Order a signed copy of “This Is All a Dream We Dreamed…”

December 10th, 2015

Use this link to order a copy of This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead signed by both authors. US addresses only, please! If you’re out of the country, contact me and we’ll work something out.




This Is All a Dream We Dreamed

TIAADWD “outtake”: Peter McQuaid

December 9th, 2015

An “outtake” from This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead by Blair Jackson and David Gans, published November 10, 2015 by Flatiron Books. (You can order a signed copy here.)

Blair and I turned in a manuscript that was much, much longer than the publisher expected. Bob Miller, our editor, was very kind about it, and we didn’t have to cut too much out of the final text. Here is one of the “codas” that we had to drop.

Ka-ching! The Grateful Dead’s Modern Merch

Peter McQuaid was hired to be Director of Merchandising (and eventually CEO) just as the Dead’s popularity was peaking in the late 1980s.

Peter McQuaid: I think it was 1988 that the Grateful Dead parted with Winterland [Productions], which had been their merchandising licensee for a long time, and went with a company back East called Brockum. That deal didn’t end up being as successful as the band wanted it to be, primarily because they didn’t relate to one another. They started this process of trying to figure out what they wanted to do, which coincided with the band having become so big [post-“Touch of Grey’]. They felt, “We have to control this.” One of the things they wanted to do was re-examine Grateful Dead Records and Grateful Dead Merchandising to see if they should be reined in — not so much to turn them into big businesses, but to put away the issues that had to do with third parties that were involved with this stuff.

They interviewed a bunch of people, and I got the job [to help bring the merchandising operation in-house]. It was like a two-month process with five or six interviews. The final interview I had was with Garcia and Billy, and that was strange dynamic. Billy was like a cut-to-the-chase kind of guy: “Okay, what’s the first thing you’d do if you get this job?” I think he wanted to hear, “I’m going to fire a bunch of these people because they’re not doing anything.” I said, “I really don’t know. I have no idea.” And he stopped and said, “That’s a pretty good answer.” I said, “I’d go up there and figure it out.” Garcia was like, “Well, man, we don’t really need to do anything up there, except that we’d like to be able to control the thing and make sure that what’s happening is cool.”

But there was nothing about “We want to bring in X amount from merchandising.” At the time, they were bringing in fifty or sixty million bucks a year just in tour revenue. I was very fortunate: I came along when they needed to make a change, to maintain some respectability and to avoid being embarrassed or displeased with what was going on with our name. It was a very unusual situation for someone who was business-minded like me to come into. I didn’t feel any pressure from them at all to make a lot of money.

I was hired as the Director of Merchandising, which made me the co-head of Grateful Dead Merchandising along with Kidd [Candelario]. Kidd and Patty Harris had put together this effort to revive Grateful Dead Records and reissue the albums from the United Artists era, and interface with Brockum. Kidd was primarily a roadie, of course, and he was a good guy to have out there to interface with the scene in the parking lot, which he did.

[GDM] was not profitable; the overhead was pretty darn high. There were all these people working there and no steady engine to drive the business. It was there to sell stuff that Brockum had made, or before that, Winterland. Due to the nature of the deals with those companies, the profit margins were not as good as the should have been. It was viewed as an extension of the Grateful Dead spirit, but it just wasn’t efficient — not for lack of trying, but because the underlying deals having to do with record distribution and merchandising couldn’t be competitive with “real” businesses.

It hit me that it was really important for the fans to feel like they were dealing with the Grateful Dead, and not Winterland or Brockum, and that they wanted to support this and that’s where they would go to buy their stuff. We started doing the Grateful Dead Almanac [a beautifully designed newsletter for Dead products that started in 1993 with Gary Lambert as editor]. We did it in desktop [publishing], which was still kind of new at that time, and we were able to send it out to the mailing list three or four times a year. It devoted space to news about the band, and maybe a report on the Rex Foundation, and a comic strip by Tim Truman, and it integrated some of the stuff that was around when St. Dilbert was in the mailings [in the original “Dead Heads” newsletter from the early ’70s].

The Almanac was a big hit out of the gate. The fact that we could do it so quickly and it looked so good and could be competitive with a real professional thing — but was our own — really made a difference to the Deadheads; they appreciated it. In those days, before online commerce, people would order from 1-800-CAL-DEAD; after we mailed the first Almanac it got so busy that AT&T called me to say, “We’re sorry, but there must be something wrong with the activity we’re seeing on your lines. You’re getting twelve thousand, five hundred orders a day.” It was really cool.

When I got there, they had put out One from the Vault and Two from the Vault [archival releases from multitrack tapes, spearheaded by Dan Healy]. They sold about a hundred and fifty thousand copies of each of those; it was pretty impressive. But in the first week I was there I was informed, not by the band, but others: “That’s it. There’s going to be no more music coming out of the vault. That stuff isn’t release-quality; we can’t sell that stuff. Dan Healy found the two shows that were worth doing.”

