The best Grateful Dead books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about the Grateful Dead and why they recommend each book.

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An Earlier Life

By Brenda Miller,

Book cover of An Earlier Life

“In an earlier life,” Miller writes, “I was a baker, in a bakery on a cobblestoned street.” It takes Miller just one single paragraph to tell this whole tale—how she proofed yeast, how she scraped her spoon, how she made loaves for children: “It was my only kindness.” In every successive chapter—most all of them short, many of them formally inventive—Miller deconstructs her life and soul—the roots of her unease, the startling incidents of loss, her learning to sleep, and her learning to live with the person she becomes. Miller is a stellar choreographer, knowing just where to place which expertly fashioned scene and knowing, always, what to leave out.


Who am I?

The first memoir I ever read—Road Song by Natalie Kusz—pierced me in ways I did not know were possible. Kusz had written, in this elegantly crafted book, of an Alaskan childhood, a life-changing accident, early motherhood, and family love. She had written, I mean to say, of transcending truths. I have spent much of my life ever since deconstructing the ways in which true stories get told, and writing them myself. I’ve taught memoir to five-year-olds, Ivy League students, master’s level writers, and retirees. I co-founded Juncture Workshops, write a monthly newsletter on the form, and today create blank books into which other writers might begin to tell their stories.


I wrote...

Wife Daughter Self: A Memoir in Essays

By Beth Kephart,

Book cover of Wife Daughter Self: A Memoir in Essays

What is my book about?

Wife | Daughter | Self: A Memoir in Essays, by National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart, reflects on the iterative, composite self as she travels to lakes and rivers, New Mexico and Mexico, the icy waters of Alaska, and a hot-air balloon launch in search of understanding. Who is she, in relationship to others? Who is she when she is alone, with a pen in her hands? And how will she write the truest version of her life after spending many years teaching others to unlock their own tales? A book of interlocking essays by an acclaimed writer, teacher, and critic that engages the reader in soul searches of their own.

Garcia

By Blair Jackson,

Book cover of Garcia: An American Life

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.


Who am I?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.


I wrote...

Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

By Stuart Coupe,

Book cover of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

What is my book about?

This is your backstage pass to the hidden side of the music industry - the tantrums, the fights, the tensions, the indulgence, the sex, the alcohol, the drugs. The roadies see it all, and now they are sharing their secrets. Roadies are the unsung heroes of the Australian music industry. They unload the PAs and equipment, they set it all up, they make sure everything is running smoothly before, during, and after the gigs. Then they pack everything up in the middle of the night, put it in the back of the truck, and hit the road to another town - to do it all over again. They know everything about the pre-and post-show excesses. They bear witness to overdoses, the groupies, the obsessive fans. They are part of - and often organise - all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes of the concerts and pub gigs you go to.

From The Rolling Stones to AC/DC, Bob Marley to Courtney Love, Sherbet to The Ted Mulry Gang, INXS to Blondie - the roadies have seen it all. And now they're stepping onto the stage and talking.

Living with the Dead

By Rock Scully, David Dalton,

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

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.


Who am I?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.


I wrote...

Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

By Stuart Coupe,

Book cover of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

What is my book about?

This is your backstage pass to the hidden side of the music industry - the tantrums, the fights, the tensions, the indulgence, the sex, the alcohol, the drugs. The roadies see it all, and now they are sharing their secrets. Roadies are the unsung heroes of the Australian music industry. They unload the PAs and equipment, they set it all up, they make sure everything is running smoothly before, during, and after the gigs. Then they pack everything up in the middle of the night, put it in the back of the truck, and hit the road to another town - to do it all over again. They know everything about the pre-and post-show excesses. They bear witness to overdoses, the groupies, the obsessive fans. They are part of - and often organise - all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes of the concerts and pub gigs you go to.

From The Rolling Stones to AC/DC, Bob Marley to Courtney Love, Sherbet to The Ted Mulry Gang, INXS to Blondie - the roadies have seen it all. And now they're stepping onto the stage and talking.

Fare Thee Well

By Joel Selvin, Pamela Turley,

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

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.


Who am I?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.


I wrote...

Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

By Stuart Coupe,

Book cover of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

What is my book about?

This is your backstage pass to the hidden side of the music industry - the tantrums, the fights, the tensions, the indulgence, the sex, the alcohol, the drugs. The roadies see it all, and now they are sharing their secrets. Roadies are the unsung heroes of the Australian music industry. They unload the PAs and equipment, they set it all up, they make sure everything is running smoothly before, during, and after the gigs. Then they pack everything up in the middle of the night, put it in the back of the truck, and hit the road to another town - to do it all over again. They know everything about the pre-and post-show excesses. They bear witness to overdoses, the groupies, the obsessive fans. They are part of - and often organise - all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes of the concerts and pub gigs you go to.

From The Rolling Stones to AC/DC, Bob Marley to Courtney Love, Sherbet to The Ted Mulry Gang, INXS to Blondie - the roadies have seen it all. And now they're stepping onto the stage and talking.

Home Before Daylight

By Steve Parish, Joe Layden,

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

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.


Who am I?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.


I wrote...

Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

By Stuart Coupe,

Book cover of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

What is my book about?

