• February 23, 2011
    https://www.dead.net/features/blairs-golden-road-blog/dead-er-thou
    Dead-er Than Thou

    There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death! The tortured logic of this is that because of the band’s increased popularity, their touring machine became ever-larger, which put more pressure on the group to play big shows and to stay on the road, thus preventing Jerry from getting a break from touring he once offhandedly mentioned in an interview he wanted, and contributing to his downward health spiral and eventual death. Whew! Now, there’s a load of BS.

    Unfortunately, there’s always been a “Dead-er Than Thou” attitude among some Dead Heads — as if when you started liking the Grateful Dead, how many shows you attended, who you knew in the inner circle and what privileged access you had to information or tapes (or both!) were the measure of your knowledge of or devotion to the band. I can’t honestly say I’ve been completely immune to this affliction myself, but I learned pretty early on that there were always going to be Heads who had been following the band longer, seen more shows, owned more tapes, plus had that prized laminate hanging around their necks I so coveted. So if it truly was a competition, I was never going to “win.”

    Of course it’s not a competition. How and when you got into the Dead could be a function of million different factors — your age, whether you had friends who were into the band, whether the Dead’s tours came to your city/region, if you had a good experience at your first show, if they came onto your radar at all… the list goes on and on. Maybe your first exposure was being trapped on a long car ride with some crazed Dead Head who insisted on playing a really badly recorded audience bootleg that featured terrible, off-key singing and what seemed like pointless jams. Then, three years later, someone dragged you to a show and you suddenly “got it.” Or maybe you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who hated the Dead and, even though you were kind of curious about ’em and wanted to go to a show, forbade you from going! (Wow, harsh!)

    Whatever happened, happened, and you should feel no guilt about and make no apologies for when you got on The Bus. Heard “Touch of Grey” on the radio, loved it, and wanted to hear more? Fantastic! Welcome aboard! The fact of the matter is, the mid- to late ’80s and the early ’90s was the Dead’s greatest period of fan growth ever, and thousands upon thousands of people who got into the group then became loyal and devoted fans who were every bit as enthusiastic, hardcore and knowledgeable as the grizzled veterans who lorded their longevity over them like some royal talisman. We all have legitimate regrets about what we might have missed in previous eras, but I can honestly say that whenever you succumbed to the Dead’s ineffable magic — that was the right time for you.

    Since my biography of Jerry — Garcia: An American Life — came out more than a decade ago, I’ve gotten dozens of letters and emails from people who never had the opportunity to see Jerry or the Dead at all. Many were almost sheepish about it, as if it reflected some character flaw in them that they’d “missed” Jerry, yet in the months or years since his passing, they’d gotten into recordings of the band, the (love)light went off in their heads, and now they were obsessed, too. There’s no Grateful Dead to see, so they’ve gotten their live kicks seeing Phish or DSO or Furthur or whoever lit that light for them in concert. And perhaps they’re just starting to understand the charms of ’76 Dead or ’88 Dead and catching up on the history and what the scene was (is!) all about. Again, I say, welcome aboard! There’s an unlimited amount of room on this Bus; the more the merrier!

    Do you have a story about getting on (or missing) The Bus?

    26669
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

11 years 5 months

There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death! The tortured logic of this is that because of the band’s increased popularity, their touring machine became ever-larger, which put more pressure on the group to play big shows and to stay on the road, thus preventing Jerry from getting a break from touring he once offhandedly mentioned in an interview he wanted, and contributing to his downward health spiral and eventual death. Whew! Now, there’s a load of BS.

Unfortunately, there’s always been a “Dead-er Than Thou” attitude among some Dead Heads — as if when you started liking the Grateful Dead, how many shows you attended, who you knew in the inner circle and what privileged access you had to information or tapes (or both!) were the measure of your knowledge of or devotion to the band. I can’t honestly say I’ve been completely immune to this affliction myself, but I learned pretty early on that there were always going to be Heads who had been following the band longer, seen more shows, owned more tapes, plus had that prized laminate hanging around their necks I so coveted. So if it truly was a competition, I was never going to “win.”

Of course it’s not a competition. How and when you got into the Dead could be a function of million different factors — your age, whether you had friends who were into the band, whether the Dead’s tours came to your city/region, if you had a good experience at your first show, if they came onto your radar at all… the list goes on and on. Maybe your first exposure was being trapped on a long car ride with some crazed Dead Head who insisted on playing a really badly recorded audience bootleg that featured terrible, off-key singing and what seemed like pointless jams. Then, three years later, someone dragged you to a show and you suddenly “got it.” Or maybe you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who hated the Dead and, even though you were kind of curious about ’em and wanted to go to a show, forbade you from going! (Wow, harsh!)

Whatever happened, happened, and you should feel no guilt about and make no apologies for when you got on The Bus. Heard “Touch of Grey” on the radio, loved it, and wanted to hear more? Fantastic! Welcome aboard! The fact of the matter is, the mid- to late ’80s and the early ’90s was the Dead’s greatest period of fan growth ever, and thousands upon thousands of people who got into the group then became loyal and devoted fans who were every bit as enthusiastic, hardcore and knowledgeable as the grizzled veterans who lorded their longevity over them like some royal talisman. We all have legitimate regrets about what we might have missed in previous eras, but I can honestly say that whenever you succumbed to the Dead’s ineffable magic — that was the right time for you.

