• February 23, 2011
    http://www.dead.net/features/blairs-golden-road-blog/dead-er-thou
    Dead-er Than Thou

    There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death! The tortured logic of this is that because of the band’s increased popularity, their touring machine became ever-larger, which put more pressure on the group to play big shows and to stay on the road, thus preventing Jerry from getting a break from touring he once offhandedly mentioned in an interview he wanted, and contributing to his downward health spiral and eventual death. Whew! Now, there’s a load of BS.

    Unfortunately, there’s always been a “Dead-er Than Thou” attitude among some Dead Heads — as if when you started liking the Grateful Dead, how many shows you attended, who you knew in the inner circle and what privileged access you had to information or tapes (or both!) were the measure of your knowledge of or devotion to the band. I can’t honestly say I’ve been completely immune to this affliction myself, but I learned pretty early on that there were always going to be Heads who had been following the band longer, seen more shows, owned more tapes, plus had that prized laminate hanging around their necks I so coveted. So if it truly was a competition, I was never going to “win.”

    Of course it’s not a competition. How and when you got into the Dead could be a function of million different factors — your age, whether you had friends who were into the band, whether the Dead’s tours came to your city/region, if you had a good experience at your first show, if they came onto your radar at all… the list goes on and on. Maybe your first exposure was being trapped on a long car ride with some crazed Dead Head who insisted on playing a really badly recorded audience bootleg that featured terrible, off-key singing and what seemed like pointless jams. Then, three years later, someone dragged you to a show and you suddenly “got it.” Or maybe you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who hated the Dead and, even though you were kind of curious about ’em and wanted to go to a show, forbade you from going! (Wow, harsh!)

    Whatever happened, happened, and you should feel no guilt about and make no apologies for when you got on The Bus. Heard “Touch of Grey” on the radio, loved it, and wanted to hear more? Fantastic! Welcome aboard! The fact of the matter is, the mid- to late ’80s and the early ’90s was the Dead’s greatest period of fan growth ever, and thousands upon thousands of people who got into the group then became loyal and devoted fans who were every bit as enthusiastic, hardcore and knowledgeable as the grizzled veterans who lorded their longevity over them like some royal talisman. We all have legitimate regrets about what we might have missed in previous eras, but I can honestly say that whenever you succumbed to the Dead’s ineffable magic — that was the right time for you.

    Since my biography of Jerry — Garcia: An American Life — came out more than a decade ago, I’ve gotten dozens of letters and emails from people who never had the opportunity to see Jerry or the Dead at all. Many were almost sheepish about it, as if it reflected some character flaw in them that they’d “missed” Jerry, yet in the months or years since his passing, they’d gotten into recordings of the band, the (love)light went off in their heads, and now they were obsessed, too. There’s no Grateful Dead to see, so they’ve gotten their live kicks seeing Phish or DSO or Furthur or whoever lit that light for them in concert. And perhaps they’re just starting to understand the charms of ’76 Dead or ’88 Dead and catching up on the history and what the scene was (is!) all about. Again, I say, welcome aboard! There’s an unlimited amount of room on this Bus; the more the merrier!

    Do you have a story about getting on (or missing) The Bus?

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There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death! The tortured logic of this is that because of the band’s increased popularity, their touring machine became ever-larger, which put more pressure on the group to play big shows and to stay on the road, thus preventing Jerry from getting a break from touring he once offhandedly mentioned in an interview he wanted, and contributing to his downward health spiral and eventual death. Whew! Now, there’s a load of BS.

Unfortunately, there’s always been a “Dead-er Than Thou” attitude among some Dead Heads — as if when you started liking the Grateful Dead, how many shows you attended, who you knew in the inner circle and what privileged access you had to information or tapes (or both!) were the measure of your knowledge of or devotion to the band. I can’t honestly say I’ve been completely immune to this affliction myself, but I learned pretty early on that there were always going to be Heads who had been following the band longer, seen more shows, owned more tapes, plus had that prized laminate hanging around their necks I so coveted. So if it truly was a competition, I was never going to “win.”

Of course it’s not a competition. How and when you got into the Dead could be a function of million different factors — your age, whether you had friends who were into the band, whether the Dead’s tours came to your city/region, if you had a good experience at your first show, if they came onto your radar at all… the list goes on and on. Maybe your first exposure was being trapped on a long car ride with some crazed Dead Head who insisted on playing a really badly recorded audience bootleg that featured terrible, off-key singing and what seemed like pointless jams. Then, three years later, someone dragged you to a show and you suddenly “got it.” Or maybe you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who hated the Dead and, even though you were kind of curious about ’em and wanted to go to a show, forbade you from going! (Wow, harsh!)

Whatever happened, happened, and you should feel no guilt about and make no apologies for when you got on The Bus. Heard “Touch of Grey” on the radio, loved it, and wanted to hear more? Fantastic! Welcome aboard! The fact of the matter is, the mid- to late ’80s and the early ’90s was the Dead’s greatest period of fan growth ever, and thousands upon thousands of people who got into the group then became loyal and devoted fans who were every bit as enthusiastic, hardcore and knowledgeable as the grizzled veterans who lorded their longevity over them like some royal talisman. We all have legitimate regrets about what we might have missed in previous eras, but I can honestly say that whenever you succumbed to the Dead’s ineffable magic — that was the right time for you.

Since my biography of Jerry — Garcia: An American Life — came out more than a decade ago, I’ve gotten dozens of letters and emails from people who never had the opportunity to see Jerry or the Dead at all. Many were almost sheepish about it, as if it reflected some character flaw in them that they’d “missed” Jerry, yet in the months or years since his passing, they’d gotten into recordings of the band, the (love)light went off in their heads, and now they were obsessed, too. There’s no Grateful Dead to see, so they’ve gotten their live kicks seeing Phish or DSO or Furthur or whoever lit that light for them in concert. And perhaps they’re just starting to understand the charms of ’76 Dead or ’88 Dead and catching up on the history and what the scene was (is!) all about. Again, I say, welcome aboard! There’s an unlimited amount of room on this Bus; the more the merrier!

