The best books about The Grateful Dead

The Books I Picked & Why

Garcia: An American Life

By Blair Jackson

Garcia: An American Life

Why this book?

This is a big, sprawling biography of the heart and soul of The Grateful Dead - guitarist, songwriter, and troubled musical genius Jerry Garcia. Jackson did his research, interviewing over a hundred people including Garcia, his friends, lovers, and bandmates. Plus he went through thousands of source material documents and probably listened to thousands of concert tapes and recordings. He knows the Dead. He loves the Dead. And he captures the essence of Garcia superbly. It’s been called a definitive portrait and it is.


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Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead

By Rock Scully, David Dalton

Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead

Why this book?

As good a history of the Dead as you’re likely to find. Scully spent nearly two decades as close to the band as you could get without actually being a member. Great stories and anecdotes and a wonderfully drawn and evocative history of the band from their very early acid-drenched days in the 1960s through to their evolution as one of the most important and loved bands in American music history.


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Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead's Long, Strange Trip

By Joel Selvin, Pamela Turley

Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead's Long, Strange Trip

Why this book?

A controversial book amongst Deadheads as Selvin takes a critical and insightful look at the machinations of the post-Garcia band and things don’t always come up smelling roses. Selvin’s not a card-carrying member of the Dead Fanclub – but he can write superbly and has dug very deep and uncovered all sorts of fascinating maneuvering and powerplays between the key participants in the band. It’s not always pretty but it’s certainly fascinating. If you don’t want to know then maybe look away.


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Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road with the Grateful Dead

By Steve Parish, Joe Layden

Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road with the Grateful Dead

Why this book?

Researching a book on the lives and work of road crew was a fascinating, eye-opening, and thoroughly enjoyable, and enlightening experience. It also made me realise how few of those people have told their own stories. In fact, not nearly enough of them start writing road crew folk! But this book was a delightful revelation – a road crew guy, with a great way with words and insights – and telling us about his experiences with one of my favourite rock’n’roll bands of all time. What’s not to like. This may not be the easiest book to find – but like a Grateful Dead show, the reward is often the journey and what you find at the end.


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Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead

By Bill Kreutzmann, Benjy Eisen

Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead

Why this book?

The subtitle tells you all you really need to know. Kreutzmann was a founding member of the Grateful Dead and there for the whole long, strange trip and – to date – the only band member to pen an insider’s account of exactly what it’s like to be a member of The Grateful Dead. He tells a good story and if the Grateful Dead loom as large in your life as they do mine – well, just image a memoir written by Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts. Drummers sit there doing their stuff – and they see everything.


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