This is your backstage pass to the hidden side of the music industry - the tantrums, the fights, the tensions, the indulgence, the sex, the alcohol, the drugs. The roadies see it all, and now they are sharing their secrets. Roadies are the unsung heroes of the Australian music industry. They unload the PAs and equipment, they set it all up, they make sure everything is running smoothly before, during, and after the gigs. Then they pack everything up in the middle of the night, put it in the back of the truck, and hit the road to another town - to do it all over again. They know everything about the pre-and post-show excesses. They bear witness to overdoses, the groupies, the obsessive fans. They are part of - and often organise - all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes of the concerts and pub gigs you go to.

From The Rolling Stones to AC/DC, Bob Marley to Courtney Love, Sherbet to The Ted Mulry Gang, INXS to Blondie - the roadies have seen it all. And now they're stepping onto the stage and talking.

Deal

By Bill Kreutzmann, Benjy Eisen,

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

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.


Who am I?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.


I wrote...

Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

By Stuart Coupe,

Book cover of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

What is my book about?

This is your backstage pass to the hidden side of the music industry - the tantrums, the fights, the tensions, the indulgence, the sex, the alcohol, the drugs. The roadies see it all, and now they are sharing their secrets. Roadies are the unsung heroes of the Australian music industry. They unload the PAs and equipment, they set it all up, they make sure everything is running smoothly before, during, and after the gigs. Then they pack everything up in the middle of the night, put it in the back of the truck, and hit the road to another town - to do it all over again. They know everything about the pre-and post-show excesses. They bear witness to overdoses, the groupies, the obsessive fans. They are part of - and often organise - all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes of the concerts and pub gigs you go to.

From The Rolling Stones to AC/DC, Bob Marley to Courtney Love, Sherbet to The Ted Mulry Gang, INXS to Blondie - the roadies have seen it all. And now they're stepping onto the stage and talking.

Dancing in the Streets

By Barbara Ehrenreich,

Book cover of Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy

Since ancient times people have gathered outdoors to celebrate all sorts of things, generating joy through dancing, marching, singing, and feasting. In the past most had some religious aura, but in the present, many are political gatherings, deeply satisfying ways of expressing moral visions. In this romp through history Ehrenreich shows us the sheer fun of political (and other) gatherings, which modern elites have tried hard to suppress.


Who am I?

James M. Jasper has written a number of books and articles on politics and social movements since the 1980s, trying to get inside them to see what participants feel and think. In recent years he has examined the many emotions, good and bad, involved in political engagement. He summarizes what he has learned in this short book, The Emotions of Protest, taking the reader step by step through the emotions that generate actions, to those that link us to groups, down to the emotional and moral impacts of social movements. The book is hopeful and inspiring but at the same time also clear-eyed about the limitations of protest politics.


I wrote...

The Emotions of Protest

By James M. Jasper,

Book cover of The Emotions of Protest

What is my book about?

This is a book centered on protest, but James M. Jasper also points toward broader paths of inquiry that have the power to transform the way social scientists picture social life and action. Through emotions, he says, we are embedded in a variety of environmental, bodily, social, moral, and temporal contexts, as we feel our way both consciously and unconsciously toward some things and away from others. Politics and collective action have always been a kind of laboratory for working out models of human action more generally, and emotions are no exception.

Both hearts and minds rely on the same feelings racing through our central nervous systems. Protestors have emotions, like everyone else, but theirs are thinking hearts, not bleeding hearts. Brains can feel, and hearts can think.

Analog Days

By Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco,

Book cover of Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer

We rock guitarists tend to think of ourselves as pretty darned special. I mean, wasn’t the introduction of the solid-body electric guitar synonymous with and indispensable to the formation of rock music itself? We get so cocky we forget that the invention and development of the analog synthesizer, which happened around the same time, brought its own dazzling array of brand-new sounds, never heard before. How were they created? Whose genius was behind it? How do they fit into the music of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Edgar Winter, and The Grateful Dead? Did LSD have anything to do with it? Read the book and find out!


Who am I?

I’ve been immersed in playing and teaching guitar and in rock culture all my life. Since graduating from The Guitar Institute of Technology in 1987, I’ve been a full-time guitar professional. So, I’m known in my hometown of Baltimore as the go to guy for rock guitar chores of all kinds. I play for companies like Johns Hopkins, Center Stage and The Baltimore Ravens. I taught Guitar at The Gilman School for thirteen years. I’ve played every venue from the biggest stadiums to the smallest clubs. My publications include fifteen guitar books internationally distributed by Alfred Publications and features in most major trade journals. Endorsements: Paul Reed Smith Guitars, Ernie Ball Strings and Fractal Audio.


I wrote...

The Total Rock Guitarist: A Fun and Comprehensive Overview of Rock Guitar Playing, Book & CD

By Tobias Hurwitz,

Book cover of The Total Rock Guitarist: A Fun and Comprehensive Overview of Rock Guitar Playing, Book & CD

What is my book about?

The Total Rock Guitarist is a complete method for beginning, intermediate, and advanced guitarists. Since it covers all levels, it is the ideal textbook for any rock guitar student, teacher, or classroom. The book is divided into categories such as Chords and Rhythm Guitar, Scales and Lead Guitar, Music Theory, and more. Each category begins with very easy examples and smoothly progresses from there to advanced.

Of course, there is plenty of explanatory text that teaches the reasoning behind the examples. Slide Guitar – Fingerpicking – Shredding -Blues -Funk, and more. It’s all in there. All examples are presented in tablature and standard notation. 

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