Grateful Dead

What Got You on the Bus?

An excellent suggestion from Hal R., picking up on a thread in another topic: how did you get on the bus? What was that moment that left no room for doubt?

Probably no two stories are the same, but they're all probably pretty interesting, so tell all here!


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Joined: Apr 9 2008
Victim or the Crime

This is the tune that got me hooked. Totally underrated!

Joined: Mar 19 2008
Got shown the lite

Sometime around 76. We were all listening to the records, getting high and doing whatever we could find. The bus seemed to creep up on me, slow and steady outa the blue. We would have Europe 72 playing during gymnastic practice every day. Then Skull & Roses in the house. Somewhere along the line my sister played Live Dead and American Beaty for me.
Then I find myself taking the train into MSG for a Yes concert in the summer of 76. We dosed up, walked around the city in the afternoon. When it was time to go in, I just was wishin it was a Dead show. After that, I just waited at the bus stop till Englishtown the next summer. The bus came by, and I got on...

Joined: Feb 24 2008
Not technically a "dead" show...

What got me on the bus wasn't a Dead show...I'm a young guy and Jerry died when I was 4 so unfortunately I didnt get to experience the Dead as they should be..but a GD cover band "Cubensis" played in a rock festival in Ojai, CA and it was the first time I had heard the Dead, from what I can remember, and their live performance just grabbed me and I was immediately hooked.

grdaed73's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007
1 girln'2books

a girl named joan, the electric kool-aid acid test and one flew over the cookoos nest.

AnalogKid's picture
Joined: Jul 23 2007
My First

Human curiosity and the thirst for adventure got me on The Bus. I had no real idea what to expect and simply surrendered control and jumped into my friend’s car without a ticket.

What kept me on the bus was the live experience of a Dead show. All the songs on the radio or on someone else’s stereo didn’t even HINT at what I experienced in that safe, quantum vortex that band and audience could create anywhere.

I’d been a spiritual seeker since I’d been old enough to ask a question, and I found the confirmation of all I’d suspected there in the magical interactions between crowd and band. All the hippie Zen shit that my parents and their friends had recited to me finally made sense and rang true. It wasn’t a lie. What The Grateful Dead were doing came from the best ideas humankind had come up with in centuries. It was the product of human potential actualized. And once I understood where the music came from, I understood the music. Once I understood the music, I could comprehend the magic.

hipmoma's picture
Joined: Feb 17 2008
blues for allah

i was a blessed child. my borthers are 9 and 15 years older then me. i imagine that is where i first heard the album. i remember laying there listening a feeling so drawn in. side two was my favorite but the album in a whole put me in a transe at the tender age of ten or eleven when it was first released. after that i discovered anthem of the sun on my own and that was it for me. i use to play the albums and fall asleep to the soothings sounds. then europe 72 came out and i heard it at my cousins. i had just started smoking pot and was blown away to hear them like that. i was a dead head before i knew what one was. i had never met anyone who was really into them until i was in high school and this guy named turk moved in down the street. he had all these boot legs and let me listen to them. i was so curious but still didn't get to see them for a few more years. i just remember the feeling i had when i made it to my first show. like i had come home.

Deadicated's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007

If you had a higher time that summer I'd like to know what it could have been. I wish only that I could have been on that '74 summer bus with you - GREAT story.

"From day to day, just lettin' it ride,
You get so far away from how it feels inside,
You can't let go, 'cause you're afraid to fall,
But the day may come when you can't feel at all."

