Owlsley Book ClubWe’re catching up on Michael Hamad’s piece Deadhead Scholars, Fans Marking 50 Years Of Grateful Dead:

On the scholarship front, several new books about the Dead, some of which draw upon records located in the Dead Archive, will hit the market in 2015, including Peter Richardson’s cultural history “No Simple Highway”; “Deal,” a memoir by Bill Kreutzmann; and “So Many Roads,” an engaging read about important milestones in the band’s career by journalist David Browne…

The Grateful Dead Archive in Santa Cruz is open to the public. “There’s enough material there for people to be able to document things such as the growth of rock music as an industry, in particular the growth of modern rock touring,” [Nicholas] Meriwether said. “The Dead were very much on the forefront of that.” Among the holdings is an extensive collection of press clippings dating back to 1966. “They were making no money, so to actually take the plunge and invest in a clipping service was a real statement that they understood the importance of PR and of public image. I think that’s dramatic.”

Little Hippie just visited the Grateful Dead Archive at University of California in Santa Cruz and will soon report back on our findings. In the meantime, here are eleven titles on Owlsley’s reading list via Amazon.. because we’re definitely going to be turning it up to eleven.


The Grateful Dead at the Hartford Civic Center in 1977: left to right: Phil Lesh, Donna Jean Godchaux, Bob Weir, and Jerry Garcia. (Peter Simon / March 19, 2015) via ctnow.com

A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead by Dennis McNally

Dennis McNally, the band’s historian and publicist for more than twenty years, takes readers back through the Dead’s history in A Long Strange Trip. In a kaleidoscopic narrative, McNally not only chronicles their experiences in a fascinatingly detailed fashion, but veers off into side trips on the band’s intricate stage setup, the magic of the Grateful Dead concert experience, or metaphysical musings excerpted from a conversation among band members. He brings to vivid life the Dead’s early days in late-sixties San Francisco–an era of astounding creativity and change that reverberates to this day. Here we see the group at its most raw and powerful, playing as the house band at Ken Kesey’s acid tests, mingling with such legendary psychonauts as Neal Cassady and Owsley “Bear” Stanley, and performing the alchemical experiments, both live and in the studio, that produced some of their most searing and evocative music. But McNally carries the Dead’s saga through the seventies and into the more recent years of constant touring and incessant musical exploration, which have cemented a unique bond between performers and audience, and created the business enterprise that is much more a family than a corporation.

Written with the same zeal and spirit that the Grateful Dead brought to its music for more than thirty years, the book takes readers on a personal tour through the band’s inner circle, highlighting its frenetic and very human faces. A Long Strange Trip is not only a wide-ranging cultural history, it is a definitive musical biography.

No Simple Highway by Peter Richardson

Routinely caricatured by the mainstream media, the Grateful Dead are often portrayed as grizzled hippy throwbacks with a cult following of burned-out stoners. No Simple Highway corrects that impression, revealing them to be one of the most popular, versatile, and resilient music ensembles in the second half of the twentieth century. The band’s history has been well-documented by insiders, but its unique and sustained appeal has yet to be explored fully. At last, this legendary American musical institution is given the serious and entertaining examination it richly deserves.

So Many Roads by David Browne

The Grateful Dead’s long, strange trip has been the subject of countless books—but none like So Many Roads. Drawing on new interviews with surviving members and people in their inner circle along with previously unknown details gleaned from the group’s extensive archives, David Browne, acclaimed music journalist and contributing editor at Rolling Stone, lends the Dead’s epic story the vivid feel of a novel. He sheds new light on the band’s beginnings, music, dynamics, and struggles since Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995.

No longer dismissed as relics of the hippie era, a new generation has lionized the Dead for creating a culture that paved the way for social networking, free music swapping, and the uncompromising anti-corporate attitude of indie rock. Now, fifty years after the band first began changing rock ’n’ roll—both sonically and psychically—So Many Roads paints the most vivid portrait yet of the Grateful Dead, one of the most enduring institutions in American music and culture.

Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip by Robert Hunter

Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip is the definitive illustrated biography of the Grateful Dead and a visual record of America’s greatest rock experience — now available in a paperback edition to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary.

This encyclopedic book tells the real story of the band from childhood to the present day, incorporating rare photography that captures pivotal moments, both large and small. Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip features seminal posters, memorabilia, and ephemera; personal essays that give revealing insights into life in the band and on the road; and all the facts — biographies of the band members, all the albums and key songs, and every tour date ever played.

Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip is the definitive illustrated biography for die-hard Deadheads and new fans alike.

The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics by David G. Dodd

When the Grateful Dead’s in-house publishing company, Ice Nine, decided that the band’s fortieth anniversary was a good time to publish their entire lyric catalog, a wave of excitement swept across the world of Deadheads, or would have had they known. What was that unclear word in “Uncle John’s Band”? Would “Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues” be included? Which Cassidy is John Barlow writing about? Would Robert Hunter reveal the meaning of anything at all? These questions are finally answered with the publication of this book, but in true Grateful Dead fashion you’ll have to dig around to find the answers and have fun doing it.

Between the Dark and Light: The Grateful Dead Photography of Jay Blakesberg

This handsome hardcover volume presents an astonishing array of images that capture the musical, cultural and personal magic of the Grateful Dead on and offstage. An irresistible 25-year visual journey, it showcases more than 900 rich color and black-and-white photos hundreds never before seen plus essays by Dead historians Blair Jackson, J.C. Juanis, and rock photographer Jon Sievert; a foreword by Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh; and photographer Jay Blakesberg’s own reflections. From Blakesberg’s travels following the Dead in the late 1970s, to his intimate studio and home portraits in the ’80s and ’90s, up through and including photos documenting band members’ offshoot projects (Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends, the Jerry Garcia Band, Mickey Hart and Planet Drum), Between the Dark and Light is a compelling view of an unparalleled pop culture phenomenon whose ripples will resonate for years to come. “Jay Blakesberg shoots ’em Dead on … warts, halos, and flyin’ hair. Keep on clickin’.”-Wavy Gravy

Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail by Paul Grushkin

At the core of the Grateful Dead experience was the world’s most devoted fan base: Dead Heads. Addicted, in the best possible definition of the word, to the music and the experience, Dead Heads went to extraordinary, often inspiring, lengths to get their hands on concert tickets by mailing the band and its staff. After all, the only way to get tickets for the Dead was to go directly to the source. Most often, this took the form of letters (and envelopes) with personalized Dead artwork the likes of which the U.S. Postal Service had ever seen.

Since the band’s earliest days, Grateful Dead staff saved tens of thousands of decorated ticket-request envelopes sent to them by Dead Heads hoping to capture the ticketing staff’s attention with their mind-bending designs. These envelopes are inspirational and hugely insightful, not to mention brilliantly illustrated and unique within the world of rock. Now, for the first time in print, these unique pieces of art have found a home.

From author, rock historian, and the Dead Head of all Dead Heads, Paul Grushkin, Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail collects more than 300 of these mind-blowing envelope masterpieces, all presented in 14 thematic chapters. Fully authorized by the Grateful Dead, Dead Letters also includes, for further historical context, many rare historical photos and memorabilia, all creating a trip, as it were, down memory lane. A foreword from basketball legend (and supremely dedicated Dead Head) Bill Walton rounds out this one-of-a-kind package.

Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out

As a child, Bill Graham fled Europe to escape Hitler’s armies. He grew up on the streets of New York and in the dining rooms of the hotels in the Catskills. After failing as an actor, he headed for San Francisco right before the Summer of Love where he founded the Fillmore and launched the rock icons of a generation–Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, the Grateful Dead, and more. He was a complex, caring, compassionate whirlwind of energy who rock stars either loved–or hated.In his own voice and those of the people who knew him–Jerry Garcia, Keith Richards, Grace Slick, Ken Kesey, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, and Carlos Santana–we hear Bill’s story as well as the scoop on the major events in rock for more than three decades, ending with his tragic death in a 1991 helicopter crash. Gritty, moving, funny, and always fascinating, Bill Graham Presents is the inside story of the explosive and unforgettable man who created the business of rock.

Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson

He was there when Dylan went electric, when a generation danced naked at Woodstock, and when Ken Kesey started experimenting with acid. Jerry Garcia was one of the most gifted musicians of all time, and he was a member of one of the most worshiped rock ‘n’ roll bands in history. Now, Blair Jackson, who covered the Grateful Dead for twenty-five years, gives us an unparalleled portrait of Garcia–the musical genius, the brilliant songwriter, and ultimately, the tortured soul plagued by his own addiction. With more than forty photographs, many of them previously unpublished, Garcia: An American Life is the ultimate tribute to the man who, Bob Dylan said, “had no equal.”

Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead: The Ten Most Innovative Lessons from a Long, Strange Trip by Barry Barnes foreword by John Perry Barlow

The Grateful Dead is one of the most popular bands of all time and they have enjoyed incredible relevance to this day. But let’s admit it, they were not exactly poster boys for corporate America. In EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT BUSINESS I LEARNED FROM THE GRATEFUL DEAD, Deadhead and business scholar Barry Barnes proves that the Dead’s influence on the business world will turn out to be a significant part of their legacy. Without intending to, the band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by American corporations. And in this book Barnes shares the ten most innovative business lessons from the Dead’s illustrious career, including:

-Creating and delivering superior customer value
-Incorporating and establishing a board of directors early on
-Founding a merchandising division
-Giving away your product for free to increase demand

Above all, Barnes explains how the Dead were masters of what he calls “strategic improvisation” — the ability to adapt to changing times and circumstances — and that their success lay precisely in their commitment to constant change and relentless variation. For an extraordinary thirty years, the Dead improvised a business plan and realized their vision — all while making huge profits. EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT BUSINESS I LEARNED FROM THE GRATEFUL DEAD will show you how they did it — and what your business can learn from their long, strange trip.

Aces Back to Back: The History of the Grateful Dead (1965 – 2013) by Scott W. Allen

Aces Back to Back: The History of the Grateful Dead (1965 – 2014) details the Grateful Dead’s entire 50-year history, right through January, 2015, including the Dead’s announcement about their historic reunion shows in Chicago this summer, making it the most precise and up-to-date account of the Dead’s history ever written.

Aces Back to Back covers the events leading to the band’s inception as well as their complete 30-year reign, and is the only book that recounts the post-Jerry Garcia period – from the death of Garcia, and on through the surviving members’ incarnations as the Other Ones, the Dead, RatDog, Phil Lesh and Friends, the Mickey Hart Band, 7 Walkers, and Furthur.

Our biography features a Foreword from Grateful Dead lyricist and renowned civil libertarian John Perry Barlow. The cover is drawn by acclaimed poster artist Steve Johannsen (Grateful Dead, Furthur, Gov’t Mule) and the interior features 20 original illustrations by Steve and the gifted Lauren Kroutil.

Aces Back to Back traces the group’s history from their earliest roots – the spring, 1961 meeting of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter – and takes the reader right up to January, 2015.

Every vital moment in the Dead’s history in-between is covered. This book celebrates the most minute – Weir gets to sing almost all of the songs at two ’78 shows in San Diego because Jerry is ill – and doesn’t forget the glory: the Acid Tests, the Haight-Ashbury, Woodstock, the Wall of Sound, Watkins Glen, the May 8, 1977 show at Cornell, the Egypt concerts, In the Dark, the Deadheads.

All the key players are here, too; among them: Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, Robert Hunter, John Barlow, Bill Graham, Mouse & Kelley, Jerry’s guitar history with luthier Doug Irwin, the Mime Troupe, the Family Dog, Winterland, Augustus Owsley Stanley III.


More recommendations to come, stay tuned!