Since my biography of Jerry — Garcia: An American Life — came out more than a decade ago, I’ve gotten dozens of letters and emails from people who never had the opportunity to see Jerry or the Dead at all. Many were almost sheepish about it, as if it reflected some character flaw in them that they’d “missed” Jerry, yet in the months or years since his passing, they’d gotten into recordings of the band, the (love)light went off in their heads, and now they were obsessed, too. There’s no Grateful Dead to see, so they’ve gotten their live kicks seeing Phish or DSO or Furthur or whoever lit that light for them in concert. And perhaps they’re just starting to understand the charms of ’76 Dead or ’88 Dead and catching up on the history and what the scene was (is!) all about. Again, I say, welcome aboard! There’s an unlimited amount of room on this Bus; the more the merrier!

Do you have a story about getting on (or missing) The Bus?

Display on homepage featured list
Off
Custom Teaser

There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death!

dead comment

user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

So many cool stories from the young and "less young"! So many memories! I guess the fact of the matter is that anyone who would be hanging out on a site like this 15 years down the road isn't one of those mindless frat-boy "Touch-heads" 20-odd years ago... or maybe they finally evolved. But there have ALWAYS been folks into it for different reasons. On of my closest and most rabid Dead Head friends--who went to WAY more shows than me--shocked me one night after a show, when I was griping about Jerry screwing up the words again (sorry, Jer!), she floored be by saying she never listened to the words so she hadn't noticed! I knew folks who used "Stella Blue" as a bathroom break song! There were always a million opinions, and I was cool with that as long as it didn't impinge on the actual experience at a show...
user picture

Member for

9 years 6 months
Permalink

This was always an interesting phenomenon. The term I recall is poser. In the punk scene, weekend punks were called that. If you lived with your parents and liked them, you were a poser. Pretty funny when you think about it. "you post crucifixion Christians are posers, man" I was 13 or 14 y.o. when I first remember seeing Dead Ahead on Nightflight. I was into industrial punk stuff back then so the Dead didn't do much for me. In late '86 I just turned 17 and the first one of our family friends to go to college came over for Christmas from UCB. He was ranting and raving about this band and popped a tape while we partook in some party favors. The music was awesome! I was ready. At the end of January '87 we went over to see him in Berkeley, we hopped in a van and drove to the old SF Civic Center. We saw the Chinese New Year's show, we dropped, and I got on the bus. The funny thing was that I was clad in black, complete with mohawk, leather studded jacket, and steel toe boots. This must have been such a funny sight. I felt at home but would not dance, I just gawked at everyone. We got lost looking for my friend's car, walking around the plaza for what seemed like hours. I even fell in love with this dreadlocked sister (my scarlet begonia). I didn't start dancing until my third of fourth show. I remember the just grabbed me but I wouldn't let go. When I went back to the South Bay, I got rid of my punk clothing and records, selling and trading everything I could to go to shows. Since this was the Bay Are, they would play a bunch (I never left the state for shows). After Vince was on his own I only went to one or two Dead shows a year (just wasn't the same without Brent) but saw JGB a bunch (I honestly can't remember how many shows I went to, maybe around 60 combined). Anyway, the scene started getting really sketchy. Heads were stealing from each other, too many cops, the straw for me was when skinheads were hanging out in the parking lot f'ing with people. Last time I saw the boys was in '94. In early '95 I moved to Miami and was actually trying to get a ride to Tampa but couldn't make it. Too bad. Now I listen to Sirius and Lone Star Dead to get my fix. Thank you Blair, for bringing this up.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

A couple of people have asked about where to find the first blog ("Welcome to My Blog World") now that this second one is up. Under "the Latest" click on "more" and you'll see a list of recent articles from that section, including that blog. I'm told that soon the blogs will be archived in their own spot. There's a lot of updating that needs to (and will) happen on this website, hopefully sooner than later... You patience is always appreciated!
user picture

Member for

12 years 9 months
Permalink

I got on the bus on February 26, 1977. Living in Southern California, there was virtually no airplay of Grateful Dead songs, but somehow they were still "big." I owned none of their records, heard none of their music at the parties I went to, and none of my college roommates up to then were fans of the Dead. I'd read an interview with Jerry in Guitar Player magazine, and I was interested in finding out what sorts of sounds he was talking about--plus, I wanted to see the guitar he talked about in the article (Wolf). That day, I bought a ticket to their show at the good ol' Swing Auditorium (San Bernardino) and headed for the standing room area in front of the stage. I managed to get a decent spot about 20 feet back of the stage, more or less dead center, and I waited for the band to start. I remember asking a guy who was standing next to me if he knew what their concerts were like, and he said that they usually played for about an hour, took a break, and came back for another two hours or so. I remember thinking to myself, "If they play that long, they'd better not suck." They didn't. They opened with something I'd never heard before--but then, NOBODY there other than the road crew had ever heard "Terrapin Station" before (first time played was that night, as was the case for "Estimated Prophet" a few songs later). All the dozens of other concerts I'd seen had been about stage presence and showmanship, but this concert was far different--in the first set, the band was deeply focused on presenting each song as best as they could, and damn the stage presence; in the second set there was a significant change of focus, and instead of concentrating on each song, they concentrated on the music as a whole, once again, though, ignoring stage presence in favor of sound. I was struck by this purity of focus, and by the utter absence of vanity solos (I still can't call Phil's extended jam between Eyes and Dancing a vanity solo--it was musical exploration instead of, "hey, look what I can do!"). I knew only a few of the songs they played that night (all the ones I knew were covers--NONE of their few radio-friendly tunes were played that night), but the five-note opening to "Terrapin" hooked me and the joyous energy of the crowd filled me, enough so that after the encore of "U. S. Blues" I knew I'd seen and heard something that nobody else was doing in the world of rock music. To this day, thanks to that show-opening number, "Terrapin Station" is my all-time favorite GD tune. For one reason or another, I only managed to see 3 other shows, so I suppose I'm something of an outsider compared to many folks here, but I've got lots of vinyl memories, and a few decaying cassette tapes, that give mute testimony to the notion that I didn't become a fan because the band was popular, and not because they were the best at what they did, but because they were the only ones who did it.
user picture

