Grateful Dead

What Is a Dead Head?

So the other week I'm getting my hair cut, and Julie the hairstyling goddess, a young thing of twentysomething who's into tattoos, hair color as art form, and lots of black clothing, hears of the impending tour and my hopes of getting Shoreline tix, and says, "I have a question. What's a Dead Head? How would you define it?"

You think that's a really easy question till you try to answer it.

So I hemmed and hawed a bit. I said it was the kind of thing that if you said you were one, no one could say you weren't. I may have mentioned Ann Coulter. 

I  said that it my experience it meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some were there for the party and that was pretty much it. Some were there for the community. Some were there for the life-changing spiritual experience. Some were there for the tunes. 

Finally I gave up and told her the story of Curvature. Which is a story Robert Hunter wrote a couple years back that kind of speaks to the issue: "We're one and all addicts of the wings and won't rest easy until we're back on a ship searching them out again. Once you've seen them, nothing in life seems worthwhile but the thought of seeing them again."


Your thoughts?



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Joined: Aug 12 2009
dead head

every since my first show in 1976 the Dead have had an up-front place in my mind and heart. Almost every minute of every day there's a dead song in my head. The music of the dead is the song track of my life. I get goosebumps during certain songs, feelings that well up and burst out. Concerts are still a wonder. Even without Jerry, although something is missing. Festivals are the best with people of all ages there to honor the music that just speaks to certain ones. We're all there together feeling it run through ourselves, each other and back again. You look at a fellow dead head at a show and smile and you just KNOW. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Joined: Feb 17 2008
while the politicians are

while the politicians are throwing stones saying ashes to ashes we all fall down

Canyon Critter's picture
Joined: Oct 20 2008
Love is Real Not Fade Away.....

Bop, Bop.....BOP BOP!


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marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007

welcome to our merry band...

jonapi (not verified)

I am a loser, yes Sir.
Just checked a previous post by jcpacini and it said the same thing. "ME!".

Just to let everyone know though, that in my defense (better make sure i have enough concrete evidence, eh lamagonzo?) i wrote a quite childishly, cynical piece, nay character assassination!,
of the typical Deadhead; all smug, self-congratulatory comments about "seeing them as The Warlocks, consider the only years worth a shit to be the '60's and '70's, seen over 200 hundreds (at the very LEAST, man), vegetarian, own all the Betty-Boards, first-in-line for the Europe '72 box set (and i have proof of that too mate, as the date on the cheque was the earliest they could find - yeah, i have a friend in the organisation, obviously; i'm, like, SO in there....).

But....i thought "No"; take off the cynical hat Mr. Jonapi and introduce a little levity. A shake of the hands with Mrs. Joker.
How i laughed at the witty conciseness of my description.

And now look at me; a total buffoon!
Don't worry, i'll take myself seriously tomorrow, though.....................

jonapi (not verified)


rainbow_trout's picture
Joined: Jun 6 2007
Grateful Dead at Red Rocks 1987
blackeyed Susan's picture
Joined: Jun 24 2007
re: what is a dead head?

my husband (of 19 years) is from Liverpool, England
a punk rock drummer (in the 80's)
he was punk & I was a dead head
he didn't have a clue what that was, thought I was into BAD drugs...

the music didn't translate...he just didn't know,
hadn't exerienced it or heard it
so I had to learn 'im
& as I showed him my world, he learned that the knowledge & the attitude & mood & experience comes with the music and is enhanced by it
its all part of bein a head!!

I bought him a ticket for the Dead concert in T.O.
yes the one that didn't happen
I then took him to Further... it still translated & started the learning curve
now he gets it & its a regular thing for him to say to me... we need to listen to the dead tonight!!
I have learned that the translation of music no matter what genre builds a character that continues & carries you on & can translate & meld into other tunes & other worlds..
to quote my husband quoting John Miles, "Music is my first love & it will be my last"
now I think that we could put better dead instrumentals to this one but it works!!
I really don't believe I just used that quote... but it is such a great line!

It gets better, Freddie's nephew (20 years our junior) thinks I'm the cool aunt cause I'm a "Dead Head" & he's muso (guitarist) in Liverpool too!!

p.s. I wore beads the other day that I used to make & sell to pay for my tickets & guess what, they are still more important to me than any piece of jewelery you could buy in a shop!!

Joined: Sep 7 2009

Deadheads are a fan club that never grew out of being a fan club.

Most of them are not completely wasted and they do lead normal lives. Many Deadheads even appreciate REAL music and not just 4 hours of jam session hogwash.

If you'll excuse me now, I must get back to playing the same two guitar chords. The drum solo is almost over and I've got another hour to waste before the buzz wears off completely.

Joined: Feb 23 2011
Tell me about being a Deadhead

Hi everyone, I'm a college student and Grateful Dead lover working on an in depth research project on Deadheads. I want to know peoples' personal relationships to the music and the culture to understand why the Deadheads have existed and endured so prominently for so long. I would DEEPLY appreciate an interview with anyone who feels that they have something to say about the Dead and their personal history with them! It's easy, anonymous (when integrated into the paper) and a nice way to reflect upon and appreciate how the Dead and their community have affected your life. It'll also help me out a lot :) Please send me a message if you're interested!



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What Is a Dead Head?