Grateful Dead

Welcome to My (Blog) World!

Why a weekly blog? Well, for a while now I’ve wanted to have a place where I can talk about music, issues, events and people related to the Grateful Dead and the post-GD world on a regular basis — and also hear what you have to say about this unique and fascinating universe we’re all wrapped up in to varying degrees. Basically, for the past few decades, much of my mind and spirit have been dominated by my interest in the Dead and the many tangents that have led from that incredible source of light and life. Of course, I’ve held jobs that have nothing to do with the Dead, raised two great kids, led what for all intents and purposes is a “normal” life, and listened to thousands upon thousands of hours of non-Dead music. But the Dead have always been at least in the background, and often in the foreground, of my life ever since Live Dead came out in November of 1969 and I subsequently saw my first show at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, March 20, 1970. As Bob Weir sang (of a woman, I presume) in “Lazy Lightning,” “it’s an obsession, but it’s pleasing.”

I suspect most of you have seen my byline around this site on stories or product promos, have read liner notes I might have penned for various Road Trips and other releases, and some may go back to my days as editor/publisher of The Golden Road Dead fanzine, or even further to my years at BAM, the free Bay Area music magazine I worked for between 1976 and 1983. If you went to Pelham (New York) High with me in the very early ’70s, you might’ve read my first-ever Dead review—of the Vintage Dead album.

Golden Road magazine publishers
Regan and Blair on duty
at Red Rocks, 1987
I moved to the Bay Area from suburban NY in the fall of ’73, arriving just in time to catch the 11/11 Dead concert at wonderful Winterland — quite a contrast from my previous GD show at giant and decrepit Roosevelt Stadium in Joisey on Jerry’s 31st birthday. For a few years, I’d felt I was destined to live in the Bay Area someday. Then, spending some of the summer of ’73 living with my older bro in the Oakland Hills and going to see several Garcia-Saunders and Old & in the Way shows (not to mention Van Morrison and all sorts of other faves who played in clubs here), pretty much convinced me to transfer to UC Berkeley for my last two years of college. I got my degree in Political Science (was and still am a political junkie), then went to the graduate School of Journalism there, with an eye toward being a rock critic. That segued into my long tenure at BAM, and that’s what allowed me to write my first book about the Dead, The Music Never Stopped (which, at the time, 1983, was the only history of the band available). The following year, my wife, Regan, and I started The Golden Road, which took me even deeper in the Dead world and gave me the opportunity to interview and write about so many of the cool folks who have been part of the scene through the years. We put out 27 issues between the winter of ’84 and the middle of ’93, by which point we were about to have our second child and didn’t have the time or space in our house to keep putting out a magazine. During that time my main gig was being a writer and editor at Mix, the leading U.S. sound and recording magazine, and I continue to write for Mix to this day.

After Jerry died, I spent a couple of years working on the book Garcia: An American Life (published by Viking in 1999), co-produced the So Many Roads box set with my buddies David Gans and Steve Silberman, and also got involved with helping put out posthumous Garcia releases, including the All Good Things box. When Rhino took over the management of the Grateful Dead’s archival release program a few years ago, I signed on to work occasionally for the re-vamped Dead.net website and joined with Vaultmaster Supreme David Lemieux to play a small role in shepherding the Road Trips series.

So, that’s who I am. In coming weeks, I’ll be bringing up various issues connected to the Dead world that we can bat around and (hopefully) have some fun with, I’ll talk about some recent books and films (good and bad) that have connections to the scene, no doubt take a trip or two down memory lane, and we’ll see where it all leads. If there are issues or questions you’d like to see addressed, let me know. Don’t be shy! We’re all friends here…

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Joined: Jul 21 2010
mickey bill and Bob

Grate to see them get together, Phoenix AZ gets The Mickey hart Band December 6th,The Compound www.mickeyhart..net
don't worry about what you don't have,go see what you do!

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Joined: Jan 11 2009
Hi Blair / Dead Retirement community/resort?

Hi,
I just read your opening blog. I have loved the Dead for years and have an idea/issue that I would like to see discussed in your blog; What will the Grateful Dead experience be in 100 years, in 1,000 years?

I just re-read some articles about the efforts to build "Terrapin Station" in SF. Phil was quoted;
"We want to build a place where Deadheads can feel something of the community and freedom and abandon of Grateful Dead shows," former Dead bassist Phil Lesh explains.

I have posted some ideas on a Facebook group site called "Branson by the Sea". I'd love to hear from you and the community.

DeadHead85's picture
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Joined: Jun 8 2007
The Music Never Stopped

Hey Blair

After reading the first edition of your blog and reading about your first book. I figured It would be a good item for me to recieve as a possible birthday gift in march, since I havnt read it.

