Not Fade Away
The Grateful Dead archives come home to Santa Cruz.
By Art O'Sullivan
You have to wonder about the timing. It was just three days after
Uncle Charley's Security Clampdown failed to suppress UCSC's annual
4/20 cannabis celebration. I was actually playing the Grateful Dead
song "Eyes of the World" on the university's radio station, KZSC-FM
(88.1), when I received news that a "new partnership" between UCSC
and Grateful Dead Productions was about to be unveiled. The next day,
band members and UCSC staff announced that the group's extensive
paper archives will be placed permanently at UCSC's McHenry
Library.The Dead selected UCSC over bids by Berkeley (bassist Phil
Lesh's alma mater) and Stanford (where Phil's son goes). What made
little UCSC the best choice?
Its personality, apparently. At the press conference, guitarist Bob
Weir called the school "neobohemian." McHenry Library's Special
Collections curator Christine Bunting, who was instrumental in the
successful campaign to woo the Dead, cites the school's and the
band's "shared values," "community spirit" and the campus's music
studies and programs dealing with social justice.
Santa Cruz represents independent spirit, the courage to question
authority, etc., as does Berkeley. However, UCSC is less overtly
political about it and seems more philosophical and contemplative
than activist, like Berkeley. It's a posture not unlike that of the
band, which preferred to observe the human condition rather than
influence it ("I got no dime, but I got some time to hear your story").
UCSC is more playful and less intense than Berkeley or Stanford--or
at least has that reputation ("Some folks up in treetops, just
looking for their kites"). The Santa Cruz area has a good mix of
people, the types the Dead sing about: wharf rats (Is there a Palo
Alto Yacht Club?), cowboys (in Berkeley?), cosmic charlies, big boss
men, estimated prophets. Visitors to the GD archives can kick back
and relax on campus, wander through the woods, get inspired by nature.
Then there's the shared history. The band and the school both started
in 1965 as committed innovators, and counterculture values fit both
well. Through the 1970s and '80s, Deadheads flocked to Santa Cruz,
which had blossomed into an open, evolved, herb-friendly community.
In fairness, the campus did not bring the counterculture to Santa
Cruz. At the end of 1965, shortly after UCSC admitted its first
students, author Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and a band then
known as the Warlocks (soon to become the Grateful Dead) conducted
the first of the fabled "acid tests"--a ritual combining psychedelic
drugs with experimental music and free-form dance--at a farmhouse
near Santa Cruz, in neighboring Soquel. This was not a university event.
But the rising discontent that produced the youth counterculture in
the 1960s did motivate contemporary educators to experiment with fun.
In some ways, the goals of the campus paralleled those of the band.
For instance, UCSC's intramural-based physical education program was
based on the idea of "many participants, few spectators." As UCSC's
founding chancellor, the late Dean McHenry once told me, "I'd rather
have 4,000 participating than 11 playing and the others sitting on
Chancellor McHenry's view parallels that of the Grateful Dead's late
frontman Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, who used to challenge audiences to
"Get yo' hands outa yo' pockets!" Since McKernan and McHenry clearly
agreed about such things, where better to keep the Dead's memorabilia
than the library bearing McHenry's name?
The defiant triumph of this year's banned 4/20 celebration proves
that Santa Cruz is still a mecca for the counterculture. The Grateful
Dead's decision to stash their stuff here will make that status permanent.
Art O'Sullivan is a UCSC alumnus and the host of the 'Golden Road'
program, featuring Grateful Dead for nonbel ievers, on KZSC-FM Santa
Cruz (88.1 ), Wednesdays 4-6pm.
UC Santa Cruz Library Will Be Grateful Dead Central
by Richard B. Simon
28 April 2008
The Grateful Dead and the University of California Santa Cruz
announced Thursday that the Grateful Dead archives would be
permanently housed at the University's McHenry Library. The archive
consists of artifacts collected over more than forty years of the
band's career, including the original artwork that created the Dead's
visual iconography; stage sets and props such as the life-size
skeleton marionettes used in the 1987 music video for "Touch of
Grey"; and correspondence between band members and other entities
(for example, letters to and from Warner Brothers honcho Joe Smith,
which the band graded for grammar); as well as letters from fans,
press clippings, films, recordings of shows, and interviews.
