In early 1972 the Dead released a short promotional biography of the band. It's chronologically loose, filled with quotes from Garcia's Rolling Stone interview, and generally doesn't have any information that isn't commonly available everywhere.
So I've excerpted just a couple parts: a section from 1966, and the account of the last few months.
...When the Acid Tests stopped in the spring of '66 and Kesey went to Mexico, the Dead got off the bus and started their own (metaphorical) bus.
They returned to San Francisco in June, and after a few stops they moved into 710 Ashbury, in the middle of the Haight. It was the first time some of them lived together as a group in the City. They became an institution.
"Happy families are all alike," said Tolstoy, but the happy family at 710 was different from most, a sliding assortment of madmen who came and went in mysterious tidal patterns, staying for days or weeks or just mellow afternoons on the steps bordered with nasturtiums. It was another bus, an energy center as well as a model; it would become a nodal point for the cultural innovation that emerged from the Haight-Ashbury, including the Golden Gate Park Free Concerts which gave rise to the Dead's continuing reputation as the 'people's band.'
With all the other groups in the City, they did become a band, an economic entity in an expanding market. But the Dead were always different from the rest of the San Francisco groups. Their managers then, Rock Scully and Danny Rifkin, were of the family, stoned ten-thumbed inefficiency. While other groups fought for recognition, and more and bigger gigs, the Dead played mostly for free. Monterey was a godsend of exposure to most groups, but the Dead bitched about it, arguing that the profits go to the Diggers; refusing to sign releases for the film that became "Monterey Pop!", and finally organizing a free festival on a nearby campus and stealing banks of amplifiers and speakers for an all night jam...
...Near the end of 1971 Pigpen was extremely ill, and unable to travel. Jerry had about this same time met Keith Godchaux, a piano player he and Billy had jammed with at Keystone Korner, a small club in San Francisco. With Pigpen sick, three major United States tours facing them, and the desire to have another good musician to add to their music, Keith was asked to join. Within a month he learned most of the Dead's current material and became an integral part of the Grateful Dead.
Pigpen recovered enough to join the band for their last tour of 1971, and in December the six of them did an East Coast tour that was a record high for the Dead as well as for their listening audiences. With simulcast radio broadcasts of their sold out performances in Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Syracuse, Rochester, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New York, Boston and St. Louis, the Dead's music and magic reached a listening audience that numbered in the millions.
1972 "The Year of the Grateful Dead"
1972 began incredibly with the live double album GRATEFUL DEAD becoming the Dead's first gold record and a two month European tour scheduled for April and May in the making. The European performances will be recorded in 16-track with hopes of material for a new live album to be mixed in the United States.
A solo album by Jerry Garcia was released in the first part of January, and Bob Weir is completing his own album at present. Bobby's album includes most of the band members as well. Pigpen is presently working on the album he plans to do.
The music and magic will continue to flow!
Phil: "The Dead, we all know, is bigger than all of us."
Jerry: "Keep it on, keep it on. Just keep on keepin' it on, folks."