and questions you have. As we are far from being mechanized or computerized, (all manual labor as it were) you may find us slow in returning your letter. We regret the delay, but we're moving as fast as we can and you'll just have to 'hang loose' as far as hearing from us goes. We really are making an effort to keep in touch.
Since we are asked time and time again some of the same questions regarding the band's history, where the name came from, etcetera, we would like to try and fill you in on certain things. If you're really interested in reading about the Dead try getting a hold of the following issues of ROLLING STONE: issue #40 - August 23, 1969, #100 - January 20, 1972, #101 - February 3, 1972, and the March issue of PLAYBOY magazine.
The kernel of what would later become the Grateful Dead sprouted when Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Ron McKernan (Pigpen) formed Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions in Palo Alto, California. Unable to get gigs as a jug band, they made the transition to an electric rock band when a local music store owner offered to supply them with equipment in 1964.
As an electric rock band they were joined by Bill Kreutzmann on drums and the music store owner on bass, and called themselves the Warlocks. Their first gig together was at a pizza parlor. Several weeks later, Garcia suggested to a friend of his, Phil Lesh, that he play bass in the band, although Phil had never played bass before. So in July 1965 the five of them played their first gig together at a small club in Fremont. For six months they played the booze clubs, six nights a week and five sets a night, doing all the R&B-rock standards.
Jerry recalls, "Then we got a regular job at a Belmont club, and developed a whole malicious thing, playing songs longer and weirder, and louder, man. Pretty soon we had driven out all the regular clientele. They'd run out clutching their ears."
The coming together of the Warlocks, Ken Kesey and the Pranksters at La Honda was the first Acid Test, and for six months thereafter all they did was play at tests. "The Acid Test was the prototype for our whole basc trip." - Garcia
As Tome Wolfe said in his Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, "The Dead (Warlocks) got on the bus, made that irrevocable decision that the only place to go was further into the land of infinite recession that acid opened. They were true explorers. They decided to cross the great water and bring back the news from the other side."
"What the Kesey thing was depended on who you were when you were there. It was open, a tapestry, a mandala -- it was whatever you made it. Okay, so you take LSD and suddenly you are aware of another plane, or several other planes, and the quest is to extend that limit, to go as far as you can go. In the Acid Tests that meant to do away with old forms, with old ideas, try something NEW. Nobody was doing something, y'know, it was everybody doing bits and pieces of something, the result of which was something else.
"When it was moving right, you could dig that there was something that it was getting toward, something like ordered chaos, or some region of chaos. The Test would start off and then there would be chaos. Everybody would be high and flashing and going through insane changes during which everything would be demolished, man, and spilled and broken and affected, & after that another thing would happen, maybe smoothing out the chaos, then another, and it'd go on all night till morning. Just people being there, and being responsive.
"It wasn't a gig, it was the Acid Test where anything was okay. Thousands of people, man, all helplessly stoned, all finding themselves in a room full of other thousands of people, none of whom any of them were afraid of. It was magic, far out, beautiful magic."
Since then, the search for that magic has been as important for the Dead as music; music for the Dead has to capture that magic.
In the late days of the Acid Tests they heard of another band called the Warlocks, so they decided they'd have to change the name.
"It was a grey stormy blowy day in old Palo Alto, and we were hanging out at Phil's house, smoking DMT, and we had just found out there was another band called the Warlocks so we couldn't use that name, and we were trying to figure out names and we came out with about a million of 'em and none of them quite got it. We decided to thumb through the Oxford dictionary, so Jerry got up and walked over and spun the dictionary and put his finger in, and it came out Grateful Dead. It's an ethnological term; it has to do with a guy named Childs who went around and catalogued a lot of folk ballads from northern Ireland and Scotland back before the turn of the century. There was a whole section that he did on what were the Grateful Dead ballads; the Grateful Dead ballads being visitations and stuff like that, generally having to do with people that had died and come back and been kind of glad." - Bob Weir
"Let's see, the cassic story is the one where somebody dies, but there's some dishonor connected with the death, so they can't really rest until this matter is settled, and then when it's settled that puts them in the category of being Grateful Dead. It's just what it sounds like . . . Grateful Dead." - Garcia
When the Acid Tests stopped in the spring of 1966 and Kesey went to Mexico, the Dead got off the bus and started their own (metaphorical) bus.