Member for

13 years 1 month
Permalink

Yup, that'd be me.....having had both my ex & my present being into the GD......being a local SF for many generations, my grandma being proposed marriage to in the Staight Theater circa 1915, (& GD playing there about 50 yrs later) seeing Pigpen on Haight st. when I was just a teen-I just figured I was born into it.........later becoming an employee-well, that's another story.....having our grandkids love the music gives us so much gratitude beyond description...However, the cowgirl (or maybe it's the gypsy or both) in me has never made me feel "deader than thou" In fact it continues to blow my mind how the young uns love the music- I think it's great
user picture

Member for

13 years 1 month
Permalink

I knew I'd forget something.......hearing the GD play in the Panhandle while a teenager was just too much fun.....
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 10 months
Permalink

I couldn't have said it any better. Sounds pretty ridiculous that it even had to be written but that's another story. Anyway, this late 60's bus hopper really believes the more the merrier. From the first note I heard while tripping through a great UJB to the day I took my wife to her first show in '86, to the day my son, not born early enough to have seen a show, bought his first "Dick's Picks" because he couldn't get enough, to 8/15/95, to today, it's been a great ride and a long strange trip. One worth every minute and one I wouldn't trade for anything especially with what my calendar wants me to believe, that it's time to slow down. No way, can't stop, don't wanna stop beatin it on down the line!
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

10 years 4 months
Permalink

Nice post Blair my wife and I have laughed about the different era tags for everyone. We use the following terms tongue and cheek to describe when people we see and talk to got on the bus "Originals" 66-74, "Second Wave" 76-85 (my wife falls into this category), "Touch Heads" 87-90 (myself I guess, the younger people will never know just how derogatory this term could be used as). But alas the first name we have for the next group was not much better and much more derogatory. "Neuvo Junkies" 91-95, (The great sadness 96 and 97, did anyone actually get on the bus at this time???). "Phish Kids" (general timeline for reference only 94-99) "New Golden Age Post Jerry Kids" 99-02 (Panic and Cheese were in top form and the individual members were cranking it out) and "Jerry's Grandkids" 02 to present The truth is it doesn't matter when you got on as long as your open and accepting to what is happening in the moment of which there have bee a lot of great ones over the years! As far as my own experience I remember my roommate in college kind of forcing me to listen to GD while I was trying to go to sleep because he was so exited "Jerry was back" after the coma and he had some of the December 86 Oakland Coliseum shows on tape. I really didn't get into them. I lived a long way from campus and I remember before I was getting ready to go home one time he said he would make a really good tape that I would have to like for the drive home. While driving I had the tape in the car but avoided it for a while. Mostly listening to Hendrix or The Who probably. Finally I put the tape on (which turned out to be Deadset) and as I was driving this huge thunderstorm was visible in the distance and the music was so alive and at last made total sense to me.. It was awesome and I was on the bus. (This was early 87) Most things are blur since then I just remember getting a lot more GD on CD For The Faithful, American Beauty and Europe 72 and making it a priority to actually see them live which I finally did in 88. Seeing them live was like realizing Deadset during the storm was just a taste of what happened out here. Wow...... Have probably been seeing a show of some kind or another ~ every other month on average ever since.........
user picture

Member for

9 years 10 months
Permalink

My sister and brother-in-law took me to my first show. They are ten years older than me and had been seeing shows since the late 70's. During the summer of 87 I asked to listen to "Dead Set". I was in awe! Loved the music from the first note.They took me to my first show April 88, in Detroit Mi, Joe Louis Arena. We boarded a bus in Toledo Ohio, with a couple of local DJ's from a radio station and headed north. I was hooked from then on.I was 16. After that show I spent time seeing many shows. I'd love to say it was the increased popularity, but in reality it was a couple of old heads, that showed me the festival! At a very good age too......
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

One aspect that the "Dead-er Than Thou" crowd always took (or take - in present context) for granted is that new fans are what keeps the fire alive. Face it, many of the fans who were on board the bus in the '60s and '70s are getting up there in age (no offense intended to the elder fans) and won't be around forever to keep the Dead alive. It's up to the younger generation to spread the word for the benefit of the fans that aren't even born yet.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

10 years 1 month
Permalink

with spacebrother need to keep this bus running.......
user picture

Member for

11 years 7 months
Permalink

I recently married a younger woman (born before I attended my first tripping dead album in 1970) who turned out to be a world famous medium. I have witnessed and recorded sessions with Jerry and Kesey etc. They are still lovable nuts. 13 plus of us finally sold everything we owned and traveled from Cincy to San Francisco...only destination was a Dead show with New Riders and Waylon. We called our bus Sunshine Daydreams...now scatted deadheads from Oregon (Eugene of course) to New York to heaven. Lots of concerts all over the country in 40 years. Loved and recorded the 30 days of dead you did here. The best one is always the one that playin now. Wage Peace den
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years
Permalink

Amongst some heads ?...LOL Guilty! - everyone The worst were (still) the most heard.
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

I am 54 years old and often regret that I didn't discover the Dead earlier. I actually discovered the Dead in 1986 so I got on just before the explosion in popularity. I was introduced to the band when I moved next door to a couple of Deadheads. I was hooked when I heard an audience recording of the 1977 Eyes of the World from Englishtown NJ! Only saw the Dead 8 times and the Jerry band once. All of these were life changing experiences! My 14 year old son loves the Dead and he never saw them, although he has seen Furthur, Ratdog and Phil and Friends a bunch of times. I don't think it matters a bit when you got on the bus just that you get on! There were many times that I envied those who had seen a bunch of shows and got to tour with the band. I'm sure that was a powerful experience in and of itself, but I also came to realize that some of those folks had become hyper-critical of every note played while I savored every moment! Everyone has their own trip! Peace to all!
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 2 months
Permalink