Well it finally came, a family member ordered it for me off amazon and it came from Jersey or something up here to western Canada. I cant wait to dive in. I think I will start tonight, turn on some early 80's dead I think and have a good time.

This is exciting. I enjoy your blog and essays keep em coming.

ecb
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Joined: Nov 3 2010
Heartbeeps

The movie is "Heartbeeps" and Jerry Garcia plays the voice of Phil.

The movie was a disaster - the New York Times described it as "unbearable."

Andy Kaufman thought that the movie was so bad the he personally apologized for it and offered to refund the money to any one that paid to see it...

Ed

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Joined: Sep 10 2007
This n' That

This is cool Blair. I love these little bits of info that kinda get that ol' flying eyeball over my shoulder again.
I really loved the days when magazines were a main source of info for deadheads. The reviews of shows were always great, yet I think the best section of The Golden Road & Relix was the tape traders classifieds in the back pages. I can remember sitting around with friends listening to these new tapes and talking (dreaming) about a system that would produce any dead show with the press of a button. We thrashed every deadbase that any one of us had looking for our dream show. Some great, great times there.
Some great times ahead as well ? How bout a hint of the Europe box set. Is the sound quality as good as other Rhino releases such as Rockin' The Rhein? Are Newcastle 4/11 & Hamburg 4/29 transcendantal?
On a personel note: I hope a lot of talk about Dead & related books, movies & music continue here.
I luv getting turned onto obscure or rare dead things. Like the movie Hartbeats with Andy Kaufman (RIP) and Bernadette Peters. As I remember they were the only 2 androids left on a screwed up planet. They made a robot kid out of junk for a son (robbie was it's name maybe?) The voice of Robbie Was Garcia on guitar. I could go into depth about how I saw this back in the early 80's (2 microdot evening coming home to this on The Movie Channel late in the evening) but I'll save it for another time.
I'll cut the ramble and say thanks Blair
Cheers everyone.............B

leedesj's picture
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Joined: Feb 2 2011
TMNS

yes the limited tapers' guide and the GD family tree pull-out gave me some much needed perspective in those early days of discovery

I knew so little then compared to now...

i would have to echo that feeling, although i'm probably just about where you were then... now

...although i did know some relatively knowledgeable folks (for virginia in the early 80s) back then who took me to my first shows and hooked me up with some tapes to start my collection

while its natural that your writing has matured over the years since then... that book certainly struck a chord, i mean i havent even looked at it since the 90's i guess... yet i still remember reading the ventura chapter, my first learning of the reason mickey took his sabbatical, and the first '67 picture of garcia with a guild i ever saw, it was amazing to me that was the same guy as the 1983 jerry i was beginning to know and love

anyway i might have to dig it out now

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Joined: Jun 6 2007
The Music Never Stopped...

Although I'm sorta embarrassed by some of that book, through the years I've probably gotten more comments about that first Ventura chapter than anything else I've ever written (until the "Garcia" book), and the very limited section listing tapes in the back seems to have helped a lot of folks who were getting into that scene in the mid-80s. Wow, seems like so long ago, suddenly... I knew so little then compared to now...

leedesj's picture
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Joined: Feb 2 2011
ya know its only a few years

ya know its only a few years till the GD's 50th aniv.

the summer i graduated from high school was the 20th aniv. tour (and my only complete tour attended)... in 1985

hard to believe thats been almost 30 years

it would be surprising if the boys (or at least the archivists) dont come up with something special for the occasion (although i really cant imagine what could top the E72 release so i guess it will have to involve new live performances)

btw since it is blair's blog ill add that his book the music never stopped was my first source of in-depth info about the dead, i love the intro where he describes a 1982 ventura show as the modern incarnation of that venerable old instituition... the GD

and even more specifically the first line about "rock" music

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Joined: Apr 4 2008
I heartily echo Brian's

I heartily echo Brian's thoughts! Pulling the latest issue of "The Golden Road" out of the mailbox was almost (almost!) as welcome as getting a previously unheard show. Keep up the great work, Blair. It's most appreciated.

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Joined: Jun 18 2007
Thanks Blair

Blair,

I was an early subscriber to the Golden Road and always waited in anticipation for the next issue to arrive. We would attend many of the same shows and I always welcomed your reviews since they were often about the same as my reviews. I'm a little envious you've managed to carve yourself out a nice career living, eating, breathing and writing about the Grateful Dead (while managing to have a "normal life" as well) but you've done the Dead and their fans well over the years. And I thank you for that. Looking forward to hearing and reading more from you.

Best,
Brian

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