As probably the only person to have managed both the Stones and the Dead, Sam Cutler, as you may imagine, tells some great tales in his book. But also, in a chapter called Yin and Yang, he talks about the profound differences between the two bands, and I was especially struck by this bit:
...Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were supremely gifted media manipulators. These two ostensibly unlikely promo-tarts were experts at self-promotion and publicity, masters at dealing with and manipulating the straight world. In some respects, the straight world had made them.
The Dead adamantly refused to believe that they actually needed the straight world and the media to make their whole trip a success. The resolutely aimed themselves at a minority and were unfazed by mass-market tastes or opinions. The Haight-Ashbury district from which the Dead had evolved had been an attempt to create an alternative to straight society.
The Rolling Stones were interested in exploiting straight society, not in coming up with a viable alternative. They were a show band whose onstage delivery had all the razzmatazz and glamour the world expects from its superstars. Like most of the superstars I have known they were basically interested in producing a spectacular performance, being as successful as possible, loved by one and all, making tons of money, and putting the cash in a Swiss bank where they shared it with no one. Can't say I ever blamed them for that.
The Grateful Dead were the polar opposite--despising the music industry and all that it represented. They were cooperative, sharing and caring, directly supporting an extended family of more than forty people and dedicated to getting high at their concerts with like-minded souls.
...and no matter how often you ask, you can't get these new Deadmysters to offer a traditional Skull and Roses t-shirt. The whole thing appears to have gone cartoony to me.
... that GD merchandising and customer/fan relations have ended up where they are.
which would you prefer? I think that compairing the stones to the dead is like comparing apples to elephants. Yes, I will concur that the stones in the early years were quite a rock and roll band, but in the later years, lets face it, they suck. No matter what your thoughts are about 90's dead, they certainly never sucked. I totally agree with Sam, the dead were never about making it big, getting that first million, it was about the music, were they not the last San Francisco band to get signed? I also agree with Tigerlilly, things sure did change when a dead show became a place for people to go and be a hippy for a day, altho I did witness some majical events at some of those post MTV shows. I remember the days when there were only 3500 people at the shows and it was like our own little secret, absolutely wonderful and those IMHO are the days that the Dead imbraced and really did create a counterculture all of there own, where all of us "freaks" could come and be renewed, reborn, reenergized, it was a beautiful thing, and one that, unfortunately, had to end due to the media exposure.
Who had control of the Grateful Dead from say, Brent's death going forward? It is hard to believe that they chose their eventual demise instead of just not touring so much.
Of course, I'm glad the Dead didn't turn into a bunch of vampires -- like what I saw with the Stones during the Superbowl half-time show a couple of years ago. It was so bad and such a joke.
a major turning point for Dead fans being more "alternative" was when "Touch of Grey" etc hit MTV. At shows after that, it seemed that there was a new element of fan, who thought it was hip to play hippie for a night, as opposed to more of a fan-lifestyle like earlier.
I think the Stones were also actively promoting an image of it being cool to be "bad and wild", so yes I guess I agree with Sam's evaluation about the Stones being more about marketing all along, and the Dead being more about counter-culture and just making music. UNTIL aforementioned MTV, where the lines, at least superficially, got blurrier.
ach blah blah blah, am not sure anymore whether am making any sense with this thought, but will post it nevertheless.
By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.
he was describing a particular period, for sure, and things took different turns.
These groups from the 60's and 70's were all fabulous in their time: Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd,Jimi Hendricks, Janis Joplin, ,all the Woodstock bands , how lucky we were to be teen agers then and be part of all this new music Rock and Roll ! We also were ecologists and anti-wars militants then ! And aware of how TV manipulated people into ready-made thinking too ! The Grateful Dead was the perfect example of this revolutionary alternative then , until Jerry died .
Jagger had a business Masters from Cambridge or some other snobby, elite, school. He knew where he was taking the Stones. And, Hey, w/complete blood transfers, addiction doesn't have to be a problem -- just a procedure at the end of every tour - albeit an expensive one.
But the Dead's different approach to the record business did take some unexpected twists and turns. Most importantly, their visionary policy of letting fans record gave them Phat revenues with every mixed-down release of a past concert remotely acceptable, especially a complete concert.
However, while I think Sam's description was accurate at the time he was involved, my feeling is that the Dead's vibe morphed into something very different. Whether that was their fault, or just that times changed, or they just became too big, I don't know.
"That path is for, your steps alone."