Saying Goodbye to the Dead. (Again.)

Abby Cullen first said goodbye to the Grateful Dead on August 9, 1995.

A colleague told Karen, a Boston-area music label attorney, that The Dead’s iconic lead guitarist Jerry Garcia died that day. Karen was on dozens of shows. He reveled in the Dead’s improvisational spirit and the fact that no two performances are the same. “I saw the Stones dozens of times and it was pretty much the same show,” he recently explained.

Despite Garcia’s news, Karen kept plans to see Garcia’s bandmate Bob Weir’s side project, Ratdog, perform in New Hampton Beach that evening. Rhythm guitarist Weir told the crowd that Garcia, who suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 53 in a drug rehab facility, “proved that great music can make sad times better.”in the middle Encore Karen, 59, recalled hearing “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan, “I didn’t have dry eyes.”

“Everybody kind of knew it was over,” he added.

The Grateful Dead had swapped out members before, but this time it was different. With a roots-like tenor, a Santagone Gray beard, and an unmistakable pluck, Garcia defined a giant touring artist and its vibrant subculture that became synonymous with his Sixties. rice field. The band’s four surviving original members agreed never to use the name “Grateful Dead” without Garcia.

But the dead did not die. Several members went on tour the following year. They maintained a side project playing mostly Dead songs. Various permutations toured together as the Other Ones, as Farther, and as the Adjective Dead.

Finally, in 2015, the band parted ways again, playing five shows with Phish’s Trey Anastasio on lead guitar. This mini-tour was named “Fare Thee Well: Celebrated 50 Years of the Grateful Dead.”

The farewell was not necessary. That fall, We Are And The Dead original drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann joined keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, bassist Oteil Burbridge, and lead guitarist John Mayer for a new band, Formed Dead and Company. or John Mayer).

As this new band was traveling across America, something interesting happened. The Dead has once again become a cultural touchstone. Dead & Company, as well as tribute bands like Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, attracted new and younger fans. Last August, The Dead posted their biggest record sales week in 35 years, according to the publisher. In February, she won her first Grammy Award. From 2012 to 2022, Dead’s U.S. streams grew nearly twice as fast as The Rolling Stones, according to tracking service Luminate.

Dead found the moment again.

“It may sound terribly corny, but I don’t mind. The community of the dead is what we need in a year like 2023,” said Bethany Cosentino, 36, of indie rock band Best Coast. Told. She became a fan just a few years ago thanks to her “Gen X boyfriend.”

“It’s a really joyful spirit to be in a room with so many people who are just connecting with the music in their own way, yet having this common collective experience,” she added.

Cullen said Deadheads are watching. “I joke with my friends, they’re bigger than they’ve ever been.”

Well, another goodbye. After more than 200 shows, Dead & Company sold out stadiums across the country on their so-called final tour. The show concludes this weekend with three shows at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, where the Grateful Dead formed almost 60 years ago.

“It’s part of the life cycle. Life has death,” Hart said in a video interview. “But it all depends on what you call death, because music has an afterlife, anyway.”

Led by Weir, Original Dead bassist Phil Lesch and Kreutzmann (who will be replaced by Jay Lane on this tour), the band all have concerts scheduled in the coming months. Hart acknowledged the potential future of Dead & Company, but admitted that this would be their last tour.

“Music never goes anywhere, and one of the great things about this music is that there are thousands of concerts that we all have access to,” said a Dead fan since high school and Bravo. Host and Executive Producer Andy Cohen said. . “But I don’t imagine we’ll ever get that shared feeling that we’re all together at Citi Field and enjoying two banger shows,” he added. .

We always seem to say goodbye to the Grateful Dead. But Weir and Mayer cautioned fans not to expect tributes.

“I think everyone has had enough loss in their lives to go to San Francisco and have a funeral,” Mayer said.

“I am categorically against such things happening,” Weir added. “If you allow such a thing, you will be fried.”

Mayer continued, “If my wish could come true, people would say goodbye to Dead & Co without feeling the pain of parting.”

promoter peter ShapiroHe owned the Jam Band Fortress at the Brooklyn Bowl and the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, and promoted shows for the Fair Zee Well, so he could see the Grateful Dead, a band that canceled a tour that year. observed the actual number of people paying for It wasn’t revealed until Dead fans made his 2015 announcement, before Ticketmaster sold the first tickets over the internet. broken A record of sites with the most buyers in queue.

Ticket sales for five concerts that year (two at Levi’s Stadium near San Francisco and three at Chicago’s Soldier Field) brought in $40 million. Approximately 71,000 people attended each Chicago performance. More theatrical and pay-per-view simulcasts were watched.

“‘Fare Thee Well’ was supposed to be the end, and it was a new beginning,” said Shapiro.

Mayer was covered up during the Chicago show and was already scheduled to be added. He met Weir and Hart through producer and record executive Don Was. Mayer spoke passionately to them about the Dead’s music. It wasn’t until his formative years of listening that he found out. In his recent interview, he likened it to “Coriander if you only eat meat and potatoes.”

