Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Bozo, Bus

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The Grateful Dead didn’t do the tour bus thing; we know this because the one time they got on a bus (two of them, to be precise) for two months, the vehicles became mythic and legendary and had elaborate theologic goofs concocted about them. Had they actually traveled in the 1965 Gillis pictured above that some shady car museum in Illinois had displayed and actually tried to auction off for two hundred grand, we all would have known about it.

Did Butch Patrick not know one Deadhead? (Did I forget to mention that the shady car museum is owned by TV’s Butch Patrick?) Just looking at this thing is all the evidence that you need: the Dead knew an artist or two, and that pathetic flag on the side would not cut it. The Dead would also not name a bus Sugar Magnolia. It would be named after an inside joke.

Let’s take a closer look at that informational poster leaning against the bus in the most professional way the curator could afford:

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I don’t even know where to begin. Sugar Magnolia was written in ’69, so that means the bus was named using the Time Sheath or that it didn’t have a name for two years; that’s not how human beings work. Either something gets a name immediately, or it never gets a name.

Also: Garcia hated The Doors, and Jim Morrison in particular. (The man had good taste.) Garcia didn’t do much shit-talking in interviews, but he went out of his way to insult The Doors. This was not an opinion that would have lost him friends in San Francisco, but it stands out as the only (?) time in 30 years of being asked about other bands that he insulted one.

On the other hand, Bobi was best friends with Jimmy Hendrix, so maybe this is the real deal.

Whether or not (most likely not) this piece of shit belonged to the Dead, one thing is certain: it was not their “tour bus.” The Dead flew. The Dead flew so much that they opened their own travel agency. (Swear to God.) There were cars and vans and–I’m sure–the occasional rented bus, but for the most part the Dead took planes from one show to another, for a whole bunch of reasons.

First of all, it wasn’t four guys and a road manager: there were up to seven people just in the band, and the it was never just the band. You would order one Grateful Dead, and 40 hairy motherfuckers show up. It would take a convoy of buses and this is a bad idea from a logistical standpoint. You’d rather move a Grateful Dead around the country than move several Grateful Deads around the country. Besides the inevitable sudden disasters, an internecine war would have developed.

Second, and here’s the more interesting reason, is that airports in the 70’s were not the militarized malls they are today. Security was almost non-existent, and predictable, as opposed to what you might find on the highways. Every small-town sheriff along the tour route would have loved to string up them Dead boys, but the airport cops didn’t give a shit, as evidenced by the spate of hijackings in during the decade.

(Fun fact for the younger Enthusiasts: hijacking airplanes used to be funny. Almost every comedy sketch set on a plane would end with the punchline of a random passenger revealing a dynamite vest and proclaiming “I’m taking this plane to Cuba!” Fun fact for all: my cousins were hijacked. Swear to you. They were going from Jersey to Florida and ended up in Cuba. Spent the night in a hotel with armed Communist guards outside and got shipped back to the States the next day. It’s a treasured family story.)

The bus is no longer featured on the website, and the links to the auction are broken, so I can only assume that someone informed TV’s Butch Patrick that whatever provenance this sucker has, it isn’t the one he was sold. This was some tour rat’s bus, and I can only assume–

“Can you keep it down, man?”

–that he…Soup?

“Heeeey, man.”

How many vehicles are you living in?

“Four or five, man. They get funky and I gotta get a new one like a hermit crab, man.”

Awesome. Was this your bus?

“Not was, man. This is my bus, man.”

No, it’s apparently owned by TV’s Butch Patrick.

“Who, man?”

Eddie Munster.

“Oh, yeah, I sold it to him, man.”

Did you tell him it belonged to the Dead?

“I didn’t tell him it didn’t, man.”

Aw, Soup. That’s not right.

“He was a custie, man. He should have known that I was bullshitting, man. Not my fault if a custie doesn’t know he’s a custie, man.”

That does make sense.

“You know how many pairs of jean shorts ‘Bobby gave me’ I’ve sold, man?”

You’re more capable than you let on.

“I’m Soup, man.”


  1. Jerry went out of his way to say something nice about the Monkeys so his dislike of the doors was a total outlier.

    • Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

      June 12, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Jerry Garcia and Micheal Nesmith – too many parallels in their lives to even begin.

  2. Cool story about the hijacking! and the plane/roads/law thing makes sense.

    Anyone know more about this Doors business? That’s new to me.

    • The Grateful Dead played with the Doors a few times, and relations did not go well. When the Dead and the Doors played the Fillmore (weekend of Jan 13-15 ’67), Morrison missed at least one set because he decided to spend the whole day at a movie theater in Sacramento. Bill Graham had a cow (this is much discussed in various books). Part of the Dead’s ethos was that no matter high you got, you played the gig.

      The big run-in seemed to be May 29 ’67 in Santa Barbara. There was something involving equipment, like The Doors wouldn’t let Pigpen use Ray Manzarek’s organ, and things got worse from there. Garcia’s public dismissal of Morrison began after this show. The exact details remain uncertain.

  3. First of all, note that “Creedence” is misspelled. Second of all, check this video of John Fogerty at the Greenwich Town Party, Memorial Day weekend, 2016. (Phil and Friends played at the Capitol Theatre, a few miles down the road, that night).

    Fogerty began this rap about Woodstock, and how he wasn’t really sure he wanted Creedence to play there, and would people show up, and would he get paid, etc. But the promoter got him to play by promising he would go on after the Grateful Dead, and that there would be plenty of people there to see his set: the Dead would go on around 8 or 9, and he would have a prime 11 pm spot. This video follows his set-up of the scene.

    It is impossible to relate how dismissive Fogerty is of the Dead, and in a really idiotic, patronizing, ill-informed, stereotypical, unfunny, douchebag-y way. He says “they finally figured how to plug an amp back in.” He refers to their music as “that jingly-jangly tie-dyed thing.” He says “the Grateful Dead had put half a million people to sleep.” And, sorry TotD, but he even says “keep on choogling.”

    See it and weep:

  4. Luther Von Baconson

    June 12, 2016 at 9:44 am

    close personal friend of The Monkees

  5. ste4ve – you are right, Fogerty is quite douchey, an unnecessarily so in that clip. I saw him about a year or so ago and he regaled us with the same tale but I don’t recall it being as patronizing.

  6. There’s another footnote to ToTD’s strange-but-true tales of Air Travel in the Dark Ages. Prices for interstate Airline travel were absolutely, positively fixed. If a flight from Miami to San Francisco cost $249 (a lot of money back then), by Federal Law it was always $249, whether you flew on an empty red-eye or a packed Friday evening flight, whether you bought tickets a month in advance or at the counter an hour before takeoff. And all tickets were refundable, no exceptions.

    So regular air travel, by a touring rock band for example, were a fixed expense that could be accommodated in a budget, rather than the exercise in sophisticated derivatives trading that it would be today.

  7. Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

    June 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    They are still trying to pass that off as real, even after no one would authenticate it?

  8. I’m prepared to authenticate it for a reasonable fee.

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