Guitarist Bob Weir, drummer Mickey Hart, and Dead Office goddess
Eileen Law joined University officials - including UCSC Chancellor
George Blumenthal, Chronicle Books CEO (and UCSC Foundation member)
and Deadhead Nion McAvoy, University Librarian Ginnie Steel, and Head
of Special Collection and Archives, Christine Bunting - for a lively
press conference in the poster room at the hallowed Fillmore in San
Francisco. The room was filled with journalists, camera crews from
television news, and Dead world intellectual luminaries, such as
lyricist John Perry Barlow and Grateful Dead Historian Dennis McNally.
Surrounded by rock posters documenting the San Francisco history that
runs through the Dead, (Stanford and UC Berkeley had also been
courted), Chancellor Blumenthal drew intellectual parallels between
the psychedelic rock band and the University.
"The Grateful Dead and UC Santa Cruz share a common history," he
explained, in prepared statements that drew sometimes awkward
references to Dead culture.
"Both were founded the same year, 1965, and grew up together. Both
evolved from the rich intellectual, social, and cultural atmosphere
that blossomed in Bay Area in the 1960s. Both are innovators. ... The
Grateful Dead and UC Santa Cruz share freely with their followers,
and are truly open-source. The Dead began with free concerts and are
famous for encouraging fans to record shows, allowing them to plug
directly into the soundboard. The Dead showed that by sharing music
freely, the music would spread. And it really did. UC Santa Cruz will
share the archive freely, using a state-of-the art archiving program,
to make it accesssible to researchers and the public worldwide."
In addition, he noted, Santa Cruz's servers have long been home to
David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, and the University
features courses in Grateful Dead taught by Fred Lieberman.
Asked if the band was "disappointed" that the archive would not be
housed closer to home, within San Francisco, Weir explained that
Santa Cruz was actually physically closer to the Dead's roots, in Palo Alto.
And reminder comes from Merry Prankster Ken Babbs, via
spokesprankster Freddy "Are We Really?" Hahne that the very first
Acid Test, the 1960s party-experiments featuring
both LSD and rock and roll, was held in 1965 at Babbs' ranch, The
Spread, in Santa Cruz - and featured the Warlocks, who would become
the Grateful Dead, as well as Beat literature icons Allen Ginsberg
and Neal Cassady.
(Perhaps ironically, the University closed the campus to vehicular
traffic on April 20, the "420" stoner's holiday, to stave off what
had become a potsmoking festival with a wide draw. Asked after the
conference about the apparent discrepancy, Blumenthal explained that
while the University was eager to embrace Grateful Dead culture, it
was not eager to become a magnet for illegal activity.)
Both Weir and Hart said they looked forward to being able to research
their own history in the archives - Weir noting more than once that
he planned to write a book, and would likely need the archive to jog
"I can just go down there, spend a couple of days, leaf through the
stuff ... oh yeah! So this is an invaluable facility for me."
Hart said he wanted to look up a particularly "seething" review that
had once greeted the band in New York, describing them as mad
surgeons operating on the fragile minds of the youth, with rusty scalpels.
But central to the collection will be the treasures of the Deadheads.
Eileen Law, who ran the Dead Office's correspondence with Deadheads
for many years, included a note on the liner notes for the 1971 live
album Grateful Dead (aka Skull and Roses, aka Skullfuck):
"The collection I have came from many sources," the soft-spoken Law
said. "I just ended up being the keeper, and really starting this.
When the Dead put out their live album in the fall of 71, their live
album said, 'Dead Freaks Unite. Who are you, how are you, where are
you. Send us your name and address and we'll keep you informed ...
you opened up the door to many letters, art, gifts, and that was all
kept in a little closet at our Victorian house in San Rafael."
