Most rock road crew types were anonymous, but a few bubbled into the Creem magazine every now and then. Was there a Skydog? (People were allowed to be named Skydog back then, kids.) He was a famous roadie/road manager. Richard Cole, he was a road manager, but he started as a roadie. Lemmy famously carried Hendrix’s amps around. Yet, we can all name at least three of the Dead’s crew.
First off, they all had great, biker-dude names: Rex, Laird, Ramrod, Boogedy-Boogedy-Shoop, Monsterfishfucker, Ethelred the Unready, the Hmong Hmadman–names you could swing a bike chain to.
Secondly, they weren’t roadies, man, they were part of the family, man. And they were paid and treated as such. They had a vote. Once, a roadie for Bon Jovi spoke up at a meeting and Jon had that man’s children brought to the studio to be repeatedly tased in front of him.
The Dead’s crew didn’t want to hop from tour to tour with other bands. They would have been paid the actual going rate, not the “take this pile of money” salary the Dead was giving them, plus they would have been, you know, told what to do. That wasn’t going to work for Parrish and the boys, so when the time came for decisions, the clear path forward was always more shows, more shows, more shows.
If you overpay the roadies and let them vote, then they are sending you to Wisconsin, no matter what kind of shape you’re in, Mr. Just Out of the Coma.