Do you have a story about getting on (or missing) The Bus?

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There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death!

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Well put Blair but I have to admit when I talk to a people about the Dead and they talk like they know it all, I always ask how many shows just to see how serious I take them or myself for that matter if they've seen more than me!!
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I was a "cafeteria DJ" at Shasta College after I graduated high school. Played the morning show. Found a copy of Workingman's Dead and played Half-Step a few times because I liked the title...then I played the rest of the songs. Then I bought albums like they were going out of style...didn't get to see them until 6/8/90 at Cal Expo. Saw five of six shows over two weeks. You couldn't pry me off the bus with a crowbar. Total shows? Never enough. I've probably seen Phil & Bobby solo acts more often by now. Thanks to Sirius, I catch a full show at 9am every morning when I get to work. Always the most productive two to three hours of my day. I try to schedule meetings around them. And it's fun when they play a show I was at. I really want to get the full 10/31/91 (Graham memorial) show back...had a soundboard but lost it. The Kesey rap where he read the e.e. cummings poem "Buffalo Bill's defunct" in the middle of Dark Star was one of my favorite moments, and it still gives me chills when I think about it. Phil was going off on the bass! Okay, that's it for now. Thanks for giving me a place to share. Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
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Well this summarized pretty easily for me. A buddy who got really into the Dead in 1982 took me to the 12/31/82 show, which was my first time on the bus in a couple of different contexts. The "Deader than thou" thing was always pretty annoying, though it got comical to see the same thing reprised among Burning Man devotees. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Once in a while you can get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right. --------------------------------------------------------------------
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In the Northern Rockies, where the Dead hardly ever played. Once in Missoula and once in Spokane, that's it. So our bragging here is like a baby bay area head! But at least there are all the shows we have on tape and disc that we traded. Nothing like being in the mountains and listening to the Dead. It's all good, I love to talk to people just getting on the bus now and share their excitement. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. William Blake
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After the In the Dark madness of 1987, I always took pride inthe fact that I came in pre-coma. I don't think I ever came off as an elitist to anyone who came later, but I think everyone can admit to feeling a little extra pride in knowing the got onthe bus before others. I always thought it was a trip when I met folks that never saw Brent, and I guess some folks thought it was a trip that I never saw Keith and Donna. Whatever. I just never wanted to be lumped in with the Touch of Greyers!
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When the rose is gone and the garden fadedyou will no longer hear the nightingale's song. The Beloved is all; the lover just a veil. The Beloved is living; the lover a dead thing. If love withholds its strengthening care, the lover is left like a bird without care, the lover is left like a bird without wings. How will I be awake and aware if the light of the Beloved is absent? Love wills that this Word be brought forth -Rumi
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Also on this site there is a topic about "What got you on the bus?" that has lots of great stories. Have you looked at it Blair? Take a peak. I think that is what you are asking here. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. William Blake
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I've never seen Jerry. But I listen to the Dead almost everyday. I missed it, I know, but as more time passes, more and more fans will be fans who never saw him. I hope that the fellas from back in the day see this as a carrying of the torch, rather than a distortion of what it means to be a deadhead. I'm 35. I work in an office. And the Dead mean more to me everyday.
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except I'm 17 not 35. About two years ago my dad had told me to listen to Workingman's Dead. I didn't really like it and fell asleep listening to it. It was on repeat and when I woke up in the morning I had and still do have an insatiable desire to hear more Dead.
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That's funny, avatar. I hadn't thought about that sort of thing, but I imagine it's true with almost everything, from Phish, to whether you watched "Mad Men" from Season One or hopped on board at Season 4, to whether you went to Hawaii before it was "spoiled" or not.
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Blair, interesting piece. Definitely a long debated argument in the 90's with the ever-so-much used slur...."Touchhead". Well, I can freely admit, damn it, I am one. First show 1989, 15 years old my mother took me and dropped me off in lot....WOW what did I get myself into and why can't I stop. Second show 1990, 16 years old and drove myself. Traded so many Maxell XLII's that it could fund a small country for several years, and still have them. Got on the Bus and have never left. Have read every Dead book written, own almost all GDP releases, and wouldn't change anything...............unless I could experience San Fran in '69 or Europe in '72.
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MIKE FLANNERY DANE COUNTY COLISEUM MADISON WI 1971 0R 72-TOTALLY GOT GRABBED BY THE MUSIC AND VIBES
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On the bus - 1969-70 Live/Dead & Workingman's First show - 1972 Cleveland, OH I'm so old I listened to "bootleg" shows on reel-to-reel.
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April 12, 1978.....hook, line, and sinker!
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...largely rules out the one-upmanship of "How many shows did you see" as nobody who stayed in Europe (or the rest of the world for that matter) could begin to compete with our American cousins who could, seemingly at the drop of a hat, give up everything and go on the road for a complete tour. We are just grateful that we got the chance to see the band at all.As regards the smug attitude of towards people who got into the band later, that could be down to that strange emotion associated with lost esotericism (Is that a word?) whereby one is not happy when something that you cherised, possibly for its uniqueness, becomes popular - even mainstream. Also the so-called generation gap plays a part here - the culture and attitudes of people whose formative years were in the late sixties - early seventies are very different to those who are tenty years younger (literally a generation younger). I personally think that the band's best period was the period that I grew up during. In my case it was the late sixties - early seventies and I sincerely believe that this was when they were at their peak, but I am old and wise enough to know that someone who grew up in the eighties and never experienced the hippie counterculture thing that spawned the band will have a totally different perspective on their music - and they will also believe that they grew up during the band's best period. This is, of course, no reason at all to belittle the views of others. Simply put, the band's best period is the period that a person considers to be their best period, whenever it may have been. It is all down to personal taste and to make a big debate out of it is to miss the point entirely. Of course, it goes without saying that my humble opinion is the only right one!