All that material, which Law explained would have found a home in the
Dead's once-planned Terrapin Station museum, will be housed at the
McHenry library at Santa Cruz - along with taped phone messages that
once greeted Deadheads calling in with detailed instructions on how
to order tickets by mail; and, presumably, the daily phone messages
fans could summon in those far-gone days, to hear daily-updated
setlists ... read ... very ... slowly ...
One element sure to be a draw for Deadheads and scholars will be the
collection of mail order envelopes, often laden with intricate
artwork, drawn onto the envelopes by fans writing in to purchase mail
"The feedback we got back from out there, it informed us as to the
relevance, and how relevant we were at the time," Hart said,
expressing a surprising degree of awe.
"Just the kind of spiritual feedback that you'd get through these
really ornate, very, very fine drawings - The love that went into one
letter, you could see how ornate it was, it was gorgeous. This
mattered - they were chasing the feeling, just like we were. And this
is that representation in the visual world. The ticket envelopes,
they were fantastic. Just to get the ticket, they would make these
little masterpieces out of these letters. Some of them were just
brilliant. And I loved to look at them. We used to put them on the board."
"Thousands of them," Law added.
Asked if fans would be able to visit the archive to look up and
locate their old mail order envelopes, University Librarian Ginnie
Steel seemed delighted.
"I don't suggest you lick any of those letters," Hart quipped. "Or
touch them without gloves."
Steel and Bunting explained that most of the contents of the archive,
now filling a warehouse, will be housed "upstairs" in the
University's Special Collections facility. But the librarians are
aiming for a very visual presence. Right within the McHenry Library's
main entrance, and adjecent to a cafe, will be a room, Grateful Dead
Central, where selected artifacts will be on display, and where
scholars will be able to access a directory and, it seems, electronic
images, of the material in the collection.
Then they will be able to request material from the full-time
Grateful Dead archivist (a position the University is looking to
raise one million dollars to endow). The archivist will pull the
selected material from within the Special Collection, for scholars' perusal.
The collection will move to Santa Cruz for archiving over the summer,
though it may be a while longer before it is catalogued and displayed
at Dead Central, and throughout the library.
In the meantime, the University will continue to acquire new material
for the archive. And other Institutions - the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame, among them - are already inquiring about borrowing from the
collection. Santa Cruz is also looking forward to hosting a West
Coast Grateful Dead symposium, in the vein of the one held last Fall
at the University of Massachusetts.
Weir noted that the Archives will be an ongoing project for
Deadheads, as well.
"This is not to be frozen in time, either, it occurs to me," he said.
"This is still an open and vital thing. There's a new address. You'll
no longer send it to Grateful Dead Office. If you have
correspndences, love lettters, advice, you no longer send it to the
Grateful Dead Office in San Rafael, but you'll send it to UC Santa Cruz."
But Law knows just as well.
"We still have that old mailbox," she said quietly.
"Really?" said Hart.
Dead Freaks Unite
Who Are You?
Where Are You?
How Are You?
P.O. Box 1065
San Rafael, CA 94915
Grateful Dead's archives have final resting place at UC-Santa Cruz
By Lisa M. Krieger
Article Launched: 04/25/2008
The Grateful Dead's long strange trip through American popular
culture is landing in a library at the University of California-Santa
Cruz, preserved for future generations of study by scholars and stoners.
Three decades worth of archival materials - from business records to
stage backdrops - have been donated by the band to the school's
McHenry Library, where a room called Dead Central is being dedicated
to a beloved band dubbed "the largest unofficial religion in the world."
UC-Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal joined Dead drummer Mickey
Hart and guitarist and singer Bob Weir in a buoyant press conference
Thursday at San Francisco's aging Fillmore Auditorium, the site of 51
Dead concerts. In honor of the event, Blumenthal was given a tie-dyed T-shirt.
"All of this stuff doesn't belong to us - it belongs to the culture
that spawned us," Weir said. "It seemed like getting it into a campus
archive, with access for the people in the community that gave rise
to it, was the right thing to do."
