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 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: Jun 25 2007
Question for Mr. Jackson

Hi Blair: Judging from your post here on the blog and other various places/spaces throughout, you seem like you listen hard to lots of good music. Since I have a little audiophile in me, I was wondering if you'd mind sharing what your sound system is composed of, speakers, sources, amps and all. And don't be shy about listing those interconnect and power cord cables, if you're in to that kind of stuff. Of course, it its too personal, no big deal. Thanks.

JackstrawfromColorado's picture
Joined: Jan 2 2009
Red Rocks '87 - The Final Run

Hey Blair,
Those were some awesome shows. I wonder if the band knew that 8/13 was going to be their final gig there? It seems so according to the set list (especially the encore). After the RR shows did you guys head up to Telluride? I've been kicking myself for 24 years for not going:(

"It's got no signs or dividing line and very few rules to guide"

giantnerd's picture
Joined: Jun 24 2007
Furthur Drummer

"I'm a big fan of Furthur and their drummer Joe Russo."
I'd have to agree with this statement. Saw the Broomfield shows and the usual suspects delivered with an awesome performance. The drumming was the surprise for me. The versatility of Russo's drumming was astounding. He can come in with the group "POW!!!", play laid back, and roll on the toms like nobody's business. Very hard hitting which adds to the rock feel. I wish I could go see them again!!!

deadmike's picture
Joined: Jun 13 2007
The Golden Road ...

wasn't the first Grateful Dead fanzine I picked up but it surely was the greatest, and I miss it. Haven't got all the issues though. Gave away one issue to a Swedish journalist (the one with the story on the Grateful Dead meeting Led Zeppelin at a photo shoot) and had problem with the postal service and didn't recieve the last two years of it.

But I'm forever grateful for finding The Music Never Stopped book around Christmas time in 1983. I wrote one letter to you through the publishing company but I dont know if you ever got it becuase it was through another letter to BAM and Barbara Lewitt, that I became aware of the Golden Road in late summer 1984.

Before that I had only been getting the English Dark Star magazine/fanzine from the yearchange 1978/79 and to 1981 or something like that. I never knew then of Relix magazine because I never saw any ads in other American magazines like Rolling Stone and others.

So, anyway, it was through you and The Golden Road fanzine I felt I became more of a Deadhead. Thank You! :-D

Micke Östlund,
Växjö, Sweden

My record collection:

simonrob's picture
Joined: Jun 7 2007
I wonder

Blair, are you in a position to liaise between the organization and the folks on here? One of the biggest sources of frustration here over the years has centered around the lack of answers from Rhino to peoples concerns about a wide range of issues. I am aware that this goes on a bit in the background, via PMs etc, but that doesn't help "the crowd".
It will certainly be interesting to share some of your knowledge and anecdotes and I am looking forward to following this blog.
Maybe some of the rambling side-trips that show up all over the place here will now be centered on this section. What do you know about beer?

Joined: Aug 21 2007
I'm so glad

It's great that you are doing this. You are a wonderful writer and liaison between "the organization" and the fans.

Underthevolcano's picture
Joined: Feb 6 2008

Blair, I hope it works out for you. It is nice to be in a situation where your work can be fruitful in the ways intended.

drumzNspace's picture
Joined: Oct 5 2007
Cool man! I'm always

Cool man! I'm always wanting more current stuff to read, about the scene or whatever related to this great thing we got, everywhere. I didn't know you were from Pelham. Me, I grew up in Mamaroneck & Larchmont. I'm about a decade and a half behind you though, having gone through H.S. in the late 80's. Hit several shows from '87-'91, became my main thing, then tailed off a bit, did college, etc.

When your Garcia book came out it was a big part of me getting waay back into the music. GD is still the greatest thing ever. So yeah, looking forward to this.

We need an east coast guy like you (if there is one LOL) to do this too, to help us become aware of east coast stuff/happenings...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
-enjoyin' the ride

-There'll never be another Jerry

Joined: Jun 6 2007
Book Bummers...

I do, in fact, have two finished books that are going nowhere at the moment. The first is a history of the various Fillmores (a very complicated legal situation I won't go into here). The second is called "Feed Your Head: San Francisco's Psychedelic Rock Revolution, From the Acid Tests to Altamont," which was slated to be in Jawbone Books' Day-By-Day series and traces the comings and goings of the Dead, Airplane, Quicksilver, Big Brother/Janis and Country Joe & the Fish from 1965 through 1969. It was completed over a year ago, was all the way through editing, we were in the process of researching photos, when the publishers decided they no longer had the money to publish the rather large tome they had commissioned. So the rights on that one have reverted back to me and I'm currently shopping it to other publishers, with no success so far (but hope springs eternal!). "Feed Your Head" will definitely come out in some form somewhere sometime... It's pretty cool, if I may say so myself...

Underthevolcano's picture
Joined: Feb 6 2008
superb idea to blog here

Blair I have read and enjoyed all of your books and I was a subscriber for the whole run of "The Golden Road". I was very sorry to see it go. I see some net stirring that you have one or possibly? two books in the corral ready to be let out in the near future? Are you able to shed some light on the particulars? Also one of my personal non-Dead music interests is Miles Davis in all his incarnations-have you had similar interest in him or other jazz artists. I know there are several Dead connections to Coltrane, Miles, Tatum, Ornette, etc. PS: I am VERY HAPPY to learn that the Garcia vault is or has been digitized-to me this means something good may be about to happen!


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