Thoughts On The Dead

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

Great Scott

Long Strange Trip may be hogging the spotlight this year, but it’s not the first film the Grateful Dead appeared in. That would be Petulia from 1967, which–disappointingly–is not the Petulia Clark story.

Richard Lester, the guy who directed the Beatles’ movies, did this one; it’s about George C. Scott beating Julie Christie or something. He also takes some time to look appalled by the young people, and order pressed duck. (That’s what the waiter’s doing at the end of the clip. “Pressed duck” is not a euphemism: they put the whole bird in there and squeeze it until it’s yummy.)


  1. For those who don’t know, the Grateful Dead appear as bystanders in this movie, separate from the fake ballroom scene (filmed in the SF Hilton ballroom, apparently). When Julie Christie is being taken to the hospital, Garcia and the rest of the boys are there gawking at her.

    In the Olden Days, when we walked uphill to school both ways (in the snow), the excitement of sitting down in front of your little black and white TV for two hours–with mandatory commercials–knowing that you would get a glimpse of the 1967 Grateful Dead for a few seconds was a pleasure beyond explaining.

  2. The Grateful Dead were supposed to be in two other sixties movies, The President’s Analyst and Zachariah. It’s not clear why The President’s Analyst (1967) fell through, but the band were replaced by an LA group called Clear Light. At least Clear Light had two drummers, so there’s that.

    Zachariah was made in 1969, and was supposed to be “the first Electric Western.” The Dead were supposed to play a gang of outlaws. According to Rosie McGee’s book, the Dead learned to ride horses on Mickey Hart’s ranch, and a horse kicked Garcia and that was that. No horse ridin’, no movie. That’s why you see photos (in McGee’s book) of the band learning to ride, but Garcia passed. If only someone had the power to go back in time and speak to the horse…

    Zachariah was finally released in about 1971. You can YouTube it if you want. The gang of outlaws were played by Country Joe And The Fish. Also in the movie were The James Gang, with Joe Walsh (always great), and Elvin Jones, who plays a drum solo in the desert (don’t ask why, it’s not that kind of movie). You can read about it here
    The movie was based on Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha.” The main star was Don Johnson, later of Miami Vice. Even if I made stuff up, which I don’t, I would be hard pressed to top this.

  3. “Petulia” made an important appearance in another semi-fictional universe with which I’m familiar . . . .

    (It’s actually a really great, sad film).

  4. I was born in the coolest year, apparently.

  5. Pressed ham is the euphemism you were thinking of. It involves a glass door and potato salad……

  6. Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

    January 27, 2017 at 9:28 am

    from TCGDD:

    Petulia (Warner Brothers – Seven Arts, 1968) This movie by Richard Lester stars George C. Scott and Julie Christie. It has scenes of Haight-Ashbury and approximately one minute of the Grateful Dead performing “Viola Lee Blues” (“…the Judge decreed it…”) at a dance concert. Appearing, but uncredited, in the film are: Mickey Hart as “Hippie 2”, Janis Joplin, Phil Lesh as “Hippie 4”, Ron McKernan as “Hippie 5”, Danny Rifkin as “Hippie 6”, and Bob Weir as “Hippie 7”. The film includes a brief appearance by Big Brother And The Holding Company performing “Road Block” at the Fairmont Hotel and then with “Down On Me” as background music. An October 21 and 22, 1966 concert poster for the Grateful Dead with the image of Jerry Garcia is appears on the back of a bus stop seat that is seen through the railing at the top of the Filbert Steps that link the two levels of Montgomery Street. Members of the band and the office staff, including Rosie McGee, appear during the scenes where Julie Christie (who plays “Petulia”) is carried on a stretcher into an ambulance. In that scene, Garcia is seen holding a Coca Cola bottle. That scene was filmed at 103-105 Alta Street in San Francisco. The Jefferson Airplane were to appear in the film. They were scheduled for filming their scenes from May 30, 1967 to June 2, 1967. They turned down the offer and did not appear in the film.

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