I first got on board in 1973 with Trucking and Casey Jones and then with a greatest hit 8 track tape (LOL). Then it really took off in 1975 at SHSU in Huntsville and have been obcessed with them ever since. My first concert was in 1977 at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston. I've been to six shows ( they were crazy) and still have the ticket stubs.
user picture

Member for

12 years 9 months
Permalink

I had never really heard of the Grateful Dead until I was 19 and a freshman at Clark in Worcester MA. It was the fall of 1980 and lots of people were skipping orientation to go see the dead in Lewiston Maine. I was asked to go and said why? Then some friends invited me to drive them to New York in my car and pay them something crazy like $75 to see the dead at radio city music hall. They said the music was amazing and tried to convince me but I was not going to be had. Then my roomate conviced me to go to Long Island in May of 81 after school was out and see a few shows at Nassau colesium. The day before we were supposed to leave I won a science award and was asked by my chemistry professor to do some summer research with him. No Nassau for me. Finally it happened in September of 1981 I went with my roomate and his two LI friends to see the Grateful Dead at Lehigh university in Bethlehem PA. We arrived late for the show because my roomates brother,who owned the dominos pizza in town had to deliver pizzas on the way to dropping us off. The show was a blurr mostly. I was sort of familiar with some songs from live tapes and dead set.My first and only passenger. The second set had so many songs. It was overwhelming. Almost 200 shows mostly before 1991. Been at alpine valley the greek red rocks the frost. Saw dylan & Dead Carlos Santana @ the dead at angels camp. Four new years and so much more. Jerry solo duo acoustic band electric band. Bobby and the midnights solo duo rat dog. Old heads new heads its not a competition folks. It's like the acid test its pass fail no grades. I went to see further last summer in Ottawa and sat next to a couple from eastern Canada who were newly into the scene. The guy next to them saw his first show at watkins glenn in the early seventies and I got on the bus in 1981. I've learned so much about life through the music the people and the history behind the band. I was turned on th the likes of Ramm Dass Kessey Keruac meditation jazz organics herbal medicine........ It's been a long strange wonderful amazing mind expanding loving TRIP. It continues on Further. What will today and tomorrow bring? "Shall we go you and I while we can?" Peace Love Health & Happiness.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 2 months
Permalink

I was Jerrry's babysitter when he was two and gave him a little toy guitar.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 6 months
Permalink

i always find people that can remember ever show, date and song, I started following the dead back in 1977. I'm lucky I remember where I park my car now. I am proud to say my 16 year old daughter is loving the vintage dead along with going to current Further, Raddog and Phil and friednds shows over the past few years. Don't judge just be glad they finally get it.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 10 months
Permalink

I remember my 2 older brothers playing Europe 72 over and over again....that was my first exposure to the Dead when I was about 12 years old in 1973. We were living in upstate NY at the time, and both of my brothers went to the Watkins Glen show. They tried to take me but my mom threw a fit, got my Dad involved, and that was the end of that plan. So they went off without me and the rest they say is history. My first Dead show was 11/5/77 and was also my first concert ever. What an experience. My brothers called me the next day to see if I liked it, and I asked them if all concerts were like that, which gave them a pretty good laugh. Saw the Dead up through 95, and have seen Further, Phil, Ratdog, etc since. My wife never saw the Dead, but has become a huge fan and has enjoyed Phil and Friends and Further shows with me. And just the other day, my 17 year old son came in the room while Help/Slipknot/Franklins was playing, and asked me who that was, in his words the music was "pretty chill". First time he's ever complemented the Dead, so there is hope yet....... :)
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

when I first got into the Dead in 1977 being told that I missed the true experience because I never saw Pigpen. I was, in fact, ridiculed by a few so-called Heads because of my "newness." What utter nonsense. Thankfully, the vast majority of people at the shows were kind, sharing, non-judgmental and accepting of everyone. To me, that is the sign of a Deadhead, not what era they started or how many tapes they own, etc. It is the feeling of belonging to a greater community, outside of the everyday world. Now, admittedly I got "off the bus" for a while in the late 1980s, so I don't know about the later scene, but I have met many exceptional and giving people on this site who embody the Deadhead spirit. Finally, I have been attending some Furthur shows recently--after vowing never to see anything post-Jerry-- and am grateful that the music still hasn't stopped. "Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own."
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

I'm almost ashamed to say that I got on the bus through a classic case of trying to be too hip at a freshers party. Let me explain. Back in 1973 at the University of York, one of the first things people asked you was "What band do you like?" I had only barely heard of the Grateful Dead - someone had played me a few tracks of Workingman's Dead a few years previously when I was just 16 - but something inside me flipped and I just blurted out "Grateful Dead". I must have thought this would would make me look pretty cool. I was immediately asked what my favourite album was (I hadn't heard of tapes at that time) and again I blurted out "Oh the live one". Well, there were several live ones at that time, so I had to bluster a bit. Cue a lot of searching around the record stores of York until I came across the Live Dead album and the rest is history. Caught, hook, line and sinker. Over the years I got to hear alot more of the Dead but had to wait until the 1981 shows at the Rainbow for my first taste of live Grateful Dead. The tape trading common in the States wasn't really very well established in the UK and it wasn't until the mid-80s that I got to hear some of the prime shows and really 'get it'. Of course, I had another long wait for more Dead - 1990 in Paris and London - never having made the long trek to the States to see them on home turf. My favourite era is the early to late 70s and my only regret is that I never saw the band with Keith and Donna.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 5 months
Permalink

