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The Grateful Dead Bands Impact on Their Fans - Research Paper Example

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The Grateful Dead, an American rock and roll band who played various types of music from country, bluegrass, folk-tinged songs as well as cover versions of songs, enjoyed a successful career that spanned 30 years. It started in the sixties when the band’s lead guitarist, singer-songwriter, Jerry Garcia brought a banjo to play in folk and bluegrass bands until he joined a band in 1965 called the Warlocks (Rolling Stone). This band used electric instruments and soon became a regular at Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests which are public multimedia party events that endorsed LSD before the drug became illegal. It was LSD chemist Owsley Stanley who renamed the band Grateful Dead which is a name Garcia found in an Egyptian prayer. Stanley also supervised the building of the band’s huge state-of-the-art sound system which they brought along with them in their concert tours. Almost as famous as the band itself was its cult-like following, a fan base called Deadheads. Most of these fans were white men who relished in the culture brought about by the band as well as its corresponding accoutrements of tie-dye clothing, hallucinogenic drugs and of course, the band’s eclectic music. The Deadheads followed the band in their tours around the country and enlivened the concerts with their zeal for the band. The Grateful Dead kept the Deadheads captivated because they emphasized diversity in the live music experience. Each concert/ show offered something different and the fans got hooked into the experiences....
The band temporarily disbanded in 1974 while the members pursued individual projects outside with other artists. Separately, the members shone in their own individuality together with their new co-artists. The Grateful Dead band resumed in 1976. Bob Dylan toured with the band in 1986 and by that time, the press was getting hold of Garcia, the band leader’s disturbing health and personal habits. Previously, in 1985, he was arrested for possession of heroin in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Then while touring with Dylan, Garcia collapsed in a coma that lasted for five days. This was brought on by his excessive drug use. Upon his recovery, the Dead had a huge comeback with their albums In the Dark which featured the song “Touch of Grey” which is the band’s only top ten single (Rolling Stone). Since the culture of the Grateful Dead tolerated drug use, it was likewise commonplace in their concerts. Such dangerous behaviours caused them much trouble because in 1989, when their normally mellow Deadheads went out of control with drug-related behaviours: “In April 1989 there were 55 arrests (mostly for drugs and disturbing the peace) and violent encounters with police at two Pittsburgh shows; and 70 arrests and reports of vandalism by Dead fans at three Irvine, California, shows. In October 1989 a college student died of a broken neck outside a Dead show at the New Jersey Meadowlands (his death was never explained, but an investigation cleared security guards of guilt); in December of that year a 19-year-old fan high on LSD died while in police custody for public intoxication at the L.A. Forum (the autopsy reported neck-compression during restraint, but police were cleared of any wrongdoing). As a ...Show more
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Summary

The paper will discuss the Grateful Dead band and its influence on the American music. The writer initiates the research regarding the drug using of band members and has it influenced their music. Artists can develop a huge following – people they impress with their work…
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