Joined: Jun 4 2007
It was on 6-16-74 in Des Moines, Iowa

and it had been a musical roadtrip beginning in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night (6-14-74) with the Allman Bros. Band rocking us all. That was quite a hot show and ABB were loud and the guitarwork on their raucous blues and rock was stratospheric. We got up early and were travelling in my convertable VW bug (top down) and took country roads all the back to the Des Moines Fairground. Yes, that is because we were not fit to drive on the interstate nor the highways with regular citizens, but staying on those gravel roads with occasional stops for exploration fit the bill.
Tickets to see the Grateful Dead ($3.75?), show starts at 1:00 on Sunday. This would be quite a treat, as I had never seen the band before, but had listened avidly to the same albums that Hal and others discussed earlier (Europe 72, Skeleton & Roses, etc.) and the weather was wonderful as we traversed those backroads, laughing, partying, and goofing to our hearts content. Needless to say the statutes of limitations have lapsed on that prankster period but I will stick to the show story as opposed to the side trip. We pulled into a campground and set up camp and as was our penchant 'back int he daze' began furiously rolling smokeable party favors for the looming Dead show.
The next day we arrived at the venue and it turned out to be a wonderful outdoor spot with the 'Wall of Sound' erected several hunderd yards in front of the Fairgrounds covered grandstand. We were standing out front milling about, being part of the show and watching others do their part, frizbee, t-shirts (still have mine, a threadbare wonderful homemade "Garcia" image), sales of various items and all of a sudden we hear "the show will start at 12:30, so we decide to head on in. I heard later they thought is might rain so they started early.
(I never since saw an early start of a Dead show, have you?)
It is hard to describe how striking that 'Wall of sound" was sitting in front of us. It was simply immense. The Allman Bros. sound system was loud 2 nights before but was absolutely dwarfed by this massive scaffolding & speaker construction. CSNY's system wasn't even 1/2 of this and they blew our socks off. So what would this sound like?
We all ran about before the shows and there was a little stand for Rounder records with some minature album covers advertising Jerry's new album, a Kingfish album and the Grateful Dead's upcoming release "Mars Hotel". I marvelled at the wonderful illustration of a seedy hotel on a Martian landscape. Little did I understand what I was about to witness. Party favors circled about and the crowd swelled against that elevated stage in anticipation. The band had played here last summer and I had heard from my grinning buddies about the "double rainbow' that appeared on cue (as was so prone to happen at the Dead shows) during that show.
The show started and the Dead ambled out to tune up. There is Keith on his grand piano, Billy at his drums in the middle under this cylindrical-suspended-speaker-section, Phil in his shades, and Bobby with a flannel shirt (to ward of the cool breez blowing in). But who was that in a red 'Mars Hotel' sweatshirt? It looks like a chubby Dustin Hoffman. No it's JERRY, he shaved off his beard! He still had massive sideburns ala the sixties. They tuned up and began playing and off we go-"Bertha" yes!!!!!!!!! and the crystaline sound of that system. Unbefuckiin'liveable, just off the charts, beeffy bass, and loud!!!! Weeee!!!! There is Donna singing along.
And the Grateful Dead took me on a journey, of americana, country, space, rock, jam, fable, fun, rollar coaster, turn on a dime. Something else. My first Scarlet Begonias and I thought it was going to be China Cat when I heard those first simmering leads. But after that I was then gifted with my first China Cat> I know you Rider. Mexixcalli, Row Jimmy, Around and Around and others were in that first set. Then the first break.
This was the old days and this was to be a 3 set show.
Second set included a etheareal Eyes of the World that magically segued into Big River. Other new and old tunes. This is Stupifying, I was thunderstruck with Phil's bass bombs and then a staggering Playin' in the Band to end the second set. My mouth was hanging agape, I look to my buddies, and they stared wide-eyed back at me. The Dead will be back for more? Another set? How much more can they show us. I thought that I am saturated, no more wonder will fill this cranium. My buddy who had been at last year's show smiles knowingly at me and leans back with that Neal Cassady guffaw and we all break up giggling. Then yes, the Dead come out to astound us with more tales, mysteries, and celebrations,....
Set 3 Truckin'>Wharf Rat> Nobody's Fault Jam> Going Down The Road Feeling Bad and the encore was Casey Jones. Beyond belief...........
We staggered back to the VW to make the trek home to Lincoln, Nebraska. What!! It is 6:00? How long did these guys play?!!!!!!!!!! How long indeed. That is how I got on the bus.

And I am enjoying the ride!

Walstib's picture
Joined: Jun 23 2007
Ticket to Ride

My first show was in Cleveland 1973 (hometown) with a close circle of HIGHschool friends. We were all into the same stuff at the time.Really pretty diverse,from Bowie to Stones,King Crimson to Zeppelin,Yes and ELP and Airplane to Mothers and Janis.Someone said 'we got to go check out the Dead. I think our tickets were around $7.50 and the show was hot. Not long as shows go but power packed with great music. Weather report and a great Dark Star that I was not to hear again for a long time.
I cannot say this show got me 'on the bus' but it really opened my eyes as to the bigger picture. We had all begun 'experimenting' by this time and had seen some amazing shows by this time. But the boys seemed to have 'it' when it came to 'knowing' what was needed to secure a great ride. Life went on and so did time. Graduated,witnessed 'Kent State' and the slayings and I learned to Think for Myself, Question Authority. Bought a motorcycle after reading 'Zen and the art of M/C Maint.' and went for a ride.
I ended up in Los Angeles in the summer of '76. Made my stab at acting,and a million other jobs. Made my way to the beaches south of the Airport and found a new home. Great times and good people. This was the times of great sex and incredible drugs. Met a guy that had a kindred spirit in '77' and we decided (ok,I decided) we needed to be roomates.
One stony night at our beach front home, he dropped on a series of Dead LP's like Wake,Live,Europe and then Blues for Allah, That was it,I had to see them again. Mark was totally into them and he had all the tour dates coming up and suggested we hit some shows. That began the bus ride in '78 for me. Things have never been the same. Some great times and some of the best folk to call family. Many a relationship still continue to this day even Mark!
Like others the bus slowed a bit in the late 80's and early 90's because the whole scene changed-to many folk there for the drugs and the party and not the music and family and tribal stomp. I never got to see Jerry near the end, I'm glad I only have great memories and really miss all of you! Happy New Weir! Love to all-DarrellNe
ver had such a good time...........

Barbara's picture
Joined: Jun 20 2007
if anyone needed a life-changing show ...

Has anyone seen "Into the Wild"? It's about a young man who, driven by demons from an unhappy childhood, goes on a quest by himself into the Alaska wilderness. The movie, produced by Sean Penn, is based on a true story that was covered first in Outside magazine and later in a book.

Along the road on his way from his hometown in the East Coast, our protagonist meets a variety of people and touches their lives. Ultimately he dies in Alaska. When he realizes the end is near, he comes to an epiphany that happiness needs to be shared.

At many points during my watching it, I found myself thinking, "If only this guy had found Dead tour ... !" I couldn't escape the thought, as the character reminded me of many people I met on Dead tour, and the events of the story took place in the early 1990s.


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What Got You on the Bus?