Thoughts On The Dead

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

Greased Lazy Lightning

Once again and as usual, the award-winning TotD brings you the THE DIVINATIONS OF THE TUSHEE OF TRUTH–

You’re starting the crazy early, I see.

–that the foul and putrescent hordes of pencil-pushers and Billy-excusers at BIG DEAD would rather die than allow to see the light of day! The latest information comes from Operation: Loose Lucy, in which your intrepid bloggist engaged a classic “honey pot” scenario, dressing in woman’s clothing, or “drag” as it is known on the street. Stalking, engaging, and quickly seducing long-time Big Dead crony David Gans, your bloggist found himself suddenly and terribly in love. DAMN YOUR CHEEKBONES, GANS!

Are you done?

With the truth? NEVER? With David Gans and the way he turned my ruse back on me and tore my beating heart from my heaving chest–only to hand it back, one bite taken out? Yes!

That doesn’t even make poetic sense and it didn’t actually occur. Stop lying about decent people with indecent attorneys.

Anyway: the Carrie Underwood Sound of Music thing they did? Dead did it first.

In 1978, NBC’s president Fred Silverman, having been dosed by the comedy team of Franken & Davis, agreed to stage a live performance of Grease starring and produced by the Dead. Rehearsals immediately degenerated.

First off, both Bobby and Phil insisted on playing Kenickie and they would say the lines together and it would turn ugly ten minutes into each rehearsal.


“But, Phil…I’m so totally Kenickie. Just be reasonable on this one.”

And then they would drop to the floor and start kicking at each other like seven-year old boys because both of them had spent a good deal of time on their hair.

By the second week, two choreographers were dead and they were half million over budget. Their financial woes were exacerbated by Mickey, who, excited by being in the studio once used by Georg Solti and the NBC orchestra, hired the New York Philharmonic to accompany him while he whacked on a piano with a hammer for, oh, an hour or so. The musicians didn’t care: their checks had cleared, and when that splinter of ivory came flying off and killed the flautist, everyone kept their mouth shut. You hire an orchestra for its silence as much as for its music.

Pigpen played Eddie and sang Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul) and he sang it so good that no one minded that he had been dead for five years and was doing a number from a completely different show.

The show was finally coming together and the big night was approaching, despite the fact that quite literally no one could stop Billy from spray-painting “Greased Lightning” on a golf cart and driving it through the set, like, seven or eight times a day. He would aim for you, too, the vicious little fuck.

Garcia had disappeared as usual, so Parish understudied him and was quite good, which he should have been, given another fact that David Gans (you bastard!) is desperate to conceal: leader of the roadies Steve Parish originated the role of Danny Zucco at the Circle in the Square Theater under the uber-impresario Joseph Papp. He got mixed reviews, but he was more than adequate here, seeing how he had: A, shown up; and B, not left.

$100,000 was spent transporting the entire production–family included–and equipment to the epicenter of the Tunguska event, which Phil had been explaining was groovy for nine years now and then an additional hundred turning right the fuck around because it was, like, 40 billion below and still in the Soviet Union.

On show night, it all came together–mostly and raggedy, almost and jaggedy the way they did everything. Garcia showed up and, like all of his visits to professional studios, he was trailed by three electrician’s apprentices who would get their asses beaten by their Uncle Johnny if Captain Hippy-Dippy over there burns down the goddamn studio like he did the hotel their other Uncle Ray works at.

And he knew the words: Garcia nailed it: the high notes in Sandy and the one about cars that’s about rape (kind of), and the other stuff that’s in the musical that isn’t in the movie and it’s just the worst kind of wrist-shredding pap and you want to hear the good songs and instead it’s all “the fifties” and race relations and a high-seas romance and well-mannered gangsters playing craps.

How long has it been since you’ve seen this show?

Thirty years would be an honest rounding.


Mrs. Donna jean was a revelation, though: she played Sandra Dee with a strong and clear voice, and didn’t flinch when Keith, whacked out of his gourd, shambled violently onto the set, attacked a Chinese cameraman using a slur intended for the Italians, then dropped to the ground and began to–and this is somthing that happened so often tha it had been named–sleephowl. He would do that for ten minutes and you really had to let him. You really had to let him.

She sang through it, and acted passably, and dragged Garcia to his marks, and broke up four fights, both inter-and-intra-band. Billy sang the Teen Angel part and after Mickey was allowed to represent the drag race symbolically using the bones of that flautist he killed as a xylophone for a 35-minute drum interlude, things were almost professional

In the end, none of it mattered because Bear had miswired everything and all that was broadcast for two hours was this photo:


1 Comment

  1. That madness was all worth reading to get to that photo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.