I always laugh when I watch that part of the GD movie with the guy talking about "the good old days" at the Fillmore etc. As a pretty hard core fan that got on in 1989 (due to timing I guess being born in 73), I always think to myself when watching that part, "geez, you were living the good old days!" Frankly, I think I would rather have witnessed the 10/74 Winterland run than any number of shows in the 60s and, of course, I have now heard people glow about the good old days in 89/90 when I first took notice and went to shows. It is all a matter of perspective and nostalgia and everyone is susceptible to it; its just the ones that place a true value judgment on it that are being petty. Carpe Diem folks! One day these too will be the "good old days"!
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

but it might qualify as How I Missed Getting On The Bus: had we but left our college earlier and had better parking karma, I might actually have caught the boys' set at the Human Be-In. Alas, we left late and had terrible parking karma, so no music for us; it is a great shame Steve Silberman did not get to witness the events and artistes I did get to see, though, as I suspect he would have been in heaven (I'm assuming he was not there as he would have been a kid, but Steve is a resourceful dude...); Allen Ginsberg was chanting and Lenore Kandel was reading from her Extremely Controversial Poetry du Jour. But this was not my dish, so much, especially at the time. In my view one gets on the bus when one is ready, anyhow, which in my case was 12/31/80, and it's all turned out fine...
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 6 months
Permalink

After reading so many of these fine comments I can't help but come to the conclusion that we all were actually born on the bus! Maybe even conceived on the bus! This cosmic conception or birth didn't actually manifest itself until years later, when the earthly bus finally came to our local bus stop and we hopped on.
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

would attest to a definite sense of homecoming. Like who KNEW this was here all along? finding the place we belonged at last, etc.
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

I kept missing the "real" bus, due mostly to living in The Middle of Nowhere, Maine at key time in my life. Four of my friends and I considered ourselves "Dead freaks" even though we'd never seen the band and had just the available early-70s vinyl to listen to. We had no earthly clue where this band might be playing live, we just knew that it wasn't at the Bangor Auditorium....a testament to just how little information leaked into our isolated small town. Were we provincial? Oh yes! Were we bona fide Deadheads? I say yes! to that as well. Our circumstances, of course, eventually changed....I just sometimes wonder how things might have been different living somewhere else, or in an age when this kind of information is available instantly regardless of where one might live.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

I went to my first show in Houston at Astroworld in August of 1985. I don't remember much until I was getting a soda and a hot dog and I heard and felt the Beam during Space. That was the weirdest sound I had ever heard and had not felt subwoofing like that before. I took closer notice and danced my ass off the rest of the show. The next day, we drove to Austin, to Manor Downs, and I ate some blotter and proceeded to have my mind blown off for three hours. I saw things and felt things I still have trouble articulating clearly. When I tripped and sw the Dead, it was a very visual thing, hard to explain, but I most certainly "got it". The Dead were mood sculptors of the highest degree.
user picture

Member for

12 years 7 months
Permalink

I bought the first album when it came out-that's right! Along with JA, CJ and the Fish, Doors and Quicksilver Messenger Service, etc. The Airplane, Doors, etc more polished in the studio and the Dead sounded rough and wooly to me---but there was something that nagged at you-esp. with Morning Dew for me. I was also reading Ramparts-anyone remember that "New Left" journal? There were always ads for psychedelic posters in there too which was fascinating for us East Coast folks. Anyway, along I went until a day when some friends and I visited one of our teachers-an English teacher who was playing the "Anthem of the Sun" album and raving about it. Drum roll and flutes please: Something in my brain clicked and I really got what they were trying to do. The rest, as they say, is history.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 10 months
Permalink

1974--13 yr old kid sitting in the back of my cousin's friend Monteen's blue Camaro driving down the Great Highway with Loose Lucy playing loud on the 8-Track. Sounds cool to me. 1975--Jerry Garcia & Friends at SNACK Sunday is the GD playing Blues For Allah->Johnny B. Goode. Very weird...very memorable. Started buying a few of their records, beginning with Europe '72. 1978--Got the lucky raffle number at the San Mateo Jeff's Jeans which meant I could buy two tickets for the Closing of Winterland. My 15 year old brother (his first show, my "second") and I drove up in the '69 Torino early in the afternoon of 12-31-78 to be part of the scene (it was and we were!) and that was it. Both of us hooked for life. The world needs more deadheads. Always has, always will. The kindness, humor, trust, generosity, creativity, and craziness that was all around informed and influenced us as young adults. Those characteristics flowed from the stage, spread to the floor and then back again. I don't look much like the prototypical deadhead any more, pushing 50 this year and all, but I learned many life lessons going to shows and listening to that wonderful music. (My oh my, but those songs still stand up, too!) If being a young deadhead, even one who never saw Jerry, means embracing those qualities along with loving this unique and beautiful music, then more power to you all. I wish I'd known enough to steer clear of the powders back in the mid-eighties, but I survived anyway--much thanks to the Dead. Play on, band--- JT
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 6 months
Permalink

Myself, I hopped on the Bus in 1996. After watching the GD Movie on VH-1, i ran out to my local dept store, found Hundred Year Hall, and it really blew me away. I remember how the music would intensify my high, but not only that, the next day, I would drive somewhere, jam out, not smoke anything, and when i arrived at my destination, i really felt like i was so high. I had the paranoia going on. I really was bummed out for several years, that i had missed Jerry and couldn't imagine what it was like to have been there. But after so many Other Ones, DSO, Furthur, Dead cover bands, Camp Fire Jams, it just feels like home, like i've always been here. Now its hard to listen to the Jerry ballads and not cry. Especially So ManY Roads. I think everyone has their own road to travel down. And i think everything happens for a reason. I am grateful that i was turned on, and thankful to have my mind blown so many times. David Gans wrote that he believes that Garcia and Hunter wrote just as good if not better than the Lennon and McCartney. I'm with David on that one. But don't get me wrong, I love me some beatles. But there is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert. Nothing.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