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I didn't become a fan until I saw the Dead in 1995. Before that I had only heard "Skeletons From the Closet", which is a poor representation of what the Dead is all about. I figured if "Mexicali Blues" is one of the top 10 best songs in the entire Grateful Dead catalog I wouldn't need to look much further. But when I saw the Dead live for the first time in 1995 they blew me away! I had no idea they could jam like that and fill the stadium with such bliss. It all clicked for me that day and I've been a fan ever since!
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when i was 7 my god father aka my dads best friend was a fan and had some good stuff on real to real mind you i was not born till 77 so i was a looser from the start on a deader than thoe contest anyway a few years later my family was at a local tavern eating dinner and i asked my father for some money for the juke box un knowingly i selected the entireskeletons album and the big joke was i was going to turn out to be a dead head lmaoi was 11 at the time slowly but surly as time progressed i remeber seeing guys comming to buy pot from my dad with dead shirts on and i was in love with the art on them and slowly but surely i was introduced to some dead tunes that i liked mostly pig era being my dad was a outlaw biker and his boys liked the blues that pig brought to the table at 14 one of my dads friendsi was selling weed for under my fathers radar mind you turned me on to some acid to sell and with in weeks i was the star amungst the older kids that were into the sceen so in 94 i quit school and hit the road for some shows i saw the boys play 12 times in the next 2 years so i consider myself the last generation of true heads not that i am putting my friends down that never saw a show with jerry but allways considered myself to be one of the lucky ones to this day i still hit the road for phill ..sorry boby you just dont do it for me like phill lol so i guess im saying that thair are 2 kinds of head thoes who did see jerry live and those that wish they did and none of us are any better i know i can call a year out by hearing a bootleg and am most of the times right ojn the money i know that many have come and gone b4 me and i thank all that paved the way and i will contine to pass the lessons ive lerned to the next genn heads .... thanks for your time critter from western newyork
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63-year-old Granny here, been "on the bus" since almost before there WAS a bus...I got interested in the Dead when Mickey Hart became their drummer in 1967, since I had already been a fan of his. Haven't gotten off the bus since...only five live shows, but never stopped listening....
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Somewhere in time I heard Casey Jones and bought Workingman's Dead so it would have been 1970. I loved the song but I was more into hard rock like Zep. I didn't "get" GD's music right off. This was a year after I graduated and I used to have friends over to play cards, listen to music, have a few beers. I remember my buds cracking up because my mother was singing along to "driving that train, high on cocaine" in the kitchen while washing the dishes. Workingman is still one of my favorite albums and it is in my car stereo today. My favorite will always be Europe 72. Dave Edmunds named one of his albums "Repeat When Necessary" and I always thought it very appropriate. When I want to hear Edmunds' music....I reach for his cd. When I want The Dead....I always have Workingman's Dead close by.
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G'day Blair. Thought I'd ramble awhile and tell you my story. I'm in Australia and was born in the mid 70s; though the Dead never played here the bus certainly came by... I was the victim of a cosmic prank in that my family lived in the US in the early 90s so I could have seen the Dead! The only time I recall hearing about them during those years was when one of my high school teachers announced to the class that he had tickets to see the Dead at RFK. Years later I figured out he attended 6/14/91 and got a Dark Star! A few years later, in 1994, I started university and had access to the internet for the first time. I remember browsing through newsgroups and being drawn to rec.music.gdead. There was a palpable sense of excitement and energy, and of course shows were occurring - in particular I remember 10/14/94 and the flurry of pronouncements that Scarlet Fire was 'the one.' I was struck by a strong sense that there was more going on here than what I was seeing on the surface. I posted asking for recommendations on where to start and received suggestions for various studio albums, and the ubiquitous direction to check out the live stuff man! This was my first encounter with the Deadhead community and generosity as a head sent me a couple of packages of tapes to start me out. I chose a tape, hit play, and it has been magic ever since. It was really exciting to receive a bunch of tapes and I'm happy I got a chance to get a taste of tape trading just before the net changed that whole experience. My story is one of never having seen the band but discovering that the transforming power of the music does survive intact on the tapes and still transmits to ears open to hear.
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Graduated High School in 1967, bought the 1st LP w/some of my graduation $. 1st show was in early '69, first time they played Minneapolis. 2nd was when they played the Guthrie Theatre in November of '70. Was in the house the first time they played a couple of my favorites at Northrup Auditorium at the U of MN campus. Most notably for me, that was the night they debuted "Jack Straw". Side note...My mom has owned 3 copies of American Beauty. She will be 83 in May...
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So technically I suppose I made it right under the "Touch Of Grey" wire, but the fact remains that '87, '88 and particularly (IMHO) '89 through early '91 saw some of the most phenomenal playing by the band, EVER. If people got on during that time, or right after, really, can you blame 'em? The energy that went back and forth through some of those shows, from band to crowd and back again, was just (to borrow a Jerry phrase) crackling. I felt like the scene started to deteriorate- and the wheels came off the bus- not after Touch of Grey but rather after about mid '92.. But was that the fault of the fans? The scene? The GD machine? Jerry's health and other issues? Cause? Effect? Victim? Crime? Who knows, and maybe it's better to just accept some things as simple phenomena than look for a single root cause. It's always tough when one's favorite band becomes hip or "popular"... the good news is, if you wait a few years, usually the people who were only there because they were trying to prove something will find something else to do, and the hard core fans will remain. I had older siblings and their friends who were into the Dead before me, so naturally I hated them at first, as a kid. I had to figure it out for myself, and when I did, it meant that much more to me, which is probably a metaphor for a lot of life's discoveries. I mean, the very idea of trying to be "Deader than Thou" is sort of absurd, if you really think about it. Like, there's nothing cool about worrying about being cool. You're here alone, there's no one to compete!
