GRATEFUL DEAD 'TESTIFY' THEIR SOUND AT CONCERT
In the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the cryptic words "the Grateful Dead praise thee" are inscribed for eternity.
Last night the great Greatful Dead from San Francisco praised the campus with its first truly professional psychedelic blues act in history. And all for free.
"Don't call it a profession, man," drummer Mickey Hart said backstage, pulling his long brunette hair back into a ponytail. "Like, it's mostly a religion to me. I play religious music. When I play, it's more like testifying."
The Dead give free concerts quite often, Mickey explained, as a means of delivering their music to the public without the artificial sound of recordings. To this end, the nationally famous group has recorded only two albums but played innumerable concerts.
"We record what we think we should record," he said. "Where it's at is the playing. More people can hear us through recordings, but we want to turn people on directly with the music. We just want to have fun, man."
Mickey settled back and smoked in the dressing room and rapped with the collection of fans who had gathered around after sneaking backstage. He talked of the Grateful Dead's "family" back in the Dead's famous house in the Haight-Ashbury.
"We don't all live in the house anymore, man, because, like, we've got 50 people in the family now, and we just couldn't all fit into one house," he said. "We have about a dozen places, including farms. We'd like to just get 300 acres of land and really live it up."
Down the hall lead guitarist Jerry "Captain Trips" Garcia tuned up his Gibson, his hair hanging in a black mop as he studied his fingerwork through his yellow-tinted wire-rimmed spectacles. As he spoke, his New York voice emerged with crystal clarity from an impossible tangle of beard.
"I would much prefer it if you call me Jerry," he said, still strumming. "I was named 'Captain Trips' by this girl called 'Mary Microgram' and she was the only one to call me that until Time magazine picked it up. And you know how Time can never be wrong."
Garcia recalled Chuck Berry as being the leading influence on his early musical pursuits at age 15, and he has stayed with music ever since. In fact, he said, a musical commitment is one of the few things that all of the Dead have in common.
"We don't want to get involved in politics or movements," he pointed out. "The problems are real enough, but, like fighting won't do it, and neither will legislation or cops. The only way to do it is for everybody to just dig each other."
Other members of the Dead were filing into the room to warm up with Garcia and without electricity. Then, the great Pig Pen finally shows - looking for all the world like the Baddest Cowboy in the West - and it was good, very good.
(by Clarence Page, from the Ohio University Post, 24 November 1968)