50 years 8 months
Permalink

...from the firs note at a live show - Mississippi in Prov. 78. Before that, listening to the vinyl. Before that dosing. It really was instant karma for me. I do know what Blair means when he speaks of people who were deader than thou. All I know is that the trip got progressively worse as the year went by. I could put a number on it -- but that just throws you right back into it, sort of like the E72 thread It was nice to pick up some useful information from them, if you stand listening to them. So I guess I'm an "old school dead-head" because of the way I roll my joints.
user picture

Member for

11 years 11 months
Permalink

hahaha lamo, that made me smile big, so, is that the california roll?
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

50 years 8 months
Permalink

I got on the bus in the mid 70's. A new freind let me listen to Skeletons in the closet. I listened and could not get enough. I started buying all the older albums and the new ones. I was able to watch a bunch of shows at Cal Expo and Bay Area (Loved Day On The Greens). I even went to Univ. of Oregon for a concert. Now I am not a Heavy fan in that I followed them from concert to concert and cannot tell shows apart. But I do have lots of memories and Tattoo's of GD. I do not have a problem of when folks got on the bus. Just that we all get along share our stories of all the good tmes we had. With the vast array of music there is bound to be differences but that is ok. What we have now is wonderful memories of shows and all that went on during those shows and travels. WHAT A LONG STRANGE TRIP IT'S BEEN
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 6 months
Permalink

Even though I had started listening to the Dead when their first album came out, my first concert was when they opened the Labor Temple in Minneapolis on January 2, 1969 (hope the exact day is correct!). This was quite the show and tickets were $3.50. The Labor Temple was an old union hall in "nordeast" Minneapolis that was easy hitchiking distance from where I lived in Dinkytown. I even walked this distance more than once. I don't know what it was about the Labor Temple, but you could go up and sit in the balcony if you wanted, you could get right up to the stage if you wanted, or even hang out in the middle of the floor, lying about as you wished. The acoustics were great! I saw a lot of fantastic shows there, like Savoy Brown, Jeff Beck, etc. but the Dead starting the shows at the Labor Temple was something extra special. Over the years, I have seen the Dead quite a few times - Eugene, St. Paul, Portland, Minneapolis, etc. My favorite show was 1972 when they played on the U of M campus in Northrop (which also had great acoustics). This was after they released the Skull and Roses album. At this show I started to really appreciate Phil Lesh's bass work. Before the Dead came onstage, the New Riders played. This concert was 5 hours total if I remember correctly. In 1970 I really got on the bus with the release of Workingman's Dead and I saw them at the Guthrie Theater. At the time I had a head shop, was heavily involved in the antiwar movement and the burgeoning environmentalist movement and was involved in the first Earth Day in Minneapolis. New Speedway boogie set the tone which I have followed for over 40 years. I don't know, but I been told If the horse don't pull you got to carry the load. I don't know whose back's that strong Maybe find out before too long My back's still strong.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 10 months
Permalink

Unfortunatly I never got to see The Grateful Dead live, what an experience i imagine that was. I have seen Furthur, and the vibes there are amazing I can only dream about what they where when Jerry was around. I am not one to follow bands like a religion but something about this music transcends physical reality. What is it? Whatever it is it is something different than i have ever experienced. Almost like something spiritual is channeling through it, some sort of energy, i dont know. Anyone else get this? (even i think this is weird but true)
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

11 years 5 months
Permalink

Freshman year at Queens College, 1974, a buddy showed me the album jacket of Europe '72. Something about that picture grabbed me. Then the music played. And I became a Deadhead on the spot. Saw a few shows with Jerry and the JGB or Legion of Mary with Merl Saunders until the Dead came back on tour in '76. Remember that mail order? Limit 2 tix per person per show. And only available to those who answered the call of "Dead Freaks Unite" on the Bertha album. Great shows in the Northeast that summer with the first set often ending, as I recall, with long spacey jam in the middle of Playing in the Band. And that was only the first set! Long hiatus from live shows from 1980 - 1994. Got to see Jerry one last time at the Giant Stadium show a year before he left us. Then a smattering of shows as the boys toured as The Other Ones and as The Dead. Finally with the re-grouping as Furthur the energy of the band, the crowd and the shows rivals what it was back in the 70's. I think Jerry's smiling. And Jackie and I are back at the shows again.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

When I was a freshman in college I was so musically closed-minded that I did not want anyone to play Dead records on my stereo. I never did figure out why. My roommate got tickets from his older brother for the 1/11/79 show at Nassau Coliseum so I went on a whim thinking I should see them while they were still around. By springtime and Europe 72, I was firmly and forever on the bus to over 200 shows through June 25, 1995 in DC. Although I sometimes "qualify" someone's interest in the Dead by asking how many shows they've seen and what first one was, it is not in a judgmental way. It's just to see if they were as insane as I was/am. I took more than a few people to their first shows and introduced them to the bus. Most got on, some did not. I thought it would last forever, and when it didn't, it made me wish that I had paid more attention along the way.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