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I use to hear that when I visited the Bay Area in 1986. Well, sort of anyway. I met with several Bay Area Deadheads then and some said they had read the police rapport on Jerrys arrest in Golden Gate Park earlier that year (or the year before?). They actually said they had a copy of the rapport but I couldn't see it because I wasn't enough Deadhead. So they only revealed the stated address in the rapport. It was a San Rafael adress, Hepburn Heights (?) and a number. So me and a Swiss friend whom I had met at the hostel where I stayed most of my visit, we went up there and took some pictures outside the house. There were some mail in the mailbox but it seemed too insulting on the inhabitants integrity too look, so we never did that. But back to being a Deadhead or not. I think if one only like the Grateful Dead enough, you're qualified to call yourself a Deadhead. Me, myself, I consider my purchase of "Live/Dead" i early November 1978 to be where I got on the bus, because that's when I "got it", that's when I really started to get into the Dead. But it wasn't the first time I had heard them on record. I already owned a copy of Jerry Garcia - Reflections", which I had bought in early 1976, and this wasn't even the first record I had purchased with Garcia playing guitar. That was Tom Fogerty - Excalibur in April, 1974, and a year prior to that I almost got a copy Merl Saunders - "Fire Up!". So it took a couple of years before I really became what I considered to be a true Deadhead. Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden ------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke
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Great post Blair! I'm one of the "latecomers" but had to comment because I jumped on the bus in the 80's. It had nothing to do with "Touch of Grey" as my bus stop was a very conservative home in Northern California. My first show was the 1985 Oakland Coliseum New Year's Eve show. I watched it on the KTVU simulcast while my parents were sleeping! I grew up listening to the Dead with my uncle, a Pigpen diehard, but my I just didn't get it yet. However, watching that 1985 show, everything just clicked. My mind opened to a whole new experience. That night I got on the bus and started a journey that has expanded my life beyond what I could have imagined. Shortly thereafter, I had the very special privilege of meeting Zion Godchaux. We became friends and spent some great years surfing and wandering through Marin and Sonoma Counties together. Donna Jean took me in and treated me as her own son and I am forever grateful. The love I received in her and David's home was incredible and it changed my life forever. Of course these experiences led me deeper into the family and allowed me to make many other beautiful connections. The circle of friends I call my own is so deep and rich I couldn't be more blessed. In spite of being a "latecomer," somehow I was able to transcend time and space and experience many wonderful things. And the journey continues. There will always be newcomers and oldtimers and I can't help but show respect and welcome to all who call this place home. Peace and love.
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That album was a embarrassment, but I've talked to a LOT of folks who got into the Dead through it, so I guess they did something right! As for peak periods... that's a whole 'nother discussion, but my own experience was that even though I got into the Dead in the early '70s and LOVED every show I saw back then, I actually had more FUN at shows through the '80s, when I had a larger social circle of Dead Head friends (in the '70s I went to quite a few shows alone, and didn't really have many Dead Head pals). For quite a while I would tell people that 3/18/77 was my favorite show that I ever attended (first "Scarlet-Fire," my first time hearing "Terrapin," favorite "NFA"), but I've reevaluated that notion dozens of times since and now I don't have a favorite show... or era for that matter. ;-)
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In the summer of 77 I went to UCSB to see the Dead and Warren Zevon. I was 16 years old and in HS. I ran into one of my HS teachers there and yea he became my best friend in HS and I had the most respect for him. From that show I was no the bus. As a teen in HS most kids didn't get it when Id fly to SF for a weekend show at Winterland or Fillmore. Id come back Monday morning with that look in my eyes like I was tripping all weekend and they knew something was up but no one ever got it. They were to busy listening to Boston, Styx, Journy, etc. You get the picture I was a deadhead and Music was my life. So being a deadhead for a while I also had the pleasure of watching the band become much bigger then im sure they wanted to be. It seemed to me that in the late 80s the people that the band attracted did not have the hippie spirit as much as they where there to do drugs and get high. So to me they came on the bus for a different reason but its all good because the music was the catalyst to get the people to all come to the show for whatever reason at that moment there was a common bond. This common bond was all there for the same thing. "The music Never stopped"
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I agree. Very welll put Blair. From my first show at Duke University April 1978 I understood being on the bus. By then a true student of both the culture and the music I felt unworthy to be among those that traveled from show to show and lived the life. Stood 5 feet from Jerry the entire show and walked back stage and meet the band afterwards. How could you not be on the bus then?? Took me years to allow people to call me a "Deadhead" in respect of those that had the true '60's heritage. Watched the Dead rise and fall in popularity and saw the want a be's fall by the way side. I too have found myself occasionally pridefully discussing my Dead past. At 52 I am one of the few of my crowd still actively going to Furthur, Rat-dog, etc. shows. I still feel the excitement I first felt and enjoy being with those of like mind. Only issue I have is with those that wear the shirts and have the car stickers but just dint get it. Soon ad they open their mouths they give themselves away! Will say I felt myself an experience Deadhead after 32 years and hundreds of shows but experiencing the crowd at New Years Eve at the Graham this year reminded me I followed behind many who are still out on the bus. May the spirit and the music live forever!!
