Dad Rock Dead: Deadheads – The Best/Worst, Hardest Music Fans Ever To Figure Out

The band never put much weight into fanbase-building outside of playing shows. So how did Deadheads multiply to reach a number so overwhelming that we threatened the band’s existence? Well, giving folk that we are, the answer to the equation is us and our unconditional love of the band. Deadheads made more Deadheads and as we all know now, that ultimately wasn’t for the better. How did the best fans a band could have at the same time be the worst?

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Dad Rock Dead – A Quick Unrequested Explanation To My Kids

“No, don’t change the station. I should probably find a Grateful Dead song I like.”


This statement came out of my son’s mouth the other day as I was driving him off at school in the morning. Generally, I’ll let my kids pick the music for the drive but sometimes, and not always as a punishment for being late, I’ll leave The Grateful Dead Channel on SiriusXM. My daughter won’t have any of it. My son has a bit more tolerance. So, on this day, I left it on. I can’t remember which song was playing, but it wasn’t the hook that set a new path for him as a Deadhead. He did tell me that at his school, there is one Deadhead and even the existence of that lone freak in 2022 surprised me.

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Dad Rock Dead: A Deadhead In Dormancy

Looking at me now, you’d think that my thirty-something years as a Deadhead have been a sort of lesson in consistency. But that’s not the case. There were a number of years when I didn’t actively listen to The Grateful Dead.
Join me, readers, as I turn another long story into a two-thousand-word post.

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Dad Rock Dead Tells a Very Long-Winded, Barely-Europe ‘72 Story

Seeing how us Deadheads are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Europe ‘72 tour, I thought I’d add my piece. I had a dubbed cassette of it, whose origin and present location I can’t recall. But I loved this album so much when I was 18 years old. I wasn’t even a year old when these shows took place. My NYC-born father was a season shy of his 41st birthday when the Europe ‘72 shows happened.

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Dad Rock Dead: The Esoteric Ramblings of a Leshian Scholar

Without research, I will say that approximately 94% of all bassists started out as guitarists but were somehow relegated or intimidated to become the band’s bassist. That happened to me when I was 18 years old and had just joined my first band. Along with my drummer brother (or brother drummer), previously-mentioned Head-friend Dave and a drama school mate of my brother’s, we formed a Grateful Dead cover band. I vaguely remember that first jam where I reluctantly picked up some lousy Japanese 4-string leaning against the wall and proceeded to play lead guitar on it. This went on for the better part of three months as I learned that to be a bassist, one actually had to understand how to play the bass guitar. For better, or for worse, the bassist I was studying day and night was none other than, declared non-bassist, Philip Chapman Lesh.

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Dad Rock Dead: First Show Glow

I recently responded to a tweet I read about the Fourth of July ’89 show with “Imagine if this was your first Grateful Dead concert.” Yep, that was my first. While the saying goes for many topics, you never forget your first, the details today aren’t blade-sharp. But I will do my best to recount the feelings from the day. I attended the show with my brother so while writing this, I kept sending him text messages for clarifications. He wrote me back a long email with all his notes, so I have to thank him for all the research he provided for this post. Thanks, J’air.

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Dad Rock Dead: The Lure to the Golden Road

The Grateful Dead’s first album was a self-titled effort released through Warner Brothers in 1967. As blatant a snapshot of the Summer of Love as any album can be, it sounds pretty goofy these days and the band members generally didn’t have good things to say about it. Surprisingly, only two of the nine songs on the album were original compositions. Yet four of them remained in the band’s live repertoire for the next 28 years. But the opening track, The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) served, like many lyrics from the band’s compositions, as phrases used by fans to describe a shared moment. In this case, the moment one got the music and self-crowned themselves a Deadhead. From That’s It For The Other One, a song released not long after their debut, the phrase ‘got on the bus’ meant the same thing. The depth of language that was created by fans about the experience of being a Deadhead is vast.

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Dad Rock Dead: A Swerve

My last post here was, what feels like in the hopefully pre-post pandemic times, a million years ago and several prior, revolved around a fitness journey. I was working hard to lose weight that arrived first when I was ten years old and I struggled to accept for the better part of four decades. That journey was important and reaching a goal I set was monumental. The way I had been attacked for being a fat kid by my friends and non-friends and the way I attacked myself undoubtedly seeded my psyche with traps that would spring in unexpected ways for years to come. Not that hitting my goal ultimately freed me from something, but it gave me a view from a different side.

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