Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Better Off Dead

Grateful Dead : Terrapin Station (Baltimore, 1977)

On June 20, 1977 The Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart was driving his porsche home from a local club when he lost control of his car, crashing through a guardrail. A tree prevented Hart's car from  tumbling down a ravine. Hart emerged with a broken collarbone, smashed ribs and a broken arm. "I opened my eyes [in the hospital] and Jerry was there: 'You look like shit!'" he says.

Hart needed two month of rehab which meant the Dead would not be able to immediately tour to promote their debut album for their new label, Arista. It was called Terrapin Station, named for the epic, side-long suite.

Dead fans had to occupy themselves with The Grateful Dead movie, released earlier in the month. It's a concert film shot over the course of a five night stand  at San Francisco's Winterland.A midnight movie classic, it received rave reviews form the Dead's other drummer Bill Kreutzmann.

"Producing that thing really consumed Jerry’s time, on a day-to-day basis, throughout the hiatus. ... What are you going to do in that situation? Say, 'Okay, you can only have this much money and if the thing’s not complete, who cares, wrap it up?' Or are you going to find more money for it and let it become a really worthy project that your band leader and good friend really believes in?... as Jerry had known all along, it captured and defined our identity, since it had the visual element to go along with the music, the animation to go along with the interviews, and the B-roll that really showed viewers with their own eyes the circus that was a Grateful Dead show in San Francisco circa 1974. ... the part of the movie that ate up the biggest slice of the budget and took the most amount of work – the animated sequence in the beginning – is my favorite part. Back then, animation was all done by hand, frame by frame"

On September 3rd the band returns to the road in front of more than 100,000 people at Englishtown Raceway in New Jersey. They hadn't lost a step.

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