Around that time, though, there were a couple of campaigns around Dick Latvala to start putting out what became Dick’s Picks. Kidd and Dick were tight, and David Gans and Gary Lambert were also getting in Phil’s ear about putting out some of the vault music. Dick and Kidd would talk about it with the band, and then they were coming to me and saying, “You’re the new guy. You’re supposed to be running this thing, so we’ve got to put out this music.” I said, “It’s my understanding that we’re not going to do that.”

Right around this time, though, I became aware of all the bootleg CDs that were starting to show up, especially from Italy. So Kidd or Dick brought in this huge box of probably twenty or thirty multi-disc bootleg sets that had come from Italy. I took them all to a band meeting and I put them on the table; the [band] guys were picking them up and tossing them back and kind of grumbling. I explained that they were CDs from their concerts. I said, “It’s my job to let you know what’s going on with your stuff. This is getting big, and one good way to deal with it is to do something better to compete.” Within about twenty minutes, they said, “Okay, do it.” Dick was in the meeting — I think it was the only board meeting he ever came to — and he was so giddy he jumped up and ran out of the room. “My prayers have been answered!” He was the happiest man in the universe. [Laughs] And that was the start of Dick’s Picks.

I think Dick’s Picks 1 sold about ninety thousand copies and Dick’s Picks 2 around seventy-five thousand, all through mail order. They were big successes, and then, over time, we’d give Arista [which got a small cut for each set sold in exchange for permission to release non-Arista product by mail order], say, Dick’s Picks 1 through 6, and 7 through 12, and they’d put them in the stores for a limited time only and they were big sellers. Aside from In the Dark, Arista made more money from Dick’s Picks than anything else connected to the Dead. And they didn’t have to do any work or put up any money.

New GD Hour station: Salisbury MD

December 8th, 2015

WSDL 90.7 Delmarva Public Radio, Salisbury MD will air the GD Hour Thursdays at 9pm starting January 7!

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1420

December 6th, 2015

Week of December 7, 2015

Part 1 32:33
Grateful Dead 6/28/88 Saratoga (NY) Performing Arts Center
VICTIM OR THE CRIME
FOOLISH HEART

Talk
Circles Round the Sun, Interludes for the Dead
GINGER SAYS
Bob Dylan, The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol.12 (Deluxe Edition)
IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY (Take 8, Alternate Take)

Part 2 23:36
Grateful Dead 6/28/88 Saratoga (NY) Performing Arts Center
SCARLET BEGONIAS->
FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour from coast to coast November 11 through December 31. Complete details and ticketing at www.deadandcompany.com. That’s Dead and Company, on tour from November 11 through New Year’s Eve.

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. The Cap will celebrate the everlasting music of Jerry Garcia on Saturday, December 26 with The Jerry Dance Party. Grateful Dead lighting guru Candace Brightman will illuminate the music. Events, information, and ticketing at thecapitoltheatre.com

LOST LIVE DEAD tackles TIAADWD

December 3rd, 2015

A new entry on Corry Arnold’s amazing blog Lost Live Dead:

“The world’s two leading Grateful Dead scholars have a new and important book that will be a boon to bloggers like me for the rest of our days. This Is All A Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History Of The Grateful Dead, by Blair Jackson and David Gans, has been released by Flatiron Books just in time for Christmas 2015 (if you get it now, you can finish reading it before you wrap it as a gift). Instead of a retread of the already-known, Jackson and Gans have a vast trove of new interviews with those who were there. ”

It’s a Hand-Me-Down: DG’s GD CD (and download)

December 3rd, 2015

David Gans: It’s a Hand-Me-Down
An album of “solo electric” interpretations of songs by the Grateful Dead.

Tracks: Stagger Lee, Lazy River Road, Ship of Fools-> Loser, Looks Like Rain, Wharf Rat, Stella Blue, Black Peter-> New Speedway Boogie, Deal, Terrapin Station, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace

Available on Festivalink, Bandcamp, CDBaby, iTunes, and in 96-24 high-res from HDTracks.

CDs also available by mail! This link is for US addresses only; see below for overseas orders.


US Addresses only



Here’s a link for my overseas friends to order the CD:




BROADCASTERS: “FCC-Clean” edit of “Wharf Rat” here

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1419

November 29th, 2015

Week of November 30, 2015

Part 1 27:17
Grateful Dead 6/28/88 Saratoga (NY) Performing Arts Center
HELL IN A BUCKET->
BERTHA
WALKIN’ BLUES
CANDYMAN

Part 2 28:40
Grateful Dead 6/28/88 Saratoga (NY) Performing Arts Center
WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE
ROW JIMMY

Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead
TRUCKIN’

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Flatiron Books, announcing This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, by Blair Jackson and David Gans. Hardcover, ebook and audio editions are available wherever books are sold.