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My first shows were at the (then) Brendan Byrne Arena in Jersey - I grew up in Northern NJ so it was only natural to go there - in April '87. I hadn't even turned 17 yet so I had to rely on friends to drive me, but what a great time! "Touch of Grey" was all over the radio later that spring and summer, and that's one of the songs that really turned me on to the band, but the whole scene at these shows, before I'd ever heard In the Dark, was amazing. I'd been going to rock concerts since I was 14 but this was a whole new level of weirdness/excitement/just plain fun to me! I always kind of resented the catchall term 'Touchheads', I mean, when you're a teenager you're still learning your own tastes (all right, in my case, I'm still learning my tastes), so I always thought it was a little unfair to label folks my age that way. Now, at 41, I'm an avid collector of shows, and it's always special to listen to ones I was there for: "Tennessee Jed" during the thunderstorm at Giant's Stadium in '89, or the first ever "Unbroken Chain" at my last show, March 19, 1995 at the Spectrum. I only saw Jerry once, Halloween 1993, but had a great time there and have a copy of that show as well. I went through a long period where I kind of avoided the scene with personal problems and a period of substance abuse that had me thinking staying away from the Dead scene might be a good idea, but I came back to them, and I'm so glad I did before Jerry passed away. Yes, there was a period in 87-88 where tie-dye was fashionable, and loads of people jumped on the Dead bandwagon, and played like they were hippies, but I think they left the Dead scene behind a long time ago. Maybe that's what the Touchhead moniker could apply to... But those of us who are still here, still listening to the music and/or seeing Bobby/Phil/Further, or collecting shows - we're just 'heads. To me, it doesn't matter when you joined up. "Buy the ticket, take the ride. Mahalo." - Hunter S. Thompson
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Knew a college DJ at Penn State in the '70s. I was in my teens and wanted to get into the music business and hung out with him often. One day he told me he needed to go downtown "to get something" and asked me if I wanted to go. Downtown was about nine miles from where we lived. We took the public bus to downtown Pittsburgh and the Dead were playing at the Civic Arena. The "something" he had to get was a "lid" of weed from someone who was going to the show. After he made his purchase he looked at the bus schedule and I said since we were already there we should check out the concert. He wasn't into it. I stayed and purchased a ticket for like eight or nine bucks, can't remember the exact cost. I was always going to concerts in those days as long as it was rock and roll. Met a cool, young married couple from West Virginia who thought it was amusing that I came alone. They turned me on with a few goodies including my first taste of moonshine. I was familiar with CASEY JONES at the time and that was about it. The Dead played songs that I didn't know yet each one sounded extremely familiar like I had heard it or been there before. The only tune they played that night that I really knew was EL PASO because my mom used to listen to the Marty Robbins' version. It didn't matter, though. By the end of NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES (the opener), I was on the bus. Met a bunch of great folks throughout the years, young and old, newbies and elders, but I'll always remember the young Appalachian couple who helped me climb aboard with all the right credentials ... nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile!
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Born in 88 so yeah, I missed the bus completely... Graduated High school in '07. During school I had a friend who I would call a deadhead and bust her chops, just jokingly. Probly the smartest girl in my graduating class. Never really listened to the dead before that. The summer after I graduated I started listening and what do you know, I cant get enough now! I guess its my curse for busting her chops :). But Im not complaining other than that I was born waaay late and never go to see the band at their peak years and to neveer get to see Jerry. Seen DSO before but that will never compare to seeing the actual thing. The closest I will be getting to seeing the real thing is seeing Furthur this summer.
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My first show was in 1976 (UC Santa Barbara, a Day on the Green), but I've always despised that Deader-than-thou attitude (which, by the way, is exactly how my wife and I have always referred to it). One other manifestation of that attitude: You were Deader-than-thou if you could cite show dates and playlists from memory. I've been the recipient of those looks-down-noses because I didn't know the first show this song was played at or the last date that tune was played. What nonsense...it's like suggesting my love of baseball is less than yours because I can't rattle of a one-season player's batting average from 1957. Sheesh... Shel Holtz Concord, CA
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I think the moral of all these stories is... "Well, well, well... you can never tell!" Kinda like falling in love when you least expect it...
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I have no idea when I actually got on the bus, only that I came to one day and realized I'd been riding for a while. I'm not even sure who got me the ticket... =o) A couple early experiences were hearing "US Blues" at a friend's house when it came out. I was 9 or 10 at the time. I liked it, but I liked a lot of what I was hearing at the time. The second was sneaking out to see them with some friends on 10/27/1979 at The Cape Cod Coliseum. I had a great time at the show, but I was just starting to see shows at the time and was having a great time at them all. I realized I was on the bus the night I came home around 1am, flipped on the TV, just as USA Network's "Nightflight" began showing "Dead Ahead." My mom came into the room, chatted with me for a couple minutes. Instead of going back to bed, however, she sat down and said, "Oh, this group is good. Who are they?" It was so much fun telling her it was The Grateful Dead, explaining who everyone was, what I liked about the music and the experience of seeing them live. It didn't take very long for her to realize they weren't the loud, angry band she'd assumed they were (because of the name). When it was over, she said she enjoyed it and thanked me for letting her watch it with me--I think she was expecting me to want to watch it alone. Years later, after I'd moved out, I'd invite my folks over to my place for dinner from time to time. If "For the Faithful"/"Reckoning" wasn't playing when they arrived, she'd request I pop it in the CD player before we sat down for dinner. She's been gone a few years now, but the night we sat in front of the TV, talking about the Dead will always be one of my favorite memories of her.