They returned to San Francisco in June, and after a few stops they moved into 710 Ashbury, in the middle of the Haight. It was the first time some of them lived together as a group in the City, and they became an institution.
710 Ashbury was another bus, an energy center as well as a model; it would become a nodal point for the cultural innovation that emerged from the Haight-Ashbury, including the Golden Gate Park Free Concerts which gave rise to the Dead's continuing reputation as the 'people's band'.
With all the other groups in the City, they did become a band, an economic entity in an expanding market. But the Dead were always different from the rest of the San Francisco groups. While other groups fought for recognition, and more and bigger gigs, the Dead played mostly for free. Monterey was a godsend of exposure to most groups, but the Dead bitched about it, arguing that the profits go to the Diggers; refusing to sign releases for the film that became "Monterey Pop", and finally organizing a free festival on a nearby campus and stealing banks of amplifiers and speakers for an all night jam, eventually returning them.
It was in 1966 that the Dead signed with Warner Brothers, and soon afterward the record THE GRATEFUL DEAD was released. It was a largely unsuccessful attempt to get a live sound in the studio.
In late 1967 they set up the Great Northwestern Tour with the Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jerry Abrams' Headlights, taking care of all the arrangements for themselves.
Out of that energy came the Carousel Ballroom. The Dead, helped by the Jefferson Airplane, leased a huge Irish dance hall in downtown San Francisco and started a series of dances that brought back the enthusiasm of the good old days. The Carousel was the heyday of a musical form that encompassed a community of energy in celebration of life and consciousness in change.
Mickey Hart joined them around this time, and played drums and percussion through 1970.
In the Spring of 1968 the Carousel sank further into debt and finally closed.
It was at this time that ANTHEM OF THE SUN, their second album, was recorded and released. It turned out to be a monumental project; it was recorded in four studios and at eighteen live performances; halfway through they got rid of their producer and finished it themselves months behind schedule.
A bust in the fall of '67 and the increasing deterioration of the Haight finally drove them from 710 Ashbury in 1968, and they scattered themselves all over Marin County.
AOXOMOXOA, the third album, was recorded in 1969. "It was our first adventure with 16-track, and we tended to put too much on everything. We tried to use up every track, and it came out mixed by committee. A lot of the music was just lost in the mix." --Garcia
Tom Constanten played keyboard with the band during 1969 and
LIVE DEAD was recorded at about the same time as AOXOMOXOA. "If you take LIVE DEAD and AOXOMOXOA together, you have a picture of what we were doing then. We were playing LIVE DEAD and we were recording AOXOMOXOA." --Garcia
WORKINGMAN'S DEAD came later in 1970. The band had been rehearsing and were pretty far into the material whey they were busted in New Orleans. After the bust they went home to San Francisco to make the record, in the middle of which all sorts of hassles went
down with their manager at that time, Lenny Hart.
After WORKINGMAN'S DEAD had been released, the Dead, Janis and Big Brother, Ian and Sylvia, The Band, and Bonnie and Delaney traveled across Canada together by train and played three gigs. It was said to have been the biggest rock-and-roll drunk in history.
1970 also saw a series of nationwide tours built around the concept of a family show. The concerts called "An Evening with the Grateful Dead" featured the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a country rock band whose members had played in the Dead's larger musical scene for some years. Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart were also part of the New Riders at this time.
It was also at this time that the lyrics of Bob Hunter came to the fore in the Dead's music.
The beginning of 1971 saw the release of their sixth album, AMERICAN BEAUTY, which like WORKINGMAN'S DEAD emphasized the vocals and the songs.
The most recent album is GRATEFUL DEAD, a double album released late in 1971. It was taken from live performances at the Fillmore East and Manhattan Center in New York City and at Winterland in San Francisco. "It's us, man. It's the prototype Grateful Dead. Basic Unit. Each one of those tracks is a total picture, a good example of what the Grateful Dead really is, musically." - Garcia
Near the end of the 1971 Pigpen was extremely ill, and unable to travel. Jerry had about this same time met Keith Godchaux, a piano player he and Billy had jammed with at Keystone Korner-a small club in San Francisco. With Pigpen sick, three major United States tours facing them, and the desire to have another good musician to add to their music, Keith joined the band and within a month he learned most of the Dead's current material and became an integral part of the Grateful Dead.
