Posted tagged ‘Grateful Dead’

Woodstock: 40 Years Later

August 13, 2009

It’s hard to believe that it has been 40 years since Woodstock! Not that I would remember, I was 9 years away from being born at that time 🙂

But the memories live on and we will no doubt relive the peace and love of the festival over the coming days as the anniversary approaches, this Saturday, August 15.

Were you there? How was it? What were you’re thoughts?

If you didn’t go, did you want to? Do you regret not going?

From the Associated Press:

The town of Woodstock didn’t want the concert and promoters were bounced from another site at the 11th hour. Lang settled on a hay field in Bethel owned by a kindly dairy farmer named Max Yasgur. The concert did come off Aug. 15-18, 1969, but barely. Fences were torn down, tickets became useless. More than 400,000 people converged on this rural corner 80 miles northwest of New York City, freezing traffic for miles. Then the rains doused everything.

It should have been a disaster. But Americans tuning in to the evening news that weekend saw smiling, dancing, muddy kids. By the time the concert movie came out months later, Woodstock was a symbol of the happy, hippie side of the ‘60s spirit.

Baby boomers are the “Woodstock Generation” — not the “Monterey Generation” or the “Altamont Generation.” Bethel’s onsite museum has logged more than 70,000 visitors since last summer, a fair number of them college students born well after Woodstock. A roadside monument there regularly logs visitors from around the planet.

“It’s almost a pilgrimage,” said Wade Lawrence, director of the Museum at Bethel Woods. “It’s like going to a high school reunion, or it’s like visiting a grave site of a loved one.”

From Lollapalooza to All Points West, there have been plenty of big festivals focused on youth culture. The continent-hopping Live Aid shows of 1985 did that and more, enlisting top names like U2 and Madonna to fight hunger in Africa. None have the cultural cachet of Woodstock. Who would ever ask a Generation X-er: “Were you really at Live Aid?”

People who went to Woodstock say the crowd set it apart as much as the music. The trippy anarchy of Woodstock has become legend: lots of nudity, casual sex, dirty (and muddy) dancing, open drug use. The stage announcer famously warned people to steer clear of the brown acid.

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“Grateful Dead” Set to Tour For First Time in 5 Years

January 2, 2009

Surviving members of the Grateful Dead say they’ll regroup for a 19-city tour, their first since 2004, beginning April 12 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

From the Associated Press:

The group, which now just calls itself The Dead, announced its plans Thursday.

Original band members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann have toured sporadically since the 1995 death of guitarist Jerry Garcia, but struggled to get along personally and artistically. They told Rolling Stone in November that they’ve worked out their differences, aided by a successful October benefit concert in Pennsylvania for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Warren Haynes joins the Dead on lead guitar, and Jeff Chimenti will play keyboards.

Former Grateful Dead Keyboardist Dies

October 26, 2008

Merl Saunders, a jazz and rock keyboardist who collaborated with iconic acts including Miles Davis and the Grateful Dead, has died at the age of 74.

From the Associated Press:

Saunders died Friday at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco of complications due to a stroke, said his son, Merl Saunders Jr.

“We loved him very much — and we know that you, his fans, did too,” his family said in a statement posted on Saunders’ Web site. “He was a special man, a beautiful companion, father, grandfather, and family patriarch, and the proof of that spirit is in the way you’ve reached out to us at his passing.”

Born in San Mateo, Calif., Saunders attended high school with Johnny Mathis in San Francisco. One of Saunders’ very first performances was a high school event with Mathis, Saunders Jr. said.

Some of Saunders’ most famous music was made in the 1960s and 1970s when he teamed up with the Grateful Dead’s lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia. The Saunders-Garcia Band recorded two records in the 1970s and the two would play together on an array of projects until Garcia’s death in 1995.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The 74-year-old musician suffered a debilitating stroke 6 1/2 years ago and, although he lost the ability to speak, he made numerous sentimental guest appearances at shows over those years playing with one hand.

“I never met anybody so happy who had a stroke,” said Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. “In the end, the only thing that lit him up was the music. Sometimes he’d cry, but I’ve never seen anybody so happy in the realm of music.”