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The first real Grateful Dead record that I listened to was "Steal Your Face" in late 1976. I don't remember a lot about it but I never thought it to as bad as a lot of fans think. Okey, so I it didn't got me on the bus but to be fair, I consider it to be a good three out of five stars. The most boring Dead record ever is probably "Shakedown Street". That one is a weak two stars. Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden ------------------------------ My record collection: jazzmicke
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because before I became a full-fledged Head in '77, I had kinda dabbled in them here and there. I played drums from small days, but when I began playing guitar in '72 my older brother had that ABB Fillmore East on ALL the time and Duane had me aspiring to play not only leads on all those easy blues chord progressions but slide, too. There were, of course, the a-minor jams, such as In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Whippin' Post and Hot 'Lanta and the E major Blue Sky and Mountain Jam. Who could possibly want for anything else to jam on - all the bases were covered! Plus, my big brother didn't listen to GD - to this day I don't know why (I'll never know because he passed 28 years ago).But around this same time I'd be exposed to E'72 and the '71 live recordings - they did impress me and I can still vividly remember the friends who loved them, but I thought no one could ever play guitar better than Duane Allman. I remember a 9th-grade classmate at school wearing a Europe Tour T and he was so far into them, but he was also way into getting too high. I smoked a little weed is all so he scared me. I didn't spend time in earnest listening to the Dead until '74. I remember borrowing E'72 and immersing myself in Truckin'. Truckin' is a big E-major jam so I could relate it to the ABB Mountain jam - I thought it was cool, yes. It, however, didn't progess naturally into the Morning Dew side and, therefore, was probably too weird with the way the side starts. Maybe if The Other One had been there I would have gotten it - hindsight. I remember going to a close neighbor family's kid's party with Skull & Roses blasting - again, I liked, but was still rigid in my "who is the best" delusion. Graduated from High School in '76 and proceeded to meet Dead playing musicians at college and that's what turned the tide. Oh, and a very special girl - heh! The bus. I started playing along with Skull and Roses, but was confused when I tried to play along with E'72 - I had to tune my guitar way weird (pitched fast, don't you know?). The band I was in played equal parts ABB and Dead and I was having a blast. I followed the Dead until '82 or '83 when I moved to new musical directions. Back on the bus in '95 with 100 Year Hall and that's all she wrote. To say I'm looking forward to the E'72 crate would be an understatement, indeed. " Where does the time go? "
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I'm a "Darkie" who got shown the light" and damn proud of it!! Changed my life,now I'm looking at it right~
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I became a sorta Dead head back about the time of the bands first Warner Bros. LP. I convinced the local jock, Mike Larsen of KNOW in Escondido, to play cuts like New Minglewood Blues every night on a top 40 format.,I became baptized by the Dead at an even called the Del Mar (Calif.) Pop Festival in 1968 in fact I still have handbills and a poster of that concert. When the Dead hit the stage at around Noon I was wired and ready and the band did not fail me. I most vividly recall the Alligator/Other One Jam and that has been my fave Dead track of all time. It still brings back memories and sends chills up and down my spine. Over the year I got to attend about 20 or so Dead shows and I have fond memories of each show.
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I wasn't into the Grateful Dead up until this date. I knew the "radio" songs - Truckin', Casey Jones, Touch of Grey, and I liked them, but I had no knowledge of their music other than those songs. I was, however, intrigued about Dead tour. I always said if the come to Texas again, I would be there. On Aug. 6, 1995 (Sunday), I was at a friend's house and he had the double CD set, "What A Long Strange Trip." It had various live selections from Live Dead and Europe '72. I was blown away! Every song just rocked! So I went home and just happened to see in the TV guide that on Wednesday, Aug. 9 (yes, what a strange coincidence!), the local PBS station was airing the Dead Ahead film - Radio City '80. I immediately set the VCR to record the program that next Wednesday. In my mind, I was thinking, "man, I am willing to skip college for a week this next semester to catch the Dead on Fall tour!" So Aug. 9 came and I heard the new that Jerry died. i was shocked and so disappointed. I felt like I had missed out on something great and I wanted to kick myself for following Metallica around during the late 80s and early 90s and not the Dead. But, my interest in the band did not waiver. I started buying about everything I could get my hands on - Europe 72 and the Hundred Year Hall release that came out a few weeks later. I had a lot of music, but I knew I would never be able to have the live experience. A few years later I saw DSO in Dallas and loved them. I admired them for bring the GD experience to those, like myself, who never got to see the band. Then, The Sirius Grateful Dead Channel started and it was all i listened to! Still is for the most part. And finally, 7 Walkers rolled through town and I was there. Then, the wife surprised me last September and took me to Vegas to see Furthur! I was in heaven. What a great show! I've come to learn that the Grateful Dead is so much more than just a band. Yeah, there is no longer a band called "The Grateful Dead," but what they started AND the community continues on! So to sum it up, I got on the bus 3 days before Jerry died and I haven't left!
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Well put. I wish that I had an opportunity to see The Boys in the 60's(wasn't born yet) or 70's, but I was way too young, and my parents were not Deadheads. By the time "Touch of Grey" was released, I had already worn out copies of American Beauty, Aoxomoxoa, Skullfuck, and Terrapin Station. I was 16 years old when I went to my first show. I absolutely LOVED IT!! The music and the scene was absolutely AWESOME!! I am truley blessed to have seen The Grateful Dead as many times as I have, although I would liked to have seen them many, many more times. Let there be songs to fill the air.
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The spirit of the music will always live on, both in the archived live shows and albums with Jerry and through Furthur, Rat-Dog, etc.You have only missed the bus if you don't get on! My son was born in 1989 and in 2004 I took him to see The Dead. Not his kind of music then, but in the last 7 years we have shared 25+ Dead- related shows and festivals like Bonnaroo and Wanee. While he never saw Jerry, he gets it. The experience of the crowd, the excitement as a set builds until everyone is on their feet singing every word to every song. Honestly the most spiritual experience you can have outside of church!! Can't help when you were born. My generation always wanted to be 10 years older because they thought they could have experience Haight Asbury at its height and Woodstock, etc. Truth is very few people knew those things were going on and those that did were really getting hassled by people. We had it much better in the 70's! Now you have digitally perfect copies of shows versus the stores of TDK SA90's and the internet to share with people who are like minded. Come on- its time to get on the bus!!!