The seaside campus was the "most enthusiastic" and "organized," which
helped it edge out two heavyweight suitors, Stanford and UC-Berkeley,
"Santa Cruz is the seat of the neo-bohemian culture that we're a
facet of," Weir said. "So there could not have been a more cozy place
for this collection to land."
The gift does not contain any of the band's vast musical recordings;
those are stored in a Southern California vault belonging to producer
Rhino Entertainment. The university said it will work with Rhino on
how to access musical material.
But it does contain valuable artifacts that document the band's
ascendance into one of California's most durable and influential
musical phenomena. Currently held in a 2,000-square-foot San Rafael
warehouse, the collection includes the Dead's first recording
contract, life-size skeletons of band members used in the 1987 "Touch
of Grey" video, and an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 fan letters from
around the world, many decorated with elaborate art.
"What you'll see is our conversation with the people who loved us,
and vice versa," Hart said.
A blue-chip team including several Silicon Valley-based fans - among
them venture capitalist and musician Roger McNamee - will oversee a
$2 million fundraising campaign for the archive. Seagate Technology
CEO Bill Watkins has volunteered technical support.
Formal academics never meant much to the Dead.
But fans say their image-rich lyrics about such themes as love, trust
and rebirth are worthy of scholarship. The song "Box of Rain" is as
central to Deadheads as Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" was to Beats and T.S.
Eliot's "The Waste Land" was to Modernists.
For musicologists, there is value in studying how the Dead's
repertoire updated many of the nation's older musical traditions,
from bluegrass to jazz, said Fred Lieberman, a UC-Santa Cruz music professor.
"They were the quintessential American band," said Lieberman, who
first proposed the archive idea to Hart, with whom he has
collaborated on three books. This will boost the university's
scholarship on American culture, he said.
However, the gift may do little to help the university shed its image
as a mecca of hacky sack and patchouli oil - and, in fact, is likely
to attract a tie-dyed pilgrimage. In recent years, the school has
worked to refocus attention on its ambitious scientific research
efforts. It has even cracked down on its traditional April marijuana
smoke-in at Porter Meadow, barring non-students and overnight guests.
Campus librarians said they would welcome Deadheads to the grassy
lawn outside the library.
The library already has the vast and eclectic archive of the late
Aptos composer Lou Harrison, and was looking to expand.
"This is the first step toward having a library that is a destination
for scholars interested in studying an important aspect of America's
vernacular music," he said.
The survival of the archives through turbulent decades is due to a
devoted staffer named Eileen Law, who was hired in 1972 to take care
of the Deadheads and who worked with the band for the next 34 years.
Among other jobs, she tended the mail that flooded into a San Rafael
post office box.
"Pretty soon I found myself being the keeper of everything - press
clips, posters, all their vinyl. I kept getting more and more stuff,"
she said. "Everything I could collect, I did."
At the press conference, UC-Santa Cruz librarians assured Law, who is
unemployed, that she'll play an important role in the cataloging of
"I had faith that something good would someday happen to it," Law
Fans rejoiced at the news of the gift - and instantly began offering
their own contributions to the collection.
"Can we submit material?" one fan asked on the band's Web site. "I
have my own stash - much of it from the parking lot scene, '83-'95."
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED
See library.ucsc.edu/speccoll/GD_archive.html or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Lisa M. Krieger at email@example.com or (408) 920-5565.
Background on the Grateful Dead files donated to UC-Santa Cruz
Article Launched: 04/25/2008
Background on the collection
Before Thursday, fans wondered about the purpose of the news
conference. Some feared for band members' health. Others predicted a
Barack Obama endorsement. There were the inevitable rumors of a
summer tour. News that the archives were moving to UC-Santa Cruz - a
city the band is believed to have played only once, in 1983 - was met
with jubilation. "Let's all enroll!" wrote one fan. Other facts
Stanford University expressed interest in the collection, given the
band's early Palo Alto and Menlo Park connections. Bassist Phil Lesh
pays tuition to the school; his son Grahame is a junior there.
UC-Berkeley also made a pitch.
