Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: nudie suit

Nudie, Nudie Minglewood Blues

Last shot of the Nudie Suits. (Is this Winterland?)


Everybody’s favorite fun game: Spot Precarious Lee’s Work. Here’s a hint: it’s the monitors.


Here’s another shot of Garcia’s Nudie Suit from behind; the outfit maintains the usual Dead motifs: skulls and roses and bullshit. Nothing says Grateful Dead like skulls and roses and bullshit.

Fuck it, might as well empty out the Nudie Suit library in one easy-to-find place. Here’s Bobby:

Is that a chicken? I think that’s a chicken. Here’s another of Bobby:

The son of a bitch just didn’t have a bad angle.

Say “Cheese.”


You look spiffy.

“Flash, baby.”

Awesome. This is Phil:

But you already knew that. (Check out the cowboy boots.)

This is a better shot of the weirdo Strat from late ’72:

This is 12/12, and he also played Numbers (I just named the guitar) on 11/22/72 at the Municipal Auditorium in Austin. We know this from this picture…

and this article.

I gotta be honest with you, Enthusiasts: this research horseshit is not for me. I’m exhausted. The president’s right: facts are for suckers.

And we finish up with a shot featuring both the Nudie Suit and the weird guitar. I brought all the threads together.

And you without a Pulitzer.

I know, right?

Live Nudies

The Nudie Suit experiment has never been properly explained; this sounds like a job for Lost Live Dead. There’s not many pics of The Boys in their suits, and they only wore them for a few shows: one (or more) of the Winterland run in December ’72, and then again at New Year’s. The outfits came out again 2/19/73 in Chicago, and then made their final appearance on 3/19/73 at Nassau Coliseum. (And not even for the whole show: everyone changed during set break.)

Wait, you’re saying. Those sound suspiciously like facts, TotD. You don’t traffic in fact and research.

Stop talking, I’d say, or I’ll throw myself out the window and you’ll never find out how the Little Aleppo story ends.

Wow, you’d reply. That got dark real fast.

And then I’d start crying. Are you happy? Is that what you wanted?

Stop this.

They did it. It’s all their fault.

Who is “they?”


Just stop it.

Fine. The dates from Winterland and Chicago may be wrong–I’m just going on Archive comments–but the Nassau show is a confirmed event. There is, Enthusiasts, evidence.


Bobby says in an interview that Garcia had his first, in fact had his before April of ’72 because he brought it to Europe with him (even though he didn’t have the balls to wear it onstage.) After March of ’73, though, they were gone forever. Phil still has his…

…and it still fits. (Phil went a little low-key with his, which I disagree with. What’s the point of a Nudie Suit if it can’t be seen from space?)

Who has Garcia’s? Gotta be worth something, more if it hasn’t been laundered.

But let me start at the beginning: 1902 was a terrible time to be born Jewish in Kiev. There’s never been a good time, but 1902 was worse than usual.


“Yes, Schmuley?”

“We should go somewhere where there aren’t Cossacks.”

“What is it with those guys?”

“They just seem to like hitting us with sticks.”

“And kicking.”

“Kicking, too. Let’s go to America.”

“You mean the Land of the Free, a country built on immigration that would never turn away needy and desperate refugees?”

“No, America.”

“Oh, okay. At least there’ll be jobs.”


And so on.

One of these newly-arrived Jews was a young man named Nuta Kotlyarenko, who renamed himself Nudie Cohn and became a tailor, first in Minnesota where he met his wife Bobbie; they opened a shop in New York selling underwear to showgirls, and then moved to Los Angeles in the 40’s to make Western Wear. Spangles and frills and themes, and the last one is the most important: the key to the Nudie Suit is the theme. Anyone can slap some rhinestones onto a jacket, but a Nudie has a raison d’etre.

Look at this bullshit:

That’s some down-home bullshit right there.

That’s Porter Wagoner (right), and he was the first Country star to start wearing Nudie Suits; in fact, Nudie gave him his first suit for free, thinking it would be good promotion. It was. Soon, every male Country star had to have a Nudie Suit.

Hank Williams had one:

The notes represented his love of music.

Gram Parsons had one, too:

The drugs represent his love of drugs.

Every artist has a masterpiece, and Nudie Cohn was certainly an artist. His greatest suit of all time may have been both his simplest and his flashiest. You’ve seen it before once or twice:


No, you’re not. Shh.

Anyway, Nudie Cohn died in 1984, but you can still get “Nudie Suits;” they make periodic comebacks adorning roots-rockers or alt-country acts. (You really can’t wear a Nudie Suit anywhere other than the stage. If you walk into a Taco Bell dressed like this, you will get gorditas thrown at you.)

