Last Chance to See (and Buy a Piece of) The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead will perform three final concerts this summer at Soldier Field in Chicago before retiring. Those shows are sold out, but there’s another way you can take part in the band’s farewell: an auction on April 11 and 12 to disperse many years of accumulated Grateful Dead artworks, memorabilia, furniture, and more. As the end of an era draws near, Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly reminisces about growing up during the Grateful Dead’s heyday in San Rafael, and he talked to the band’s publicist and historian Dennis McNally about the task of archiving its history.  

One of the band’s earliest attempts to chronicle its storied history is among the auction items. “As part of the process of becoming the Dead’s biographer,” McNally writes in the auction catalog, “I told [band manager] Rock Scully that I wanted to put together a list of all Dead concerts. He said sure, and gave me something that had been assembled by an office staff member, Janet Soto, which came from the contracts file. But it only went back to 1970, because Lenny Hart [drummer Mickey Hart’s father], who had departed with the treasury early that year, also took files with him. It also lacked the Bill Graham shows—they didn’t do regular contracts with him. So I set to work adding in earlier known shows and the Bill Graham stuff, and that’s the illiterate scribbles on the list Janet gave me—and which I returned when I started typing up a clean copy. This list marks the seed of what would later blossom into the stunning complexity of Deadbase.”

There's more to the story of how Deadbase came to be. McNally also tells us about the upcoming auction, and about the house at 1016 Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael where the band worked their magic.

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