Eileen Law, who had stored the material all these years, was hired in
1972 to take care of the Deadheads. It was her voice on the popular
mail-order tickets hotline. The birth of her daughter Cassidy
inspired the song of the same name.
Originally, the vision was for the archives to be showcased in a San
Francisco-based Dead museum called Terrapin Station, after a popular
album. That changed after Jerry Garcia's death.
The collection will be moved to Santa Cruz this summer. In phases, it
will be cataloged, repackaged and preserved with acid-free materials.
Much will be digitized. Stored in the school's Special Collections
department, some of it may be seen by the public when the renovated
library opens in fall 2009.
Grateful Dead, UC Santa Cruz celebrate plans for new exhibit
Article Launched: 04/24/2008
It had all the trappings of a Grateful Dead concert at the Fillmore -
a hip poster with skeletons and roses, a cool T-shirt, "Truckin'"
blasting out of speakers.
Two of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead were there, under
bright lights, but not to play music.
Bob Weir and Mickey Hart were the centerpiece of an elaborately
staged press conference Thursday morning in the poster room of the
historic Fillmore Auditorium - site of 51 Grateful Dead shows.
"I've never been at the Fillmore this early except when I didn't go
home the night before," cracked former Grateful Dead Manager Cameron Sears.
The event was to announce that the band has chosen the University of
California at Santa Cruz to house the its historic archives -
memorabilia stored in Marin for four decades.
Officials at the famously laid-back campus were clearly overjoyed
that the Dead are donating their archives to them rather than
Stanford University or UC Berkeley.
They handed out psychedelic-style posters that read, "UC Santa Cruz
Special Collections announces the Grateful Dead Archive," above the
band's iconic skeleton and roses.
A souvenir table was loaded with T-shirts featuring a cartoon of the
university's mascot, a tie-dye-wearing "Grateful Slug."
"Just as Deadheads would say when they scored a ticket for a Grateful
Dead concert, we got our miracle," Chancellor George Blumenthal said,
borrowing a fan catch-phrase. "It brings us great pride. Thank you
good ol' Grateful Dead."
Selected pieces from the collection eventually will be on display in
a special room, called "Dead Central," in the university's newly
renovated McHenry Library. Once it's organized and catalogued, the
digitized archive will be accessible to researchers and the general public.
"We're connecting with the culture of America through one of the
great musical icons of the '60s," Blumenthal said.
In the event Marin establishes its own rock museum, a project being
undertaken by the Marin History Museum, some memorabilia would likely
be loaned for exhibits here, said Christine Bunting, head of the
university's special collections.
Although the university's chancellor mispronounced his name, calling
him "Bob Wire," Weir explained that the band chose UC Santa Cruz
because the university people there were "the most enthusiastic, the
most organized" and share the band's hippie-era values and viewpoints.
"Their vision is more like our vision," he said, describing Santa
Cruz as "the hub of a new bohemian culture that we are a facet of.
They know our music and our sensibilities. They get it. They know who
we are. It's a cozy place for the collection to land."
Asked if it would have been more appropriate for the archive to be
stored and displayed near the band's home base in Marin, Weir, a
longtime resident of Mill Valley, replied, "Who's to say Santa Cruz
isn't our home base? It's actually closer to where we got our start
in Palo Alto."
Documenting the band's history from 1965 to the present, the archive
includes elaborately decorated fan mail from Deadheads, photographs,
tickets, backstage passes, press clippings, awards, flyers, posters,
T-shirts, unreleased videos of interviews and TV appearances, stage
props and the skeleton puppets from the acclaimed "Touch of Gray"
video, among other items.
It was collected and preserved by San Anselmo resident Eileen Law,
praised by Hart as "the keeper of the flame," who handled the band's
Deadhead fan club beginning in 1972 and kept archival materials in a
closet in the Victorian house in San Rafael that was the band's
longtime headquarters, later moving it to a warehouse.
"I don't know how I kept it in a closet so long," she said. "We
wanted our own museum for a long time. This is a dream come true."
Last year, the band licensed its separate music archives to Rhino
Entertainment. Decades of recorded live shows are housed in a vault
in Southern California.