Hart knew very little about Mayer’s music, but he knew he was a great guitarist. “On our stage, he’s not a pop star or anything like that,” Hart said. “He has a lot of respect for the Grateful Dead, and I have a lot of respect for him for that. He treated the music like it was his own.”

Former Grateful Dead publicist and biographer Dennis McNally said that while some purists were unhappy with Mayer’s participation (indeed, some complained about the Fair Thee Well show). ), most fans said they “decided” that they “don’t love”. The “bands”–the people–they were into the music, and to some extent it was a matter of taste who played. It was a genre of its own, just like jazz or blues. “

Many classic rock artists have produced cover acts, website The database of groups dedicated to Grateful Dead tribute bands has over 600 groups, of which operators estimate that 100-150 are active.

Some Dead tribute acts are simple and very popular, like the Dark Star Orchestra, which recreates specific Dead concerts by setlist. Some take Dead’s music as a starting point. There is a jazz band and an afrobeat band. All Brown Eyed Women are women.Warlock of Tokyo sings Japan.

The deadheads’ millennial daughter, electronic artist LP Giobbi uses sonic loops and stems on house beats to create what she calls Dead House. She’s “amazed by how many ravers I’ve met who are also Deadheads,” said the artist, who played at the many post-concert afterparties of the Dead & Company tour.

The uniqueness of each Dead performance is crucial to the music’s enduring appeal.Author, Former Senator, and His Longtime Fan Al Franken It was opened For the band, it was just meeting up with friends who had recently seen Dead & Company outside St. Louis. “When they asked what I played, I was striking out. ‘Did I play China Cat Sunflower?’ ‘ This is a very big chunk of music. Even if you go four nights in a row, you can’t basically hear the same songs. And they always play differently. “

The Dead’s eclectic songbook springs from rock, folk, blues, country and bluegrass. Many of its lyrics, by Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow, tend to be ambiguous but hilarious (“Strangers call strangers just to shake hands”, “When you wake up, you is the eye of the world’, ‘What a long time it’s been a strange journey’).

“The peculiarity of this music is that it is not done at home. There is no one at home. People are trying to obtain Go home,” Mayer said.

“For people like me, who don’t necessarily experience the transience in their lives, there is something appealing about the illusion of transience,” he added. “The fantasy of the eternal seeker, of someone who can sleep on the couch with a knapsack over and over. We want to have a no-nonsense attitude.”

Twenty-year-old Trey Pearce got to know the Dead in middle school through CD box sets, DVDs, and an internet archive that hosts free recordings of Grateful Dead shows. Now, he’s an avid fan who drove hours from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York to see Phil Lesh & Friends perform outside New York City in March.

“That’s what got me through most of my life,” he said. “All the strange things I’ve been through, all the challenges I’ve been through, all of those lyrics and related to Jerry, who died eight years before Pierce was born, resonated in my soul. ”

in the parking lot many Across from Citi Field in Queens, Dead & Co. played their second of two shows last month as the subway rattled over the elevated tracks as the dead came out of their car stereos. A live recording of was playing. Vendors touted T-shirts, jewelry, fresh prepared food, and illicit food. Erin Cadigan, who said she saw the 72 Dead show “with Jerry,” did a tarot reading with a licensed Grateful Dead-themed tarot deck she created with her partner.

This tour tends to be highly rated by fans. “The closest thing to the original I’ve seen,” Karen wrote in her text message after leaving Boston’s Fenway Park last month. “Ironically, just when they seemed to have figured it out, it ended.”

Mariah Napoli, 45, of the self-proclaimed “second generation” Deadhead, said she saw “a lot more people crying over the last two songs” on this tour than usual.

She added: “I’ve been doing this for so long that I’m not going to stop until they’re all dead. At that point, it will be time for me to start crouching and getting old.”

Why do we keep saying goodbye to the Grateful Dead, welcome them back, and do it again?

“Buddhists believe that knowing every minute that you are going to die makes life precious,” said Elena Lister, a New York-based psychiatrist and grief expert. . “When you know you’re going to lose something, you cherish it even more while you have it. If you deny it, you miss the opportunity.”

Queen’s University animation professor Dustin Glera, 52, has more dramatic dead stories than anyone else. During the spring and summer of 1995, he toured with the Grateful Dead for what would be their final tour. However, he missed his last two concerts at Soldier Field because he injured his spinal cord during the match. porch collapsed At a campground outside the show grounds near St. Louis.

“When you’re going through that kind of trauma, you just want to go back to normal,” Gulera said of her recovery. For me, it was touring as Deadhead. “

In 2015, he felt the Fare Thee Well show in Chicago had a chance to close. “A chance to make peace with the dead,” he said.

But that didn’t mean he would pass up another opportunity. For Dead & Company’s final tour, Glera and his friends bought a second-hand school bus in Kentucky, installed panels on each side, and covered it with chalkboard paint. Glera, who uses a wheelchair, parked the bus in a parking lot and pulled out chalk to encourage passers-by to add their own designs. He began his spontaneous artwork by etching the lyrics of “Scarlet Begonia”, “Sometimes you can see the light/When you look right, in the strangest places.”

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