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I was a young lad when I bought "What a Long Strange trip..." on lp, and listened to it endlessly until I fried the needle and ruined the vinyl. I later bought "Shakedown Street" never really feeling the need nor drive to go to a show, but I really, really dug the music. My first concert was Joe Jackson and he is still one of my favorite musicians. After seeing that rocker in Boston's Orpheum, I saw the Allman Brothers several times before I finally got the chance to see the Dead live. My first Dead show was in The Carrier Dome with The Band, fall '83. After that, I was hooked, lined and sinkered as a 'Head, eventhough it is not considered a great show. I quickly started racking up show after show on tour after tour, mostly east coast. But I was lucky enough to be at Ventura '84 when the giant walrus/sea lion, or whatever, beached itself and the Dead played an eulogy for it during Space. That really got me!!! I followed the 20th Anniversary '85 tour east after seeing The Greeks. And, I saw history at the Rubber Bowl as the Dead and Dylan sang "Don't Think Twice" as their first song together. I will admit after Jerry's coma I was a bit unsure of the boys during '87 and '88. I went to the occassional show until Jerry died, including just about all 16 Boston Garden shows in the '90s. I felt, and still feel the connection as if I am part of a family. I was adopted, and it gave me something I needed at an impressionable age, though I had a good family and home life - this is not one of those sad-sack, need a family to hang with stories. I made great friends because of the Dead, and I still do as I am a big part of an annual event in northern New Hampshire called Jerry Jam (jerryjam.com). We get several jam bands and a Dead cover band to play as late as possible so people can revel in the music and share the peace of kinship, as well as celebrate the life and music of Jerry Garcia. The only real point to all this is that I got on the Bus quite early, even BEFORE seeing the band perform live. I am still on the Bus now, even though financial, family and life commitments keep me from seeing Bob and Phil as often as I would like. I get my yayas off by listening when I can, downloading the 30 Days of Dead, going to Jerry Jam and remembering some of my fondest moments in life. One of my fondest moments was being with a great group of friends, taking jells and revelling at the Best Damn Dead Shows I ever saw - Frost '85. Whatever life brings me, and us, we will always have the music to soothe our souls. The next time.. The Bus comes by and we get on... Climb in the back with your head in the clouds! Sandman Out!!! :-)))
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I got on the bus in the 80's too, I was born in 1966, so I missed the early Dead scene, grew up in the 70's listening to the radio, my dad had an awesome record collection, yes, HAD. I listened to a lot of different stuff. The Grateful Dead to me are the best band in American History, they just are. I love Phish, WP, ABB too, but the GD are # 1. I have all the CD's released, big collection. I have a small vault in my home, it's sort of like my music wine cellar. I can go in and pull some great music all the time. I'm really amazed at all the negative vibes sometimes that I read on this site. Phish fans are the worst, they will slit your throat, they are hyper-openionated about their shows. I have read so much negative stuff over a Road Trips release, I'm grateful for them all. I love the Grateful Dead, always will. Never saw Jerry play to my regret. I never met Stephen King either, but love his books. Maybe I'm just to laid back as my wife tells me. I won't get in your face or devalue anyone as a lesser fan. How many Deadheads have long passed away? We must teach the younger generations about the music, not tell them to take a hike. Long live the Grateful Dead. Peace and happiness to all. Coconut Phil, living Free.
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I first heard the Dead In 75.A new friend of mine had all albums to that point in time.The first show,s I went to where in Boston Music Hall in 76 I think ( it,s all a little blurry now)The Dead played for along time and when the show ended the People wanted more.Jerry had just played his heart out,I thought,But then the Dead came back out and played another song.I was blown away.I,ve seen the many times after that day (from sea to shinin sea) and I believe my life was better for this.
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The 'Touch of Grey' era seems young to you? I was welcomed aboard in 2009, baby! And as strange as that might seem to you older folks, I hope you are pleased that the Dead has not lost its relevance or its magic amongst the younger folk. The music and the love resonates with me as strongly as it did in '73 or '77. We embrace that love no matter our age or our experience. The strength of the community lives on.
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on the bus in the early 70s banal blandness of midwest US of A when some kid came flashing his keys down the aisle of whatever lecture hall I was waiting in. "hey that reminds me 'truckin'' I said to which he responded ' yah, man, I know'. DIdn't take long for me to pull my older brother's 33 1/3s out of the attic. seems like I got off the bus for awhile in the 80s until a friend asked me to go to show in chicago. that bus trip took me west and many shows in the Bay., Oakland shows still stand on their own legs some 20+ years later even though I couldn't stand on mine after most of them. then back off. on again and back in chicago again for a birthday celebration show - my birthday - that was so grand I scalped some tix for the next day's show in the parking lot while waiting in a balloon. that next show, and that balloon, were lasts in my life... sadly the show was the last for Jerry. but the culmination of events, the confluence of years and wonder took me again west to Marin where i happen to the occasional intersection with the music of our lives. Phil and Friends playing a charity gig at Jerry's old home in Ross... Rat Dog.... Then yesterday I am cooling down from a run near my now New Zealand home, tip tap the ipod wheel, and Scarlet Begonia pops in like I planned it when really I did not know the turn was on the device. And ''bam'' I am back on the bus, so on that I check this site for the first time in a year or so and am mixing new play lists with abandon .... Blues for Allah anyone?!! So, I am wondering, forget about when ya got on and answer me this, '' do ya ever really get off the bus once you are on?''' with metta, wildelephant
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Okay - so I am a total accidental dead head newbie. I went to a 'show' in Maui that I heard would be good. I had NO IDEA what I was going to. I still don't really know. But, I loved the music, I ended up talking to a man named 'Peter Rowan' in the back stage couch area before I got kicked out of there (there was a woman who didn't like that I was sharing my Pringles), chatted with many people out in the parking lot that seemed to know who the band was and what was going on, bought a patch with an invisible man on it, saw some guys show off their belt buckles... Anyhoo - it was a total blast! I'm from Canadia - does that help you understand my ignorance? I had heard about 'dead heads' and pajamas before. That's it. So... I would like to say that because I had so much fun at this one show at Stella's on Maui in January - I am now a fan of the 'Dead' because of the people I met there (super cool), the conversations I had (thanks Peter! I especially liked the Navajo song), the music was HOT... and I would definitely go again! Do you ever come to Canadia? Want to? I can make it happen! (Does a tiny off the grid circus island interest you?)