This archive will be moved from Marin to Santa Cruz sometime this
summer, university librarian Ginny Steel said, and the exhibit will
open once the laborious job of sorting through thousands of pieces of
collected material is done.
Hart admitted that it's a daunting project, because the band doesn't
even know what's in its own archive.
"They've got a big task before them," Hart said. "Talk about a long,
Contact Paul Liberatore via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grateful Dead archives to be housed in UC Santa Cruz
By JASON DEAREN Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 04/24/2008
SAN FRANCISCOIt started with these words in 1971: "Dead Freaks
Unite. Who are you? Where are you? How are you?"
Printed with a mailing address on a Grateful Dead album sleeve, they
were a call to Deadheads, the band's cult-like followers, to join the
group's psychedelic fan club, which later mushroomed to more than
Now, the tons of letters, original artwork, photographs, press clips
and everything else that flooded into the post office over the next
three decades are being given to archivists at the University of
California, Santa Cruz.
The university plans to create a room in its main library called
"Dead Central" that will be open to scholars and the public, said
Christine Bunting, head of special collections. The school will also
digitize as much of the archive as possible and make it available for
free on the Internet.
"We discovered a new land, a new place, and these folks are the
cartographers and are going to map it out," said Bob Weir, the band's
guitarist, referring to the university's archivists.
Surrounded by hundreds of historic rock posters at the Fillmore
Auditorium, the famous San Francisco venue where the band played 51
concerts, Weir said Santa Cruz is the perfect site for the band's archives.
"UC Santa Cruz is the seat of neo-Bohemian culture, which we're a
facet of," he said.
Weir, and the band's drummer, Mickey Hart, said the Dead will also
give the school letters between the band and its first record
company, Warner Bros., which provides a detailed look into the
group's early days.
It will also house the life-sized skeletons the band used in its
video for the 1987 single, "Touch of Grey."
Until now, the Dead's memorabilia was cared for by the band's
archivist, Eileen Law, who for years kept it in a small Victorian
house in San Rafael, Calif., that once served as the band's
headquarters. The group broke up after lead guitarist and singer
Jerry Garcia died in 1995, but the office stayed open until 2006.
Law, who started working for the band in 1971, said she is relieved
these pieces of history she guarded for so long will be preserved.
"Once we set up that P.O. Box in 1971, the mail just started pouring
in ... and it never really stopped," Law said.
The archive will not include the band's music catalog, which is
maintained by Rhino Records.
Bunting said the archive will enhance the university's offerings in
the study of popular culture. The school already offers a course on
the Grateful Dead.
"It will provide extraordinary opportunities for researchers and the
public to examine the music of one of the most influential bands in
history, as well as explore the cultural phenomenon of Deadheadsthe
most dedicated and celebrated fans in music," Bunting said.
While the band could have sold the pieces off for millions, Weir and
Hart said that just didn't seem like the right thing to do.
"The love affair and the dance that the fans and us had are all
contained in here," Hart said.
On the Net:
Grateful Dead: http://www.dead.net/
Grateful Dead archives going to UC Santa Cruz
Regan McMahon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The archives of the Bay Area rock band the Grateful Dead - a treasure
trove of more than 30 years of memorabilia that includes the band's
first recording contract, life-size skeletons of band members and
artwork hand-made by its fans - are headed to UC Santa Cruz, where
they will be displayed at McHenry Library.
Few bands are more associated with San Francisco, and the images
connected with many of the archive items are instantly recognizable
to millions of fans around the world. The archive, which occupies
2,000 square feet of a Marin warehouse, contains thousands of pieces.
Margaret Barrette, director for entertainment memorabilia sales at
Bonhams & Butterfields auction house in Los Angeles, estimated the
value of such a collection "in the millions." She said Bonhams'
auction of Grateful Dead crew member Lawrence "Ramrod" Shurtliff's
collection last year netted $1 million, "and that was only 100 pieces."