...very well, where do I begin? My first show was Syracuse, April 82. I was as wet behind the ears as a newborn babe, and had no idea what was going on at any given point in the show. It all seemed so chaotic, with no structure at all... the whole freeform jam concept was very new to me. (Up to that point my concert experiences had all been with groups that pretty much only played their albums verbatim.) The night seemed a blur, with only a couple of the GD songs seemed familiar to me- however, many of the songs in the set list would become huge favorites of mine in due time. I do vividly remember the drumz portion, when Billy beat on that huge tom and made the walls of the War Memorial shake. Man, I could feel the reverberations from my seat in the very back of the auditorium. Wow. Up to that point most of folks I hung out with would snicker whenever the subject of the Grateful Dead came up, as they kinda looked down their noses at Dead Heads and regarded them as fanatical nut jobs. However, I never fit in with the beautiful people, I was like Zimmy says, "Always on the outside of whatever side there was". Day late and a dollar short. But the band and fans were OK with freaks. That appealed to me as well. Who or what you were wasn't nearly important as where your head was at. A year later I saw the band again in Binghamton (4/12/83). This time I was better prepared, having done some 'homework'. The music was hot, and I witnessed firsthand the love that the fans had for the band, and vice versa. I could see this was indeed something special and that resonated with me. Just listen to that show sometime, you'll see what I mean. They closed it out with NFA, left the stage, but the audience kept singing "Love is real and not fade away" and pounded out the shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits handclap until the band came back out for the encore, where they resumed NFA for a bit before going into Baby Blue. It was kinda like the band was saying, "We love you too!" To me that was powerful stuff, this band/fan interaction. But it was a week later when we were partying it up, with a fungus among us, that it really hit home. I just had to hear some more GD so we threw Dead Set on the turntable (remember those?) It was then, midway through the first side, in this strangest of places, that I was indeed shown the light, and finally stepped on the bus... I came to the realization that "there is NOTHING wrong with the Grateful Dead". and proclaimed this to my friends. They just laughed, perhaps they already knew, and we went on to have a great time. But this brief moment of enlightenment would change my life forever. I can still remember that pivotal point like it was yesterday... and here it is almost 28 years later. Since then, the Grateful Dead has provided the soundtrack to my life, and I have had many profound insights and epiphanies while listening to their music. I cannot say that about too many other musicians. Beethoven is the closest I can think of right now. I am thankful that I was born in this time and place, on this rock, to witness something as rare and unique as the Grateful Dead. In the long run I don't believe that it really matters WHEN you first got on the bus, but rather IF you get on the bus at all. And I think that if more people got on the bus, this world would be a much better place.
user picture

Member for

10 years 7 months
Permalink

I've got to laugh at this blog title, I think I met a few in the last couple of years at shows. When you started listening to the band(s) and then attending concerts and get it. That's what I'd call that "kick in the fukkin'head" by the music, atmosphere, the folks. "Getting on the bus" shouldn't matter what year it was, 65 to 95 and beyond. It's your first positive experience with the GD> JGB> TOO> PLF> Ratdog> Rythmn Devils> The Dead> Furthur...... and nobody can take it away from you. And nobody elses is better than yours. We, all of us, need the younger fans to help keep the groove alive and kickin'. On the bus since hearing Anthem of The Sun LP in 69 at a friends house, her older brother's record. Then promptly went to the record dept. at the local applance store, Tommy Fishers and bought the new LP with a real werdo name - Aoxomoxoa. Holy crow, St.Stephen, Cosmic Charlie, Duprees and China Cat just blew me away. By November LIVE-DEAD, was even wilder ! Sixteen in '69, our daily routine after school was smoke a doob and blast The Dead in the car on 8TK, at somebodys house (who's mom is not home) on LP. Boy oh boy, we've GOT to see this band LIVE ! Fast forward to the fall of '70, a friend of my older brother is coming down from college upstate with paper products. And the band is playing Halloween, WOW ! Eight of us in full costume, doin' some heavy smilage. What a show, we were all hooked. Must see these guys again. And so it began.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 5 months
Permalink

I had another thought on ones persepective and the relativity of it all while reading more posts on this thought provoking topic. I got into the Dead (heavily) in 89 and felt duly jealous and in awe of those "old school heads" who saw the band back in the 60s/70s at cozy venues. It was at this same time, however, that I saw Phish with about 50 other people in the room and WSP at a local dive bar with about 200 people in attendance (yeah Panic was actually bigger around here back in 1990). Now both of those bands have blossomed into mega scenes, but I certainly can't claim being Phishier or Panicier than thou because I never really have been a big fan of either even though I was in at the ground floor so to speak. Still, I have been asked about my first shows for those bands and have gotten some of the reactions from Phish and Panic heads that I gave back in 89 to those "old school dead heads" - awe with a touch of jealousy. That really puts it in perspective for me. Fact of the matter is the duration of your tenure has little to do with the depth of your interest and devotion. You are either on or off; it doesn't matter when, the band/time continuum is entirely relative. Again - these ARE the good old days if you make them so; get out and see some music!
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

At the risk of alienating myself, I can say that I think Panic and Phish are ok. I gave Phish a chance and went to a handful of shows between '94 and '98, but as time goes on, I become less than enthusiastic. I liked their albums between the period of Hunta and Story Of The Ghost, but lost interest. On occasion, I'll listen to Rift and Hoist, but thats about it. As far as Panic goes, since Jimmy Herring came into the band, I gave them the benefit of the doubt but found myself thinking that, here is this song with a so-so structure, doesn't really grab me, then suddenly a kick ass ripping guitar solo, then back into the mediocre song again. I love Jimmy Herring but can't find much to groove to with Panic. Aquarium Rescue Unit on the other hand is a completely different story. Now thats a band that more than warrant having a massive following. I don't get it. With the Dead, they covered so much musical ground with some depth to their songs, that they made it all their own. Panic & Phish? What am I missing?
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

Hunta should actually be spelled Junta. oops
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

