Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: lost live dead (page 1 of 2)

Okay, Read Ahead!

For your literary and historical pleasure, Enthusiasts, TotD presents a reading list designed to edify, educate, and entertain. First up because it deserves to be first is an always-welcome new post on Hooterollin’ Around that details the Dead’s whereabouts in the first half of 1968. Adventures! Business ownership! Flatbed trucks! A guy named Toody! This one’s got everything, ladies and gents.

Well, almost everything. At one point, Corry–he writes the damn thing, you know Corry, he’s a good egg–relates the story of Garcia and Bobby (with Bobby on bass!) playing a protest gig outside of San Quentin; he alludes to a picture of the event, but does not post it.

I helped. I am a historian now. I have credibility.

Stop it.

So, yeah: in 1968, rock bands were allowed to set up outside maximum-security prisons and jam. This was a regular occurrence; it was in protest of the death penalty in California. Enthusiasts will note that there is now no death penalty in California. Ipso facto: the Grateful Dead brought down the death penalty via the power of rock and roll. I would like to present this opinion as an academic paper at next year’s Dead Scholars conference.

This picture can also be used to give paper cuts to, or jam up the ass of, any of those little ticks that say, “The Dead weren’t a political band, maaaaaaaan.”

(Can you imagine if a band tried this bullshit today? Like if Run The Jewels set up outside Leavenworth? The cops would shoot them in their faces before the first chorus, and then the gold-plated tin dictator would cheer. “They were disrespecting our jails, which are just like the troops. Cops did their job! Flag!” For all the talk about The Man back in the old days, you were allowed to get away with an astonishing amount of foolishness.)

This next one isn’t so much an article as it is a picture, so I’ll just show it to you and cut out the middle man:

That is a Slingerland Songster, Enthusiasts, and that–not the “log” guitar made by Les Paul–was the first commercially-available solidbody electric guitar. It kind of looks like Peanut, Garcia’s short-lived experimental Alembic from ’71, and there is another point of comparison. Like Garcia’s guitars, this sucker was pricey. Slingerland sold the axe, a hard case, and a little amplifier for $150 in 1939. Which means it cost $2,500. Unsurprisingly, the Songster failed to catch on.

Finally: the story of the monkey and the engineer, Australian South African style. Trust me.

Reading, Material

Reading time, Enthusiasts, and nothing dreary and dangerous like politics: our subjects include rococo homes, baroque bands, and how awesome I am.

We begin with what began as an adjunct to Lost Live Dead, but has since become its own river of well-sourced Rock Nerdery: Hooterollin has the all the family secrets behind Me And My Uncle. John Phillips, from the Mamas and the Papas and also incest, wrote it–maybe–during a tequila-fueled public blackout, and then Judy Collins got involved; it’s a long and interesting story, so go read it.

Or you could take a look at Tony Duquette’s work. He was a designer from Los Angeles who worked on movies and for the theater, and made restaurants and hotels look swanky; when he went home, he preferred a restrained decor.

Nah, just kidding: he was an insane maximalist who put all the furniture and all the art in every room always. This is low-key compared to what he thought a bathroom was supposed to look like.

Captain of the Comment Section and Professional Lorax J. Eric Smith brings us two nuggets of beauty and truth, and also many links to his thoughts on prog rock bands and also that super-scary metallic music that he favors. First is an interview the man did with The Man himself, George Clinton, about the funk (it is multitudinous but yet singular) and the music business (those are some money-stealing motherfuckers, y’all). Second is the kindest–and only review–that whatever the fuck I wrote about Little Aleppo has gotten so far.

You thought I was lying about one of the subjects being my awesomeness? Are you new here?

Miss Hippie In Mississippi: A Curious Girl in a Zany Family Or How I Danced With the Skeletons in the Closet is an actual book written by Billy’s actual sister and it is actually 100 pages and $15. If you choose to purchase it, I expect a review.

We finish up with the great Jesse Jarnow in Rolling Stone writing about whatever it was that Sam Cutler was doing the other night. Some band or something.

Playing In The Paisley Park

Reading time, Enthusiasts, but also looking. Reading is lovely, but exhausting, and sometimes you’d rather just look.

Let’s see what we’ve got in the sack: there’s the indispensable Lost Live Dead with a chronology of the Dead’s free shows, but not just a dry recap, no: Corry wouldn’t do that to us. There’s stories and subtle sarcasm, and as always a grounded reading of the Dead’s actions, rather than any airy-fairy “the music should be free” bullshit: the Dead certainly enjoyed playing surprise shows in the park as a goof, but they mostly did it to build a fanbase, and the moment they realized that broadcasting their shows on FM radio was even more efficacious and required less effort, they did that.