Pigpen recovered enough to join the band for their last tour of 1971, and in December the six of them did an East Coast tour that was a record high for the Dead as well as for their listening audiences. With simulcast radio broadcasts of their sold out performances in Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Syracuse, Rochester, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New York, Boston and St. Louis, the Dead's music and magic reached a listening audience that numbered in the millions.
1972 has begun incredibly with the live double album GRATEFUL DEAD becoming the Dead's first gold record and a two month European tour scheduled for April and May. The European performances will be recorded in 16-track with hopes of material for a new live album to be mixed in the United States. We plan on doing concerts in the following cities:
London, England April 5-9
Newcastle, England April 11
Copenhagen, Denmark April 14 & 15
Aarhus, Denmark April 16
Bremen April 21
Dusseldorf, Germany April 24
Frankfurt, Germany April 26
Hamburg, Germany April 29
Paris, France May 3 & 4
Lille, France May 5
Amsterdam, Holland May 10
Rotterdam May 11
Luxembourg May 16
Stuttgart May 17
Munich May 18
London May 26-28
We are virtually moving the office from San Rafael to on the road while we're in Europe; a lot of work is in store to keep it all together, but we also anticipate a lot of great music and fun, especially since we'll be traveling with about fifty people from the Grateful Dead family.
By the time we return from Europe around June 6th we hope our Grateful Dead Songbook will be well underway and will be available to you sometime late this summer. It will include all the music and lyrics from our last three albums: WORKINGMAN'S DEAD, AMERICAN BEAUTY, and GRATEFUL DEAD. Kelly will be doing the art work: full color as well as black and white. There will be a full page illustration for each of the twenty-one songs. If you're not aware of who Kelly is: check out the album covers of AMERICAN BEAUTY and GRATEFUL DEAD in particular . . . he did them ! ! ! It should be a beautiful songbook; we're all looking forward to it with great anticipation.
And speaking of art work - - - we have all enjoyed the art work and letters you have sent us. We would have liked to have compiled a book of some kind with the most far out letters, drawings, and illustrations that we have received and send it back to you, but once again we have to admit to a lack of money to be able to do that. We have even received a personal letter written by a computer - - - we almost attempted to write a letter back but no one was versed well enough in computer language to carry it off.
We have also received a great deal of correspondence from those of you who are interested in Grateful Dead t-shirts. We had originally thought about having them printed to sell - - with the idea in mind of possibly being able to cover some of the expenses that the whole Dead Head trip has brought upon us - - but we changed our minds because of the commercial association it had with our trip, which was not what we wanted at all. We would like to be able to give everyone a free t-shirt but again there's no way possible for us to afford it. It is possible that if enough of you are interested in purchasing t-shirts in the future we might be able to get something together and happening. For now however, if you desperately need one, you might contact Kumquat Mae - the Deads' old ladies' store at: 1218 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo, California, 94960 - and maybe they can help you.
We have also received numerous requests for itineraries for the band's tour schedule. We understand that you would like to know when the Dead are playing and where - - - however, so often dates and schedules are not confirmed until almost the last minute, consequently giving us no time to let you know when the band is playing and where much before they're on the stage. Sending out itineraries does not solve your problem of getting tickets either, as we're sure you're aware of. Some performances have been known to sell out the first day tickets were available, leaving many of you very disappointed. We regret the lack of more tickets, but the band is not into playing 18,000 seat arenas very often, if ever . . . consequently the number of tickets is very limited and they're on a 'first-come first-serve' basis. We are not directly involved in the actual selling of tickets; our main concern regarding the ticket scene is that the price be kept as low as possible and that no one gets burned in any way. We try to play in halls that hold no more than 5,000 people - - - preferably closer to a 3,000 seat capacity because of the problems with the sound that we encounter in the halls that are any larger. Our sound system really isn't capable of handling a bigger hall without sacrificing the quality of our music and the whole experience for everyone. We don't want the show to be a burn for our audience or for ourselves. We are into a quality trip, and we're not going to sacrifice it if we can possibly avoid it . . . so try and bear with us.