Guitarist and singer Bob Weir, drummer Mickey Hart and UC Santa Cruz
Chancellor George Blumenthal will announce the donation at 11 a.m.
today on the Dead's Web site ( www.dead.net) live from San
Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, the historic venue where the band
emerged as part of the psychedelic ballroom scene in the 1960s.
The archive has been tended all these years by Eileen Law, who was
hired in 1972 to take care of the Deadheads, the casually formed fan
club born after the band invited fans to write to a San Rafael post
office box on its 1971 eponymous album, popularly known as "Skull &
Roses." That opened the floodgates for a fan base whose devotion was
unprecedented and remains unmatched in the history of rock 'n' roll.
Law worked for the band for 34 years. She saved everything: press
clippings, photographs, tickets, backstage passes, promotional
materials, business records, posters, T-shirts and other Dead
merchandise, issues of the band's '70s newsletter, all the band's
posters, vinyl albums, CDs, videos, cassette tapes of hot line
messages announcing tour dates, thousands of decorated envelopes
mailed to the band's ticket office, even all the show guest lists.
"I was just the person that never shredded," Law said from her home
in San Anselmo. "It started off in my little closet" at the Dead's
headquarters in San Rafael, "and it kept growing and growing, and now
it fills up a warehouse."
After the band broke up following Jerry Garcia's death in 1995, the
surviving members kept the office open, finally closing operations in 2006.
In August of that year, they moved the extensive vault of the band's
musical recordings in four refrigerated 18-wheelers to Los Angeles,
where it is maintained by Rhino Records, which is authorized to
release the band's music. The question remained of what to do with
Both UC Berkeley, where bassist Phil Lesh was once a student, and
Stanford, which his son now attends, made a pitch for the archive.
But the Dead members ultimately chose UC Santa Cruz. McHenry Library
will have a dedicated, interactive reading room tentatively named
Dead Central with music playing and rotating exhibitions. The library
is being renovated and expanded and is set to open in fall 2009, and
the archive will be available to fans and researchers alike.
"I think it's a perfect fit for Santa Cruz - the ethos of the band,
the whole idea of community sharing, is really well matched with our
campus," said Christine Bunting, head of special collections for the
library. "Our campus has a great music program, and we're really
interested in the study of American vernacular music and popular culture.
"We also have this whole side that's concerned with social justice
and tolerance and community spirit. And I think that fits so
perfectly with what the band has done and what the Deadheads have
sustained over the years."
The connections between the band and the university are long and
deep. They both came into existence in the mid-'60s. Law's
son-in-law, Cameron Sears, former manager of the Grateful Dead and
now of Weir's band RatDog - is a Santa Cruz alumnus, as is the
daughter of Alan Trist, head of the Grateful Dead's publishing
company, Ice Nine. Santa Cruz music Professor Fred Lieberman has
taught a class in the music of the Grateful Dead for years and has
collaborated with Hart on two books. The campus radio station has a
weekly show featuring the band's music called "Dead Serious."
The library already has the archives of science fiction writer Robert
A. Heinlein and Beat poet, painter and novelist Kenneth Patchen and
the only intact collection of photographer Edward Weston's project
prints in the world. But the Dead archive will be the university's biggest.
The archive contains many historical documents, such as notes from
the band's weekly meetings. "That's the kind of primary material that
shows what their decisions were at the time they were making them,"
But the most interesting aspect of the archive, she said, is "the
whole Deadhead side to it. The band's following is a phenomenon in itself."
How does Law feel about letting go of the archive she tended all those years?
"It's like sending your kids off to college: 'Oh, they're leaving
home!' That's what it feels like, even though now I know it will be
preserved and well taken care of. It's another stage of development."
E-mail Regan McMahon at email@example.com.
Deadhead Legacy Was Built to Last
May 1, 2008
Deadhead students rejoiced at the recent addition to UC Santa Cruz's
McHenry Library: An archived collection of the Grateful Dead's
photographs, letters, artwork, newspaper clippings, posters, and
backstage passes from over three decades of touring.
Soon after, they got back to their astrophysics assignments.