9 years 6 months
Permalink

Well my first show should have been Niagara Falls 84 ,but while walking out the door I made the error of telling my parents where I was going. Big mistake!! they thought a 12 year old had no business attending such an event. So it wasnt until 7/4/86 at Rich Stadium that my life changed forever. Fortunatly I had older brothers who were seeing the boys since the late 70's and had amassed a large colection of tapes,so I was well versed with the music but it wasnt until that first show that I really got it...the overwhemling sence of love and community just blew this snot nose 14 yr old away, plus i was also initiated that evening to the world of psychedelics...it was a double whammy. I was on the bus. As for dealing with my parents at that time...I would sneak out in the middle of the night and leave a note stating "off to see the dead in Hartford or NYC or whatever be back soon". After awhile they seemed to be ok with there baby roaming around the country....becouse for the most part I came home in one piece, maybe just alittle rusty as my mother so elonquently put it. The only one who ever really gave me heat was my principal at the time, he said I missed more classes then the kid with Lupas. Oh well....I would do it all over again in a heartbeat....best years of my life.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 5 months
Permalink

"Hunta" - your such a poser maaaaaannnnn!!! ;) Seriously though - I respect those bands and kind of enjoy bits and pieces, but like you spacebro, they have simply never grabbed me like the Dead.
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

12 years 5 months
Permalink

I mean "you're"
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

I echo the comments above re Phish and WSP. I've actually made myself listen to some of the newer jam bands as I didn't want to become an "old fart". I've learned to respect many of these bands. Phish is very creative but don't grab me like the Dead (although I've never seen them live). Same for WSP. I enjoyed moe. somewhat more (I have seen them live twice). The band that comes closest to the feel of the Dead for me is Railroad Earth whom I've seen live 10 times, most recently a couple weeks ago in Charlottesville, VA!
user picture
Default Avatar

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

I'm planning to get into this issue about the "fellow traveler" jam bands in a few weeks, so save those thoughts!
user picture

Member for

13 years 3 months
Permalink

At 16 years old in Albuquerque, my friends were more turned on to the Grateful Dead than I was, since, as a teenager, I liked punk rock. I spat a haughty "pshaw" at the mention of a trip to Santa Fe to catch the "immortal Dead" in 1982 so I missed what was in store....until I turned on to the GD in college and, lo and behold, the Downs at Santa Fe was my first ever bootleg tape. I've internalized all of it since, except, of course, those juicy d/s bits that the tape, bless its heart, was too small to contain. Would that my mind had been ready so that I could have been there!
240 comments
sort by
Recent
Reset
Items displayed
  • milton
    2 years 4 months ago
    A little late to the bus stop
    I guess I'm a little late getting on the bus, but I'm sure glad I found it! When Jerry died in 95 I was going into my junior year in high school. At that time in my life I was in full on Pink Floyd mode. If it wasn't Floyd I didn't want to know anything about it. I was so immersed it was like I had blinders on. Not that Floyd is a bad band to get into, but it can make things get a little weird when your life at 16 revolves around Floyd, pot, and acid. Ahh good times. Thankfully I had a friend, whom I'm still great friends with, who was a Floyd fan too, but he slowly got me into bands like Zeppelin, Dylan, Neil Young etc. Fast forward to about 2003-04 and we went to go see Dylan and the Dead. At this point I still didn't "get it", but went to the show and I had a blast. Even after that maybe 2009ish, we went to go see the Dead when Warren Haynes was with them. I enjoyed it, but still didn't fully "get it". Then about 4 years ago I just started listening to the Dead with a real passion like I never had before. Life was changing, my dad died, shit got heavy. But I was able to see the light with the Dead like nothing else. I always wondered what it would've been like to see Jerry. I feel a real connection with him and not only the way he plays (I play guitar too), but the way he thinks. Also being from Buffalo, I feel a special connection with the Dead. It seems like they always had a blast when they played here and the region in general. Example: 7/04/89 at Rich Stadium. That place is less than 10 miles from where I grew up. I can relate. I was only 10 yrs old at the time, but just to think Jerry and the boys were just down the road having so much fun. I'd like to think if I was just a little older I would've been there with them. But my time to get on the bus was much later. It actually happened at a time when I really needed them. I'm excited to go see Dead & Co this summer at the same venue I first saw Dylan and the Dead, except this time I will for sure have "gotten it"!
  • sisterearth
    4 years 4 months ago
    Nothing left to do
    This is funny stuff. Reminds me of a girl who was turned onto the Dead before me and acted as if it elevated her somehow. Cracks me up and is so...Ungrateful. I don't care when I got on the bus....I am just happy that it came by and I jumped on for the ride. ★peace
  • iceninedawg
    4 years 4 months ago
    DEAD-ER THAN THOU phenomenon
    All:My first show was May, 1968 @ the National Guard Armory in St. Louis, Mo. as a junior in high school. Right then and there, I knew I had to move out to where these guys lived so I could experience them more which I did in 1969 (the earliest I could get there based on circumstances). My final three shows were in March of 1995 at the Omni in Atlanta. Early on, in the Bay Area, I could always buy tickets to the shows @ Pacific Stereo just by walking in when they opened on the first day of ticket sales. Later on, this changed and I moved out of the Bay Area soon after. Since I moved, I then started using GDTS and, later, GDTSTOO otherwise known as mail order. I was always, clear up until the end, able to get good and decent tickets/seats thru mail order. All I know about the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon is that it seemed like to me, all of a sudden there were tons more people at the shows and they were way younger. I never really experienced the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon because in conversations with other DeadHeads we were just curious about each other's first shows and it was always non-judgmental. This may have been since I gravitated towards DeadHeads my own age. Now, I have heard anecdotally about this phenomenon but I have been unscathed by it personally. Thanks be to you, Blair for writing about this phenomenon in such a calm, reasoned and kind way. As I told David Gans earlier this week on the Well, I have always treasured and valued your writings. Please keep keepin' on.