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour from coast to coast through December 31. Complete details and ticketing at www.deadandcompany.com. That’s Dead and Company, on tour through New Year’s Eve.

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. With a sound that mixes bluegrass, jazz, folk, classical, Americana, and rock, Punch Brothers will take The Cap to new levels of musical intensity on Saturday, December 12. Events, information, and ticketing at thecapitoltheatre.com.

SF Chronicle review of TIAADWD

November 29th, 2015

The Chronicle was kind enough to get Chris Willman, a music writer of national stature, to review our book! Aside from a couple of VERY minor quibbles about one paragraph (this is Blair’s fifth GD book, not his third, etc.), this is about as good as we could ever have asked for!

If form should occasionally follow function, you could hardly ask for a more ideal configuration for a retelling of the Grateful Dead’s story than an oral history, which is, after all, the jam band of biographical formats. (With apologies to any fans who find the J-word patronizing.) It’s a veritable “Dark Star” about a group of … well, at least occasionally dark stars.

“This Is All a Dream” does not shrink from the nightmare side of the band, concentrated in the early ’90s, culminating in a “tour from hell” that shortly preceded Jerry Garcia’s death. But what stands out is how long the better part of the dream effectively lasted, with 25 good years out of a three-decade existence being a not-bad run of luck for a group that was officially rudderless.

Please read the whole review here!

“It’s a Hand-Me-Down” online sources

November 28th, 2015

David Gans: It’s a Hand-Me-Down (2015) PERF-14

An album of “solo electric” interpretations of songs by the Grateful Dead.

Available on Festivalink, Bandcamp, CDBaby, iTunes, etc. CDs also available by mail.

Tracks: Stagger Lee, Lazy River Road, Ship of Fools-> Loser, Looks Like Rain, Wharf Rat, Stella Blue, Black Peter-> New Speedway Boogie, Deal, Terrapin Station, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace

BROADCASTERS: “FCC-Clean” edit of “Wharf Rat” here

“Wharf Rat” for broadcasters

November 26th, 2015

We mixed a version of “Wharf Rat” without the “f-word,” for radio programmers who would like to play the song.
You can download it here. And if you’re a radio broadcaster who would like to hear the rest of It’s a Hand-Me-Down, drop me a note and I’ll hook you up.

“It’s a Hand-Me-Down” on Bandcamp

November 26th, 2015

It’s a Hand-Me-Down is now available for download via Bandcamp.

“It’s a Hand-Me-Down” on Festivalink

November 24th, 2015

My new CD of Grateful Dead songs, It’s a Hand-Me-Down, is now available in MP3 and FLAC from FESTIVALINK.

DG_cover_FINAL

Peter Conners reviews TIAADWD

November 22nd, 2015

Here is what writer Peter Conners (Growing Up Dead, JAMerica) had to say about This Is All a Dream We Dreamed in a review on the book’s amazon page:

“When it comes to Grateful Dead experts, you don’t get any more expert than David Gans and Blair Jackson. They’ve used this expertise to create an easy-reading, but incredibly informative history of the band told in the voices of the key players. I particularly enjoy their approach to oral history which combines new interviews with older ones (including pre-Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia) to illustrate the development of the band and their approach to music. If you think you’ve read every Dead book that matters… you haven’t. This one matters. Gans and Jackson leave no turn unstoned. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Order your signed copy here.

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1418

November 22nd, 2015

Week of November 23, 2015

Part 1 37:57
Grateful Dead 3/14/82 Recreation Hall, UC Davis CA
SPACE->
NOT FADE AWAY->
WHARF RAT->
SUGAR MAGNOLIA

Part 2 16:51
Grateful Dead 3/14/82 Recreation Hall, UC Davis CA
US BLUES
Talk
Excerpt from This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead
Gail Hellund on Lenny Hart
David Gans, It’s a Hand-Me-Down
SHIP OF FOOLS

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Flatiron Books, announcing the new book This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, by Blair Jackson and David Gans. Hardcover, ebook and audio editions are available wherever books are sold.

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour from coast to coast November 11 through December 31. Complete details and ticketing at www.deadandcompany.com.

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Known for their feel-good vocals and instrumentation, Guster will brighten up Thanksgiving weekend at the Cap playing on the evenings of Friday, November 27 and Saturday, November 28.Visit Guster.com to submit your song requests and have Guster play them live on The Cap’s stage. On Saturday afternoon, fans of all-ages and families can gather at Garcia’s for a matinee performance. Events, information, and ticketing at thecapitoltheatre.com.

Vanity Fair: TIAADWD “is an epic jam”!

November 20th, 2015

VF_HotType

Vanity Fair calls our book “an epic jam”!

Use the link below to order a copy of This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead signed by both authors. US addresses only, please! If you’re out of the country, contact me and we’ll work something out.





This Is All a Dream We Dreamed