The Dead After a Decade

For the estimated 50,000 people who flocked to Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadows on September 28th (including a smattering who flew in from as far away as New York), it was a nearly perfect flashback to the ’60s, a Sunday afternoon with the latest incarnations of the Jefferson Airplane and- surprise -the good ol’ Grateful Dead in their first public performance in nearly a year.

The concert also coincided with the beginning of the Dead’s second decade as a musical entity, business enterprise and, significantly, near legendary social institution. The Dead’s extended family, perhaps 200 in all, has survived a peculiar saga. Somehow the ‘karass’ has managed to play out most of the variations on the themes of growth, change, jealousy, loyalty and loves won and lost, and still emerge with its collective sense of humor and vision intact.

“It feels pretty purposeful” said Weir, “much more so than our first ten. Before, if we ever had any guiding philosophy, it was just to go with it. Instead of making decisions, we just let it happen. And what it culminated in, professionally, was hugeness- the Oakland Coliseum – sized places and all those monster rooms. So the first real decision we made was not to go on with it ‘cuz it isn’t really what we want. We’ll still gig together in the future as the occasions arise, depending on how things strike us- as long as we don’t have to willfully step back into our old roles. Now that we’ve all formed little bands, each of us can individually start that climb again. Because really, there’s no place else to go from here if you’re a musician. But at least we’re going back to the comfortable part of it, little theaters and clubs that are on a human level.”
-John Grissim (Rolling Stone, 11/2/75)

“Did you get any songs from him?” asks wide-eyed Warner/Reprise press representative Garry George. “Not from the ghost, no, but from Barlow, yeah. No, the ghost and I worked something out,” says Bob quite seriously. “I don’t know if you need to print this, but anyway, I learned a real simple, temporary exorcism ceremony … which I had to perform twice a day in order to keep him out for twenty four hours. Once around sunrise, and once around sunset.

“He’d been scaring my dog, and dogs don’t like ghosts, so the dog had shit all over the place. The ghost tried to get into my head once around the time I was waking up, and that was a real touchy scene. I don’t know if you’ve ever had an experience with a ghost, but it’s awful, ’cause ghosts aren’t the best things to deal with. They try to get into people, and it’s not very hard to get them to leave a man alone, but they scare the shit out of animals. Particularly dogs, and so my dog got the shit scared out of him … literally. I was up in the middle of the night cleaning that up, with the dog completely out of his mind berserk. The first time the ghost did that, I tried to reason with him saying, ‘Now listen, you don’t go weirding out my dog and I won’t do anything, but if you do it again, I’ll have to take steps.’ Well, he did it another night and got me weird another night to boot. So, I started throwing him out at night by using that exorcism ceremony. That worked.

“Then I felt that he might be able to see his way towards being a little more civil, so I started letting him stay in during the day. He lived in the water heater and used to make all kinds of noises…he would hoot and screech and all kinds of that stuff. He had learned to operate the water heater over the years so that he could make it sound any way he wished. I would sit in the living room playing my songs, and as long as I was playing my songs he’d be quiet, but when I stopped, he’d start working the heater again. It was really strange.” — (Rock, 6/30/73)

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As mentioned in the book copy Kristine threw the best kids parties.-Jerilyn

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Nicki Scully and Chesley Milikin. Nicki is the late, great Rock Scully’s ex-wife and the mother of Sage and Acacia. She is an author and a shaman. Chesley Milikin was a CBS executive who deflected to the Grateful Dead camp, more about this fantastic man and his adventures coming soon.

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My daughter, Christina next to her best buddy, Colleen Smith, daughter of Patti Smith. They lived right up the hill from Rock & Nicki, who I was spending lots of time with, so the girls became close friends, since they were the same age. -Jerilyn

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This was the 6th birthday of Ambrosia Healy, daughter of Dan and Kristine. Standing behind the birthday girl, is Patti Smith, who was Rock’s assistant. Ambrosia is in yellow & white, next to her in blue, is Jessica Freiburg, daughter of David and Julia from the Quicksilver Messenger Service family, who Dan worked for before the GD. The other kids are neighborhood pals.

Photo Credits: All – Jerilyn Lee Brandelius