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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zhivagotron's picture
Joined: Dec 19 2007
Magic Bus! Magic Bus!

I had been into psychedelic music previous to becoming a Head, The Beatles,Pink Floyd lots of 1967 era music. I had read a review about an album called "Anthem Of The Sun" which had a groovy title and cover on it, so I decided to buy it. I knew that The Grateful Dead had a certain mystique and all the fellow Heads who loved them so. I never heard much of them to understand why,(what wasted youth!), but I decided I'd start with Anthem. I was not impressed at first, but that was only because the music was not what I wanted it to be. Later I listened to it without biased ears and was blown away! The whole weaving in and out and sped up sounds and jamming opened up a brand new dimension. (note: listening to music with headphones in the dark really makes a grand experience) But the true catalyst was a tape of The Filmore in '71, starting with Bertha and going into Playing In The Band.(I had never heard Playing In The Band before.) The X Factor was a completely euphoric emotion, the audience clapping in tune, a semi religious experince (Satori, perhaps?) A warm tingling feeling shooting up my spine, it felt like I could see Jerry grinning and saying "Hop on." This happened on Friday 14th of 2007 at about 9 PM EST. I knew that I was not the only person to have this emotion. I am 18 and just now came here to join my fellow friends who have felt as I have.

iceninedawg's picture
Joined: Jun 15 2007
My 1st Grateful Dead Show

it was 1968...I was in high school in St. Louis and had gotten a hold of a Ramparts magazine and read an article about San Francisco, the bands and the whole scene out there including a band called the Grateful Dead...being into the underground FM radio scene in St. Louis, I saw that the Grateful Dead were playing at the National Guard Armory in downtown St. Louis so I bought tickets...kinda of knowing but not knowing what to expect...I will never forget that show as long as I the end of the show one of the drummers, I think it was Mickey Hart, jumped up, grabbed a mike off the mike stand and went to the large stand-up cymbal (musta been five feet in diameter) and began slamming the mike into it...then he took the mike which was still working and began to move the mike in a circular motion around and on the face of the cymbal itself creating the most incredible was at that point, I decided to move my physical body to where these guys lived so I could see more of these I got into a college in Melno Park, California and started going to every show I could at Fillmore West, the Family Dog, Winterland etc. based on the 1st show in St. Louis, Missouri at the National Guard Armory, I changed my own life path and have never looked back...from 1995, backwards, I have paricipated in some 135 shows and going forwards, have seen all the shows I could possibly get to which includes RatDog, Phil Lesh and Friends, the Other Ones, the Dead, the Furthur Festivals etc. etc....thanks and stay in touch

Joined: Sep 8 2007

I had heard the song "Touch of Grey" and thought it was alright, but nothing that really blew away my 15 year old mind. I saw them first on a documentary called "It was 20 Years Ago Today", and it got me into the 60's full on. The music in the background to their scene was from Anthem of the Sun, although I wouldn't know this for years. I thought, hmm...thats some pretty freaky music. Maybe I should get into them too (I just just gotten into Pink Floyd). I remember the concert in Oct. 1988 in Houston was not what I expected. It wasn't really 60's freakout music, but the people there were friendly.

That winter another documentary came on Cinemax called "Domino". It was a movie without dialogue, just some Super 8mm footage of sixties footage. While showing footage of napalm spewn over the jungles of Vietnam, a very beautiful instrumental came on. I checked the credits at the end, and recognized most of the names but then say "Dark Star: The Grateful Dead". Something told me thats what it was. They had edited out Jerry's vocals but somehow I just knew. I went to the record store and bought Live/Dead on cd in early 1989. It just floored me.

I then bought the first album looking for that freakout music (Alligator/Caution) from the earlier documentary. It wasnt on there, but liked the first album as a good garage/psych record. I then went on a feeding frenzy, mostly sticking to the live albums since everyone said they were a better live band than studio band (including Jerry). Skull and Roses, Without a Net, One From The Vault, Reckoning...

For a few years I hung out at the Last Concert Cafe here in Houston and caught The Hightailers, who started as a Dead cover band before turning into their own Cajun flavored jam band. It was the closest to seeing them since they never came back to Texas until the Willie Nelson picnic in 2004 as The Dead. I hope to see some incarnation again in the coming year, would love to see them perform as The Dead. This time I think I will have to travel...

Joined: Jul 8 2007
The bus came by and I got on, that's when it all began....

Freshman year in college, having discovered *ahem* a whole bunch of things I didn't know much about, somebody in the dorm spun me a side of "Skull and Roses." From the moment Phil's bass roared into "The Other One" and blasted me up into the air where I hovered for about 30 seconds, I got on the bus.

