'THE GRATEFUL DEAD' - NO CONFORMISTS THERE
NEW YORK - There's not a conformist among the seven fellas who make up The Grateful Dead. Rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, 22, reveals that each of the group's members is married unofficially.
"None of us believe in marriage licenses," says Weir. "We've seen too many marriages go wrong to have much faith in the institution. Our old ladies don't object to the arrangement. The chicks accept the idea of living with us without being officially wed."
What about children born of these "marriages?"
"Oh, several of the guys have fathered kids," says Weir. "They have wonderful family situations. They live with the chicks and are very good with the children. There isn't any more promiscuity with this setup than with the old marriage arrangement."
According to Weir, the Grateful Dead are just as happy on stage as they are off. "We are soul brothers," he says. "We've known each other for six years. I think our brand of music reflects our close relationship."
The Grateful Dead is composed of Jerry Garcia (lead guitar), Phil Lesh (bass), Ron (Pigpen) McKernan (vocals), William Kreutzman and Mickey Hart (drums), Tom Constanten (keyboard) and Weir.
They're all from San Francisco and still make their homes not far from the Bay City. "We live on ranches," says Weir, "and we see quite a bit of each other socially."
When The Grateful Dead started, they didn't cash in on their fine, driving acid-rock sound. They kept giving free concerts, especially in the "love" center of Haight-Ashbury. Eventually, they were talked into signing with a record company. Today, The Grateful Dead are with Warner Bros. Records, and their latest album - which is their fifth - is called "Working Man's Dead."
The Grateful Dead's first two LPs, "The Grateful Dead" and "Anthem of The Sun," immediately established them as one of the grooviest groups in the country. The outfit encountered quite a bit of trouble finding a name for itself at the start. They began in 1964 as Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, but soon discarded the title.
"We liked the name, The Warlocks, but some other group had attached themselves to it," says Weir. "For an entire week, we threw names around, mostly funny ones. Finally, Jerry Garcia scrounged around in a dictionary or encyclopedia and found 'the grateful dead.' It supposedly was an ethno-musicological term which meant a genre of ballads that were sung in Ireland many years ago."
Weir claims they've had no regrets regarding the choice of the name. "Oh, once in a while," he says, "a person will tell us he shudders at the word 'dead.'"
The Grateful Dead's major appeal is to college kids and dance hall crowds. "But we get some teenyboppers and a few grandparents, too," says Weir. "The day where gals ripped clothes off musicians is over. I became convinced of that at the recent Rolling Stones concert. The girls didn't chase anybody. When the gig was over, they went home quietly."
(by Bob Lardine, from the Rockland County Journal-News (White Plains, NY), 20 March 1970)
(also run by the Allentown Chronicle (PA), 19 March 1970, as "Grateful Dead Non-Conformists", and by the Baltimore Sun, 31 March 1970, as "Not One Conformist in Group")