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The B List: 10 Favorite Grateful Dead Books

[Originally Published March 26, 2009]

I’ll never forget the day late Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland passed away in 1990. I was playing hockey at Camp Westmont when a bunkmate’s brother came down the hill to tell us Brent had died. Now, I’ll be honest – I didn’t know a thing about the band at the time, but I wanted to find out. One of my Deadhead counselors turned me onto David Gans and Peter Simon’s well-written biography of the band, Playing in the Band, and I was immediately fascinated by the history of the band.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve read a number of books on the Grateful Dead and some are spectacular and some aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. The latest tome on the band – Peter Conners’ Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead – is available now at Amazon.com and in honor of what looks to be a terrific addition to a Deadhead’s bookshelf, I’ve put together a list of my ten favorite books on the band…

10. Skeleton Key – David Shenk, Steve Silberman

I’ll never forget David & Steve’s book as the first time I ever saw the phrase 4:20. Skeleton Key offers bite-sized tidbits on phrases that are part of the Deadhead vocabulary – such as 4:20 – among its 400 pages of history, lore, and interviews about the band.

READ ON for nine more of Scotty’s favorite books on the Dead…

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Leftovers: Jerry Gets A Biopic

After being rumored for quite some time a biopic based on Grateful Dead singer-guitarist Jerry Garcia will finally be headed to the big screen. The movie, based on Robert Greenfield’s

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Dark Star Stories: The Greek – 07/13/1984

Each month, HT Contributor Ben Wiser will take a closer look at notable performances of Dark Star. If you have any favorite Stars you would like him to cover, send the date over to [email protected]

This coming Monday will mark 25 years since the Grateful Dead kicked off a three-night run at the Greek Theater in the hot summer of 1984. 1984 was an interesting year for the band – there were good nights and there were…eh…not so good nights, but the concert the Dead played in Berkeley on July 13th is a strong candidate for show of the year.


The first set rocks, but the second set is what the show is best known for. Starting with an amped up Scarlet Begonias that tears into a speedy Touch of Gray (which was already well established in the band’s repertoire) and finally winds down into a groovy Fire on the Mountain. Phil drops a serious bass assault during I Need a Miracle and Jerry delivers the goods with a sublime and breathtaking Stella Blue. After Bobby leads the boys in a stomping Sugar Magnolia finale, only then does the real magic begin.

“If we could have your patience for another five or ten minutes, we’re going to try something a little special tonight, one night only.” – Phil Lesh

The road crew ran around the stage, setting up screens and projectors. Images of deep space appeared, and then the familiar triad of notes begins.

READ ON to find out more and to listen to the Greek ’84 Dark Star…

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Gratefulfest 2004: Nelson

With all the chaos in the world and the string of challenges the country faces, it can be hard to find the time to relish in our heritage and appreciate the good things in life. But this was not the case over Independence Day weekend, as a sold-out crowd of thousands of happy festival-goers gathered in beautiful Nelson, OH for a three day celebration of the legacy of the music of the Grateful Dead.

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