This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead
Blair Jackson, David Gans
In This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, two of the most well-respected chroniclers of the Grateful Dead, Blair Jackson and David Gans, reveal the band’s story through the words of its members, their creative collaborators and peers, and a number of diverse fans, stitching together a multitude of voices into a seamless oral tapestry. Capturing the ebullient spirit at the group’s core, Jackson and Gans weave together a musical saga that examines the music and subculture that developed into its own economy, touching fans from all walks of life, from penniless hippies to celebrities, and at least one U.S. vice president.
This definitive book traces the Dead’s evolution from its humble beginnings as a folk/bluegrass band playing small venues in Palo Alto to the feral psychedelic warriors and stadium-filling Americana jam band that blazed all the way through to the 90s. Along the way, we hear from many who were touched by the Dead―from David Crosby and Miles Davis, to Ken Kesey, Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia, and a host of Merry Pranksters, to legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, and others.
Throughout their journey the Dead broke (and sometimes rewrote) just about every rule of the rock business, defying conventional wisdom and charting their own often unusual course, in the process creating a business model unlike any seen before. Musically, too, they were pioneers, fusing inspired ideas and techniques with intuition and fearlessness to craft an utterly unique and instantly recognizable sound. Their music centered on collective improvisation, spiritual and social democracy, trust, generosity, and fun. They believed that you can make something real, spontaneous, and compelling happen with other musicians if you trust and encourage each other, and jam as if your life depended on it. And when it worked, there was nothing else like it.
Whether you’re part of the new generation of Deadheads who are just discovering their music or a devoted fan who has traded Dead tapes for decades, you will want to listen in on the irresistible conversations and anecdotes shared in these pages. You’ll hear stories you haven’t heard before, possibly from voices that may be unfamiliar to you, and the tales that unfold will shed a whole new light on a long and inspiring musical odyssey.
mean, when you’re in the back row of one of those stadiums, you’re not getting a really rich experience. I don’t know where this is leading us, but it certainly represents whole new worlds of problems. The main ones from my point of view are the production problems, trying to still project a good show to every seat in the house. The exterior social problems that arise, I think, are probably the things that affect our audience most. But in that area, success is problematical. My instincts are to
and a brilliant psychologist. And a very gentle soul. A very compassionate person, although he would always head for the medicine cabinet and help himself to whatever you had. As 1965 turned into 1966, the Grateful Dead were still living on the Peninsula but were spending more time in San Francisco, where the psychedelic counterculture was growing exponentially by the week, it seemed, and more dances and other events were taking place all over the city. At the beginning of the new year, the Acid
fair, give more than you take, take care of the environment, be creative, follow a path that’s true to yourself. Don’t compromise on things you believe in, even though the odds may be stacked against you. Those are great life lessons I think the Dead fully embodied. KEN KESEY: They weren’t just playing what was on the music sheets; they were playing what was in the air. When the Dead are at their best, the vibrations that are stirred up by the audience is the music that they play. Consequently,
Garcia, Bob Weir, Pigpen, and Bill Kreutzmann, 1966. KOFM (Oklahoma City) radio interview with Bob Weir, October 18, 1973; Mike Flanagan, interviewer. McGee, Rosie. Letter to the authors, 2014. McNamara, Denis. Interview with Robert Hunter for WLIR-FM (Garden City, NY), March 1978. Press conference with Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Mickey Hart after Bill Graham’s death, Oakland Coliseum, October 27, 1991. Rheingold, Howard. Interview with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, April 1991. Selvin, Joel.
the Angels. ’Cause the Angels in California are surrounded by prospects—people who want to be Angels, and their way of showing they could be Angels is to come on bad. And they’re the ones who are mostly responsible. Most of the Angels I know are into partying. I think Altamont was a valuable experience for everyone who was able to learn from it, and I think that everyone who was supposed to did. … Obviously, it was something very heavy for us to see what we had initiated by just, on a good day