Welcome to #5DaysOfTheDead. On Friday, Dec. 1, Dead and Company, featuring the core surviving members of seminal rock band the Grateful Dead will perform at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The band, in any of its many forms, hasn't performed in Dallas since October of 1988, so we thought it would be fitting to spend a few days looking at how the group became legends and why its legacy is as strong today as it ever was.
In 1967, the Summer of Love took over the famed hippie-centric Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Thousands flooded the area around Golden Gate Park, mostly to oppose the Vietnam conflict, though a musical and cultural revolution was underway.
As the Grateful Dead released its self-titled debut album for Warner Brothers that same year, the band members became key players at 1967's three biggest musical events.
In January of 1967, more than 20,000 people attended the Human Be-In, a gathering in the park protesting the outlawing of LSD. The event featured counter-culture icons such as Allen Ginsburg and the sounds of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.
As the actual Summer of Love in 1967 bloomed, the Monterey Pop Festival drew even more attention to the cosmic happenings of the Bay Area. The three-day party, which many view as the first real American rock festival, hosted Janis Joplin's breakthrough performance and a set from Jimi Hendrix that was every bit as incendiary as his beloved 1969 Woodstock set would be two years later.
(Although Bassist Phil Lesh has a less-than-rosy take on his group's role in the event, telling Rolling Stone that the group "didn't deliver" on that day, rock journalist Michael Lydon wrote that the Dead's set was "beautiful" and that they played "pure music.")
As hopeful as the year had felt, by the time it was winding down, many of those who had made San Francisco home for many years felt the media attention and commercialization had all but killed the good vibes. And just a few days after band members Bob Weir and Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan, along with several other acquaintances, were busted for marijuana possession, the Dead performed at the Death of the Hippie funeral, an event staged to say goodbye to the tourists and troublemakers that the neighborhood stalwarts were happy to see leave.
Not too long after, the Grateful Dead left San Francisco altogether, relocating north to Marin County.