WHAT IS IT about the Grateful Dead? G r o w i n g u p i n Brooklyn, New York, a s a y o u n g D e a d
Head, I saw San Francisco and Marin County
as mythical places. They were home to many of
my favorite bands and musicians — the Jefferson
Airplane, John Cipollina and Quicksilver
Messenger Service, Janis Joplin, Santana, the
New Riders of the Purple Sage, and of course,
Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.
The music of the Grateful Dead inspired a
DEAD FREAKS UNITE
sense of adventure in me and opened my mind
to possibilities. After reading antiestablish-
ment classics like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
and Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid
Test, I was determined to visit the Bay Area.
Cementing my resolve was this announce-
ment that appeared on the sleeve of the Grateful
Dead’s Skull and Roses album:
Who are you? Where are you? How are you?
Send us your name and address and we’ll keep
Dead Heads, P.O. Box 1065, San Rafael,
In 1977, just out of high school, I made
my pilgrimage to the promised land, the San
Francisco Bay Area. While there, I lucked out
and caught a Jerry Garcia Band show and met
a lot of great people. I couldn’t resist coming
back later that year for the Grateful Dead’s New
Year’s run at Winterland.
It was after these trips and subsequent ones
(I couldn’t stay away) that I knew someday I
would live in Marin.
Marin County had fascinated the Grateful
Dead as well. They were living in San
Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, and in 1966 they
spent the summer at Rancho Olompali on
Mount Burdell in Novato, close to where I now
live. Finally, in 1968, all of the band members
made the move north to Marin.
They set up band headquarters in 1970 in
San Rafael, in a classic Victorian on the corner
of Fifth and Lincoln avenues. Over the ensuing years they had various recording studios,
homes and offices throughout Marin.
Back in 1965, I’m sure, none of the band
members could have imagined that the music
they were creating would become a lasting force
in American culture, one that has reached this
50-year milestone. To celebrate, the Dead performed two shows in Santa Clara last month,
leading up to the big final concerts for the band
at Chicago’s Soldier Field this month.
We are fortunate they continue their legacy
in Marin County with Phil Lesh’s Terrapin
Crossroads, the revived Sweetwater Music
Hall, Bob Weir’s Tamalpais Research Institute
and a host of other venues. These exciting
spaces feature not only Grateful Dead music,
but also original music from many young
musicians and artists influenced by the Dead
in some way, who are carving out their own
style and contributing to the renaissance of
live music in Marin County.