Dressing up in spangled clothing and rehearsing your dance moves is the opposite of the Grateful Dead, but pretty much everything Prince did was the opposite of the Dead. (Prince did not allow a Taper’s Section, and if some hippies had named an ice cream flavor after him without his permission he would have had his lawyers firebomb Vermont.) The Purple Rain tour was massive–stadiums only–and FoTotD David Browne has assembled the recollections of all involved and shared them with us. Lucky us.

For your looking pleasure, there are photos included in both of the articles. Did you think I was going to find things for you to look at? Jesus, you’re lazy.

One Man Gathers What Another Man Steels

FACT: I wish my name were Sneaky Pete.

FACT: The incomparable and indispensable Lost Live Dead is back with a new post to inform, entertain, and illuminate; this time about Garcia’s possible introduction to the pedal steel guitar. (Well, reintroduction. Go read the post, and it’ll make sense.)

FACT: You’re among friends here, Enthusiasts. Rock Nerds are welcome at Thoughts on the Dead. Spend a week leafing through digitized copies of obscure rock mags from the 70’s? Fine by me. Able to list every member of Yes? Come on in.

But you need to pay respect.

Recognize. Recognize your betters, motherfuckers. Seven volumes? Was Proust the road manager of The Byrds? This is Rock Nerdery of the purest kind: uncut and mind-bending.

I salute it.

FACT: Two out of the seven volumes are primarily concerning the question “Did anyone see Gram? He was right here a second ago.”


You want to be as close to the equator as possible if you’re going to launch a rocket into orbit, which is why Cape Canaveral is in South Florida. You can, however, be anywhere on Earth to communicate with said rocket ship, so if the Speaker of the House is from Texas when NASA is being set up, then Mission Control will be in Texas. Houston, specifically, and in the 60’s, Houston was Space City and they weren’t about to let you forget it. Their brand-new baseball team was called the Astros; they played in the Astrodome, the world’s first indoor stadium, and since it was indoors and real grass could not be kept alive, the team played on a newly-invented synthetic surface called Astroturf.

So when Six Flags built an amusement park across the parking lot, they didn’t really have any choice in what to name the sucker.

There were rolly coasters and logs that would flume you about: it was your standard American theme park, and so it also had an outdoor theater called the Southern State. During the week, they would do shows for the kiddies or dance troupes or whatnot; on weekends, they would have bands for the local teens. You could ride the SkyScreamer in the afternoon and then get down to some groovy tunes in the evening, all for the price of one ticket. It’s a good deal.

For the teens, that is; the acts must have closed their eyes and gotten through the evening like professionals. Look at this bullshit:

Do they drop people from that tower? I think they drop people from that tower. You’re onstage singing your little song, and WHHHHAAAAAAAGH behind you every 150 fucking seconds. It’s goddamned demoralizing.

The Dead played the Southern State Theater on 8/30/85, and it seems almost criminal to take ’85 Garcia to Houston in August. The air is so thick with humidity as to behave more like a solid than a gas; also, it being Texas, the air is armed. He (and Bobby) looked like this:

(Holy shit, this show is one week after Boreal Ridge, where they dragged poor Garcia up a mountain. Serious question: were they trying to kill him?)

Now, obviously, this post is in honor of the great scholarship and snappy storytelling in the latest missive from Lost Live Dead detailing the Dead’s relationship with Texas; his site is a must for any Enthusiast, as is the sister site Hooterollin. , which OMIGOD I FORGOT TO TALK ABOUT THE LAST POST OVER THERE which is so very good. (It’s about Skeletons in the Closet. Remember Skeletons? Don’t play all cool like you didn’t listen to Skeletons a million times.) However, Corry Arnold (author of both sites and a valued commentator here) only allots a scanty three paragraphs to the most important show the Dead ever played in Texas, instead choosing to fill space with “evidence” and “facts” and “contextual analysis.”

But you know I don’t roll that way. I made a few calls and was able to get detailed notes of the Dead’s day at the Astroworld:

3:00 pm 

Band arrives at venue. Phil refuses to leave van. Garcia is unable to leave van. Rest of band wanders off.


Soundcheck. No one is there except Phil; he is asleep behind the amps like a drunken angel with perfect pitch. Road manager Jon McIntire attempts to have the band paged, but Billy has commandeered the PA booth and is broadcasting his skank session. (Billy found skank.) Mickey has been thrown out of the park for punching a hot dog vendor.


Through a mixture of bribes, threats, and cocaine, the band has been lured to soundcheck. No one has seen Brent. Billy announces that if Brent isn’t there in five minutes, then he would rub his testicles on Brent’s synthesizer.


Billy rubs his testicles on Brent’s synthesizer.


4:20, yo.


A representative from the park asks Jon McIntire a question; while his attention is diverted, the entire band wanders off.


Mickey, now wearing a fake mustache over his real mustache, is thrown out of the park again, this time for punching the guy who runs the bumper cars.


