Thoughts On The Dead

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

But He Could Play The Guitar

As absolutely everything Amercan must have a Dead connection, here’s Prince and his pre-Revolution band rocking the house that Peter Shapiro built, the Capitol Theatre. Even early on, Prince preferred trenchcoats and telecasters.

Other Dead/Prince connections:

  • Went through many keyboardists. (Prince just fired his instead of killing them, but still: new guy in the seat every few years.)
  • Both from Minneapolis, if you’re terrible at geography.
  • Both did Chuck Berry covers, but you might say that about any two humans who played guitar in hockey arenas for a living. (I did some research and tried to find a master list of songs Prince covered, but it does not exist. I’ll give Deadheads this: we are so much better at details than everybody else. If I wanted to find a list of the Dead’s cover tunes, I wouldn’t even need Google. There’s a whole site for it, and we all have it bookmarked.)
  • Depending on the veracity of rumors emerging about Prince’s recent days, he and Garcia may have had something in common.
  • The Purple One and the Tie-Dye Ones preferred custom guitars, but in different ways.
  • The Dead’s gear came from the highest-endiest of luthiers, and evolved over years and iterations, each guitarists’ axes tracing an evolutionary path, all in the pursuit of that elusive perfect tone.
  • Prince liked guitars that looked cool.
  • The “cloud” guitar?
  • This one:
  • [PDF] Cloud Guitar on Pinterest
  • He saw that in a guitar store.
  • Seeing a guitar on the wall of a Sam Ash is the opposite of how the Grateful Dead got their guitars.
  • There was also the Artist Formerly Known As Prince Symbol guitar.
  • This one:
  • [PDF] Prince Symbol Guitar price
  • Admittedly, Prince did not see that in a guitar store, because if he had, he would have had his lawyers burn the store down.
  • He had that one made, but it was–obviously–fragile, plus Prince had a habit of throwing his guitars into the air to punctuate a song.
  • And, it’s just a weirdly shaped piece of wood with a mass-produced pickup in it.
  • Bobby and Phil simply avoided commercially-available guitar electronics, but Garcia was allergic to them: if his pickup coils weren’t hand-wound, he would break out into hives.
  • His telecaster?
  • Not even a proper Fender telecaster, let alone a preciously-vintage one or an intricately-luthiered masterpiece, but a cheap Hohner knock-off.
  • They make it in Japan!
  • Harrumph harrumph.
  • The man had no acquaintance with proper guitar decorum.
  • Imagine how good he could have sounded with a decent guitar.


  1. Then there’s this from Browne’s book:

    “… Garcia’s friend Alan Arkush played him the just-released “When Doves Cry.” Browne notes that Garcia was “known for his openness to music that didn’t sound anything like the Dead’s; he’d even tried to appreciate the rap albums his daughter Trixie played for him.” But the Prince single set him off: “There’s no bass,” he huffed. Arkush: “An earlier Jerry would have said, ‘That’s cool and interesting.’ This Jerry said, ‘That’s wrong.’ The walls were going up.””

  2. LOL…where were these tributes and pics and kind words for Prince 3 days ago? LOL, wow. You front runners suck.

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      April 23, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Well, gosh, mister: I’m awful sorry for talking about the same thing everyone in the country is talking about. Tell you what: gimme your number so I can text you and get your approval on possible topics.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.