Grateful Dead

Blair's Golden Road Blog

Why a weekly blog? Well, for a while now I’ve wanted to have a place where I can talk about music, issues, events and people related to the Grateful Dead and the post-GD world on a regular basis — and also hear what you have to say about this unique and fascinating universe we’re all wrapped up in to varying degrees. In coming weeks, I’ll be bringing up various issues connected to the Dead world that we can bat around and (hopefully) have some fun with, I’ll talk about some recent books and films (good and bad) that have connections to the scene, no doubt take a trip or two down memory lane, and we’ll see where it all leads. If there are issues or questions you’d like to see addressed, let me know. Don’t be shy! We’re all friends here…

- Blair Jackson

  • Nearly two years and 90 blogs ago, we embarked on a remarkable mutual journey through the world of the Dead. At times, writing Blair’s Golden Road Blog and contributing regular features to has felt like a wonderful continuation of putting out The Golden Road, the spirited Dead ’zine my wife, Regan, and I put out between 1984 and 1993.

  • As has been my habit for nearly all of the past 31 New Year’s Eves, I spent the turn of the year with a few thousand fun-loving fellow travelers dancing to my favorite music on the planet. It was Furthur at the Bill Graham Civic in SF, “Sugar Magnolia” at midnight, as balloons fell. It never gets old (though we do!).

  • Twenty years ago this month—December 1992—the Grateful Dead started Comeback 2, six years after Garcia’s near-death in the summer of ’86 had precipitated Comeback 1. This time, there was not quite the same level of concern among fans when, immediately following a six-show Garcia Band tour of California that concluded in the San Diego area the day after Jerry’s 50th birthday (8/1/92), a number of health issues caught up with him, and his doctor and various holistic medicine types ordered him to stop touring and take care of himself.

  • It might not be obvious, but the great Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar, who passed away at the age of 92 on Dec. 11, had a profound effect on the Grateful Dead, both directly and through his influence on other musicians whom the Dead respected and learned from.

  • I've long wondered why I almost never hear anyone talk about the Dead's fall 1981 tour of Europe. After all, 1981 was a generally strong year for the band. Brent had fully settled in by then, and though there were no new songs introduced, the best from 1980's Go to Heaven-“Feel Like a Stranger,” “Alabama Getaway,” “Althea” and the combo of “Lost Sailor” and “Saint of Circumstance”—had matured nicely. Substance issues notwithstanding, Garcia played fantastically well all year.

  • I only got to see Duane Allman in person once—at the Fillmore East when he sat in with the Dead for three numbers on 4/26/71: “Sugar Magnolia,” “It Hurts Me Too” and “Beat It on Down the Line.” I had recently fallen in love the Allmans' Idlewild South album, which served as my introduction the band, so I was thrilled to see Duane rockin' with my favorite band!

  • As my San Francisco Giants went through the recent World Series, my personal ritual included wearing a different Giants shirt each night when I'd watch the games. Unfortunately, our team was so efficient—dispatching the poor overmatched Detroit Tigers in just four games—I never got a chance to wear my favorite shirt: a Giants “Stealie” (the “SF” logo inside the “Steal Your Face” skull) that I bought years ago at a game. Yup, it was team-sanctioned, sold inside the stadium. Giants reserve catcher Eli Whiteside wore a version of it in the big victory parade on Halloween, just as he did in the 2010 champions' parade. Way to go, Eli!

  • There's the name, of course, and the skeleton imagery. And in the early days of the Haight-Ashbury scene, it wasn't at all unusual for young people to dress up in colorful and at times outlandish outfits just in the course of their day-to-day lives. Almost every night at the Fillmore and the Avalon in '66-'67 had a bit of a Halloween feel. Halloween itself just provided another excuse to dress up. Later, Halloween Dead shows gave cover to folks who wanted to go a little crazy.

Blair's Golden Road Blog