Because the halls we play in are as small as they are and we know you're out there trying to reach us, we have tried to reach more of you by doing radio simulcast broadcasts of our live concert performances - - - some of you might have heard a broadcast from one of our last three tours in October, November, or December of '71.
"Basically the Grateful Dead isn't for cranking our rock-and-roll, it's not for going out and doing concerts or any of that stuff, - - I think it's for getting high.
"We're not performers; we are who we are for those moments we're before the public, and that's not always at the peak.
"We don't think of ourselves as a rock-and-roll band, and experimental band, this band or that band. If anything, we think of ourselves as musicians, who have lots of possibilities.
"I can envisage a new world in which society has a way for there to be music, whose function is to get you high, that's the sort of thing we're hammering at. To get really high is to forget yourself; and to forget yourself is to see everything else; and to see everything else is to become an understanding molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. That's why I think it's important to get high." - Garcia
Although the Dead have not been on the road performing the last few months, individual members of the band have been directing their musical energy and talents towards recording and writing new music.
Garcia's solo album was released in early January - - - a very unique and beautifully spacey album.
Bobby has recorded an album - it's called ACE. It's Grateful Dead family and friends, augmented by Tower of Power's brass section and features the fine songwriting talents of a prep school friend of Bobby's, John Barlow. The album includes the following tunes:
Mexicali Blues (music - Bob Weir, lyrics - John Barlow)
It Looks Like Rain (music - Weir, lyrics - Barlow)
Black Throated Wind (music - Weir, lyrics - Barlow)
Cassidy (music - Weir, lyrics - Barlow)
Walk In The Sunshine (music - Weir, lyrics - Barlow)
Playing In The Band (music - Weir, lyrics - Robert Hunter)
The Greatest Story Ever Told ( music - Weir, lyrics - Hunter)
One More Saturday Night (music and lyrics - Bob Weir)
The album is due to be released sometime this summer, late May or early June most likely, and the single will be out by the time you receive this circular. The single is One More Saturday Night with Cassidy as the B side.
Pigpen also has plans to do his own album - sometime this year possibly.
For those of you who are curious about what happened to Mickey Hart, he's still in Marin County working on what he hopes to be the final stages of his own album; he's been working on it for about a year now and some of the finest musicians have played on it - it's called ROLLING THUNDER.
You might also be interested in knowing what other albums Jerry has played on: SURREALISTIC PILLOW - Jefferson Airplane, VOLUNTEERS - Jefferson Airplane, Lamb's album, BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE - Paul Kantner, FEED YOUR CHILDREN WELL - Crosby, Stills, & Nash, SONGS FOR BEGINNERS - Graham Nash, Crosby's album, Steve Still's second album, Brewer & Shipley's album, Papa John Creach's album, HOOTEROLL - Howard Wales, HEAVY TURBULENCE - Merl Saunders, ACE - Bob Weir, and GARCIA - Jerry's solo album.
This whole 'Dead Heads Unite" idea started with hopes of being able to bring you people together but as it stands we are able to do little more than enjoy your letters, keep your name and address on file and occasionally (maybe only twice a year) send you a newsletter, circular, or an itinerary of the Dead's tour plans.
Please let us know when you write to us whether you've written before; it's to help us so that we don't duplicate our energy and waste time recording and filing your name and address when it's already in our files.
"Since we can't provide any way for you people to get together and since we haven't got any money to do that, everybody ought to think of ways to get together with other Dead freaks. Don't hold your breath waiting for replies - - that's the whole thing in this matter . . . don't hold your breath. At any rate, we know where you all are, we have all your addresses, and WE HAVE YOUR NAME." - Garcia
We hope you will continue to turn us on to what's happening where you are and where you're at. Thank you all for all the far out letters and drawings you've sent us; we've all really enjoyed them, and we hope to hear from you again. Don't give up on us; we will be in touch with you again, but we can't promise when.
Take care, have fun, and stay high,
THE GRATEFUL DEAD
(who is Willy Legate ?)