UCSC and the Grateful Dead practically have the same roots and
parallel stalks: Both stemmed from the West Coast in 1965, both have
reached acclaim for their bohemian atmosphere, and both have national
prestige. Yet only one of these is attempting to change their image
after over 30 years of embracing a unique counterculture.
Chancellor George Blumenthal stated recently that we are outgrowing
our image from the 1970s. But, with the inauguration of Dead Central,
it seems as though we can't outrun the offbeat and informal
reputation that our predecessors set when UCSC was just a small
liberal-arts university in the woods.
Sure, there was a time that UCSC wasn't taken seriously, procuring
nicknames such as "Tie-Dye High" and "Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp."
For a university that is more closely related to the Age of Aquarius
than the Information Age, most of those who attended UCSC during that
time did not mind. In fact, alumni embraced the counterculture that
this university represented, and in many ways, we still do.
Our new-and-improved McHenry Library already houses the compilations
of science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, who is best known for
his works championing sexual liberation, free love and individualism.
Beat poet, painter, pacifist, and novelist Kenneth Patchen, also
known as the Proletariat Poet, is archived within the cement walls of
the library, joining the only intact collection of photographer
Edward Weston's project prints in the world. If those walls could
talk, they would talk about love, self-definition, experimentation,
and peace: not expansion, physics, and fiscal advancement.
Photography darkrooms are turning into digital computer labs, music
is now spawned from a synthesizer, and libraries are being stored in
online references as we lurch into the technological age. Old art
forms are made new with the wonders of science, and with the
onslaught of advancement, our roots are forgotten in the midst of progress.
In 1997, UCSC switched from the Narrative Evaluation System (NES), a
maverick pass-or-fail technique that required professors to give a
full report on each student's progress, to the now-uniform UC grading
system, thus giving students the benefit of a grade point average and
the eligibility to compete as one of the top-standing students in the nation.
With the demise of NES came the birth of the School of Engineering
under Chancellor M.R.C Greenwood. Along with the prestige-hungry
administration, Greenwood spurred the cultivation of the electrical
engineering, applied mathematics and computer science departments in
the hope that our reputation would change.
Despite the noble efforts of Greenwood, Blumenthal and their
colleagues to advance UCSC toward a mantra of research and
simultaneously sending it on an ascent to national notoriety our
scarlet letter has remained emblazoned on our chests, which many of
us proudly bare.
This present-day notion that the times are changing is not solely
expressed through academics and is posing a large inconvenience to
the students who still live this counterculture.
Controversy broke when the administration alerted the student body of
the new security measures to be taken on April 20. Hundreds of
students smuggled friends onto the campus, hiding them within
university housing, and marched to Porter Field joining the
thousands who walked to campus from every direction through meadows
and dense forests to partake in one of the many time-honored
traditions that keeps UCSC on the outskirts of traditional
universities. These acts of rebellion serve to solidify the sense of
unity, perseverance, activism, free speech and movement on campus;
through defiance, the student body was channeling the counterculture
of eras past and reaffirming that it isn't going to be forgotten any time soon.
The powers-that-be should realize that if we want something done,
we'll do it ourselves. It's the way we've always been and how we'll
continue to be; and no powers of the administration or the law can
stand in the way when thousands of students are standing in opposition.
According to Grateful Dead member Bob Weir, UCSC was given the
collection because the Dead are part of a neo-bohemian culture that
still resides in the hills of Santa Cruz. Weir points out that both
the Dead and the university "continue to make a major, positive
impact on the world."
The notion of progress and the recent push to be a competitive
national university has mass appeal. Yet, no matter how many
accolades we receive, forgetting the legacy ingrained in the city of
Santa Cruz itself is impossible. Our legacy can be heard in the
faculty member's voices, seen in the graffiti that covers the cement
walls, viewed in the art crafted by students, and felt through the
student body's actions toward a future that continues to change for the better.
Despite the administration's heavy push toward all that is
technological and scientific, and their attempts to instill a
heavy-felt sense of "order," it is starting to look like our
long-standing reputation is here to stay. After all, it is the
students, not the institution, which holds the power to change.