Billy, returning to the source of his previous fun, has once again taken over the PA system and is using it to tell jokes of a questionable provenance. Garcia was in the bathroom, which made Jon McIntire both sad and happy: sad because of what Garcia was doing in there, but happy because he wasn’t going anywhere. Bobby has eaten astronaut ice cream, and a giant turkey leg, and had a caricature done of himself, and bought a license pate with his name on it, and he was thinking about taking his shirt off.


Bobby takes his shirt off.


4:20 plus 1, yo.


Billy, lying in wait behind a blind turn, pounces on a family of five from Corpus Christi. When later asked why he did such a thing, Billy would respond–and I quote–“I felt like a puma.”


Phil wakes up and wanders into the park, where he makes a kid in a Dead shirt buy him a giant churro. Jon McIntire spots him, asks if he’s seen Brent. Phil hits Jon McIntire with the giant churro, then makes the kid buy him another one.


Mickey, now in blackface, is thrown out of the park once more for punching a balloon salesman. No one has seen Brent.


Billy has ridden the Texas Cyclone 17 times in a row; he punched the ride operator in the dick and turned the switch to FULL so the train’s been circling without stopping. Security is on its way.


Security arrives and throws Billy out, along with Mickey, now in blackface with a fake mustache, who had snuck back in and punched the same balloon salesman again.


Bobby arrives backstage. He is wearing a tee-shirt with his own face on it and carrying one of those leashes for imaginary dogs.


Phil shows up and yells at Jon McIntire because the wine selection at the theme park is not up to snuff.


Billy and Mickey wander in and begin making fun of Weir’s shirt while secretly wanting one.


Someone in an armadillo costume comes backstage. Everyone says,

“Hi, Brent,” and he removes the costume’s head and says,

“Hey, guys,” and no one asks him any questions at all.


Garcia emerges from the bathroom and tells Bobby and Brent to change. Bobby protests; Brent does not.



Lost In The Heart Of Texas

Quickly: what’s better than a new post at Lost Live Dead? Very few things, but one of them might be a new post at Lost Live Dead about Texas. The Dead didn’t play Texas as much as you might think, and certainly not at a ratio commensurate to Texas’ size: only 29 times. (In comparison, they played 55 shows in New Jersey.) To make a long story short, Texas is too fucking big. But trust me on this one: you want to hear the long story. Go read.

All right, Enthusiasts: Trivia Time! Name the five states the Grateful Dead never played. No cheating.


Time’s up! The answer is: Wyoming, Arkansas, Dakota 1, Dakota 2, and…Delaware.

The Dead never played Delaware?

I was as shocked as you.

There’s a big college there.

The Fighting Blue Hens of the University of Delaware, yeah. But, no.

Learn something every day.

Not something useful

No, not useful at all.

Make Lovefield, Not Warfield

As always, serendipity abounds in the Dead world: concurrent with the video of Phil and his Phishy Phriends going up, a new missive from the invaluable Lost Live Dead about the Warfield Theater (where the show took place) appears. Garcia played there, and the Dead, and Dylan and The Clash and Snazzy Pete Wilkins and Pittsburgh’s own The Pussygrabbers.

Go read it.


Scrupulously researched esoterica?

Aspersions on John Kahn’s character?

The return of Ronnie Tutt?

All that and more. This post has everything. Go read Lost LIve Dead; I’ll be here when you get back.


Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 11.33.44 PM

Turtleneck Garcia is the rarest of all Garcias, and as with all things arcane in the Dead’s universe, he was found via Lost Live Dead: a new post’s gone up about a little-known Garcia sit-in right around the time of the ’75 Lindley Meadow show, and right around the corner, too; another free show in the park that summer.

And here’s the highest praise I can give: the post was about the Jefferson Starship PLUS a Mickey solo project, and I read every word. That’s some high-quality Dead-bloggin’ right there.

Also: the picture came from a guy named Ron Draper, and you need to go check out his photos. You’ll like the Clapton one.

  • Turtleneckin’ was the only single by Rudy and the Rowdies: released by Roulette Records, it made it to #19 in June 1959.

I Once Was Lost, But Now Am Live

The quality of this site varies wildly: sure, sometimes I’ll hit a vein and Roy Head will make an appearance, or we’ll take a trip to Little Aleppo; mostly, it’s just an odd, half-clever loner making fun of musicians’ haircuts.

The same cannot be said for Lost Live Dead (and her sister site, Hooterollin). The reporting and researching are of the most lethal of calibers, and the topics are always interesting surprises; Corry (the proprietor of both sites and a welcome guest in the Comment Section) invariably finds things to write about that I didn’t know I didn’t know: the man deals in Rumsfeldian Unknown Unknowns.

This post is about the Orpheum, the San Francisco theater that saw the Dead visit for a six-night run in 1976, and I advise you to follow my lead and go read it immediately.

EDIT: I have now begun reading I have learned two things: Corry attended the 7/17/76 show soon to be released as Dave’s Picks 17; and Corry owes me money.



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