I got off the bus- in the sense of going to shows- after Minneapolis in 1989. The scene had changed, it was no longer like hanging out with 10,000 of your best friends. While the music still rocked, the trash-n-boogie gimme-a-miracle mentality didn't. I was outa there.

Thank the powers that be for tapers! Music to the soul generously gifted to 'heads around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Joined: Nov 24 2007
on the bus

I guess it was the American Beauty album, but before that could happen there were 4 things that led to it.
1) In Feb of '68 the Grateful Dead were scheduled to perform at my church. Not your typical church. Fountain Street Baptist church in Grand Rapids, MI. Among those asked to speak there who did so are Susan B. Anthony, Robert Frost, Stokley Carmichael, and recently Michael Moore. Among the rock bands I saw there are Steppenwolf, Moody Blues, Humble Pie (w/ Frampton), Frank Zappa, and King Crimson (place held 4,000 or so). My mom was a Sunday school teacher there and she knew I dug rock music, so she got me a ticket to see the Dead. Unfortunately the show was cancelled due to a fierce snowstorm. They played in Detroit just before this and it was deemed unsafe to drive the 150 miles to Grand Rapids in this weather, so no show, but at least now I've heard of them
2) In summer of 1970 I'm hitching in Utah with my brother and we got picked up by people in a van who had Live Dead playing on 8 track. I remember the part between St. Stephen and The Eleven. Thought it was cool. Now I've actually heard their music.
3) For spring break in '71 I went to visit my sister who lived in Brooklyn, NY. The first day I wanted to "explore" so she showed me how the subway system worked and had me buy a couple of albums for her, one of which was Workingman's Dead. I remember really liking the harmony on Uncle John's Band. Her next door neighbors spent time with me and said they liked the Dead.
4) Three months later I finally got to see them, and wow what an occasion. My brother was now living in San Francisco in a step van he usually parked at the corner of Turk and Gough right there by the freeway entrance. I hitched out there not long after the school year ended and about 2 weeks after I got there was closing week at Fillmore West. Went to all the shows and smack dab in the middle of them was Grateful Dead, New Riders, and the Rowan Bros. Jerry played steel guitar for the New Riders and the Rowan Bros. so he was on stage for roughly 6 hours that night. Someone in the crowd was passing out blotter acid so I did some and I couldn't tell you what songs they played; I still hadn't heard much of their music, but I was close to stage in front of Phil and was just in awe of the whole scene.
Later that year I bought American Beauty and after that I wanted to buy everything of theirs I could get my hands on.

Hal R's picture
Joined: Jun 13 2007
Stepping On at the first show

It’s funny, marye that you were impressed by all the 14 year old hippies. I was impressed by all the old hippies - they were 5-15 years older than me. They had lived the whole 60's thing and had long dropped out of the mainstream if they had ever even been a part of it. Yes, it did look like these long haired bearded men and long haired women in peasant clothing had just walked out of the Hobbit or some other fantasy. Lots of homemade touches to the clothes. There were still hippies out there, they had just been laying low in the woods and the farms. I had never seen so many in one place. I was in awe.

One of the other cool things about this show was that it started with Bertha, like many shows at this time, but that was the first song I had listened to and really dug deeply. Part of the show ended up on Dick's Picks #18 - the last disc, released 22 years after the show. It was as good as I remembered and Dick thought so too.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
Wiliam Blake

c_c's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007

wow, the things you miss when you don't browse this ever growing board...

I grew up on on the dark, rough side of my own Shakedown Street, and the bus was a natural ride into a new philosophy and way of looking at things, not to mention the music.

doing what felt right, still doing what feels right. hoping I am doing it right.

love and peace

GRTUD's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
I Wonder If You Care?

I can really relate to Hal's story. BTW, we used to call the "Skull and Roses" album, "Twin Pack" 'round these parts (I don't know why) and it was the second album I heard by the Grateful Dead, after "Anthem of the Sun". God I still remember hearing "Bertha" for the first time! I really dug the straight on rockin' sound of Jerry's guitar, with Bob unleashing his at just the moment to make one's mind take the ramped turns at top speed. There aren't many periods of my life I'd choose to live over again, but those rank as high as any other, imo.

Try to see what's going down
Try to read between the lines...

"Ultimately a hero is a man who would argue with the gods, and so awakens devils to contest his vision." - Norman Mailer

TigerLilly's picture
Joined: Jul 2 2007
Really grate

Storytelling, Hal!!!!!!!! :-)
Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live.
Samuel Clemens

Steve-O's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
Stanley Theater 1981

My oldest brother took me, my other brother, and friends to the Stanley 3/5 and 3/6 1981. The second show got me on the bus. Jerry singing LORD YOU CAN SEE THAT IT'S TRUE. Unbelievable!!!! Everyone was groovin, the smell of good dope in the air, I was hooked!!!


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What Got You on the Bus?