Circling back to the Dead (this is about the Grateful Dead, remember), we still have many questions. Why would Garcia have had one in the first place? A Nudie Suit wasn’t an impulse purchase, nor could it have been a gift: they were hand-made, so you have to visit Nudie for measurement and fittings, and very expensive. And recall that Garcia got his before everyone else did, so it wasn’t a group decision. Garcia–in an entirely out-of-character move–bought himself a Nudie Suit out of nowhere? None of this makes sense. Bobby was the one who thought he was a cowboy. Someone explain this to me.

Like I said, the rest of the band thought it was a spiffy idea, so they followed Garcia down to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where Nudie’s of Hollywood was located, and fancied themselves right up. Bobby and Billy looked like this:

“I was gonna get skank on the legs, but I settled for pot.”

Quiet. This is not a dialogue post.

“Ah, suck my nuts.”


Even Keith had one, though there’s just this one black-and-white photo of him:

Poor Keith. He doesn’t want to be in a Nudie Suit. He knows he’s not pulling it off. Aw.

Much like the Farewell Shoes, Mrs. Donna Jean was not included. She did, however, wear a very fetching red number when the rest of the band payed dress-up. She looked like this:

Another alternate reality created, another unwritten future. What if they hadn’t learned to write songs? What if they buckled down and rehearsed and continued being the band they were in ’77? What if Brent didn’t die? And: What if they gave a shit about what they looked like?

Alas, it was not to be. The Nudie Suits were put in the closet, and the tee-shirts and jeans came out; in the 80’s, sweatpants and short shorts replaced the jeans. Never again would the Dead have “stage clothes.” But for a moment, they looked bitchin’.

Jive Five

mickey pelosi sarducci

Random observations:

  • Mickey is the derpiest of all Grateful Deads. Sure, Phil derps on occasion, but you will find that–most often–Phil is more of a goon than a derp. Mickey is straight-up derp.
  • Nudie suit is the answer to every fashion question. Wedding? Nudie suit. Funeral? Nudie suit. Astronaut? Nudie suit.
  • That might, by the way, be the only way to make astronauts more awesome: if their spacesuits were turquoise silk and covered in comets and stars made out of rhinestones.
  • Father Guido Sarducci is not employed by the Catholic Church in any capacity. It’s a guy named Don. The whole thing’s a put-on.
  • Who’s lost less hair: George Lucas or Phil? They are both √úbermensch of follicular retention.
  • Derp. Herp derp.
  • Besides that, Mickey failed to hit it off with George Lucas when he began the conversation with, “My old keyboard player liked black chicks, too.”
  • Although, in Mickey’s defense, George’s idea about the 50th Anniversary was to “make it as terrible as possible.”
  • (As you might have inferred, TotD belongs in the revisionist-history camp that believes everything good about Star Wars came from people not named George Lucas. See: Ralph McQuarrie, Irving Kershner, Richard Marquand.)
  • That’s Nancy Pelosi’s third of four facial expressions still available to her; she calls it Havin’ a Hootenanny and uses it on donors when they give her money.
  • There are books to be written and not read by me about the gender dynamic in (elective) plastic surgery, but this photo certainly points to the differing relationship of men and women towards their faces because–God love ’em–the men in this pic are letting their faces do whatever the fuck they want. There is no discipline.
  • Dammit, Mickey: comb your hair.

Partially Nudie

jerry nudie stui bw

This picture was taken at a different show than the header photo of these bloggings; he’s playing Alligator instead of that obscure Sunburst model.

And it’s a snappy and snazzy pic, until you realize that fucking Garcia is wearing JEANS WITH HIS NUDIE SUIT. You lazy fuck, Garcia: this is why we can’t have nice things.

Such Glamour

bobby nudie suit SG

“Hey, Bobby. Cool jacket.”

Yeah: your mom ironed it for me.


It's Muppeter On The Inside

jerry 1972 nudie suit

Every morning, I wake up thinking that no matter what fresh hell this day might bring, at least I know the limits of how full muppet Garcia  could get. Fullness is finite: you can assign a number to it, figure out its relationship to humidity and drug consumption, write a formula for it and bother 16-year olds with that information. There was only so much muppet available

And then this. Garcia has shot past full muppet: his muppet overfloweth and folds in on itself, like a hypercube, or a super rectangle, or an exceptionally charitable triangle–

Going somewhere with this?

The word “muppet” still makes me giggle.

We’re done here.

Mississippi Half-Step Nudie-Loo

jerry nudie suit smiling

Garcia, you handsome motherfucker.

Trouble Ahead

Well, since y’all were so helpful with the last one, here’s another shot from the Nudie show (3/19/73?) with Donna looking particularly fetching.

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