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DML...I got on the bus during my 1st show in 1970. I have never thought of differences between people according to when they "got it". I am just thrilled every time someone discovers the Dead. My Grandson loves listening to the Dead...he is only 4, and a deadhead is a deadhead...no matter what year. I just feel so fortunate to have lived in an area where they played very often. I have never counted how many shows I have seen. So I was a bit surprised that there is even a "more of a deadhead than you" situation. It's all about the music people!! You get it...you listen..you dance...no matter when u got on the bus!!! Peace, Donna
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Some do, for sure. And I know more than a few who basically have not gone to see any of the bands since Jerry died. Or they went to one, missed Jerry too much, and never went back... I feel sorry for them; they've missed some amazing music. Even so, I can relate to the bumper stickers that say: "I Miss Jerry Every Day"
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My first show was on my 16th Birthday at Red Rocks in 1978. I loved the show and was glad I got to see the band lineup of the Shakedown era! I loved that show! 1st Dead show, first Colorado concert, wow! I did not go to another show until my friend Dottie showed up one sunny day in June of 1980 with an extra ticket to Folsom Field in Boulder for the 15th Anniversary Show! Wow, different lineup & Brent was awesome. What a party it was! I have to say I had been on & off the bus checkin it out those first 2 shows. It didn't hit me hard until my 3rd show at Cole Field House in MD in 1981. That show bought me a permanent spot on the Grateful Dead's fan list. It was one of those Ah Ha moments for sure! I will never forget that moment! It is hard to believe it has been that long. I can close my eyes and see what a beautiful road it has been! The music & the love will always light my path. Let it Shine my friends!!!
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  • milton
    6 months 1 week ago
    A little late to the bus stop
    I guess I'm a little late getting on the bus, but I'm sure glad I found it! When Jerry died in 95 I was going into my junior year in high school. At that time in my life I was in full on Pink Floyd mode. If it wasn't Floyd I didn't want to know anything about it. I was so immersed it was like I had blinders on. Not that Floyd is a bad band to get into, but it can make things get a little weird when your life at 16 revolves around Floyd, pot, and acid. Ahh good times. Thankfully I had a friend, whom I'm still great friends with, who was a Floyd fan too, but he slowly got me into bands like Zeppelin, Dylan, Neil Young etc. Fast forward to about 2003-04 and we went to go see Dylan and the Dead. At this point I still didn't "get it", but went to the show and I had a blast. Even after that maybe 2009ish, we went to go see the Dead when Warren Haynes was with them. I enjoyed it, but still didn't fully "get it". Then about 4 years ago I just started listening to the Dead with a real passion like I never had before. Life was changing, my dad died, shit got heavy. But I was able to see the light with the Dead like nothing else. I always wondered what it would've been like to see Jerry. I feel a real connection with him and not only the way he plays (I play guitar too), but the way he thinks. Also being from Buffalo, I feel a special connection with the Dead. It seems like they always had a blast when they played here and the region in general. Example: 7/04/89 at Rich Stadium. That place is less than 10 miles from where I grew up. I can relate. I was only 10 yrs old at the time, but just to think Jerry and the boys were just down the road having so much fun. I'd like to think if I was just a little older I would've been there with them. But my time to get on the bus was much later. It actually happened at a time when I really needed them. I'm excited to go see Dead & Co this summer at the same venue I first saw Dylan and the Dead, except this time I will for sure have "gotten it"!
  • sisterearth
    2 years 6 months ago
    Nothing left to do
    This is funny stuff. Reminds me of a girl who was turned onto the Dead before me and acted as if it elevated her somehow. Cracks me up and is so...Ungrateful. I don't care when I got on the bus....I am just happy that it came by and I jumped on for the ride. ★peace
  • iceninedawg
    2 years 6 months ago
    DEAD-ER THAN THOU phenomenon
    All:My first show was May, 1968 @ the National Guard Armory in St. Louis, Mo. as a junior in high school. Right then and there, I knew I had to move out to where these guys lived so I could experience them more which I did in 1969 (the earliest I could get there based on circumstances). My final three shows were in March of 1995 at the Omni in Atlanta. Early on, in the Bay Area, I could always buy tickets to the shows @ Pacific Stereo just by walking in when they opened on the first day of ticket sales. Later on, this changed and I moved out of the Bay Area soon after. Since I moved, I then started using GDTS and, later, GDTSTOO otherwise known as mail order. I was always, clear up until the end, able to get good and decent tickets/seats thru mail order. All I know about the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon is that it seemed like to me, all of a sudden there were tons more people at the shows and they were way younger. I never really experienced the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon because in conversations with other DeadHeads we were just curious about each other's first shows and it was always non-judgmental. This may have been since I gravitated towards DeadHeads my own age. Now, I have heard anecdotally about this phenomenon but I have been unscathed by it personally. Thanks be to you, Blair for writing about this phenomenon in such a calm, reasoned and kind way. As I told David Gans earlier this week on the Well, I have always treasured and valued your writings. Please keep keepin' on.
  • Graceful_Dead
    2 years 7 months ago
    True that, mkav ...
    You know the old story about people grumbling that those who showed up late to a work party got the same reward as those who had been at it much longer. But if your cup is full, how could you begrudge someone whose cup became full more recently (or more quickly) ?
  • mkav
    2 years 7 months ago
    deader than thou
    hmmmm...I've been seeing dead and extended-family dead shows since 75 or so. i didn't even know this was a phenomena. (maybe cause i wasn't dead enough to be in the "cool guy crowd"?) what i've found is GENERALLY, people who don't like the dead, don't know the dead, or they just don't wanna learn what they don't wanna know. but it's their loss.if people get it and like it, cool. if not, cool. when you get it and like, cool.